Bikes by Steve

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

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

Bikes by Steve

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

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

Bikes by Steve

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

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

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

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

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

Bikes by Steve:

Bikes by Steve
Steve Gardner

A whole new site

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Sadly I’ve used up all of the free 3 Gig of data allowed on the free version of wordpress.

I have upgraded to a domain and the new address is:

http://www.thedandenongranges.com/

Apologies for any inconvenience and I would appreciate if you could bookmark this new site.

Many thanks

Brendan Edwards

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Preview of the Melburn Roobaix

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The Melburn Roobaix has been an iconic event on the cycling calendar since its inception in 2006.  It is hosted by FYXO who have embraced the spirit of one of Europe’s most popular one day bike races, the Paris-Roubaix which is renown for its challenging cobblestone sections.  The Melburn Roobaix explores the bumpiest sectors of cobbled lanes and alleys, as well as the lesser ridden bike routes, introducing riders to hidden parts of the city and offering a sense of adventure.

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“It’s a chance to become an oversized child again”

Each year participants gather at a secret location, and are provided with a rider pack with an assortment of goods to complete the ride, along with many a keepsakes and a map.  The map shows which cobbled sectors are part of that years event.  That’s only half the fun. You have to find your own way in-between cobbled sectors, and you’re welcome to take the easy way and follow other riders.  Just be mindful that if they get lost then it’s a matter of the blind leading the blind.  The Melburn Roobaix is not your everyday cycling event.  Participants are encouraged to do cobbled sections multiple times.  Stop for Coffee, explore and if you get lost then that’s part of the fun.  Along the way they want you to stop and take lots of photos.  The Melburn Roobaix is all about the journey.

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It’s a ride – not a race!

This ride is magical as riders are encouraged to dress up in costume, & ride any form of bike.  Unicycles, Recumbent bikes, Mountain Bikes.  It doesn’t matter what you ride.  This is an event which encourages the diverse and welcomes the unknown.   Expect to see the unexpected as riders come from all around the country to experience the Melbourn Roobaix.  I would recommend to buy tickets to this event, but don’t bother.  Each year the event sells out quicker & quicker every year.  If you don’t already have tickets for 2016 then I’d recommend to pre-order for 2017.  This is one event you’ll want to add to your bucket list.

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Just remember its about the cobbles!

Yes, cobblestones aren’t fun to ride a bike over.  They’re bumpy, and usually have an uneven surface that really throws your chi and forces you to keep an eye on the road in front of you as there is constant risk of danger and potential for a mechanical.  Without a doubt you’re forced to ride much harder to maintain your speed.  It’s not easy.  That’s why you do it!  Riding over Cobblestones has been made famous by races such as Paris-Roubaix and the Tour of Flanders and are amongst the most popular races to watch on TV, and we are very thankful that FXYO has brought this spirit of adventure to Melbourne.

The spirit of the Melburn Roobaix lingers all year long.  If you ride past a cobbled alleyway consider to make a short detour and explore the hidden parts of Melbourne.  You never quite know what you will find……

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This years event will be held on Sunday 26th June 2016

Link to event Website:

“It means buckle your seatbelt, Dorothy because Kansas is going bye-bye”

-The Matrix

As cold as ice

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On the odd occasion Melbourne can deliver some truly remarkable weather.  I had not been able to commute in over 9 weeks due to straining my knee in February.  I couldn’t have hoped for a better return as I was treated to two days in a row where it was so cold that the grass turned to frost, and the temperature dropped down to minus 1.7 degrees on my morning commutes, and the mercury barely tipped above 0 degrees on both days.

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For some those sorts of freezing cold days are an excuse to stay in bed and be comforted by the warmth of your car heater on your way to work.  Personally I just love riding on such cold days, and jump at any chance I can get.  There were quite a few out and about on the trails, all dressed up like Eskimos trying to stay warm.

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I would have spent the whole trip with a smile from ear to ear if my face wasn’t frozen solid.  Commutes aren’t my favorite form of bike riding, but I know for people like me who are time poor you have to make the most of every minute you’ve got.  I really felt blessed at how lucky you are just to have your health and fitness.

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A week like this has definitely re-ignited my passion for the bike.  Viva la Bike!

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10,000 and counting

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I am really proud of the fact that the Dandenong Ranges has just hit 10,000 views for the year. It’s been a lot of hard work putting together the site, but I’ve had some rewarding moments over the past year when a piece I’ve put together has helped someone find a new and amazing place to ride.

Thank you so much for reading.

If you have an idea for what you would like to see on the Dandenong Ranges. Drop me an email and can discuss: brendanedwards@lavelocita.cc

Cyclocross

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What is Cyclocross?

Boss

Images by Lou Wolfers

Cyclocross is considered a winter sport and takes the best of Mountain Biking & mixes it with Road biking and is one of the most adrenaline fuelled forms of cycling out there. Using a modified Road bike, you go off-road at high speeds, clearing jumps and all sorts of obstacles that can be thrown your way.  Getting on and off a bike may sound simple, however doing it in the middle of a race is difficult.  Having the ability to fluidly dismount at speed, pick up and carry the bike, then put it back down and remount smoothly without losing momentum requires practice and skill.

Getting started In Cyclocross

If you’re thinking about giving it a go what would you need to get started in Cyclocross?

Insanity

The first thing is you’ll need a Cyclocross bike, which looks like a road bike but has wider forks and rear stays but the same kind of gearing (albiet easier), which makes it more challenging to ride off-road.  You’ll also need to know some of the basic skills if you want to take it up, most importantly jumping on and off your bicycle in a variety of situations, whilst maintaining a decent speed.

Clothing is similar to that of Road Racing, however Mountain Bike shoes are preferred as they allow the competitors to run, and offer a degree of traction.  Toe spikes are also used to aid in running up steep muddy slopes and in adverse underfoot conditions, so carrying you bike on your shoulder is also an important skill to master.

Carrying bike on shoulders

Cyclocross Racing

Cyclocross racing has a very long history throughout Europe where many road racers would traditionally ride in the dirt in the off season.  Some of the top pro riders come from Cylocross or Mountain bike backgrounds and have exceptional bike handling skills too.  A Cyclocross race typically takes place during the autumn and winter months, and consist of many laps of a short course featuring pavement, wooded trails, grass, steep hills and lots of obstacles which require the rider to quickly dismount, carry the bike while navigating the obstruction and remount.

Leap of faith

You could also expect to see steps, barriers, ditches, stairs, steep slopes and very deep mud or sand which all require you dismounting & running with the bicycle. For those with good skills many of these obstacles can be ridden or bunny hopped. Often, when sections are extremely technical or become impossible to ride, a racer will often carry their bike and jog for an extended period of time in order to save energy.

A standard course would be considered too extreme to be ridden with the standard 23mm tyre and usually 33mm knobby tyres (with very low pressures) are the preferred width for CX competitions .  It is important to maintain traction through loose or slippery terrain at speed. To be an effective racer you will need to have a high level of power and endurance to last duration of a Cyclocross.

One piece of advice.  If you’re planning on racing we’d suggest to go & practice by yourself first, that way there’s no witnesses if you make an ass of yourself!

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Just a 100km recovery ride

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Over the past 40 days I have only been able to ride a grand total of 31 km due to injury.  My latest injury wasn’t even cycling related. I simply burnt myself out & screwed up my knee walking of all things. This is the longest period of time I’ve ever been off the bike and I tried not to mope around feeling sorry for myself. Fatigue was the catalyst so I reasoned that my body needed rest more than anything else. Monday I finally woke free of pain in the knee, & could finally dream of getting back on the bike. Game on! I ramped up my rehab exercises and was doing up to 2 hours of stretching after work in order to get myself right to ride. I still couldn’t do any hills and had to look at flat road. I am a bit of a sick puppy, and the idea of riding 100 km popped into my head as a recovery ride….. I told a couple of mates that pretty much said the same thing “you’re a dick!”. I believe that if you set your mind towards a goal and are hungry enough you can achieve anything. Even being a “dick”.

“If you want the ultimate, you’ve got to be willing to pay the ultimate price”
-Patrick Swayze: Point Break

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My knee still wasn’t 100% by the Saturday and when I headed off I was treading eggshells starting this ride.  The wind was ferocious & I had to fight the bike just to get to the Eastlink Trail.  I could feel fluid moving in my knee & it was painful, but the thought of not riding my bike was more painful.  I pulled over & taped up my knee which seemed to fix the problem, & I headed south with a strong tail wind pushing me along.

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Any little rise hurt & I had no strength to climb but that’s why I chose to ride the bike trails.  My legs warmed up after about 15km & I started to ride well.  I came upon a rider up ahead and my first thought was “carrot up ahead”.  I knew that was a good sign that my competitive spark was still there.  When I turned onto the Peninsula trail unfortunately I had what was a perfect tail wind.  I was cruising without effort sitting on 41kmph & I knew I could get some very impressive times & common sense was thrown out the window and switched onto TT mode.  I no longer milked my body but smashed it and was able to sit comfortably for about 5km at an incredibly high tempo before my body started to remind me that it was still hurting.

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I knew I was on a really good time, and shouldn’t have but kept the pressure so high on an injured body.  I started hurting everywhere.  My knees were screaming & my quads were dying trying to take up the slack.  After 10km I hit a series of small climbs & struggled up the first one but kept some form of tempo.  The second one cracked me & I was battling waves of nausea.  I was deep within the pain cave & on a mission.  A voice was whispering “dickhead, you have 50km to return into a headwind”.  I didn’t listen.  I made it to the end of the trail & collapsed in exhaustion. The trail finishes right outside of Two Bays Road, one of the Peninsula’s most popular climbs which is 2km long with a 5% average.  I climbed it and mega thankful that I didn’t see a single rider on the climb.  I’ve never climbed that bad in years.  I could only sit on about 6 – 8 kmph & it was quite a humbling experience.

 

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The ride home was a complete nightmare.  Running on empty, with muscles screaming in pain riding into a solid 30 – 40 kmph head wind.

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40 days off the bike made me appreciate a number of things, and I know I shouldn’t have done such a hard ride returning from such a serious knee injury.  It was a rewarding feeling when I finally made it home, and I was blown away by the responses I received.

Christian Purnomo –  Welcome back bman

Shane Harold Great to see you back 🙂 well done

Larry Bird – Welcome back, 100km come back ride. Awesome work

Dylan Nicholson – For anyone else that’d be a huge ride Brendan but you do have a reputation!

This will take me quite a few days to recover from, but hopefully it will be the start of a whole new adventure.

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Here is a link to my Strava Activity here:

Dante’s Pass (Death Valley)

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Distance:  37 km
Gradient: 4%
Elevation gain: 1,590 metres
Surface: Sealed
Terrain: Desert

Here is a link to the Strava segment here:

“Though I walk through the valley of death I will fear no evil, for I am the meanest son of a bitch in the valley”

-Joel Rosenberg

Death Valley (California) sounds like the most uninviting place in the world that you would like to ride a bike. It is known for its extreme weather and is one of the hottest places on Earth.

Death Valley is located 2 hours outside of Las Vegas and stretches approximately 225 km from north to south. It offers an incredible 37 km climb which takes you up to Dante’s View.  A scenic lookout to the north side of Coffin Peak which provides an amazing panoramic view of Death Valley.  The best time of year to do this climb is between October and April, when desert temperatures are at their mildest (apparently still bloody hot).

 

Joe Parks Dante's View Death Valley
Image taken by Joe Parks; courtesy of Flickr

What to expect

“The first time I rode my bike in Death Valley, I stopped in the middle of a butter-smooth paved road and there sat a Tarantula, sunning itself. I’ve always had the usual “huge poisonous spider” concerns in my head, until I actually encountered this little guy. He was magnificent! Seeing one for the first time was a different experience than I ever expected.  And that sums up the magic of Death Valley: never what I expected.”

-taken from Adventurecycling

Cycling is not recommended during the summer and certainly never without good SAG support.  The heat can be stifling (if not truly dangerous) and supplies are few and far between.  Death Valley has extremely hot summers and short, warm or mild winters and received very little rainfall. The valley is surrounded by mountains, and its surface is mostly flat and devoid of plants.

If you would consider doing this climb. Keep in mind, Death Valley holds the record for the highest reported temperature in the Western Hemisphere.  On July 10, 1913 the temperature hit 56.7 C in aptly named Furnace Creek.

Ray Bouknight Dante's Pass
Image taken by Ray Bouknight; courtesy of Flickr

For the nerd

Dante’s View was used as a filming location for the 1977 film Star Wars. The heroes are filmed overlooking Mos Eisley on the planet Tatooine.  So if you’re a nerd, maybe bring a Lightsaber with you.

 

 

Cog Cafe climb

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Distance:  500 metres
Average Gradient: 16%
Elevation gain: 90 metres
Traffic: Light traffic
Terrain: Residential/Forest
Road Surface: Gravel

Here is a link to the Strava segment here:

The Cog Bike Café lies at the end of the Lilydale Warburton Trail which is one of Victoria’s most popular rail trails.  There’s a great hidden climb directly behind the Cog Café which is quite a brutal gravel climb and one for the pure climbing enthusiasts as well as the gravel grinders.

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The climb to the entrance of the Cog Café is sealed and peaks in excess of 20%.  This is the easy part of the climb!  The road flattens out briefly as you turn onto Madeline Street and turn onto Croom Street.  You’ll soon find that the road turns to gravel and there is only a limited racing line that you can ride on which makes it extra challenging to get up.

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Along the way you will be treated to some stunning views of Mount Donna Buang to the left hand side of the road.  It’s unlikely that you will see a car, but if you do the road is very narrow and would suggest you pull off the road to let them by.   This is a dead end road.  Once you reach the gate at the end of the road you will have to backtrack.

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When you reach these gates you will have to turn back

Cog Café

The Cog Café has everything a cyclist needs.  Great Coffee and a Bicycle Workshop to boot. Several times they’ve saved my bacon with helping me out with emergency repairs and helped me get back on the road.  The Cog Café also has suitable bikes to rent out to ride the Lilydale Warburton Trail which is 40 km one way, and easily one of the best rides you can do to truly experience the Yarra Valley and a great ride to take the family on.

Link to Website here

Link to Facebook page here:

Cog Cafe

This climb was a popular inclusion as the opening climb in the 2015 Warburton Dirty Dozen ride.

Across the Nullarbor

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A hideous anomaly, a blot on the face of nature, the sort of place one gets into bad dreams” ~ Edward John Eyre,  the first European to cross the Nullarbor Plain in 1841

If you want to cycle across the Nullabor Plains, you are looking at a journey of about 1,100 kilometres between South Australia to Western Australia. This ride has gained international respect for a cyclist to make the journey along the Eyre Highway to cross the Nullabor, a name which the Aboriginals called the “Treeless Plain”, and there is no escape from the wind.

The trek across the Nullarbor offers many challenges.   Boring dead straight flat roads, desolate landscapes, extreme weather conditions and huge road trucks that will happily make you road kill!

Would you make the voyage across the Nullarbor Desert by bike?

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Image taken by Chris Fithall

Nicknamed Nullar-boring. The Eyre Highway is Bitumen with 2 lanes and is as flat as a pancake.  You will likely see vehicles on a regular basis. Be mindful that there is no one enforcing speed limits across the Nullarbor and its a major Trucking route.  Massive Road trains fly along the Eyre Highway at ridiculous speeds.  The drivers wouldn’t care if they were to make you road kill, and some delight in trying to drive as close to you as possible to give you a fright.  The best piece of advice that I was given was that if you look over your shoulder & see that a truck isn’t moving over to give you space to overtake you then get the f#@k off the road as soon as you can.

The towns along the Nullarbor are essentially Roadhouses which offer basic accommodation options, which may include camping options. The Roadhouses will offer basic supplies that you will need to get you safely over the Nullarbor but be advised that prices are incredibly expensive.

Conditions

The Nullarbor has a desert climate, with arid to semi-arid conditions. Inland, summers can be scorching hot, with daytime temperatures close to 50 °C, while in winter nights can drop well below freezing. Given that you may be forced to sleep outdoors at some stage of your journey its important to bring the right kit that will protect you in both extremes.  Be mindful that you won’t be able to get any reception on your phone along your way, so you will need to rely on weather forecasts that you can get at the Roadhouses along the way.

Some of your experiences won’t be pretty.  You will encounter a tonne of Road kill.  Not wanting to paint a bad picture, but imagine dead carcasses cooking out in the hot desert sun. You’ll want to be good at holding your breath!  Many of the animals that live in the Nullarbor are nocturnal and come out at night, and it can be dangerous to be riding on the roads at night.

Chris Fithall
Image taken by Chris Fithall

90 Mile Straight

The Nullarbor offers the longest piece of straight road in the southern hemisphere.  147 km in length & arguably one of the world’s most boring sections of road to ride.  It is an experience……

Mike Boles add link to his website
Image by Mike Boles

If you take on a ride like this it is important that you are in peak physical condition.  You will want to have experience touring on your bike & make sure that you bring along all the tools necessary to be able to fix your bike in the event of an emergency. Luckily as a safety net in the off chance that you get yourself into trouble along the way.  There is a constant stream of traffic & it is unlikely that people would pass you if you stuck your thumb out to hitchhike. Whilst not everyone would be able to accommodate you & your bike.  There are a number of large vehicles which would likely stop that would help you out in dire need.

A ride across the Nullarbor is great as you’ll meet many people along the way and can get to see the best in people.  You’ll find complete strangers offer you free food & drink, and will be curious about what you’re doing.  You’ll have a lot of time to think & reflect on what you’re doing.  Not many would ever consider doing a ride like this, let alone do it.

One positive about committing to a ride like this is that you can’t get lost.

Here are a few experiences that riders who have made this arduous journey have shared:

James Desmond wrote: Is this the real life? Or is this just fantasy? It was never ending. My mind would wander; my grip on reality loosen. I was losing it. Long roads jetting into the distance to unreachable horizons, any crest breached would reveal yet another endless, daunting vista. Balancing on a narrow ribbon of asphalt stretching through this arid world I plugged in and switched off, escaping in music as the tedium rolled past. Every now and then I’d be jolted back into reality as a thunderous road train roared past. This was the Nullarbor

Rachael Everitt rode solo across the Nullarbor taking four months to do so “The end’s a mixed bag. The actual night I was physically sick.  But I got a hug.  I drank some water and then drank some beers.  When I had the chance to think about it I couldn’t believe I did it – it changed my life”.

So would you cycle across the Nullabor Desert?

If you want ideas on what logistics would be required I found this blog post by Mike Boles who offers advice on how best to take on the Nullarbor.

Please click here for link.

If you want to read about the first man to ever cross the Nullarbor.

Please click here for link

 

If winters getting you down then HTFU!

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“Winter is coming.”
― George R.R Martin, A Game of Thrones
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Image taken by Lou Wolfers

Over winter it’s true that everyone loves sitting in front of a nice warm fire and staying warm.  Sure I like to do the same.  I just love riding my bike more!  If you’re a true cyclist and have a passion for cycling which goes beyond being warm, you’ll do anything to get out on your bike.

Here are some tips to enjoying your riding over winter:

  • Never trust the weatherman (be prepared for every possibility)
  • Pull out your Mountain Bike. If you’re going to get muddy then do it in style
  • Don’t be scared off by the weather forecast, otherwise you’ll never ride during winter
  • Be prepared to do a lot of washing (Invest in a lot of Napisan)
  • Try to ride in groups over winter. Sufferings easier when you’re doing it with someone else
  • You’re more likely to get sick over winter so listen to your body and ride smart
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Image taken by Lou Wolfers

Kit

Everyone has a different budget & I’m definitely not going to suggest to go & spend hundreds of dollars to get the right kit to make riding in winter more comfortable.   Finding the right kit in winter is a matter of trial and error.  The trick is to find the right balance and to choose clothing to suit the conditions.  This is about knowing your kit.  How long will it stay dry for?  How resistant is it to the cold?  Everyone reacts differently to the cold so its really a matter of working out what works best for you.

For what its worth here’s my two cents worth on a couple of tips to keep warm on a budget:

  • Chuck on a 2nd pair of socks.  This will keep you warm, and won’t cost you a cent
  • Invest in a pair of under-gloves, preferably cotton gloves. You’ll find that when it gets under 5 degrees, that 2nd pair of gloves can save you from copping frostbite
  • Invest in a neck warmer, however don’t buy one which has a Velcrose strap. I’ve had a couple of these fly off on me
  • Wearing a scarf on a bike may make you look like a dork, but who cares if you’re warm
  • Invest in some good waterproof booties.  Riding when your shoes & socks are wet really sucks
  • Skull caps are brilliant.  Not only do they keep you warm, but take up little space in your pockets when you take it off
  • If it gets under 4 degrees a beanie is another great option to keep your head from going numb
  • Invest in a good rain jacket or two.  You will need them

The bottom line is to look outside of the circle and use gear which is not cycling kit.  It doesn’t matter what you wear as long as it keeps you warm & dry

 

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Do you consider yourself a Winter Warrior?

Winter ridings all about finding the right balance, and if you’re not a winter warrior, then it’s all about trial and error with your kit to find the most comfortable outfit.  Don’t worry if you end up looking like an Eskimo.  It’s much better riding over winter than not.  Use your Strava friends to help motivate you.  If they can get out in bad weather then so can you! You don’t need to be a badass to ride throughout winter.  You just need to have a great love and passion for your bike, and a spoonful of HTFU wouldn’t go astray…..

 
 

Khardung La (India)

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Location: Leh, India
Length: 38.8km
Average gradient: 5%
Vertical: 1,845m

Here is a link to the Strava segment here:

The Khardung Pass in located in the Ladakh region of the Indian State of Jammu and Kashmir in India and is a climbing junkies paradise. It is claimed to be one of the world’s highest drivable roads taking you up to almost 5,500 metres above sea level. Given that altitude sickness can commonly occur after 2,400 metres even a seasoned Pro would struggle to get up this one.

Prabhu B Doss Khadung Pass
Image taken by Prabhu B Doss; courtesy of Flickr

What to expect

This is a high altitude climb which starts about 3,500 metres above sea level and will take you all the way up to 5,359 meters above sea level. The first 24 km, to the South Pullu check point are paved. From there to the North Pullu check point about 15 km beyond the pass the roadway is primarily loose rock, dirt, and occasional rivulets of melted snow. The climb is very long at close to 40 km in length, but has a very steady gradient.

Extreme levels of fitness would be required to even attempt this climb. Altitude sickness is very common up at these levels.

Due to the proximity of the Pakistani and Chinese borders, this road is used frequently by the Military and Army truck convoys are a regular hazardAn Inner Line Permit (ILP) is required for foreign tourists and can be acquired at the DC’s office in Leh. You would be required to check in en route and must provide photocopies of the permits to be deposited at each checkpoint.

There are tours based out of Leh, but from the sounds of things aren’t climbing tours.  They will take you to the top of the pass and provide you with a Mountain Bike to enjoy the 40km descent back into town.  Personally I don’t understand why anyone would want to bypass the fun part of the ride.

Elroy Serrao Khardong Pass
Image taken by Elroy Serrao; courtesy of Flickr

Health Warning

Altitude sickness is a serious health concern for travellers not previously acclimatized to high altitudes. Prophylactic altitude-sickness medication may be necessary for some travellers as there are no emergency medical facilities to treat altitude sickness along the route.

The road is closed annually from approximately October to May due to snow and is often subject to long travel delays due to traffic congestion on narrow one-lane sections, washouts, landslides and road accidents.

 

Dustin Larimer Khardong Pass
Image by Dustin Larimer; courtesy of Flickr

Resources:

Wikipedia:             https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Khardung_La

Mount Tarrengower (Maldon)

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Distance: 2.2 km
Average Gradient: 9%
Maximum Gradient: 17%
Elevation gain: 203 metres
Terrain: State Park
Road Surface: Good

Here is a link to the Strava segment here:

Images taken by Daniel Carmody

Mount Tarrengower sits at 570 metres above sea level and offers some of the most stunning views that you are likely to see by bike in Central Victoria.  If you’re a climbing enthusiast you’ll want to add this to your bucket list as it boasts one of Victoria’s steepest average gradient for a Category 3 climb.

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The climb commences shortly after you pass Bryant Street on Mt Tarrengower Road.  The road immediately ramps up & does not dip below 10% until you reach the top.  The climb offers stunning views to either side of the road and is a pure lung buster spent blissfully in the pain cave, and the lookout tower at the top will be a welcome sight when you get there

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Mountain Biking

Mount Tarrengower is incredibly popular with Mounatain Bikers and offers some incredible downhill Mountain Bike trails to choose from with 2 intermediate tracks, 1 advanced track & 1 extreme track, ranging from a seriously rocky, short downhill race track to the more flowy valley track.  Mount Tarrengower has hosted state level Downhill MTB events and is a popular venue for shuttle days (to a Road biker it may appear strange to get driven up a hill, but guess they’re there for the downhill)

Ride days are offered with a quick shuttle service to take the riders back to the top for some more adrenaline filled fun. All riders require a full face helmet to participate.

Click here for further details

Maldon

Victoria has some amazing country towns which are a gem to ride around.  At the base of Mount Tarrengower is the township of Maldon and is located 135km northwest of Melbourne. The was first discovered by Europeans in 1836, during Major Thomas Mitchells’ famous Victorian expedition. In December 1853, Captain John Mechosk, a German prospector discovered gold, and Maldon became a part of the Victorian Gold Rush, which resulted in 20,000 diggers flooding to Maldon.  By the following year only 2,000 remained.

Maldon developed as an industrial mining town during the later years of the 1800s. As one of Victoria’s richest quartz mining centers, various mines at various times recorded the highest returns in the State.  Mining declined in the first part of the 20th century with the last mine closing in 1926 which saw a huge decrease in the town’s population.

Pat M2007 Flickr
Image taken by Pat M2007; courtesy of Flickr

Today Maldon has retained an authentic pioneer-like appearance with history of the gold-mining era being preserved, and a truly remarkable place to ride.

Lookout

 

A cycle of fatigue

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Is your lifestyle incredibly busy?

Is Coffee your best friend?

Does your cycling involve getting up at crazy times to fit your riding in?

My life is a 6 days working week (50 hours), looking after a 6 month old baby, cycling 250km per week & spending at least 10 hours a week on this blog plus the usual social things in-between. Life can be hectic, and I try to stay positive and as the song goes “Always look on the bright side of life”.  The trouble is that I’m always tired, and fatigue is a constant friend. I just didn’t recognise the signs that I was burning myself out until it was too late.

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I collapsed from fatigue and tried sleeping myself back to recovery, but the more I slept the more fatigued I was feeling. We had several workers away at work, and I should have asked for some time off from work, but it sounds weak to say “I’m tired, can I please have a few days off to sleep”.  I stubbornly told myself that they needed me and kept working until I imploded, and life was work, go home & collapse.  Work, go home & collapse.

That weekend I took the family for a walk at the National Rhododendron Gardens in Olinda. There are some very steep paths there, and pushed myself through a 4km walk.  An old injury flared up &  Bursitis flared up in my knee which involves the knee cap rubbing against the bone when I bend the knee.  Not a pleasant injury to have, and I couldn’t put weight on my leg & needed the use of a walking stick.

It’s a shame that this has to happen around the time that we have exceptional weather, but them’s the breaks. My knee is 95% better now, but given the catalyst of this whole debacle was due to fatigue I’m forcing myself to have an extra week of rest before getting back on the bike.  Over the past three weeks I have ridden a grand total of 25km, but I’m trying to look at this as a glass half full rather than a glass half empty situation.

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I will be back

Given that many of you experience similar crazy lifestyles I was putting this out as a warning to really listen to your body. If fatigue is a constant part of your life then maybe it’s time to listen to your body more and look after yourself.  None of us have the luxury of hindsight to go back in time to stop yourself from stepping over the edge of an abyss which isn’t pleasant, but as the song goes; “Don’t worry.  Be happy!”

Non-Victorian

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Here are a list of climbs outside of Victoria.  To access the write-up for any climb click on a pin in the map above a follow the link to take you to the climb write-up.

 

If you know of a climb or a ride that you would like me to profile get in contact and happy to discuss.

Email:    brendanedwards@lavelocita.cc

Link to climb write-up Location Country Distance Gradient % Category
The Crown Ranges  Crown Ranges New Zealand 10.8 km 6 1
Baldwin Street  Dunedin New Zealand 300 metres 18 4
Blacks Road  Dunedin New Zealand 500 metres 12 4
Constitution Hill Swansea England 1 km 10 3
Bonnet Hill Hobart Tasmania 2.4 km 4 4
Collinsvale Hobart Tasmania 3.5 km 8 4
Grasstree Hill  Hobart Tasmania 4 km 4 4
Jacob’s Ladder  Ben Lemond Tasmania 23 km 5 HC
Mount Rumney  Hobart Tasmania 3.3 6.9 3
Mount Wellington Hobart Tasmania 11 7 HC
Nelson Road  Hobart Tasmania 3.9 km 6 3
Strickland Avenue  Hobart Tasmania 4.6 5.4 3
The Domain Hobart Tasmania 2.2 km 4.6 4
Khardung Pass Leh India 39 km 5 HC
Milford Sound Milford Sound New Zealand 9.1 km 8 2
Mount Gambier Mount Gambier South Australia 2 6 3
Lombard Street  San Fransisco 300 metres 18 4

Victorian Climbs

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The Dandenong Ranges is a resource dedicated to help you find fun and adventure in the hills, and profiles many of Victoria’s greatest climbs.  We recommend a number of great places to ride & hope to introduce you to new friends with letting you know about some of the great riding groups out there.

 

To access the write-up for any climb click on a pin in the map above a follow the link to take you to the climb write-up

 

For a list of climbs in the following areas please click on the following links:

Dandenong Ranges

Cardinia

Green Wedge

Gippsland

Lorne

Peninsula

Central Victoria

The Grampians

The Yarra Valley

Churchill National Park

If you know of a climb or a ride that you would like me to profile get in contact and happy to discuss.

Email:    brendanedwards@lavelocita.cc

 

A Wicked start to the 1:20 (The Basin)

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Length: 400 metres
Height gain: 47 metres
Maximum gradient: 24%
Average gradient: 10%

Here is a link to the segment here:

Wicks Road is located just behind Melbourne’s most iconic climbs, the 1 in 20 and it is wicked to climb.  The road climbs for about 300 metres as you reach the corner of Ross Avenue.  In front of you is a footpath which goes skywards and continues all the way up to the 1 in 20.  This is no easy climb.  The hill peaks at over 30%, & the footpath was shaped in the form of a “Z” to lessen the gradient to around an easier 20% average gradient.  The footpath is quite narrow & you have two very tight technical corners to negotiate at very slow speeds which will test both your legs, & your bike handling skills.

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If you’re a frequent user of the 1:20 this climb is worth a detour as it offers a good challenge, & the last section up the footpath is an experience you likely won’t forget.  If you’re riding with mates, well this is a great one for a pissing contest……..

And if you turn left at the top, there’s a nice 6 km of climbing to get to the top of the 1 in 20 🙂

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Central Victoria

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The terrain to the West of Melbourne tends to be quite flat. We are fortunate that there are a number of fantastic hills which have been formed due to Volcanic Acitivity such as the Brisbane Ranges & Mount Warrenheip.  Here are a few profiles of climbs out West:

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Link to climb write-up Location Distance Gradient % Category
Ballarat – Skipton Trail Ballarat 56 km one way N/A N/A
Mount Warrenheip Ballarat 2.2 km 7 3
Brisbane Ranges Brisbane Ranges
Manningham Road Darley 1.2 km 9 4
Swans Road Darley 4.1 km 6 3
Mount Tarrengower  Maldon 2.2 km 9 3
Glenmore Road Rowsley 2.7 km 6 3

 

Ballarat-Skipton Rail Trail

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Location:              South west of Ballarat, 110km from Melbourne
Start:                     Lake Wendouree (Ballarat)
Finish:                   Skipton
Distance:              56km (one way)
Surface:                Fine Gravel
Terrain:                 Hilly
Website:               http://ballaratskiptonrailtrail.com/

This Rail Trail leaves from the beautiful Lake Wendouree in Ballarat and follows along the old Ballarat-Skipton Railway line, and takes you through a variety of terrain including bushland, forested areas, farmland and through some amazing historic towns.  This is a trail which is suitable for cyclists of all abilities to ride & enjoy.

Ed Dunens Lake Wendouree Flicker
Image taken by Ed Dunens of Lake Wendouree; courtesy of Flickr

The Ballarat-Skipton trail offers riders a fantastic experience to explore Central Victoria.  The trail takes you through rolling hills, scrub-land forests and grassy plains of the Golden Plains and Corangamite Shirts and takes you through the Clarkesdale Bird Sanctuary near Linton. 

Skipton

There is something special about riding over a bridge and the highlight of the trail is definately riding across the historic Nimmond Trestle Bridge at Newtown.  This is a relic of the past and is one of Victoria’s longest Trestle bridges.

Image taken by Dan Gordon; courtesy of Flickr

Victoria has some amazing rail trails, which offer amazing scenery and allow you to get back to nature, and are a welcome relief to cycling in the hustle & bustle of a busy city life.  If you’ve never ridden a rail trail before then consider adding one to your bucket list.  They certainly offer a memorable & lasting experience, and take you back to the grass roots of cycling where you get out for the sheer pleasure and enjoyment of riding two wheels. 

Streetsweeper Skipton Rail Trail Flickr
Image taken by Streetsweeper; courtesy of Flickr

 

 

 

You never forget your first Mountain climb

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There is something special about your first Mountain climb. The moment that seems to last forever.  This climb made all other climbs that I’ve done before seem insignificant.  I was oblivious to how hard this would be until the shit had hit the fan and I was deep into the pain cave.  I couldn’t see the summit at any point, until I rounded the final bend and saw the lookout at the top. This is the story of my first mountain climb; Mount Donna Buang.  A Hors Catégorie climb (“beyond categorization” or in laymans terms “frekin hard”).

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I was in Warburton with the missus, and had a window to go and climb my very first Mountain. The weather was pretty ordinary, but being the mad cyclist that I am, I still went ahead with my ride. I had heard stories of how cold it could be up at the top, and the advice I was given was to pack the kitchen sink.  I was still relatively new to cycling, didn’t have much in the way of kit, which cost me dearly later on.

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Mount Donna Buang is 16.8km in length and has an average gradient of 6.4% & as I was to find out a climb of two parts.  The first section from Warburton to Cement Creek absolutely wasted me.  I was struggling right from the start, and could not believe how steep this climb was.  I was wheezing & gasping & grinding my way ever so slowly up to Cement Creek where I enjoyed a brief respite as I desperately tried to get some oxygen into my lungs.  From Cement Creek I soon found a new challenge.  I entered the cloud cover, and it started to drizzle.  I didn’t have any wet weather kit, and quickly became soaked to the skin. The climb was relentless and seemed to go forever.  Someone had painted signs on the side of the road for how far there was left to climb.  My time was spent desperately searching for the next & then the next & the next .  They were all a welcome sight knowing that every slow pedal stroke got me one step closer to the top.

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I reached the top, and there was no fan fare.  No ticket parade.  Just me and a freezing cold summit.  I didn’t even have a view to make the climb worth the while.  I was in among the cloud cover, and viability was very poor.  I was shell shocked and, needed a big rest, but it was freezing. I was shaking like a leaf, and considered getting under shelter, but all I could see were the toilet blocks, and honestly was too snobby to sit it out in the dunny’s to warm-up. I had climbed Mount D in a time of 1 hour & 20 minutes, which for my standard back then was really happy with. It was still raining and I didn’t want to hang around and turned around to descend and right from the start began to shake. My teeth chattered uncontrollably, and my whole body was shaking which made controlling the bike on the steep descent quite scary. I was soaked to the skin, and chilled to the bone and could’t believe how horrible I felt. The road was quite slippery, and my hands were going numb squeezing the brakes so hard. 3 km’s down the road I passed a massive picnic shelter, and couldn’t keep riding and pulled over and sat under shelter. I just could not stop shaking, and wish I had brought some food up with me. I had no phone reception and couldn’t call the SAG wagon.  I kept bouncing up and down on the spot to get some warmth into my body. I hoped that someone would show up and offer me a lift down the Mountain, or some clothes to help warm me up. It took me close to half an hour before I stopped shaking, before I dared descend again, and it took me an hour to descend Mount Donna Buang.

The faster I descended the colder it got, and I was hurting. I was turning the pedals to keep the blood flowing in my legs, but nothing could stop the teeth from chattering. Once I dipped below the cloud cover, I could feel it warm-up a couple of degrees, but I was still freezing, and yearned to get this nightmare over & done with.

That descent was hell, and I didn’t have the experience to know how to ignore the cold. It took me longer to get down than it did to get up & I learned a lot that day, and was just glad to get down in one piece. I vowed to return, but with the kitchen sink next time.

Here is a link to my Strava Activity here:

Constitution Hill (Swansea, Wales)

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Category: 1
Length: 1.3km
Height gain: 141m
Maximum gradient: 33%
Average gradient: 10%

Here is a link to the segment here:

With the Internet, the world is such a small place.  You can see so many wonders & amazing places that you would love to visit and ride.  The truth is you most likely won’t get to visit most of them.  But then again it’s great to dream.

Davidte1968 Flickr
Image by Davidte1968; courtesy of Flickr

Constitution Hill, is a bucket list climb, and is one of the steepest roads in Swansea (Wales).  It is a steep sloping cobbled street made famous in the feature film Twin Town which had a daring car stunt down its steep slope, and is a popular inclusion in numerous cycling races including the World Tour Event the “Tour of Britain”.

Constitution Hill England Thomas Guest
Image taken by Thomas Guest; Flickr

Constitution Hill is said to be the world’s steepest inhabited cobbled road, and on first sight you’d be forgiven if you mistake it for a brick wall.   At just under 300 meters in length it rises up pretty sharpish with the cobbled section averaging 18% in gradient.  If you survive over the top you can keep on climbing for another km if you can.

Adam Simmons Flickr Constitution Hill
Image taken by Adam Simmons; courtesy of Flickr

 

Mount Koskioszko

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The second part of 2014 my focus was based around doing a 320km loop around Mount Koskioszko. I was having a blinder heading up to October, but unfortunately I got pretty sick with a chest infection which at first I thought I would kill pretty quickly, but as it dragged on towards the epic, I started to get more & more panicked. I was able to lightly train through this period, but really went backwards. I was sick for a total of 3 weeks and lost a bit of fitness during this period.  I was left with the prospect of having only 3 weeks to get myself in shape for a 320km epic. I just didn’t have enough time to get myself into proper shape.  As soon as I got better I had to gamble and throw everything at myself, and killed myself with training. I knew I was walking a tightrope, where if I overtrained, I could have really hurt myself and may not be able to do the epic at all.  I really hammered myself and from being crook as a dog I managed to get over 1,200 km’s of riding in over those 3 weeks.  With a week to go, I felt like I was getting fit, but really felt like I’d need at least one more week of training to nail it. Alas this wasn’t going to happen so had to do the best with what I had.

Should I explain my mates dodgy behaviour or my dodgy Mo?
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On the drive up to Kossi, I decided to go & smash some segments in Lakes Entrance as it was going to be windy.  I found a couple of climbs that I should have had a nice tail wind pushing me up them.  I wasted a whole heap of energy on a short ride and took 2 KOM’s on tough climbs, but figured if I wasn’t fit to do that, I certainly wasn’t fit to ride 320km’s the next day.

When we started our 320km epic the next morning it was freezing. It was only a couple of degrees.  I didn’t want to carry too much, so just had shorts on and fingerless gloves, and my hands went numb over the first 30km’s of the ride. We were staying at 1,100 metres, and I really didn’t have a clue about what altitude training was. Right from the outset I struggled with the pace. They were awesome roads to ride up, I can see why Sambo suggested we come so far out here to ride, but something didn’t feel right. As we climbed higher and higher I started to struggle to breath, and was battling against the cold, and was no surprise to see small sections of ice still around late November. I almost collapsed when we got to the highest point of the ride around 1,700 metres.

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The boys dropped me easily on the descent, and it was a long 16km descent, and we descended almost 1,200 metres, and getting away from altitude, I was getting drunk on oxygen. I was getting bad feeling about today, and knew the boys were well & truly down the road, and really needed a chance to recover, but the road was heading upwards. I found a comfortable gear and really paced myself over the next 80km’s, through a section that had some challenging climbing. I knew something was wrong, and given the distance I still had to travel I was getting really loud alarm bells. The boys had to wait a bit for me to catch up and we descended into Khuncoban for some brunch. I suggested that the guys just ride off as I was slowing them down, but they were great to want to keep together.

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We headed off, and the major climb of the day approached. There weren’t too many segments through this section, and it looked to be close to 16km’s of climbing ahead of us, but what we found was pure hell. We were either descending steep pinches, or climbing steep pinches. Nothing was flat. The road just kept going, up and up and up. Chris & Sam took off on me at the start of the HC climb, but I was able to get into a rythmn and kept them in my sights. Under different conditions, I reckon this would have been one of my favourite playgrounds up in the hills, but as we got higher, I started to struggle to breath. As much as I would suck in, my lungs would feel empty, and even though my legs were strong, I just couldn’t get the oxygen to power them, and got nauseous, and dizzy. There were several sections where I blacked out. It was heating up, and much of the road was exposed to the elements, and started to feel dehydrated on top of it.

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I did getting to the Tooma Reservoir, but had to pull over there as felt like throwing up (not the first and not the last I felt this sensation on this ride). Sambo & Chris enjoyed a short respite here, and that was the last time I saw them. I had nothing. We were above 1,400 metres and remained up at this level for the next 30km’s. The climbing was relentless. It was up then down, up then down. None of the descents were long enough to recover from and they all ended in a pinch that was above 10%, which hurt more and more to get up. I was dying and felt myself cracking at one point, and I said to myself to get to the top before collapsing. 3 km’s later this climb finished, and I got off the bike and fell straight to the ground gasping for breath, and nothing getting into my lungs. My legs started to sting, and I was thinking WTF. I looked down and there were hundreds of ants crawling over my legs aggressively biting my legs. This was not my day.  I dusted myself and went on. I got to the Tomut Pond Reservoir which was beautiful, and hit this massive descent and had to have the hands on the brakes the whole way. One km, became, two then three, and I knew that we were heading up to 1,500 metres so every metre I was descending I would have to climb, and the longer the descent the more I crapped myself. We dropped over 300 metres, and I shuddered that I had to climb back out of there, and probably wouldn’t use the word climb, but crawl. I was death boiled over. I had done 130km’s & still had 190km’s to go and I had cracked. When I got to the top of the climb I gave up and went as slowly as I could and went into damage mode and thought of plans. I just couldn’t get back from here.
I reached the turn-off for Cabrumurra, and thought that I had lost them. This wasn’t my day. I was lucky to get some reception on my phone and found where they were at the resort down the road. I basically dropped in there and looked like death boiled over, and told them that I was done. I couldn’t finish the ride. They tried to talk me out of it but could see I was spent. I suggested that I ride to the next town which was about 60km’s away, or best case a further 50 to Berridale and find a hotel or some place and hole up for the night & then ride back the next morning. It was the only solution I could see. They reluctantly agreed to this. I was lying on a park bench gasping for breath.  Chris told me to take some puffs from his Ventalin pump, and I didn’t want to, but eventually saw some sense, thinking it couldn’t hurt. It ended up saving the day. The boys left me, and I lay in a heap for 10 minutes before getting back on the bike and heading off. I was expecting it to be downhill from here, but given my day was not surprised that I hit 3 Cat 3 climbs. The terrain was predictable. It was a long way uphill, or it was a massive descent. Surprisingly I could breath a bit better, and was able to find a better rhythm up the climbs, thanks to the Ventalin.
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When I hit the flat section leading to the Snowy River Highway I started to be able to ride a lot quicker, and picked up a bit of a tail wind. I had a blinder, and the 50km’s from Cabumarra to Adaminaby I averaged close to 30kmph on dead legs. I was running low on drinks and stopped off at a service station to fill up and had a big rest there. I had pre-determined to stop to spend the night here, but felt I had enough strength in my legs to push onto the next town which was over 60km’s away, which I knew I had enough daylight to reach.  I decided to ride on, and was shocked to see Sambo & Chris pulling out of town. I had caught them. WTF!  They seemed shocked, and asked where the hell had I come from? Team BSC united again, and looks like they were going to help me get back……..
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They could see that I was riding fast, so thought they’d push hard. We spent a nice 4km’s riding together before I just couldn’t keep the pace before I watched as they rode off in the distance. Team BSC became team B again.  I was planning to ride to Berridale and find accommodation, but kept an open mind to getting to the end.

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I did really well through the 50km’s to Berridale, and was happy. The wind really helped, and it felt pretty exciting riding in such an isolated environment, and I was conscious of the setting sun. I rode into Berridale, and found a Pub and decided to have dinner there whilst the sun was setting. Some locals invited me to sit with them and thought I was crazy to ride so long. They thought just riding from Berridale to Jindabyne (30km’s), was an epic ride. I had half an hour of rest, and a Chicken Parmigana to fuel the engine, and thought “fuck it”.  I’m riding home!  I had the prospect of a head wind from here, but I had good lights on my bike, and seriously thought I could do it.

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The sun set, and I had my lights going and the first 15km’s went really well,  I was actually feeling pretty optimistic and I was able to tap out a good rhythm.  That was until I hit the climbs.  Most were around 1.5km to 3km long around 5 – 6% average, but they were relentless.  With a head wind to fight, each sapped more and more energy, and I went from flying, to pacing, to crawling, to counting down the k’s. I was going to do this, but after 15 and a bit hours in the saddle was in my happy place. I had the odd car fly past me, and I know they must have been wondering what the hell a cyclist was doing in no man’s land in pitch black.  I knew I must have looked like shit as I was completely spent & in shock.  About 5km’s from Jindabyne Chris’s wife Sharyn found me. She was out looking for Chris & Sam and couldn’t find them. It was nearing 10:00pm, and she suggested that I throw the bike on the back of the 4WD. It would have been nice to finish the ride, but I worked out the math, and if I kept riding, I wouldn’t get back till close to 1:00am, and would be riding 18hours all up. I was spent, and had ridden 160km’s further than when I had given up all hope. I looked at my computer and was sitting on 297km’s. I had to at least get a triple century. I asked if she was kool to pick me up from Jindabyne. And I rode the rest of the way.
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I was a bit delirious, and had so many emotions go through me. I had failed to achieve what I had set out to do, but then I had succeeded as I had given up. That second half of the ride is one of the most amazing rides I’ve ever pulled out. It took me over 3 days till I acclimatised to the thinner air, and wish that we hadn’t done the ride on the first day that we were there. Two years in a row I did not complete our epic, and I can hide behind recovery from illness, but part of why I got sick was due to over riding, and have no one to blame except for myself. This was one amazing loop. The roads were in excellent condition, and we had the roads pretty much to ourselves throughout most of the ride. There was some incredibly categorised climbs, but then there were so many small climbs that were utterly relentless.
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I thought that I had experienced pain on a bike before today, but this ride really was something new. I wish that I hadn’t gone through all the pain I had to finish this beast, but have a great sense of pride that I did. I’ve written a number of stories of my experiences. Not all of them have gone well, and I’ve failed quite a few big ones. For every failure I’ve endured, a success like today sure makes up for it. Last year the boys rode 4 Peaks, and this year we did something especially hard. It’s going to be hard to top something like this, but reckon I’ve got something in mind which is purely evil…..
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Here is a link to my Strava activity here:
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Distance:               305km
Elevation:             6,128m
Time:                     16 hours
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Here is a link to Chris’s Strava activity here:
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Here is a link to Sambo’s Strava activity here:
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Capture

Bass Coast Rail Trail

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Location:             130km south-east of Melbourne
Start:                     Anderson
Finish:                  Wonthagi
Distance:             16km one way
Surface:               Fine gravel
Website:              https://www.railtrails.org.au/trail?view=trail&id=203

The Bass Coast Rail trail is the only coastal rail trail in Victoria and offers stunning panoramic views of Bass Strait from the Bourne Creek Trestle Bridge at Kilcunda.

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Image taken by Paul Bech; courtesy of Flickr

This is a short trail which meanders through farmland, coastal bushland, historic coal mining reserves and rugged coastline. The trail follows the old Wonthaggi Train line which opened in 1910 and was used for the transport of coal from Kilcunda to Wonthaggi, as well as local agricultural produce, as well as for public transport. The line was closed in 1978.

simon Yeo flickr
Image taken by Simon Yeo; courtesy of Flickr

Whilst only short, this is a great trail to ride with the highlight crossing the trestle bridge at Kilkunda which offers amazing views of Phillip Island & the Bass Strait. This trail can be ridden by riders of all abilities.

Map

The Demon’s “Hot Dog” Double

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After a frustrating February of injury with straining my Achilles, then the day before my first big ride back I accidentally sliced through my thumb and lo and behold lost another week to injury.  Not happy jan.  A chance popped up to do an epic on Good Friday which was little under three weeks away.  I was out of shape, had put in very few k’s over the past month and doubted I could get myself in shape in time.

So of course I said I would be there.

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We set off to do the Demon’s Double which pits you against Lake Mountain & Mount Donna Buang, with a bonus Cat 1 climb up Reefton Spur along the way.  Gary Beazley was along for the ride & brought a couple of mates John & Spiro who straight away flew off like a bat outta hell.  The section of road from Warburton to Reefton has quite a few false flats & undulating climbing & not easy to ride, and for the first 10km we were sitting on close to a 37kmph average.  I could keep the tempo going easily enough, but knew for a 170km epic I had no hope of keeping up this sort of pace.  Thankfully Gazza went to the front & slowed it down a fraction & the we all started to find a rhythm.

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I have this crazy thing where I like climbing a HC climb just in the big dog.  I’ve done the Reefton Spur twice before, and even though I wasn’t in great shape, those voices in my head spoke.   A fair bit of the climb the gradient sits above 7% & peaks at 11% towards the end.  Yeah my legs hurt after.  I just love climbing the Spur, its just such a peaceful place to ride & the gradient constantly changes and throws surprise after surprise at you.  The only sour note was this deusche who drove withing inches of holding his hand on his horn just as he came right next to me.  The guys later said “at least he was consistent.  He did the same to us”. They also commented that it was good to know how far up the road I was.

It grew quite cold & we started to ride into a thick fog.  This was easily my favourite part of the ride.  I love riding throughout winter, & this was my kinda scene.  The section from the Reefton Spur to the Lake Mountain turnoff was hard riding.  Over 10km there were two categorised climbs with over 350 vertical metres of climbing.  The Demon’s double is all about climbing the icons “Reefton Spur”, “Lake Mountain” & “Mount Donna Buang”.  Even though I’ve done this ride twice before I always forget how hard this section is, and the climbs along here can hurt you just as much as the big ones.

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We arrived at the Marysville.  Another rider asked us “did some f#ckwit honk you’s?”.  Mega dousche!  Being my usual unhealthy self I had a dognut, can of Coke & a Hot Dog.  Not great food for an epic ride, but they just looked too good.  I started the climb of Lake Mountain before the others.  I was ahead of them and cruised waiting for everyone to catch up.  After the cold, cool conditions of the morning my legs finally woke up & I was cruising.  For a short period of time I was optimistic that the day was going to go well.

About 4 km into the climb I started to get stomach cramps which became more & more unbearable.  I had been climbing so well & all of a sudden found myself in the hurt locker.  It was pretty easy to work out that what was causing me grief was the Hot dog.  Maybe you could argue that I shouldn’t have had it in the first place……

John

John & Spiro had to leave us at the Lake Mountain turnoff & it was just me, Gary & a very cold mountain.  Gary was starting to struggle, which worked out well as I was struggling to move as well, thanks in large part to the dodgy Hot Dog.  My guts really made it a challenge to climb & we couldn’t get to the top quickly enough where I lost my guts.  I felt much better, but unfortunately wasn’t able to clear my system & we didn’t have the luxury of waiting around so continued on our pain filled ways.

Da gang

With over 70 km left to ride alarm bells were ringing, but the further we rode the better I started to feel.  I knew I wasn’t going to be right to do the whole ride but shut out all doubts & just concentrated on riding.  We hit the Reefton Spur & I flew off.  This is one of my favourite roads to descend (possibly as there was some climbing along the way).  The k’s were flying, and I wasn’t feeling great, but no matter how bad I felt.  I was climbing Donna!Keepers of the cloud

I needed to make a short detour into the Upper Yarra Reservoir where there was public toilets to loose my guts again.  We climbed up to the lookout first and there’s over 2.5km of climbing up to the lookout & neither of us were climbing all that well.  The view of the reservoir was worth it though.  We headed back to what is my least favourite leg of this ride.  From Reefton to Warburton most of the road is mainly downhill, but its a roller coaster.   Just as you start enjoying some respite you’d hit some nasty pinch, then descend, hit a nastier pinch and so on for 20 km.  You can take this section quite fast, but the dozens of pinches along the way really pepper up the legs.  The road is quite narrow as well & we’d experience many cars fly dangerously close at well in excess of 100kmph.  Gary just told it as it is “I’m done.  You’re going have to take the lead”.  I was stuffed but no problems, I just needed to go into TT mode into a head wind which really tested my legs.

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I was on a straight & pulled out my water bottle to drink.  Whilst I was riding one handed this Commodore drives slowly alongside me.  I could easily reach out & touch their car.  With only one hand on the bar I couldn’t steer and had zero room to move & if there was a rock or bump up ahead I was screwed.  This car went quite slow past me & I held my breath as I tried to keep the bike really straight with one arm.  The car passed & I saw a “Learner Driver” plate on the back.  I was ferrel as there was no one coming the other way & they should have been directed to give me space, or wait up if they weren’t confident to pass.  The instructor probably wouldn’t have even cared if they had killed a cyclist.

“If you give a gun to a chimp & the chimp shoots someone.  Do you blame the chimp?”

-Marcy Darcy; Married With Children

What a way to celebrate Good Friday.  We had cars pretend to ram us, honk us, we were yelled at & almost killed by an inexperienced driver.  Very disappointed with the traffic overall for the ride.

When we got back to Warburton it was clear that neither of us had any fuel left in the tank.  We were both struggling & really shouldn’t have tried to climb Donna.  I’ve climbed it completely wasted many, many, many times before & knew I could do it.  I shut out doubt & just said that we had to do it.  It was a slooow grind.  I’ve climbed Donna 21 times now including an Everest on it, & this was one of my slowest ever times up there in 1 hour 43 minutes all spent in the hurt locker.  I kept telling Gary.  It doesn’t matter how fast we take to get to the top.  As long as we reach the top.  That what was important.

We were lucky to bump into a couple of crazy mates Clint Woodward & Steve Gardner who were in the middle of going for a 500km & 10,000 vertical ride up to Mount Buller from home.  Crazy mofo’s.  They had covered a similar distance to us, & similar elevation, but unlike Gaz & myself they looked fresh.  We looked like death boiled over.

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Less than 3 weeks since resuming riding after injury I was able to pull off one of the hardest rides you can do close to Melbourne & can’t begin to tell you how happy that has made me.  Its always a pleasure to get out riding with Gary Beazley.  He’s such a workhorse who always delivers.

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Gary finishing off the Demon’s Double

It will be awhile till I next do an epic.  I hope its soon as I sure have gotten that hunger back……

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I’m done!!!!

Here is a link to my Strava Activity here:

 

Mount Eccles (Leongatha)

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Distance:  4.6 km
Average Gradient: 5%
Maximum Gradient: 20%
Category: 3
Elevation gain: 250 metres
Terrain: Grassy Farmland
Road Surface: Average

Here is a link to the Strava segment here:

Victoria has a number of hidden wonders that any hill junkie would love to climb. Mount Eccles in Gippsland is one of those.  Many years ago I was in Leongatha looking for some climbing to do & was pointed in the direction of Wild Dog Valley.   Who wouldn’t be draw to riding in a valley where you can enjoy singing “who let the dogs out”.

Mt Eccles

Mount Eccles is located at the foothills of the Strzelecki Ranges, and features some incredibly steep rolling hills. The climb is made up of two different parts, with the first climb really hard.  The second is just evil.  This is a climb which for much of the climb offers stunning views from eye to eye to either side of the road & has to be seen to be believed.

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The climb begins at the intersection of Wild Valley Road and Mount Eccles Road

The first 1.8km will test the legs. It starts shallow, & steadily gets steeper and steeper and peaks at close to 14% at one point.  The views to your left are incredible & thankfully may help to distract yourself from the pain.  You will come to a sharp descent as you pass through farmlands. This is a place that you could easily fall in love with and live if you don’t mind the isolation.

This is one of those climbs that when you see the second part of this climb you may be thinking “oh f#%k!”. The road goes skywards and looks incredibly daunting, and will test the hardiest of climbers.  Whilst only 600 metres in length this section averages in excess of 10% and the road surface is quite poor for grip and it’s a real grind making your way up to the summit.

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The climb finishes at the Mount Eccles sign

Mt Eccles

The road then turns to gravel on the far side of Mount Eccles. If you descend down there is a fun little 800 metre climb with a 6% average to get back to the top.  Some may not like riding on gravel, but why travel all the way out to a climb like this and not experience the full adventure?

Here is a link to the Strava segment here:

 

To commute or not to commute

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Let’s face it, most of us don’t like to go to work.  Why would you want work when you could be out riding your bike instead?

If you’re like me and love riding your bike.  The great thing is you can do both.  Get up that little extra to get out on your bike and ride to work.

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There’s a million excuses not to commute.  The trips boring, its wet, its cold, blah, blah, blah.  Sure when the alarm wakes you from a deep slumber there’s the temptation to pick your alarm up and throw it at across the room.  But if you’re reading “With all I have”, then you wear your heart on your sleeve and  love your riding as much as we do.  You’ve just going to have to say f#*k it!  I’m doing this!

Bass Coast Challenge

Instead of looking for excuses, we should all be looking for motivation to get out there to ride more.  The benefits to commuting are numerous.  You help out the environment, take care of your health and can avoid the tedium of driving bumper to bumper.

Try to find ways to get the maximum out of your commutes.  Vary your routes, chuck in some hills or maybe join in an early morning group ride (there are lot’s that finish with Coffee and still allow enough time to get to work at a reasonable hour).  Strava segments are also a good way to bring some entertainment to your commutes.  Segments offer a good incentive to go and explore and lo to put in some harder intervals to make your commute harder which contributes to building your fitness.

Getting up extra early may not seem easy, but how many times have you ever regretted riding your bike?

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We all love to ride, and if there’s one thing you can take from all of this is to find it within yourself to try & do at least one extra commute every week.  For those of us who are time poor this is a fantastic opportunity to get more riding in, and as a bonus when you get out & ride, you can help to inspire your friends and family to do so too.

Lombard Street (San Fransisco)

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Distance: 300 metres
Average Gradient: 18%
Elevation gain: 67 metres
Traffic:Light traffic
Terrain: Sealed
Category: 4

Here is a link to the Strava segment here:

Alan Kotok
Image courtesy of Alan Kotok; Flickr

There is a 300 metre climb to the base of Lombard Street in San Fransisco & this short climb averages 18% & is one nasty piece of work.  This is a fantasy climb as sadly Lombard Street is a one way street, and sadly traffic goes the wrong way (whether this would stop me……)

Lombard Street is 100 metres in length averaging 18% & is switchback after switchback.  8 in all.  This road has the distinction of being “the crookedest street in the world”. The switchbacks design was first suggested by property owner Carl Henry in 1922.  This was the only way possible to reduce the hill’s natural 27% grade. This road is one of the most famous tourist attractions in San Fransisco and is frequently crowded with tourists.  You may recognise it from numerous Hollywood films such as Steve McQueens “Bullit”.

This would be a dream climb to claim to have done, and although I’m all about advocating climbs.  Given the views from the top, this would make one of the worlds best short descents.

N4rwhals Flickr
Image courtesy of N4rwhals; Flickr

 

 

 

Blacks Road (Dunedin, New Zealand)

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Distance: 500 metres
Average Gradient: 12%
Maximum Gradient: 35%
Elevation gain: 71 metres
Traffic:Light traffic
Terrain: Sealed
Category: 4

Here is a link to the Strava segment here:

Blacks Road is a short straight street which is 500 metres in length, which is several Streets up from Baldwin Street in Dunedin, NZ which is listed in the Guiness Book of Records as the world’s steepest residential street peaking at 35%. Whilst not as steep Baldwin Road, it is just as vicious and arguably harder as its a fair bit longer.  The Strava segment claims this road averages 12%.  If you look at the photo, you can probably tell that the average gradient is full of sh@t.  This is one steep fucka!  You might question why a council would build streets on such steep inclines.  The street’s steepness was unintentional.  When Dunedin was being settled, its streets were laid out in a grid pattern with no consideration for the terrain, and you can blame the British, as the roads were designed back in London.

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Image taken by Tony Bowden, courtesy of Flickr

If you’re a hill junkie like myself then the thought of pushing yourself through the pain barrier to get up to the top of a climb like this without walking is worth a lot of bragging rights.

Baldwin Street (Dunedin, New Zealand)

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Distance: 300 metres
Average Gradient: 18%
Maximum Gradient: 35%
Elevation gain: 67 metres
Traffic:Light traffic
Terrain: Sealed
Category: 4

Here is a link to the Strava segment here:

Baldwin Street in Dunedin, NZ is listed in the Guiness Book of Records as the world’s steepest residential street peaking at 35%. It is a short straight street which is a little under 350 metres in length.  The street’s steepness was unintentional.  When Dunedin was being settled, its streets were laid out in a grid pattern with no consideration for the terrain.  This road is very popular with locals & tourists who embrace the challenge of making it up such an insane gradient.

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Image taken by Daniel Pietzsch; Flickr

The street is named after William Baldwin who was a provincial councillor who subdivided the area.

YK Poon Baldwin Street Flickr
Image taken by YK Poon; courtesy of Flickr

Whilst only short, the prospect of climbing one of the worlds steepest residential backstreets should appeal to the hill junkie & this is the type of climb that to get to the top without walking is worth a lot of bragging rights.

Baldwyn Street, Denedin, Shellie Flickr
Image taken by Shellie; Flickr

 

The Crown Ranges (New Zealand)

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Distance:  10.8 km
Average Gradient: 6%
Category: 1
Elevation gain: 684 metres
Terrain: Open plains
Road Surface: Sealed

Here is a link to the Strava segment here:

The Crown Range mountains lie to the east of the Wakatipu Basin in Otago, New Zealand, and winds steeply between Arrow Junction, south of Arrowtown to Wanaka up in the north.  The area was heavily populated during the Central Otago Goldrush of the 1860s.  The town of Cardrona, now little more than a dot on the map, briefly had a population of several thousand prospectors. Today there are still visible remains of gold prospecting beside the Crown Range Road.

Cardona Pass Long Zheng Flickr
Image taken by Long Zheng; Flickr

As soon as you turn onto the Crown Range Road the road heads skyward. No warm-up, just solid climbing.  The first part of this climb is affectionately known to locals as the “zig-zags” as you battle switchback after switchback on your way to the Crown Range Plateau. The top of the zig-zags has a parking and rest area offering magnificent views over the Wakatipu Basin.

Crown Ranges Jocelyn Kinghorn Flickr
Image taken by Jocelyn Kinghorn; Flickr

Past the zig zags you’ll find the road relents which makes for some nice fast undulating roads before you are in the granny gear heading skyward over the rest of the Crown Ranges. The next 5 kilometers is challenging for all levels of riders. Just past the Eastburn Road the roads twists and climbs up to the Crown Saddle, where a bronze plaque celebrates this historic summet.  At 1,076 metres this is the highest sealed pass in New Zealand.

Andrea Schaffer Flickr Crown Range
Image taken by Andrea Schaffer; Flickr

The climb to the top was hard, but you will be glad it is over as the view from the top out over the Wakatipu Basin and over the Kawarau River Basin is more than rewarding.

Crown Ranges A.J Oswald Flickr
Image taken by A.J Oswald; Flickr

The descent down to Wanaka is fast and furious. The road surface is very smooth in parts, making for a fun filled ride.

Crown Ranges

The road from Cardrona through to Wanaka is mostly downhill or flat and might be viewed as a bit of a chore for some riders after the fun on the Crown Range crossing. But the view of Lake Wanaka as it almost simply bursts into sight should drive you on the last 25km.

The climb back from Wanaka is just as good.  Just not as long:

Distance:  6.2 km
Average Gradient: 6%
Category: 3
Elevation gain: 354 metres
Terrain: Open plains
Road Surface: Sealed

Here is a link to the Strava segment here:

Four rides : Four centuries

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February was a write-off. Over 4 weeks lost to injury, further injury & to add insult to injury, the day before I was due to do my first ride back un-injured I sliced through my thumb which sent me to the Emergency Department at Dandenong Hospital and cost me another week of injury.  Bu-boom!  Through this frustrating period I tried to stay strong, and just put in short rides to keep the legs ticking over and just kept telling myself to be patient.

With a long weekend the plan was to ride with the Spider Bikes on Saturday & the Rowville Riders on the Labour Day public Holiday. I needed to pace myself back into form & figured that doing group rides would help to slow myself down.  I should know myself better than that!

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Spider Bikes I was feeling it & pushed hard on the climbs. I was passed easily on the flats & descents which I was happy with.  I need to know where I’ve lost the most fitness to get back to where I need to be.  Overall I did better than expected but felt it on the  last 30 km which was a real grind.

On the Labour Day Rowville Riders ride I was looking forward to a light ride on flat roads. I enjoyed chatting with Bill Bouhalis on the ride up.  He told me about a ride he did from Adelaide to Melbourne.  The ride is easterly and given that we rarely get easterlies & only a handful of really strong ones each year.  They were definitely unlucky to cop one on their epic ride, and it’s not pleasant on some of Victoria’s open countryside which can be quite boring to ride through to begin with.

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From St Kilda to Port Melbourne there’s usually a pissing contest and we were fanging it up Beach Road sitting on 52kmph. Three red lights cost us some amazing times, but I was still able to get in the top 2% of riders on quite a few Beach Road segments.  With a pissy little 20kmph tail wind for someone like me who doesn’t ride flats is quite amusing.

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At Port Melbourne one of the riders Fabian said that he wanted to do 100km & asked for riders to do a longer ride back down Beach Road with him. I needed a few extra k’s for my 100 so worked out perfectly.  We had a head wind heading down Beach Road, but it was quite consistent wind & easy to tap out a rhythm into.  Halfway down I was moved up to the front & suddenly felt great.  I enjoyed the hard work against the wind and was trying to soft pedal not to hurt the riders behind me too much.  I pretty much did most of the pacing from here back to Rowville, and when we pulled over at Mordialloc I was really surprised to see a few of the riders gasping for breath.

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The last time I rode down Springvale Road we copped a pretty strong cross/headwind, & I was in pretty much the bottom 5% of all riders on all of the leader boards down there. With only about a dozen riders in our group, there was a hope that if I jumped out the front and set a fast tempo I could nail a pb on every single segment easily enough.

Gotta love the RR

We turned onto Springvale Road & there was this nice gentle tail wind pushing us along and it was nice. I was pushing a decent tempo sitting just under 40kmph & the group was hanging on.  I kept cheekily pushing and pushing & the group was strong and kept pace for awhile.  I was holding back & the legs were just feeling it, & the further down Springvale Road we got the more I could tell I was really hurting some of the riders, and guess it was one of those rides where they were having the time of their lives smashing out some incredible times or silently screaming “f#@g b@&rd!”.

Everyone was nailing PB after PB, and we were all showered in gold. Towards the end my quads started to scream in pain but I could still tap out a good tempo.

I passed out after getting back home & really felt it. Four rides back from injury have now netted me four centuries.  They’ve cost me.  It’s taken an inordinate amount of time to recover and I’ve constantly felt tired, but I’ve seen some good improvements and have gone from strength to strength.  I’ve got some friends doing an epic on Good Friday that I’m hoping to do a fair bit of it with them and the hope is to get in good enough shape to keep up for as long as possible.

Time will tell……..

Leeana Kate James

Posted on Updated on

Why be normal?  If you want it bad enough then set yourself unrealistic goals, push yourself to the limit and then go out and achieve it.  That’s the motto of Leeana-Kate James, a Road & Track cyclist who is an up and coming star of the future who has just been signed to the team WhyBeNormal? She’s moving across to Milan to race bikes (Fixed gear and road), design cycling apparel and generally do rad stuff.
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“Follow your dreams and never be defeated by anyone or anything…..” – LKJ

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Image taken by Evan Jeffrey

Leeana has been offered the chance of a lifetime to race for the “WhyBeNormal?” fixed gear cycling team based out of Milan, they also produce and manufacture some pretty cool cycling kit.  Leeana is a fashion designer by trade & when not racing bikes will be helping the team to design a range of cycling apparel, both casual and kit.

Why be normal?  Challenge yourself and follow your dreams.  Just do some epic sh#t!” – LKJ

Stryder
Image taken by Stryder Tanjil Aris

In a short space of time Leeana has been able to achieve some truly amazing goals.  She was the 9th woman in the world to complete a Hells 500 Everesting challenge and in 2015 she blitzed the Melbourne track scene with some amazing victories.

Her move to Milan simply began with an interest in the Red Hook Criterium series.  After being introduced to the fixed gear scene at the Cycle Messenger World championships in Melbourne in early 2015, Leeana wanted to know more about the fixed gear and track bike scenes worldwide and Red hook Crit just seemed to stand out to her…..Red Hook Criterium Series is an annual, bike race series held at night on track bikes in Brooklyn, Milan, London and Barcelona.

was interested & intrigued by it.  I was like.. that’s pretty badass. That’s the most hardcore racing ever! I want in! I started to follow it on social media and friend some of the girls that were involved in Red hook Crit, one of those girls was Corinne Price, she is also on my new team “WhyBeNormal?”. We were liking and commenting on each others FB posts.. After a while I noticed two Italian guys that were mutual friends with Corinne, liking and commenting on my track successes and my edgy style… I was wondering ‘who are these guys?’  I realised that they were involved with the “WhyBeNormal?” team, and discovered that two guys were actually the team owner and one of the major sponsors (Roberto Ribaud and Marcello Marino).  I though ‘this is pretty cool’.  They’ve seen what I’m doing and they like my style…. thats a bit Rad…”

Marco Maroni
Image by Marco Marroni

In mid January this year, as we were exchanging friendly banter on FB, I decided to put myself out there, lay it all out on the table and approach Roberto about potentially riding for the WhyBeNormal? team…. The response that I got was pretty epic. As they had been following me for a while, they were fully aware of all my racing results, my love for track bikes, rad kits and my background in Fashion. It was decided within a week of discussing with the team and crew, that I would be The ‘Aussie Chick’ on the WhyBeNormal? Red Hook Crit team..   “

“Before I had sent the message to Roberto, my plan was to go and race the first race of the Red Hook series in New York, self-funded….I was hoping to perform well enough to be noticed and hopefully get signed to a team.” LKJ

Leeana wasn’t always a Track racer.  She used to be in love with the road & a normal week could involve up to 500km of riding.  In october 2014, Leeana was riding with a couple of mates , one of which had raced track (ironically they were all riding out to TwoBays Rd for some Everesting training),  as they were hammering it along Beach Road, the track friend asked “have you girls ever done track?  You girls are fast!  Like crazy fast!”.

Leeana likes to tell it as it is:

Track, that sounds like sh#t.  My god that sounds so boring… going around in circles” – LKJ

Gabe Nuspan
Image taken by Gabe Nuspan

So lo and behold Leeana was coerced into going to the Coburg Velodrome.

First of all I couldn’t let go of the fence.  There’s a hilarious video of me on Facebook talking to myself, trying to let go of the fence. Knowing I was clipped in, fixed gear and brakeless, there was something just not right about it.. I was totally freaking out…..  But once I’d pepped talked myself into letting go of the fence, i rode down into the sprinters lane and before i knew it, I was riding fast and turning left, and thinking.. Yeah.. ok… I dig this!  The next week I bought a track bike”. – LKJ

Leeana fell in love with the track scene & almost completely gave up road riding.  She trains 6 days a week, and although doesn’t log huge hours or 100’s of k’s anymore she focuses her training on shorter harder efforts, and more recently crit racing… Its gone from one extreme to another, having trained excessive hours in the saddle to ride 387km, including 8878m of elevation in November 2014 to complete her Everest on TwoBays Rd,  she now trains for track events, some of which are over in under a minute and crits which are over in under and hour

Her efforts were rewarded at the Masters State Omnium in 2015 where she hungered for victory. She simply trained hard, focused all her energy on the event as a whole and won all 7 of the races, taking out the Gold,  which was an amazing result considering her relatively recent introduction to the sport.

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Image taken by Brendan Edwards

But cycling isn’t all of her life.  Fashion is the other half to her love.

Riding is all about fashion on the bike, especially in Melbourne… Every sub culture I’ve been involved with over the years has always involved fashion for me, Ive always been interested in this certain characteristic of a scene, it’s an identifying feature that we use, to express and represent the subculture we belong to.. and In Melbourne in particular, the cycling style game is strong…. I’m all about the #cyclestyle, Matching kit to socks to gloves to helmet to shoes to cap, the list just goes on!!!  Its a pretty fun game now that instagram has such an influence on cycling apparel, with people sharing their #newkitday and #kitgrid selections, its become an art as much as it is a sport…- LKJ

Leeana knows what she wants and has worked hard on her succcess:

I gave up my job a University Lecturer in Fashion design earlier this year… as I just wanted to be a full-time bike girl for a while- working at Cycles Galleria and focusing on my training for the year of racing ahead … However now that this opportunity has come about, I will be able to combine my skills and knowledge from both sides of the coin to contribute to the success of the WhyBeNormal? Team and Brand….

This is just another chapter of my story that is ‘meant to be’. It’s quite ironic that the team that I’m on is called WhyBeNormal?  I pretty much try to embody that statement.  I’ve always strived for above and beyond the ‘norm’ in my own creative style, my career and my personal pursuits on and off the bike.. I always put, what some would say, unrealistic expectations on myself… But in the end… that’s what it takes to push to the limit!

Stephen Lane
Image taken by Stephen Lane

Moving to Milan will involve much sacrifice.  Leeana has to leave her friends and family and doesn’t speak Italian.

I’m going to learn Italian.  It doesn’t seem that hard… All that primary school Italian is coming back to me… oh and… Google Translate (she laughs)..   I feel very much at home when i go to Europe, I’m hoping to immerse myself in the Italian culture as much as the fixed gear crit scene… I love everything about my life in Melbourne but I’m very excited about the new challenges awaiting… .”    

 You look back and know that you’ve put yourself through so much pain, but you’re glad you did it…  I really hope that this happening to me, can inspire others to just put themselves out there, push above and beyond to achieve their goals…. Stay true to yourself, Focus, stick at it and keep riding with people faster than you! and before too long you will be the fast one….. #ridelikeaboss. – LKJ

Keep an eye on Leeana’s progress on social media follow her on:

Facebook:           https://www.facebook.com/leeanak.james?fref=ts

Instagram:          https://www.instagram.com/leeana_j/

Selfie

The first man to cycle across the Nullarbor

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A hideous anomaly, a blot on the face of nature, the sort of place one gets into bad dreams” ~ Edward John Eyre on the Nullarbor Plain – the first European to cross it in 1841.

Born in Brazil in 1872, Arthur Charles Jeston Richardson moved to Australia with his family and became a mining engineer. He made his name for himself as a bushman but became famous when he became the first man to travel across the Nullarbor by bike from Coolgardie to Adelaide.

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Christmas Day held a special meaning to Arthur as it was the day that he completed an arduous journey of thirty-one days in 1896. The Nullabor back then was an open and unhospitable place, and what was most remarkable about his journey is the fact that he left only carrying a small kit and a water-bag.  To navigate he followed the telegraph line as he crossed the Nullarbor and rode solo.  The Nullarbor back in the 1900’s was generally uninhabited.  If anything went wrong there was no one for thousands of miles to help him.

Arthur recalled much ‘sweating and swearing’ on sandy roads west of Eucla, and hot winds on the Nullarbor Plain,and later described the heat as feeling like it was “1,000 degrees in the shade”.  His least favorite part was the 39 km of sandhills west of Madura station were the worst he had experienced in Australaia. His ride was widely reported in Australian newspapers and magazines, and demonstrated the value of the bicycle for rural travel.

Circumnavigating Australia

In 1899 Richardson set out to be the first to ride round Australia and described his story in a book titled “Story of a Remarkable Ride” (1900). Arthur left Perth on 5 June 1899 and headed north, carrying 25 pounds of gear and a pistol. Heavy rain slowed his progress in Western Australia, and later in the north, where the black-soil plains were unrideable for several days. He had to push and carry his bicycle through sand and silt, encountering hostile natives along the way.

Robyn Jay
The Nullarbor Desert.  Image by Robyn Jay; courtesy of Flickr

His epic journey around Australia took him over 18,507 km of terrain, and arrived back in Perth on 4 February 1900. Richardson’s ride was something of a race, as he beat out three other competing Australians – Alex and Frank White, and Donald MacKay, who were simultaneously attempting to circumnavigate the continent in a counter-clockwise direction from Brisbane.

Two months after his journey, he joined the Army and was posted to the South African War where his bike skills saw him put into use as a dispatch rider.

He had a sad end to his life. He later remarried again to Rita Betsy Elliott-Druiff.  On the 3 April 1939 police discovered his corpse lying next to that of his wife at their home in Scarborough in what appeared to be a murder suicide.  His war injuries had reportedly left him seriously disturbed which led him to ending his life.  He will be remembered as one of the original epic riders of Australia.

Halford family near Kalgoorlie after crossing the Nullarbor from South Australia, 1904 (John Joseph Dwyer)
Halford family after crossing the Nullarbor in 1904 (near Kalgoorlie) (John Joseph Dwyer)

 

Sources:

Cyclopunk:      http://cyclopunk.blogspot.com.au/search?q=arthur+charles+jeston+richardson

Wikipedia:       https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Arthur_Charles_Jeston_Richardson

Lonebiker:       http://www.lonebiker.dk/ausrekorder+.htm

 

 

Yuonga Road “aka Aqueduct climb” (Warburton)

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Distance:  1.3 km
Average Gradient: 10%
Maximum Gradient: 16%
Category: 3
Elevation gain: 133 metres
Terrain: Resedential
Road Surface: Paved

Here is a link to the Strava segment here:

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Mount Donna Buang is a Mountain in the southern part of the Great Dividing Range. It is located in Warburton and is one of Victoria’s most popular Mountain climbs to ride. The drive is only around 90 minutes from Melbourne, and takes you through the beautiful Yarra Valley. On the lower slopes of Mount Donna Buang is a road which runs parallel to the popular tourist road climb called Yuonga Road.  This road is quite steep and takes you to one of the entrances to the O’Shannassy’s Aqueduct Trail which offers magnificent views of Mount Bride.

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The climb begins at the start of the Mount Donna Buang Tourist Road.  There is a short climb until you reach the turnoff at Yuonga Road where you turn left

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There are some stunning views of Mount Donna Buang which may help to distract you from the pain.  This is one steep sucka!

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The sealed section of the climb finishes near the Aqueduct trail.  The road continues to climb for another couple of km’s up the lower slopes of Mount Donna Buang & is incredibly steep with sections peaking at well in excess of 20%.  The surface is loose gravel & is more suitable to climb on a CX or MTB bike.  This is a dead end road.

 

Thirty Years of Australian Club Racing: The Dandenong Cycle Club, 1908 – 1948

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1912, Before the start of the 25 Miles Open Road Race, Dandenong Road Oakleigh opposite the Brick Works (Source: State Library of Victoria) †

Author:  Aaron Cripps

Wednesday July 8, 1908, outside Garnar’s on the Cranbourne Road, Melbourne, at 3:23 p.m., and Mr R. West sets off on his bicycle as the limit man in the day’s race. A 10 mile route that would take the entrants 5 miles towards Cranbourne before they turned round to complete the return leg. Of the twelve who had entered only nine started on the day, perhaps due to the bad weather and the poor state of the roads after heavy rains. Behind West at staggered intervals based on their handicap were W. Morris, M. Anderson, P. Green, H. Kirkham, T. Lucy. V. W. Sime, M . Kirkham, and J. Gamble. About 25 minutes after West had started, the race official, Mr Lewis, saw Gamble and Morris come back into view, the former having punctured and Morris having failed to go the distance. At 4 p.m. M. Kirkham crossed the finish line in first place. His brother H. Kirkham, coming in second 5 minutes later, and third place going to Green after a contested race to the line with Lucy, 2 minutes behind H. Kirkham. From surviving records we can identify the Kirkham brothers as Malcolm (born 1885) and Henry (born 1889), the eldest and youngest of three sons born to William Edward and Margaret Kirkham, of Lyndhurst, Victoria [1].

These scant details, reported in the South Bourke and Mornington Journal the following week, appear to be the first recorded race of the Dandenong Cycle Club, and the first of three that were to be run in 1908 on a points basis; the overall winner being the rider who had accumulated the most points over the series. Whether it was the first ever race of the Dandenong Cycle Club, or the first of that year is unclear. No record of the formation of the club appears to exist, at least in the newspaper archives available in the digitised newspaper collection available through the National Library of Australia’s Trove service. The article does, however, describe the event as “The first race of the Dandenong Cycle Club”. Given that other clubs in the Melbourne area are reported as actively racing from much earlier in the year it seems likely that the July 8 race was the first ever to be run by the newly formed Dandenong Cycle Club.

 

This article was published by Aaron Cripps on his blog; Cycling History.  To read the full article click on the following link:

The history of cycling blog is full of passion, intrigue, drama, and tragedy, of technical innovation and of human interest. There are many great stories, some well known, others less so, some perhaps forgotten. Cycling History bring some of these stories to life in a magical way.

Blog:                       https://cyclehistory.wordpress.com/

You can Aaron at: historyofcycling@gmail.com

Competitors in the 1911 Warrnambool to Melbourne entering Camperdown. (Source: National Library of Australia)

 

Don’t have a Cow Man!

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On Grand Ridge Road in front of me looms a dozen Cows.  They see me and become nervous & turn around to get away from me.  Coming from the other direction is a man out walking his dog.  With nowhere to go they spring up this incredibly steep embankment.  Just when you think you’ve seen it all…….

I had this great 200km loop planned.  It was pretty advantageous considering I killed my legs riding out to Albert Park yesterday.  I set my alarm for 4:30am.  There was a tiny bit of rain forecasted but that was ok, I enjoy riding in a bit of rain.  I live in Melbourne so I shouldn’t be surprised that it was pissing down when I woke up.  I looked up the radar & half of Melbourne was covered in rain clouds.  Checked the forecast again.  0 – 0.2 mm of rain forecast.

Crock of shit!

My legs were aching and I went back to bed.

At 6am I realised that my ride was washed out I made the decision to lessen my ride to 100km and drive down to Warrigul & take on the Strzeleki Ranges & a section of Grand Ridge Road which I haven’t done before instead.  My legs were really, really sore and my only hope of surviving was soft pedalling the whole way.

The day was really hazy & I almost regretted doing this ride.  Gippsland is a stunning place to ride, and it’s a shame when it was not at its natural beauty.

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At the turn-off for Grand Ridge Road I felt excited.  There’s nothing better than to explore the unknown.  Much of Gippsland offers rolling hills, & on a ride like this you can expect the unexpected.  The road will either go uphill or downhill and you just don’t kow what is around the corner.  I’m usually good at reading the gradient of the road, but today struggled.  All around me were rolling hills, and everythings is on an angle which made it hard.  I’d be looking at a road that looked like it was going uphill & I’d be flying.  Thinking this felt strange & look down at the Garmin to see that I was on a descent.

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There was a 3.5 km climb leading up to Seaview.  It just went on forever & every corner I’d come around would lead to another & another.  I entered Seaview & like many towns in Gippsland they aren’t towns.  All there was a sign.  And no Seaview.  Just rolling hills, and a road that just kept climbing further and further.

I soon reached the junction of Grand Ridge Road & was excited at the prospect of gravel grinding.  I didn’t know what to expect from this road and thankfully there wasn’t much climbing but the road was in pretty bad shape.  I would take my eyes off the road to take a look as many of the amazing panoramic views just to feel my arms being ripped from their sockets.  Much of the road was corrugated, and it was a jarring experience.

It was slow going & I was considerate of the time, and knew I was running late.  When I reached the end of the road I was surprised to see that I had come to a “T” intersection and it was paved.  I was expecting 30k of gravel, & pulled out Google Maps.  Oops.  Took the wrong turn-off.  I was a bit disappointed.  I was hoping to re-visit Mount Eccles but it was too far for my dead legs to go. I opted on making a left turn to Kooromburra, and had to admit that it is nice riding through here.

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My legs were really hurting, and I was pushing into a cross/headwind, and was really struggling & didn’t know if I’d have the legs to make it back.  I was in shell shock by the time I reached Kooromburra & hoped that a rest & a big breakfast would do the trick.  I wanted 100km & realised that I was going to be shy by about 10km.  I had to ride further and looked up segments around Kooromburra.  My legs were in no shape to smash out a segment, but I found one which would have a tail wind which was held by a NRS rider who has taken 8 KOM’s off me in the past & even though it would hurt me, it was a nice thought to repay the favour with a you suck email of my own.

The segment was only 300 metres with a 6.8% average, and I only needed about 28kmph.  I thought no problems, even with my legs screaming in pain.  When I got down to the segment, it was a pinch that started shallow & kept rising sharply till it peaked at 15%.  6.8% may ass!  It was a lot harder than expected.  The climb had a running start & I hit the base of the climb hard at over 50kmph & my legs were screaming.  I got out of the saddle and was swinging the bike wildly side to side and had a good sprint going.  I was gasping for breath & really pushed hard and was flying in the big dog & only had to drop it a couple of gears before getting over the top really strong.  I was able to increase my speed slightly near the top and was confident that I had it in the bag & looked down at the speed on my Garmin.

The one that I had paused at the Café………

Ha-ha!  I killed my legs for nothing, & the score is still 8 – 0.  Oh well you win some you lose some.  I now had even tireder legs to push through the 40km of undulating climbing over the Strzeleki Ranges & sad to say needed several rest stops along the way.  I just went into the zone, and rode as smart as I could back to Warrigul.  After a month of injury, to knock out back to back centuries was a major relief.  The pain in my legs was about 9/10, and I can only hope that I bounce back from today’s ride to get back into the swing of things.

This was the fourth time that I’ve had the opportunity to ride the Strzelecki Ranges and would highly recommend them.

Here is a link to my Strava Activity here:

Hooning around the Gran Prix Circuit

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The Vic Crit Titles – People’s dash

I got the stitches out of my thumb Friday, and after a month of non-existent training due to numerous injuries I was finally ready to RIDE!  There was an event which popped up, which was one of my original bucket list rides.  I rarely get into the city & have always wanted to ride around the Gran Prix circuit bet have never managed to find the time.

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The St Kilda cycling club were hosting the Albert Park Grand Prix Criterium titles, and were offering non-racers the opportunity for a gold donation to have a hot lap around the circuit before hand which would be fully closed off to cars.  You needed to be there at 6:30am which for me would mean leaving home at 5:00am.  So much for sleep.

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It was muggy, cold & overcast and not the nicest of conditions to ride in.  With a tailwind into the city I smashed myself on North Road, pretty much beating all of my PB’s along the way.  I may have been enjoying myself so much that I forgot that I was planning of doing a hot lap of Albert Park.

There weren’t too many at the start line and as 7:00am a group of us took off & I was off solo.  Straight from the outset my legs were feeling dead, but I was able to set a good tempo with a tail wind behind.

The Albert Park Gran Prix Circuit is only a few kilometres south of the CBD and is 5.3km in distance.  The circuit uses everyday sections of the road that circle Albert Park Lake.  In recent times the Gran Prix has been hosted in Melbourne in 1996 after we stole it from Adelaide.

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Michael Schumacher holds the lap record in a Ferrari at 1:24.125 on 7th March 2004.  There was no worry that I would even get close to that on my hot lap J.  As I approach corner three I could see a couple of riders in the distance on flat bars.  I keep a steady tempo and slowly reeled them in by corner 5.

I enjoyed a brief respite sitting in their wheel & looks like they were doing rolling turns.  When it was my turn I hit the front on the back straight where there was a slight headwind which made for harder work.  I was happy to get out the front & upped the tempo and was pushing some serious watts into corner 7.  I sat at the front for a k, moved over & waved the elbow for the next guy to go through.  Nothing happened.  I was still on the front.  I wondered whether I had been pushing too hard and they had nothing to move so I kept pushing for another half a k and the legs started to scream at me & waved my elbow again & nothing.  Not happy Jan!

My legs protested at my 23km TT into the city & started screaming.  I dropped a few kmph & things weren’t looking good.  After 500 more metres I had enough & swung really wide & dropped the pace which forced the others to go to the front.  Of course they took off & with dead legs I was a little behind and thought it was game over.  I tapped out a rhythm, which is all I could do.  I kept them in my sights & eventually caught them into corner 13 just as we were getting out of the headwind & I was desperately trying to get some life back into my legs.  They quickly swapped spots at the front & motioned for me to go to the front, but fuck ya’s.  If you ween’t willing to pull a turn for me, there was no way I was going to get screwed again.

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On the final straight one of the guys died & I sat in the others wheel.  With about 300 metres to go I pulled out of his slit stream and tried to give it some gas.  My legs immediately screamed in pain and I told them to shut up.  I came alongside the guy & he looked at me & dropped the hammer and I had to accelerate more.  I kept pace but had nothing left in the tank & knew if he had something then it was his.

You could almost hear the crack as he died and suddenly I took off on him to the finish line.  No fan fare.  No jubilation.  Just “you’re a dick!”

38kmph average over the 5.3km circuit.  Not that fast, but given that I’m out of form I’ll take it.

With a head wind to contend with I pushed hard down North Road & TT’s it all the way home, scoring pb’s all the way home.

Given this was the first ride I’ve done which I haven’t been hampered by injury I’m over the moon.

My legs.  They tell a different story…..

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Here is a link to my Strava Activity here:

New Zealand

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New Zealand is “Middle Earth”, and much of its popularity in tourism stems from the work that Peter Jacksons “Lord of the Rings” Trilogy has done to show the world New Zealand’s beauty.  I hate to say this as I’m incredibly biased towards Australia but New Zealand has some of the best cycling roads that I’ve ever seen, and more importantly some killer climbs.  Most will think Europe when they think cycling holidays but the next time you consider a cycling holiday look no further than our neighbour; New Zealand.

Climb                             Location                   Distance                Gradient %      Category

Baldwin Street                Dunedin                       300 metres               18                         4

Blacks Street                   Dunedin                       500 metres               12                         4     (coming soon)

Milford Sound                Milford Sound             9.1 km                         8                          1

Crown Ranges                Queenstown                10.8 km                      6                          1

Arrowtown
Arrowtown, South Island

 

Lorne Climbs

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Lorne has arguably the most challenging climbs in all of Victoria, and is a playground for those that love extreme climbing.  The majority of backstreets all have gradients which peak at 20% & home to arguably Victoria’s hardest climb Francis Street.  Lorne is more famous as a seaside town & attracts many beach goers on an Annual basis, but is well worth a visit to test yourself against some of the states toughest backstreet climbs:

Climb                                      Distance                 Gradient          Category

Francis Street                              300m                          21.6%                    3

Albert & Wallace Street              600m                         17.3%                     4

Beal & John Street                       500m                         17%                         4

Falls Road                                      1.3km                         10%                        4

Erskine Falls Road                       9.1km                         5%                          2

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The Grampians

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Morning Light
Boroka Lookout.  Image taken by Dtra; courtesy of Flickr

THE EXPERIENCE

If you haven’t had a chance to ride in and around the Grampians I can highly recommend that you add it to your bucket list.  The Grampians has some of the best climbing Victoria has to offer and with 1,600 square kilometres to explore, there is plenty of room to play.  The best part of climbing around here is the fact that you can get some pretty amazing reward you get at the top of each climb.   No matter how hard you worked getting to get to the top, how out of breath you were crossing that finishing line…. Being able to ride straight out onto a lookout that overlooks the whole of the Grampians National Park is an experience more rewarding than the climb itself.

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Mount William. Image by Peter Gariwerd; courtesy of Flickr

The Grampians is a series of rugged sandstone mountain ranges and forests rich in wildlife. The 167,219-hectare National Park is one of Victoria’s most popular holiday destinations,  with the highest peak at Mount William at 1,167 metres.  The Grampians are a great venue for camping, climbing, scenic drives and bushwalking.  For the cyclist, the climbs up to Mount William, Reeds and Boroka lookouts all offer great climbing and spectacular views.  There are an abundance of Waterfalls in the park, dotted around the main roads and easy to get to.IMG_20151010_071950

Halls Gap

Its a fair drive out to the Grampians and if you’re planning on riding out there its best to base yourself nearby.  The best place to stay is in the heart of the Grampians at Halls Gap.  Halls Gap is set in the Fyans Valley at the foot of the Mount William Ranges.  It is a beautiful place to visit, and is located close to three of the Grampians most iconic climbs with Mount William, Reeds and the Boroka climbs close at hand.

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HC Climbs

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Everyone loves a good Mountain climb.  Here are a few that I’ve discovered along the way that are worth the detour:

Climb                                                                                   Location              Distance

Mt Baw Baw                                                                      Baw Baw N.P        12.5 km

Mt St Leanord’s (via Meyers Creek Road)                   Healesville            12.5 km

Mt St Leanord’s (via Chum Creek Road)                      Healesville            21.1 km

Mt Donna Buang (via Don Valley)                                  Woori Yallock       12.5 km

Mt Donna Buang                                                               Warburton            16.8 km

Mt St Gwinear                                                                   Erica                      26.1 km

Mt Wellington                                                                   Hobart                   23.1 km

The Yarra Valley

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The Yarra Valley is most renowned for its Wineries. It’s relatively cool climate makes it particularly suited to the production of high-quality Chardonnay, Pinot Noir & Sparkling Wine.  Travel through rolling hills strung with vines, secluded natural valleys set against blue mountain backdrops and lush greenery and pastures, past towering trees and pristine rivers to verdant villages like Marysville and Warburton. The Yarra Valley has some great riding which appeals to riders of all abilities such as the Lilydale Warburton Trail & O’Shannassy trail which offers great scenic rides.

Yarra Valley Domain Chandon Flickr
Image courtesy of Flickr; Domain Chandon

The Yarra Valley is also home to some very hard & diverse climbing including some of the State’s best dirt climbs including Mt St Leanord’s & Mt Donna Buang (via Panton Gap or Don Valley).

I have included a selection of my favourite climbs in the Yarra Valley:

Link to climb write-up Location Distance Gradient % Category
Mt St Leanord’s (via Chum Creek Road) Healesville 21.1 km 4 HC
Mt St Leanord’s (via Meyers Creek Road) Healesville 12.5 km 7 HC
Lilydale Warburton Trail Lilydale 40 km one way N/A N/A
Steavensons Falls Marysville 2.8 km 4 4
Dee Road Millgrove 1.5 km 10 3
Upper Yarra Reservoir Reefton 2.4 km 6 4
Brett Road Warburton 600 metres 12 4
Brisbane Hill Road Warburton 400 metres 13 4
Little Joe Warburton 4.3 km 5 3
Martyr Road Warburton 300 metres 19 4
Mount Donna Buang Warburton 16.8 km 6 HC
Story Road Warburton 700 metres 14.2 4
Yuonga Road Warburton 1.3 km 10 3
Mount Donna Buang (via Don Valley) Woori Yallock 27.1 km 4.2 HC
Milners Gap Yarra Glen Various 9 4
Skyline Road Yarra Glen 3.3 km 6 3

The Great Ocean Road

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The Great Ocean Road (GOR) is one of the best roads Australia has on offer. The road takes you through Rainforests, as well as beaches and spectacular cliffs and offers beautiful scenery & breath taking coastlines. You’ll feel like you’re riding on a race track as the road twists and winds its way around the coastline. It’s certainly a playground for cyclists and it’s a hell of a spot to ride your bike!

Great Ocean Road CCdoh1 Flickr
Image taken by CCdoh1; courtesy of Flickr

The (GOR) follows the coast along the south-eastern coast of Australia and is 243 kilometres in length and winds its way through varying terrain along the coast and provides access to several prominent landmarks, including one of Australia’s most iconic attractions; the Twelve Aposltles.

Great Ocean Road Jimmy Harris Flickr
Image taken by Jimmy Harris; courtesy of Flickr

The GOR attracts some of the best riders from around the world and is now host to several internationally famous events including the Cadel Evans challenge & Amy Gillets Gran Fondo.

Great Ocean Road Dawolf Flickr
Image taken by Dawolf; courtesy of Flickr

The area is steeped in history & is known as the Shipwreck coast. There are approximately 638 known shipwrecks along Victoria’s coast, where gales, human error and, in some cases, foul play caused these vessels to be wrecked.

Explorer Matthew Flinders said of the Shipwreck Coast, “I have seldom seen a more fearful section of coastline.

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History

It was envisaged that the road would connect isolated settlements along the coast & to become a vital transport link for the timber industry and tourism.

The road was originally built in-between 1919 to 1932 and 3,000 returned soldiers were hired to construct the road. The GOR was dedicated to soldiers killed during World War 1.

Construction was done by hand; using explosives, pick and shovels, wheel barrows, and some small machinery, and was at times dangerous, with several workers killed on the job.

The final sections along steep coastal mountains being the most difficult to work on. In its original state, the road was considered a formidable drive; fitting only a single vehicle comfortably at any given time. Areas with sheer cliffs would be most hazardous, with only few places for drivers to pull over to allow others to proceed in the opposite direction.

Verdict

Whether you head out to ride a small section of the GOR or attempt the full distance this is a bucket list ride, and arguably one of Australia’s best stretches of road to ride.

Gippsland

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Gippsland stretches from Melbourne’s eastern outskirts all the way to the state border with New South Wales in Victoria’s far East. This area is renowned for its natural beauty, with hundreds of kilometres of spectacular coastline, picturesque rivers and lakes, forests and snowfields.  It also has some of Victoria’s best climbing:

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Link to climb write-up Location Distance Gradient % Category
Mt Baw Baw Baw Baw National Park 12.5 km 7.7 HC
Mt Erica Erica 14.3 km 5 HC
Mt St Gwinear Erica 26.1 km 3 HC
Main Neerim Road Neerim 3.4 km 7 3
Noojee Trestle Bridge     Noojee Noojee 3 N/A N/A
Strzelecki Ranges Warrigul 41 km N/A N/A
Tanjil Bren Tanjil Bren Various Various 4
Mount Tassie Taralgon South 15.3 km 4 1
Vespers Hill Vespers 4.4 km 7.4 3
Vespers East Vespers 1.6 km 7.7 4
Mt Oberon Wilsons Prom 5.4 km 9 2
Yarragon South Road Yarragon 4.9 km 5 3

 

Dandenong’s climbs

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The Dandeong Ranges are a set of low mountain ranges, which rises to 633 metres at Mount Dandeong, approximately 35 km east of Melbourne. The ranges consist mostly of rolling hills, steeply weathered valleys and gullies covered in thick temperate rainforest, predominantly of tall Mountain Ash trees and dense ferny undergrowth. The Dandeong’s are home to National parks and gardens, Attractions include the Thousand Steps and the fascinating Kokoda Walk.  You can visit the National Rhododendron Garden, and the mystical sculptures at the William Ricketts Sanctuary amongst many other great activities.  The Dandenong’s are also renown for great restaurants but most important of all are home to some of the greatest climbing that metropolitan Melbourne has to offer.

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Inverness Road

Below are a list of all the climb write-ups that I have completed.  I hope to show people the roads less travelled, and have reviewed a selection of lesser known climbs:

Link to climb write-up Location Distance Gradient % Category
Toorac Road Belgrave 800 metres 8 5
Terry’s Avenue Belgrave 3.2 km 8 2
Mount Morton Road Belgrave Heights 1.2 km 6 4
Colby Drive Belgrave South 1.7 km 5 4
Courtney Road Belgrave South 1.5 km 6 4
Bailey Road Cockatoo 1.8 km 9.2 3
Paternoster Cockatoo 400 metres 11 4
Old Beaconsfield Road Emerald 1.5 km 7 4
Kia Ora Parade Ferntree Gully 400 metres 15 4
Olivebank Avenue Ferntree Gully 1.2 km 6 4
One Tree Hill Ferny Creek 2.1 km 7 4
School Road Ferny Creek 1 km 4 5
The Dirty Wall Kallista 5.2 km 4 3
Perrins Creek Road Kallista 2.4 km 7 3
Macclesfield Road Macclesfield 3 km 3 4
McCarthy Road Monbulk 500 metres 22 3
David Hill Road Monbulk 1.3 km 5 4
Invermay Road Monbulk 1.1 km 10 3
Priors Road Monbulk 900 metres 10.2 4
Old Coach Road (gravel) Montrose 5.5 km 8 2
Sheffhield Road Montrose 1 km 7 4
Inverness Road Mount Evelyn 2.5 km 9 3
Bessie Creek Road Nar Nar Goon North 5.3 km 3 4
Falls Road (gravel) Olinda 2.1 km 7 3
Selby Aura Road Selby 3.4 km 3 4
Selby Road (gravel) Selby 1.5 km 6 4
Silvan Road (gravel) Silvan 5.5 km 6 2
Basin Olinda Road (gravel) The Basin 6 km 6 2
Sheffhield Road (gravel) The Basin 3 km 5 3
The 1 in 20 The Basin 6.8 km 4 3
Mighty Patch The Patch 2.6 km 6 3
William Road (gravel) The Patch 2 km 6.5 3
Fat Albert Upper Ferntree Gully 1.7 km 7 4
Ferndale Road Upper Ferntree Gully 2.2 km 6 4
Gilmore climb Upper Ferntree Gully 2.1 km 7 4
Roma Parade Upper Ferntree Gully 200 metres 23 4
Talaskia Avenue Upper Ferntree Gully 100 metres 17 4
Mast Gully Road Upwey 1.5 km 13.5 3
Satan’s Elbow Upwey 5.3 km 7 2
The Devil’s Advocate Upwey 4.5 km 7 2
The Serpentine Upwey 700 metres 13 4

 

                                           

Strzelecki Ranges

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The Strzelecki Ranges, are part of the Great Dividing Range, and extend for over 100km between the Latrobe Valley and Bass Strait.  The Ranges generally rise between 300 – 500 metres in height with the highest peak at Mount Tassie which rises to 730 metres.

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The ride down Warragul-Korrumburra Road is one of the best ways to experience the Strzelecki Ranges on a sealed road by bike.  The 39.1km section of road offers some challenging undulating roads through rolling farmland and offers some of the areas best views.  Although there are no categorised climbs along the way, there is a fair amount of climbing either way

Robyn Cox Flickr Strzelecki Ranges
Image by Robyn Cox; Flickr

Link to Warragul to Korumburra segment here:

Elevation gained:   820 metres

Link to Korumburra to Warragul segment here:

Elevation gained:  710 metres

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The Ranges are named after Count Pawel Edmund Strzelecki who was a Polish explorer. After climbing and naming Mount Kosciusko, his party journeyed to Gippsland and entered the north-eastern end of the Strzelecki Ranges and struggled through the rugged country for 22 days, finally emerging starved and exhausted at Western Port Bay in the 1840s.

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Before the Ranges were settled, they were covered in dense forest with some magnificent tall Mountain Ash and temperate Rainforest. Sadly in the late 19th and early 20th centuries.  Much of the Rainforest was cleared for agriculture and logging, however the Range still remains a beautiful area to visit.

Grand Ridge Road

The road leading to Grand Ridge Road turns off Warragul-Korrumburra Road.  Much of Grand Ridge Road is unsealed and is arguably the best way to experience the Strzelecki Ranges by bike.  Grand Ridge Road is 135km in length and extends from near the village of Strzelecki and follows the ridge line through the western side of Mount Worth State Park, Mirboo North & Ballok & ending at Carrajung in the east.

A'QTO Bibi e Gusti
Image by Andrew Clifforth

Priors Road (Monbulk)

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Distance: 900 metres
Average Gradient: 10.2%

Elevation gain: 101 meters
Traffic: Light traffic
Surface: Sealed
Category:
4

Here is a link to the Strava segment here:

Priors Road is quite a steep backstreet in the township of Monbulk.  The name Monbulk means “Hiding place in the hills” and like Priors Road the area has many hidden gems.

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Priors has a great surface & you’re lucky that you can get a real flying start on this climb.  One piece of advice, try to ride this hill smart.  The road is much steeper than it looks, and after 300 metres into the climb the gradient subtly rises, and continues to rise as you climb.   It really important that you ease up at the right point otherwise its easy to cook yourself.

Many a rider has blown up trying to get to the top. This climb loves to spit out riders that don’t pay it enough respect.

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View looking down Priors

Priors Road has been a popular inclusion and usually follows Invermay in the Dirty Dozen series. 

Dee Road (Millgrove)

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Distance:  1.5 km
Average Gradient: 10%
Maximum Gradient: 27%
Category: 3
Elevation gain: 155 metres
Terrain: Forest
Road Surface: Good (small section of gravel)

Here is a link to the Strava segment here:

This climb is a pure Deelight for the hill junkies

Located beneath the forested mountains of Mount Donna Buang, Ben Cairn and Mount Little Joe, Millgrove is a very scenic location and offers some challenging climbing, and is guaranteed to Deestroy your legs.  The climb starts on a false flat leading up to the base of the climb which begins just after you cross the bridge across the Dee River

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This is an old wooden crossing and please use caution when crossing the bridge.

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The climb takes you up the lower slopes of the south-west side of Mount Donna Buang through some stunning temperate rainforest

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You’ll want to save something in reserve as this is one of those evil climbs that starts on a false flat & just keeps getting steeper and steeper and steeper and steeper, & peaks at a ridiculous 27%

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The climb takes you to one of the access car parks to the O’Shannassy Aqueduct Trail, and offers some incredible views from the top.  There is a short gravel section just before the car park.

The Aqueduct trail is rideable by Road bike and its a great ride to out to the Mount Donna Buang Tourist Road from here.

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Views from the Aqueduct car park

Paternoster (Cockatoo)

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Distance: 400 metres
Average Gradient: 11%
Maximum Gradient: 20%
Category: 4
Elevation gain: 92 metres
Terrain: Farmland
Road Surface: Good

Here is a link to the Strava segment here:

The Dandenong’s is renown for having some very nasty short pinches that are truly brutal to climb, and if you’re a hill junkie like me then you’ll go out of your way to give them a go.

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Paternoster Road is just outside of Cockatoo, and is just short, sharp & brutal.  Traffic can be quite heavy through here, but thankfully there’s a slip lane to the side of the road to keep you away from traffic as you will be making very slow progress grinding your way up this one.

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This is one of those horrible hills that just don’t finish & you’ll find a false flat with undulating climbing to contend with over the top of the climb.

Paternoster takes you past one of the areas most difficult climbs; Bailey’s Road which is 1.8km @ 9.2% & a great climb to combine with Paternoster.

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