Articles

Cycling Grand Ridge Road

Posted on Updated on

Images courtesy of Andrew Clifforth photography.

If you’re looking for a grand adventure on the bike.  Grand Ridge Road (GRR) is one of Victoria’s most spectacular tourist drives, and snakes its way along the ridge of the Strzelecki Ranges.  Covering 135km from Seaview to Carrajung.  This road provides stunning views through the La Trobe Valley, and to Bass Coast and Wilsons Prom to the south.  Taking you through the heart of Gippsland, and through some of Gippsland’s finest gravel roads, which you will find between Mirboo to Carrajung.

Bike/Tyre choice

1/3 of GRR is unsealed and given you will be confronted with two completely different types of road surfaces.  Picking the right bike/tyre choices for a ride like this is imperative.  The CX is the ideal bike for a ride like this, however if you do not have one.  You could get away with either a Road Bike (running at least 28mm tyres) or a MTB.  Just be aware that if you go the Road Bike, the gravel sections will be hard work, and if you go the MTB the sealed sections will be hard work.

For your consideration:

  • What equipment do you have available?
  • How much experience do you have with gravel grinding?
  • What level is your fitness at?
  • How much can you carry on your bike?
  • Are you willing to go out and buy new components just for this ride?

 

You will find GRR an incredible road to cycle. Much of the time you’ll have the roads to yourself, and it’s a road that will offer countless challenges. It’s never flat, and has ever-changing scenery.  From fern forests to rolling pastures, towering mountain ash to forestry plantations.  If you ride down Grand Ridge Road you will feel like you’ve gone back in time.  This road was built in a by-gone era, and is very easy on the eye.

GRR takes you through the Mount Worth State Park, and into Mirboo North.  A town which is rich in history.  Painted on the sides of local shops, throughout the town are these colourful murals depicting the history of the town.   These are great to set your bike up against to get yourself a good #BAAW photo. If you do enjoy a Beer, then Mirboo North is home to the Grand Ridge Brewery.  Here you can drop in and sample some of Gippsland’s finest Beers and Ales.

Mirboo North also is home to the Grand Ridge Rail Trail, which follows the original branch line from Morwell to Mirboo North, which was completed on 7 January 1886.  The Rail Trail is 13km one way and is a gentle descent down to Boolarra.  If you’re taking on GRR, I can highly recommend to do the Rail Trail as well.  Its a real pleasure to ride, and as a bonus, bonus.  If you’re a hill junky.  There is a climb to the north of Boolarra which is incredibly brutal.  Darlimulra Road peaks at 18%, and over the 1.5km climb, will rarely dip below 10% and one of those climbs that you have to ask yourself.  ‘Do I really want to hurt myself getting up that thing?’

The final part of your journey through Grand Ridge Road will take you through the magnificent Tarra Bulga National park.  This is one of Victoria’s most spectacular cool temperate rain forests.  Covering 1,522 hectares and situated in the eastern part of the Strzelecki Ranges. The area was named after “Charlie Tarra” who was an Aborine guide who led Count Strezelecki and his party through Gippsland when they discovered the area in 1840.  The National Park itself was originally given the Aboriginal name “Bulga”, which means “Mountain”.  It is very popular with hikers and those that love the feel of a rainforest. The cool moist conditions provide the perfect environment for a rain forest. The park is well known for its giant Mountain Ash trees and lush fern gullies and ancient myrtle beeches.

 

You will rarely have the opportunity to ride such a beautiful road that offers stunning views throughout.  You’ll find it just a delight to ride, and will offer you a adventure of a lifetime.  Whether you ride a short section.  Or take on the whole 135km you will be left with lasting memories.

Cycling Grand Ridge Road

Start:                                Seaview

Finish:                             Carrajung

Public Transport:          V-Line Services run alongside the Princess Highway.  Check out the PT Website for further details

Grand Ridge Road climb at a glance

  • Lots of undulating climbing
  • Long climbs at Mount Worth and Mount Tassie
  • Breathtaking scenery
  • Expect to see number of wildlife along the way
  • Very little traffic
  • Limited places to purchase food or water.  Mirboo North, a Café in Balook (limited opening times) & at the Tarra Valley Caravan Park (Tarra Valley Road). It is advised to bring adequate supplies with you
  • During summer this is a bushfire area
  • Some areas along this road are used for logging.  If you hear a truck come along it is advised to pull off the road to safely let them pass

As with all unsealed roads, the road surface can change depending on weather conditions.  Take appropriate equipment, and some extra spares and make sure you take lots of photos along the way.

Should I ride East to West or West to East?

The hardest sections to ride are to the East over the gravel roads, however these are also the most scenic, and depends if you like to leave the best for last?  One thing you should also take into consideration are the wind conditions.  Melbourne rarely gets an Easterly wind, and will frequently have the wind come from the West.  So if you start your ride from Seaview, you are more likely to have a tailwind.

Either way has its challenges, and can vouch that it’s harder than it looks.

During fire season

Tarra-Bulga National Park is in a fire district. Anyone entering parks and forests during the bushfire season needs to stay aware of forecast weather conditions. Check the Fire Danger Rating and for days of Total Fire Ban at www.cfa.vic.gov.au or call the VicEmergency Hotline on 1800 226 226.

Going postal

Posted on Updated on

Last year I was attempting to climb Martyr Road in some truly horrible conditions. This is one of Australia’s steepest and toughest residential streets. Much of this climb is around 30% in gradient, and it felt like there was concrete weighing down my shoes. After just 50 metres of trying to climb this monster my lungs were on fire.  I was screaming in pain and every fibre of my body was telling me to get off and walk. Failure was not an option and in desperation I was forced to deliver the mail and Going postal.

Image taken by Ewan Hilsdon; Martyr Road
Delivering the mail is a term relating to a cyclist who come across a hill so steep that they need to

“zig-zag from one side of a road or path to the other in order to attempt to reduce the gradient”

Delivering the mail really sucks.  Maybe its the speed you’re going at.  Or should I say lack of. When you come to changing directions.  You get that horrible feeling that you won’t be able to turn the wheel and drop the bike.  It’s hard enough just to climb. Avoiding potholes, debris or turning the bike is a bitch to do.  It’s something I never want to do again.  Its so much easier climbing in a straight line.  Anything else is just a waste of energy.  Why?

  1. It increases the distance you have to climb which invariably;
  2. Takes you longer to get to the peak of the climb which will;
  3. Friggin hurt (welcome to the pain cave). And there’s a possibility that;
  4. You may have to get off to walk. Which is truly embarrassing,but worse still;
  5. You fall over (then the ill fated question; is the bike ok?)
Please don’t try this at home. This was a trained professional

Sure there may be times when its necessary.  But trust me.  You don’t want to be Going postal

Tour de Pharmacy preview

Posted on

The HBO special by Andy Samberg and Murray Miller is a cycling classic.  Boasting an all star-studded cast taking a swing at cycling’s doping past.

The Tour de Pharmacy is a sports comedy which doesn’t hold back.  Right from the outset you see Orlando Bloom.  Clad in Lycra and sporting some pretty impressive 80’s facial hair hurtling down a mountain.  No one realises that he has died from a drug-induced heart attack whilst his penis dangles all over the place until he flies off a cliff.

Image courtesy of HBO

The film follows a fictitious 1982 Tour de France which claimed to be one of the most outrageous in the tours history.  Early on a mass pile-up of riders led to a massive punch on.  In the aftermath of the fight a doping needle is discovered in a water bottle, which leads to an investigation into who in the Peleton is doping.  165 riders were subsequently disqualified for doping.

The Tour de Pharmacy follows the exploits of the five remaining riders on their quest to ride one of the world’s most famous races.  The Tour de France.

This is a film which never takes itself too seriously, and takes on the taboo subject of doping in professional cycling and turns it into a good hearted fun comedy.

This film has an all-star cast of celebrity actors, sports stars, directors and a number of celebrities that I’m sure you’d recognize.

If you’re a passionate cyclist would you enjoy watching a film which takes the mickey out of the world of cycling?  Guess there’s only one way that you can find out…………..

Running time: 43 minutes

Director

  • Jake zymanksi

Writer

  • Murray Miller

Just some of the All-star cast

  • Orlando Bloom
  • Dolph Lundgren
  • Kevin Bacon
  • Danny Glover
  • Adewale Akinnuove-Agbaje
  • J.J Abrams
  • Mike Tyson
  • Chris Webber
  • John Hamm

 

Australias first bike safety program 1977 – 1982

Posted on Updated on

it is clear that the transport future will include far more ways of moving people around cities that exists today.  Not everyone will ride a bike but a great many will do so.  Geelong Bikeplan is planning for those changes.  It is appropriate now to place greater emphasis in encouraging more people to use bicycles and make the general public more aware of the rights of cyclists” – Geelong Bike Plan

On Friday 8th July 1977 Geelong launched an audacious plan to improve safety on its roads, in what was to become Australia’s very first bike safety campain.  The aim was to encourage more people to ride their bikes.  Its motto was;

every street is a cycling street

 

Image courtesy of Bicycle Users Geelong

A number of safety initiatives that we appreciate today we can attribute to the city of Geelong.  This bike plan was introduced to help improve road behavior of car drivers and cyclist and for its time implemented a number of radical changes.

These included:

  • Trialing reduced speed limits in residential streets down to 40 km/h
  • Building segregated bike lanes on some roads.  In total there were 14 km of bike lanes introduced
  • Signage was put all around Corio to help educate motorists and cyclists
  • Detailed bike maps were produced for local residents
  • Investing in bicycle infrastructure such as warning signs and bike racks for public use to encourage people to get out and ride more
  • Introducing a publication on cycling safety to be introduced to the curriculum of local schools
  • Opening their first bike path.  This connected the Norlane area north of Cowies Creek to North Geelong High School and Bell Park Technical School.  This path was primarily set-up to provide a safe way for children to get too and from school
  • Using law enforcement to improve the safety of cyclists.  Two full-time Police officers were appointed for a four month period.  These officers reviewed alternative approaches to bicycle enforcement and to observe the road behaviour of motorists and cyclists. During this period over 2,000 warnings were issued to motorists and cyclists.  120 motorists were fined as well
  • During 1980 a 12 minute film was produced for the Geelong Bikeplan
  • This campaign was marketed in newspaper, T.V, and safety fliers were developed to help educate everyone
Image courtesy of Bicycle Users Geelong

The government enlisted the help of one of Australia’s most famous cyclists Hubert Opperman to join the fight.  Opperman had served 17 years in parliament representing the city of Corio from 1949 to 1967 before retiring from politics.  Opperman was a widely respected member of the community.

He added a major presence to the campaign.

This trial was a huge success and was widely recognised at the time as a model for bicycle planning around the country.  We can be thankful that the bike infrastructure that sometimes we take for granted today.  This may not have been possible without the hard work of the Geelong Bikeplan some 40 years ago.

Image courtesy of Bicycle Users Geelong

Sources:

Images courtesy of the Geelong Heritage Centre

View the Geelong Bike Plan 1979-80 brochure (PDF).

http://www.bicycleusersgeelong.org.au/geelong-bike-plan-1977-82/

Nasu: Summer in Andalusia

Posted on Updated on

Nasu: Summer in Andalusia is a 2003 Japanese Anime film set during the Vuelta a Espana.  One of the three European Grand Tours, which is a punishing three week race that makes its way around Spain.

Pepe Benengeli is a Spanish pro-continental rider racing for the Pao Pao Beer squad.  Pepe is a Domestique who does what he’s told.  He is one of the weaker riders in the peleton, who relies on tenacity and hard work to get to the finish line.  This film revolves around a stage in the Vuelta a Espana.  Which is set to finish in the small town of Andalusia, where Pepe grew-up.  Not somewhere that he ever planned to return to.

As fate has it, he rides on the day where his brother is getting married to Pepe’s ex-girlfriend Carmen (awkward).  Pepe focuses on the race to distract him from these mixed emotions he’s going through.  Managing to make the breakaway, where he’s directed to protect the teams no# 1 rider.  Pepe accidentally overhears a conversation between team sponsor and the sports director.  To his shock he learns that his sponsor intends to fire him after the race.

Pepe Benengeli

Given he has nothing to lose, he disregards his instructions and sets out to win the race against all odds.

Whilst only a short film, this film has a good story line.  The film starts at a bar in the middle of nowhere.  They’re eagerly trying to set up their T.V in order to watch the race which will soon pass right in front of the bar.  The film then moves in between his hometown and the race, which is quite realistic for an animated film.

Nasu: Summer in Andalusia

  • Running time:  47 minutes
  • Country:           Japan
  • Language:        Japanese (English subbed)
  • Click here to view this film on Youtube
Nasu: Summer in Andalusia

Bikes by Steve

Posted on Updated on

Steve Gardner is a friend of mine who I met many years ago.  He is a spray painter by trade.  Cyclist by life.  Combining these passions Steve has decided to start up his own business; custom spray painting bicycles.

I sat down with Steve to ask him about the new business venture he’s putting together.

Steve has spent his life working in the auto re-finishing trade, and has worked in the industry a total of 23 years now.  He has a passion for riding and like many of us lives and dreams bikes and told me “After painting a couple of bikes for friends I could see a way I could make a difference with my skills.  Spray painting is both a hobby and a passion of mine, and there aren’t that many places in Melbourne where you can go to get a custom spray paint job on your bike.” – SG

Let’s face it, we want the best for our bikes, and getting a custom spray paint for your bike is the ultimate way of looking after the one you love.  Before contacting Steve, give some thought to what you want your dream bike to look like.  Once you’ve decided on the colour you want, then contact Steve to discuss your options.

Steve only uses the highest quality sprays, predominately using PPG.  Ceramic clear is also an option.  The process involves a full rub down and removing any chips and scratches from the frame.  Applying a 2-Pac primer and multiple colours, logos stripes, etc. followed by a flow coat.  The end result is that you have a bike that all of your friends are envious about.

If you have a retro, steel or alloy frame, Steve can bring life back to your bike. He can reproduce any of the original colours and source original style decals. If paint removal is required these will be soda blasted. Re-chroming is also available.

Steve wants to do a job that he would be proud to call his own bike.

If you want to find out more then get in contact with Steve on 0404 883 214.

I want to provide a service for those that want something different from their friends.  Someone who wants the personal touch.  One who has a passion and love for their bike”. – SG

Bikes by Steve:

Steve Gardner

Yowamushi Pedal review

Posted on Updated on

Yowamushi Pedal translates to “weakling pedal“, and is an Anime series about road racing.

The series centres around Sakamichi Onoda.  He’s pretty much the stereotypical nerd (pictured below).  A student at Otaku at Sōhoku High School who is obsessed with Anime and games.  Since his parents bought him a “mummy bike” in grade 4.  He would ride his bicycle to and from Tokyo’s Akihabara shopping district.  This is a 90 kilometer round trip over some super steep slopes.  Onoda didn’t ride for fitness.  He rode just to get his precious Anime.  Somehow along the way learned to ride.

Yowamushi Pedal review

The series Yowamushi Pedal, is a family show which has a variety of characters.  Who contrast with each other in terms of personality and their approach to competitive cycling.  Not only can you can relate with the excitement and passion that these characters have for cycling.  It’s quite refreshing to watch a t.v series about characters who are obsessed with cycling.  Sound familiar?

The characters in this show a ultra competitive.  Instead of portraying bitter rivalries like in real life.  Yowamushi Pedal is all about bringing out your best.  Your competitor isn’t someone who is necessarily standing in your way. Your competitor is someone who sets high.  And is a driving force for where you want to be.  Your fiercest rival can also become your best friend.  You both want the same after all.

This series is directed more for the teenage market, breaking down the simplicity of cycling to the bare basics.  Even so, the drama and excitement about the bike  will appeal to a seasoned rider.

Language: Japanese (subtitled in English); cycling is universal and it is easy to follow and enjoy this show.

Stream the season 1 & 2 for free at Animelabs

  • Season 1, 38 episodes
  • Season 2, 24 episodes
  • Yowamushi Pedal the Movie; 1 hour 30 minutes
  • Season 3; 2017 release

This series wouldn’t be everyone’s cup of tea.  But you never know unless you give it a go.

Gravel Grinding

Posted on Updated on

We all experience a different sense of pleasure that riding brings.  Some ride for the thrill of speed, others need a hill or two to make their ride interesting. We are looking a the adventure rider.  The riders that get back to nature and couldn’t care less whether the road is hilly or flat.  They are in it for the dirt. They are the Gravel Grinders.

SO WHAT IS GRAVEL GRINDING?

This is the riding for those that enjoy the adventure.  Who get a real pleasure from leaving the security of riding bitumen to travel off road.  Gravel grinding can be done on any type of bike, whether it be a Road Bike or CX. The choice of weapon is up to you.

WHAT CAN YOU EXPECT?

The exciting thing about gravel grinding is that you can expect the unexpected.  Gravel roads aren’t maintained nearly as well as Bitumen Roads.  So the surface conditions can change over time.  Depending on weather conditions & general wear and tear.

‘Getting a dose of vitamin G’ requires a higher level of concentration.  There can be obstacles in the way that if you’re not careful will cause you some grief. Rutted tracks from cars driving in the rain, corrugations that shake you to the core.  Pot holes, cracks caused by water flow.  Sticks and very loose sections of gravel all mean that you have to concentrate on the road and find the smoothest line to ride.

‘live the dream’

It’s a little more complex than just putting your head down and pushing down on your pedals. Those that have ridden gravel will know it’s harder than riding bitumen.  You are guaranteed a much harder workout.

To riders that don’t usually step outside of their comfort zones, these may all seem reasons to avoid riding off road, but how will you know if you never give it a go?

Gravel grinding is an escape and provides a great middle ground between Road and Mountain Biking.  Let’s face it, it can be bumpy, dusty and doesn’t do any favours to your bike, but that is all part of the fun and enjoyment that gravel brings.

THE EXPERIENCE

Riding on gravel takes you down the roads less travelled, and back to the grass roots of nature.  You are much less likely to see a car on your travels, which allows you to choose a better path to ride, it’s just you, your bike and the road!  They also don’t put gravel roads through the very centre of town anymore, so to ride on them, you are usually somewhere a little more remote. This means the views and scenery you experience are so much more likely to make the challenge worth while.

The ‘style’ of riding is different to that which you would be accustomed to on the road. Traction becomes a much bigger focus, so you may find that you need to stay seated on the climbs, and grind through the steeper sections, and there is always the risk that your rear wheel skid underneath you at the loss of grip.

Perhaps there are more dangers and difficulties to look out for, but trepidation and adventure go hand in hand.

You can come away with a real sense of satisfaction to have gotten through your rides on gravel, with a feeling that you’ve achieved something.

PREPARATION

When you’re travelling down a long and dusty road the last thing you will see is, well pretty much everything.  You’re very unlikely to come across any shops, and less likely to see cars, so if you have a mechanical and have to get off and walk, it could be a very long walk.

Gravel grinding requires better preparation. How much food should I take? Should I fit a bigger cluster? What tyres should I run? Should I take a second tube, a chain breaker and a quick link?

Riders new to gravel should really route their rides through towns at regular intervals, and you’ll learn pretty quickly that just because there’s a town name on a map doesn’t necessarily mean that there’s a shop or even anything there.

Be mindful that in some country areas you are less likely to get phone reception and it is always important to let someone know where you are going in the event of an emergency.

You should start small and perhaps ride on short, easy gravel rides before trying something big.  It is much better to discover that a particular set of tyres is unsuitable for gravel on a short ride rather than on a long one.

Safety is really important on gravel rides in remote areas.  Consider taking a PLB (personal locator beacon) if you are venturing off the grid.  Pack a small first aid kit (we love the pack from the guys at Road Rash Kit) and preferably ride with others.

The great thing about gravel grinding is that it is a whole new challenge.  Whilst its not everyone’s cup of tea, its popularity is certainly on the rise, and the great thing about gravel riding is that it opens up whole new areas to ride, and the best thing is it’s a whole different experience.

This piece was originally published in La Velocita

Jayco Herald Sun tour prologue

Posted on Updated on

The Jayco Herald Sun Tour is Australia’s oldest stage race celebrating its 64th year. If you want a chance to get up close with the professionals. The prologue stage in the heart of Melbourne is the perfect opportunity.  This is a 2.1 km individual time trial through the heart of Melbourne, covering a variety of surfaces including cobbled paths, footpaths and roads.   The prologue starts from Federation Square.  Before a flat and fast finish along Southbank promenade.  The time trial finishes at Queens Bride on the Southbank promenade.

The course is quite narrow and cornering is incredibly challenging as well as dangerous.  The riders have very little room to maneuver.  With the technical nature of the course a number of riders will take it easier into the corners in order to stay safe for the stages ahead.  Unlike normal time trials or prologues.  The riders are not allowed to use a proper time trial bike.  And have to use a normal road bike.

Caleb Ewan at Federation Square

The Jayco Herald Sun tour prologue

The Jayco Herald Sun Tour attracts some of the world’s best riders, two of the world’s best world Tour teams. Orica-Scott and Team Sky, who were last year’s winners.  Chris Froome who won the 2016 edition, is also a three time winner of the Tour de France.  Having Chirs Froome race at the Jayco Herald Sun tour has helped greatly to bring international attention to this race.

Details

Wednesday February 1st 2017

Start:      6:15 pm at Federation Square, Melbourne

Finish:  7:30 pm at Queensbridge Square, Melbourne

Distance:  2.1km

Free entry

If you want to use public transport to get to the event.  Head to Public Transport Victoria for timetables to get to the event www.ptv.vic.gov.au

Get up close to the pro’s

Where to watch the race:

  • Federation Square – watch as the riders start on the Federation Square stage.  Where they will fly past Flinders Street Station and across the Yarra River.  You can also watch the race unfold on the big screen at Federation Square
  • Alexandra Gardens – situated on the Yarra River.  This is the relaxed way to watch the race as it travels along Boathouse Drive
  • Southbank – you can enjoy the race from the many bars and restaurants along Southbank.  Whilst enjoying the views of the Yarra River
  • Queensbridge Square – watch from the finish line.  Enjoy the excitement of the crowd as they cheer the riders over the line.  There is also a big screen to watch the action as the race unfolds.  Live commentary and post-race presentations will be held here

Why you should go

We all love our cycling.  The Jayco Herald Sun tour prologue is held in the heart of Melbourne and offers a great excuse to go into one of Melbourne’s most iconic locations.  It’s the right price (free) and you get a chance to be part of the excitement, and support Australian cycling.  Getting a chance to see the skills and speed of all of the riders up close and personal may help to inspire you to get out and ride.  All reasons to go and see the prologue at the Jayco Herald Sun Tour.

Jayco Herald Sun tour prologue Will Chris Froome win again?

Chris Froome will be racing again this year.  The opportunity to see a three time Tour de France winner should not be passed up.

Safe cycling over summer

Posted on Updated on

Over the hot summer months, Victoria can be a dangerous to live during the bushfire season.  Each year there are a number of days where there is high risk of a fire.  These are called Code Red days.  No matter how hot it is out there.  I can guarantee that if you look at your Strava feed, there’s always some fool out there riding.

A man gives a gun to a chimp and the chimp shoots someone you don’t blame the chimp!

-Marcy Rhodes, Married with Children

There’s enough great places out there to ride that you don’t need to choose one which is potentially dangerous.  Such as bushfire prone areas.

Image by bertknot

If you live in Melbourne, then you will most likely be riding in some very hot temperatures at some stage.  Below are a list of tips you should follow to make sure you remain safe during the hot summer days.

Tips to survive riding on hot days:

  1. Fires love hot, windy days. Avoid riding on these types of days
  2. Keep hydrated and carry plenty of fluids
  3. Keep an eagle eye on the weather forecast
  4. Let friends and family know where you are riding
  5. Beat the heat and start your ride early
  6. On days where there is a fire risk avoid riding in bushfire prone areas
  7. Choose a route where it is easy to purchase drinks along the way
  8. Be familiar with the area. You need to be able to identify a number of exits to get away in the event of an emergency
  9. If riding through a bushfire prone area and see or smell smoke call 000 and report it and then turn around and get the hell away from there
  10. Keep an eye of the CFA Website for warning and advice on where to avoid
Please do not ride on Extreme and Code Red days