Category Archives: Other Ride Reports

Reports about any non-commute ER ride

Blue Stratos 3P writeup – a near perfect day

My entry into the 3 peaks ride was not entirely conventional. I was volunteered. Ravi bet me that if I’d do a midwinter swim, he’d ride the 3 peaks. Someone chose to interpret this to mean I was riding it too as part of the bet, and entered me on the ER spreadsheet. That wasn’t part of the deal, but once my name was on the list, it didn’t quite seem right to take it off, and I signed up. The bet fizzled, but I’m happy with the outcome, as I’ve now ridden the 3P.

I’d heard that last year some ER entrants trained so hard and extensively, that they were in deep doo-dah with spouses before they even started the 3P ride, due to their being always away on the bike. My training wasn’t much like that, I just commuted almost every weekday, pushed a bit harder on the tandem days, plus did a couple of fluffers and added a Sunday ride for a few weeks.

A few people had asked me, what bike are you going to use? I’m sure they were expecting that I had some exotic carbon steed squirreled away for such things But no, my 1982 regular steel tourer that I use for commuting is really the only bike remotely suitable from my stable, the other choices being a single speed, tandem or MTB. So my tourer was going to be it, but maybe I could shave some weight off. I checked my wheel bearings – heavily pitted, perfect excuse – so I nicked Pink’s wheels, which are a bit lighter than mine, and much newer. Off with the rack and mudguards, attach a lighter pump, add some Conti 4 season tyres at half the weight of the traditional touring tyres I normally use.

I’ll need food, waterproofs, warm stuff that I might need to take off and stash…..instead of my usual large commute bag that goes on my rack, I’ll use a framed 4 litre saddlebag, that’s not too heavy. Voila – my bike is down to….12.0kg. OK, so it isn’t exactly light, but does have a ridiculously low bottom gear, to help me twiddle my way up hills. The MTB triple chainset has a 22 tooth inside chainring, which looks pretty silly driving a 28 tooth rear, but it does make climbing easier, if slow.

There were a few hiccups in the approach to the event. The Friday in the week before, my rear gear cable snapped. Easy enough to fix, though it takes a few days of fiddling to get all the gears changing OK again. I was glad it failed then, rather than wait a week and happen on the 3P ride. Then on the Tuesday, I was playing canoe polo, and managed to crack a rib in the charge start – got a kayak in the chest which somehow managed to get under my life jacket. Not too bad to ride with though, fortunately, at least with a bit of Nurofen in me.

I was unsure about nutrition, and had left most of the decisions here till late. For the typical 8 hour UK cold caving trips I used to participate in, I’d go for the full cooked English breakfast, the works, plus 2 Mars bars jammed in my caving helmet. It worked great for me in those days, but somehow I didn’t think this would quite work for 3P, with its greater duration and intensity – plus on 3P the Mars bar would melt and mess up my hair. Pink cooked up some homemade cocaine bars, they seemed good, so I’d take 24 of them, at 50g each it should be enough. Someone suggested peanut butter sandwiches, now we’re talking my language. I made up a loaf’s worth. I’d tried a gel once, a freebie from the Highland Fling – it seemed OK, so Pink visited the LBS to get me 6 of those, maybe they’d work some magic towards the end. For drinks, I’d never used powders of any kind, electrolyte sounded more like something a battery would need, plus fiddly, so I’d stick with water.

So there I am, lined up with 1800 cyclists, in the clear cool dawn. Funnily enough,my saddlebag seemed to be bigger than any other bag I saw. I munch a peanut butter sandwich, on top of the 6 weetbix I’d had earlier – never too late for extra carbo loading, it is all going to get burned off soon. I was in the last start, based on expected pace (or rather, lack of it), well behind any other ER rider. Even at the back there were no other bikes like mine in sight – but a dazzling array of carbon of every brand, with the odd titanium bike. I even saw a Cannondale racing tandem, with a blind stoker, brave souls. It was pretty exciting for me, I’d never done anything like it before, it was well outside my previous experience. Unlike many of the things I’ve done in recent years, I really didn’t know if I could finish it. I had the 12 hour and 13 hour schedules taped to my stem. I really wanted to make all the cut-offs, and finish within the 13 hour limit, but was worried about cramps, which I get rather readily, and have stopped me before on much lesser rides.

Our group had to wait a while to get away, I crossed the start line at 7:15am, more than 15 minutes after the leading groups. Descending from Falls Creek was a blast. I’d decided to take it easy, assuming that there would be many doing strange things and taking unexpected lines. But I do rather like descending, and my tourer with its long wheelbase and springy forks soaks up bumps and descends like it is on rails – even holding back I overtook hundreds of riders. I had a jacket on, but even so my teeth were chattering lightly before I reached the warmer valley air. I gather more lightly dressed riders like Finchy were really cold by then, and getting full body shivers making it hard to control the bike.

The first proper ascent, Tawonga Gap, was no problem, but I climbed steadily, its a long way to go yet. There was a regular trail of dropped gear to follow – most people’s pockets are so full, things keep falling out. Over the top, and packs form; I pick one that suited me. There is a light headwind. The group works well, with people taking turns, and gradually grows. Its social too, we chat, the weather and views are stunning, there is no car traffic to worry about. I’m really enjoying the riding.

We run down smaller packs ahead, who join on, and we get faster riders joining too from behind who start leading us out, the group gets faster…. At about 5km from the 75km rest stop, the increasing pace now around 35km/hr starts to feels a bit much for me. I don’t want to overdo it, so pull off to the side for a “light nature break” – far quicker here than waiting in a queue at the official stop. I gather Flash and a few other ER’s passed me, thinking I’ve had a mechanical. I ride solo at a comfy pace for a couple of minutes, drink a fair bit, then join another group going at a steady pace. Remembering Norman’s mantra of “just keep riding”, at the rest stop I grab a bit of free cake, refill water bottles, and get straight back on the bike. I unwrap the cake while riding, and munch away – yummie. I’d never ridden this continuously before, had always stopped for much longer, but it seemed OK – I’d do this for every stop except lunch.

The first part of the Mt Hotham climb was just a delight – the views were stunning, I just seemed to get in a groove and the kms fell away, I was working, but it was fun. I started to pass people, some now were wearing “3 Peaks Finisher” shirts from previous years – this had to be good news for my prospects. I could see from my crib sheet I was ahead of 12 hour pace, and steadily increasing my margin on that pace. It seemed good, I didn’t expect to retain that, with the monster hills at the end likely to hit me harder than others, but the more time in hand the better. I did most of the climb in a group of 4, the others keeping a really steady pace – I mostly listened to the others chatting. There was an extra mid-station rest stop I wasn’t expecting, the others I’d been riding with stopped, but I skipped that one, regretted it a bit later as I ran out of water well before getting to the summit, but it wasn’t too bad. I proceeded solo for most of the rest of the climb. I was eating one of my monster supply of cocaine bars every 30 minutes or so, determined not to run out of fuel. There’s a flatter bit, and it steepens up again to the top – I was going better than fine, it was cool up there as I like it, and the views just got better and better. The photographer near the top said mine was the best smile he’d seen that day. I was surprised I was enjoying the ride so much, based on the stories of previous years, I’d expected it to be strictly retrospective enjoyment. In the ER write ups for last year I didn’t recall anyone having said they’d really enjoyed it at the time, but then they’d had an inferno, whilst our weather was just perfect. I passed Jenna near the top, she gave me a grin that looked a mite forced – we exchanged a few words and I pedalled on. She was going through a low patch there, whilst mine was to come later.

The main lunch stop was well organised, but not all obvious to a newby. I’d arrived pretty dry having had empty bottles for a while, so drank lots, and collected my valet bag. I didn’t bother with the free veggie roll, though I gather it was good – just ate a peanut butter sandwich, stuffed 2 more in my pockets for the road then loaded in another 8 cocaine bars and some gels into my huge saddlebag, and popped an anti-cramp magnesium tablet. I’m not convinced the magnesium tablets are that effective for preventing or reducing cramp in my case, but they don’t do harm, and one can hope. I sorted out the return valet bag (I’d put a spare saddle into the valet bag, in case of comfort issues with my new SMP Stratos saddle, and the unused spare needed to be sent back). After a brief chat to other ER’s, while sat on the grass, I was off after 15 mins or so. The descent was fun, the road was open and I was able to let-er rip. Cruising on, again I was able to hook up with groups going at a suitable pace for me. Sometimes I was with ER riders, but I tried to ride to my own rhythm, so didn’t stay in a group for long. The distance was creeping up, I was feeling a bit tired by now, but going OK. Suddenly, Zap! A really sharp pain on my forehead – I reached up and flicked an insect off – I’d been stung by a bee. Fortunately I’m not allergic, but I’m a bit more awake now. It throbs a bit, then gradually subsides.

I pulled into the Omeo rest stop for more water. Philby was there, apparently “lounging” on the soft green grass in the shade of a tree. He looked mighty comfortable (apparently he was trying to sort out “hot foot”, but I couldn’t tell that). I imagined he was dipping into some luxury wicker food hamper, just out of sight. I was pleased to see him – we’ve often ridden at similar overall speeds in some lead-up rides, so he was my reference rider; I took it as a sign we were both going well. After a few tongue in cheek words along the lines of “get a move on you lazy… “, or something to that effect, I hopped back on the bike.

Out of Omeo, there’s a long steady hill, not too steep, with a bunch of 6 or so ER riders riding in a group ahead. I drop into a low gear and spin. I gradually catch up and pass a few. I know this road, as I’ve done a lot of white water kayaking around here, and have previously camped at Anglers Rest, the next rest stop. The road is quite flat, but it has many tight corners as it traverses the many ridges running down the side of the hills, beautiful views yet again. I’m riding OK, doing around 30km/hr or maybe a bit more, and pass some more riders. After a while I look around, and there are 6 or so riders slip-streaming me including Boycey, many of those I’ve passed are tucked in behind. Apparently they’ve been there a while. I beckon some on, and we start a rolling group. This group was fantastic, a blast, everyone taking turns, with neat transitions. The multiple tight corners making following the wheel really fun, banking right over to a really steep angle to take the corner with no braking, with the dry road adding to confidence. We chat a bit, everyone is really enjoying the ride, the pace rises a bit further, and before we know it we’re at Anglers Rest. There was a gaggle of ER’s there, but I didn’t fancy stopping while I was on a roll. I still had plenty of food left on my bike, and don’t need to access my Valet bag to top up, so fill my bottles, pop another anti cramp tablet, and ride out.

Approaching the final climb, I was feeling more tired. I ate another cocaine bar, getting a bit tired of them now, but I stuff it in. Then WTF corner – well it is steep. I drop into bottom gear and start the crawl up. I get up the first ramp feeling OK, but then it starts, my quads start to twinge – early warning signs of cramps. Then the right calf starts to twinge too – once one muscle starts to go it seems to set the others off. I try various things, changing body position, gears, cadence, all that stuff, but it gets worse. It had to happen some time in this ride, I guess. I need to avoid full spasms in both legs that I know it will readily progress to if I don’t manage it properly – this is incredibly painful, and with the damage it causes to muscles, hard to recover from. Just before the cramps go to full spasm I hop off the bike, and start walking. I dare not stop, the walking helps. A few minutes later and I feel I can jump back on the bike, the legs feel as if there’s still plenty of strength left in them yet, but I only get 30m and the cramp twinges start again.

The next 9km, were the same – on off, on off. Riding I’m doing 9km/hr, but I’m hardly getting any riding done. Walking I’m doing 5 km/hr or just under. Loads of riders pass me, including many ER’s. There are other riders stopped for cramps, several ask if I have any anti-cramp tablets, I have plenty so pass some out. I’m a mobile dispensary. These riders seem to recover and pass me – evidently the tablets work better for them than they do for me. I’m not enjoying this bit like the other parts, but it could be worse, I’m still making progress, and I have heaps of time in hand. Finally I get to the rest stop. I need this one, and stay a while. Philby rides by. I eat another cocaine bar and a gel. I think having to walk so much has cost me 30 or 40 minutes.

Nick, Bullet and Boycey ride by, and my legs feel OK now, so I hop back on. They are about 100m ahead, and the road is still climbing, but the gradient is modest. I catch them,and ride with them, fortunately with no signs of return of cramp. I gulp 2 gels. The road is good, the views improve and I’m heartily enjoying the riding again. Boycey drops back a bit as we approach the top, Nick and Bullet wait, while I ride on. The views across the top are magnificent and dramatic, the light is a photographers delight. There are deep grey rain clouds on one side, and rain in the distance, and clear on the other side, with bright sunlight streaming onto the trees, a mix of burnt grey masts, and new growth. Plains in the foreground, with rock outcrops, mountains in the distance, stunningly clear. I’d love to have had my SLR camera on hand for it – another time. It isn’t far now, there’s a bit of a headwind, but not too strong, my legs feel sound so I push a bit more, and pass some riders. The lake comes in sight, then unexpectedly Nick and Bullet come flying past me, going like the clappers. Nick is working like a demon into the headwind, Bullet is tucked tight in behind. Dammit, how is Nick doing that after all this climbing! They must be doing 40km/hr, into the wind. I sprint to catch them before they get out of reach, manage to do it, and tuck in.

We go round the lake at high speed, thanks to Nick’s efforts, and then we are rolling down the hill to the finish, there’s a very big crowd of riders cheering us all in, and many ER’s cheering at the finish line having been back for hours. I’m really pleased with my time of 11:13, and everyone else is really happy with their performance. I queue up for my jersey and some free lasagne – the food hardly touched the sides, but was great, and we were to have a bigger meal later. There’s a few other ER’s coming in after me, I wait with the others and cheer them in. The atmosphere is fantastic – on to the post ride dinner/party.

I’d only seen 2 other steel bikes in the whole ride. My old bike had done well, and what a ride – near perfect!

Blue Stratos

Stats: 235km, 11 hours 13 minutes, about 4500m vertical, no Garmin/Strava, no heart rate monitor…..

Nutrition: 3 gels, 14 Bidons of water, 11 cocaine bars, 1 piece of cake and half a loaf of peanut butter sandwiches.

Medical: 3 Nurofen and 6 anti cramp tablets.

PS As I rode to the city on the OTP on Friday on the same bike, there was a loud “ping”, and my handlebars came completely loose. I was going very slowly at the time, just coming up to a set of red traffic lights, so I was able to stop without problems. Examination revealed the head of one of the two quite substantial bolts that hold my handlebar onto the stem had sheared off – pretty unusual. The remaining bolt was sort of holding the bars in place albeit with lots of free play, it would have been difficult to keep control if I’d have been at speed. Again, a well timed failure – just as well it didn’t happen on one of the 3P descents.


Report of the FondlERs

Just the 23 ERs amassed in the barriers this morning for the inaugural running of the FondlERs. Various routes on offer thanks to Fore’s detailed route guidance – something for everyone was the promise, and something near 30kmh average the target.

A smooth take off with everyone falling into stride nicely……difficult to get a word in edgeways amidst the chatter…..Dopey got the only mechanical of the day out of the way early along Windsor Road, rumours confirmed that he does in fact travel with the kitchen sink under his saddle.

Whilst most FondlERs had done the Pitt Town route before, unchartered territory for many as we continued along past the Halcrows turn to Maroota where we bid farewell to Murray, thence onto Wisemans taking great care on the descent following Graeme’s valuable guidance during the week. It really is a great road surface along that stretch up to the descent, smooth, quiet, gently uphill….loovely.

Decision time for some at Wisemans – Boolay, Rom, Sam…..being the point of no return for the remaining 120km…..all grabbed the chance and soldiered on manfully, we’ll done guys, what it’s all about. We bid farewell to our brethren on limited leave passes as they turned to head back up the hill towards home, nice one guys.

Our social media tarts set to work with photos of the ferry….the ferryman (who wasn’t paid)….Nicho flirted with near disaster as he climbed aboard…..thankfully all well.

The next 40km skirting the northern edge of the river met expectations in being rough as guts. Another testament here to the ER brother and sisterhood…..calls left, right and centre by all, down the line clear and crisp meant not a puncture, broken spoke or busted rim to be reported. Great work all.

Thence Mangrove Mountain, Magoo spruiking Finchie, Rob CD as the three set off apace…..soon to be joined by Nicko, too big, too strong, great ride all, onwards to the Peats Ridge regathering through a few undulations but noted as not being Drastique Undulations (now a defined term in ER folklore).

Mercury starting to rise and cramps starting to hit a few….best to find out now guys, well done working through them and getting home notwithstanding. Here starteth a string of guidance re what to do about them…..

Three groups formed across the remaining 60km back home….brief stop at PITS for a refill, onwards for some direct home, some via Bobbo for a brief regathering at the North Turra Caff.

Strava suggests a morning of excel for everyone, PRs scattered with gay, ok reckless, abandon….the PRs you won’t read about are the longest ride at highest ave, longest highest ave heart rate etc etc.

Kudos to all, many thanks for a great day out. Suspect this may be a permanent fixture in the Spring Classic calendar.

Mark / Satnav

Around Kosciuszko In A Day

MOVING TIME: 15hr 10min
AVG SPEED: 21km/h
ELEVATION: ~6,800m

The alarm goes off at 1:20am, but I am already awake, trying to decipher what kind of illicit substances I must have digested when I agreed to spend the weekend with 3 Ultra Marathon Runners. Ultra Runners carry a reputation for being some of the fittest and most determined people on the planet and I had agreed to attempt the “Around The K in a Day” loop with them. But so had Flash. I guess at least we had each other…

After eating as many weet-bix as I could and making a final call on clothing (given moderate temperatures outside), Flash, Norman and I set off down the steps of the Dulmison Lodge. With my Ay-Up lights on my helmet, I acted as the spotter for a wide array of wild animals on the road down to Jindabyne. Skippy, Bambi, The Fantastic Mr Fox, Bugs Bunny and Wally the Wombat were all out in force, threatening to make a mad dash across the road in front of us. In some cases the threats turned into action, followed by hurried squeals of “WOMBAT LEFT” or “ROO UP” and the rather urgent application of brakes.  

After some quick abuse from the camp site near Lake Jindabyne, we commenced the relatively short climb out of Jindy (in the dark you can’t see how steep the road is). Not long after, we pulled into Berridale, discussed the cricket with the spiders in the toilets and refilled water. Still dark, we slung a left hand turn and headed out towards Lake Eucumbene and Adaminaby (renamed “Admin’s Bilby”). The sun rising over the hills behind us was marvelous – orange, pink and red filled the skies, grazing livestock were scattered across the fields and a rainbow glistened ahead.

Pulling into a service station at Adaminaby, we were serviced by a very bored looking man behind the counter. I broke the tap outside, which he then fixed. Then Norman broke the tap again. After consuming some food and speculating that perhaps if he was bored he could clean the feral bathrooms, we left the land of the Giant Trout. As soon as we rode over the crest we were hit with the first headwind of the day. Progress slowed somewhat, but this gave us greater opportunity to revel in our surroundings. I only wish I could better describe the look on the faces of cows as we rode past – jumping bolt upright, still with grass out the side of their mouths, staring at us in complete and utter (udder?) disbelief. Then a younger one would make a run for it – triggering the whole heard to make a run for it. Luckily never in our direction.

After another left turn (how exciting!), we started to pick up more speed, entering the National Park en route to Cabramurra (renamed “Cabramatta-Turramurra”). The lines on the road turned orange and the gradient started to climb. Overhead the clouds started to get thicker and a mist appeared in the distance. We were in Alpine territory now – minimal signs of wildlife, grassy terrain lacking trees and cobblestone creeks and clear as you could imagine. And then came the rain. Damp and cold, we rolled into Cabramurra, leaving little puddles under the table in the Snowy Hydro Museum / General Store. Flash and I were slamming down pies while Norman was testing the patience of the clerk, pacing around (to keep warm) looking like she was about to rob the joint. We left to the gentle calming words of “it’s all downhill to Khancoban from here”…

WELL THAT WAS A LIE. It’s downhill to Tumut Pond Reservoir and then VERY UPHILL for a good distance. Not wanting to believe the hill could possibly be that big, I attacked the first section, turning the corner to find a whole lot more uphill. Yellow signs with little cars driving up triangles uphill. After what seemed like forever, we rolled over the top to find PD, Mrs Flash and the car. DRY RAPHA MERINO SOCKS FOR ME! A quick refuel and we continued down to Khancoban. My spirits were lifted (my anger at the lies had turned into despair given the fatigue in my legs) when we came across three wild horses (Mum and two foals) who ran alongside us before crossing not 20m in front of us. Amazing. This point in the ride also signified the commencement of the Marsh Fly attack. Not as bad as we had expected, but their bites are seriously not amazing.

Marcus and Andrew, the other 2 Ultra Crazies, had left Thredbo at 5, keen to chase us down. Norman, keen to not be caught, demanded the Khancoban stop was to be water only. I snuck in some more food, managed to spray Aeroguard in my face and followed her and Flash down the road. At this stage I am seriously getting tired. My knee is really starting to ache. A sharp pain is developing behind my knee, possibly due to my calf and hamstring turning into concrete under my skin. If I can just get to Tom Groggin (the bottom of Dead Horse Gap), I’ll be right. I commenced the second last climb out of Khancoban, knowing that once I hit the lookout, it will flatten out. Alas there are two lookouts, so I spent a good 5km thinking “this HAS to be the last corner” after passing a small stop which overlooks some of the Snowy Hydro infrastructure.

Finally I climb up the final rise to see Flash on the ground, no shoes, with his wife pouring Coke into his mouth. It looked worse than it was (although by this stage he had some pretty bad hot-foot) and after some amazing waffle like biscuits from Laura, we commenced the descent and the “undulations” together. I had in my head they were like Bobbin Heads – not as bad but certainly not flat! We rolled into Tom Groggin, where we were caught by the two boys. Norman was nowhere to be seen, which had them on their bikes and off again in a vain attempt to catch her. Ipod in ear Chippo style, I commenced up the final hill. Dead Horse Gap is over 15km and 1000+ vertical meters and we already had 300km in our legs. I’m tired, I’m hurting – in fact, I want to cut my right leg off. I’m mentally drained, but I came this far and I’m not going to quit.

I made Leather Barrel creek. Then I made the Orange Snow poles (and gave one a high five). PD flies past in the car telling me I have about 1.5km’s to the top. I’m dancing out of the saddle, with Flash just up ahead. FINALLY the clearing appears and WE ARE UP. After a quick high five, we fly down the hill to Thredbo, only stopping to give an Echidna right of way.

What a day. It hurt like hell and I loved it.

Highland Fling – on a tandem!

Firstly, congratulations Norman. Unbelievable that you can beat all but one of the blokes in that international field. We’re in awe. [She was second in the above link if you’re reading this and you’ve no idea who Norman is].
I’m still on a high from our Highland Fling yesterday.  It was brilliant.
Saturday night was very pleasant – dinner with the ER crew then chatting at the campsite and checking on the weather forecast. 8-12 degrees with a 90% chance of 10-20 mm rain.
Thanks to Admin for organising everyone so well, such that all ER’s were camped together – it made a big difference.
Woken at 5:30 am to the sound of bagpipes – I haven’t heard Amazing Grace on the bagpipes before.
Blue and I were taking the easier option of the Half Fling – only 59 km whereas the others were all doing the Full Fling 110 km and were off an hour before us.
The weather forecast was correct – miserable conditions.

We went over to the start to see the others off but with about 2000 riders  and the mud and blood jerseys hidden under rain jackets we couldn’t pick anyone out.
We set off near the back of the last start as we assumed we would be among the slowest.
This would be our second ever mountain bike ride on the tandem, having done the Terrey Hills perimeter track and St Ives sniggle once, as practice.

We soon came to one of many creek crossings – mostly about knee deep.
Blue carried the tandem across and I asked for creek service but my request was ignored. We passed PD who was waiting for his friend at the top of the first hill.
The riding was lovely – open trails, attractive forest, the odd patches of loose sand. When the track narrowed I couldn’t see what was coming up as my view was completely obscured.
Sometimes we would launch down slopes that I had no idea were coming which was a bit scary.
Blue had strict instructions to call out the bumps as I can’t see them and the bike has no suspension – he was pretty good.
Several times riders immediately in front of us would stop dead unexpectedly and Blue did well to avoid them.
(Blue: It’s just as well Pink couldn’t see some of the drops and obstacles we took on, they get quite technical when one has to get 2 sets of pedals past the rocks)

We were somewhat surprised that we kept overtaking riders, even uphill.
The atmosphere was fantastic. There was even live entertainment along the way.
A band singing beautifully in harmony, then bongo players at the top of a very zigzaggy tight hill that we managed to ride all the way up.
Towards the end a choir at the top of a hill under a gazebo complete with conductor – As we rode past they made up a verse of the song about a tandem
We joined in briefly, then got out of hearing range, dropping down a steep narrow rocky section that was very challenging for us.

We got heaps of encouraging comments from other riders all the way through which was great – even from the fast Full Flingers.
The food at the transition was very welcome – fruit buns and bananas.
I hope we didn’t have more than our share because Wilson said there was none left when he got to this transition on the way back – I think people eat more when they’re cold and wet.
After a civilised 25 minute break we headed onto the harder section of the course.

The brakes started to make some funny noises – noises that we’d never heard them make before so we pulled over for some brake fettling.
Then like a hurricane the first group of the elite riders came flying past. They were amazing.
From here on we had to be on the lookout for fast riders from behind, so we could move out of their way.
Blue had a cocaine bar and it gave him a second wind. Every time there was a steep incline to walk up he would grab the tandem and run up passing lots of slow riders. I’d try and run up after him.

Other riders kept saying to us I don’t know how you’ll get through the technical sections.
There were two problems really – some of the turns were too tight for the tandem and there were lots of rocks that we didn’t have the clearance for.
Still we tried everything that looked doable and had to walk lots that were too hard.
I think we only hit the chain wheel badly once and Blue only slammed me into a tree once on a very tight corner.

Then Bambam came flying past and called out to us. It was great to see him.
When we crossed the line I forgot to look at the clock so we didn’t know what time we’d done but we didn’t care.
Our aim was to finish and we’d done that so we were stoked. Thanks Clutters – it was everything you said it would be and more.
The race caller interviewed us as we crossed the line as we were the first tandem to finish. Unfortunately the only other tandem broke the rear triangle so didn’t finish.

We certainly did it the easy way – I take my hat off to those who do the Full Fling and even the 160 km.

Pink Stratos

B1’s 2013 Sydney to the Gong Ride Report

This years ride was going to be pretty special, not for me so much as the two younger riders I would be taking with me.

It would be Grant’s first attempt and Keith’s second, although his first solo attempt. I rode with Keith last year on a Tandem.

Plan A was that we would catch a train to Sydney Park, St Peters and ride from there. But as the big day approached it became apparent both boys could ride from our home in Wahroonga (Plan B). So final details were put in place. We rose at 3:45 (1/2 and hour before we went to bed) and left home at 4:20.

There was a rendezvous at the top of our street with several of the Easy Riders we would spend the day with. From there, a quick descent to Gordon where some 50 or 60 Easy Riders would assemble for the run into the City and on to St Peters.

Knowing Keith would be a bit slower on the way into town, I elected to leave a bit ahead of time. Ravi accompanied us to Observatory Hill where we had enough time for a quick bite and a wee before a throng of Easy Riders swept us up and through the City. We made it uneventfully to Sydney Park.

There was a slight pause while we looked for a baby to kiss (why do we have to do that?) and we were off. About 5:50 am. The ride officially starts at 6:00, but if you get off a bit earlier, there is far less bike traffic and that makes it safer, an important consideration for me managing Keith and Grant. It was clear on the ride down the Pacific Hwy that Grant just wanted to Go. I constantly told him to ease up and ride a “Keith” pace. He was not impressed. At St Peters, I told Grant to find a good Egg and Tomato Jersey (Easy Rider) to follow and ring me if he stopped for anything. That was the last I saw of him. Pshooom!

He did ring at 8:35 to say he had finished and where was I? So, he’d ridden most of the 83 km with Dragon in 2hrs 45 min. An average of 31.2 kph. Thanks for looking after him Dragon! He said it was a bit slow at times, but generally a good pace. Grant, Magoo says that if you find the pace a bit slow to get out and lead for a while. The others will just follow.

Keith and I on the other had a more leisurely roll down. We lost sight of most Easy Riders along Botany Bay. Keith chased for a few km, but realised the pace was too high. There was a period where we saw no bikes until the official Police motorcade passed us, accompanied by a fast group of Sylvania BMW riders. Keith, who had reverted to dawdling hit the gas and joined in. It was nearly 5 km before we fell off the back of that train, averaging over 35 kph. One rider passing exclaimed, “Gosh, its only a kid.”.

We settled into a good rhythm chasing some riders and allowing faster ones to get away. Stopping South of Waterfall, we met Blue and Pink Stratos (The Strati), Shorty, and Jenna’s Sister. We demolished some tasty muffins and fed Keith his first Gu, go food for cyclists.

The Strati got away two minutes in front of us. Keith chased, standing and attacking for over 10 minutes. We passed everything in sight and finally the Strati. They eventually passed us again. We passed this guy who looked like, I dunno, a praying mantis spinning a web. I got to chat with him for a bit. He’s a 7 footer. His seat post was at my eye level. Legs looked like extensions you would take off before going to bed.

More undulations ensued and we made it to Waterfall and the descent into the Royal National Park. Here we had another break and more food. Keith’s cramps were becoming serious now, so a massage was given. I had been more nervous about the Waterfall descent that any other part of the ride. Cycle traffic can be thick and hazardous depending on the experience level of the riders around you at the time. This year, the Police Motor Cyclists were riding interspersed with the cyclists, rather than leading large groups. This lead to a more uniform outcome and no speedsters cutting around people.

With the descent out of the way came the climb. Keith ordered another Gu. No sooner had he eaten the Gu, he was up and attacking the hill and everyone on it. I provided guidance from behind, calling “wait up” on the blind corners and “go” on the straights. I don’t know if more than 6 people passed us on the way up. We passed 100s. Just as Keith was flagging and sitting for a break, the top came into sight, so he was off and attacking again. 200m sprint to the top. We made it phew!

At Stanwell Tops we did another water and food stop and took in the view. More massages for cramps. The second big descent was also uneventful. Sea Cliff Bridge is always a great treat. Torn between marveling at Engineering on the one hand and the views up the cliffs and out to sea on the other. We got into a rhythm climbing undulations and zooming down the other side when Keith noticed he had a flat. That provided a welcome 10 min break about a half hour before the finish.

Keith had just about had enough when we heard it was just 3 km to the finish. Can you make it that far, I asked? Oh, maybe says Keith. In the end we made it easily. At the Finish there were drinks and people clapping. We made our way to the Westpac Tent to enjoy an Egg and Bacon Roll, Cokes, cakes, Fruit,.. It was just marvelous. Thank-you Westpac.

We also found Grant who had been waiting for us for over an hour. Most of the Easy Riders had turned around and started the ride back to the Green Gate in Killara, for lunch, of course. We Perry’s caught the Train back and made it into the Green Gate in time to join in some of the festivities and take on some yeasty restoratives. The boys had squash.


ATB – Dopey Style

We had 3 ER’s in a mixed bag group of 7 from my Bobbo Sunday ride group. Me, Lunchie and David Wright. Most had never done more than 100kms and certainly were not fit so my mandate was to help them at least get around the course or to the nearest railway station if needed.

We rolled out just after I said farewell to Magoo’s group (& Jamie thanks for the frozen Cocain bar – yum) and got overtaken in the dark by a chirpy Chipo going up Westgate bridge. I’m sure he had his sandals on. Descending the other side one got a puncture in a very dangerous spot – concrete barrier on left, we took up 1/4 of the only lane for riding & they were coming in masses down the hill in the dark doing 30-40. David took my flashing front light & was shooing them away but I could hear him saying F…off now and then to those determined to ride over the top of us.

We built up a good train but the ones ahead were often too slow & trains too long & you had to venture into the next lane with cars to get past. Then another puncture – David. We took the opportunity to pee over the barbed wire fence until we realised it was Werribee zoo & feared for our manhood. Off again and we passed at speed Boyce & someone with a puncture and then into Geelong where we met Greg Starr with his bike in the workshop. I tried to get him to join us but he insisted we carry on. Just out of there we were heading for a roundabout and the event officials decided to shift the 250km sign back 100m so people can see it. Trouble is they turned it sideways as they carried it and whilst we knew to turn left I suspect Greg was just behind and went straight ahead for the 210km (use this excuse Greg!).

Just around the corner David got his third flat & then we undulated along to Portarlington where one of our group was struggling so we stopped for 2nd breakfast – elevensies (hobbit style), bacon egg sandwich & coffee in a beach front cafe. I eyed off the Galliano but refrained. The scenery along there was beautiful with wheat fields (forgive me BT) and vineyards rolling into the sea.

We then formed a medic train & towed our friend 50kms to Queenscliff for the ferry. There at 11.45am but ferry problems so on the 2pm ferry. Ugggh. We had lunch & then I went for a joy ride around Queenscliff beautiful town & buildings in every street – then I got a call saying come back quickly as ferry now leaving early. Almost got back & they then rode out to me saying the ferry has now been put back again. We found a coffee shop and all ordered milk shakes etc then got a call saying ferry leaving now so put the drinks in our bidon cages & just got onto the 1.30pm ferry.

This is where some low life stole my new red gloves. My 8th dan thai boxing mate was going to check all of them on the ferry & if we had of found them..well I hate to think. Anyway fortunately that low life must have somehow put the gloves back in my helmet after I put it on which is where I found them 100kms later at the finish line :-).

We actually had a good train moving all the way back to Melbourne and like Magoo didn’t know that we’d already rolled over Mount Martha and we were still looking for it. Saw ER Marc Walker along the way as well. As we passed through Frankston where I was born I saw O’Grady avenue which is where I was brought up and we all let out a cheer. I left home at age 5 and moved North to Sydney where my folks joined me.  

After Frankston 2 friends began to struggle as we punched into the wind so we had a few stops before rolling over the finish line and having a few celebratory beers.

My wife also rode and did the 100km Sorrento to Melbourne ride and had worse headwinds than us so big kudos to her. She has discovered the joys of hotfoot, numb butt and sore shoulders and was glad to hear it is not just her.

The great joy was we all worked together as a team and everyone made it well beyond their limits so overall mission accomplished. Man those beers tasted good.

It was also lovely the amount of people who passed by & saw our egg n tomato colours and would say ‘hey – go easy riders’, so we have a good reputation out there.

regards, Dopey

Around the Bay 250

A lot of people had a lot of different experiences on the Around the Bay day, so I’d like to think I am starting a collaborative ride report, with certain amendments and gaps to be filled in by others. Here is my recount.

After deciding to avoid the clutter of the official starting gates, the ER peloton of Magoo, Goaders, Jenn, Alex, Boycey, Jamie, Greg and Michael set off from outside our apartments (1km from the start) at 5:30, full of the energy and excitement of small Christian children on Christmas day! … only to seemingly get every red light on the way out of the city. We had established a few ground rules – nobody should be left alone and some groups may naturally form along the way. Turns out the risk of groups “naturally forming” was rather immediate as Goaders powered off from the word go, driving a solid pace. He and I flew up the West Gate bridge, with the likes of Jenn chasing (with a heart rate of 196).

We formed a peloton for the highway dash down towards Geelong. Holding a nice average of around 40, with spurts of 45. We avoided catastrophe twice when we found two solid metal gates thrown across the road shoulder. They did claim victims, but luckily none of us. We were claimed by confusing signage however – Goaders took an exit (which turned out to be a dead end street), and a good 100 other people with us. Lesson here – don’t follow Sydneysiders while in Melbourne!

Chippo and his bunch flew past us down this stretch too. I jumped on to their bunch and started telling his mate all his dirty secrets. Not to be outdone, Goaders led the ER’s past the bunch, at what must have been 45-odd. This wasn’t set to last long – they put the foot down and dropped us. Goaders, Jenn and I thought we could reel them back in – but then I heard the all so familiar sound of the air escaping my front tire.

I was out – thanks to Jamie, Michael and Alex who stopped to help. We were on our way again. Out of nowhere Andy H appeared and joined us for the run into Geelong. I was a little upset I’d lost 10mins on Goaders and Jenn (and later learnt that Greg and Boycey had also had a mechanical) and was pretty determined to chase them down. We continued on, grabbing on to groups, only to find them to be too slow and moving forward again. Outside of Geelong we came across a large bunch doing ~28. I was pretty tired, so figured it made sense to stay with them, but needed to get their speed up. Nothing like a small blonde girl holding 35 on the front for 10mins to inspire 20-odd blokes to up the pace for the ride into Geelong.

We were split in and around the next rest stop. Again, Andy and I forged ahead, occasionally finding riders, working out quickly they were either too slow or not super willing to work with us. We started the fight against the undulations going into Portalington and then I spotted THEM. Two black and red jerseys in the distance. Already much more fatigued than I ever planned to be at that point I put the foot down and flew up and past Goaders and Jenn – quickly abusing them and then dropping in behind for a well-earned rest. Thanks Andy and Goaders for dragging us to the Ferry – I was pretty dead at this point.

A pumpkin and lettuce sandwich has never tasted so good. I threw that down, as well as a few bottles of Powerade and we boarded the SS Bike Porn (or the Queenscliff to Sorrento Ferry). All in all the rest stop was probably about 50-60mins, including the ferry ride. It was pretty overcast, but still quite warm. I might mention now that my plan was to sit in behind people (ER or not) for 90% of the ride, doing my bit on the front where required but generally pacing myself. Since the flat and having to make the catch, I was a lot more fatigued than I had planned to be. Little did I know, that was only going to get worse.

Getting off the ferry, we set off back up the coast. After about 10mins, Goaders, Andy and Jenn pulled off for a bathroom stop and somehow Michael and I lost Alex and Jamie behind us. Michael and I forged on into the “hilly” country. We had one nice group of 3 guys that worked well with us for a while, but most of the run between the ferry and Mt Martha was very lonely. Everyone we passed sucked our wheels until they fell off. It must have looked pretty funny seeing me dragging a line of 10-15 blokes along the seaside. The headwind at this stage was starting to get a bit serious, so it was pretty hard work.

I have to laugh at Mt Martha. It’s not even 1/3 of Bobbo, but people were walking up or slowly grinding up in their smallest gears. I think this is where Andy H caught us again, but we sailed past 50-odd riders in our big chain rings. The top looked like a rest stop – it wasn’t, it was just full of strugglers.

Andy, Michael and I continued down to Frankston, where we stopped for water and food. Typical Melbourne weather, there was a bit of rain about now. We set off down the Nepean Hwy in a horrible, horrible headwind. I’m really hurting now, but still need to help out Andy on the front. Same deal as always, we find groups, but they turn out to be too slow, so we shoot off again in search of the illusive large peloton doing 35. The Nepean Hwy turns into Beach Rd. Suddenly I find myself in a predicament – Andy is moving ahead, Michael is dropping off behind and I need to make a decision – I followed Andy.

At this stage my back hurts, my butt hurts, I’m developing hot foot, I had it in my mind for a while my toenails had come off, I’m going through all sorts of emotions. Andy managed to get with a small group – I kept falling off and getting back on again. The side of the road looked like a war zone, with people lying all over the place, some crying, some with their legs in the air. We passed the final rest stop (which again, looked like a battlefield medical area, except without the blood), determined to finish.

This was the longest 20km of my life. I’m in serious pain from all the work up to now. Andy is desperately hoping his calves don’t cramp. The wind lands punch after punch into our chests as we pass hundreds of riders on the last stretch (many of the 210 and 100 riders). The city skyline appears. Finally we start doing hook turns to get into the city. We randomly run into Greg who missed the 250km turn off and was finishing off the 210km ride. I’m so desperate to finish – I’m out of my seat for the run down City Rd and I sprint across the line at the end, almost taking out a Bupa girl handing out medals. I pull up, get off my bike and come close to passing out as we wait for the others.

It was done.

FANTASTIC EFFORT by all. Many comments to me and others about how “Easy Riders” don’t exactly take it easy!


Newcastle Ride Report

Six ER’s – Goaders, Greg, Admin, Michael, Big Phil and myself – set off from the Railway bridge in Wahroonga (note to self, not the overpass near Abbotsleigh) at 5am for what was to be certainly the most epic ride I have ever done.

Stock standard ride up to the Pie in the Sky – which wasn’t yet open. There was a very lovely chocolate brown “guard” dog waiting for us near the entrance, begging us not to leave with big puppy dog eyes. Alas on a Goaders schedule, we continued onwards past the Glue Factory (doesn’t smell as good on Saturdays), past some magnificent black and yellow cockatoos (which almost caused Goaders to come off his bike) and down into Gosford. Stunning morning on the coast, pity about the yobbos in commodores who gave us the odd beeping. Having done 80% of the climbing getting to Gosford, it was a cruise along to The Entrance. We sat down to a massive breakfast only to run into one G. Boycey! Earning points taking his lovely wife away for their wedding anniversary.

The Central Coast Hwy, the long flat bit up to where we met the Pacific Highway, was awful. Rather dry and windy, rough surfaced, lots of sticks and with a small crappy shoulder that had us in single file (again copping it from Coasties). I was very relieved when at the end, Greg turned to me and said that part was easily the worst bit of the ride. Turns out it wasn’t but I was happy at the time! We did the rolling group thing (which was effective to a point) down into Swansea , enjoying blue smurf frozen ice things (half frozen sugar water basically). Taking Wilsons directions, we hopped on the Fernleigh bike path (an old railway line) all the way to Adamstown, which INCLUDED A TRAIN TUNNEL AND A STATION! I was very excited. So was everyone else when we realised were we going uphill for ages – it very suddenly got a lot easier!

Lunch at Newcastle was grand. We lost Admin and Phil to the lure of the train (and their families). Seagulls circled looking for every opportunity to attack Goaders. We all ate HUGE amounts of food – Mr Goad ordering a steak with potatoes and salad and then an extra family sized wedges. The sweet potato chips from the burger place next door to the Brewery are awesome, FYI.

Back on the bikes, the real fight against the wind began. Even on the bike path we copped it. On the highway back up to Swansea was even worse. If it wasn’t fully in my face, it was hitting me from the side and throwing me off path. Even drinking plenty of water, head started to ache at Swansea (where I switched to Powerade).

Gosford. FINALLY. After taking some random way through West Gosford industrial estate (full of meth labs no doubt). Everyone was hurting. Except for Greg, who looked full of the joys of spring when his brother turned up in his car. That said, EPIC ride sir. To get that far is an amazing effort given you had only ever done 100km once or twice before. Eating more food and drinking more sugar water, we gazed up at the lights at the top of the next climb. Getting 80% of the climbing done in the first section is great, except when you do the return…

I had a false injection of energy at Gosford, probably from excitement of being close to home (since when is Gosford close to home…). The climb up was pretty cruisy. The next climb, from the creek up, felt like it went on for 10km. Finally down the other side and across the Peats Ferry Bridge, only for Goaders to stop, take his shoes off and start scratching around like a giant chicken. Michael was stone silent and I was in stitches! It felt like we were dragging cement up the final climb. My ass was so sore I was out of my seat for a lot of it. We are all also going slightly mad at this time.

FINALLY we get to Asquith. Can’t possibly go further without sustenance, so we share a romantic Coke between the 3 of us. After finding out Hawthorn and the Roosters won, we set off again for home. I walked in the door, took off my shoes and knicks and lay on the floor for a good 20mins. I don’t think I have ever been that shattered and I’ve done some pretty crazy things.

Great riding all of you. Even those who made It to Newcastle – 160km is a massive effort!

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.

Mont Ventoux Ride Report

Mes Amis de les Coureurs Facile –

Mont Ventoux, “le Geant de Provence”, otherwise known as every cyclist’s worst nightmare. Almost 2000m altitude but starting at a couple of hundred metres, making it one of the longest climbs in European cycling. Added to that a nasty 7.5% average for the last 16 kms and we knew that we were in for a treat.

The day started well, or really the night before. Dr Nige arrived in Cavaillon in the afternoon closely followed by Turnip in his astonishingly ugly Nissan. The arrangement was to have dinner with the Captain’s entourage in L’Isle sur la Sorgue the evening before for full rider briefing and isotonic and carb loading in advance of the assault on the MV. Wilson had done a great job checking us into “Le Bouchon” restaurant. Introductions made. The Captain arrived not merely fashionably late, but with “parisien panache” at some 2 hours after the peloton had polished off a three course nosh up with all the trimmings and deux bouteilles de rose … well if Johnny Hallyday can pull it off so can the Captain.

The day itself started early pour moi and the Cavaillon posse. 43 kms to the foot of the Ventoux meant a savage 5.45am reveillon. I thought i could hear Madame Demi say a “bonne chance ma Cherie” as I tiptoed out the door, but I suspect it was a “get out the feckin door you ijit and don’t wake me at this hour ever again on holiday …”.

Quick sprint to the rallying point via Maubec to L’Isle sur la Sorgue to pick up Wilson and then through the back roads to Bedoin. Interesting accordion tactics noted in the peloton, Wilson pulling hard on the front, three donkeys on the back wondering just how much time it would take before Wilson turned round to see three specs at the rear ambling along 10kms slower enjoying the dappled early morning sun … glorious ride nonetheless got us to the village to greet WBA installed at the Town Hall ready for … erm coffee, buns, croissants etc, shopping. anything it seemed but a ride.

On the stroke of 9am a bugle sounded, the crowd stood still, a haze of yellow and red lycra in the distance and the unmistakable sight of the Captain, Aussie flag billowing, leading out a flotilla of the north shore’s finest thru the streets of Bedoin. “what are you all looking at?” he addressed the crowd. “It’s Jeff Thomson” someone ventured. Close, but no cigar. However at least they had not mistaken the Australian flag for some rag from far flung colony of the Mother Island…

With the encouragement of knowing we were being led by the fastest larrikin bowler the world has ever known, we set off at a gallop – well a trot to conquer the Ventoux. Captain knew it was a good day early doors when he spotted someone spraying a name on the road in front of the ER peloton. “C, A, P … ” he ventured. “C R A P” i think was more what the erstwhile street artist had in mind. The Captain, encouraged, asked “are we there yet?”. Not quite it seemed.

Slowly the vineyards gave way to some gentle slopes and then some less gentle ones. and then cruising through an otherwise unassuming village, the road turned rudely to the left and into a 10% ramp as if to say “show time”.

Pretty soon the riders as opposed to the Easy Riders disappeared into the throng. Matt, Simba and Wilson haring up the slopes with points to prove. “,and what about the Captain?” I muttered to myself … but any idea that we would cruise along with the Dear Leader and his drapeau encircled by ER domestiques quickly disappeared. Probably just as well. The Ventoux is just endless and everyone needs to and indeed does take it at their own pace and in their own time – which means about 2 hours or so for mere mortals – or 45 minutes for crack addled ones.

Once at the top, most of the ERs managed to find themselves an uncomfortable spot on the shingle over the final 500m flag. Well done Drastic who correctly called Danny the B as the ER with the camera in the photo circulated by the Captain’s media people. The other ERs were on the fence just out of shot looking for indispensable items from the Caravan such as ‘early booking discounts with Ibis Hotels”, small sachets of washing powder and keyrings from the Police Nationale. Rumour has it that there was also a race going. To absolutely no one’s surprise Froome sauntered up about 4 hours before everyone else, made some grimaces as if it weelly, weelly, hurt and then raised his arms aloft -and smiled that faint smile of his that says “yes, i weelly did it all on my ownsy”.

ERs on Ventoux

From left to right is Wilson and Matt (with their recently scavenged Carrefour Caps from the freebies caravans) and Simba in the back to front LCL cap

The post-race descent down to the village was more enthralling it has to be said. weaving past spectators making their way down at 3 kph, police motor bikes at 60 kphs and a flotilla of camping cars stuffed with beery Belgians made for a unnerving/thrilling experience (delete as appropriate).

A quick beer in the village to fire the Captain up and off we headed for the return trip via Carpentras where the Captain’s Directeur Sportif was waiting in camping car with chilled Bollinger ’98. To all our astonishment the peloton was led out at some 45 kph for the next 10 kms by the Captain. Clearly the bidon he had grabbed from a Cofidis rider contained something the same magic potion that propelled Froome to victory and Asterix to vanquish the Romans. No one mentioned that the Mistral was blowing on our backs at about 1000 kph which meant big smiles at the end of the trip to deposit the Captain’s entourage. Our secret isn’t it?

The rest is a blur of heat and haze, a sun-drenched romp through the back roads of the Vaucluse, and until eventually we reached the tour village, I mean the in-laws at about 8.30pm. given a 5.45 start it was one hell of a long day – 135 km round trip with 2000 climbing in the middle. Big shout outs to the Captain for leading the way and providing entertainment for the the rest of us – to Matt and Simba for reminding us old buggers that we are as, yes, old. Wilson, WBA, Danny, Dr Nige for excellent company. But the real hero of the day was Dave Turnip. What an example. Smashed hip. Recent operation. No fitness to speak of. Doctor says “no” to riding to the North Turra shops and back, and here is on a massive ride – and quite hairy in it own way. smile as wide as the Tasman Sea – and leading the peloton back down the road at the end of a massive day in fine fettle at 30+ kph. David – well done mate. As my the great Magoo would put it, “Legend”.

happy days

a bientot