Monthly Archives: March 2014

Rider of the Week – Twinkle Toes

1. Tell us a bit about yourself

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

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


2. What got you into cycling?

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

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

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

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

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

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

4. Tell us about your bikes.

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

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

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

One of the best looking bikes in the ER peloton

One of the best looking bikes in the ER peloton

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

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

6. Tell us a riding story.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Pre GG OTP inbound

YHC was stirred early enough to calculate the chances of rain to be sufficiently low, such that an ageing Mamil could conquer the North Shore , consume a coffee at the Cava , and be at work before the forecast showers were due.

Thus it was a pleasure to behold only 5 others lining up for a saunter along the one true path, a small but tidy peloton of the uber cool ER phenomenon.

Consulting the time gods, for a sign to depart, as BOF is now no longer scheduled at the appointed hour..YHC self selected to be Lantern Rouge, a role of increasing importance in the face of such greatness, let’s face it YHC could not hope to lead off the front anyway. And statesmanlike YHC rolled out to talk of stately things and be regaled of stirring tales of previous cycling derring do ..ok everyone was cycling in the rain and I was not..

The small group meant few if any regroup stops, and this kept the schedule almost to the second, meaning that Roseville and TIndale , and Crow’s Nest offered no respite but as LR and chuffing at a sedate speed( pre race taper for our heroes ) there was no need. Dry roads and favourable lights, few cars and nil conflicts meant the commute was business as usual, no incidents to report, a perfect day for a ride into town.

YHC has a view that rain and wet roads add to risk, not really from a bike perspective , more that the driving public are nearly twice as stupid when windscreen wipers are in use.. I can ride to conditions keeping the bike the right way up, using plenty of extra brakes and all that jazz, keeping bigger gaps, thinking ahead more, but sitting as I was on the bus in the pouring rain and watching cars dice with each other taking advantage of the bigger gaps and generally menacing each other fully ignoring the conditions, it makes me feel a little more vulnerable while in that environment on a bike.

The weekend is at least looking like a good one for a hurl , no doubt there will be a tide of ERs swirling the various national parks, beaches bushes and now swimming pools..

Have a great one all


Rider of the Week – Daffy

1. Tell us a bit about yourself

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

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

2. What got you into cycling?

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

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

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

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

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

4. Tell us about your bikes.

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

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

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

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

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

6. Tell us a riding story.

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

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

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

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

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

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

Audax Ron Gehring Memorial 400

Everyone knows what it feels like when you attempt something challenging for the very first time. There’s the anticipation, excitement and preparation as well as the emotional highs and lows associated with success and failure.

Although this is my first crack at riding 400km, it has been an interesting journey that coincided when I started commuting with the Easy Riders about the middle of 2013. When riding with so many crazy, insane, mad (sorry, I mean passionate, keen, dedicated) cyclists, it’s easy to get a bit carried away by doubling your average km/week.

It’s 4.5km from my place to Gordon Station, the start of the Audax 400 ride last Saturday. The 6am start means waking up at 4:30am for breakfast, equipment check and arrive at Gordon Station at least 15 minutes before the starting time.

On arrival, Malcolm the ride organiser informed me that four people are doing the 400, Bec, Howard and Hugh.

At 6am, the 200 and 300 riders took off but the 400 group was slightly delayed. Howard informed us that as they were unloading their bikes, one of their bikes fell on top of Bec giving her a headache. Being clobbered by a bike is not the ideal way to start a long ride.

The four of us rode together through Bobbo to Mt Colah. It was very foggy and difficult to see clearly as my glasses kept fogging up. The descent into Brooklyn was taken cautiously taking into account the conditions.

On the climb up Mt White, some 6-7 cyclists blew past and Howard and Hugh took off in hot pursuit overtaking them. It’s insane as we’re only about 30km o into our ride and these two guys on bikes carrying everything required on a massive ride dropped a bunch of riders training for the Port Macquarie Ironman event.

The ride from Mt White to the Corrugated Cafe, (Check Point 1, 9:35am, 78km) was pretty good. Along the way, I rode past a young female rider that I thought looked familiar but as I can’t remember where or her name we exchanged greetings on several occasions on passing. As I was waiting for my bacon and egg roll, this young female rider pulled up at the Cafe and Alison told me that we have done an Audax ride a couple of weeks back. She’s out on a training ride through Wiseman.

I was rather surprised when Bec and Howard arrived later at the Cafe, they got their brevet cards signed and rode off. I assumed Hugh must be way ahead of the three of us.

Although I’ve had the Garmin 800 for 3 years, I’m using the navigation for the first time and so far so good. I’ve loaded the wrong file GPX instead of TCX, so no turn by turn and cue sheet capability which is not ideal.

After breakfast, Alison and I rode together until the Wiseman turnoff and I’m back to riding solo all the way to Broke Village. A motorbike rider came off big time at a 25km/hr corner and police and ambulance were in attendance. As I rode past, the line I took going through that same corner on the descent was dreadful.

Although my legs were feeling okay, I was feeling quite uncomfortable due to the pressure on my lower back. Here I was in the middle of nowhere, still a fair way from Broke and feeling distressed. It’s going to be a very long and unpleasant day in the saddle.

Despite the discomfort, the scenery around this part of the Hunter region is truly spectacular with lush green paddocks and grape vines everywhere. Oh, the roads are in pretty good nick too with very few potholes.

Imagine my relief when I arrived at the Broke Village Cafe (CP 2, 1:30pm, 157km) finding Hugh, Bec and Howard still having lunch. My energy food of choice was a steak sandwich with the lot. I’m also glad that at the hottest time of day, we took our time over lunch and chatted. Hugh and i used to do the Saturday morning Renegade Cycles Rides starting from Lane Cove.

Bec and Howard are arguably two of the most experienced Audax riders in the country having completed numerous 1,200km events in Australia and overseas. The trio completed the grueling Sydney to Melbourne 1,200km in November 2013. I felt pretty special riding in such esteemed company.

The four of us rode pretty much together, chatting and enjoying each other’s company all the way to Cessnock. That long lunch allowed my body to make an amazing recovery. My lower back felt great and I felt comfortable on the bike.

Lesson 1

In my haste packing those individually wrapped homemade energy bars into the pouch attached behind the headset for easy access, I didn’t put them inside a zip-lock bag. All that bouncing around inside the pouch turned my energy bars into on sticky gooey mess of almonds, shredded coconut, powdered egg, honey and baking paper. When hungry, you don’t let good tucker go to waste, I ate that gooey mess and spit out the baking paper where possible.

Arriving at Cessnock, (CP 3, 265km 5:30pm) we had fried noodles at a Chinese Takeway. I had beef in black bean with rice noodles. When I felt hungry shortly afterwards, I should have had it with rice instead as refined carbs does not last as long as whole grain. So, I stuck my fingers into that sticky mess for more sustenance.

For those who are wondering whether I took along any energy gels, Yes, I figured that all I’ll need was 6 High 5 gels. I figured that I won’t need any gels for the first 100km and then 2 gels for every 100km. There’s a fine line between carrying too much stuff and not carrying enough.

Before too long, the four of us settled into a workable ride routine. Howard and Hugh are the strongest riders followed by myself and Bec. Bec may not be the fastest rider, but she’s like a diesel engine that just keeps on going all day. After each rest stop, Bec would head off first and the three of us riding at a slightly faster pace would catch up and regroup after each decent climb. I refined it a bit more by heading off shortly after Bec and let Howard and Hugh catch up with Bec and I.

Lesson 2

As we were approaching Wyong, whilst trying to put my Garmin cable into my back pocket, it fell out. By the time I retrieved it, Bec’s flashing light was disappearing over the crest. Off I went in hot pursuit, but by the time I got to the crest, no flashing light. Peddling furiously to the next rise and still no sign of Bec. Howard was riding behind me and he hasn’t caught up either. My Garmin navigation stopped working as well. Having lost touch with Bec, Howard and Hugh, and in a mild state of panic, I followed the signs to Wyong. I waved down a taxi to ask the driver for directions. As a guy got out of his car in the driveway, I asked him for directions as well. Eventually, I rode into Wyong (CP 4, 325km, 10:15pm) stopping at a Pub opposite the train station. The first priority was food. The Pub stopped serving meals at 10pm, so they suggested Macca about 2km down the road.

I left a message on Malcolm’s mobile and he rang back and provided me with Howard’s mobile number. I rang Howard and left a message before riding to Macca for something to eat. Just as I was about to start eating my Angus burger, Howard rang and they were at a Servo Restaurant on the Freeway not far from Wyong enjoying Sheppards Pie and Roast Pork compared to my Macca meal.

We arranged to regroup at the Ourimbah roundabout. Our arrival was within 5 minutes (11:05pm) and it was a huge relief to rejoin the group for the 77km ride back to Gordon. Bec, Howard and Hugh really looked after me making sure that I’m always riding with someone.

According to Audax rules, it’s okay to get lost but you must get back on to the official ride route and cannot miss any climbs. Otherwise, the rider is disqualified.

In hindsight, all I had to do after picking up my cable was wait for Howard and I wouldn’t have had all this drama.

The final 77km from Ourimbah to Gordon involved climbs up Dog Trap, Mooney Mooney, Pie in the Sky and Bobbo. We regrouped at the top of every climb and stopped at Cowan to refill water bottles, eventually arrived back at Gordon Police Station (CP 5, 405km, 4:40am Sunday).

After a quick round of congratulations it was time to ride home for a well earned sleep.

My Garmin showed 409.5km, ride time 18 hours 20 minutes, total time of 22 hours 45 minutes.


I ate 3 soft boiled eggs, cleaned up before going to bed. Got up at 8:30am for breakfast as I woke up starving. Mowed the lawn which was fantastic for getting the lactic out of your system, had lunch with my better half before going back to bed. Commuted to work on Monday feeling great!

OTPe report Tues

Assalamu Alaikum.. ( yes YHC has just made it back from the Sahara Desert .. a little sandy and fragrant of fresh camel )

Getting up before the dawn to test my mettle against the thrills of the OTPe, and the New Line Road wake up adrenalin rush, it was what I like to say “perfect weather for a ride into town”..

Darker than the ace of spades, YHC was concerned that the lights would fail having been dormant for 3 weeks, but as it turned out an ER peloton formed at the Loftus Rd turn off for a very gentlemanly paced trot along the Epping way. Greg was as wheezy as myself so keeping things to a sensible 24km average was not going to be a problem, and as DtB was a DNS, no greyhounds to pace.

A delicious Beecroft decent ended in a dead end at the turn off, some nice person has signposted the path as a pedestrian path, so YHC took the other option only to be stopped by concrete barriers a little further worries climbing to Epping at a conversational 7kph was just as good as sprinting that short section. Once through to Vimera, Simon showed up, (Dobbo a late starter, and TD rampant elsewhere), the OTPe proceeded with vigour and enthusiasm, if only at a snails pace.

3 peaks of Epping were scaled and a small but early peloton of the OTP were spied on Scarramanga Pierro ? and wife a tandem with unattached stoker, making it to town the second best way.

The march over to the SHB via OTPe variant along Amherst St, and thence the freeway took us to the cafe formerly known as B&T for a schedule caffeine hit at 7.30.. The legs beginning to complain but all communications were switched off from around Loftus, luckily the autopilot continued to function.

Have a great day all,


Dora’s 3Ps Report

My alarm goes off, it’s the morning of 3 Peaky
I’m nervous, jumpy, my voice is a little squeaky

If I’m  a website, then I’m ‘
My prep has been scratchy, infrequent, training sessions far too few

I’m feeling a little light headed, out of touch
A quick scan of my roomies reveals much:

Admin is chatty but saying nuthin
DtB is focused, prepared and on the button

Philby is packed and ready with the dispensary
Jenna is calm, centred, relaxed – her mind clear and free

“Oh, God” methinks “if you do exist – help me please”
“You see, I’m having a little trouble with these dodgy knees”

Hmmm, better rely on what I control …
I pack my kit with two Voltaren and two Panadol

Toast, tea, one last nervous poo then down to the start line
The sky looks clear, the day promising to be fine

With hundreds now arriving the adrenaline really starts to pump
The crowd builds, self-sorts into various waves, ready for the jump

The first descent is looooong – lost lights of red & white litter the roadway
I focus on Drastic’s descending tips, look through the line and lean in – don’t sway

It’s cool, I’m shivering, and the 5.2’s new brake pads are not yet properly seated
I finally hit the bottom, shivering violently, all reserves of body heat totally depleted

On the flat, pedalling evenly, it’s time to warm up and decide on the game plan
It’s simple, one milestone at a time, take it very easy and ride as far as I can

So I settle into a careful rhythm, comfortably within my limits I’m Harrietville bound
Along comes a speedy train to which I attach my wagon, my heart starts to pound

Blue is in the same pack but prudently peels off for a comfort stop
At Harrietville I stop for water, Hydralite refill and a Voltaren drop

Now’s it back in the saddle with a singular new objective, make it to Dinner Plains
All good for now, feeling fairly fresh, with minimal knee aches or pains

Tawonga. That’s a hill. Then Mt Hotham. What a climb – a gift that keeps on giving
By the time I get to DP I’m hurting.  I feel more like dying, less like living

Its hot now, and I’ve been in the saddle for 5 hours plus
But I daren’t stop too long, quick feed, wee, bag drop, water, another Voltaren, no fuss

Back in the saddle I feel good again enjoying the undulations and changing scenery
I’ve got a good pattern going, spotting other riders, not chasing but maintaining the distance between them and me

The pain is manageable, speed is poor but maintainable, I’m feeling OK as Omeo approaches.
I bypass the water stop and push on through finding camaraderie with other slow coaches

The long weaving run into Anglers Rest is a blast
Slightly descending with turn upon turn, very fast

I arrive at Anglers and think to myself “Sh#t, I might be able to do this”
I reach for my medicine kit, faceslap “OMG, you’re taking the piss”

I’m out of Voltaren and the others have all worn off now
Grimly I opt for the Panadol determined to plough on somehow

I set off and ride out for the back of Falls thinking ”How bad can this hill be really be, to be fair?”
Turning WTF corner I look up, the hill is the winner, stragglers walking or stopped everywhere

The Panadol is doing nothing, the hill is 9% and my knees are screaming
I’m panicking, decide to a walk a bit, of the finish line I’m no longer dreaming

I’m limping badly, and fella stops “You all right mate”
“Knees buggered” I say, but I swear this guy was sent by Fate

“Have this” he says and passes a tiny bottle titled ‘Medi Rub’ on the outside
“Slap it on all over your knees and you’ll be able to ride”

Well call it a placebo or whatever it was enough to do the trick and pass the test
Just enough that I could get back on, grit my teeth and grind for Angler’s Rest

I struggled in to the checkpoint and stopped, almost fell off my bike – man it hurts
I toddle up the medic station and put my best case forward to the nurse

“What can you give me for pain” I says fluttering my eyelids, full of hope
“Hmm not much” she says “No, nothing, nope”

“I’m half an hour ahead of the Rouge, I reckon I can finish” I say
“Anything will do, just to take the edge off, don’t let it end this way”

“All right, that’s the spirit” she says “I’ll see what I can do”
Rifling through her handbag she finds one Panadol, now two

Elated I scoff them and jump back on my bike determined to get Falls Creek
By now its 10 plus hours on the bike but feeling more like a week

Slowly the forest diminishes as and the trees give way to snowline scrub, the hill flattens out
A small passing shower, the sun reappears making a rainbow “It’s a sign” I hear my inner voice shout

I’m cranking along slowly, not sure if I’m inside time as I pedal round the lakeside home
Another guy passes and answers my inquiry “It’s 7.45 pm” he says checking the screen of his phone

Down into Falls and I see a steward “Almost there” she says, now I can hear the crowd
Round the corner the finish line appears and damned if I’m not proud

12 hours 50 mins on the clock as the sun sets over the hill for the night
There is Stealthy and SatNav, grinning back at me, I must have been a sight

The last one home of thirty ERs time now for a hot shower, a few laughs and a cold beer
For this day I was the winner having conquered three hills, some pain and a little fear

3P reporting

197km, WTF should be around any one of these corners now.

I don’t feel too bad and I am tracking well, I think. I don’t have any schedule taped to my handlebars (I prefer to do things on feel), I only have a vague idea that a sub-9 looks good but I find little confidence in that. To come, was what everybody had been talking about, the only thing some would talk about, the only thing some wouldn’t talk about – the climb up the back of Falls. A 35km climb to finish the Scody 3 Peaks Challenge.

The day, as with all my previous endurance events, had had its fair share of ups and downs and I am not talking about the two previous mountain passes or endless number of undulations in the valleys below.

It started with a WTF of the scary kind.

Heading from the start at Falls Creek down the descent to the base of the first climb, Tawonga Gap, my bike was shaking violently and I was really struggling to stay upright. I had felt cold waiting for the 6h45 start but I didn’t realise just how cold. The wind chill obviously made things worse but I ain’t never had the shakes like that before.

I couldn’t wait for the road to stop it’s never-ending plunge into the depths of the Victorian Alps. The first ascent could not start soon enough where I could get the temperature somewhere above frozen solid!

One advantage to my shaky start was that there were now a lot of carrots ahead and I had to keep in mind that it was a long day and the five or so minutes lost would not make that much difference to the overall.

So, heading up the first climb I immediately started to feel better, I was starting to move up the field too but just as my confidence started to recover, a rider came up behind me, quick! I felt relieved though when I saw he had race number 1 (must be famous) and after a quick chat understood he was tasked with leading the 8hr pace group. Bonus. All I had to do now was hold his wheel for the next 200km or so. Simples!

Up over the top we went together and my descending was back to normal now that I had little warm glow about me. I caught a quartet ahead and we started to work well together, however no.1 had not followed and it was obviously not his day.

Our group got bigger and the pace picked up nicely to above 40km/h as we made our way to the second climb of the day, Mount Hotham.

At the base of the climb, I soon moved off the front with one other guy who was setting a solid pace up the opening shallow slopes of the climb.

I don’t particularly like these shallow climbs and actually prefer it when it gets steeper, so I was happy to just sit on the wheel and get paced up this opening sector.

We caught up with a couple of guys, so we were obviously doing OK although we weren’t breaking any records.

After a little flat section we hit the first of three pinches that pinched up to around 10% plus and I immediately felt better, dropping my group and soloing my way over the top and on to the lunch stop which is just on halfway.

A quick stop to refill the bottles and load up the pockets with a few more tasty treats and I was back on the road. Just one more climb to go, how hard can it be?

I caught a couple of guys and we were working fairly well together now but the temp in the valley was starting to hit the 30’s and I was sucking down the juice a little too rapidly.

With over 20km to go before the next water stop at Angler’s rest, I was running dry and starting to bonk. Fortunately one of the guys in our group had some spare water which saved me from hitting the wall.

Refuelled and ready for the final climb, our group was now only 2 as we left Angler’s and headed to WTF corner where the final climb starts.

Making the turn and looking up the wall ahead, I immediately dropped my companion and settling into my pace. 9km I was told before it flattens out a bit, so time to break this up into 1km sectors with a swig of water to celebrate the passing of each sector.

I was starting to pick up some places now too as others were starting to pedal squares. I was feeling really good but was mindful of the odd twinge here and there and just had to keep the pace controlled and just under cramp-threshold.

A quick refill of the bottle at the final water point before cresting the summit and charging over the final undulations of 10km or so to the finish. By my calculations even a sub-8hr might now be on but the headwind to the finish was going to make that a bit tricky and in the end it was.

All up an amazing event with stunning scenery. The perfect conditions on the day ensured everyone had a great day.

Well done to all!


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.


Rider of the Week – Dtc

1. Tell us a bit about yourself

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

2. What got you into cycling?

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

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

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

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

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

4. Tell us about your bikes.

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

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

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

6. Tell us a riding story.

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

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

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

Failing that my advice would be

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

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

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

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


3 Peaks 2014


Halfway through Audax 250km


Kangaroo Valley Training Ride December 2013


Climbing out of Kangaroo Valley



MS Gong Ride November 2013


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


Top of Col. Madelaine waiting for TDF to come through


Top of Glandon private training ride


Woke up with this bus at my hotel


Half way up Mont Ventoux


Top of Mont Ventoux


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


My first triathalon


3 Peaks 2013


Me at my largest in France in July 2012 100 kgs


SWOTM ride report

Not enough teeth on Bullet’s rear cassette to count the masses at Gordon this morning….great to see the return to the humble beginnings of ER by so many for this Second Wednesday of the Month.

No incidents or accidents to report – all riders managing to clip in/out today – with everyone arriving safely to join our Epping path brethren who were already firmly entrenched on arrival at the B&T.

Plenty out in their purple jerseys from the weekend’s exploits before the return to the traditional tomato and egg tomorrow. Thanks TD for the photos as attached. Drastique’s busily photoshopping a few more for the website that Colette kindly took on the weekend.

A great 3P write up by Mike – many thanks mate – summed it all up well.

Great to see a wing-clipped Magoo both on the way home last night and at the B&T this morning….looking forward to your return pronto.

The Spring Classics calendar will soon be updated…..diarise the Bobbin Head Classic and VD’s assault on the Blayney to Bathurst as next on the list – arrange your leave passes carefully.

Hope BT of the Sahara is doing well – looking forward to normal service being resumed when he gets back.

In other breaking news, Drastique’s lawnmower has broken down, and DT mowed his before running in this morning.

Have a good day all.

Mark / Satnav


Chippo Displays his 2.5 finishers jersey


The ER 2014 3P Crew – well most of them anyway