Sunday, December 30, 2012

Festive 500 Finished

Finished off the festive 500 today with a relatively short 42km ride.

It's been an interesting week, with fatigue becoming a constant friend. It was, however, a really good challenge and despite the aching muscles I enjoyed the riding which included a long run into the National Park, a commute to work over the pass, an 80 kay lake loop, a 37 km dirt ride and a couple of shorter runs up the coast to round out the numbers. It was good to push myself that little bit harder to get over the line.

So I will likely get another ride in tomorrow but so far its 512km with 5253m climbed and 22hours in the saddle.

Monday, December 24, 2012

Festive 500

For the last year now I have been having fun with Strava which if you hadn't heard is a web site that you can upload your gps tracks of rides, compare them to other riders, on the route or on particular segments. Strava is pretty good at tracking your performance and from that angle has been working well for me. I also enjoy the supportive community aspect of it, where you can comment and give kudos for effort.

They also have occasional challenges and the most recent and perhaps the most daunting is the Rapha Festive 500. You must ride 500kms between Christmas Eve and New Years Eve, or about 75km per day. If you complete the challenge you will receive a natty patch from Rapha .

Today was the first day and hoping to get off to a good start, Ben and Harvey and I set off for a run up to the National Park, thinking to go for about 120kms or so. Early on we realised that time was precious so cut it short to a hundred to Waterfall and back.

After clearing central Wollongong we spied a large bunch ahead, bedecked in Santa hats, being led by a riding in full santa suit. Hilarious we thought so sped up to catch them. We eventually did after a chain drop and the wrong phasing at lights for about 5 minutes beore our paths diverged and we headed north for Bald Hill and the RNP.

We made pretty good time and were soon enjoying the heat and humidity at the top of the hill beneath to Hargreave monument. The tap is excellent

From there we plunged back into the cool of the National Park, enjoying a rapid descent until we turned to climb up to Waterfall. I had not ridden this climb before so took it easy as Harvey raced away. It wasn't too bad but the last 1000m or so get a bit steep so I was glad to see Harvey just below the commuter carpark so slugged on up. Turning at the top I noticed a familiar vehicle and cyclist in the carpark and stopped to chat with Barry M who was planning a quick ride through to Garie and back up as part of his AAC training.

We chatted for a bit before setting off down the hill and parting at the bottom of Lady Wakehurst Dr as we turned back towards home and Barry turned on towards Garie.

Riding in the RNP is lovely and today was great, with very light vehicular traffic - saw more cyclists than cars or motos and lovely cool conditions. Chatted with another rider about 29er mtbs (he was riding one and I want one!) and various spun and mashed our way out of the park. As we reached the top of the climb and got back out into the sun we again found it very warm and I was glad most of the climbing was behind us.

The ride back home was uneventful, and had a tailwind, so saw a few extended efforts to improve segment times where I could. At the end of the ride we had completed 100+kms, 102 for me so that's only 398km more to ride for the festive 500.

My plan from here is a short ride on Christmas day and Boxing day then commute to work on Thursday and Friday which should have me sitting around 410km. I'm planning to ride a 35km audax dirt series ride on Saturday and then that leaves the remainder to be ridden on the last two days of the challenge. Maybe a bit further if my mates need encouragement.

Mileage in Km = 6270

Sunday, December 16, 2012

Meryla Exploration

I've ditched quantity for quality and today rode 52 awesome kilometers with Shane recce-ing his audax dirt ride From Fitzroy Falls, down through Meryla to Kangaroo valley. We decided to forego the car shuffle and take only one vehicle and ride back up Barrengarry as good Alpine Classic preparation.

The dirt bit was great, after a bit of exploration, and startling some Wallabies, we were able to find a side track that led us through the Falls lookouts and up to the fire trail and from there down into the valley. for a great descent and creek crossing watched by a Goanna and a water dragon. We paused for photos -

Meryla ride

Meryla ride

From the creek we had a bit o' climbing to get out of the valley. Shane aced it, while I lost concentration and lifted the front wheel and had to walk the last 100 or so metres to the gate. From there we undulated along (it's all downhill from here says Shane)  until we found bitumen and headed to the end of the route at the Barrengarry Pie shop, where we had a well earned pie and long cold drink.

It was getting close to midday and it was really getting warm as we headed off to get back to the car. My Garmin had the temperature topping out at 42 as we approached Barrengarry Mountain. We encountered 3 broken down vehicles on the side of the road as we made our way up, all overheated and got to watching the NRMA guy drive up and down the pass rescuing them. We also encountered a lot of positive support from motorists, both the broken and the mobile during the ascent. I'm sure they thought we were mad.

It was a tough and slow climb on the MTBs but as with all things, it passed - and we were soon at the car most satisfied with the days riding.  Driving back, we watched the outside temperature climb as we descended Macquarie Pass until we arrived at Shane's place for 37c, and we both glad for the cars air con.

We'll be back in a couple of weeks to ride it officially.

Saturday, December 8, 2012

Jamberoo, it's where you control the action

Indeed, to quote the popular amusement park, though action is relative I guess.

Earlier this week I proposed, in a Tolkienesque manner to a few likely suspects that a climbing of Jamberoo mountain road was in order.

It's the last of the local escarpment passes to wear my name and as an AAC preparation was non pareil. Early enthusiasm was dampened by reality so only Harvey and I set out at 6am this morning to tame the beast.

The climb start about 30km from  my place and the approach includes some very familiar roads plus the added advantage of going over Mt Terry and past the action park before turning off Jamberoo Rd onto Jamberoo Mountain road.

Having driven up the road a few times to walk at Barren Grounds and reversed the climb on my bike a couple of times I knew that it was steep for the first few kilometers and defficult after that.

As we approached the first steep section, Harvey climbed away from me, hunkered down over his machine, churning the gear while I settled into a conservative rhythm, aiming to keep whatever I had after Mt Terry in reserve.

The first ramp of the climb goes on endlessly and straight so you can see the reality of what's ahead.  Harvey started to flag and nearing to s bends on the steepest section pulled off and dismounted. Having found my rhythm I was slow but steady and feeling good continued on, lest I fall off and tumble back down.

The road relents momentarily, letting you catch your breath then rears again at a sharp hairpin, which I chose to take very wide, but after that it was OK, relenting to an easy in saddle spin with the occasional steep grunt.

After the Abbey and the few hairpins up from there, I reckoned from my previous drives and descents that I was nearing the top. The terrain started to flatten out and I saw a sign for Barren Grounds NP and realised I'd made it. Going through the last tight curve, an oncoming car looked familiar so I smiled in the gasping for breath way I do on a climb and soon glided into Barren Grounds turnoff, where I decided to wait for Harvey and relax a bit after the effort.

Before long the familiar care returned to say Hello, being my work colleague Viv and her husband Norm who is a keen mountain biker. They had been holidaying in the area and had spent the morning at the Illawarra fly to see the sunrise. Viv recognised me so we had a nice visit before they set off and I started posing the bike.

Before long Harvey hove into view, though he had succumbed to the steepness of the climb and was walking the last bit. After a brief rest we moved on and I realised that there was still more climbing to do before we reached the top of the road and the lookout. We stopped there any way. The view was grand.

From there, we still had a couple of hundred meters to climb along undulating terrain and a long drag up to the pie shop before we could call the ride topped out. It was hard going at times, quite cold, before we could see the Pie shop and say goodbye to the climb. The pies were delicious.

From the pie shop it's pretty much all downhill so we made short work of the pass (another traffic free run for me) and returned via Marshalls Mount and the highway to town.

100kms for me with about 1400m of climbing and a major climb under the belt, one which has been psyching me out for years, so a good day on the bike. In the last few months I've ridden every escarpment pass nearby (excepting Bulli pass) so am feeling increasingly confident about my climbing.

Next month will bring on the Tallowa dam 200 as well as the AAC, and I'm feeling quite comfortable with them after today.

Mileage in Kilometers = 5941

Wednesday, December 5, 2012

Berrima 200

This past weekend saw the running of the Berrima 200 and my second tilt at the ride, which is fast becoming a favourite.

There was a bit of interest from other rides, including the local contingent and a few guys from Sydney, so we were a healthy group of 7 riders at the start.

The weather forecast was looking grim and as the ride drew nearing we were expecting to be confronted with storms and hot temperatures in the high 30s. Surprisingly, as the morning dawned I was surprised to find that it had been raining and temperatures were cool and humid.

After the paperwork at the start, we headed off after a short delay while we waiting for the last rider to join and then we set off at a fair clip heading for Macquarie Pass.

Once at the Pass, we encountered light rain for the duration of the climb, which was a welcome relief as it was becoming warm. For the first few kilometers we stayed in a loose group, which is unusual on the Pass where you tend to suffer in solitude but as the climb wore on the fit and the riders with Triples began to pull away.

I summited with Paul who had come down from Sydney in and was attempting his first 200 and we soon caught up with Mark and Terry, also down from Syndey who had paused to wait for Paul.

With one other rider yet to complete the climb I decided to wait for him to arrive and then proceed onwards to Fitzroy Falls. It didn't take long and we also collected Harvey at the Pie Shop and made a small group zipping through the countryside in fairly good conditions, high 20s,overcast and a slight, but cooling cross breeze.

At the falls we had our brevets signed and caught up with the others who were waiting for their breakfast. Ben Harvey and I decide that Bundanon would be a better lunch stop so pressed on after a short stop, filling bidons and camel backs before heading west along the Nowra Road.

Along here things began to warm up and we leap frogged each other as we worked to find our rythms. I had left my Garmin at home in my rush to leave and was finding it difficult to judge my pace. I like to average about 25kph over the ground, but not knowing my current speed was making me chop and change, but in the end I began to relax and just ride.

Stopping in Bundanoon for an early lunch at the Bike Shop Cafe is always a treat, and we all stopped except for Shane, who after eating a very large big breakfast at the Falls, and spending the last stage digesting it, pushed on.

We were soon away and rode to Wingello en mass, enjoying the growing downhill and the mostly overcast conditions which were really keeping the temperatures down. We took turns on the front with most of the work being done by Mark with a cheerful, "have a rest (insert name here)" and then proceeded to ride off the front, or maybe I was just tired. Turned out, when I caught up with him, that he wa not long back from the Bright Bootcamp and was in great form. We really didn't stand a chance.

At the control we met up with Shane again who was downing a Coke not have realised that we "all" had stopped for lunch at Bundanoon. 

From Wingello control it was a short hop to the Hume Freeway, as Shane and I rode across the railway tracks we assured everyone that we would proceed slowly, however it's mostly downhill and and we got carried away talking about the dirt series route that Shane is organising for the end of December and before we knew it we were at the intersection with the freeway, and it was hot. The cloud cover had blown off and the reflected heat was quite awesome.

We paused for a moment and saw the rest of the group approaching the intersection so rolled off on the downhill slope, enjoying the cross breeze even more so as we began a long drag up a freeway ascent. At the top I suggested we wait the others, I was planning to play a sweep roll on this section as the more inexperienced riders would be starting to push their limits, the freeway is littered with debris that can cause punctures and I'd rather be cathcing them from behind than riding back. Especially in the heat.

Everyone passed us in good time and we set out after the last rider passed, I suggested that Shane should ride at his own pace as I was  going to sweep and we soon separated into a lead group and the lanterne rouge which was myself and Harvey who was struggling with the heat a bit.

Ironically it was I who punctured half way up a hill nearing the Sutton Forest service centre, so I suggested that Harvey should carry on and I'd see him in Berrima at the next control. It was hot on the road and getting hotter for a while as I set to replacing the tube and setting off again I got a call from Harvey who had taken the wrong exit. As luck would have it it was just where I was passing so I waiting and he returned to the Freeway, only a couple of bonus Km in his legs.

Riding onwe had about 6km to the exit to Berrima and enjoyed high temperatures and a section of resealed road that left a lot to be desired and forced me out into the traffic lane for a nervous while. Soon though the Berrima exit hove into view and we looped under the freeway to find Terry with a flat and trying to fix it.

Terry's first words to me were that he hadn't done this for a while, well since he was a kid so we offered assistance, and after realising that one of his spare tubes was holed, replaced it with his last and got him back on the road.

When we eventually arrived at the control we found the rest of the bunch looking concernedly at their mobiles and slightly relieved that we had t last arrived. Terry soon followed us in and we where able to patch his tube so he had a spare, eat some delicious pastry, drink, ablute and share tales of suffering. At this point of the ride the on road temperature had hit 41 degrees, but thankfully cloud was coming in and temperatures dropped back down for the rest of the ride.

We still had a bit of climbing to do with the steep climb out of Berrima itself and the feared Bendooley Hill. With 70km yet to ride, and through the tough conditions earlier, we stayed as a group for much of the way, after the climbing breaking into two groups that rejoined at Bowral, or last chance of supplied before heading down the pass.

While everyone was getting tired, some were feeling it more than others and as 3 guys were now well passed their longest rides a more conservative pace was being set and we stopped frequently to let stragglers catch up and others to have a breather. I was determined to see everyone finish the ride and get their Brevet and thanks to the early conditions we had a lot of time and the pleasure of a 10 km descent of the pass to look forward to. I  brought this up a lot in conversation with the others. Sure you odo says 160km but 12 km of that is all downhill so you only have 28kay to go." Not sure if they believed me.

Heading down tourist road we again split into two groups and proceeded along at a reasonable pace and made the top of the pass before dark. From here is was like falling off a log and I was greatly relieved that barring a major incident, everyone was home and hosed.

So I set off down the pass in the cool evening air like a rat down an aqueduct until I saw a line of brake lights and parked cars ahead. Fearing an accident lower down I discovered that a truck was stuck on a hairpin bend and felt cheered by this, until I saw the truck.

It was in fact very stuck and probably shouldn't have been on the road as it had no chance of making this particular corner. The truck occupied every inch of available roadspace (a credit to the driver really) and we had to crawl under the trailer with our bikes to get through, much to the amusement of the cars waiting either side. Well at least I interpreted it as amusement. Things were actually pretty tense, and we didn't hand around for photos but took advantage of the fact that the lower reaches of the Pass would be relatively free from traffic and took off for an epic, fun descent.

Shane soon arrived alongside me and we reverse our earlier route back to Dapto to find Mark and his friends had arrived shortly before us and were draping themselves over the grass and pouring cold water on hot bodies.

10 minutes later Ben and Harvey rolled in to complete the 100% success rate and we all left soon after, salt stains on our knicks telling the story of a long hard day out .

 Mileage in Kilometers = 5860

Tuesday, December 4, 2012

Coastal 200 and Berrima 200 two down on The quest for a Year Round Award

One of my goals for the coming year is to complete a Year Round Randonneu (YRR) which requires that you must complete a brevet of 200km of more each month from November to November.

With that goal in mind I have so far successfully completed the Coastal 200 permanent as my ride for November and this past weekend the Berrima 200

The coastal 200 is a double loop ride from Dapto to Otford and Dapto to Kiama taking in a few of the more invigorating climbs on the seaboard side of the Illawarra escarpment, notably Bald Hill and Mt Terry. I'd lined up a fellow YRR hopeful in Ben and as the ride date coincided with the Strava 79 Mile challenge another local Audaxian, Shane joined us for part of the second loop.

We started riding early with a 6 am start at Dapto. The weather was warm and humid but presented pretty good conditions for the day so we set off only to find that Railway track works had close a critical part of the early route and we were forced to return along our route and take an alternative path.

Otherwise the first 100kms passed smoothly and I was enjoying sampling some homemade trail putty and sharing it with Ben. At the first controle I discovered I had left my ride wallet at home when leaving, so had no cash or cards on me luckily Ben is a generous guy and bought me a coffee and on the return leg we were able to deviate to my place and collect the wallet which turned out to have fallen from my saddle bag in the garage.

As we returned to Dapto to start the second loop we rode over the freeway overpass at Figtree and enjoyed the sight and sound of the Camp Quality Truck convoy. A bunch of truckies get together to raise money for a kids cancer charity and put on this convoy of over 600 heavy vehicles every year. It's quite an awesome sight. Soon after leaving Dapto we were joined by Shane who had planned to come with us to Kiama and then head further south in search of a mountain.

The weather conditons were changing however, it was getting hotter and windier, and we encountered very strong gusts from the North east on our ride out to Kiama, especially on the apex of the climb over Mt Terry.

We fragmented under the conditions but soon regrouped in Kiama and feasted at the Headland cafe before saying farewell to Shane as he turned south and we turned north by northwest into the teeth of the prefrontal wind - but on our homeward leg with only 50kms to go so spirits were high

It was a hard grind back, both hot and windy and we found little relief from either along the route, the effort took its toll. Riding into a headwind is the equivalent of riding up a hill, however you don't get the sense of achievement of reaching the top or the rest during the descent so you must "find a gear" and get on with it. We eventually made it to the end of the brevet, and in pretty good time considering the late conditions so enjoyed a brief rest at Dapto,  but we both had another 12km to go, into the wind before we were home so before long we were back on our bikes, heading back into the wind to get home.

Those last few kilometers where character building to say the least, however the ride was completed successfully, as was the Strava 79 mile goal and then some and the beer afterwards tasted just fine.

Not long after we arrived home a powerful southerly change arrived, and we were sparing thoughts for Shane who we imagined was still out there riding towards his goal. Luckily he was nearing home but encountered very strong gusts approaching 90kph as he neared the end of his ride.

Berima 200 to be continued...

Monday, November 12, 2012

Holidays nearly over

My leave is nearly over, and I will be returning to work on Wednesday, though I have thoroughly enjoyed my break and by tomorrow should have clocked up about 1350kms during the four weeks I've been at home. I've also managed to paint 2/3rds of the house and saw my daughter through her HSC, my son through his 3rd year Uni exams and a couple of good friends married, almost finished restoring one old bike and rediscovered the joys of dirt riding. I've also lost another 3 kgs, so not a bad break.

Today I took the Paino out again this morning for a quick 50km and find that every time I ride it I like it more and more. So easy to push, even into a stiff wind with a worn freewheel and chain. I'm thinking that I will make it my Monday bike so I can continue to enjoy it.

Tomorrow I've got a date for a ride up the gun club hill and then will be heading to the city to see Radiohead.

Then its back to work on Wednesday. With ringing ears!

Mileage in Kms = 5135

Saturday, November 3, 2012

More Dirt

Following my earlier exploration of the route to Brokers Nose, fellow rider Shane shared his experience on the route and reckoned that I was in fact pretty close to the Rixson Pass turnoff when I retreated. With that in mind we arranged to head out and ride the route again this morning.

Prepped for an early start, the morning dawned dampish with a light mist falling. Cloud base was pretty low on the escarpment at about 300m annd once we confirmed that neither of us minded getting wet, we proceeded with our meet at Wollongong Station and set out for Tarrawana.

 The route up wasn't too bad and Shane showed me a thing or two about mountain biking, so I was learning quickly.  Before long we passed my earlier turn around point and literally 30m away was the intersection in the path and the beginning of the long and murderously steep climb up Rixson.

In the steepest part on a switchback the trail is actually concreted over, it's a fire trail after all, but the slick conditons saw me lose traction so I was forced to walk the rest of the way up. Once at the top we jumped another gate and made easy progress on a variety of fire trail, narrow track and sandy/rocky ground before we got to the nose.

Despite the low cloud and mists the view was pretty good.

Brokers Nose

Brokers Nose
Shane on the nose

Brokers Nose

While we contemplated our next steps and munched some banana bread, another rider happened by and we engaged in some conversation and she offered to show us some other tracks and point us in the general direction of more. We retreated down the fire trail and then turned off down a single track which she described as rocky and scary. It was rocky for the most part and only scary for a few sections of abrupt drops. After a while she pointed us towards Picton Rd and tracks on Keira and we continued our descent through some lovely forest, skirting tree ferns and Hakeas on our way.

when we emerged on the Highway interchange we set out in the general direction of her instructions but didn't manage to find anything that looked accessible so we rode up Picton Rd to the Mt Keira Road intersection and then followed some tracks that showed on the garmin.

It was tough going in places and the paths didn't seem designed for bikes so soon we hit the Mt Pleasant fire trail and ripped downhill before turning towrads home in increasing rain. It became clear early on that the V brakes on my bike weren't up to much in the rain and the longer we rode and the dirtier and muddier my wheels became the less effective the brakes were. So I'm thinking now of converting the Montari to Disc brakes. It has compatible wheels and mounting points on the frame and forks so shouldn't be too big a problem to overcome.

It was a great mornings ride and I'm really enjoying the variety of off road riding.

Wednesday, October 31, 2012

October Wrap Up

As months on the bike go, October turned out to be a pretty good month. Especially considering that I wasn't supposed to be riding!

Being on leave for half of the month is a big help, so much more time for longer rides and the weather has been great.

So analysis of the month is 17 rides for 1003km and 10,855m of climbing. My best monthly effort for some time.

As it happens I was back to the Surgeon this morning for the final review of my foot. All seemed well and I'm quite happy with it, so to celebrate I went out for a ride, aiming for Bald Hill.

The weather was warmish and the late start mean't that I saw a lot of sun but the climb up to Bald Hill was great and according to Strava I posted my best time.

Bald Hill
Special Sunscreen Filter used
The climbing improvement I'm putting down to some weight loss (sitting on about 73kg now down from 84 earlier in the year) and yoga practise. My yoga teacher emphasises the importance of technique and softness of breath and eyes during poses, even when they're physically demanding. I've been carrying that over into my approach on the bike, especially when climbing and trying to maintain a soft posture and relaxed breathing.

I'm now looking forward to the new Audax season, tackling a year round Randonneur award ( a 200km ride or longer every month) as well as a super series

Mileage in Kilometers = 4782

Tuesday, October 30, 2012

Mountain Biking

The Illawarra will be hosting it's first Dirt Audax series this coming season, and I've made up my mind to participate.

In my youth I was a keen trail rider, exploring many of the dirt tracks around Newcastle on my trusty dragster. On moving to the 'gong I purchased my first (and only) Mountain Bike, an Avanti Montari and explored a few trails and rode the 2004 NSW bike ride before stepping up to a road bike and etc.

So the Montari has been hanging in the shed for a few years now and this last week I've taken it down and dusted it off in order to prepare for the dirt series, the first ride of which is in December.

Earlier in the week I took it on a brief shakedown around the local cycle paths with a kilometer or so of creek side dirt. This morning I was more ambitious and headed off for a climb up the escarpment heading for Brokers Nose.

I really enjoyed this ride as it was a complete adventure for me, I was riding into unkown territory and my MTB skills had yet to be tested.

I set off across the usual cycleways heading for Tarrawana, got a bit lost, but eventually found my way to the old road to the Mine. Ignoring various signs of peril I jumped the gate and commenced the climb upwards on a sealed surface to the old mine workings before jumping another gate and hitting dirt.

From there it was up and down along either wider fire tracks and single track but essentially traversing  a ridge line at about 230 meters. After a while I became increasingly suspicious that I was lost, had missed a turn somehow and the garmin refused to clarify my position or show the tracks I thought should be there.

Time was getting on so I eventually turned back and headed for home, only to find out later that I was only a few hundred meters from the track I wanted that would lead me to the Nose. Not to worry, I'll try again later.

I really enjoyed the ride and despite my MTB rustiness was soon enjoying weight shifting and the rush of descending rock strewn singletrack. Wish I was younger sometimes!

I took some photos too -

Sunday, October 28, 2012

Berrima 200

Earlier in the year I made a BRM comeback on the Berrima 200. It's one of the routes I run here in the Illawarra and is a great days riding  with a number of challenging climbs and great scenery to enjoy from the saddle.

This past Saturday, the ride was due, however prior commitments meant I had to be back early so opted for a quick 100 up to Fitzroy Falls and back.

Apart from me, there were 4 official starters, all down from various parts of Sydney. No surprise there, as the weekend saw the running of Fitz's Classic in Canberra plus the start of the Great Southern Randonee in Victoria, so there was plenty of competition.

Long story short, all 4 starters got away and completed the ride in good time, Chapeau to you all. Me, I enjoyed the ride up to Fitzroy Falls, set a PB on Macquarie Pass and saw 4 Lyre Birds - and thoroughly enjoyed myself on the way back.

As of that ride I've clocked up 830km for October. Not bad considering.

In other news, the Herc restoration is chellating away, the wheels are slowly rotating through their vinegar bath and I've rebuilt the bottom bracket and head set. Am thinking no that a layer of clear coat over the paint and neutralised rust might be in order so will test a section of chain case during the week and see how it turns out.

Mileage in Kilometers = 4606

Monday, October 22, 2012

More Riding and the Herc is stripped down

I enjoyed a couple of relaxed weekend rides.

Went for a 53km quick ride with Ben on Saturday morning, just and out and back to Marshall Mount. The outward leg was a struggle and I wasn't sure if it was fatigue after the kays I'd done during the week, however when we turned back, it was clear that it was the wind. Quite flew back home.

Sunday was day two of the Audax "Robbo Weekend" so I headed up to Robertson at the top of the Escarpment for a 100km ride with the group. It was a mostly sunny ride, though a strong southwesterly that sprung up mid morning made the middle leg from Aylmerton to Berrima a bit tougher. It was lucky we were going with the wind on the last 25kms as it strengthened and became quite gusty.

All in all it was a top morning out on the bike, with lots of birds, a wallaby and various invisible rustles in the hedgerows sighted. Also great to catch up with a few audaxers that I hadn't seen for a while. It is nice to be back on the bike again.

It was time for a rest day today and with that in mind I planned to finish stripping down the Hercules and start cleaning and regreasing.

The work is pretty straightforward. All of the screws and bolts, while a bit rusty in places have come apart without too much effort and before long I had removed everything. Larger parts will get the hand treatment.

I washed and scrubbed grease and other marks off the painted metal parts and gave it a quick and light polish with a light cutting wax. If anything it highlights the various scratches and other damage to the paintwork, but it looks a lot brighter now.



I dropped most of the rusty attachments into a small bucket of vinegar, and the parts are cleaning up quite nicely. Some other parts - such as the dynamo and headlamp I've started polish with Autosol. The dynamo came up really well.

Last job was tackling the wheel hubs. The front wheel was straightforward, lots of really thick old grease but everything was easy. The rear hub with is Hercules B type 4 3 speed was going to be a bit trickier. A bit of research indicates that the Hercules 3 speed is indentical to the Sturmey Archer AW hubs so it was a simple matter of finding a diagram (even a video or two) of how its done, and now the hub and mechanism is stripped out and just waiting for a clean before loading it back in.


The wheel rims need a bit of attention as they are quite rusty and will need some truing as well but there's no great rush.

Having said that tyres and a new Brooks B68 saddle have been ordered and should arrive during the week so it's not out of the question that I could take the Hercules for a ride on the weekend.

More photos can be found on my flickr 

Mileage in Kms = 4385

Thursday, October 18, 2012

Hercules Balmoral

Picked up the new roadster today and once I got it home gave it a quick wash and took a few photos.





The plan is to do a functional restoration, strip it down clean, re-grease, polish and de rust (gently), but to leave the bike with it's patina. There's a few odd looking screws and bolts here and there, which I will replace with something more suitable, the big problem will be the brake pads for the Westwood rims and perhaps finding some suitable tyres.

While the saddle is salvageable, (it has an aluminium frame!) I'm planning to get a Brooks B67 and will look at recovering it later. The gear selector seems a bit limp, though there is no tension in the cable so I will be fiddling with that. The 3 speed hub is stamped with the Hercules Brand, though I think it's nearly identical to the Sturmey Archer ones

Interestingly, with the exception of the Headlamp and the dynamo, everything else is badged Hercules. Even the rear reflector!

I'm yet to actually finalise it's age. Unlike the comparable Raleighs, there's very little information about Hercules production runs available so I'm hoping there's someone out there who can give me some idea.

Wednesday, October 17, 2012

Recovering Nicely

Since last I posted I've covered about 420kms and find the foot is responding well. As is the rest of me. A couple of friends are training for Fitz's Classic, and while I won't be joining them on the day it has been good to tag along on their training rides, or parts of them. On Monday, we rode up Mt Kembla, which was a first for me. It's quite steep in sections and has a long slog along Henry Graham Dr to connect with Mt Keira.

It was a glorious morning and we saw the sunrise, plenty of wildlife and at one point went through cloudbase. After the ride I pottered around and finally got the Frank Paino ready for the road, (Well I cleaned it, tuned the drivetrain and packed some bearings and replaced the rear tyre) and took it out for a shakedown cruise yesterday. I say cruise, but it's such a fast bike! I've not owned a proper racing bike before and after riding one yesterday I can only wonder why.

During the shakedown I stopped at a set of lights with a guy on a tricked our carbon Giant with Di2 and deep rim wheels. He gave me a look and then double takes, "Wow, a Paino, great bikes. Used to hang out at the shop..." Seems a common story. 


Fast, responsive, stiff, yet supple. The thing accelerates like a rocket and I had no problems cruising along the flat at 33kph with little effort. We rode up to Sandon Point and back, stopping occasionally to adjust saddle height or derailleur and I had a maniac grin from the utter pleasure of it.

 I'm yet to replace the bar tape, and I need to find some affordable Campy lever hoods. NOS ones are pretty expensive - around $90, however, Compass Bike have generic hoods for $23 - so they may serve well. will also need  new brake pads as the existing Campy pads are pretty hard and lack grip on the rims. Otherwise, some new cables and housing, and a new cluster and chain are on the list, the existing is worn and was skipping a bit. Will look at some Look pedals as budget allows. Once it's sorted, I'd be interested to try some shorter brevets on it, while the 53, 44 chainring is huge, it climbs really well

In other bike news, I've finally found and purchased a lever brake Roadster. The subject bike is a Hercules Balmoral, complete with oil filled chain case, 3 speed hub and dynamo lights. I will collect it tomorrow but the auction photo made it look like this;

Obviously it will need a bit of work, though it is straight and complete, saddle excepted. I plan to use this bike as my town bike to get from my office to meetings in the other building, about 1km up the road. In the past I have been using the stealth road bike, but it was too large and I was getting tired of chain lube on my suits. Clearly I'll also be lining up for Tweed Rides.

So to today. I threw a long leg and headed further from home than I have been since the operation - not too far - just to Jamberoo, over Mt Terry and back along swamp road to Shellharbour thence to Wollongong. I nice, long, steady, ride of 103km, averaging a shade under 25kph. It felt good and was a lovely day for cycling. Plenty of people out too.

I'm planning to do another 100 on Sunday as part of the Audax Robbo Weekend. The route is from Robertson on the edge of the escapment to Fitzroy Falls, Berrima and back through Bowral and Kangaloon to Robbo. Should be fun.

Sunday, September 30, 2012


I hit the road for a longish ride yesterday, with hopes of maintaining my average of a 100km or longer ride each month for the calender year. I was running short of days in September so it was now or never. With my Surgeons warning ringing in my ears I decided it would be best to not venture too far away from home so did a few laps up and down the coast traveling as far north as Austinmer and as far south as Hill 60 at Port Kembla. This kept me at most 20kms from home and close to the train if things went bad. Happily the ride went pretty well, the foot felt fine. No pain and no numbness. I'd like to say that the rest of me felt the same way, but I was pretty tired when I finished, mostly because I hadn't fueled up properly. After climbing Hill 60 at 46kms I really wished I'd packed a banana or two, and it wasn't till about 90kms that I finally stopped at North Beach and scoffed a bacon and egg and hashbrown roll and felt much better for it. Once home and off the bike I realised that it was quite windy and the gusty SW wind was especilly awkward on my chosen route - there's nowhere to hide on the coast - so this made the ride more difficult than it would normally be. I even managed to get swooped by a Magpie (12 times - same magpie out and back), and there I was thinking I had missed all the fun. This morning I backed up for a short 18km loop, just to make sure everything was still in working order and to stretch out my tightening legs. Again, early conditions were quite gusty, however I felt good on the bike, some contact point soreness but nothing to complain about. As a plus, I'm finding that I'm climbing much better these days. In fact I managed to beat my best time up Hill 60 on Saturday, which isn't bad for someone who hadn't ridden much in 6 weeks. I plan to ride pretty steadily again from now and start the new audax season ready for some 200s and in the new year tackle a super series or two and aim for the Sydney Melbourne 1200 in October/November. Mileage in Kms = 3775

Sunday, September 23, 2012

First ride back

What with this glorious spring weather, I decided I was feeling good enough to ignore the Doctor and go out on the bike. While it was terrific to be out in the sunshine and covering some kilometers the foot was telling me that he's not yet completely fixed so a slow and steady ride was the order of the day. Made about 33km which was just about right for the first ride back after a 6 week break.

Wednesday, September 5, 2012

Stitches Out

The stitches in my foot came out to day, but it's 4-8 weeks before I can do any serious cycling. My Doctor said it's OK to ride on a trainer though and can start that in a few days once the swelling has gone down a bit more and I can get into my cycling shoes. It's a bit disappointing, but I guess them's the breaks.

Friday, August 24, 2012

It is done!

Gentle reader, as I sit back in my hammock contemplating my heavily bandaged and Darco shoed foot, I can tell you that the offending neuroma has been excised and I am well on the road to recovery.

The stitches come out in a couple of weeks, so I'm off the bike for the duration, and off work and quite bored with it all by now. Nevertheless I'm happy with how things have gone.

Even with the foot, I've been enjoying my cycling over the winter. Feeling quite fit and managing to get some pace back into the legs and lungs, and planning my audax campaign for the next 18 months which will hopefully include a super series, a year round and a dirt series plus a 1200 if all goes well.

Today was something of a red letter day as I became the proud owner of a classic 1980s Frank Paino racing bike. It comes dripping with Campagnolo and Cinnelli though needs a bit of a tidy up and likely new wheels, but I am very pleased with it. The frame is a thing of beauty, so tight and stiff,  and just my size.

I've never owned a "proper" racing bike before, mine have always been sports models, so this thing is quite something else altogether, even if it's 30 years old. Can't wait to ride it! But wait I must.

Mileage in kilometers = 3673

Saturday, July 14, 2012

Royal Ride, or how to test your foot

Joined in the fun of the annual Royal ride from Dapto, to Bundeena on the shores of port Hacking. It had been a couple of months since my last 200 and I was keen to check out how the cortisone injection would stand up.

It was a glorious day, as a meagre two (Me and Kevin) set off from Dapto Station for a loop of Lake Illawarra before heading through the Northern Suburbs, up to Bald Hill and then through the Royal National Park to Bundeena before looping back up via the excruciatingly steep Audley Rd Climb, along the Princes Hwy and Back down into the Park to retrace our route south.

As days on the bike go, this was a beauty, only a persistent headwind frustrating our endeavours. The first 100kms passed without incident in about 4 hours (not bad considering the climbing) though the second Hundred was a bit more challenging, coming back up from Bundeena and then traversing the park to the highway, was pretty hard going. It was about then thaat my foot started to give little twinges of pain. Not too bad in comparison to past issues, but there all the same.

By the time we were back down into the park via waterfall, I was beginning to feel it more and more. I dropped back, started riding more conservatively but by the time I was over Bald Hill and beelining to Dapto, it seemed pretty clear that the injection had not resolved the problem.

Luckily I'm going back to the ortho in a couple of weeks and will discuss the "chop".

Despite the foot problems, it was a glorious day for riding and a hard day out. 200kms, 2200m of climbing and my new much lighter body (I've lost 10kgs in the last 3 months) seemed to be working pretty well.

In other news, I'm about to embark on a lugged steel frame build project, which takes me back to the very early days of this blog and my reinterest in riding.

I never said I was fast.

Mileage in Km 3038

Wednesday, June 20, 2012

It's been ages

My blogging is almost as lame as my cycling of late. I can blame work for much of that. As a Librarian, blogs and twitter and the rest (pinterest, facebook, foursquare, tumblr, google+ etc) are occupying a huge amount of my online time, which is drastically reducing my personal online time (to the relief of many).

Nevertheless, keen readers of my ramblings will recall that last year I encountered problems with my left foot. Morton's neuroma was the likely culprit and after bailing on my PBP aspirations, I took a vaguely depressed hiatus from cycling until I couldn't stand it anymore and got back in the saddle in December. Things have gone fairly well thus far but the foot will at times cause problems and I finally got up the nerve to confront the orthopedic surgeon.

Initially he concurred with the neuroma diagnosis, and said that surgery to excise the nerve was the best solution but have some scans as I need to know what is there. Scans were done and this week I returned for the analysis. Seems while there's a neuroma it's only a little fella and not the major problem, which in turn has been revealed as inter metatarsal bursitis twixt my 3rd and 4th toes. Recommended treatment is for a guided cortisone injection which I'll be enjoying in a couple of weeks, though if that fails to relieve the issue, the neuroma's going to get the chop as well.

Hopefully though, my physical problems will be resolved shortly and I can confidently set my sights on PBP in 2015. Either way, it's going to hurt :-)

Mileage in Kilometers = 2611

Sunday, April 29, 2012

800 km Challenge

This month I signed up for the Strava Ride Hard to breathe easy 800 km challenge. The aim was to ride 800 kms during the month to approximate Karen Munro's ride from Adelaide to Melbourne after being diagnosed with lung cancer.

I know a couple of people recovering, or sadly not, from lung cancer and needed a challenge to keep me honest and aim for a goal so this one had it all and the Easter long weekend and some scheduled rides gave me a good shot at achieving it.

I'm happy to say that today, with 1 whole day remaining I completed the distance and will finish April with 803kms under the wheel.

It's been a pretty good month, have ridden a couple of audax 100s and finished my first (and quite tough) BRM 200 for a long while. It's been more difficult to ride regularly during the week, mostly because of early starts and late finishes at work, so I'm doubly pleased to have made the goal.

This weekend I still needed 200 km to finish. The first 100 or so where pretty straightforward. A cafe ride yesterday to Kiama plus a few noodling kays on the way home left me with 70km left to ride with two days to go.

I went out this morning, under darkening skies and after a mostly dry first 10 kms,  experienced driving rain and strong southerly winds that dampened more than my enthusiasm and saw me turn for home with about 37km done. I had another day left but  I was worried that Monday, with an early start for work and commitments in the evening, reality would dash my hopes.

I pottered around the house most of the afternoon while the wind and rain seemed to abate and at 4.30 this evening with the rain mostly gone, the wind definitely dropping and dry road out front, I was reaching for a beer and realised that I should reach for the bike. I togged up, switched on the lights and headed off to finish off the remaining 32kms.

I headed south, through Unanderra and across to Port Kembla for the first half of the ride and then turned for home, following the coastal cycle path to Fairy Meadow (with a tail wind). The bikes earlier hours in the wet were taking its toll on the drive train, gears where skipping at crucial moments and the brakes weren't providing a lot in the way of stopping power but I was nearly done. I arrived home with numb feet (8 degrees for the last 20 minutes) and aching knees but a happy state of mind.

Tea will be late, but the beer tastes doubly good knowing that I pushed that little bit harder.

Mileage in Kilometers = 2038

Tuesday, April 17, 2012

Berrima 200

I returned to the world of brevet riding today with the Berrima 200. The route looked a beauty and at this time of year riding in the NSW Southern Highlands is very pleasant, mild weather, light winds with only the hills to spoil the fun.

2 others had committed to the ride, while another couple came as far as the Pie Shop in Robertson before turning back, and we set off from Dapto at 7am looking forward to the day ahead. I hadn't completed a brevet for about 12 months and in the interim the longest ride I had completed was about 100km. Despite feeling a bit ague-y during the week I really wanted to ride, partially because I just wanted to do a long one, but I also needed to prove to myself that I could, bung foot and all.

Climbing Macquarie Pass was challenging and slow, but I was pleased to be coping with it, once at the top it was a short hop across and down to Fitzroy Falls for the first controle. A quick coffee and water top up, we headed off as a group, but somewhere along the Nowra road I began to feel a sharp stabbing pain in my achilles tendon. Crap, bung foot now buggered ankle. I spent the next few kilometers wrestling with myself and the pain, doubts looming large about being able to complete the ride.

At last I reached down to massage the tendon and realised that the zip on my leg warmers was digging itself into my ankle, a quick flip and behold the crippling achilles tendon pain was gone. A mixture of relief and embarrassment ensued, but it did give me more confidence to continue.

We stopped for an early lunch and Bundanoon and then headed off towards Wingello. Mark and Kevin were making good time into the slight headwind at this stage, and I was able to hold their wheels but soon realised that I didn't have the kays for it and would need to ride my own ride. I dropped off the back and happily pootled along, enjoying the birds (Black cockatoos and two yellow tailed cockatoos and lots of rosellas) until I caught up with them at the Wingello General store, our second controle and welcomed stop.

A couple of kids, brother and sister, were pretty impressed that we had ridden up from Dapto, asked lots of questions and showed us their bikes, even perform some daredevil tricks, as we left they rode their bikes around furious demonstrating power slides and wheelies. They were great.

After a short ride through pleasant bushland/farmland we joined the Hume Hwy for the next 30kms on to Berrima, I settled into my rhythm and let the others roll away, content to adopt a slow down and enjoy the ride approach. Soon I was exiting the Hume and aiming for Berrima where I stopped for a berry muffin and caffeine sugar hit. 20 minutes later I was back on the bike and cycling up out of town. The first hill was persistent, then the next - Bendooley Hill - was a real tester after 130kms. Eventually I road over the KOM 500m marker and knew I would make it to the top. From there, the view was just fine.

In my mind I began to break the ride down into doable sections. With 70kms to go, and the last of the checkpoints behind me I needed small goals, nothing too far, so I could keep my head and manage my increasing fatigue. Mittagong was next, 14km - easy peasy I kept repeating to myself.

And within 45mins, I was tracking through Mittagong, next stop Bowral, 7kms. Laughably easy. Good thing too, as there is a slow climb between the two and I was glad when I crested and coasted up and along the main street.

Veering out of Bowral onto Kangaloon road my next Target was the turn off to Tourist Road. This section was relatively flat and I realised that I was really, really enjoying myself. Longest ride for a long time and was confident, for the first time that I would make the distance.

After the initial first steep uphill on Tourist Road, the descent down to the valley in the late afternoon light was a pleasure. Riding along the valley, I switched on my headlights as I noticed that cars were coming at me with their lights on, then commenced the slow climb up to the Pass. This was tough and my foot began to complain but I promised myself a break at the top and kept the wheels rolling until I crossed the railway bridge that marked the practical end of the days climbing, only the descent to Albion Park and the short stretch to Dapto left.

Checking the time, I realised that I was well ahead of my 12 hour target, so I stopped and feasted on energy bars, took off my shoes and stretched out my aching foot before suiting up in wind stopper, long gloves and reflective vest (it was now almost dark and getting cold) before I took to the long decent of the Pass.

As always it was exhilarating, and apart from a few passing cars, I had the Pass to myself. At the bottom, I felt strong and refreshed, my foot was fine and my resolve was firm. Dapto here I come. Curiously, the closer I came to finishing the ride the stronger I began to feel, picking up pace and enjoying the blooming night sky until the lights of the conurbation began to wash them out. Before too long I was coasting back into the station with a tremendous sense of achievement and a time of 11.40.

The station Master told me that Kevin and Mark had arrived about an hour earlier, which was great news and I retreated to the car to pack and head home for a well earned beer. It wasn't until I uploaded the data from my Garmin later that I discovered the vertical gain on the ride was over 2400m. That was about 800m more than I had thought it would be, and I must confess that I'm glad I didn't know that at the time, it probably would have put me off, ignorance is underrated. And so ended my first BRM in 12 months.

A great day out on the bike.

Mileage in kilometers = 1697

Saturday, February 11, 2012

A week in Melbourne

League of Honest Coffee
Degraves Espresso
I spent some time in Melbourne attending a conference last week and had a fairly jolly time, trying out various beers and coffee and catching up with some far flung colleagues. The conference was pretty interesting with some really provocative presentations. Though I wonder whether the concept of conferences as a source of new ideas is on the decline, given the nature of the interwebs. See people in the flesh though is great and cannot be overestimated.

Naked Espresso
On my agenda was to try out some of the better espresso places in the CBD and my research revealed a number of gems that aren't immediately obvious to the casual wanderer. The most impressive of which have got themselves a photograph.

My favourites included the league of honest coffee and naked espresso. As an aside, I found it pretty cool the way the busier places had a couple of people out front of the counter, co-ordinating orders and directing the traffic and having chats.

I also spent a bit of time researching beers and had a couple of not yet tasted before examples at various establishments. I was in a hoppy frame of mind and found myself gavitating to the beers with the biggest hop flavours I could find. One notable was True South's Clocktower IPA which has to be one of the best examples of the style being brewed in Australia at the moment. Couple of other beery highlights came from Sierra Nevada in the form of their wet hop IPA and Epic's Armageddon IPA .
Movida Next Door

One of my other objectives was dinner at Movida Next Door. It was typically awesome. So many flavours and textures. I was also impressed by the way the team of people worked together. It was not immediately obvious who was in charge, yet everyone was busy and appeared to be having fun. I'm thinking that as well as the great Movida cook books, they could do something on teamwork and management as we.

My cycling objectives for this year is to ride 6000km, which means getting about 500kms each month. January went pretty well but the week in Melbourne was going to set me back a bit. That is until I saw the share bikes.

Share Bike dock
There was a sharebike rack just around the corner from my hotel, so I soon located a subsidized helmet at a 7 Eleven ($5) and took out a weeks subscription ($8). I downloaded the spotcycle app which mapped the bike stations and gave real time updates of number of bikes available and number of free docks.

Trips under 30 minutes are free, but seemed to get pretty expensive the longer you ride (up to $10/hr), but the idea is you cycle from one bay to the next and keep your rides under 30 minutes. Casual users need to have a credit card.

Heavy, but serviceable
The bikes themselves are heavy, but that is the nature of bikes left outside that can be used by anyone. They're equipped with Shimano drum brakes front and rear, nexus 3 speed hub gears, fenders, bell, bulky saddle and front rack with strap. Despite their bulk, they get along Ok and I didn't see any damaged or broken ones lying about. My cyclemeter reckoned that I managed 50kph at one point (which I don't really believe) but pedaling along at 20kph was no problem.

There's a nice network of shared paths along the Yarra River and various marked lanes around town. Riding in the traffic wasn't too bad, especially as there are so many other people cycling around in the city and most drivers seemed conditioned to it. Perhaps not Taxis, but are they ever.

During the week I clocked up just over 60kms on the blue beasts and thoroughly enjoyed the freedom they offered. The program is apparently on a 5 year trial, and while use is growing, there's been a lower than expected uptake. A lot of that has to be related to the helmet issue, and that the bike racks are not more widely dispersed than the CBD and immediately adjoining area.

That aside, I found them really useful and got to see parts of the city that I wouldn't usually have managed to see by tram.

Mileage in Kilometers = 667