Beyond the Mountains

For a while I’ve been wanting to string together three or four days of longer rides, for no other reason to just see if I can do it.


So with an excess of leave and permission granted, I set off last Tuesday on a jolly that would cover some lovely NSW countryside – a mountain climb, the gentle hills of the Central Tablelands and some magnificent farm land.


The Rules

I had a couple of rules for  itinerary planning.  First up, I’m not made of the stuff of Normie, Ginger, Pidgeon or Happy – 100k’s (ish) per day is more than enough for me.  Also, no starts before 8 am (it’s cold out there), no gaps between towns of greater than 50ks (just in case) and all days need to finish before the sun sets.


I also wanted to travel light but comfortable, so pub camping and big dinners were scheduled, rather than schlepping around bivvies, or sleeping in bus shelters or under hedges.


The TourDay One (102k : 1700m) was a trundle up the mountains to Blackheath.  I’d mentioned the ride to Limpet and Victa to test interest and whilst a multi day offering wasn’t high on their agendas, a Tuesday Winter Westerly suddenly formed up with a handy group to join me – Dasha, Doc, Limpet, Oma and Victa.  A standard run up the mountain followed, although the fog was particularly heavy from Bella Vista through to Yarramundi.  We arrived at Blackheath in good time: as the escorts trained it back to Sydney, I ducked out to Govetts Leap.

Blackheath Beers.JPG

Day Two (136k : 1700m) was meant to be a positioning ride – a flat trundle from Blackheath, down Vic Pass, through Lithgow to Bathurst via the Great Western Highway and then the Mid Western Highway to Blayney.  


Alas, I was wrong on many counts, but two stand out.  First up, there’s plenty of serious climbs from the bottom of Vic Pass for the next 60 or so k’s, peaking around Yetholme Crest at 1200m elevation.  Not particularly steep, but long; up and down; on dead road.  Even worse, the infrastructure is a cyclist’s nightmare, with many sections of road without any verge to pedal on.  B Doubles passing at speed are not pleasant.  


Mark Renshaw has a bike shop in Bathurst – it’s a great shop if you are ever in the area.  I popped in to get advice as the thought of continuing on to Blayney via similar road was doing my head in.  The crew there were very helpful – they had an alternate route mapped out in a flash, showing it off in google maps on the register.  Instead of the Mid Western Highway, they routed me south to Perthville and Georges Plains, with a monster climb up to Newbridge, then a descent (sort of) to Blayney.  With a cheery wave they sent me on my way, warning me about the Newbridge climb (again).  Off I set, 50k’s to cover in 2 1/2 hours to beat sunset.  

A glorious ride, cycle touring at its best.  The road was fast, the weather perfect, with the afternoon sun warming and lighting the countryside in a glorious, brilliant way – dappled light amongst trees, paddocks for miles, heaven on two wheels.  After the noise and bustle of the highway, the sounds of truck tyres and air brakes and hydraulics, the choral songs of birds was so refreshing.  The few cars I shared the road with I could hear minutes before I saw them.  With plenty of waves and a good distance as they passed, I felt safe.  Even the climb up to Newbridge was a charm.


I arrived at Blayney as the sun set.  Mission accomplished, the beers were good that night at dinner.

Blayney at sunset.jpg

Day Three (111k : 1600m) I’d planned as the adventure day, to ride off piste far from maddening highways and 4G reception.  As so it was to be: return to Bathurst, ride through Brewongle and South Bowenfels, then join the highway back up to Mount Victoria, via Berghofers Pass.
Highlander and I were pinging each other in the run up to the ride.  As it turned out, Conor was going to be at his property (near Sodwalls) this week, so we arranged to meet at Tarana for lunch, about 80ks into the ride.


The return to Bathurst was as good as the ride out.  From Bathurst there is a delightful flat run to Brewongle – arrow straight roads and a horizon that seems to go forever.  Mind, it was a tad cool on the pedal at this point (maybe 4 deg C) with a cross wind and some squalls.  Nothing disastrous, but enough to know you are alive.

I pinged Highlander from Brewongle – 25 k’s to go, I reckon an hour.  Bad call – it is seriously hilly.  You know, like Cottage Point hilly.  Again, wonderful countryside – not as rolling or fertile as Blayney, but plenty of views, forests and train tracks.  Yup, the road loosely followed a train line.  A bit disconcerting – one minute you’d be looking down at the tracks, the next you’d be looking up way up at the embankment.  

I eventually met up with Highlander at Tarana, where after coffee and lunch, his siren song (wanna lift to Lithgow?) proved too strong.  I scabbed a lift.  It was a good call – it saved two hours of solid hills so I could make it to Berghofers Pass in daylight.

Carpool.jpg

So why Berghofers Pass?  It was built around 1912 as an alternate to Vic Pass.  Albeit it fell into disrepair, it is far more preferable to mixing it with B Doubles climbing the Pass.  There’s not much about it online (I found the pass phaffing around on Google Maps).  I figured out the start is about 500m from safety camera gantry at the start of Vic Pass (how useful is Street View?).  Berghofers is very rideable, although I’d recommend a minimum of 32 mm tyres.  There’s a little slippage, but otherwise it’s straightforward.  Indeed, if need be, it’s easy enough to wheel your bike.  All up, it’s 2.5k.  

Day Four (100k : 900m) was always going to be a crystal crank day.  A fast run down the mountains, then a lazy run back to Tuzza.  It would be fair to say my legs weren’t just cooked by this stage – they were sliced, diced, steamed and served.  I took it pretty easy from Mount Victoria all the way to Turramurra.  


There were a couple of plan variations.  Rather than risk riding from Blackheath to Katoomba on the road verge (another nightmare) I remembered reading somewhere there were firetrails following the road.  I found the trail head at Blackheath and trundled safely on dirt to Katoomba (part of it is actually paved).  
The other variation was to flip do

wn Mitchell Pass from Blaxland.  Apart from being much more cycle friendly, there’s a wonderful convict bridge (Lennox Bridge) which is well worth a stop.

To round out the ride I trundled home via Parramatta River.  It’s a great cycle path.  If you’ve not ridden it before, buy Zlatco a coffee so he can escort you on a Zorbital. 


Bike and Kit

I used my Gravel Lynskey, fitted with 32mm Maxxis Refuse.  I’m big fans of these tyres – grippy, strong sidewalls and much more reasonably priced than Conti’s.  Drive train is Shimano GRX (42 / 11:34).  I could have used a bigger granny around Tarana, otherwise very reliable.  For storage I used Apidura Bags (Frame – 5l and Saddle – 10l) and a Rapha handlebar bag (2l).  It all worked well.  I took plenty of tools and spares (4 tubes, patches, pp, etc), none of which was needed.

All up I had about 17l of storage, which isn’t that much. Still, Limpet did ask me to carry his tablet on Day One.   Anyway, I kept it light with two sets of kit (which I washed each day, allowing two nights for drying if need be) and light clothes to wear to the pub for dinner, with cycling shoes of course.

Kit.jpg

Again, it worked well, with some minor variations to the kit list for next time.


Did the Accommodation Work?

Regarding the accommodation, it worked really well. Generally it was comfortable, clean and warm.  I had good mobile reception, which was critical for ride planning the next day.  Electric blankets seem to be de rigueur at these places – I don’t like using such malarkey, but it is a great way to finishing drying off freshly washed kit 🙂

Black Spots
The most disappointing part of the ride was the road infrastructure.  It was abysmal, with cyclist black spots between Katoomba and Blackheath, the GWH, the MWH and, of course, the ascent through Vic Pass.  The good news is there are alternate routes to follow.


Would I Do It Again?

In a heartbeat. 


Till the next ride,

admin

And Some Follow Up Questions

  • Was the Weather Good?
  • Sheer joss the weather was as good as it turned out.  I did track it from three weeks out, it seemed to get better with each passing day.  The most likely shocker was Day 3 (Thursday) which promised rain for much of the day.  Instead it was a light shower and a few squalls.  In some ways, the days were extreme – near zero to start, warming to a very reasonable mid teens by 10 am.
  • How did you dry kit?
  • All kit dried in time.  Heaters make a big difference, though wringing the kit dry with a towel worked well.  Finishing off by electric blanket was a nice touch.  Who doesn’t like pulling on pre-warmed knicks?
  • Is safe routing possible?
  • Routing w/o trucks is entirely possible.  Normie and I compared notes and we seemed to have plugged all the gaps.  I did forget to include a special we worked out on Day 1 (Tuesday).  To exit Sydney via Richmond you need to get to Windsor Road.  Unless you leave at a very unreasonable 5:30, it’s hard to do, especially with Berowra Waters ferry out of action.  The solution is to trundle to the Metro at Macquarie and train out Bella Visit. Voila – cycle path and wide verge all the way to Richmond.  After Richmond, it’s all country roads and Yarramundi switchbacks to Springwood.  Too much fun.

2020 3 Peaks Ride Report from a Debutant – The Hell of The South?

Thought I’d get this out tonight before DOMS Day 2 post-ride….

Just how cold was it?

Fretting over the conditions started a week out when long range forecasts predicted cold and fairly wet. Paparazzi gave us all the willies, talking about riding head-to-toe in neoprene (or was it merino?), prepping for the equivalent of a Canberra winter ride. Highlander lamented not finding booties, and Danny the Boy’s vegetable intake would assuredly ward off cold better than any base layer could. But as the days passed by, the forecast steadily improved and by Saturday morning the forecast rain had disappeared entirely, replaced with merely “Cloudy”. Cue rejoicing and elbow bumps all round – we’d worried and prepared for nothing! But damn the evening updates…. By 5pm, rain was back on according to both BOM and the Norwegian experts, and whatever would be would be….

6.30am at the start line was 6 degrees, with occasional faint drizzle. The best advice I got pre-ride was to put newspaper down my jersey, supposedly to dump it at the bottom of the descent of Falls. This kept me toasty on the descent along with my 4 other layers (base, jersey, gilet & rainjacket) but I folded the TV guide up in Mount Beauty to keep it for Hotham, and this I believe saved my ride. 1,314 people started this event and almost 250 DNF – almost 20%. Most of these will have abandoned at Dinner Plain after descending from Hotham in 4 degrees in rain and fog. Riders arriving at Dinner Plain were directed into the First Aid Hut to warm up. A sobering sight that will stay with me for a long time was the scores of shivering under-dressed riders, chattering teeth making them mumbling MAMILS, putting bin bags and blankets on, and slugging hot chocolate, to try and warm up. It was biblical, but my phone was out on the bike so no pics and I note too that this scene hasn’t made the official Peak’s video.

I had put both the newspaper back in and the rain jacket on at Hotham summit and wasn’t especially cold arriving for lunch, but leaving the hut after eating my wrap was another matter. Relatively dry under my jacket to that point, I forsaked my full change of kit in the valet bag and left that to find its own way home. Now wet gloves back on, I mounted and headed off on to the 1km long “gravel section”. It was smooth, but the rain now made it like riding through a deep muddy puddle for 3 minutes in low visibility. Temp remained stuck at 4 degrees. I was shivering like a junkie in withdrawal, so violently I thought I’d lose control a few times and it served to coat me in mud. No pave, but we all looked like Roubaix riders, and I’m not talking Rhodes! Then the drive train and discs protested for many kilometres to come… my kingdom for a rinse and lube! What else could I do to warm up? I then remembered the headband, down around my neck since Mount Beauty and moving that that up around my ears added surprising warmth and comfort and in time I settled down.

“Suck Wheel”

Good advice, but the low number of riders this year (down on previous years and well short of their 2,000 cap), and the many dropouts, meant it was mainly single riders after Dinner Plain to the Finish. This was effectively a solo ride for me, but for a train from the bottom of the Tawonga descent to Harrietville for 20km or so, which started as 5 riders and grew to 50-odd. That just wasn’t available for the run to Omeo or then on to Anglers Rest.

Mind Over Matter

There were stiff mental tests in this ride, the first for me wasThe Meg, earlyish on the first third of Hotham. Signposted, and well-flagged in advance, this “only” 300m section with grade from 10-13% really hurt, and had me questioning if I had what it took to get to Hotham’s summit, 25km or so distant. By the end of Hotham’s first third, 10km of climbing, my mind was looking for excuses to pull over for a breather. But entering the false flat 10km section, I convinced myself to keep going, at least until the last third when I knew it would ramp up again. There was a (apparently new) rest area before the last 10km of Hotham which afforded the mental re-grouping and I put in some music to get through the last third. Climbing now into the cloudbase, it got cold, and eerie with the visibility down to 50m or less – but perhaps this was a blessing in disguise. I couldn’t see the road rising off into the distance. CRB Hill (1.1km at 10% but it didn’t hit me like The Meg had) was tough, but I motored on and summitted as the rain came. Others behind me later reported sleet. Can’t comment on whether it’s picturesque or not!

After the shivering subsided, I motored on to Omeo, and left the newspaper in situ for most of this trip. This was the biggest surprise to me. I expected a big descent after Hotham but really it was just a gradual loss of elevation and with some climbs in there too, before a long drop into Omeo where as if by magic, a temp of 19 degrees fleetingly appeared on the GPS. Definitely a rest stop to linger at!

Leaving there led to the most scenic bit of the ride. After a decent climb there was a winding flat road along an escarpment and the sun came out for at least 20 minutes, and visibility opened up. I cruised this with little company and really enjoyed it.

The next test, the one most feared, was The Beast. WTF Corner and into Back of Falls: 10% average for the first 10km. Grinding at 6-7km/hr with tired legs, thankful the photographer wasn’t too far up the initial hill (“at least get past the photographer”), the gradient those first 2-3 km hardly relented. The 100m distance indicators on the GPS ticked over painfully slowly, in and out of the saddle (‘Don’t Stop. Don’t Get Off”) but soon I was bargaining with myself to make it 3km, maybe 5km and then either pause or walk a bit, but then there’d be a slight dip – yes even 7% was enough to give respite and convince you to make it to the next corner, to another ramp, and so on and on. And on. Now I started to understand why the timing guides (now washed off the top tube) allow ~1.5 hours for the 13km between WTF and Trapyard. 5km in, it eventually started to relent a little with some flat and even a short descent, but then, BANG, up hard again. Will it ever end? But hang on, I’ve done this for 6km now, 60% of this tough 10km done, keep going, activate the glutes, in and out of the saddle, don’t stop, don’t get off, one more corner, all this training, and then finally, it did ease off and a relatively soft run into Trapyard was an emotional release to realise this was going to happen.

In hindsight, I could and should have kept going without stopping at Trapyard. Water was low but not much needed at this stage. The Coke there didn’t agree with all the other bike fuel I’d been eating and I took off, now climbing again into the low viz. Jacket back on as temp was back down to four degrees for these last 20km. I was searching for the Mount Cope sign that we had ridden out to the day before and eventually saw it through the gloom, when only about 20m from it. Another mini celebration. Push on, no dam waters to sight in the fog, but this was the home stretch. Think about the hot shower, nay, DREAM about the hot shower… not long now……. Where’s the bloody dam wall… one last small climb, and don’t crash on the last corner. Quite the emotional release to roll in under the banner at 6.30pm, and I choked up, taking it in. One hell of a ride.

Ride Stats

Ride time 10h22m Elapsed Time 11h33m so a surprising 1h11m in rest areas or wardrobe changes on side of road. Total climb time 4h46m including stops on Hotham and at Trapyard. But all in all, both body and bike held up.

What would I do differently?

  • Wouldn’t be hard to trim 30 mins or more off rest stop time, and even that’s still a long way off Blue’s 8 total mins stopped during his sub 10 effort!
  • Work on my descending: I was cautious down Falls given the crowds but Tawonga was only slightly damp and not as technical as forecast (though they said last year was the first time someone hasn’t done their collarbone on Turn 5). Hotham’s descent though was no place to pick up time this year in the horrid conditions there.
  • Waterproof gloves. I went through 3 variations of normal gloves: Long, short, then short with dry liners that I’d saved for the home stretch. Breathable waterproofs though would save a lot of faffing.
  • Join one of the Bicycle Network waves to maximise chance of trains…. I was within 5 mins of the back of the 10 hour group for the first 70km until they left me for dead on Hotham. I then tick-tacked with the 11 hour group and probably could/should have stayed with them. But thoughts had turned to making sure I finished rather than time-setting, and hence lingering in rest areas.
  • Make sure the sticker covering the cleats are indeed stuck in on the soles of the new MTB shoes you buy! My booties performed well, but could do nothing about the muddy puddle coming up from the road entering the shoe via the cleat!

Will there be a next time? Why would anyone put themselves through this? Especially when they now know what lies in store? Better ask Highlander what’s made him do it 5 times now… I have until Wednesday 9am to sign up cheaply….

Cheers,

Pine Tree.

Riding with Lachy Morton

On Wednesday 8th Jan, Easy Riders raised more than $1700 for the Rural Fire Service in response to the recent bushfires affecting NSW and the rest of Australia. This allowed us to invite current EF Education First World Tour rider Lachy Morton to ride with us on a special Rhodes Roubaix.

After the ride, we swapped Lachy’s EF Education First jersey for an Easy Riders commuter jersey.

We’ve just auctioned this jersey to raise further funds for the RFS. Congratulations to Ginger, you look like world tour material to us..

Lachy is a true gentleman and it was a privilege to ride with him and help him support a great cause. He’s now got a swag of new fans who will be watching his progress during the year.

You can donate to the RFS to help support their life saving work.

Queen’s Birthday Roll

Queen’s Birthday Roll

So the description on the box was a OAFATSR and what can one gather from that, if it is on an ER box.. there is a long history of banter regarding what is constituted by the label slowest rider… I take it to mean something like intellectually challenged because it has nothing to do with the speed at which a person can turn the pedals and still breath.

Getting to an Easy ride for YHC is often a challenge, there are some parts that say .. just pedal up as you don’t take a sword to a gun fight and taking a car to bike ride rates about the same in ER circles.. then the other parts that usually win say .. sleep in and drive up.. ( for a 7:30 kick off so go figure ) ..

So YHC was out of the garret at a ridiculous hour and had to tiptoe down the spiral staircase from the south tower well before the dawn.. on reaching the drawbridge realised that no bidon was present and therefore would not be participating on the ride as nothong was going to make me climb the stairs to fetch it.. ( note to self if the lift breaks again on the weekend.. I will live out of the freezer and cruise the net instead of going out )

Collecting the Willier from the stable and loading it into the Float took mere moments as the float was repositioned into a local street the night before since it usually lives a couple of suburbs away where there is free parking..yes it is an inner west in joke. ( except if you live in Annandale …there it is pitch forks and brickbats for anyone not recognised as a street local)

Driving the highway on a Public holiday is interesting, all cars are actually doing the speed limit which for this rare driver, is quite discombobulating, usually this behavior is scorned and any who should attempt to do so is aggressively dealt with.. but double demerits converts these otherwise lead foots into vigilante law enforcement officers..very strange indeed.

Arrival at the Patto car park with 40 minutes to spare was a great plan, but not so good in practice, lucky facebook is there for such occasions and before you could comment on 15 news feeds, ERs started arriving in the usual groupettos.. lead by Laurie of course. Lunchie arrived and with 15 mins to spare took himself to a restaurant .. Admin thankfully brought the proceedings to order with a swift briefing, there to be no scratching no gouging and no blows below the belt .. the usual.

Lucy arrived at the moment a camera was drawn for the group shot.. Chippo wore covered shoes.. Turnip broke rib for the roll out, as one does. The roads were a sheen of dew in the morning light and rather free of traffic, and the sun was not far off the horizon when the bugle went for the charge of the hubbard brigade..and what a fanfare..

YHC rolled out early but pulled over immediately to ensure that Strava was tracking as you all know the drill if it ain’t on Strava ..

Each of the 20 riders made sure YHC was ok before pedalling off at speed.. except Admin.. his dedication to duty should have been recognised by her Maj on the list alas not this year although another Ex member 52 was there,  but 52 has not been serving the ER cause for yonks congrats to him though for his service to cycling in general.. BNSW in particular.

This ride was billed as a no cups ride, and YHC was going to ensure that was the case.. pedalling through the ranks to the front of the peloton then slowing down..but could not quite get through the peloton before the first hill so was therefore out the back in a jiffy.

Plenty of opportunity ensued though as Turnip blew his tyre to break up the lead group’s rhythm. YHC and Bucky rolled ahead to the first regroup point at Gentleman’s pace. ( to find Chippo and Flash already there and Pink and Blue ) the ride was unfolding to  ER perfection. Some helping out mates others fearful of being dropped ( yes Moi ) rolling on and listening for the loud banter to approach from behind. Before long a few more arrived and Chippo called for the winners to follow him out and see youse all at the next regroup.

An anti clockwise Akuna loop is quite a special ride, you get to glide where you normally sweat and sweat where you normally glide, but thanks to Tony you know who and his hotmix every inch of this ride is now sweet and smooth, by this time the road was dry and conditions perfect .. marvellous even.

Regroup 3 at the Marina bantering on YHC found a perfect paced climb alongside the Pink an Blues.. to be caught by Bucky just short of the third false top, and in time to see Admin speeding down to find the Lucy groupetto and bring it back into the fold.

YHC enjoying a very well aspirated and whinge free ride , regroup 4 at the fork, and found Flash slowly peeling off the front to ride solo, sorry Flash but YHC had to have a wheel to chase and yours was it.. even the Nasty little Hill was not so nasty today at Flash pace.. So it was YHC and Flash arrived ( behind Nice As and Chippo who were already eating their brekky so well behind them ) .. and infront of the ER bunch.. a strategic queue jump but socially unforgivable ploy.

The Café were working like the proverbial one legged arse kicker. But the only ER who was delayed beyond the bounds of good manners was our Admin.. his patience only matched by one old fella called Job. ( OK Admin we’ll have you beatified soon ).

 

There is going to be published some fake news soon.. Flash will try and say there is BT eating the evil wheat.. Saaaad. He will even try and say his photo is real.. even more  saaaaad. He is weak and a loser. However I highly recommend the ‘ Tradies ‘ Egg and Bacon roll .. to die for.

YHC apologies to all who did not get a mention, ( sorry Bullet Le ) and for the utterly predictable nature of this ride report.. and pays homage to the keepers of this sacred space and the traditional owners of the ER IP.

Captain if you even read this may the wind be on your back etc etc.

BT

The Fails Creek Report

Well having read the wonderful report from Highlander there isn’t much to add to the overall Falls weekend – a hugely successful weekend from team ER and a thoroughly enjoyable weekend with outstanding company. A truly memorable experience. Thanks again for organising the lodgings Sat Nav.

The ride – well that is a very different story. Not being able to sleep the night before due to sincere concerns of being able to complete the challenge ahead (and having asked the group every question I could think of – twice) I finally pushed Ridley (my new bike bought 5 weeks earlier with a mid-compact 11-28 Di2 set up) out of the lodge with Highlander and headed to Wave 3. The anticipation intense, the threat of rain real but the adrenaline and excitement as the riders rolled out was immense – what an experience, especially as I crossed through the starters arch. I felt good, this was going to be possible if I didn’t take off like the eager puppy I have been in past rides (and tried to learn from the mistake)

Conservative and steady down the decent to Mt Beauty was my strategy but not one shared by a significant amount of riders – racing lines emerged by inexperienced riders and some felt compelled to use slim passing lines to nudge their way through corners and past riders, a rather white knuckled experience for a newbie like me. Beautiful decent and great welcoming into Mt Beauty – now the ride began. Time to strip down out of the warmers and prepare for the climbing.

I seemed to have made some early progress on the team so hit Tawonga Gap on my lonesome. I thoroughly enjoyed the climb and felt I was making good progress in good time and felt very strong as I hit the summit. No stopping at the rest stop (great advice Highlander) I did my part to earn the Bicycle Network promise of a free beer by not crashing on the famous crash corners and hit the flats ready to find a peloton to hitch a ride on. Alas it appeared that in searching for groups unsuccessfully I had created one without realising, and the tail was very happy to sit on my wheel without sharing the load. Single file was the play due to the headwind that had greeted us. But finally a peloton came past which I joined on to and rode the final km’s into Harrietville, slightly faster than desired but good to be on board. First fail – not hitching a ride to Harrietville.

After a bottle re-fill, refuel and a stretch/walk around Highlander and the 11hr group arrived to do the same, and strong encouragement of taking on fruit cake (good suggestion) was provided. Needing relief but not wanting to wait Highlander and I pushed out, although I had no idea that moment away began the Mt Hotham climb. I left Highlander at the base of the climb for some brief nature appreciation and then commenced the climb.

Overall I loved Mt Hotham – it does go for ever, I agree, and by the end the pain has set in. The first 10km were great, felt great, no cramps and didn’t get passed by any official riders. Stopped to help a rider who randomly hit the deck for no obvious reason and smashing his seat in half. Second 10km – what a great section but does seem to go on. Third 10km’s – ok that hurt. It lived up to its reputation, I thought I had conquered it only to drop into the valley and have to climb up again and that snake route to the summit seems never ending. Unfortunately 3km from the summit sudden CRAMP!! Both legs shot out straight and getting out of the cleats was a close call – cramp zone was muscle hugging the kneecap in the inside – never had this cramp before. 8 mins straight it cramped with no relief, causing me to look like I was doing some strange serenade dance to the mountain tops. Massaging the legs to attempt to gain relief a rider pulled up next to me, put four white tablets in my hand and said “take these immediately with lots of water”. A quick confirmation question proved these to be salt tablets and down the hatch they went. So much encouragement provided by passing riders “mate you are almost there”…”all the hard work is done”……cramping stopped, no power muscles effected over the top I went through the arches, what a feeling!!!! Favourite part of the ride. Wasn’t aware however that the Dinner Plains stop is actually quite an effort away.

Pulled into Dinners and tried to work out the lay of the land. Parked as far away from the action than I possibly could (by accident – fresher error) and commenced refuel, sat down to admire what was happening around me and bag drop/swap. Thought I would wait for Highlander and I was extremely excited to find him and so good to combine with him once more. I tried to get the wrap down the hatch and recharge the garmin when the 12hr rider call came over the speaker and the decision was made to get out there with them. My food intake to this point had not been great – just didn’t seem to have an appetite but still had good energy. Butt was KILLING due to new seat so Nurofen Plus now joined the party.

The next section I don’t remember too clearly. We started with the 12hr group which was awesome and mainly downhill and rollers is what I had expected – they did plenty of work and we were making good time. There were some royal dickheads in the group (non-official BN riders) who thought they were heroes but couldn’t hold a wheel or line. Highlander cracked it at one point and went off ahead of the group but we soon caught as the headwinds increased. Finally some knob jockey decided to cut us off the 12hr riders and dropped off the back, we couldn’t catch them again. The ride took a bad turn for me here – energy starting to go and pain had set in permanently, the heat took force which is never a good omen for me (heat and wind) and when sneaky peak hit unexpectedly my mind moved to a very negative space. I had underestimated the “easier” sections and no rollers of note and not much downhill. Plenty of wind.

With Highlander ever encouraging we pushed into Omeo and O-M-G it was good to arrive. Water refuel and an attempt to eat something that tried to resemble a scone (I was still trying to chew that thing as we rode off and had to spit it out so no food on board) while bumping into a friend I had not seen in 11 years we were off again. Highlander assures me this is the section of rollers, not the past section. With new found confidence I am ready. Butt on fire – I could hardly sit, inner abductors now cramping at regular frequency (but not effecting power and very manageable when not cramping) and doubt set in my concern turned to Highlander finishing. As I questioned Highlanders definition of rollers I voiced just how much pain I was in. Extremely stubbornly and very admirably Highlander kept me on his wheel and reassured me “mate we are going to finish this, we are going to cross this together” Highlander finally understood that I was officially broken, the game had changed now and extremely reluctantly and hesitantly Highlander started to head off solo. With the game now changed Highlander the machine was locked in once more and the trailblazer was off with many trying to hitch a ride on his wheel. My game = how long can I last. I still had so much time, perhaps I can do this  – I will make it to Anglers and re-evaluate.

I hit Anglers, smashed a cold coke (sorry no beer Z man) with some more Nurofen and questioned – could I do this. I had little in the tank, my legs were cramping every 15mins and I couldn’t sit on my seat. A fellow rider said – you know you can walk up Falls and still cross the line given the time, we are so very far ahead and with that decision made…….bring it on WTF.

As I walked across the bridge to see a fellow Turra rider bleeding (but he was fine) I tried to clip back in and roll on….but couldn’t get into the pedals as many others also struggled with. The mud created by the water stations had completely filled in the cleats so when you could get in you couldn’t get out. Finally water from bottles used to clear the mud and I was away. A slow 10kms to bottom of WTF I turned left and there she was in all her glory…WTF. Beloka you got nothing on this. I hit the first stretch, legs screaming and cramps lining up for complete leg domination, turned the right hand corner and whack – 6 cramp bonanza!!! Time to commence operation walk across the line.

Well the walk went on for a lot longer than anticipated – that hill just never eases up. I tried a few times to re-saddle but each time no joy and now my energy levels were shot. I thought I’d wait until the gradient reduced (wow that took longer than I thought) and I was depleting further with each step. I finally remounted, make it 1km and now my back and ribs decided to join in on the cramps – 8 cramp fiesta but this time it seemed to hit hard and next thing I knew I was passed out up against the bank. Not sure how long I was there for but when I came too I wasn’t cramping so that was a win. A bit scary at this point.

Finally I reached the top of WTF – finally. Legs were ok again, my butt wasn’t screaming as I had just spent an hour walking and I was ready!!! Tried to clip into the cleats, no joy. Tried to clip in again…no joy. Thought this f’ing mud so got off bike, cramped (yay) and then checked my cleats. Well I didn’t have any cleats left – they had worn down to the base plate from the walking. I guess they are not made for walking. I thought this was game over but I wasn’t going to let that stop me so away I went unclipped (ironic given convo’s of the night prior). 1-2km in unclipped I came upon a couple who were on the side of the road offering hugs…I said “Not keen on a hug unless they come with a pair of cleats”…….and would you believe it, he had cleats. Only one set on him by they were the right ones. Excuses removed and the thought of this story as I crossed the finish line priceless – I was locked in, until Damian says “you sure you want these though mate, the next section is exactly the same as what you have just come up until you get to Trapyard Gate”…….officially bummed again.

Determined, stubborn and slightly delirious I pushed on – I thought, I just keep pushing and pushing to get to Trapyard Gate and the rest is easy from there. I called back on the confirmations that once you’ve made it there you’ve made it!!! It was a slow grind as I passed many upside down bikes and when I hit the next climb I thought – is this it. Lets do it. I commenced the climb and only 200m in a marshal came up behind me on his motorbike – “buddy how you doing? Feeling ok?” Feeling light headed and close to breaking point I responded “I’m feeling dangerous, bring it on – ooorah…..but have entered the pain locker” to which he responded “well I just wanted to let you know that the last SAG wagon is 1km down the road” Confused by this statement I asked “well what does that mean if I don’t get on the SAG Wagon” to which he responded “well then you are on your own”…….GAME OVER!!!! Doing the rest without a safety net and really knowing that only a miracle and the promise of the home stretch being truly easy coming to fruition would have allowed me to cross in time (if ever) as I had absolutely nothing in the tank left and now rain had set in with darkness approaching it was a no brainer. I made the call and was handed a cold coke and I admitted defeat at the foot of Trapyard Gate.

35 mins wait (with some very lovely and positive messages from my wife, PD and Highlander) and I was on the SAG Wagon and at Trapyard gate at 7:08. I could hardly walk and conversation was not a possibility much to the dismay of the gentleman next to me who wanted to share his stories of woe. Driving the rest of the course I never felt more relief that I did not try to conquer it – there is plenty of work left in the first 10km of the 20km return. Passing riders who we could see would not make the 13hr time was heart breaking but I was so glad I wasn’t with them. I finally reached Falls as the last wave of successful riders came in and one step off the bus and I projectile v’d with violence!!!! Highlander found me after waiting in the freezing cold for hours (what a legend) and we walked back to the lodge where I tried to eat but couldn’t so hit the bed hard.

Falls Creek 1 – UNick 0. Lessons for me – don’t ride a new bike to 3 Peaks, actually do long training rides for the event (and lots of commuting) as fitness is irrelevant to cramps, do not ride a mid-compact 11-28 on WTF, cleats are not made for walking, and I think I need to drink my fuel not eat as eating does not work for me (I don’t eat enough).

I was so very gutted to be so close and not finish but I know I gave it everything that I had – I will be back and I will cross that line. When, well that depends but one day I will complete the right of passage to the ER’s.

Massive thanks to Highlander for being the legend that he is and the awesome Peaks team for being such champs.

Thesis over.

 

3 Peaks 2017 Ride Report

A small contingent of ERs headed down to Falls Creek, once again, to take on 3 Peaks. There were 8 of us in the ER lodging. Chris Houlihan (Hotlips) was there with 3 mates (Andrew, Mark and Trev) who had joined ER to prepare for this ride. UNick, Danny, Pigeon and myself made up the group. There were a few other ERs scattered around the village we would bump into over the weekend. I saw Laura, QT, and Gazza and I think some others may have been around too.

Nick and I decided to go down on the Friday and we took a fairly easy trip down. Nick did all the driving. Perhaps he was worried we’d end up in Adelaide if I took the wheel! Hotlips and crew also went down on the Friday. Danny and Pigeon came down on the Saturday. Apparently they only stopped 10 minutes on the drive down to refill water or something like that in a dry run for Sunday.

Of the 8 of us in the apartment, 3 had done this ride before while 5 were new to the experience. Friday we chatted about what to expect on the day. Saturday brought rego and a short ride to make sure bikes were ready to go. Then we had to consider the weather and plan our valet bag strategy. The weather was threatening at least some rain. Danny and Pigeon were going for limited stops and no bags. I think the rest of us were a bit more conservative with stuff to handle a wet first half.

Sunday morning brought further questions. Base layer or not, arm warmers or not. There had only been a few drops of rain overnight and cloud cover made it almost warm. Pigeon was going light but I decided to go with gilet and light arm warmers. It was certainly a lot warmer start than 2015.

Just a week before this ride a few of us had done the 170km Orange classic. Was that a good idea? While my legs seemed ok, I did get a cold from the Orange effort which was a pain. Nevertheless I seemed ok on the day.

Nick and I started in wave 3. For me this was further up than 2015 and that helped. Andy snuck into wave 1 and I think Danny was at the front of our wave. I would not see them on the ride. The descent to Mt Beauty was a little chaotic. Holding your line is a foreign concept to a lot of riders but everything settled down soon enough. Nick was off ahead of me and I settled in for the day’s work. Tawonga was no problem and I skipped the rest stop. I’d decided to use a 1L bidon on the front holder and I think that worked well through the day. I don’t like the feeling of running out of water or having to ration on a long stretch.

Whereas I had done the run to Harrietville almost solo in 2015 after starting further back, this year I found myself in the group with the four 11hr riders. That was wonderful. The 11hr leaders were very encouraging, and even began to organize things into a rolling group. The leader was a bit touchy feely to let you know he was coming alongside.

I arrived at Harrietville very quickly and felt very good. I left the rest stop with the group and onto Hotham. I soon lost the 11hr group. Not unexpected as I’m not the fastest up a climb as most of you know. I found Hotham a lot more reasonable on the second serving. 2015 had been a big challenge but I think knowing how long it is helped this time around. It still goes on forever but you know it will end.

I don’t remember where, but at some point on Hotham a rider wearing a 12hr tag passed me. I called out to him
“12 hour guy, are you on schedule?”
“Yes”
That was a bit of a shock as I thought I was going along better than 12 hr pace.

I had one small inner thigh cramp on Hotham but it wasn’t too bad and I rode through it. Into the Hotham village and I set off for Dinner Plain as fast as I could. I’m efficient in the rest stops now. I got my bag, dumped gilet and warmers, and grabbed my roll. Chicken is now an option and I found it easier to eat than 2015’s veggie roll. Good to have real food. Sun cream and pretty much, ready to roll. Nick tapped me on the shoulder and it was good to see a familiar face. Unlike me, he hadn’t been passed by the 12 hour group and seemed pretty relaxed. But they had arrived at lunch and soon the call went out that 12 hour riders were leaving in five. I wanted to get out ahead of them so Nick and I left the stop. Even so, they soon caught us. We hung on for a while until some guy wearing boardies and with his undies showing dropped in in front of us, then eased up, which split us from the group. That was a bit annoying as soon the 12 hour group would pull away from us on a little climb down from Dinner Plain. Known as “sneaky peak” apparently. Well named.

Nick and I kept together to Omeo but Nick was beginning to suffer along the way. After a quick water stop at Omeo where we tried to get a dry scone down, we set off to Anglers. I’d told Nick that it was sort of rollers after Omeo but in reality the run to Anglers starts with a bit of climbing. At some point, Nick informed me

“Highlander, FYI: Not fucking rollers”

Fair call. Nick continued to suffer and at some point he told me to go ahead. That was hard and I resisted for a while. I wanted to help him get to the line but my positive thoughts are surely not enough when your ass is really hurting. I decided to push on and hope Nick would make it through.

I got to Anglers Rest and was relieved to see the 12hr rides there. I just refilled water and went out ahead of them. I just made it to WTF before they gathered me up again. I was determined not to walk up the back of Falls. Strangely this time nobody was walking around me. The climb was too long, however, and I hopped off. I got a lot further than 2015 but I guess it’s still unfinished business for me. Got past the photographer at least. I eventually got back on.  As I went further up Falls I started to see riders in the ditch huddled in space blankets.  A bit freaky.

The last time I’d arrived at Trapyard they had run out of coke so for 10km I had been longing for that coke. It’s one of those tiny cans and I quickly drank a few swigs only for my stomach to violently spasm. I’m not sure I ate very well on this ride and my stomach was letting me know.  I had felt that Trapyard was close to the summit of Falls but there are in fact 10km more to go. It’s a long hard 10km but I eventually got to the lake section.

The rain finally came in this section but it was short and not a problem. At some point I passed the 12hr riders who had pulled off to make sure they hit their mark. Shame on them for scaring me throughout the day.

I got to the finish in 11hr46m which I was happy with. I met Gazza over the line. He had done a sub 9. Wow! He kindly bought me a beer. I set about finding out how Nick was going. Nick had decided to jump on the last sag wagon going. That would be a hard offer to knock back and it was a wise decision in the circumstances I think. He had pushed himself to just shy of Trapyard gate. When he got back to Falls, he sent me a text “I’m spewing”. It wasn’t metaphorical. He had nothing left to give and you can’t really ask any more of yourself than that. Better to live to fight another day.

Andy and Danny had done sub 10 and sub 11 times respectively. Hotlips, Mark, Andrew and Trev all made it home with Trev maximising the value of his entry at 12hr50 odd.

We retired to the apartment for a filling meal cooked by Andy and Danny. Those stairs up to the apartment do test you. A night of recollection, post mortems and lessons learned.

Highlander

 

G2GGVG 2016

An Epic Ride Report for an Epic Ride

After days of anticipation, the time had finally come for me to tackle my first big ride with ER  and my longest ever ride. Time to see for myself if all the horror stories about the ride were true, having to deal with thousands of occasional riders at the start, how steep is the Bulli Pass climb, how narrow is the Bulli Pass shoulder and most importantly….will I actually make the distance?

As the elite (short and round category) athlete that I am, my advanced preparation included

  • Laying out muesli bars in advance so that my 4 year old son can eat them whilst I am not looking
  • Carbing up on a mixture of beer and schnapps
  • Being out way past my bedtime the night before (must have been at least 9:30pm before I got home)

As the morning arrived, I woke with plenty of time to get to Gordon. As per a usual OTP morning, some home procrastination left me needing to sprint the St Ives Alps to meet the 5am rendezvous. A quick dash along Park Avenue, stopping by Lucy in the final stages of a preparation, a promise to make sure everyone waits, and then I see them. More ERs than I have ever seen before. Some I know, some I don’t. A glimpse of the famous tandem that propelled blue and pink to 100km/hr and before I knew it bells were ringing and we were off. My timid calls of “wait for Lucy” went unheard and there’s another promise broken…..

The procession down the highway was more of a gaggle than a peloton, spirits were high, jokes a plenty, and a fast pace controlled by the tandem on the declines and whoever else on the inclines. Before too long the familiarity of the highway was replaced with Blue’s magical mystery tour, taking us through the dark corners of darling harbour, the back streets of Broadway and magically appearing at Sydney Park  somewhere around the official start time. This was a good thing as the vast majority of us declined an official start and circumvented the park in its entirety. However, after magically staying together from Gordon to St Peters, the group was split at the last set of lights into St Peters and I watched the tandem disappear ahead. My only thoughts at this stage was where’s Manga??? The man who had promised to keep me company on a slow return trip. I looked at the fast and skillful  riders surrounding me and hoped that my legs would keep up.

Now on the official Gong ride, the trip done the Princess Highway was like riding through a ghost town, where were this other cyclists? Had we gone the right way? Did we beat the start? Who knew, but the police were out in force to keep us on the right side of the traffic cones. Before too long, we caught up to the tandem and a few other ERs. We enjoyed a leisurely few kilometres as a big group, enjoying a good laugh and enjoying a beautiful morning on the bikes when suddenly WHHHHHOOOOOSSSSSHHHHH, Highlander flies past us all in pursuit of the highlands. Dragon quickly whispers in my ear, “don’t let him get away”. At first, I thought Dragon had my best interests at heart, it was only a few hours later when we arrived at Wollongong that I realised Dragon’s No 1 priority was getting to the Westpac hospitality tent before all his colleagues at his food. Never one to say no to a challenge, I sprinted off to catch Highlander, with Dragon in tow.  As it turned out, there were a few more ERs in tow as well.

As the ride progressed into the shire, Highlander and Dragon and a few others started to disappear off into the distance. Myself and an ER unknown to me (but I am sure I have met before), riding a pale blue bike started to increase the pace. Before I new it I was alone without ER support but the pace was good. Soon I caught up to Dave (Top Gear?) and his mysterious riding partner.  The mysterious riding partner kept a high pace as the three of us kept rotating at the front, the speed was blistering and up the climb into Waterfall, Top Gear hit Bottom Gear, I slowed for a gel and our mystery colleague disappeared into the sunrise. Dave and I took the opportunity to relax a bit and slowly Highlander came into focus ahead of us.  For a short time we were actually ahead of Highlander and then we found a much needed rest spot. To our surprise, there was a haggle of ERs waiting for our arrival. I was happy to be reunited with Manga who had promised to climb Bulli with me. Spirits were high as we re-filled water bottles, creamed ourselves all over, and rapidly departed leaving UNick in the bathroom.

The talk at this point was of slow escorts down the decline into the national park. Luck was on our side as all the coppers were taking a well-deserved coffee and doughnut break, leaving us free to tackle the descent at rapid speed. As it was my first time down this slippery slope, I decided against ludicrous speed and actually used the brakes here and there. As we surfaced at the bottom, Manga admired the road surface and I admired the scenery of the Royal National Park, almost as good as the North Shore. It got even better when we passed a road marking showing that we left the shire. As a group of 4 or 5, we cruised through the National park. This was some good riding which suddenly popped us out at the beautiful Otford Lookout. A quick stop, photo opportunity and we decided that bananas were high on the agenda.

As we rode off, we realised that the wind had picked up whilst we  were in the park. The undulating coastal rode was tough, riding into a strong southerly made it tougher. Whilst I took my dose of HTFU, I heard more stories about the miraculous bay ride some of the ERs had completed only a few weeks before and how that is the only definition of what should be considered windy. The scenery was beautiful and we rode straight past two pubs. Not sure why we didn’t stop for a beer. After all, it was 5pm somewhere in the world. As we continued on our merry ways, Boycey grouped us together for a team shot over the sea cliff bridge (or whatever it is called). Stay tuned for more information.

We continued along the undulations until a late call of “Bananas” directed us to the next stop. At this moment, UNick took his revenge, organising a quick group getaway whilst Top Gear and I were still enjoying a well-earned banana.  I work hard over the next few klms to catch the ER group. Top Gear wisely takes it easy and digests his banana carefully. We are now heading into a strong headwind along the coast and it is hard work to catch the group, so as Murphy dictates, as soon as I caught the group, I was quickly thrown of the back unable to keep up with those experienced HMAWOTN. Luckily for me Manga sees my distress and decides to keep me company. At this point, I rephrase my lack of energy as “a strategic slow down on the hills to conserve energy for Bulli”. Manga patiently slows for me at the top of each hill, and soon Dave has caught up to us. Finally we get through the last of the undulations and arrive alongside the suburban beaches of the gong. A few klms riding along beachside cycleways soon gave way to a poorly marked main road. Of course we missed a turn somewhere and were left to find our own way through Wollongong.  Some silly buggers had even followed us into the abyss of nowhere. Dave and Manga had a quick conference and soon appeared 1km away from the finish. A slight uphill, round the bend and the finish was in sight. As I raised my arms in glory through the finish, the poor chap attempting to overtake me on my left hand side got a pleasant slap in the face. I guess that 1m clearance rule should apply to cyclists too.

We grouped up with some more ERs just past the finish line, learnt that Dragon had gone straight for the free hospitality, UNick had gone straight for a message and the rest of us were left debating when is the right time to go for breakfast and if anyone actually knew the way to Bulli. Time for a quick photo shoot and we were off. We decided to follow Scotty as he displayed the most confidence in Wollongong geography. Our trust was well placed as we soon rolled into the Bulli Café. The owner, quickly sensed the situation and we saved his customers from too much lycra by offering us a special deal on bacon and coffee. The only condition being, we had to wait and end around the corner where none of his customers could see us. Luckily, their coffee and bacon was brilliant, the service was might find, so no one seemed to mind anyone. Now all we had to do was wait for Dragon who said he would meet us there no later than 11. We waited, we waited and we waited, and decided to leave without him. The brave bunch tackling Bulli and the return was Highlander, Pigeon, Boycey, Wilson, the Teflers (both Matt and Scott), UNick and me. What was I thinking that I could keep pass with this bunch.

A short time later we arrived at the base of Mt Bulli, the hill of hills, the road with no shoulders, the nemesis of many an Easy Riders. As the gradient raised I quickly shifted to my lowest gear on the hope that if I cruise I might make it to the top. One by one the ERs went past, then the hero riders who could ride, and then the hero riders who could not ride. The last one of these overtook me at pace, just as the first 20% ramp came into sight. “Oh Sh1t”, I heard him say as he rode past, obviously he didn’t do any research into what he got himself into. I continued in my low gear at a steady pace, only tried once to find another gear which wasn’t there and soon re-overtook the last of the hero riders. First 20% ramp complete was a chance for a breather. Highlander and Boycey were in sight ahead of me and I could maintain a constant distance between us. This was a bad strategy, for as the shoulder disappeared, the cars starting queuing behind them and then I had to deal with the second 20% ramp whilst getting a good mouthful of exhaust fumes. Just as I was starting to die from Carbon Monoxide poisoning (it had nothing to do with 3.5klms at an average of 9%), I could see the signs indicating the top of the climb. This was the time to get out my seat and just manage to pedal. Slowly, slowly, slowly I rolled over the crest knowing I had conquered the mountain of Bulli. Smiles all round at the top of the hill, time for a quick drink and we were off.

Boycey led us onto the freeway and I had my first taste of cars flying past at 110klm/hr. It wasn’t even less pleasurable than I would have ever thought it to be. With Boycey out in front and a tailwind behind us, we had nothing to worry about. We were soon cruising at twice the speed of AFFT (Average Fat Friar Tuck) speed and the klms were flying by. After what seemed like an eternity, Boycey handed over the lead to Wilson who maintained  the same crazy pace, the only difference being that Wilson hit all the sticks so they gave second wheel (yours truly) something to bunny hop over at high speed. As we continued along the freeway, we all took turns at the front, rode like the wind, enjoyed the scenery and had some fun. Then a busted up Commodore sped past with some lout yelling something out of the window. No idea what he said but I am sure the meaning was “welcome to the shire”. Strava later told me that we had traversed Wilson’s Wonder Sprint. The things people will do to get their own Strava segment. Soon the fun was over and we found ourselves back in Sydney Traffic.

Scotty showed us the way to the servo stop and gave us a wonderful tour of the backstreets of Sutherland, this tour amazingly got us to the right spot and were soon going over the Taren Point Bridge. I had a big smile on my face at this moment as the reality that I might just actually make it sank in. My legs were still moving and I was still breathing, two good signs when you are riding a bike. UNick, Wilson and I soon had an interesting discussion on which right was right. We agreed that our right was wrong but we could still go right and then go left later and that would make everything right. Scott, Boycey and others showed their disrespect for our logic by riding past and just turning right in the right spot. Sometimes, people just look for the simple option. All this discussion on the difference between right and right was far too much for Scott’s bike. His rear derailleur cable snapped at Kogarah leaving him with two gears. Hard and very hard. Scott, being a true HMOTN, was undeterred and continued to lead the way. We soon exited the shire, and a huge sigh of relief was had by all. Before long we were back at St Peters and battling hard against the Sydney Traffic.

Navigation by committee was working well and we soon found ourselves smack in the middle of the George St. The good of the situation was this was one of those places were 8 cyclists could travel faster than a Lamborghini. Some quick thinking detours around some well-established detours got us back to the bridge and we were all relieved to be back on familiar ground. Even more exciting was the prospect that we just had one little highway to go before we arrived at the pub. Strangely, the North Sydney climb seems harder than normal after 180+ klms. As the pub neared the pace quickened. We lost the Teflers along the way. A major hero ride by Scott to travel from Kogarah to Chatswood with two gears, seriously tough effort. Spirits were high as we arrived at the Greengate although there was one small problem, the traffic would not let us across the road. DON’T THESE PEOPLE KNOW CYCLISTS NEED BEER! We transformed from ERs to frogs with bikes and we dodged our way across the highway. Jugs of beer quickly spread around, and the amber fluid went down fast. We were soon joined by some more happy drinkers in ER kit. Not sure exactly how they got to the pub but they bought more beer so all was good. Laughs and chuckles all round and the celebrations of well enjoyed round. Gordon to the Greengate Via the Gong, tick!

The last leg was the strangest, Greengate to the Gordon. Didn’t seem as hard as the other way. Still don’t understand why the return trip was only 1.4klms when the way there was 204klms. Lucy came to my rescue to help me tackle the St Ives Alps and get home. We all love our bikes but after 200+ klms and 4 beers, nothing tackles those hills better than a ute!.

Big thanks to all the ERs that I rode with during the day. I always had great company along the way and the riding was in awesome spirits. The teamwork on the return trip was superb and definitely a trip to be done again.

Looking forward to next year

Friar Tuck!

G2GGVG

 

B1 Hobbits Express Memorial Ride

The bongos were thumping last night, a steady beat, well below 140, stirring the troops who were primed to march a different route to their usual soft commute, a route only a hobbit would love.

YHC waiting for the alarm to go off in the middle of the night…. the many multitudes of ERs  being  drawn by bonds of friendship and wistful sadness .and lets face the bloody drums….and then

sparrows farted ( YHC could not be sure it was  sparrows )

Rolling out of the garret into a pitch dark night ,  YHC  was mostly solo .. .. Billions of stars overhead + an extra B1.

Surfing off the upper reaches of Monte Colah and down to Turra where a dawn service was due to start.

 

A cloud free chill, clammy with a hint of anticipation.. ( and the weather was pretty good too )

The ER troops were already on the pedal , rolling up to the launch it was wall to wall egg and tomato, obviously the word had got around, and all the cracks had gathered to the fray..lights flashing, voices hushed and plenty of the usual back slapping and bonhommie.  Roll call and  Laurie briefing the multitude to fight fair , no kicking or scratching the usual terms and conditions..  everyone after Andrew , Keith and Grant  became another ER..and the boys lead us out.

YHC enjoys this part of the ride, a 4 km gentle slope ever downward .. cruising in convoy, into that magical piece of forest Browns water hole.. YHC slips a chain, and without further ado is at the back of the peloton waiving a lanterne rouge..some things never change.

Laurie’s briefing said there would be a regroup at the top.. there was. ( Kind of a new experience for our HMOTN ) Rolling out a group which was now about 50 strong, left plenty of time to regain a little breath and say hello to GottaRide.. only she gotta ride a moped..not too embarrassed to wear the colours though. ( quick plug here, if you are looking to dope your bike.. please opt for an electric one )

The ER traffic jam processed to the LCNP stopping normal traffic and turning just a few heads .. B1 would have enjoyed the irony of filling the park with an ER gridlock. So far the pace was sociable, banter the order of the day, Ravi and Comet in the bunch, moon blue as it was big overhead. Then just when you think all is sweet, you hit the wall, the Fullers Slap. It is vertical, with a little horizontal thrown in, pleasure becomes pain, and all the hobbits laugh as they take the front of the group and dish it out. ( only in their minds as hobbits are generally much too nice to laugh ) Satnav was on the fixie. didn’t seem to miss a beat. YHC coughed up a lung. but discreetly rolled to the front of the regroup ( to take a few pictures ) not going to be dropped with half a ride left. ( Meanwhile Andrew and the boys had  peeled off to go back to school )

Chatswoo to the city is well worn OTP territory so how come the hobbits have a windy little track past a grotty little shack on the  way to find the top of Tindale, this being YHC’s first hobbits ride navigation was surprisingly complicated. By now of course the ER peloton has swelled past 60 and even blind Freddy could follow the procession. No doubt the devil would take the hindmost, but there would be plenty of company.

It was a swift transfer through Narrem Burn and a traffic disaster at the top of Crow’s Nest, once onto the downhill stretch there were a few very relieved faces until it became the usual coffee sprint, ( Schleckie had his traffic light greener working overtime ) 58 ERs get entangled in the shambles of Miller St, Schleckie is first in the coffee queue ( I made that bit up as I have never seen the tail lights of Schleckie by this stage of the ride some things never change )

Photoshop was not required to fill the space around B&T, it really was wall to wall egg and tomato some faces there that I had not seen for a very long while, and of course some who could not make it. ( Highlander , Flash you know who you are )

Stragglers rolled in and sat on laps, planters, or stood around gassing in the usual ER way. Vic and  his happy crew turned out about 100 coffees in double quick time, I was well to the back of the line up and was sipping before I had the breath back.

Coffee and company, connection and caring mates, B1 you would have really enjoyed this ride dammit, we really miss you already.