Wollongong is on the map!

I’ve just come back from helping a neighbour install STAN on their television. WHY? STAN is an Australian subscriber-paid streaming service, and all this week it is streaming the UCI (Union Cycliste International) cycle races for free!

Why do we care? Well, hey, hop on your bikes, folks – they are being held right here in Wollongong!!! For nine entire days, starting yesterday, Saturday 17th September which was merely a light training session, there will be events every day. Over 1000 athletes and their teams have descended on our town from all around the world. The action will culminate next weekend with races that are nearly 300 klm long.

I have a confession to make. I cannot ride a bike. I never had the opportunity as a child, and my attempts to learn as an adult have failed dismally. And I really don’t know much about cycle races and racers. But I’m about to learn, and in a big way, because both Bill and I have volunteered our time to make this event a success. He is in the driving squad, and one way or another, his shifts have blown out to full-time. A couple of days ago one of his duties was to collect some RAT (rapid antigen) test kits. Who for, who knows. Yesterday, it was collecting various cars from car hire companies and positioning them to block intersections. He was working with police on that. Apparently, that is a terrorist reduction method. Who knows what he did today? He ducked home for a short break, then set out again and is not home yet. It’s nearly 6pm. Exciting times, hey!

I had some terrorist interaction myself yesterday, as I am in the Spectator Services team. I was positioned on one of the busiest intersections, just after the start of the race where the cyclists made their first sharp turn. I was assisting the course marshal to group pedestrians, getting them ready to dash across the road in the short moments he was able to open the barrier. At first, we didn’t have a tape or rope, so we got the odd lunatic who wanted to storm the barrier – usually with their own cycle. But it was not only a training day for the athletes, it was also a training day for the set up, and by the time we finished around 5pm we had those glitches sorted. All in all, a very happy and fun day. I was even equipped with a walkie-talkie – whoo hoo! Next shift, I am at the railway station, probably with a loud hailer. Who knew telling people where to go could be so much fun?

I got the neighbour’s TV set up pretty quickly, and then even I was glued to the action – The Men’s Elite Time Trial, won in a surprise by Norwegian Tobias Foss. The biggest surprise for me was seeing our wonderful city and coastline beaming worldwide on a television broadcast. I even saw our apartment block. So wherever you are in the world, I hope you get the chance to take a peek and think of me.

We had a fabulous time in Jindabyne, too, and obviously were too busy for me to post every day about what we got up to. No time just at the present either. But the stories remain, waiting to be told, and I will get to them – eventually.

Here’s a clumsy attempt at a selfie, snatched during a lull before the one-off community bike ride afternoon began. Hope I looked a lot happier than that in action 🙂

Catch all the information and scheduling on Wollongong2022.com.au. Tomorrow it is the turn of Men Under 23 for their Time Trial. The Elite racers of the future will be out to strut their stuff. Meanwhile I will be negotiating road closures to get to my doctor for a five-minute visit. My very own time trial!

38 thoughts on “Wollongong is on the map!

  1. Pingback: It’s All Over Folks (Take 2) | The Reluctant Retiree

    • The contract would have been signed before COVID, in which case I can imagine many more international visitors intended to brave the long trip. Still, a decent amount did arrive!

      It took most of the week for the locals to really get on board, but the last two days were certainly hopping. All hotels and Airbnb’s full and trains arriving from Sydney with upwards of 1000 people on board. Admittedly, it is only an hourly service – even though it was supposed to be upgraded to half hourly for the event. That only happened on the Saturday for a brief window. Could have been worse – Transport for NSW might have decided to do trackwork and replace trains with buses. It’s not only Portuguese bureaucrats who can screw things up LOL.

      It was fun, but very tiring. And then fellow blogger Paol Soren, who’d been waiting patiently for a spot in our diary came for a visit. We had a great three days together.


  2. Pingback: It’s All Over Folks | The Reluctant Retiree

  3. “I cannot ride a bike. I never had the opportunity as a child, and my attempts to learn as an adult have failed dismally. And I really don’t know much about cycle races and racers”. Gwen, the same with me!!!! But I love to watch too!

    Liked by 1 person

    • Haha, no – although ability with a foreign language was one of the application questions. It’s a pity that so many of the team’s relatives have not been able to make it to Australia. The place would have been humming with so many different languages. It’s only the second time this racing has been held in the Southern Hemisphere, so I expect most of them are used to travelling much shorter distances to support their family.

      Liked by 1 person

    • It was quite the giggle, Don. Bill took me out on a practice route very early in the morning. Part way I said, “Hey, I’ve got this covered. I know these roads better than you because this is the way I used to go to Uni. You can duck down this backroad and be practically on the doorstep.”
      Once back home he nicked off to his “job” and a couple of hours later I set off for my appointment super early. Drove the revised route, parked in my preferred place and was half hour early for my appointment.
      Came out just before 11.30am and looked down the road in direction of where I knew Bill was supposed to be positioning vehicles to block the access. Everything was open. Regular vehicles were traversing the road at the same time as early cycle athletes were getting some out of hours training. I sent him a text to sledge his lack of action, then loitered watching the cyclists. Right on 11.30am I noticed a bit of barrier re-arranging, and sauntered back to where I’d parked my car – only to find it had been blocked in with witches’ hats (you know what I mean?).
      Had to fall on my sword and ask the security person to open the way just for me to do a U-turn and get the heck out of there. Hashtag “Egg on Face”.

      Liked by 1 person

    • I’m guessing the Tour de France only went through your town on the one day? We’re getting some Negative Nellies here because all 9 days take place in the same town, and the road closures take a bit of getting used to. But I’m hoping that more and more people come on board as the excitement builds. It’s only the second time this race has been held in the southern hemisphere. We Aussies take travelling long distances to get to a starting point in our stride, but these athletes have made a big sacrifice/effort just to be here! I hope everyone gets behind them and cheers them on. Tomorrow my post is at the railway station. Will be interesting to see who is coming to town.

      Liked by 1 person

    • I hope they enjoyed what they saw. They probably didn’t make it to Lang Park where the entire circuit is broadcast over two large screens. Maybe they’ll come down again on the weekend? Trains are running half hourly. I’ll be volunteering both days. The Nine network is only screening the last couple of hours free-to-air, starting at 3pm each day. Otherwise STAN is offering seven days free sports package, but you have to have the basic package first. And then you need to remember to cancel the subscription before they start charging you. All good reasons to come here in person!

      Liked by 1 person

  4. Gwen – you are just amazing! Not only did you set me up with new boyfriend Stan so we can watch the bike races – you went home & produced this blog! Well done on both counts. Everyone out there Watch It! And see what a wonderful place is our ‘Gong!!


  5. We caught the free bus from the university, not knowing where we would end up but after taking a long and winding route we ended up at the library, then walked to where all the action was. Our son had ridden the course yesterday when the general public were allowed in. We waved and cheered some riders and then walked the four kilometres home. It was a beautiful day and great atmosphere.

    Liked by 1 person

    • Sounds like you got into the swing of it! I am at the railway station tomorrow, so I went looking for that free shuttle bus in one of my nearby streets so I could advise people about it, but none turned up in the time I was there. Walking home, if you had good company and a group around you, sounds a good option!
      It was lovely to see all the local riders. Many were leaving the course at the intersection I was manning, so my concentration was on getting them to keep to left so they didn’t ride into people coming in the opposite direction! Did you see that cute-as-a-button two year old with a wooden cut out of a bicycle peddling along with both feet on the ground like he was Bam-Bam out of the Flintstones?

      Liked by 1 person

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