2015

Spider Bikes

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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!

Preview of the 2015 Sam Miranda Gran Fondo

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I will be participating in the 4th annual Sam Miranda King Valley Gran Fondo this Saturday. The course is 115 km’s and is a timed event preceding the Sam Miranda road race.  Which includes stage 3 of the ‘Sam Miranda tour of the King Valley womens National Road Series race.

Preview:

The circuit is a mix of quiet country roads, unique climbs including the famed ‘Strade Nero’ to Whitlands climb. This is a gravel climb which is 6.2 km in length with a 4% gradient. You bomb down into Whitfield and pass through rolling countryside and vineyards on your way back to the Sam Miranda Winery. The organisers have made some changes to the course this year.  This includes an extra 15 km of riding towards the end.   Which will work in the riders favour as the detour will offer some respite from the dreaded headwind.

Weather:

The forecast is pretty average. There’s 1 – 5 mm of rain forecast.  With a northerly which will make the last 40 km a challenge. There’s not much cover on the course and you’d want to bring some good wet weather kit. The only good news is that the day should be relatively warm compared with what we’ve experienced over the past 3 months.  There is only a short descent that will cause grief if you are wet and cold descending it.

Strategy:

Last year I came 6th but struggled. 80% of this event is on dead flat straight roads, and due to the fact I only ever climb hills.  I found it difficult to stay seated in the same position for such an extended period of time.  Being quite tired by the time that I hit the climbs which are normally my bread & butter.

I have had much experience on these types of roads since last year.  Finding it a lot more comfortable to sit at tempo, and to tap out a fast pace. My health is not 100%, and I can only play the safety and play it by ear. Hills are usually my strong point, but I hate to admit that I have not had the chance to test myself at all on them since injuring myself.  It would be foolish on the day to push myself into the red if I can avoid it.

At the start of winter I would have been targeting top 3. Now realistically a top 20 spot would be par. I know several riders who will be participating this year including my mates Gary Beazley & Chris Cox.  I’m00 more looking at just enjoying the weekend. Given that just over 12 days ago I couldn’t walk properly after straining my left Achilles & right knee. The fact that I’ve been able to turn things around so quickly to have a hope of even turning up at the start line has given me a sense of pride. With less than three months to go until the birth of my son.  I am fast approaching my last dance before I move onto a new phase of my life.

Preview of the 2015 Sam Miranda Gran Fondo

Preview of Warburton Dirty Dozen

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I’m excited to be attending the Melbourne 2015 Dirty Dozen which will be held on Sunday 20th September. Up to 400 riders are expected to test themselves against some of the hardest climbs Warburton has to offer. I know that it will be hard, and wondered what it will take to survive?

What’s in store this year?

This could very well be one of the hardest Dirty Dozen courses ever. This is the first year that dirt roads have been introduced, and not one but four have been thrown in to test out the riders. There are some very steep climbs this year, but the most challenging part of this year’s event is the fact that the climbs are so concentrated. The course covers little more than a 10km radius & riders will have very little opportunity to recover in-between climbs.

Image taken by Ewan Hilsdon

So how will you survive?

  • Travel light
  • Pace yourself right from the start
  • Suck it up Princess!  Don’t stop till you get to the top. At times your body will be screaming out ‘no more’, but we can assure you it hurts more (especially your pride) if you have to get off & walk
  • If hills aren’t your thing; go back to Beach Road
  • Save something in reserve for Martyr Road

The climbs:

  1. Madeline Street/Croom Street; 400m @ 17% (unsealed)
  2. Brett Road; 700m @ 13% (sealed)
  3. Brisbane Hill Road; 500m @ 14% (sealed)
  4. Giffords Road/Pheasant Parade; 600m @ 8.8% (sealed)
  5. Ferntree Avenue/Brides Avenue; 1.3km @ 9.7% (unsealed)
  6. Leila Road/Story Road; 800m @ 14% (unsealed)
  7. Milners Gap (south-east side); 1.5km @ 7% (sealed)
  8. Milners Gap (south-west side); 1.6km @ 7% (sealed)
  9. Bacchus Crescent/Damon Court/Pythias Court; 300m @ 17% (sealed)
  10. Dee Road; 1.6km @ 9.3% (sealed)
  11. McKenzie King Drive; 900m @ 9.1% (sealed)
  12. Surrey Road/Kent Street/Sussex Street; 1.5km @ 8.3% (unsealed)
  13. Martyr Road; 300m @ 20% (sealed)
27%

Special note:

I’m aware that there is limited parking around the township of Warburton. I’d recommend you park your car at any of the towns along the Warburton Highway & ride into Warburton.

For a scenic trip we advise to take the Lilydale Warburton Trail.

Winter riding

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At what point in bad weather do you stop cycling?  Over winter it’s true that everyone loves sitting in front of a fire and staying warm.  If you’re a true cyclist, you have a passion for cycling which goes beyond being warm. 

Winter riding

Here are some tips to enjoying your riding over winter:

–  Be prepared to get muddy
–  Don’t be scared off by the weather forecast, otherwise you’ll never ride during winter
–  The cheapest and best way to stay warm is to wear 2 pairs of socks
–   Invest in a pair of under-gloves. When it gets under 5 degrees, that 2nd pair of gloves makes the
world of difference, and on a really wet day will help keep your hands dry that extra mile –
–  Try to cover your neck as much as possible and invest in a neck warmer. Don’t buy one that
attaches by Velcrose as these have been known to fly off. If it’s really cold then consider taking a
scarf
–  When it’s raining, be selective which roads to ride on. Cars and bikes don’t mix when it’s raining
for so many reasons
–  Pull out your Mountain Bike. If you’re going to get muddy why not do it in style
–  Just remember that some riding is better than none
–  Ride in groups over winter. It’s a lot easier to suffer when you’re suffering with someone else
–  Winter can be a good excuse to go and do all the riding that you normally wouldn’t do during
summer. Find a quite back country road & go exploring. If you go up into the hills and it’s raining
then try and pick quite roads to ride on. There are plenty of great places to ride when it’s raining.
Just use a common sense approach.
–  Be smart. You’re more likely to get sick over winter so listen to your body and ride smart

Winter ridings all about finding the right balance, and if you’re not a winter warrior, then it’s all about trial and error with your kit to find the most comfortable outfit.  Don’t worry if you end up looking like an Eskimo.  It’s much better riding over winter than not. 

Use your Strava friends to help motivate you.  If they can get out in bad weather then so can you! You don’t need to be a badass to ride throughout winter.  You just need to have a great love and passion for your bike.

Are you a Winter Warrior?

“To live is the rarest thing in the world. Most people exist, that is all.”
Oscar Wilde

How do you know if you’re a hill junkie

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We shouldn’t stereotype but a cyclist tends to either like the hills or the flats.  There are riders that like both, but you will always tend to favor one over the other.

How do you know if you’re a hill junkie?

There is no such thing as an easy climb and you’re usually relieved when you reach the peak of a very difficult climb. There is a certain magic to climbing, which can be difficult to explain to others as climbing does involve a fair bit of pain and suffering.   True that some of the best views you can see by bike are at the top of a climb.  In reality most climbs only offer a view of your pain cave.

So How do you know if you’re a hill junkie? If you want to put yourself to the test, then ask yourself the following questions.  If you can truthfully answer yes to the majority of the following, it’s safe to assume that you are a hill junkie:

  • You view your rides in terms of vertical rather than the distance traveled
  • No matter how short your rides are, your legs will always be hurting
  • You enjoy climbing up a hill more than bombing down the other side
  • The steeper the better
  • You enjoy the challenge of getting up a really tough climb
  • Flat rides don’t interest you
Image taken on Jean Avenue, Upper Ferntree Gully (peaks at 27%)
hell
Are you a hill junkie?