2015

Reflections on 2015

Posted on Updated on

Photo by Emily Fiddis & Jess Varey photography

“All those moments will be lost in time… like tears in rain”

–      Rutger Hauer: Blade Runner

2015 has brought a mixture of good & bad.  I lost 3 months to injury & illness & in-between I was in for a yo-yo of a ride.  The year was all about becoming a Daddy.  I found out at the start of February that my life was going to change forever.  There was high hopes of making 2015 one of the greatest before moving onto a new chapter of my life.

The best laid plans of mice & men…….

Two weeks later a rider injured me when he crashed into the back of me at the Gippsland Gold.  This led to a chest infection.  Which led to another chest infection & then more illness and it became a winter from hell.  Every day lost was one step closer to becoming a daddy & the days were quickly ticking away.  I pushed myself hard to recover.  This subsequently led to me straining my Achilles at the end of July.  Costing me four more weeks of recovery and at this point I basically wrote off 2015.

With less than 3 months until the impending birth of my son, and very little fitness I found myself in damage control.  I never gave up & devised a crazy plan to salvage 2015.  I returned from injury to do a risky 100km ride which paid off & from here my rides kept getting bigger & bigger.  My bucket list is quite big, but I tried to tick off as many rides as I could fit in and it was a fairy tale ending.  I was lucky to have had one of the best ever recoveries and wound up knocking out some of my strongest rides for the year.  This included several double centuries, a 300km ride & finishing off with an Everest on Daniel Solander Drive.

The best & worst of 2015

Best:

  1. Tarra Bulga National Park
  2. Two Roads lead to Donna
  3. 5 Dams
  4. Getting to ride 6 minus zero degree days (love freezing cold mornings)
  5. The Bass Coast
Don Road, Mount Donna Buang

Add four Everests & several 300 km rides to the mix and I have to look back and say that 2015 did bring some amazing times this year.

Worst (gotta always take the good with the bad):

  1. I rode out to a pregnancy class to meet my wife.  She forgot to bring my change of clothes & it was embarrassing to sit out that class in my Lycra
  2. An overly ambitious 200km ride which led to me tearing my Achilles
  3. Amy’s Gran Bonko

Reflections

2015 was a year of grand travel & exploring for me.  I have experienced so much and have been riding almost five years now.  With over 60,000 km in the legs.

Daddyhood has been good for me.  I’ve still been able to get in a fair bit of riding, knocking out an excess of 2,500 km’s since my son William came along late October.

I now get a chance to live out my dreams through my sons eyes.  If ever I get a chance to take him down some of the amazing paths I’ve been down I will be a very proud dad.

I wanted to finish off 2015 with a tribute to my friends

I have met so many friends along the way and wish I could tell you stories about all of them.  But you would be reading for hours on end.  I’ve been inspired by everyone that I follow on Strava.  Whether you get out to do a 5 km to work, or pump out an epic ride makes me happy and inspires me to get out & ride & to write for this blog.

I’ve posted a small selection of images that not only show my friends passion for cycling, but go to show that some of my friends are just as crazy as I am.

 

 

 

 

To be continued……….

Christmas Hills

Posted on Updated on

Christmas Hills

Spread across the hills and valleys between the southern tip of The Kinglake National Park and The Bend of Islands lies Christmas Hills.  Sorry to break the illusion that Christmas Hills is named after our patron saint & favorite holiday.  In fact it is named after a convict and shepherd; David Christmas.  David became lost on a 640 Acre property in the area in 1842.  He was found after several days on a rise which became known as Christmas Hills.  This was later given to the district.

For many years I’ve wanted to do this ride & finally was able to set a date.  During the week the forecast kept rising until they could finally settle on 41 degrees.  This wasn’t going to stop me.  I left pretty early to try & beat the heat which proved pretty futile as it was well into the mid 20’s by 5:00 am.

My loop took me through the Bend of Islands and across Skyline Road.  This is a gravel road which is 8.3 km long and is a pure roller coaster of short sharp & nasty pinches.  Expect nothing less than a 12% average.  Several peak at close to 20% and I had to work hard to try and avoid wheel spin on a loose gravel surface.  It was hot & there were flies aplenty.  Its frustrating when you’re climbing a ridiculously steep climb.  Sweat pouring off like a shower and flies landing all over my face.  I was unable to swat them away.

What Skyline Road is renown for is its truly amazing views.  There is a section which overlooks Yarra Glen.  From ere you can see both the Dandenong’s & the Yarra Ranges National Park from afar.  This view makes the grind to the top well and truly worth it.

Skyline Road

Christmas Hills

After a brief brunch in Yarra Glen I headed up the challenging climb out of Yarra Glen & then onto Christmas Hills.  The weather was pushing 38 degrees & I was quite thankful that it was mainly downhill from here.  I took a detour up to the Sugarloaf Reservoir Park which I love riding around.  Throughout my ride I was bombarded by flies and on the climb up to the Reservoir I swallowed a fly which tasted truly disgusting.

View from Skyline Road

It was hot and I was thirsty and was down to only 300 ml of water.  With close to 15 km of riding to get to the next closest drink stop at Kangaroo Ground.  I started to dream of water, and went into my happy place & ticked down the k’s.  Taking sparing sips of my water which you was hot enough to make a cup of Coffee.

It was bloody hot!

I came upon a sign saying “Antique Store & Cafe Wattle Creek 200 meters”.  I really got my hopes up that I could get some water there.  Of course this just wasn’t my day.  Store closed.

Eventually I made it to the general store to collapse.  I ended up drinking close to 2 Liters of fluid which made me feel alive again. There  were three other riders there that said what I was thinking “geez we’re crazy riding out in this heat”.

I had a tail wind to finish off my Christmas Hills ride & the trip down Kangaroo Ground – Warrandyte Road.  This was fast and furious. 5.3 km of undulating descending with an average speed of close to 46 km/h.

Back in Warrandyte I was able to top up my fluids.  It was now over 40 degrees & I was able to coast from here doing a scenic trip around Warrandyte.  It was a tough ride but after years of wanting to do the Christmas Hills ride at Christmas I was very happy.

Warrandyte

Here is a link to my Strava Activity here:

Morningtonne

Posted on Updated on

3 weeks have passed since the birth of my son, and sleepless nights do take their toll.  On the other hand you get used to broken sleep & the constant feeling of fatigue does become a familiar friend.  I had a thought, and they usually end up in me suffering some manner of pain.  Why not after giving William his 2:00 am feed just jump out on the bike & ride a long deserved century…..

I remembered this cliché title “Morningtonne”, which of course decided where I was to ride.  There was scattered showers forecasted, but there’s nothing I haven’t dealt with before……..

So the morning feed didn’t go so well, & it took me till 3:30 am to get him settled and I wasn’t out the door till 4:00 am.  Straight out the door it was raining.  Just that sleet that clings to your skin.  I was riding into a headwind and the rain was being driven straight into my eyes.  My legs felt fresh & I was riding smoothly but the rain was driving me nuts.  When I hit the Princess Highway the rain picked up and so did the wind.  My ride became a battle for survival.  I pulled over twice to hide from the rain & after a little over 5 km I was prepared to throw in the towel & turn home.  I was soaked to the skin & started to shake.

“You will have a tailwind on the way home” I kept telling myself and kept on riding.

Yes I was seriously questioning my sanity.

I turned onto the Dandenong Creek Trail which was about 15 km of sandy gravel.  Hoping for some relief, instead I experienced hell.  The ground was soft from the rain and my tires felt glued to the ground and moving forward was tough.  That headwind was relentless.  For such a short ride I was feeling my energy quickly sapping.  Even with a tailwind on the way home possibly I wouldn’t have any energy to enjoy it.

When I hit Beach Road & it was such a relief to have the wind hit me from the side.  I was wasted with only 24 km completed.  It rained on & off from here and I wasn’t surprised to see many riders out riding.  Between Carrum & Frankston I saw a total of 5 riders which for a Saturday morning on Beach Road is a rarity.

At Frankston it started raining again & I was very tempted to turn back home, but told myself to suck it up.  I’ve survived countless epics.  How hard could this be?

Soon I hit that headwind again, and found out the answer to how hard this could be.  After making it to Mornington, I spent ages at McDonalds trying to recover.  Fluffing around trying to let my body recover.  I turned onto the Nepean Highway & felt that sensation which is purely magical to any rider.  I felt nothing.  From it being so windy I could not feel a thing and that meant that I had a perfect tail wind.

With dead legs I was suddenly flying.

There’s this small hill just out of Mornington which end on Sunnyside Road.  I wanted a PB & decided to give it some gas, and got out of my seat & sprinted up the first 100 metres and sat on a good tempo.  Looking at the Garmin, I was sitting on about 42 km/h.  I wasn’t going 100%, but 2/3 of the way up I could feel the power going & I dropped down to 37 km/h before I decided to conserve some energy & kept a steady tempo to the top.

When I uploaded my ride I was shocked to discover that I had just posted the 16th fastest time on this hill, which has been ridden by well over 13,000 riders.  I was a second off being in the top 10 & hadn’t given it full gas.  How I wish I could go back and will myself to have gone faster.

What it did was get my blood going & with a tailwind home I went into TT mode and went for PB’s most of the way home.  I was pretty exhausted but was able to pull out something special.

It was a very tough ride with the conditions early on, & I was glad that I endured through the tough early section.  Not only did I get a special ride in but I got to spend the rest of the day with my wife & child.  You can’t get better than that.

Chuckmas Function

Posted on Updated on

Well you can probably tell from the title that this one didn’t end so well…..

Husseys Lane

 

My work function is easily one of the highlights of my work year.  It’s not just about the food or the chance to socialize with people from work.  The thing I love most about my work function is that it’s an excuse to get out of work to go for an awesome ride.

This year was at Olivigna Winery in Warrandyte South.  It’s about 11km from my work & I usually give myself a 10 – 15 minute head start on the rest of the office.  The past 3 years I’ve managed to beat everyone to the Christmas function, but this year I had a challenge ahead of me.  It was over 37 degrees & I was battling into a very stiff & hot head wind.

I was tapping out a decent tempo.  It’s an undulating route from my office down Wantirna Road over & across to Warrandyte Road.  It was hot, but was wearing my new La Velocita Black Sheep kit which is just an amazing summer kit.

You know it’s one of those days when I hit every single light from Wantirna to Ringwood (9 in all) & given the conditions I wasn’t feeling confident to get there first.  You know you’re getting screwed when you’re even getting stopped at every pedestrian crossings you pass.  The last section was all downhill and I kept my hopes up but with 2km to the winery I was passed.  I ended up being the third one to get there.

The function went as expected & my belly was twice the size it was when I entered.  The day had heated up & when it was time to leave it was almost 39 degrees outside & it was a real dry heat.  I love riding in the heat & probably was a bit too arrogant about my fitness in these types of conditions considering this was my first extreme weather ride of the season.

I took the long route through Warrandyte & at the last second decided to have a crack at a KOM which I knew was around a 10% average for 700 metres.  Given the heat I knew this was an unwise move.  I turned off & was flying up the first really steep pinch.  The road flattened out somewhat and I was cruising on 27kmph.  All I needed to nail the KOM was 20kmph & easily had it in the bag.

The best laid plans of mice and men……

The last 100 metres went skyward and looked be well close to 15% and completely destroyed me.  The lights went out, and I wanted to throw in the towel but I still had hopes of getting the KOM.  In the heat I just couldn’t move & it’s scary when you know you’ve got it.  All you’ve got to do is keep on riding which isn’t so easy when all you want to do is collapse in a heap.

Yep I took it, but at a massive cost.  I suddenly was acutely aware of how hot it was and was struggling to ride.  I threw up shortly after.   A normal person would have said game over.  There was still several PB’s that I wanted to beat, & just had to go for them.  I did well but really hurt myself doing so.

On Gold Memorial Drive, I stopped off for a drink & had a baby Possum climb my bike & come & say hello.

I was screwed.

The heat was killing me & my guts were on fire.  I had water, but my water bottles had boiled in the heat & the hot tepid water wasn’t all that pleasant.  I started to dream of a frozen Coke & I had hopes that it would rescue me.

No good. It just made my guts feel worse.  At least it cooled me down somewhat.

I managed to get back to my office where I barely made it to the toilet to lose the remainder of my guts.

I was so pig headed about being able to cruise on a 38 degree day.

Dumbass!!!!

Here is a link to my Strava Activity here:

Sherpa for the Spartans

Posted on Updated on

Distance:             176km
Elevation:            3,100 vertical

Here is a link to my Strava Activity here:

I am a member of the Cardinia Climbers (CC), & their premier challenge is their Spartan Challenge.  The founder of the CC’s Robbie Rowlands.  After 16 months, he finally set a date to complete this challenge on 12/12/2015 & a number of riders agreed to join the party.

So what is the Spartan challenge?  It challenged you to do things in three, and do them tough.  To complete the challenge you needed:

  • Complete a minimum of 300km in one continuous ride;
  • A Spartan must be a good climber, and on this ride must climb a minimumof 3,000 vertical;
  • Most importantly a Spartan must be willing to get their hands dirty, and must travel a minimumof 3 km over gravel roads on their Spartan Adventure

For finishing a ride like this you get recognition of being one big Bad Ass rider!

I would have loved to do the whole ride.  With a new-born baby it was out of the question to be away from home for such a long time.  The ride was due to start at 4:30 am.  I worked out that I could wake up at 3:00 am and get out there to do the first part of the ride around the Dandenong’s.  Then get home before lunch with 150 km in the legs.

I had a rough week & the night before was due to do the 11:00 pm feed & William wouldn’t settle.  This meant that I was only able to getting 2 hours of sleep before getting out on the bike.  Not ideal but nothing I haven’t done before.

The weather was forecast to be an overcast day with a minimum of 11.5 degrees.  All I can say is puck you weatherman!  He got it very, very wrong!

On the ride up to Berwick I had several small showers hit me.  The closer I got to Berwick the colder it became which was to set the tone for the ride.

The Cast

All were going for their first Spartan 300 ride and the team included the captain; Robbie Rowlands.  Team Brydon with Lisa & Blair, Thomas Joynt & I was able to talk my mate Geert the vert to go for his first triple century.

The Ride

We set off with a south westerly pushing us along.  There was the odd shower which hit us on an ongoing basis over the next couple of hours.  They were never long, but were great at sapping energy & ensuring that we were copping a constant spray of water from the back of the bike in front of us.  The pace was fast & there a real positive vibe and comrade between the group.  The Cardinia Climbers are fast becoming a very close nit group.  There is great passion amongst the group to help one another to become the best they can be on a bike.

My intention were to Sherpa & get up the front as much as I could.  Sadly my body had other ideas.  I was chatting freely with Geert for the first 10 km & then went very, very quiet.  I could match the pace, but the lack of sleep was hitting hard & I was slurring my speech somewhat.  Then getting dizzy spells.  A few of the guys rolled next to me & tried to chat but I’m afraid I was a bit incoherent & must have seemed a bit out of it.

I don’t do flats well & guess I figured I just needed a few hills to wake me up.

The temperature kept dropping.  With the on off rain conditions until it settled a little over 4 degrees with an icy cold wind which just sapped the energy.  This was mid-December with weather you’d expect to ride in mid-winter.  Not ideal for a 300  km ride.

The original intention was to climb Bessie Creek Road which is a road I’m quite familiar with and was looking forward to cruising up.  Robbie changed the course at the last minute & decided to go up Mt Eirene Road which I’d never climbed before.  As soon as we hit the climb my on switch went on.  It was an amazing feeling gliding in the big dog & could barely feel the chain moving & found that sweet spot on the lower slopes.  I cruised forward & just had that feeling that I could pull something special out.  I hit the accelerator and flew off & when I came up to the steep section could stand up and pump out a good amount of watts to continue flying up this climb…..

That was until it got really steep.  I was feeling good, but then I guess I forgot two major things:

  1. Having never climbed this climb before and had no idea what I was in for so had no idea how to pace myself.
  2. I was feeling like shit

Half way up the climb I thankfully realised that I was about to kill myself.  Then took the foot off the accelerator & cruised up the remaining section.  Given some of the steep pinches I was very grateful I did so.  I still managed to get 5th on the leader board but wasted what little energy I had left.

Thomas & Geert

What were we out doing?  It was freezing.  Its middle of summer & it was only 4 degrees.  All the guys had shorts & fingerless gloves on & they must have been burning up energy turning the wheels.  Me I started to bonk & went really funny.  Geert also started to drop off the pace somewhat.

It felt like I was riding like a yo-you.

I would absolutely burn up some climbs, then really struggle on others.  Shortly before Sheepstation Road I had a Muesli bar. Geez I must have just been starving as I suddenly found some energy, and went flying down the road.  Geert dropped back majorly leading up to Sheepstation Creek Road and was finding it ever more challenging to get up the climbs.  Given 300 km needed to be completed and were waiting around for 5 minutes at the end of Sheepstation.  We were looking at options & I offered to stay back to ride back with Geert & let him decide what distance he wanted to ride for the day.  The crew pushed on to Spartania and then it was just me & Geert.

Caught the boss napping in the back

It was a relief for me to be able to take the foot off the accelerator and all I could think about was food.  We opted to head towards the Emerald Bakery, and I tried to keep a steady pace that allowed us to recover.  We discussed options & Geert decided to ride back with me & knock off a 150 km ride.  By 10:00 am the weather was still under 8 degrees.  I had been riding now for 6 & a half hours & it had averaged well under 6 degress for the whole ride.

Sheepstation Creek Road
We had time on our hands & made a beeline across the Dandenong’s.  The vertical racked up as we went up and up and up.

I was really wrecked, but all of the training I have done throughout the year paid off and I was able to continue to tap out a steady rhythm.  Given the week I’ve had and the lack of sleep, knocking out 176 km & over 3,100 vertical was insane.

I had a great day and it was fantastic that Geert was able to pop in & meet my son which is always special to introduce my pride & joy to my friends & family.

Many records fell today and of course the team went on to nail the Spartan ride.  Lisa Brydon was the very first female to complete a Spartan ride and hopefully will inspire others to go out and join Spartania.

The Spartans

  • Robbie Rowland’s Strava Activity here:
  • Thomas Joynt’s Strava Activity here:
  • Blair Brydon’s Strava Activity here:
  • Lisa Brydon’s Strava Activity here:
  • Geert Vercruysse Strava Activity here:

Spider Bikes

Posted on Updated on

I’ve always found it challenging to find a riding group to join on the weekends.  With my work schedule I find that the rides are usually too late or too long. I was talked into coming down to the Spider Bikes ride in Beaconsfield.  I’ve known about this group for awhile now & have seen them smashing up Cardinia every now & again.

Spider Bikes

The ride is little over an hour long and covers 26 km over a very undulating course.  With a fair sized climb up Officer Road to Split Rock Road which always is challenging.  There is close to 400 metres of elevation which is enough to appeal to me.  I liked the fact that it was a set course & there was no need for the group to stay together.  Everyone knew where to go.  Riders could go as fast or as slow as they wanted and there was always a friendly pissing contest going on.  You could be cruising along and then a number of riders would smash their way past you going for this segment or that.

There’s no ego about being passed.  Personally I find it great as it inspires you to want to come back & ride faster.  Not to be competitive, but to bring out the best that you can bring.  There are two rest stops to make sure that no one is left behind.

They tend to signify the start of the next pissing contest.

The craziest thing about this group ride is the fact that a number of riders only do it for the descent at the end.  These are guys who hate climbing, but love going the other way.  They are very, very fast and the biggest pissing contest is down Guys Hill where it’s a race to the bottom.  Its fast & furious & descending has always been my weak point .  To do a ride which encourages me to push the limits is hugely beneficial to me.  I will get passed by at least a dozen riders and scarily enough still set a time which I would consider fast.  This is one aspect of this group ride that I am determined to get better at.

I have done two of these Spider Bikes shop rides & will certainly be back for more.  This weekend I rode from home & was able to make a century out of this ride with 1,700 vert of climbing in-between.

Gotta love riding!

A ride around Lyserfield Lake

Posted on Updated on

I live a little over 3 km to the back entrance of Lysterfield Lake.  This is one of Melbourne’s most popular Mountain Bike destinations and offers over 20 km of Mountain Bike single track as well as some great fire trails to ride.  There is some amazing riding and literally is in my back yard.  Given the amount of cycling I do you would think I would spend a bit of time out there…….

This was only the second time I’ve ridden my Mountain bike over the past 6 months.  I actually have a nice Mountain Bike which more often than not gathers dust in the shed.  I did this ride shortly after the birth of my son & I was still feeling a bit shell shocked & really took it easy.

It’s good to do a ride once in a blue moon where you just ride for the pleasure of it.  Where the slower you go the more you get to enjoy the scenery around you.

The plan wasn’t to hit the single trails.  I was rusty & I knew my wife would kill me if I had a stack, and hurt myself………

But then again I was feeling it & riding the Mountain Bike well and what she doesn’t know…….

One thing I like about Lysterfield is that the trails are ever changing.  With a high volume of riders mashing up the trails, & nature doing its thing.  There’s always a new bump here, or root to dodge there which keeps you on your toes.  Mountain Biking offers a great cardio workout & depends on balance & great braking which both benefit the Road bike.

I had several Kangaroos leap out in front of me, but thankfully I wasn’t travelling that fast.  Given I was riding during the week I had a rare day where I had the trails to myself and only saw 2 other riders out and about.

Trig Point

Sadly I only had a little over an hour to ride & felt like I was just getting started when the ride was nearing its end.  I climbed Trig Point which is Lysterfields highest peak to climb & enjoyed the 360 degree views from the top before descending down to the Churchill National Park before heading home.

This was definitely short but sweet.

Here is a link to my Strava Activity here:

One last dance for 2015

Posted on Updated on

I wasn’t supposed to have much chance to ride this weekend but the cycling gods have been shining brightly on me lately. My wife had to work her last shift and I had until 2:00pm to ride.  Time enough for a Dandython.  One last dance before I get to meet my baby (the crying machine).  I had several riders join me.  Serial Everester Gary Beazley (5 Everests) had high aims of setting a PB on the 1:20 and Christian Purnomo (only 1 Everest) was happy to come along for the ride.

I set the alarm for 4:45 am and met the boys near the base of the Dandy’s.

The ride started out well with both guns firing setting PB’s on the 1:20, but unfortunately Christian must have been distracted at the base of the climb & neglected to turn his Garmin on.

He took 2:15 off his pb, but then again if it’s not on Strava………

The route that I picked was based around doing a new climb that I had discovered out of Montrose.  Inverness Road is considered one of the hardest climbs in the Dandenong’s and is part of the Crucifix.  After the traditional end to Inverness, Inverness continues on the other side of the tourist road, but not many have climbed through there.  I drove up there and found that the road continues on for another 2.8km of climbing and is very steep.  With close to 2km of gravel the climb overall is 4.5km @ 8%.  I knew it would be hard and it didn’t disappoint.

Five ways

Garry didn’t want to ride gravel & opted to meet us up at the top of Sky High, & Christian was to follow me.  I explained to him several times which way to go just in case I took off on him…..

The Patch

When we hit Inverness, I knew my legs were stuffed.  I could only pace myself up it & had to watch as Gazza slowly took off on us.  Christian kept pace with me until we hit the tourist road & then I heard him beg for a rest.  I ploughed on & to his credit so did Christian. Looking over my shoulder I saw that I took off on him a little.  When we came to Hands Road I had to wait up for a few seconds to make sure he saw where to turn off.

I suddenly found my on button and flew off on him from here & didn’t see him again.

Beforehand I had explained to him to turn left at the top of Hands and keep climbing.  You turn off onto Jaspers Road which is frekin steep so I thought it would seem obvious.  I loved Hands Road.  There was quite a bit of gravel on the road & not much of a racing line.  Most of it was between 7 – 8% but I was able to dance over the rock.

I turned off onto Jaspers & averaging close to 12% there wasn’t much I could do but grind over the final km to the top to take the KOM.  What a climb.  For those that don’t like gravel I wouldn’t recommend it, but most consider Inverness one of the hardest climbs in the Dandenong’s.  Try climbing an extra 2.8 km afterwards.  I wanted a rest, but couldn’t see Christian behind me and figured I’d need to double back in case the doufous got lost.  After making it back to the turnoff & he was nowhere to be seen.  I tried phoning him half a dozen times but couldn’t get through to him.  After awhile I was getting a bit worried.  Once he figured he got lost you’d think the first thing he would do was try to call me.

He eventually called & said that he was up at sky high & asked if I got lost.

How can I possibly get lost when I’m leading the way……

They had to wait until I got there & it was funny when he asked what took me so long.

We had done some extreme climbing and still had quite a bit of riding ahead of us.  I just tried to have fun.  The three Hells 500 riders cruising the Nong’s.  I have never had so many riders acknowledge us & give us a nod up here.  The Grey stripe is definately a good kit to wear.  We stopped in Monbulk for some brunch & Coffee for the lads.

I wasn’t going to do Silky Selby but the weather was too good to by-pass it.  The boys just had to stop to have a crack on the mega expensive bike that had been abandoned on the side of the road.  The result was hilarious.

Apparently the flat tyres cost them the KOM……..

From here it was just fun.  I showed them one of my favorite climbs, Courtney’s Road in Belgrave South, and somehow talked them into heading up Terry’s Avenue & doing the Serpentine loop.

Terry’s was once my most feared climb. My first two attempts up it left me walking & it’s a horribly looong walk.  It’s a grind but I don’t mind it now.  I was leading the way with Gary sitting on my wheel.  Christian was a little ways back & I knew he must be suffering.  But he’s a tough nut & knew he’d get up it.

Gary heading up the Serpentine (one of his many Everests)

We left Gary @ the train station, & Christian followed me for one last torture session. I took him up three of the Dandenong’s steepest backstreet climbs in Jean Avenue (27% pinch), Barclay Avenue (20% average) & Kia Ora Parade (24% pinch).  Everything I threw at him he caught & nailed.  He’s had a tough couple of years with injuries, but is starting to get his mojo back.

We left the hills for a nice leisurely trot down the bike tracks, for what was a very tough day. I don’t enjoy riding to the Dandy’s from home as it adds 40km of flattish roads in-between which can make a ride like this a bit anti-climatical.

All up we had fun, and I was so fortunate to have been given the opportunity to get one last big ride in before the birth of my son. Given I’ve lost three months this year to sickness & injury I still need to pinch myself that things turned out so well in the end.

May the bike gods be with you…..

Here is a link to my Strava Activity here:

Clcik here for the link to Gary’s Strava Activity here:

Here is a link to Christian’s Strava Activity here:

Boroka takes away your b-b-bounce

Posted on Updated on

Photo taken by Jason Poon

I had a wedding in the Grampians and had until lunchtime to ride. Waking up at 5:00 am with the aim to hit Mount William just as the sun was rising. I had a tailwind pushing me along and was cruising. Mount William is one of the last great climbs that I wanted to tick off my list. It was pitch black when I hit it and couldn’t see anything.  As the sun rose I could see the outline of all the surrounding peaks and it was surreal. I was conscious of the fact that I was doing a lot of climbing today.  Trying to pace myself.

Of course that’s not always my strong point.

Mount William is 12 km in length.  It’s all about the final 1.8 km which I knew to average in excess of 10%. The surface was quite course and challenging to climb up to begin with. When I hit it my chain jumped off.  My derailer has been a bit wonky for awhile and was slightly out of whack. To cut a long story short I couldn’t get into my lowest gear, and just couldn’t climb it. I was fuming as I had brought the wrong wheel. The one with the compact on was at home and I had to turn around and head back down.

I then headed up to Silverband Falls which seemed to be a great little climb. There was a 7 km segment through there, but not many people had done it, and I had high hopes of discovering this amazing little climb. 1.2 km in at the Silverband Falls Car park there was a sign “No entry”. WTF. They had turned this road from there into a one way road. It was still quite early in the morning & I thought screw it. I’ll climb it. If I hear a car coming along I could turn the bike around & pretend to be descending.

The next 4 km I thankfully didn’t see a single car & I got back to a 2-way section.
Photo by Jason Poon

I took the turnoff to the top of the carp ark, & was feeling pretty flat but happy. At the car park I noticed a sign saying Lake walk 600 metres. The surface was gravel but I thought why not. When the surface turned into sand and was quite slippery. Then it turned to rock & I was unable to ride any further.  Getting off and Cyclocrossing it to the top where there was a mighty impressive view.

I descended back down to Halls Gap and was feeling pretty crappy. There was just enough time to climb up to the Baroka Lookout. I didn’t know much about the climb except it was 15 or so km @ 4%. The first 4 km barely dipped below 6% and hit 10% in a couple of sections. On flat legs I was working really hard to keep a smooth technique. It was a struggle to get to the turnoff for the Baroka Lookout.  Then there was 5 km left to climb. The road was called Mount Difficult, and I wouldn’t have been surprised if a cyclist named it. The first km was hard, and pushed peaks of 17%. I was stuffed before I hit this climb. I was wrecked after. The last 3 km was more downhill, but had a nice little 18% pinch to finish off the climb.

Yet another great view at the top to cap off a great ride. My time was up & I had to head back to a wedding. My trip to the Grampians was yet another special ride & I’ve had to pinch myself at times for some of the incredible rides I’ve been able to do.

Here is a link to my Strava Activity here:

 

A ride up to One Tree Hill

Posted on Updated on

Green Hill Lake

One Tree Hill. 1.8 km @ 10%. My kinda scene. I’ve had this one high on my wish list for many years, but how could I justify driving 250 odd km to do a 1.8 km climb?

J Ward

When I found at that my wives brother was getting married in the Grampians.  I was secretly rubbing my hands together. We stopped into Ararat on the way up & I had little over an hour to ride. I headed out to Green Hill Lake. On the map it looked quite large and wet. In person it was a dried up river bed, but interesting to visit nevertheless.

I headed across to One Tree Hill, and on Strava I found a back road to get there.  How I wished that I looked at it on Google view. The road was quite sandy and I was copping a fair amount of wheel spin. The road wasn’t steep, but it was a major grind.  There were several sections where I almost came off when the wheels just span and I couldn’t move.

It was hot outside and having to work so hard to move really sapped a bit of energy out of me.
Main Divide Road

I was a bit tired when I hit One Tree Hill, and it was pretty hot, but it did not disappoint. Right from the outset the gradient settled a little over 10%. It was quite steep but the gradient was consistent and it was easy to get into a tempo. It’s hard to figure out what par is, but I thought I got this right.  I was keeping the mobile towers up ahead in my sites. I figured that they marked the top of the climb.

One Tree Hill

The nearer I got to the mobile tower the more confident that I was that I would smash this climb.  When I got to the tower I saw a driveway turn to the left which I thought would be the end of the climb, but noticed the road continued on. Uh-oh!

The gradient dipped down to around 8% and I picked up the pace, but a voice in the back of my head was screaming. “how much longer is this bloody thing?”. Soon the gradient went skywards again and my legs started to scream at me. I kept a high tempo, but could feel my legs giving screaming at me and my lungs were on fire. I just had to go into my happy place to get to the top. The last 200 metres pushed close to 15% & was quite tough to get across the line.

A ride up to One Tree Hill

The views up the top were worth it & it was an amazing experience and very happy to have ticked this one off. I almost ran out of water.  Thankfully this kind couple from the Barossa Valley gave me some chilled water to top my bottle up which was gold.

On wards to the Grampians now…..