John Skinner's L'Etape Australia day out.

The inaugural L'Etape Australia, a cycling event organised by the Tour de France which allows amateur riders the chance to experience a mountainous stage of the Tour under the same conditions as the pros, was held last weekend in the NSW Snowy Mountains. Chris Froome, this year's TDF winner, was L'Etape's guest rider.

An absolutely fantastic weekend which I was fortunate enough to share with some of my close cycling buddies (Spoke2Soon & NWSCC) was enhanced by the support of the local snowy communities. Throughout the 157km route locals lined the streets and cheered the riders just as you see on TV during the Tour de France; and they dressed up their towns, villages and homesteads with TDF jersey themes, green for Berridale, polka dot for Dalgety and yellow for Jindabyne.

The course, 157km long with 2860m of climbing, started at the Crackenback Ski Tube and headed to Jindabyne. It did a loop of the local towns as mentioned above, headed back to Jindabyne and then climbed up to the finish line at Perisher Valley. Apart from finishing the ride my only real goal/hope was to finish above the bottom 20%. I ended up coming 860th which was about middle of the pack - of those who completed the race. Pretty happy.

1 spent 6 hours and 26 mins on the saddle. The first 100km and 524m of climbing took exactly 3 hours (33.4km/h). The remaining 57km and 2336m was so much tougher and took nearly 3 and a half hrs (16.6km/h). Not sure why they make these things so tough towards the end!

Very enjoyable and will definately be back next year. Thanks Craig Cadman, Adam Gibbons, Glen Wilton, Guilherme Barbosa and Terry Steer.