Tuesday, March 25, 2014

Finding the time and friends

Time seems to be constantly against us. Finding the time for work, for the family, for home chores, chilling out and of course for riding is a constant challenge. Balancing your time for each of these activities is especially difficult for the long distance cyclist keen on performing to a reasonable standard and accumulating a large distance tally.

I have really struggled to find the time to blog about my cycling of late. I am even contemplating discontinuing with it or maybe changing the emphasis on what I write about. Maybe I could make it less about my exploits and ride reporting, and make it more technical or include more opinion?
Time will tell!


One thing I really do cherish is the friendships I have developed through my cycling. Events like the Oppy a fortnight ago and my own event last weekend Eureka Dales was a chance to catch up with some cycling friends. There is nothing better than sharing stories and having a laugh about our cycling exploits with like minded people. Its really good for the soul!

Post Oppy 
Rear - Phillip, George (me), Dave, Miles, Ken and Steve
Middle - Sue
Front - Andy

Tim was a happy Oppy finisher

Some of the riders enjoying a break on Eureka Dales

Wednesday, November 6, 2013

Beaufort Bomber

An Audax 200k permanent  ride from Ballarat to Halls Gap in the Grampians.
Intermediate checkpoint controles at Beaufort, Streatham and Ararat.
The ride was undertaken 5th November 2013.

 Near Beaufort

 Arriving Beaufort. It was a chilly start to the day

Arriving Streatham. The day was warming.
Cresting Carroll's Cutting after Ararat and the Grampians come into view.

Sunday, October 13, 2013

Breaking the Silence

Its a funny thing but I haven't been motivated to write about my cycling of late. This is not due the fact that I haven't been cycling. In fact since my last blog I have:

  • Ridden 5 100k permanents
  • Ridden 4 200k permanents including a great ride with Tim T
  • Ridden 3 200k calendar rides
  • Ridden and organised a 300k ride
  • Ridden the Gran Tourissimo Series of rides in South Australia (600, 400,300 & 200k)
 It brings my Audax season total to 12660k with a few more weeks to go.

Here's a few pics of some of the riders I have had the pleasure of their company during that period

Rick H -Teesdale Trot 300k

Roy J, Tim T & Sarah C Teesdale Trot 300k


Tim T - Eureka Dales Permanent 200k


Matthew R atop Old Willunga Hill GT 200k



Ben D GT 300k


Andrew B GT 400k


Roger H GT 600k


Richard S GT Series Organiser on GT 600k


Andrew K GT 600k


Caroline W GT 400k


Climbing Old Willunga Hill with Michael J (right) GT 200k


More GT Series photos are at:

Tuesday, June 11, 2013

Fit for a Queen

The Queen's Birthday long weekend provided me a great opportunity to log up some kilometres towards the goals that I have set myself for the year.

So on Saturday a group of seven of us undertook the Eureka Dales 200k permanent from Teesdale.
Mark, Leigh, Brian and  Jack along with Myra and Steve joined me on one of my favourite routes that headed up to Elaine then on to Ballarat, Smythesdale, Linton and Rokewood. The ride provided around 1500m of ascent and for the most part it was on quiet country roads. The day was cool but fine and the wind was light. We finished the ride in under 10 hours just after dark with it starting to get somewhat colder. Carol had prepared us some hot soup at the conclusion of the ride that soon warmed all of us up. All in all a great day was had by all.

Quiet country roads on Eureka Dales 200

On Sunday morning Carol, Kelly and I traveled to Horsham and I rode the Natimuk Knockout 100k permanent in the afternoon. This ride travels predominately through grain growing country to the west of the town and the highlight of the ride are the views of Mt Arapiles as you loop around to Natimuk on the return to Horsham.

Mt Arapiles on Natimuk Knockout 100

On Monday of the long weekend I rode another favourite ride of mine from Horsham. I have ridden Wimmera,Wool and Water 200k both as a calendar ride and as a permanent a few times. Riding as a permanent a long stretch of 125k to the only opportunity to buy food at Balmoral requires you to carry ample supplies yourself. This ride provides great views of the Grampians and at this time of year the lush pastures are grazed by finely bred merino sheep.

Views on Wimmera Wool and Water 200

Saturday, May 4, 2013

Hundreds and Thousands

You could say its been a bit of party time as I have sandwiched in some hundreds and some  thousands into the past month or so since the Oppy.

On the weekend following the Oppy I was undertaking the Wangaratta Wahine 1000K (volunteers ride) in the company of ride organiser Chris Rogers and Jim Chant, both of who were doing the 1200k option. The weather was great, quite mild during the days and nights which was fortunate as severe winds had done considerable damage in some nearby areas only a few days before. The ride was a series of loops out of Wangaratta. The only issue I had on this ride was that the sealed bearing in my Kysrium front wheel started to fail and emit all sorts of grinding and squealing noises every time  I built up a little speed when the road angled down. It could only be suppressed by slowing down to about 5kph before resuming normal speed. It held up sufficiently to complete the ride in just under 66 hours

Chris and Jim at Yarrawonga

I then rode a 100k permanent on the next weekend to keep things ticking over.

Then good mate Steve Xerri's Rock to Lock 200 was on up at Lancefield. This was a ripper ride. I spent the bulk of the ride in the company of Steve, Leigh Paterson and Frank Zgoznik. The weather was great, the company was great and  course was great.

I followed up with the Blackgate Saunter 150k from Geelong which was toughend up by a fair bit of wind and plenty of climbing around Torquay and in the Barrabools.

Finally a trip over to Victor Harbor SA where I got in one training ride then moved on to Belair for a few more rides in the hills before the start of the Geelong Flyer 1000 from Blackwood on Anzac Day. 21 starters was a good  turn out for Peter Donnan's well planned ride.  The first part of the ride was foggy and damp but the day cleared before we reached the first checkpoint at Milang. Then a strong westerly wind was pushing riders along up to 40 kph at times on the way to Wellington checkpoint which was then followed by the ferry crossing of the Murray River.

Joel on the ferry crossing the Murray River at Wellington

It was tougher going for the rest of the day as the wind shifted more southerly and even a bit more rain greeted me around Kingston on the way to the sleep stop at Robe. The second day was warmer and a little humid but Millicent, Mount Gambier, Nelson and Portland checkpoints came and went. The traffic for me was the more challenging part of this days ride. I found myself more mentally than physically tired when I arrived at Warrnambool a bit after 9 pm.

Arriving at Nelson on Day 2

Morning light at the Bay of Islands on Day 3

The final day had stops at Port Campbell, Beech Forrest, Apollo Bay before the finish at the 24 hour cafe in Geelong. Again it was warmish and humid and a howling northerly was a real challenge atop the Otways.

I pulled in to the finish with an elapsed time of 63 hours and thoroughly enjoyed a pizza and a good chat with Howard Dove who had finished just before me.

Special thanks to my family who traveled with me on the Flyer, be it they were in the car.

Friday, March 29, 2013

Modus Oppyrandos

The Fleche Opperman is an all day team cycling event where 3,4 or 5 bikes (and their riders) constitute a team that is required to cover a minimum of 360k in 24 hours. To be successful at least 3 of the bikes must finish and the overall average speed must be at least 15kph.

 I had previously ridden the Oppy in 2008, 2009 and 2011. This year after some brief toing and froing I accepted an invite from Steve Xerri to ride with the Lairs. What a great bunch of guys. Lots of humour, a great course (I like it flat) and support that would be the envy of a pro cycling team!

The team was really well balanced as each person seem to have their particular talents that they brought to the group. Starting with Steve whose meticulous organisation meant that there was no surprises and we all knew when, what and how things would operate. Ken was strong and rode a steady pace all day and night. I learnt that Dave could put on and take off his rain jacket whilst on the move but at times is prone to drop things and Andy is kind of like a wise man, experienced in all aspects, always cool, calm and confident. Bill and Pete on support were simply magnificent. They had a feast laid out at every controle and the variety of great food meant that it was so easy to refuel for the next leg. I think I might have even  put on weight on this ride!
Thanks Steve, Andy, Ken, Dave, Bill and Pete I had a wonderful time riding the Oppy 2013.

Modus Oppyrandos

Saturday, March 9, 2013

Bling

 For me  2011/12 was a pretty big Audax season and a step in my progression as a randonneur. One of the nice things I like about participating in Audax Australia rides and permanents (do it yourself rides) is the awards that you can earn for those long days in the saddle. Aside from the medals for individual rides the ones that I think are pretty neat are those that represent a series of rides or an accumulation over a year or more. The folk on the National Committee have done a fantastic job with the new award structure and in particular the design of the new awards. I was fortunate to receive a couple myself to sit on the shelf  alongside my 2010 Woodrup Award.

2012 Awards

2010 Woodrup

Saturday, December 8, 2012

In the wake of a big ride

The Great Southern Randonnee occupied much of my 4 week vacation from October through to mid November. Although riding the volunteers ride and volunteering on the main ride only occupied the first two weeks and much of the remaining two weeks were dominated by a severe virus. Body defences were probably lowered by ride and lack of adequate recovery and shortage of sleep.
This has meant that I have not achieved a quick early season start to logging the kilometres for the 2012/13 Audax season.
I missed riding the Cafe au Lait 600 at Wangaratta but finally got going on the seventeenth with the Bellarine 200. I had a good ride with Geoff, Sarah and Ken around the Bellarine Peninsula. A 100k permanent the following Saturday was followed with the 200k Eureka Dales permanent on the Sunday. So the November total of 500k was a modest but steady start to the year.

Geoff, Sarah and Ken take a break
 
Eureka
 
December started with the old favorite Jump the Gun from Maryborough in Central Victoria. Warmish conditions greeted riders for the 600k on the Saturday but Sunday was cooler if not a little windier. Jimmy Chant, Tim Taylor, Joel Nicholson and myself completed the 600 while Tavis Baker unfortunately had to pull out with illness. It was the usual great weekend with riders undertaking distances from 100 to 600k.

Heading for Moonambel 460k down
 

Monday, November 12, 2012

A different perspective on a 1200k Randonnee

The 5th edition of the Great Southern Randonnee in late October this year provided me with a different view of a big ride to what I have been accustomed to.
It all started a considerable time earlier when I committed to Stephen Rowlands the new organiser of this iconic Audax Australia event to lend a hand with its running. I found myself part of a small organising team that held a number of meetings to sort out the detail. Some aspects of the required work were distributed amongst various people but the bulk of the considerable workload was undertaken by Stephen and the irrepressible wee Scotty, Ronnie McInnes. Ronnie and wife Meredith kindly hosted the organising meetings at their home.

Meeting at Ronnie and Meredith's home

I have organised supported rides before but a big multi day main event like the GSR is at a far higher level and requires a lot more in place than just food, a route and cue sheets and I have the greatest respect for the time and effort that Stephen and Ronnie put into this ride.

The GSR regularly attracts several international riders to our shores. Some regulars who I had met before at the Perth Albany Perth in 2010. Mark Thomas and Vincent Muoneke from Seattle were back along with Spencer Klaassen on fixed from Kansas. Julian Dyson from the UK was also back and there were several other new and returning internationals. I had fond memories from Perth of riding with Vincent and Mark through the forests after Pemberton, of Spencer's son helping as a volunteer on the ride and of briefly riding with Julian after dark on the the road between Wagin and Williams.

Having a spare bedroom in our house gave my wife Carol and I the chance to billet two riders for the days leading up to and the days after the ride. The two riders that were to stay with us were Rick Blacker from Seattle Randonneurs and Julian Dyson from AudaxUK. It was an absolute pleasure to have them stay with us. As one might imagine that most of the talking was about long distance cycling but I also got to learn a lot about them and life at home. It was really great to become good friends with the two of them.

Julian, myself and Rick
 
I had only finished my 1200k volunteers ride a few days earlier and I was out on a hard 100k permanent with Rick to tune him up for the GSR. At the halfway stage of the ride with many steep ascents my legs finally yelled "back off". I had to ease back,take things easier and follow Rick's wheel as a nasty wind and some rain added to the challenge.



Rick stops to take a photo

Two days later it was the same torturous route but this time it was with Julian on a brighter day and fortunately for me with stronger legs.

Julian cresting a climb

A pre-ride dinner at the Angelsea Golf Club the night before the start of the GSR gave many of the riders and volunteers a chance to catch up and renew old acquaintances from both interstate and overseas.
 
Rick, Mark and Spencer (rear views), Julian and Vincent catch up prior to the pre ride dinner
 
International riders before the start
 
The briefing of riders begins
 
 My primary role during the ride was to be a roving scout watching over the event and riders as they moved through the countryside spreading out over about 200k by the time the first riders finished. I was also lucky enough to be the person issuing the brevet cards, maps and route notes before the start so it enabled me to get to know some of the new faces early on.
 
The 1200 started at 6pm and not too long after the start I drove Stephen and Alison to the Queenscliff checkpoint then on to the secret control to check the riders as they progressed towards completion of the first 200k which was essentially a loop around Geelong and the Bellarine Penisula. A brief stop back at Angelsea for a quick coffee then I went on alone to Apollo Bay to sign cards of the faster riders before the shops opened in town. A few of the quickest riders just beat me to town but I looked after several until about 6 am when the bakery opened. I then drove on into the Otways and found a quiet side track where I managed about an hours sleep in the back of my car. I moved on to Port Campbell and had breakfast with the faster riders and got another hour or so sleep.  This sleeping scenario was repeated for the next four days as I moved from control to control. I focused on the mid pack to slower riders generally and didn't again see the quickest riders. I  picked up some 1000k riders that abandoned on Lavers Hill after a warm afternoons climb and ferried them to Port Campbell. I picked up an abandoned rider at Hopkins Falls after his inadequate lights gave out in the middle of the night and transported him to Port Fairy. I recovered another riders rain jacket and tights that he had dropped on the roadside between Halls Gap and Moyston. However for most of the time I was just observing and encouraging the riders and all the time itching to be out there with them.
 
 A quiet country lane
 
An emu near Tower Hill, Koroit
 
Sarah and Bec on the homeward leg
 
 A dramatic sunset in the Otways
 
 
 
Finished. Tired but satisfied (Mark, Mike and Rick)
 
Happy finishers 1 (Hamish and Ian)
 
Frank....where have you been?
 
Happy finisher 2 (Julian)
 
Happy finishers 3 (Sarah and Bec)
 
Jim   and his Bulgarian jersey
 
All in all the Great Southern Randonnee for 2012 was a great success. Riders were challenged by the route and the conditions and the successful ones will cherish their involvement. The DNFs will reflect on their performance and be better for their learnings. Many new friendships were forged during the ride and many old freindships were renewed and strengthened. Everyone involved will have a story to tell.  See you in 2016. 
 

Monday, November 5, 2012

The Great Southern – Volunteers Ride


There were three volunteers who chose to undertake the long rides of the GSR this time.
Tim Taylor and I rode the 1200k and Peter Donnan rode the 1000k option.
Tim and I set off from Angelsea at 6pm on Thursday 18th October. Peter left at 8am on the next day. This meant our rides were synchronised and operating on a timetable matching the event itself. Carol and my daughter Kelly provided excellent support for me at overnight stops that I had determined as optimum for the pace I planned to ride. Tim and Peter were able to take some advantage of this. Tim catching some sleep at Port Fairy, Dunkeld and Apollo Bay with us while Peter had arranged a motel room at Hamilton. Both Tim and Peter also had a bite to eat with us at both Halls Gap and Dunkeld.
I rode with Tim for the first 175k but after Torquay I let him pull away and I wouldn’t see him again till Port Fairy. I chose to take a sleep at the 200k at Angelsea. Arriving at 3:15am and leaving at 7am.
I had developed a conservative schedule for this ride. I was not looking for a sub 80hr ride but rather looking to enjoy a pleasant roll through some spectacular Victorian countryside.
I enjoyed the leg from Apollo Bay through the lovely Otway National Park and the two climbs seemed to go nicely and I reached Port Campbell (367k) at 5pm just ahead of my schedule.

 Through the Otway National Park
I had friends in the trees
 
Progress was slow but steady against an annoying headwind on my way past Hopkins Falls and on to Port Fairy. A text message from good mate Steve Xerri broke the monotony as I rode on to a sleep stop at Port Fairy arriving at 11:40pm.  I had friends in the trees as well. A koala had been croossing the road when caught in the beam of my ayups. It was hard to get him to pose for the camera
I left Port Fairy around 3am to get to Macarthur a few minutes inside the closing time.
 Macarthur a few minutes inside the closing time
Similarly i timed my arrival at Dunkeld with a 10 minute buffer and this rounded out the first 600k.
Dunkeld
I felt in good shape with two good sleeps under my belt as I made my way on to Halls Gap where Carol informed me that Tim and Peter had just left following a nice feed of soup. Tim also had kindly bought some ice cream and that went down well as the morning and early afternoon had been reasonably warm.
Mount Abrupt
I passed Tim and Peter on the return through Halls Gap and arrived at our cabin at 9pm with the others pulling in for a break at around 9:30pm. I took 6 hours at this checkpoint and got another good nights sleep.
Most of the following day was very unsettled with gusting and swirling winds making it impossible to find a good rhythm. Just prior to arriving at Port Campbell in the late afternoon I was hit by a violent storm that bought cold lashing rain that certainly dampened my spirits a little. I caught up with Tim at Port Campbell . He had left Dunkeld earlier but had taken an extended break as a bite on his leg was causing considerable swelling and discomfort for him. I rode with Tim as he battled his condition through the climbs of the Otways.
Tim
 
Near Hordern Vale we were separated and it wasn’t until Apollo Bay that we caught up with each other. After a sleep Tim left early to ensure his leg would not prevent a successful finish. I again had a good nights sleep and left Apollo bay at 6am. I reached Angelsea to be greeted by Tim and Carol at 9:37am. The ride took me 87 hours 37 minutes to complete.
The finish