Monthly Archives: November 2013

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

Rapha Gentlemen’s Ride Report: Part 1

Catholic mystic,  Pierre Teilhard de Chardin said, We are not human beings having a spiritual experiencewe are spiritual beings having a human experience.” If you ascribe to that tenet, then everything you do, say, or experience is an opportunity to reach out and grab hold of that grand idea. That’s why we, dream, that’s why we strive, and that’s why we “just do shit” (Source: DT).

So when I mistakenly showed up cc’d on an email entitled “Rapha Gentlemen’s Race,” I thought “just keep your head down Bullet, pay your dough, and by the time they wake up, it’ll be too late.” Perhaps I was being too hard on myself; I was, after all eminently qualified to live in the company of the Raphaelite:

  • I could grow a foxy George Clooney
  • I rode an Italian Steel mistress
  • I could do sultry, yet mildly disdainful looks to camera
  • I’d been on the tele, so knew my good side
  • I was just as big a knob as any of them.

It was to be a spritely jaunt (location to TBA) filled with “’triffing, whizzing, and lashes of Ginger Beer – a real top notch gadabout”. I hadn’t been this excited since I saw Melinda Robson’s mum getting changed through a crack in the door (cue Simon and Garfunkel…”Here’s to you Mrs Rob(in)son…..”), but that’s another story for another time.

Back to the task at hand……the Rapha Gentlemen’s Race is an annual ride that is held at undisclosed locations – to keep it mysterious and dripping in cache, you are invited to “apply” to compete – to keep it mysterious and dripping in cache; teams being made up of 6 riders, with one team member having to be female – to keep it mysterious and dripping in cache. I promoted my credentials as the rider most suited to this role ie Bullet (La), but Magoo would have none of it – even though we agreed that her George Clooney could potentially outgrow mine. It turned out that Magoo, as CFO (Chief Fashion Officer), held disproportionate sway, so I was in!

The team presented: 

  • Magoo – she of the sleek Merckx (think about it) and faultless fashion sense
  • Fore – he of the firm buttock and desirable wheel (just ask Magoo)
  • Schleck – he of the inspirational leadership, firm but fair, harsh with a hint of “hello sailor”; I’d tumble over a mound if he shouted “CHARGE!” I can tell you.
  • Nicko – skinless, boneless, the poster boy of Heroin Chic and team Greyhound. “I see rabbits” was his menacing mantra.
  • WBA – he of the subtle yet accurate perception – “Don’t be offended, Bullet…..but I’m glad you’re on this team…..that means I won’t be last.” He was right, damn him.
  • And Bullet (Le) – urbane, calm under pressure, courageous under fire, the rock, the foundation stone.

This’ll be a cinch.

Only thing that I could see as possible obstacle, was the fact that I’d never ridden the distance – 143km and 2800mtrs climbing – a minor details, and that I didn’t actually own any Rapha clobber – a potential deal breaker. The CFO had clearly laid out her vision for the ride – “ER Dress Jersey, Rapha Knick and Natty Rapha Yellow socks.”

Riding in the company of “Rapha Gods/esses” I felt compelled to scale Olympus, liquidate whatever was left of my obliterated asset base, and head off to the House of “R”, 88 Bumcrack Road, Slurrey Hills, to right the obvious wrong. WBA had agreed to accompany me, so off we went.

The House of “R” is a wonderland of cycling chic and all round two-wheeled yumminess. Such a feast of cool stuff had my head spinning, not sure where to start, or where it might end? Enter, Clara, Rapha siren resplendent in on-brand attire and suitably exotic accent. She spoke with silken tone and her words clearly conveyed a subtle yet compelling subtext:

Clara (to Bullet): “Can I help you?”

Translation: “You are a beautiful man, you’d look good in anything and even better in nothing.”

Bullet: “Classic knicks and natty socks, thanks.”

Clara: “Don’t take this the wrong way, but I think you’d be a large.”

Translation: “There is a heat burning in me, a fire that only you can quench”

Bullet: “I’ll take them.”

Clara: “Anything else?”

Translation: “If you take the gilet, myself and 2 of my girlfriends friends will make mad, passionate love to you.”

Bullet: “……….mummy”

Clara: “That’ll be $280, thanks”

Translation: “That’ll be $280, thanks”

Bullet (to WBA): “I think we had a connection”

WBA: “Yeah, to your wallet.”

Thanks to WBA, after a quick complimentary coffee from the proprietor, I escaped Clara seductive clutches with my self-respect and bank balance largely intact. We were attired, caffeinated, tapering and were going to look fabulous. All systems go.

Now go and get yourself a cup of tea before you read the next bit.

Saturday morning broke, as did my wind – a mild nervous disorder, I’m told it has something to do with Gluten…..BT?  Collected by WBA with Schleck riding shotgun and Magoo on board, we peeled northward to the departure point that had been distributed via secret communiqué a couple of days prior. It was to be a Galston kick off, circuit out to Wiseman’s Ferry with a sidetrack thrown in, finishing with a Galston return – 146kms with 2800mtrs of climbing (according to the map – here’s the link ).

A cheeky little spin by anyone’s measure.

The carpark at Montview Oval was awash of whiskers, pastels and Zipps. Notable was the vomit tones of the Attacquer team – I think they were called  “The Porcelain Bus Drivers” or maybe it was just what they were wearing. Needless to say there was plenty of the Branded Merch adorning the morning as rider after rider pursed their lips, scanned the general vicinity, and disapproved.  The George Clooney had been superseded by the Ned Kelly, so I found myself wildly underdressed – but it was too late now.

The might ER’s were prepped and ready, a ripple of excitement laced with a dash of trepidation (I hope Bullet doesn’t blow up in the first 20) and sprinkled on our muesli – the perfect start to what we hoped would be an epic day. The weather was cool and overcast, the rain had held off, and it all felt very Fitzroy.

Nicko muttered “I love seeing people with Zipps suffering,” so I knew it was going to be quite a ride.

Quick caffeine hit, trot to the toot to manage the trots, and then we huddled up for the ride briefing. A skinny coot – Mr Pink Tee Fancy Pants – waived a trendy looking clipboard and told us that “everything’s cool. Keep an eye out for the pink (go figure) arrows on the road. Take it easy and let’s have fun,” and began flagging teams at 1 minute intervals.

“Rattling Dags……..go!”

“Sagging Coin Sacks……go!”


“Whiskers for Jesus…….go!”

“Easy Riders……..hey, you guys look great……and man, love that bike……steel is real, baby……go!”


Heady with the delirium of having achieved Fitzroy cred (tick that one off the bucket list), we dived into Galston with the past life screams of “Tora, tora, tora” ringing in our ears. It was a snappy descent made all the more exhilarating by the coolness of the morning air, and having gone from dead stop to breakneck in no time flat…..then we got to the bottom.

To be continued…

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.

OTPe Report Thursday

Well another perfect day for a ride into the office, YHC was up in time to see the sun poke above the horizon and  pedalled into a deliciously 14C clear morning sans Bdoubles on the New Line road.. you have to be out before 6 for that privilege. OTPe combatants mostly MIA just the usual suspects lined up at the loftus kick off.. DtB and a slightly jaded correspondent. No records in mind, PBs and cups all having exactly zero influence today, it was all about enjoyment ( ok no cranking up to the threshold of pain or exerting to the point of hypoxia.. I know some in ER would regard this as the opposite.. no enjoyment without cranking to near death )

Beecroft threw up a couple of choice reds, and a glimpse of the Dulwich Hill mob.. but nice little cruise into the ridiculously designed M2 alternative route. DtB was in form and pushed the pace to arrive at Vimera about 5 minutes early, in time to see Dobbo thrashing over the hill attempting KOM while Lobbster was on the Omnibus.. once en route of course no more silly explosions of power and enthusiasm ( until we reached Scaramanga, and the “safety group” of the ER OTP.. about 5 minutes ahead of their normal time.) OTPe therefore was pedalled with grace and aplomb, in a well aspirated pace sufficient for chit chat..jollity and slow enough for YHC to keep up. Then that all changed .. as mentioned the greyhounds of ER baying for their early coffee seats at B&T sparks flying off their rear derailleurs .. the sight was too much for Dobbo .. he tried to hang back but half way up Scaramanga the temptation overcame him and heezgorn off like a botfly was on his tail.

The OTPe crew proceeded in stately manner along the freeway heading ER greyhounds off at the pass.. acquired Blue Stratos along the way ( I think he caught on as we climbed the Naremburn bridge ).. and managed to arrive at Milsons Point just ahead on the roundabout which can only be described as  perfectly timed.  Not that there is any competiveness or racing on the commute.. official reports will say no accidents, incident, or illegal activity..

SHB was glorious, sometimes you have to wonder why anyone would cross it at a sprint..

Arrivals at B&T sufficiently spread out to ensure no queue beyond about 3 deep and various ER menageries settled in for a well earned and much appreciated coffee.. Bullet was an early departure, along with Phantom heading up to Surrey Hills and that shop..I am sure there will be tears at bedtime when the credit card bill arrives..

Anyhow, Sydney is going to turn on a warm and mostly dry return, make the most of it as apparently we are headed into a heatwave followed by another cool change with rain and storm for the weekend..

Cheers BT


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.