Tuesday, December 28, 2010

It's a Bit late but...

I have really been enjoying my cycling during December and have completed the Highlands 300km brevet and the Christmas Picton Ride (100k). I have also been able to ride more than I expected on a daily basis, given the various christmas commitments that occur at this time of the year and the absolutely crappy weather we have been experiencing. On average I've been out every other day with a number of consecutive days riding logged.

The Highlands 300 on the 4th December was a really enjoyable ride (see previous post) and the Picton Xmas ride two weeks later confirmed to me that I'm getting stronger all the time. The first time I tackled Picton road heading east was 3 years ago, I was a bruised, dehydrated and sweaty mess coming back. This time I was calm and spinning away nicely, despite trespassing on a construction site and a few squalls on the way home.

Since my ITB problems last May and physio and such, I am really beginning to feel like I can be a confident long distance cyclist. Sure it will hurt and I will suffer endlessly, but it doesn't seem as alien now as it did when I commenced this blog.

Now without spoiling my yearly recap post next week, I'm pretty happy to be sitting on about 9100km for the calender year which is quite a bit further than I aimed to ride, so next year I will be looking a little bit further down the road. I'll also be looking to inject some visual interest into the blog and take some photos on my rides.

Crikey, If I manage to come back from Paris without any illustrations, I will be disappointed.

Mileage in Km 9160

Sunday, December 5, 2010

Interesting times

So I get back from Perth and find that I still have tummy trouble. It's worrying enough now for me for visit my Dr, who duly diagnoses Giardiasis. Terrific, take this medication and it should be fine. Medication is awful and a couple of weeks later the now familiar signs have returned.

Hmm says Dr, better run some tests. Turns out I have been enjoying the company of a range of critters, with the last remaining Blastocystis hominis causing the trouble. Not sure where I've encountered these devils and likely will never know, but I am now definitely on the mend after another course of awful antibiotics. The tests also indicate that I'm in fabulous health other than said bugs camping in my gut and HDL cholesterol measuring 6.1. Oops.

So much better in fact that I have recently ridden a lovely 300km brevet known as the Highlands Ride (i'd post the bikley link but its not loading) in what for me was a pretty good time of 15 hrs 30 mins.

The weather this last week has been very wet but I count myself lucky that I got to ride about 150kms in relative dryness though there were some pretty good downpours. By the end of the ride I was down to emergency rear light only as the rain had killed the superflashes and I was really thankful for my reflective vest. Descending Keira in the rain was fraught with terror as I rode the brakes and tried to stay upright.

What was really enjoyable about the ride was the number of birds that were frolicking about. I saw lots of vivid parrots, Rosellas on the way to Bundanoon, and around Wingello I spotted two Yellow Tailed Black Cockatoos, as well as the usual Lyre Bird on Macquarie Pass, countless ducks and a raft of Kookaburras.

I managed to get myself into a really useful headspace during the ride. I was enjoying the riding and maintaining a pretty good pace, felt I was climbing well and was generally comfortable both in body and mind as I rode along. This was also my first long ride for sometime without using Perpetuem and I found that so long as I ate at the controles and snacked on lollies along the route I felt pretty good.

So that's the 300 and the 200 down for the PBP qualifiers. There's a local 400 in early February though I have the Tallowa Dam 200 and Alpine Classic to look forward to in January. Will need to get a few more hills in in the meantime.

Mileage in Kilometers = 8682

Sunday, October 10, 2010

Perth Albany Perth - bad but good

You no doubt learn more from your mistakes than you do from your successes and I can say that that rings true for me and my performance at Perth. Though, reflecting now on the ride I don't think I could have done any better than I did (dnf at control in Walpole at 555km) for reasons known only to my gastrointestinal tract and I find that I did learn a lot more about the long ride than I lost in not completing it. Don't get me wrong, I am disappointed, just not gutted.

Happily I was able to borrow a bike to ride the 200 into Perth after resting for a day and that was nice, despite an aggressive Magpie and a more aggressive brown snake so I racked up a brevet for the trip and about 770 km all up. I have practised travelling with bike and gear and most importantly seen the advanced stages of fatigue that happen on a big ride. Survivied the advanced stages of fatigue in fact. The biggest surprise was how quickly that feeling passes.

Typing on the iPad does not make for a flowing narrative so I will elaborate further upon my experiences when sitting at a proper keyboard.

Tuesday, September 14, 2010

Mallee Routes 600 Pt 2

The next morning dawned clearish and a bit windy. I lolled in my bunk while other, perhaps more sensible or experienced randonneurs rose and got on their way. Starting at 7.30am just well, indulgent.

I got up and headed to the cook house and had a couple of coffees, munched a couple bananas, yacked with Peter and Les while other riders kept coming up and departing. By 7.20am Mark arrived and after making a few adjustments we hit the road at about 7.45, not quite the lanterne rouge but close enough! We did however have heaps of time up our sleeve as the final cutoff for the ride was 10pm.

Leaving town with the wind we made good time and settled into a rhythm as we headed west then south on the long 100km stage to Jeparit. The first 60 or so kilometers sped by but we soon found ourselves riding into the wind and the last 25kms were testing. I was quite happy to arrive at the Controle and had a delicious egg and bacon roll from the cafe.

The next controle was only 50km away at Rainbow, but that section was right into the teeth of the wind which while not really strong was still challenging. Mark and I were making fairly good time however and we caught and passed a number of other riders as the sun emerged and gave us a beautiful afternoon for riding through the Mallee.

The Rainbow controle was set in a beautiful garden avenue in the main street and after a quick break we again set off, first into the wind before turning away from it and fairly racing away for a good run to the final stop of the ride. As happens the last kilometres can drag by, however the late afternoon light was really lovely drawing vivd colours from the fields as we rode past. Eventually we saw Hopetoun on the horizon and before too long we were entering the town and arriving at the controle at about 5.50pm, still light. Handshakes all round after what was quite a brisk 200k ride.

Later that evening we enjoyed a home cooked roast dinner at the Bon Bon cafe before I took to bed well aware that I had yet to drive 12 hours back home the next day.

While the Mallee routes is a relatively flat ride, I was really happy to finish and was quite pleased with my riding over the weekend, finishing with an average of 24.8kph on the bike and about 35 hours for the total ride. I'm a bit stiff today but there's no lasting damage and I am now feeling very ready for Perth- Albany-Perth next month.

Big ups to Peter for organizing the event, Les and Gordon for running the controles and the other riders for their particpation and conversation along the way. It was a great ride.

Monday, September 13, 2010

Mallee Routes 600 pt 1

What a great weekend!

Not just because I managed the 600 but it was a really well run and supported event and I got to meet old friends and make new ones. It was nice to press the flesh with blogger's Nancyboy (the ride organizer) and the exotic southerner Surly Dave after a long period of online friendship.

I love a road trip and the drive down had both brilliant sunshine and really heavy rain. Driving through Wagga Wagga, it was the greenest I had ever seen it and venturing further west to Balranald to avoid potential flooding in Victoria took me through a fascinating man made irrigation landscape in what should really be desert. Driving between Narrandera and Hay I saw and tooted (politely he waved back) a fully laden cyclo tourist, literally flying along with a tailwind. He looked very happy.

Arriving (at last) I checked in at the astonishing and highly recommended Mallee Bush Retreat, sorted the bike and gear and made it to the Hoptoun Community Hotel for dinner and drinks and yacking. Nice to catch up with Hans and Peter and to meet a few others, Les and Gordon who would be supporting the ride. I was quite tired after the long day of driving (had left home at 5am) so opted for an early night and found I was not the only one.

Alarms started to go off in the bunk house from about 4.30am (bastards!) mine was set for 5am, as the ride stared at 6 and how much could you do in 90 minutes? Anyway up and dressed I was light checked and before too long we were off, Peter's warnings of certain death by railway crossing at Warracknabeal uppermost in my mind. As always at the start, it's hard to tell who is fast and who is not, and chugging out of town I joined a group that seemed about right for my level of effort and was sucked along at 32-35kph for a while until about 40k in when my warmish attire was causing me to overheat and I realised that it wasn't likely I could hold that pace all day. Though it was great while it lasted.

After the first control in Warra, we turned east briefly before beginning the long run north to Birchip and Sea Lake. Leaving a bit lake I chased down a larger group of riders, and together we were an effective group working together to the Birchip control pciking up solo riders as we motored along. This was a really enjoyable leg, I chatted with a lot of other riders and Mark and I literally bolted into Birchip, smelling the chips at the cafe for the 128km control. If it was all going to be like that, it would be a doddle!

Birchip to Sea Lake was a bit different, the group had dispersed again and I passed a number of riders from the group until I was joined by Mark who I rode with to the control at Seal Lake through the extensive crops of wheat and barley and canola. We were briefly geograpically confused appraoching the town but otherwise made good time.

After lunch the next leg towards Speed and the controle at Patchewollock was a difficult leg. The wind had increased and we were riding right into it. I left the controle with legends Hans and Tim and along the way we collected a few others. The turnoff from the main road took us onto a C road towards Speed and we swapped duty into the wind. After a while we were fragmenting as a group and Mark and I (and another) arrived at the Pathe controle ahead of the others. It had been a tough leg but we were now turning back towards Hopetoun (in day light (just)) with only a measly 100km to go before sleep.

Leaving Pathewollock with Mark we rode together, occasinally seeing the flashing lights of riders ahead but never really closeing in on them. We also saw a bright red light shining from a Telecomunications tower that slowly guided us in to Hopetoun.

We reached the 300km control at 8.30pm and after a brie rest headed out for the last 100kms before bed. Peversly, this was up a hill to Wonga Hut. Shortly after town we were picked up by another rider and we headed along the road, playing with our lights and getting updates on the Swans v Dogs game (I did'nt really understand). After what seemed like a life time we passed into the Whyperfield National Park and then after another lifetime we arrived at the control. We had met a stream of cyclists coming back down the mountain as we made out way up, which was bother reassuring and depressing.

Wonga Hut was a lovely spot to stop and as Les reminded me later, I really wasn't too keen to hit the road again. It was now about 11.30, I'd been riding all day and tha hut was warm and full of food.

Eventually I prised myself up and Mark an I headed off. I was getting quite dozy and it was really good to have Mark's company on the way back just to keep me motivated. We eventually arrived back in Hopetoun and after checking in decided to set off again at 7.30am to complete the last 196km of the ride. We scoffed some of Peter's excellent pasta and grabbed a shower. Setting the alarm I was really looking forward to 4 hours sleep!

As I am now. More Latter...

Mileage in Kilometres = 6256km
PBP Quota = 2700km

Thursday, September 9, 2010

Car Packed

Tomorrow morning I'm heading south to Hopetoun to try my luck at the Mallee Routes 600km brevet.

It has been an anxious week, what with the adverse weather and flooding that has struck Victoria though happily the route appears to have had only experienced average rainfall and is looking prime for the weekend.

My own training has been hampered by weather. Last Saturday's Bungonia Buster was a wind and wash out though I have found that not riding so much these last few weeks has made me a lot faster. I achieved my PB for the 30k training route yesterday. Bang on an hour (with traffic lights I might add). Legs feel great, head is primed and the car is packed.

Dreamt this morning that I had successfully completed the ride and felt a quiet sense of satisfaction. Convincing dream until I realised I still had to ride. A good sign however.

It is going to be a good weekend.

Milage in Kms = 5656
BRMs = 2100

Tuesday, August 10, 2010

Picton Sutton Forest 200

The dawned brightly if a trifle cold and in my preparations for the ride I soon realised that I had managed to "leave" my atm card somewhere. I scraped up some cash from various tins and the car change bin, donned the riding gear banking on a nice sunny day and set off for Dapto.

With the sun not yet up it was quite cold and I arrived a little late in Dapto to see that a solid group of 8 were ready for the ride, some familiar faces and some new. After the formalities we set off towards the first objective challenge of the Keira Climb. The sun was up now and pacing along the Princes highway at 30km/hr was quite pleasant. Soon the climb loomed and I felt quite good on the lower slopes and up higher maintaining a steady pace, and enjoying the work. Reaching the ridge and commencing the descent towards Picton I began to find the going quite cold and before long found that my thighs, protected by only a thin layer of lycra were getting very cold and cramping.

This became worse when ascending the sharp undulations into Picton, but I stuck with it and was soon at the cafe enjoying a sausage roll and warning drink. Heading off on the next leg however I very quickly felt both colod, crampy and nauseous. At some point the cramps really started to bite and got off the bike to stretch and swallow some enduralytes. The I vomited a bit and swallowed some new tabs.

I felt very low at this stage and with a long steady climb into a cold headwind, I wasn't entirely confident that I was going to make it very far. I have come a long way in the last twelve months and my mental appraoch to riding has altered significantly. I just dug down and thought I can ride slowly, there's no rush, I'll just do what I can when I can, how I can.

After a while I began to find that ther lethargy and pain was receding, I regularly crunched on a glucodin tab and the constant effort of climbing was having the positive effect of warming me up. By the time I reached the halfway point at Mittagong I was feeling a lot better.

The next 35km to Sutton Forest saw me grow stronger and when added the realisation that I could now turn and take the breeze from behind was an added impetous. The remain 79 kms across the Highlands and down Macquarie Pass sped by in less than 3 hours and I was most pleased to get back to Dapto in just over 11 hours, catching up with Barry S who had punctured.

This ride illustrated just how much can change during the course of a ride. Previously when I had experienced cramping and other difficulties I had assumed that that was it, and that my ride was done. This time I had no choice but to continue and manage myself on the bike and gradually regained my confidence and strength as the ride went on. So a great ride and a really good learning experience for me. Experience does count.

Mileage in Kilometres = 5057
Brevet quota = 1900

Friday, August 6, 2010

What's been doing

It's been a relatively quiet winter for me and the mileage count is not as high as it should be, but I have been making up for less hours on the bike by doing some regular cross training. As a result my legs are feeling much stronger and when I do ride I find that I am comfortable and getting faster for longer.

Between now and the first couple of weeks of september I have 1100km of brevet's planned. A local 200 tomorrow, the Bungonia Buster 300 the first weekend in september and then the Mallee Routes 600 the following weekend. I hope to ride a couple of 200 permanents as well. These rides will finish off my first super series and finalise my PBP registration quota.

It should also get me set for Perth Albany Perth in October. I've booked my flights and registered, and am quite excited about taking part.

Back to riding... It's been a frustrating few weeks with either work, weather or annoying colds keeping me off the bike during the week. Yesterday I got home relatively eaerly from work and resolved to get out for a ride but after setting off and getting around the corner the front deraileur cable snapped on my first up change. At least I hoped it was the cable!

Drats. Not deterred, I turned around and rode to the bike shop where the cable was identified as the problem (relief) and quickly replaced. Back on the ride I was really enjoying the early evening, passing through the various atractive and not so attractive cooking smells emanating from kitchens en route and observing the dusk grow darker.

I had been a bit apprehensive about the evening ride, as traffic was a lot heavier than in the morning but that dropped off quickly and I appeared to be the only one out riding and didn't encounter all that much traffic at all. It was a good ride, just what I needed.

Snapping the cable was also positive, at least it ocurred at a time when I could get it fixed. If it broke tomorrow morning on my way to the start of the 200, I would have been less happy. It is probably time to replace the rear cable as well and perhaps thoroughly overhaul the Roubaix. And clean it! the mechanic commented that there was more mud on my bike than most mountain bikes!

I have been enjoying riding the Rivendell too. Mostly on weekends and mostly as recovery but its a lovely ride and climbs pretty well.

Mileage in Kilometres = 4754

Sunday, July 4, 2010

Back on the bike

After a cycling hiatus as a result of my ITB syndrome, this past weekend saw my first brevet in a month, with the successful and healthy conclusion of the the Three Ws 200k. The w's being Winter, Wisemans ferry and Windsor.

It was a lovely winters day and a great route that explored some new ground for me. A big highlight was the river road between Wisemans Ferry and Sackville, following along the banks of the Hawkesbury River. Really lovely riding with great vistas over the river and some really interesting sandstone outcrops that made my old rock climber's heart skip a beat or two.

The day was greatly improved by the company of Barry M who was similarly returning from a layoff and was content to amble along at a moderate pace and tell great stories of brevets in Malaysia and trusted in my navigation (only 3 extra kilometres!).

We finished at 6.30pm in Hornsby having enjoyed a great day out on the bike. My knee was great, and thanks to the cross training I'm now feeling stronger and could have ridden further if required - though the other contact points have obviously softened up during the layoff.

Today I took the Rivendell for a coastal spin with a special friend and the legs though tired, weren't damaged.

I have learn't a great deal since failing on the Border 600, have become physically and mentally stronger, have a better bike fit and a greatly improved technique.

The rest of the cycling year is looking great from here and I am looking forward to riding the Dog Trap again next weekend.

Mileage in Kilometres = 4342

Monday, June 14, 2010

day 14

The whole blogging everyday isn't working so well these last few days though tis spikes my interest! Another meme from melbin via Bonito club

Two names you go by:
1) Grant
2) Harry

Two things you are wearing right now:
1) Scarpa walking shoes
2) Levi's 501s

Two things you would want (or have) in a relationship:
1) Fun
2) Decent sex

Two things you like to do:
1) Ride
2) write

Two things you want very badly at the moment:
1) My knee to be strong
2) My mind to remain focussed

Two things you did last night:
1) Drank great craft beer at Hart's pub
2) Saw Vivid

Two things you ate today:
1) Banana
2) Blue cheese

Two people you last talked to:
1) Caitie
2) Sue

Two things you’re doing tomorrow:
1) Sorting some meetings
2) Launching a partnership

Two Favorite Holidays
1) Paris
2) Vietnam

Two favourite beverages
1) Beer
2) Coffee

Two things about me you may not have known.
1) I can cook
2)I like reading Thomas Pynchon (over and over again)

Two jobs I have had in my life:
1) Librarian
2) Photographer

Two movies I would watch over and over:
1) Magnolia
2) Sid and Nancy

Two places I have lived:
1) Newcastle
2) London

Two of my favourite foods:
1) Pie
2) Cheese

Two places I’d rather be right now:
1) Paris
2) Booti Booti

Wednesday, June 9, 2010

Day 9

Lets pretend I didn't miss day 8, just continue on as if nothing happened. Rivendell arrives next week on Wednesday. Had to pay the GST component today, so it's looming very real. Can't wait. I hope to ride the Dungog 600 on it at the end of the month.

Monday, June 7, 2010

Day 7 - Flexnib's memes

If Melbin can, so can I

Do you snack while reading? Yes, often reading at lunch or dinner time so food goes everywhere.

What is your favourite drink while reading? Depends on the time of the day but coffee and or red wine.

Do you tend to mark your books while you read, or does the idea of writing in books horrify you? I hate the idea of writing in a book - I use notebooks when something strikes me.

How do you keep your place? Bookmark? Dog-ears? Laying the book open flat? I am not yet brain injured enough to not remember a page number from one day to the next. Now that I'm using an ipad or kindle, the whole page remembering thing is pretty automatic.

Fiction, non-fiction or both? Both

Do you tend to read to the end of a chapter or can you stop anywhere? I prefer chapter breaks but sometimes it just doesn't happen that way.

Are you the type of person to throw a book across the room or on the floor if the author irritates you? No, I just quietly put it down and walk away..

If you come across an unfamiliar word, do you stop and look it up right away? Yep - it's a great day when I learn something

What are you currently reading? Solar, Ian McEwan, The art of asking, Terry Fadem, Discipline without Punishment, Dick Grote, 3 books on long distance cycling, When you are engulfed in flames, David Sedaris

What is the last book you bought? The art of asking (ebook) last proper book was Olivier and Parrot in America, Peter Carey.

Do you have a favourite time/place to read? Anywhere is fine, but I do have a favourite wing back chair.

Is there a specific book or author you find yourself recommending over and over? The Child in Time - Ian McEwan

How do you organize your books (by genre, title, author’s last name, etc.)? I do not organize my books - have enough of that at work!

Barbara’s additional question: background noise or silence? Music usually

Sunday, June 6, 2010

Day 6

My bike fit yesterday was interesting, saddle was too high and too far back, and my cleats are too far back and angled incorrectly. I've also got a pretty crappy action. Not that Alex said that in so many words but I got the message.

Still not able to ride - next physio is Wednesday so hopefully will get clearance to start spinning again.

In other news UPS advise me that the Riv is in Oakland now. That's progress.

(BTW I'm participating in the 30 blog posts in 30 days effort - hence the unaccostumed frequency of posting)

Saturday, June 5, 2010

Day 5

The iPad has trouble finding the text box in blogger! Makes posting a bit tricky!

Anyway some great news today. My Rivendell Sam Hillborne has been dispatched and is due to arrive in 10 days. Should be an awesome bike, relaxed and comfy, for those days when stopping to smell the roses is impotant

Friday, June 4, 2010

Day 4?

Am still awaiting the shimano freebies, so worth mentioning at this stage that I will be getting a bike fit tomorrow. Hopefully that will lend some accuracy to my random measurement and lead to greater comfort and success on the bike.

Thursday, June 3, 2010

Day 3

Well the IBT is responding to therapy and things are feeling much happier in the pedalling department. I have been impressed with the mtb gearing on other audaxian's bike - notably Greg L and Pat L who rock deore rear ds and 36 t sprockets. wind yourself up anything. Anyway a bit o research found that Deore XT has gone 10 speed in 2010. I've just ordered myself some climing goodness.

Now that I have mentioned Shimano on my blog I shall surely recieve some deore xt for trial purposes! Surely?

Wednesday, June 2, 2010

Day 2

So I went to the physio today and apparently I have ITB syndrome, which is really treatable and if I "tick all of the boxes" should be fit for the Dungog 600 at the end of the month.

The exercises I have to do, actually feel pretty good, so am really optimistic that I will get back on the bike next week, having eliminated yet another physiological flaw. Got to be happy with that...

Tuesday, June 1, 2010

Border 600k nad a blog post/day in June

Well I came close but unfortunately could not finish the Border 600. Bad knee took me out at 480k! As its 30 blog posts in 30 days, I'm going to drag this story out, but the ride was terrific, and challenging. I see my physio tomorrow. Hopefully I will get better fast.

Sunday, May 16, 2010

Cessnock 300

After riding 3 brevets last month, I've have had a couple of weeks off to enjoy a spot of bushwalking and brewing. Got to have balance in all things.

Yesterday I lined up for the Cessnock 300, complete with new Cinettica Velocita jacket and new ay-up lights, wile I didn't get use the the jacket the ay-up's are terrific. High speed descents are now beautifully illuminated. I really enjoyed this ride and continue to learn lots more about how I react to longer journeys and how to manage myself better on the bike. As a result I finished strongly and felt that I could have kept on riding. That's a big improvement over my first 300!

The ride route was really lovely, generally keeping away from busy roads and included the lovely section down from Bucketty to Wollombi - which is probably some of the nicest cycling road anywhere - downhill too!

After stopping for lunch in Cessnock, I caught up with Bec Morton and we rode the last half of the ride together. Just as well, as I was navigationally challenged quite a few times. I also managed to bend my front derailleur at about 160kms and was unable to use my big ring for the remainder of the ride. It wasn't so bad but it slowed me down after I realised that I was going to be able to keep up spinning at 120rpm. It was good though to have to deal with the problem and keep going. Funnily enough, much earlier in the day Howard snapped half of the outside casing of his Campy Record front der, and still had full shifting. I haven't looked at mine yet, but I am hoping it is easily repairable.

So that's just the 600km ride remaining for my super series, and I have booked into the Border 600 out of Inverell at the end of the month. That should be a good ride.

Mileage in KM = 3180
Brevet km = 1500

Sunday, April 18, 2010

Windellama Wander

Another Saturday, another 200km brevet! Or so it seems - so far this month I have ridden a 200km every weekend, starting with the Tallowa dam ride over easter, Sackville scamper last weekend and Windellama yesterday.

As luck would have it I was attending the Innovative Ideas Forum at the National Library on Friday so the opportunity to spend the night and catch the ride in the morning was too good to resist. The 200km was a straightforward out and back to Bungonia, starting with the riders who were doing the Highland Hop 400 who were riding out to Robertson (nearly home).

Watching the weather during the week I knew I would need lots of layers for the start and when I arrived at the Sutton community hall in the fog and the dark at 5.15am at about 6 degrees I knew I was right. One critical flaw in my packing was forgetting my headband/ear warmers! Luckily, if slightly comically, I was able to use a clean explorer sock which reached from ear to ear and was just thin enough to fit beneath the helmet.

As the riders assembled I was surprised by the number of recumbents - 4. I had never ridden with a recombent before and they immediately made me feel tall, and fast on hills but then very slow down them and along the flat. Such was the nature of the group that I soon found myself alone riding at my own pace. I stopped at Bungonia for a coffee and then riding out in the fog I saw Kerrie-Ann stopped with a puncture. She was fine and I road on to Tarago to briefly pass one of the recumbents - Andrew i think - who has stopped for adjustments. A little further on I was having some navigational difficulties when Andrew cruised up and set me straight.

I watch him slink off into the distance, occasionally I would gain a bit of ground on hills but his speed on the flat was a good 3 - 4 kph faster than me - for less effort too. Coming up the 80km mark, the fog had lifted and I paused at the top of a hill to switch off the lights and peel off some layers. Kerrie- Ann caught me up and she paused to describe the next part of the route and explain the secret controle at the turnaround in Bungonia. She rode on while I topped up my perpetuem and then we regathered at Johnno's general store. Later I met Greg Cunningham who was also riding the 200km.

I set off for the last outward leg to Bungonia, a mostly downhill undulating ride to complete the secret controle and then ride back up. Going down I was passed by a couple of riders who were heading back.

Coming back up I passed Greg and Alex(?) another recumbenteer who were heading down. The climb was not too troublesome, what went up, must come down and the generally undulating nature of the countryside lent a nice rhythm to the ride. Riding from Tarago to Bungonia without the fog I passed some massive windfarms which were hardly turning at all. I could see that with a wind this ride would have a slightly different character and prove very difficult.

One last obstacle presented itself between Bungonia and the car, and that was the climb up Smiths Gap. The descent earlier in the day had been wonderful, so the climb probably wasn't. The reality though wasn't too bad. It was steep, but short, quite like the Bald Hill climb.

The final leg up Macs Reef Road was shorter than it seemed on the way out and despite a near miss with a truck overtaking me on a bumpy downhill run (me hanging on for dear life - the truck not respecting it), I was soon back in Sutton at 4.20 notching up one of my quickest 200s. I also felt really good and could have ridden a lot further, so the fitness is improving.

Next weekend I'm hoping to ride in the Central Coast 200km, which will give me 4 BRMs and 800 BRM km for the month taking me to 1400km of BRMs this year. Just over half of the qualifying total for PBP.

This morning I have stripped the Roubaix down and given him a good clean and lube. He looks fantastic now.

Mileage in KM = 2562

Monday, April 12, 2010

Springwood n' Sackville Scamper

What a ride. Big crowd of participants, old blogging friends, friends from suffering of yore and new types just waiting to be befriended.

I knew it was going to be a good day when I woke up in time to drive up to Waitara to join Howard and Bec's 200km brevet. The last one I missed - got a call from Bec halfway up the Picton road - "Are you coming Grant? we're about to go!" So I checked the starting time twice and set my alarm.

At the start I was happy to see some ole riding buddies, Peter B from the ill fated Scone 600 last year (he made it), Bec and of course Howard (thought I can't actually say I've ridden with Howard he's much too fast), Adrian and a number of new faces, a couple Naomi and Nick who were on very handsome bikes touring indeed.

The ride itself was glorious, separating out the tragedy on the western motorway, the weather was grand, the company great and the riding rewarding. Even at the first controle in suburban Springwood the organisers had somehow arranged for entertainment in the form of an Irish Harp player.

Leaving Springwood on the second leg was not without it's misadventures. Peter, Ming and I set off, Ming on a rather nice 26.5 inch bike with classic TA cranks. On the descent of Macquarie Rd, Ming found some awkward bumps on a tight corner and went down hard. I was far enough away to avoid hitting him and after pulling him and his bike out of the path of oncoming traffic we patched him up as best we could with my emergency first aid kit before riding slowly on to Richmond where a train could get him back to civilization. He had displaced his shoulder but luckily had not broken anything, which was a relief.

From there Peter and I wound our way up to the second controle at Kurrajong passing the "touring trio" of Adrian, Nick and Naomi. After the warmish climbing, the views from the ridge into Kurajong were wonderful, as was the Sassafras cafe were we met Bec and others and enjoyed some lovely food, a great cup of coffee and friendly service. The touring trio arrived shortly after us and we left en masse and I got the opportunity to ogle Nick and Naomi's thoughtfully constructed bikes.

They had both recently returned from a touring holiday in New Zealand and the bikes looked great. Nick had a Surly LHT from which he had removed the stickers which made it look kind of exotic and different. Naomi rode a beautiful blue Europa, with Grand Bois tyres, hammered Honjo fenders, relaxed gearing, Brookes Saddle and titanium Tubus rack. Did I mention her Stainless bidons?

Seriously cool bike that could drift off the bitumen onto gravel and not crash. It was great chatting about it and I was worried that I would come over a bit weird but Nick and Naomi seemed to understand. It renewed my love of the more relaxed bike, of the touriste aesthetic, of the original Apollogy project which got me reduxing in the first place. (More of that later).

On with the ride

We rode on down to Sackville for a ferry ride and then on to Berowra for another ferry ride, chatting away the miles, enjoying the hills and revelling in the descents. Even the Cattai Ridge Road was not as painful as I recalled. I was getting a bit of hot foot and my achilles tendon was playing up but the miles passed pleasantly and before too long we were at the finish enjoying a quick rissoto and beer with the others and sharing stories. There are some impressively fast riders out there. The first group were back by 3pm.

It was a great day, fabulous ride and I really enjoyed the company.

Anyway so impressed was I with Nick and Naomi's bikes I have decided to follow through and get myself a Rivendell Sam Hillborne, Maybe even some tweed bags and a flannelet cycling shirt. Style I think, counts for a lot with me.

Mileage in Km = 2320

BRM km = 1000

Tuesday, April 6, 2010

Tallowa Dam 200 - the ride of the damned

The easter long weekend saw the successful completion of the Tallowa Dam ride (Hooray!). Have some history with this one, having broken down on it last year (see my post 3 flats and a buggered knee). But this year it was a different story entirely, Well I made it for a start, it was cooler which made it a lot easier, and it rained quite heavily

I got the job of organizing the ride and was pretty happy to see a larger than normal group roll up on Saturday morning for the start. As well as the usual suspects, we had an "international" visitor from New Zealand, an interstate visitor (The ACT counts) plus a few making the trip down from Sydney for the ride.

We had spruiked the ride as covering some of the best scenery the Illawarra has to offer and the first half of the ride did not disappoint. Departing from Dapto we were spoilt with clear views across the escarpment and the gentle rolling hills around Albion Park and Tongarra. Climbing the pass the group began to spread out with the faster riders leaping ahead. Conditions on the pass were lovely and a number of Lyre Birds and King Parrots were spotted.

Before reaching the top of Macquarie Passs the route veers right to tackle the Tourist Road and its climb up over the Kangaloon Valley passing the Headwaters of the Nepean River and the snarling attack dogs - small and awkward, before the mostly downhill section along Sheepwash Road to the first Controle at Fitzroy Falls.

I kidded myself that I was riding sweep in case anyone required assistance, but I was just slow. Gravity sped me up on the ride down to Kangaroo Valley, topping 85kph on the descent and I caught up with Bec crossing the Hampton Bridge - carefully.

During the long slow climb up almost to the Dam (steep descent to the water) I started to see the faster riders coming back up and down. The sun was out now and it was growing warmer. Though not as intensely ovenlike as it has been.

Made it down the steep hill to the Dam wall and took the obligatory anti-summit picture before regrouping and heading back up the steep climb.

I soon commenced cramping and dismounted and walked a number of times. Highlight of the climb up was a very large goanna basking by the side of the road.

Topping out it's a good undulating ride back down towards Kangaroo Valley, a section of the ride highlight by sighting a large Wombat (alive) and the beginning of the rain. Arriving at the second controle I was greeted with cheers (thanks guys) and the disappointing news that the cafe had stopped taking orders for lunch. Damn! I broke open my emergency energy bar supply and before long was happily rounding up the tail to climb the last major obstacle of the route - Barrengarry Mountain.

At the foot of the climb the rain began, and the traffic picked up. I donned my reflective vest and had the lights flashing brightly and turned towards the climb. The road was slick and in many places I succeeded in spinning my wheel and it became necessary to dismount and walk. This happened more frequently as the climb wore on, partly cause I was knackered, but also it seemed safer to walk in may places as the wet conditions, high traffic speed and general absence of road shoulder were causing me some concern.

Eventually, after what seemed like an hour, the road began to flatten out, the rain grew heavier and the fog began to thicken. Pretty sure I was at the top. I came across a number of cycle tourists along the way, sensibly waiting for the rain to ease before undertaking the descent. Smart move.

I was really happy to reach the turnoff to Myra Vale Road and leave the traffic behind. A couple of km in I stopped to rest and put on some more layers as the conditions were very wet and increasingly cold. My speedo was also playing up but I managed to fix it with a spare ziplock bag and a rubber band. I was also very happy to find the the new Carradice Tourist bag was bone dry on the inside.

Sucking down some gu I then set up the remaining climbs to Robertson and then cautiously descended the Pass in improving conditions. Big ups to the driving of the Mazda who patiently sat behind me for a good few kilometers until it was safe to pass.

Once back on the relative flat the rain had eased and tailwind was ready to push me home and on the final freeway leg I was happily pushing along at 35kph, which always feels good with 190km on the legs.

Made it in last rounding up to 12 hours for the ride certainly a slow ride but with over 2500m of vertical gain (closer to 3000 I think) and the difficult conditions I was very pleased.

More pleasing yet is that I'm an official starter for Perth Albany Perth, so with luck I will get my first 1200 under my belt this season.

Mileage in Kilometers 2150

Saturday, February 27, 2010

Still Riding

I'm making fairly good progress towards my mileage goal for the year, with 1341km up now. It would be more but I have had a recurrence of the gammy knee which has slowed me down and forced a retirement from the Canberra 600km ride last weekend.

Have only ventured out a few times this week, a couple of early morning 30's to Bulli and back, though I pushed hard on a 100km training ride this morning down to Kiama and back - returning by thte scenic and undulating coastal cycleway. (will post a photo - truly I am spoilt for riding vistas). Feeling good afterwards, the knee a bit cranky but it was happy enough on the ride.

I am currently awaiting the arrival of a new saddle bag - the Carradice SQR Tour

It's quite a lot larger than the bag I currently use (a 5l Vaude Off road) and can hopefullly take the extra gear I need for the longer unsupported rides. I can't mount a rack on the Roubaix - and Dave would kill me if every tried) so this seems like a good and useful alternative. Not too heavy, not too heavy.

I ordered it through wiggle.com but it is out of stock and not due until March. Hopefully I will have it in time for the Dungog 600 in April.

Sunday, January 17, 2010

Just back from the Gunning 400km brevet. Made it in by 90 minutes for a total of 25 hours on the bike through heat, torrential rain, hail, strong winds, sleep deprived hallucinations, power napping in the forecourt of the Sutton Forest Servo, punctures and ongoing rear light failures - (thanks a bunch Planet Bike - why make a light that can't keep out water?).

Now I'm having a rauchbier to celebrate my achievements and to numb the pain. After that I'm going to sleep.

Mileage in Kms = 827

Friday, January 1, 2010

End of year wrap up

So, last year didn't quite go to plan. I finished 2009 with 6380 km (2008 3909 km) which exceeded my target (was aiming for 6000), however injuries and illness got in the way of completing a super-series and generated the greatest disappointment of the year in not being able to take part in the Sydney Melbourne 1200.

In fact as far as audax rides go I had a 30% failure rate and only managed 4 BRMs and the oppy with 7 cafe rides. I rode 120 times during the year, or once every 3 days. October was the best month for distance with 1160km ridden. Another highlight was broadening my riding horizons with the Sydney Audax group who's rides through the gorge country of northern Sydney and the central coast were very satisfying.

2009 was a good year for learning about riding and the importance of mental preparation as well as physical fitness, I've refined a lot of my approaches and can ride further on a lower base than before. The mental toughness still needs some work though.

This year the goals are to;

Finish a Super series.
Complete at least one BRM event every month
Clock up the required 2400km of BRM rides (November - November) to qualify for early entry into PBP (only 2200 to go!)
Complete a 1000km ride
Hopefully complete Perth Albany Perth (am on the waiting list)
Aim for a total mileage of 8000km.

In other non cycling achievements I successfully completed a Masters in Management, saw my son through the HSC and on to University (he's going to do science education), finished building a new library , and brewed 21 batches of delicious home brew.

Mileage in Kilometres = 30km