Author Archives: Drastique

About Drastique

Still on probation

Rider of the Week – Gretel (or is it Hänsel)

1. Tell us a bit about yourself

I’m originally from Germany and came to Australia with Hänsel in late 2010. Of all the different places I’ve lived at I enjoy Sydney the most and I really hope we stay here happily ever after.


2. What got you into cycling?

I find this a strange question. Where I come from pretty much everybody cycles in one form or another. This could be a trip to the nearest pub and back for Frühschoppen (pre-lunch beer with friends; mostly, but not always restricted to Sundays) or a social ride on a beer-bike.

Beer truck

Also, growing up in the countryside with only one bus a day, I had to cycle to see friends or go anywhere.  And that was faster by bike. 

I’ve always enjoyed cycling at speed, competing with my Dad on family rides who could go down the hill fastest (very much to the bemusement of my mom as you can imagine). My first “serious” road bike was a pink Peugeot Aspin with a 105 groupset. It was the pride of my teenage cycling years. By that time I was competing in cross country skiing races and cycling was a way of building stamina during the summer.

Looking back the only time I didn’t ride was for three years when we were living in London and I was too scared and the weather too poor for cycling.

3. How did you come to join the Easy Riders?

Hänsel and I had been riding to work for a while prior to joining the ER. We lived in Wollstonecraft at the time. Our micro-commute left at around 7:40 each morning when the ER had already had their first coffee at the B&T.

Moving to Chatswood meant we finally had a good reason to join the ER. So we got in touch with SatNav via the website and the rest is history.

4. Tell us about your bikes.

I have a few bikes back in Germany, but the only one that matters here is my beloved Canyon. It was love at first sight. Back in 2004 Canyon was one of the few manufacturers that made specific women’s bikes. The difference in comfort to any of the other unisex bikes was immediately apparent. The triple chainring means I can climb up walls.


Apart from an old MTB the Canyon has been the one and only for the last nine years. The next bike I am considering is a cyclocross with hydraulic disc brakes for commuting on wet days, and (note that Hänsel suggested “or”) a serious MTB.

5. If you could ride anywhere in the world, where would it be?

So many places! I’d love to do more tours and off-road riding. I’ve heard great things about desert-riding in Utah and Arizona.

6. Tell us a riding story.

The ride of total dehydration comes to mind. I only meant to go out for a quick spin but the legs felt good and, at 90 km onwards, still did. I had not taken any food and only one water bottle and soon started feeling thirsty. With no café or service station in sight I was getting desperate. I passed an orchard, but there was barely any fruit left on the trees apart from a few worm-eaten and sour cherries. I climbed over the barbed wire fence in my cycling shoes and ran to the tree as if it was the tree of life, hands reaching for the cherries. Boy, those worms cherries tasted good.

7. Do you have any advice for the riders at the back of the ER peloton?

It’s a good place to be – I like hanging out at the back. Don’t be shy to call out if the pace is too fast.

8. Lastly, tell us something we don’t know about you.

I’m a volunteer guide at the Botanic Garden in Sydney and an absolute geek about anything plant-related.

Rider of the Week – Philby

1. Tell us a bit about yourself

I was born and raised in Ryde and Eastwood in Sydney and have lived on the North Shore most of the years since. I have two sons one of whom is a keen rider the other has to be gently coaxed onto his bike.


2. What got you into cycling?

I started cycling as a 12 year old on my Malvern Star road bike with 3 speed Sturmey Archer Hub gears. These were mostly great but just occasionally would go into neutral between 2nd and 3rd gear and I did go over the handlebars more than once when the resistance to my pedaling effort suddenly disappeared.

I stopped riding when I discovered girls and cars towards the end of my teenage years.

I eventually came back to cycling and did about 7 Sydney to Gong rides before the narrow constricted starts put me off. Since 2007 I have ridden 6 Around the Bay rides in Victoria along with a few other assorted events. Riding with the ERs has increased my riding considerably.

3. How did you come to join the Easy Riders?

I was on a training ride in LCNP one evening when coming around a corner there was a car completely on the wrong side of the road over double centre lines. After the ensuing head on collision I was a bit beaten up but no broken bones and 18 visits to the physiotherapist sorted out my whip-lashed neck. It was also the end of my 11 year old custom built Hillbrick bike.

It was at this point that my wife tactfully suggested I should ride with a group.

So I purchased the current Road Bike to replace the mangled one and started commuting again and I spied this large splendiferous group wearing the Egg & Tomato. On chatting with a non-ER rider I discovered the name of the brightly coloured ones and made contact with Saint Nav signing me up before I was any the wiser. Then as I was training for my first attempt at the three peaks I thought riding some Fluffers with Goaders would be a good idea. It was!! I suspect I would not have completed the ride in time were in not for all those early morning trips along Mona Vale road and the Northern Beaches.


4. Tell us about your bikes.

I have owned quite a few bikes over the year many of which have been custom built for me.

The current roadie is a Specialized Roubaix which has a 400mm seat post and a long angled stem to accommodate my special(ized) requirements. Note it is the XXL and they do make one even bigger than this one.


The MTB is a Scott 29er hardtail which occasionally comes out for the OTP or more often on weekends. TSS is helping with a project to get an old MTB converted to a wet weather commuter bike.

5. If you could ride anywhere in the world, where would it be?

In Aus I love the Victorian Rail trails as a great place to ride with my kids and would love to ride in NZ as I hear they have some excellent trails as well.

6. Tell us a riding story.

I once rode an MTB with three friends from Sandy Hollow to Lithgow on the Bi-centennial National trail. That about 250 km on mostly fire trails with full rear panniers and back packs. It was 5 days of adventure on the smell of an oil rag as we were poor uni students and most meals were rice or pasta and everyone watched eagerly to ensure that we all got exactly even portions.

It started out through deliverance type country near Widden Brook where the 4 of us clad in cycling shorts and Lycra felt very out of place and received a few strange looks from the few locals we did see although none of them seemed to own a Banjo. Another challenge was when we realised we were riding though a property and in the same unfenced paddock as a bull who started to take a lot of interest in us. Our pace picked up considerably as each was keen to prove that they were not the slowest of the four and we maintained that until we finally crossed a cattle grid and could relax.

At one point one of the riders who didn’t take bike maintenance too seriously, had his quick release skewer fly apart, the front wheel come off, and his forks spear into the ground and bend. We were about 50 kms from help in rough mountain country so needed to sort it out. Eventually all the missing bits were recovered and our combined weight managed to straighten the forks enough to get the wheel on and continue the ride.

We climbed a pass called Baal Bone Gap pushing our bikes and it was so steep for while that forward progress required pushing the bike up the slope a little, clamping on the brakes and taking a step and then repeating. It was not possible to move yourself and the bike at the same time.

All in all a very memorable trip.

7. Do you have any advice for the riders at the back of the ER peloton?

There is no shame in being at the back, some days it just feels good to ride at a steady pace.

For new riders, just enjoy the ride and learn from those around you.

8. Lastly, tell us something we don’t know about you.

In years gone by, pre-kids, I did a stint living in Cairns and working as an Adventure Tour Guide. I took tourists on overnight walks into the Wet Tropics Rainforest and climbing Mt Bartle Frere, QLDs highest mountain. No fires were allowed as it is a wet tropics reserve so dinner was prepared on small fuel stoves by the light of a roaring candle often in the rain. I am also very good at dealing with leeches as a result.

The area had lots of birds and wildlife including Ulysses Butterflies, Cassowaries, Victoria’s Rifle-bird and Australia Largest snake the Amethystine Python. All of which I encountered on one or more trips.

Rider of the Week – Twinkle Toes

1. Tell us a bit about yourself

Originally from Kota Kinabalu, Sabah, Malaysia. I came to Sydney in 1971 and three days later was driven to Bathurst to board at All Saints College. Talk about cultural shock, instead of playing table tennis and badminton, I had to play tennis, cricket and rugby. I met Mrs Wong on the tennis court at Campsie, so taking up tennis to impress the chicks was a pretty good move.

Although I’m currently the project director at Mission Australia Housing Victoria, overseeing the organisation’s property portfolio, I’ve been a uni dropout, banquet waiter, chainman, council worker, surveyor, and engineer.


2. What got you into cycling?

I got back into cycling in 2001 when my doctor gave me two options. Lower my cholesterol by changing my work life balance by becoming healthier or take medication for life. So, I started jogging for a couple of months and Mrs Wong suggested I try cycling as she reckons pavement pounding is bad for my joints.

I got myself a hybrid bike that I still use as a commuter. I rediscovered my passion for cycling and my cholesterol dropped to between 3.9 to 4.5, As my cycling mileage increases, my weight dropped from 85 kg to 64 kg. The only down side is that Mrs Wong has banned me from visiting bike shops. Thank goodness for online shopping.

3. How did you come to join the Easy Riders?

I got to know Jill, Finchi and Anthony on my commute into the city via the Epping Road cycle path and we would meet for coffee at the Naked Duck Cafe at Darling Quarters opposite the Commonwealth Bank Building. We would also bump into Lobbster as well. Great coffee and bacon and egg rolls. Then we noticed that Finchi had gone missing for a couple of months. Eventually, we found out that he had gone over to the dark side joining the ERs.

One day on my commute to work, the ER peloton came by and I chatted to Lunchie and discovered that he lived near me. Coming off the SHB onto the Kent Street cycleway, I’ve noticed the gaggle of ERs in their egg and tomato gear at the Cava (formerly B&T) and I used to think what a bunch of wankers! Finchi tried to convince me that ERs are a lovely bunch of people who commutes.

Joining ERs was easy. But switching my allegiance from the Naked Duck to B&T was very difficult because I had to give up great coffee and food.

4. Tell us about your bikes.

Started with an alloy Specialized Sirrus Hybrid, 16 speed Shimano Tiagra triple chainring road bike. This bike has been modified to provide the same fit as my other road bikes. So, off goes the straight bar, replaced by a drop bar with Sora shifters for the triple.

Became the proud owner of a Lance Armstrong’s 2000 (full carbon OCLV handmade in USA) limited edition Trek in 2003 when Renegade Cycles reduced the price by 50% after it had been on display in their showroom for a couple of years. This wonderful bike has served me well for 11 years. The 9 speed Dura-ace drivetrain has been replaced by 10 speed compact Sram Red for my successful completion of the inaugural 3 Peaks Challenge Ride.

The most recent addition to my bike collection is a custom built Seven, a titanium framed bike equipped with some of the latest components. 11 speed compact Shimano Dura-ace Di2, rear derailleur is the Ultegra GS long cage model to accommodate the 11-32 cassette. The ride, handling and feel of this bike is simply sensational.

One of the best looking bikes in the ER peloton

One of the best looking bikes in the ER peloton

5. If you could ride anywhere in the world, where would it be?

I have a bucket list of places around the world that I would like to ride. Having ticked off Le Tour two years ago, the next destination would be either Italy or Spain.

6. Tell us a riding story.

With 5 years riding experience under my belt, I signed up for the Alpine Classic 200 in 2006 on my yellow Trek then equipped with standard 52-39 cranks and 12 to 27 cassette. We arrived in Bright the day before the big ride and thought it was a great idea to loosen the legs by riding the rail trail. I still remember vividly after an hour or so in the saddle that my butt was feeling a bit numb. I simply shrugged it off and told myself mentally to HTFU.

Bright and early the next day we breakfast and rolled up to the start line after collecting our brevet cards. The route goes from Bright to Tawonga Gap to Falls Creek than back to Bright for lunch before heading out to Mt Buffalo and back to Bright. On the return to Bright from Falls, my butt was so sore that I felt like giving the Mt Buffalo stage a miss. Again that voice inside my head reminded me to HTFU so I had no choice but to put up with the pain to finish the ride.

It took 3 days for my butt to regain any sort of feeling. I made an appointment with Steve Hogg, handed over $500 and it was the best value for money decision I’ve made. It took 7 months trying out many different saddles and positions before that illusive perfect fit was achieved. Other things that need to be corrected included, one leg is 5 mm shorter than the other, spine and hip was out of alignment.

Going by the number of emails from ERs after their 3 Peaks triumph, outlining their custom fitting experiences and love hate relationship with their bikes, I’m sure they’ll relate to my ride story.

7. Do you have any advice for the riders at the back of the ER peloton?

Due to the elastic band effect, the back of the ER peloton is not the best place to be particularly if you are not one of the fitter riders or on sweeping duty. Due to the unpredictability out the back, good communication via signalling or calling is essential for your own safety as well as the safety of others.

8. Lastly, tell us something we don’t know about you.

I used to be a pretty handy ballroom dancer, but don’t all come rushing to me for lessons as I haven’t danced for quite awhile. My nickname was Twinkle Toes!

Rider of the Week – Daffy

1. Tell us a bit about yourself

I was born in Sydney and went to Pymble Public school but my family moved about a lot when I was a child. I lived in the UK for 18 years. When the kids came along we decamped again and came to Sydney less than two years ago.

I have lived on 4 continents and worked in shops, offices, schools, pubs, restaurants, farms and factories, knocked doors as a salesman and spent six months as a volunteer in the third world. I like to get about and try new things.

2. What got you into cycling?

I had a bike with twisty-change gears and back pedal breaks in the 80s.. My dad bought me a mountain bike for my 17th birthday when all my mates got cash towards their first car. I almost never rode it.

Then I came to Sydney! Why wouldn’t you cycle here? I did 1000ks in February this year: more then I have done in my life up to last year when I joined ERs.

3. How did you come to join the Easy Riders?

In Jan 2013 I commuted for the first time to the CBD and was warmly accosted by Admin, Sat Nav and Half at SHBN. I was still not sure of my ability to keep up and rode alone for another week until on the way home one afternoon I witnessed Big Goaders being playfully cheered/abused by the peloton up Tinsdale hill. That convinced me that ERs were a bunch worth riding with immediately.

Schleck lent me his egg and tomato for last years Bobbin Head race and I burst the zip…. I have lost 10kg since then!

4. Tell us about your bikes.

Who can forget the basket bike? That is now proudly affixed to the wind trainer.

I rode a hybrid flat bar with front suspension a lot last year and have also purchased some carbon: Cube Agree GTC. I recommend the bike but not the company or its distributors!!

My favourite biking hobby is custodianship of Old Gold: the single-speed steely owned originally by Horatio’s dad. I bent the front chain ring when attacking on a hill recently! Cant wait for it to come back from TSS.

5. If you could ride anywhere in the world, where would it be?

I haven’t had my fill of Oz just yet: it is a wonderful place to ride. Overseas it would have to be Guatemala. I volunteered there and the scenery is epic, the people friendly to a fault and there are few vehicles on the roads. There are multi-day mountain bike races there through jungle trails, over volcanos and past Indiana-Jones-esque Mayan ruins filled with howler monkeys.

6. Tell us a riding story.

Having only recently started riding on a regular basis most of my stories revolve around stacks. I have never ridden more than 100km without suffering a stack within the first hour. Clip stacks, collisions with other riders and overcooked corners validated my loony toons nickname in 2013.

On the Gong return the race started with Horatio and I locking wheels just before the national park. The saddest thing about that for me was losing my PBJ sandwich in the crash. I released the front breaks to allow for maximum wheel wobble and got it patched up at the end of the national park. It got me 190ks home after that although after Bulli Pass any residual worries about wobbling at high speed were redundant!

7. Do you have any advice for the riders at the back of the ER peloton?

The back of the pack is where I go for advice myself! Not overtaking the captain was a key plank in my bid for a white jersey last year. The best advice I have been given is to listen to your body during a ride, but only those bits above your legs.

8. Lastly, tell us something we don’t know about you.

I am the retired pimp king of Sydney (according to some in the peloton).

Rider of the Week – Dtc

1. Tell us a bit about yourself

I am 26 live with my fiancée Meredith in Cherrybrook in a place we bought a couple of years ago. I work in Marketing, and studied Psychology & Statistics at University. I started off as a telephone counsellor at a not for profit after graduating university and worked in aged care research, aged care technology, residential market research and I run my own statistics tutoring business for fun where I teach stats courses on the weekends.

2. What got you into cycling?

My dad got me into cycling on the 22nd birthday by buying me a Kona Dew Deluxe commuter bike. At the time I had been working at St Leonards and it took me 60 minutes door to door to commute via car/train from Hornsby Heights to St Leonards. Going to the gym for an hour a week 3 times a week meant some nights I was getting home at 8.30/9pm – my dad finally convinced me that there was a better way.

I had trained up to running the city to surf that year (2008) and was enjoying a health kick, so jumping on the bike although slow at first was not particularly difficult. My dad had been cycling with the B2Bs for a few years at this point so I was used to seeing many bikes and sweaty lycra around the house.

My journey with cycling has been a rocky one and only in the last 18 months have I had a real improvement in my cycling. When I returned from France in 2012 I weighted 100 kg and was cycling around 80 kms per week. I knew I was over weight and if I didn’t change something up that I would be this heavy set for ever. Since then I have returned to around 80 kg with thanks to a strong combination of personal training once a week for 18 months including a strictly monitored diet and the will to cycle longer harder and faster.

3. How did you come to join the Easy Riders?

I joined the ER as I had moved to Lindfield late 2011 and my allegiance with the B2Bs although blood deep was not a practical one. With the ERs going past my door every morning at around 6.50 am it was a great way to stay in shape (even though I was working from home). I was finally pushed over the edge when Sat Nav convinced me to get a jersey in the latest ER Jersey buy (they needed the numbers to qualify for buik shipping on 10 or more Jerseys). After getting this Jersey I unleashed a war of emails between the ER and B2Bs as I was seen as a defector, the latest acquisition in the crown jewels of the ER.

4. Tell us about your bikes.

Truth be told I only really have the one bike that I ride which is my Cannondale Carbon Six. I bought this bike just before I joined the ER and since then I have changed over just about everything on the bike (including the frame 6 months in 😉 ). I do have a commuter Kona Dew Deluxe but I have lent this out to people who want to get into cycling as a great starter bike. Its making its way back to me now after being at a friends place for the last 8 months to get him into cycling. The Cannondale is all I can really ask for in a bike. I have done road rides, time trials, touring around France, long distance and commuter rides on this bike and it works for all of these situations and more. As much as I would love N+1 I struggled to maintain 2 bikes when I had the option of riding 2 bikes,so I do have to say I like the idea of being a 1 bike man.

5. If you could ride anywhere in the world, where would it be?

My favourite place to ride? Sydney of course! But if I could see any where in the world by bike where would I go? I would like to do one of 3 rides Paris – Brest – Paris Audax ride, Ride Across America (great way to see the states) or along the Karakoram highway in China/Pakistan.

6. Tell us a riding story.

There are many good riding stories that I have had over the years – but I must say I have documented most (or nearly all of them) in elaborate detail so there aren’t many surprises here. I guess my most memorable ride was the Thredbo ride from last year which I struggled the whole way out and back. The ride really pushed and tested my limits of what I was capable of. But what I remember the most about it is how the whole group really looked out for me as I was undoubtedly the slowest rider. Darcy (Simba) stuck with me for most of the ride, even though it meant taking him 2- 3 hours longer to complete the ride. This kind of mateship and camaraderie is exactly what the ER is about.

7. Do you have any advice for the riders at the back of the ER peloton?

My advice to the ER at the back of the peleton is to buy a lighter faster bike because that is the only thing holding you back.

Failing that my advice would be

a) Cycling isn’t just a hobby its a way of life. Cycling will consume your free time, your weekends, and your social life. Embrace this as its probably the healthiest addiction there is.
b) To improve on a bike you need to mix it up – if you are struggling to improve then change up the type of cycling or exercise you are doing – that’s what helped me.
c) Cycling is a lot about a mental toughness as much as it is a physical toughness. Completing long and hard bike rides is not necessarily limited by a physical factor rather than mental factor.
d) Ride for fun when you feel like riding. If you don’t feel like riding today they listen to your body! Ride as much as you can whenever you can!

Finally – I am still at the back of the peleton. I am one of the slowest climbers in the group and always have and probably will be, so I am used to going on a big ride and being at the back. Once you can embrace this idea that it’s OK not to be the fastest in the group but instead you enjoy the journey and focus on your achievements and your PR’s then the ride becomes about something internal rather than external.

8. Lastly, tell us something we don’t know about you.

The thing about me that not many people know? I am a certified solo skydiver.


3 Peaks 2014


Halfway through Audax 250km


Kangaroo Valley Training Ride December 2013


Climbing out of Kangaroo Valley



MS Gong Ride November 2013


Top of Mont Semnoz the day after Chris Froome rode his second last stage at this year of the TDF (July 2013)


Top of Col. Madelaine waiting for TDF to come through


Top of Glandon private training ride


Woke up with this bus at my hotel


Half way up Mont Ventoux


Top of Mont Ventoux


Top of Alp D’Huez just before the mountain got shut off


My first triathalon


3 Peaks 2013


Me at my largest in France in July 2012 100 kgs


Rider of the Week – Highlander

1. Tell us a bit about yourself

I moved to Australia when I was 8. Although my parents were Irish, I was born in Bahrain because my dad worked in the oil industry. I grew up in Lane Cove, so have always been from the North Shore, although we used to think Turramurra was in the sticks.

I’m married to Heidi with two children, both of whom have now finished school. That’s a relief and yes, I’m older than I look. We moved to Turramurra about 6 years ago.

When resting between rides, I’m a software developer, working for Atlassian.

2. What got you into cycling?

I got into cycling for health and for fun. I’m lucky to have good cycling facilities at work which makes commuting by bike feasible

3. How did you come to join the Easy Riders?

I used to cycle to town by going through Brown’s Waterhole and onto the Epping Rd cycleway. In June 2013, the waterhole flooded and was not passable so I started to look at alternative routes. We have a cycling related forum at Atlassian and Jason Friedland suggested trying riding with the Easy Riders. I turned up at Gordon and SatNav signed me up that morning at the B&T.

I have been riding more and more with ER ever since. It’s hard to comprehend how good it has been for me.

4. Tell us about your bikes.

I have a Whyte Portobello, the so-called shopping bike. It’s a flat bar hybrid with hydraulic disc brakes. I had upgraded from a Kona Dew Deluxe which I had destroyed by cracking the bottom bracket just after the frame warranty finished. That said, it didn’t owe me anything in the end but the Whyte seems a stronger bike.

Whyte Portobello Black Whyte

The Whyte, which is black, used to have flat pedals. It took me a while, but I did eventually get around to putting SPD pedals on it. I only clip-stacked once on the first OTP with them. I have recently started riding a Trek Domane 5.2. It’s a proper road bike. That also took me a while. It’s carbon with 11-speed Ultegra so I think it should satisfy N+1 for a while. A year ago, I would never have considered such a bike.

Trek Domane 5.2

Domane Five Series

I do also have a Trek 3900 mountain bike. I don’t think you will ever see it.

5. If you could ride anywhere in the world, where would it be?

I’d like to ride in Europe. I could probably tour around Ireland easily enough as I seem to have a cousin in every town who are always keen to put me up but I’d also like to try riding in the French countryside.

6. Tell us a riding story.

One of the most joyful moments of my life was the day I took the training wheels off my son’s bike. It was a tiny little red bike from

Renegade cycles in Lane Cove. Holding his saddle, I got him going, running along behind him until I let go. He took off, he was launched. It was an amazing feeling. He has never looked back.

7. Do you have any advice for the riders at the back of the ER peloton?

The back of the ER peleton was, for me, the best place to improve my cycling. I remember wheezing up each climb on the OTP, particularly Rawhiti and Scaramanga, trying to keep up with the group. There was no stronger motivation than wanting to stay on.

Early on, going up the highway, I would often be shepherded at the back by some of the stronger riders in the group. I always got great encouragement on these rides and it’s part of what I love about ER.

8. Lastly, tell us something we don’t know about you.

I went to the KISS concert at the showground in 1982. Not as good a Thin Lizzy though.

A Birthday Ballad


In the dark times, the world was harsh, strewn with grief & all knew naught but despair.

Then out the north a rider appeared. Large of arse, with a song in his heart and a bandana to tie back his hair.

On a mission he came, to heal the sick and the lame. A prophet, spreading the word – the gospel of steel and wool.

Throwing open the temples of the carbonites and freeing them from their lycra-clad shame.

Now a new cult spreads across the land, as Disciples answer his call and join his merry band.

Warrior Poets all, true of heart, strong of leg, firm of hand.

On the daily crusade they go forth, with the Spiritual Leader in their midst, ministering the pastoral care each requires.

A bawdy joke here, a sly remark there, words of encouragement for another, quick of wit and with wry observations on kit and frames and tires.

His knowledge of the arcane and mystical arts is deep and profound.

Part bard, part minstrel – with keyboard, guitar and voice he makes beautiful sound.

His name is Bullet, he is 50 today and to know him we are proud.


Parra/Ponies- MTB Tue 4 Jun 5:10 AM – ride Report

My sons last night observed I appeared to be spending almost 10% of my time cycling, including sleep time, and asked me if this was an optimal life balance.

Now that it is put in those terms, it does seem a little……

A few fleeting doubts did cross my mind about the wisdom and necessity of getting up at 4:20am, to commute to the city via Parramatta, using a MTB.

However, Pink Stratos soon set me straight – she implied that if I took a softer option, such as the Fluffer, I’d be in breach of rule no 5.

But once evicted, I discovered the morning wasn’t quite as chill as I’d been expecting, and began the 20 min ride from my place to the start at the top of kissing point rd.

Soon I was hurtling down the hill towards Brown’s waterhole, with Bam-Bam, Norman and… er..…damn, I wish I was better with names, your face, clothing and bicycle is clear in my mind. Sorry about that.

I’d not done any of this ride before, so it was all new to me, and what a treat!

The early track is a bit rough in places but not excessively so, has great rock steps to ride up and down, almost all friendly but fun

It didn’t take long before I was fully warmed up- temperature just right for this exertion level.

Several creek crossings – after I’d got one damp foot, I remembered that setting pedals at 3 and 9 o’clock is best for these.

A set of planks resting on mud and water, pick the wide plank, be confident, don’t think too much – hope the wheel doesn’t slide off cos that mud looks deep – phew.

One fabulous bit of singletrack weaves through trees, with a series of rocks forming upward steps – pick the line, low gear, high revs, flick the wheel – I could just manage to ride up most of them, great fun.

A couple of small drops look like cliffs as I approach in the dark, my dual lights just revealing a blind horizon line.

No pressure here, just hop off, walk through, and jump back on.

Looking from the other side I see a set of rocks on the other side that act as a ramp – so that’s how Bam-Bam did it.

That leaves something for a next time – hard to sort out on first encounter.

Peering through the trees round a corner – big tree trunk on the ground, how did Bam Bam jump over that so quickly and silently?

Another corner, and I’m riding past it – oh, it has been cut away where it crossed the path, that’s why – no jump needed.

Other bits of track are really smooth, saplings either side brushing ones shoulders, keep a good line, following the twists and turns, Cresta run without the banking.

Bizarre, this was like someone’s garden path, not a route to the city.

Another part had boulders set in a zigzag like pattern in the path, with small gaps to thread to get past – like a slalom, low speed manoeuvring skills essential.

Back onto concrete bike paths, as it starts to get light – beautiful parkland, and loads of waterside stuff, I wonder where we are?.

Eventually across the Anzac bridge, for coffee at the Google café.

A gorgeous ride, entirely as promised, ably led by Bam Bam (how does he remember all those turns)

And a first – I didn’t fall off, not even once!

Blue Stratos

It’s all about the bike…

I often wondered what it would be like to do a TT, just you and the bike ….the most ’honest’ form of measurement.

So after 18 months of procrastinating I finally did my first 25km ATTA event at Calga last month.

The day before the event, I raced around after Saturday sport to find a TT bar to put on my colnago, and found one at Thornleigh bikes, with a nice narrow clamp so I wouldn’t need to remove bar tap to fit it.

Really a 15 minute job.

So on the day , and in fact days leading up to it, I woke early and tried to picture how it would go.

So on the day…

I also thought about warming up, its no good going flat chat and not being warm when you do it, so I rode about 10 km before the start. It was also the first time I had aero bars on the bike, took a while to venture out on to them, bringing your chin closer to the road….

I thought about diet, so had a coffee and breakfast before driving up there.

I also had a ‘mother’ soft drink about 15 min before the start, thinking glycogen and caffeine over 25km might help.

Brownie was in the TT start ramp, which was a great help for someone not used to the start procedure.

They let you go on the minute ( just like the tour TT ) and roll down a ramp and away you go….

This might seem weird but I felt comfortable in the pain that came next, the trick is to push yourself right to the edge of the lactate cliff, and stay there.

It was remarkably like rowing in a single scull, being in a whole world of hurt ..but remain totally relaxed, particularly in the top half of your body.

The 25km ATTA course at Calga is undulating and net 150m vertical on the way out and 150m down on the way back. There is a hill called ‘blood hill’ which knocks the wind out of you on the way back…about 700m of 5-10% ouch!

So after the event , I noticed everyone ahead of me was on a TT specific bike…..and so the questions flowed over the following hours and days.

One such conversation happened down in Bowral, and a cyclist lady said’ hang on a moment’ when I asked ‘ how much time will a TT bike and helmet mean to the TT course at Calga’ , and she speed dialled her coach at the NSWIS….

Back came the news ‘Frame and wheels 90-120 sec, aero helmet 30 sec…..’


So the research for a new stead began.

I started with ‘what frame’ and looked at the Colnago first… wow very aggressive and expensive, I’d have to do yoga for a year just to get down onto the bars! I then looked at a few ‘out of the box solutions’ but they all run Shimano which is good but I have all my bikes on Campag, which would mean I would have an ‘orphan’ in the house.

I then looked at the Ridley Dean RS, which was not as aggressive as the Colnago, meaning the head tube was a little higher, but still TT, and came with brakes, seat post and headset, and was comparatively good value.

After trying to ‘beat’ that frame I couldn’t , so for my needs I started the build there.

As I mentioned it came with seatpost and headset, so all I had to buy was crankset, stem, TT bars, derailleurs, TT gear shifters/brake levers , pedals, seat and cables.

I already had the wheels.

I chose Campag chorus because, that’s what I have on my other bike, so all ‘bits’ can be swapped across the bikes. I also stuck with Speedplay pedals , so I only need one pair of shoes! I had no idea what seat to get, so I got a TT specific prologo which had several palmares..

I also bought the extra 30 seconds with an ‘alien’ helmet…really weird. I hope that was a good purchase with a melon like mine…

Finally Mr TSS was commissioned to put everything together, and I provided the measurements off my road bike so the ‘fit’ was a snip !

This weekend I am planning to ‘ride’ at Calga, hope to see some of you give it a go!

The name of the bike is “Death Star”



Van Diemen

Manly Dam – ride report

The last time I did this run, I got thoroughly wrecked – participants were Clutters, Contador and me.
I rolled up to the start, and saw this time it was Clutters, Bam Bam, and me.
Hmm – different, yet somehow familiar. 2 great riders and…..

But it was a fine day for a MTB ride.
Down the cascades, I know it well, then a steep climb up the other side, hard work but no issues.
The run along by the pipeline, heavy dew on the grass sprays up into my glasses.
That happened last time too – but this time, fog too.

Come the Manly dam section.
The first descent is fun, rock shelves with small drops, I’m doing it better than last time, though not with quite the same flow as the others.
They are taking care of me, showing the line and keeping the pace manageable.

Lots of ups and downs follow, then we approach the step I fell on last time – I’m a bit nervous.
Clutters says follow Bam Bam, so I grit my teeth and do so, nailed his line perfectly, but alas he doesn’t use the slightly easier line Clutters had in mind.
I go off the drop he’d used on his 29er, my 26” front wheel pops into a familiar looking scoop in the rock, stops, and I gently topple over the handlebars.
That’s odd, I crashed exactly here last time….but no harm done, a minor knee scrape.
I walk down a few bits, then hop back on again. Will this be Groundhog day?

My glasses are steamy, not easy to see the details – wet tree roots are tricky, but the pace is fine, I’m going OK.
I flail down a droppy section OK, decent pace, just in control, confidence coming back up.
Clutters and Bam Bam were alternately leading ahead giving me a good line to follow.
I punctured here last time – not this time, I sail through cleanly – not Groundhog day after all.

Out of the dam section, there’s another technical bit, I wave the others on so they can have fun hooning down it.
Vision starting to blur, fog droplets building up on the glasses again, then I lose it picking my way down a wet rocky bit.
Down I go again – damn, and I rode this bit OK last time.
Ah yes, it would have to be the same knee that I scrape. Good job I bounce.

Climbing up the weaving singletrack. – left, right, flick over that one, bank up there, feeling good.
I ride over a steep rock in the middle of the path, rather than going round, following Clutters’ suggestion – that was fun.

Quick stop to wipe off the glasses again- my hanky is now soaked, the others pull away
Glasses don’t go so well in fog, note to self, use contacts next time.
Then out onto the open field at the end of the MTB section.

The fog is thicker here. We have a water stop. I fiddle with my lights, one had come adrift in one of the falls.
Clutters pours water over his bike to clean it a bit.
Water stop and we are off on the road. Lock up the suspension and away we go.

Zig-zagging through the back streets, I feel there is still some energy in the tank.
Over the Spit, and I’m steadily going up the Parriwi climb.
Clutters and Bam Bam pull away from me steadily, but I’m not far back, can see them most of the way, and feel good.
A far cry from last time when I cramped up and had to walk up – what a difference 6 months makes.
And then we are punching up the ups and downs of Mosman and Cremorne, getting to the B&T at about 7:45.


Another great day out, with a healthy adrenalin dose added, yet all before work. Thanks guys.

Blue Stratos