Author Archives: B1/m

About B1/m

Cranky to start, runs rough.

Sunday Service

Grant style, per previous requests —

  1. 6am Walk out of house into pouring rain for pleasant Sunday ride to Cronulla.
  2. 6:15am Stop on Vimiera Road to fix flat rear tyre in downpour.
  3. Climb back on bicycle resisting curiously strong urge to turn around, ride home, and climb into bed.
  4. Notice how little traffic seems to be out on the Cooks River Cycleway today.
  5. Pedal into tempest on Botany Bay. Note south-west gale is almost perfectly head-on rounding the point at Sans Souci.
  6. Arrive at Cronulla, drop soaking kit into dryer, load new fridge onto trailer, drive back to Turramurra.
  7. Move old broken fridge out of garage.
  8. Move new broken fridge out of kitchen into garage.
  9. Move new fridge off trailer into kitchen.
  10. Load old broken fridge onto trailer, drive to Chateau d’Half.
  11. Load new new fridge onto trailer and collect a comically large adjustable spanner (bonus, thanks Half!). Drive to Cronulla.
  12. Move new new fridge into garage, drive old broken fridge to tip.
  13. Tip closed, drive back to Cronulla.
  14. Extract kit from dryer, load work clothes, shoes, and comically large adjustable spanner into backpack. (Seriously doesn’t even fit in there; no matter which way I stuff it in, one end of the spanner pokes out the top of the pack!)
  15. Hoist pack.
  16. Comically large adjustable spanner not so funny now.
  17. Ride into howling southerly expecting to blow all the way home.
  18. Note south-west gale has inconveniently shifted to the south-east, almost perfectly head-on rounding the point at Sans Souci.
  19. Become hopelessly lost in Olympic Park vortex. (Strava map looks like Etch-A-Sketch drawing.)
  20. Emerge in Rhodes to (a) darkening skies and (b) realisation that all the elevation between here and Turramurra has yet to be gained.
  21. Consider chucking comically large and increasingly unfunny spanner in the river.
  22. Note shoe sticking into back was annoying, now painful. Also, desperately needing to pee. Also: front tyre needing air.
  23. Stubbornly refuse to stop for anything that’s not a hot shower or a cold beer.
  24. 8pm Roll into garage. Head straight to kitchen to retrieve cold beer from new fridge — hey, the light works! — take cold beer straight to hot shower.
  25. Collapse in comfy chair and make odd, unintelligible noises for a good half an hour or so.

Sunday Service: early morning gorges with Fore and Stealth

Far in the east, the edge of the world tumbles through space. The horizon — a sharp black silhouette against a thin white slice of sky — splits the night in half, hints at a distant hidden sun. Thousands of stars hang in the endless darkness above, all of history, billions of galaxies exploding forever.

All the way down here, on the surface of the planet, on this long thin stretch of road, all I can hear is the whisp of rubber on the bitumen and the regular breathing of my companions. We’re out of our saddles and climbing the last rise before the long, fast descent to the river.

Gravity toys with us as we roll over the crest, shifts its grasp, stops dragging heavily on our back wheels and starts drawing eagerly on the front. It whips up a wind; the pawls in Fore’s hub rasp like a swarm of bees in his wheels. Tears stream down my face which is pressed to the blast, scouting out lines; fingers scream in the cold air and the bitter chill. We flow through the bends like water flowing to the sea — inside shoulder tipping in, outside leg straight, inside knee hanging just so — all the way down without a hand on the brakes.

We roll up to the gate on the water’s edge only to see the ferry pulling away, shrinking into the shadows on the opposite shore, a single white navigation light blinking in the darkness.

My rear tyre is flat; repairs commence, first on land — cold hands are dull, blunt instruments — then crossing the river. The wheel is back on the bike when the ferry’s steel ramps scrape up the eastern bank (lost time: zero minutes) and right away we’re rolling again, up the eastern side of the gorge, breathing more sharply, falling into a rhythm that dispatches hairpins one after another.

It’s along here, suspended halfway between the ridge above and the tiny boats on the green water below, I realise the bush is alive with birds and the gentlest of breezes. A dog is barking. We’re flooded in warmth and morning light. Somehow, between this side of the gorge and the other, night became day, descending became climbing, cold became warm in much the same way a life passes: fleeting, easy to miss, and without ceremony.

Mass conversions

Brethren and sistren of the pedal:

No doubt you’ve heard restless stirrings from backyard sheds, whispered mutterings at the back of the peloton, or perhaps even the shriek of grinder upon metal (and every now and then the odd bloody bit of thumb, but the less said about that the better.) You’ve heard Horatio’s glorious tales of Old Gold. You’ve heard brothers Jamie and Tony hint at the furtive turning of spanners in the night. We all heard brother Clunt’s forking cry for help.

Well, brothers and sisters, it’s time to step out of the shadows and into the squinty light of dangly fluorescent tubes, the ones illuminating Sacred Quests and dingey man- (and woman) caves alike.

Indeed, the hour is upon us. It’s time to heed the call, the shrill ring of mallet upon steel (and don’t ask what that was for.)

It is time to build our steely singlesteeds.

Be tempted not by false idols or — Comet: — fancy aluminium baubles  for The Man speaketh the Word and the Word is “Steel” because Steel, baby, is Real.

As the long darkness descends upon us, let us search garage and garden shed; let us scour the dusty corners of the interwebs for ancient relics. Bring the lost and forsaken unto the Holy Workbench where we will stand back on our heels, fingers stroking our beardy chins, and contemplate The Work.

We will furrow our brows and grease our fingers — wiping them not on the trousers our spouses will wash, but on the rags put aside for this purpose — and scrape away the flakey paint and rusty bits. Their silvery bones laid bare, with good grace and divine guidance [1], we will resurrect these old souls; dress them in triple coats of supergloss enamel, with gleaming cranks and freshly oiled chains, and shiney cable housings. Yea verily, brothers and sisters of the wrench, we will pimp our rides.

(#1: — Eternal thanks in advance to the Thornleigh Speed Shop and Bucky’s Bike Shed for correcting all our f*ckups; sponsorship terms, conditions and contracts are in the post.)

And when at last the long, cold winter is behind us — long after the last drops of Belgian ale and single malt whiskies are wrung from their barrels — we shall don the Robes of the Chafed, the glorious Egg and Tomato, and emerge triumphant in the warm and golden sunrise, singlespeeding as one upon our Quest, the Springy Steel Fluffer™ (TBA) to spread The Word amongst the Bitter & the Twisted.

— The Disciple

B1/m’s P.I. Getalong Report

If the Fluffer is the girl you take out for coffee and a chat, the Flutter — the real deal, Clutter’s Flutter — is the woman you’d buy champagne for. Good stuff. French. The Getalong, on the other hand is the pierced and tattooed chick who lines up rows of tequila slammers on the bar. She makes you lie on your back and pours vodka and lime juice down your throat, straight out of the bottle. When you wake up the next morning, you feel sore and horrible, and wonder what the hell you were thinking…

Satellite Navigation got the party started by smashing everyone around the head with a gold brick, wrapped in a slice of lemon. He was suffering mechanicals even before he arrived: couldn’t get the front mech off the big ring (doesn’t matter, he doesn’t use the little one anyway), couldn’t get the rear mech onto the big cogs on the rear cluster (also doesn’t matter, he doesn’t use them either), but he couldn’t find the two little cogs on the back either and, well, that was just annoying. Didn’t seem to slow him down any: the pace out of the blocks was mildly terrifying. The first round of drinks had gone down before the last glass was poured and he was already ordering the second.

Seven ER’s in all — Sat Nav, Flash, Wilson, Pidgeon (pending), The Lemming, this B1, and our honorary ER Graeme Weatherill (of distinguished Thredbo training camp standing) — present and accounted for at 4:00 AM (yes, Half, it is madness. But it’s a glorious kind of madness and, you know, that tequila slammer chick is hot. Actually, she was cool: it was 7°C when we rolled out in arm warmers and gilets.)

The descents to Brooklyn and Mooney Mooney Creek were fast: a clean, dry track, and the kind of cold air you get just before dawn, ripping through pockets of mist. Thousands of bike-light lumens projected huge sillhouettes of riders into the white air in front and we chased those ghostly giants into the depths.

By Kariong, the sun was up and the drop into the right-hand Woy was a blur. Soon after rolling over the top, the roar in my helmet blotted out everything else. I stopped looking over my shoulder when the apexes flashed up surprisingly fast — bang, bang, bang — one after the other. But I had Graeme in my ear, calling when the cars were back and so I could forget about the traffic, relax into the line and drop through the corners in clean, solid arcs. Fast arcs. We rolled out the bottom, both of us, wearing bug-eating grins from ear to ear.

Amazingly, all still accounted for at Ettalong (we nearly lost Flash at the Kariong turn-off, and The Lemming on the little hill before the lookout) but nary a mechanical worth mentioning, 32 km/h average on the clock for the first 80 km sector, and plenty of time for breakfast. Even so, the help managed to look very flustered when we all rolled in. Everyone except YHC was served coffee, which was enjoyed on the chilly trip across Broken Bay and Pittwater.

The remainder, for this B1, was grim survival: Pittwater Road TT, BBCD, The Spit, Parriwi — nothing left for anything but a slow grind to the summit. I tried getting my act together for the last dash to the bridge, but it was already that part of the night when you realise you’ve had too much too drink. And there she is, offering you another one. Hell, you’re out. It doesn’t happen that often. What else are you going to do?

Katoomba ride report

5:30 AM Top of Kisso. Assembled: Van Diemen, Wilson, Andy Hulme, and this B1. Damp mist and streetlights add atmosphere to the slight buzz of adrenaline of apprehension: This ride hurt me last time.

Pacific Highway, Fox Valley Road, Commenara Parkway onto Pennant Hills road, all prelude, still searching for the all-day rythm when Andy flats, barely 15 minutes in. He swaps tubes in a pool of light from Van Diemen’s bike; mist floats eerily in the beam.

We roll through Cherrybrook, Dural and Rouse Hill, in and out of the fog, before hitching a ride with a bunch rolling along Windsor Road. It’s a handy tow for the 15 kilometres into Windsor. We play Lantern Rouge to a single file of thirty bikes snaking along the Hawkesbury Valley Way, a massive concrete structure apparently floating over the paddocks below; red blinking lights and the whole bridge disappearing into the grey gloom ahead.

Through Richmond and across the Napean — the river pools and shoals up here, rushing through constrictions and Sheoaks; the locals are out casting for bass along the banks. We stop in the car park for a bite to eat and to steel ourselves for a thousand metres of climbing.

The pace has been solid, Van Diemen — the engine room — the driving force behind our 28 or 29 average for the two hours to the escarpment. But soon, after the next short stretch along the river, the big chainrings are dropped, small cogs swapped out for bigger cogs — then the biggest cog — as we tap up through the gums and the bellbirds to the bright blue sky and Hawkesbury Heights.

The view here stretches from the north end of the Sydney basin to the south — velvety plains as far as the eye can see, still swathed in morning fog — and the city skyline far away on the horizon. But all we see are metres gained; we roll through the carpark without slipping a cleat, eyes fixed ahead, and up. Andy H slides his helium-filled Baum to the front and takes control of the long drag to Springwood.

Nine o’clock when we roll into the village and Van Diemen’s keen for eggs and bacon. There’s a moment of dissonance, a disconnect between my memory of this place — the heat and the gravity and the relentlessly crushing effort — and the idea of settling in for a gentlemanly breakfast. Vestigial traces of urgency vanish with the first whiff of toast and coffee.

Full plates of food are delivered — and demolished — quickly. Coffee is loaded like avgas. We pay our bills and fill our bottles. Wilson rolls out on the front, towing us towards Katoomba.

In December, this section of the ride just would not end. One elevation after another, grinding relentlessly upwards. Whenever I lifted my head to steal a glance, squinting through the heat and the sweat, I’d see Fore waiting, patient and stationary at the top of the rise. He seemed to float magically from one crest to the next while I laboured away on my cranks.

But these are quiet reflections, ripples. Wilson’s tapping out a pace that’s ever so slightly quicker than comfortable — but it’s sustainable as long as I float through my gears, spinning more and forcing the issue less. The mountain won’t be bullied into submission. I trade heart rate for lactic acid. An occasional “ease up, big fella” goes neither astray nor, thankfully, unheeded.

We roll through Leura two and half hours after leaving the Napean over a thousand metres below — almost before realising the climbing is done — then coast down the back streets of Katoomba to Echo Point and stand in the clouds with our bikes and broad smiles.

The clouds lift, revealing Katoomba’s rough stone bluffs. When Van Diemen points his Colnago down the hill, he takes off like a missile and one by one we file in behind, pushing big gears and hunting for the slipstream. The upper mountains are dispatched in half an hour, then the long drag out to Hawkesbury Heights and the quick, hair-raising descent through the hairpins to the river.

We stop for cold drinks opposite the airforce base in Richmond, watching a Piper Cub doing touch-and-go’s on the runway.

The rest is business, pulling turns to the east. Rouse Hill, Castle Hill, Pennant Hills, all pass quietly as our legs carry us back towards Hornsby.

It’s 3pm when I tuck into a caramel sundae with Van Diemen; the Andies have rolled on for home. The sweet, cold ice-cream is a little celebration I won’t pass up: just over two hundred kilometres on the clock and a halfway decent climb by any standard. The sundae is sticky and delicious. A thought occurs to me as I’m turning the spoon upside down in my mouth: right about this point in ride, in 21 days time, we’ll just be starting up the back of Falls.


Tuesday morning Fluffer

The pre-dawn rain shower stayed away for this morning’s Fluffer; perfect conditions for a roll along the beaches.

Eleven ER’s in the traps (now this will test my memory!) —Satnav, Flash, Fore, Magoo, Ivan the Terrigal, Jamie, Rob, Ben, Scott, Simon, and B1/m CFM (acting.) Big Bird, very pleased to report all regroups conducted in an orderly fashion, the peloton remained nice and tidy through Bayview in the pre-dawn light despite a seemingly endless stream of “cars back” — a bit busier on the beaches this morning.

Unharrassed through Dee Why. Briony pulled up south of the col; wasn’t too sure why at first, no obstacles in sight at all but close inspection revealed a flat rear tyre (which wasn’t slowing her up at all.) Tyre changed successfully despite everyone’s best efforts: Briony thought she’d check the cartridge by emptying half the CO2 into the gutter, Satnav got most of the rest into the tyre, then Flash thought he’d check everyone’s work by pressing the little button on the end of the valve. Simon’s pressure gauge barely registered a 30 so Fore finished off the job with a mini pump. Like watching a well-oiled machine without the oil. Under way
again until just around the corner where Satnav’s rear tyre relaxed in sympathy. First tube fitted — and exploded; Scott diving for cover like we were under fire — second fitted then on our way with nothing further to report from the mechanicals department.

Glorious through Manly — a nice little longboard wave this morning — busy up through Seaforth (saw us up, ahem, up on the footpath for a bit; apologies, BG) but all present and accounted for either side of the dip. Safe passage through the lower north shore saw us into the B&T for the tail end of the first sitting, well situated for the second, and in prime position for the morning academicals with Herb in tow. All in all, a fine morning on the pedals.