Dili Videos

On my recent trip to Timor Leste I took a GoPro video camera, which could mount either to the top of my helmet, or to the handlebars of the bike.  I intended to take video every day of interesting bits of the race, but I ran into a few problems.  Firstly, the battery on my particular unit appears to be a bit dodgy.  The media people covering the race had their own GoPro helmets, and they were getting way more battery life out of theirs than I was getting out of mine.  Secondly, the USB cable that I took with me didn’t seem to work properly, so I could neither upload video that I’d captured, nor charge the battery properly.  It took me until the end of day 4 to figure some of this out, and to inveigle my way into the media tent to borrow a USB cable, so the amount of video footage that I brought home is much less than I had hoped.

There is another problem with the idea of getting video of the interesting bits, and that’s not knowing which bits were going to be interesting.  Quite often I’d pass through an area, or a short stretch of road, and note how picturesque or unusual or breath-taking or odd or memorable that it had been, but of course by that time it was too late to press the button on the stupid video.  Alternatively there were lots of times where I had the feeling that the upcoming stretch of road just might be a bit interesting, so I’d start filming, only to discover that actually I’d just captured yet more footage of the bum in front of me and the verge on either side.

However, I do have some video, and I was showing it to a friend the other day and even though it seems a bit ho hum to me it seemed to be of interest to him.  So maybe it’ll be of interest to you, too.

For almost all of the six days of racing there were people lining the roads watching us go by.  Sometimes maybe ten kilometres would go by without some kind of crowd, but that would be about the longest distance between cheers, or potential cheers.  Mostly the people on the side of the road were clapping, cheering, or holding out their hands for high fives.  Sometimes they were just standing there mute, especially the older folk.  Sometimes there would be five people on the side of the road, sometimes five hundred, and most times it was something in between.

The rows of kids with outstretched hands is perhaps the thing that sticks most in my mind, and I’m sorry to say that I have no video of this, so you’ll just have to imagine it.  The most thrilling crowd was lining both sides of the long downhill run into and through the town of Lospaolos, but I already wrote about that in my coverage of day four.

Here’s a bit of what it was like to ride through all that cheering and excitement.

On day three there was a long uphill climb to the finish line, with crowds cheering on both sides.  I finished this stage about an hour behind the leaders, had a cold drink, cooled off a bit, had a shower, got some lunch and did a bit of farting around before wandering back to the finish line to get this video with my phone.  You’ll have to take my word for it, earlier in the day when I had crossed the line the crowd was much more vocal.

Here’s a bit more crowd action, this time from the middle of the long climb (15km)  in the middle of the long stage (140km) that was day five, somewhere near the town of Bacau.

And here’s a little bit of downhill on some good road, going down towards the coast on the north side of the island:

Here is one of those times when the video got turned on, but nothing much very interesting happened.  Still, if you’ve just had cataract surgery and haven’t been able to see properly or even at all up until this moment, then you’ll possibly enjoy being able to watch this:

One of the great things about being in this race was just the feeling of being in a big race.  This event is a really big thing in the life of the whole of the country, so everywhere we went I had the feeling that we were at the centre of something just a bit special.  To add to that I got to chuck empty water bottles into the gutters on the side of the road just like you see the pros doing (tragic, I know, but I’ve always wanted to do that), there was often a helicopter hovering overhead, there were the ever-present crowds lining the route, and to cap it all off there were moments like this to make one feel special:

Finally, here’s the last finish line, the end of stage six.  There are a couple of oddities about this little piece of video.  The first is that somehow a tiny feather had got between the camera lens and the camera case, so the picture is not as good as it should be.  The second is that although there is a clearly audible P.A. at the finish line, and gobloads of people, for some reason you can’t hear my name being called out, nor can you hear the crowds chanting and screaming my name.  I swear it sounded better on the day.  Perhaps you had to be there…


5 Comments (+add yours?)

  1. liz dell
    Oct 03, 2011 @ 09:37:10

    Regarding the finish line….were there cows amoungst the audience or do people just ring cow bells all the time?


  2. bikenarian
    Oct 03, 2011 @ 10:55:12

    There were cows amongst the audience (I think in sporting circles they are usually referred to as ‘the crowd’, or ‘the spectators’), but not at the finish line in Dili. The cow bells were handed out by the race organisation to school kids all along the race route to add that little bit of Europe to the Tour.


  3. Heidi
    Oct 03, 2011 @ 19:16:08

    So awesome.


  4. Adam
    Oct 06, 2011 @ 10:17:42

    This is really impressive John, I’ve been wondering recently what it would be like to go to Timor Leste. What was your impression of the place overall, and do you think it would make for some good multi day hiking trips?


  5. John
    Oct 06, 2011 @ 11:57:07

    I would think Timor Leste would be a great destination for multi-day hikes. Most of the country is very mountainous and quite rugged, although there is a section to the north-east that reminded me a lot of the Victorian High Plains.
    It’s very dry in the dry season, and I gather that it’s very wet in the wet season. So for half the year availability of water might be an issue, and for the other half you might have problems with access.
    Unfortunately I didn’t see much of the country apart from what was on the side of the road as I rode past, and what was in Dili. I’m sure there must be places of interest to see that are off the roads, but you could probably have a satisfying walk even just sticking to the (mostly dirt) roads.
    If you check the web there seems to be a bit of information around.


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