about 20 riders turned up this morning. i actually forgot to count but riding past the pack it may have been even more. anyway, i turned up at about 10 min to 7 this morning and the only other person there was chistophe. we were both a bit worried and thought we would be on our own. true to form, within that 10 minute window, everyone turned up. it is pretty much the same on saturday with most taking the “just in time” approach.
that was fine and we headed off along the great eastern hwy at a nice casual pace. the main antagonist from last week, ryan, had decided to race a crit today, so i knew i would be spared a complete whipping, but there definitely was a few guys in the group that would push me hard today.
the route would take us out to greenmount, through parkerville, across to mundaring, down past the weir and up to kalamunda. three main climbs but with a number of little “bonus” climbs along the way always make this on interesting. pretty uneventful ride out to the base of greenmount but we did manage to lose one rider. i hate losing people and try not to leave anyone behind, but dr paul took a phone call during the ride and seems he never made it back on the pack. he knew the way we were heading and knows most of the roads around here so i thought that he would be right. we picked up russell towards the bottom of the hills as he lived out that way, and it would save him a trip into south perth.
we have always gone the same way to get to greenmount but i will have to look at changing it as the last step takes us on a bit of bike path. it isn’t long, and was fine back when simon first showed me the route, but back then we only had ten riders on a good day. russell said there is a back way so i will have to check it out on the map before we head back to greenmount again.
the greenmount climb is fairly long and at a nice grade. not as steep as the kahuna from last week, but steep enough that it isn’t comfortable. it starts off shallow and slowly steepens but then kicks up once more just to shock the crap out of you. i think brett (not the collarbone one) was on the front once we started climbing, but soon slowed down too much so i went round to set a higher pace. i wasn’t really worried who was on my wheel but wanted to set a high enough tempo so that we could drop a few out the back. i was surprised, however, when michael b came around me at a fair pace.
michael has had some medical issues which meant that he can’t stress his heart too much or it goes a bit spastic. usually one climb at pace is all he said he can do. so i guessed that this was his climb. as ryan wasn’t here, i tried to stay with mike as long as i could, but he set a pace that was beyond me. last week i talked about stewart being an ex-marathon runner and was built like a whippet. well mike was an even better marathon runner in his day and is built like and even faster whippet. i just had to let him go as i was already pushing into my red zone.
a quick look around to see who i was left with revealed just stewart on my wheel, or more to the point, just coming around me. jerard was a bit further back but i was hoping we could keep ahead of him. stu and i swap turns as we chased mike, but by the time we got to the turn off, he still had about 100 metres on us. i was well into the 180 bpm for the entire climb and probably couldn’t have made up the extra distance without my breakfast paying me a visit.
as i turned at the top i noticed sharon waiting. she also lives up in the hills and had ridden to the top earlier to meet us. the rest of the field slowly made there way up to regroup and and have a drink as it was already starting to warm up. we lost another rider as dr greg decided to take a short cut and also find out where dr paul got to.
we had to jump over a gate to enter the john forrest national park as they close it every night to stop car hoons thinking that they are rally drivers. the roads are quite rough but the views are good looking across perth and later as the road winds along, some nice valleys. the road condition, slight rise in the road and headwind meant that the group spread out again. but not for long as we forgot about the other gate on the road and it took most of us by surprise as we rounded a corner. another jump and we were away again.
slight decent and michael w reminded us that you have to keep left as it is a public access road. about 30 sec later we are coming around a corner and a car is coming the other way. a couple of our riders were taking the racing line through the bend and had to swerve to get back on the correct side of the road and not end up as hood ornaments. bit more decent and we regrouped at the intersection of oxley rd. people had missed this turn last time we were here so i wanted to make sure this time. as i have said previously, sometimes i need to ride at the back to make sure we are all good, and sometimes i need to be at the front to make sure we are going the right way. luckily i was on the front at this point.
oxley rd is one of those “bonus” climbs that i mentioned earlier. it is quite steep in parts but not very long. probably about a km total. i paced myself up into the steeper sections trying to put some distance into the others, when mike came past at a rate of knots. i decided to try to stay with him and got out of the saddle and pushed hard. possibly a bit too hard and went into the red zone a bit. had drop my speed and just ease my way up as stu also came past me. towards the very top josie and markus also caught me and we cruised into parkerville for a quick stop at sam druckers general store.
josie is one of our “special” riders that likes to come out on sunday. special because she is not just a middle age could have been like the rest of us. last year she came back from the junior world championships with three gold medals and a world record time in the individual pursuit. as most of our riders are closer in years to retirement than the number of years she has been alive, we are happy to have her come out with us to smash us a bit. however, she is focusing on track nationals in february, so wasn’t hitting the hills hard.
josie turned off home after a second “bonus” climb out of parkerville and the rest of us headed towards mundaring. another regroup to make sure the kilometre that we had to ride on the semi-busy highway hadn’t claimed anyone, and we were off again.
mundaring to kalamunda is a pretty well used road for any cyclist in perth. it’s
hilly, low traffic usage and only one turn you have to remember. i would have to say that you could not ride on it without seeing a cyclist heading the other way. i don’t really know which direction is harder as both have two climbs, but climbing out of the weir heading towards kalamunda can really suck.
the group stayed together fairly well for most of the gentle downhill sections but there is one little kick up before the proper decent into the weir. we usually have someone have a crack to try to get a break, but looking around, no-one seemed to interested. so i went.
cresting the top i had a quick look around to see who was coming. a few had left the group but no-one was close enough to help me, so i kept going. there is a saying in triathlons “swim like there is no bike, ride like there is no run, and run like you have stolen something”. well i didn’t have to run so i was riding like i had stolen something. i thought that i might have to time trial the whole 20 km back to kalamunda, but jerry eventually caught up before we hit the round about. the group had split a bit and was strung out, so i hit it again on the main decent into the bottom of the weir. michael w caught me and we started the climb together.
the idea was to put as much distance between us and stu and mike so that they had to work harder on the climb to catch us. especially since mikes heart did not seem to be bothering him. i tried to set the hardest pace i could maintain up the main climb, and came around michael to force it. i think jerry may have been with us initially but dropped off as the climb continued. towards the very top, i noticed that mike had made contact with us but i wanted to keep the pace high so kept going. michael, mike and myself started doing turns to keep stu at bay and apparently he came within 20 metres of getting on the back before our combined pace got too high.
the second last climb before the decent and i turned the screws a bit harder and managed to drop michael. mike and i then kept pushing on the decent, but michael can go quite well downhill and managed to catch us at the bottom. he would say that it is the superior campag hubs he has, and maybe it is true. i need new wheels to keep away from him now. bit late for santa.
we started the final climb together but michael soon dropped off the back and i was only just holding onto mikes wheel. just before the “flat” section of the climb up to kalamunda, mike dropped me as my legs had just about had it. he waited up a bit, which is nice of him as i would have put the knife in at this point, and we hit the flatish bit hard. came past dr paul as the shortcut had paid off almost perfectly. once the road headed upwards for the final pinch, i was well and truly dropped by mike and eased my way up the rest of the climb.
at the very top i past a guy with his helmet strapped to his handle bars. now he was in full ride kit so was a proper cyclist and not just a mummy & daddy rider. so what the hell is that about. sure it was hot and i was sweating like a pig, but even the pro’s have to wear the lid on the final climb now. so in a word – wanker. at least his handle bars will be fine if he has a crash.
coffee shop was busy, but summer time and school holidays will always mean that we have to be happy with what we get. stu, mike and shao all decided against coffee to get some extra kms in. that always worries me as i am already having trouble keeping up with mike. after an extended break we were all fed and watered and headed off again. lost another as sharon lived nearby so decided to finish her coffee in peace.
as usual a fast decent which wasn’t too bad as there was no cross winds. dr greg scared the crap out of me flying past at least 10 km/h quicker if not more. i was already going 70 and like to have as much road to play with. stu was behind me and noticed that i was put off by dr greg as he said he saw my brown afterburner. anyway, managed to crack 83km/h but only at the very bottom in top gear pedalling at 133 rpm.
on the way home the usual suspects had a crack along welshpool rd and the group got split at the lights. i thought i would wait for the final sprint and managed to put a hard effort in on the last small rise with a big enough gap to keep the rest at bay till the end.
all up a good ride finishing as expected at about 90km. nothing of any note at bunnings this morning. must have just been that one particular day.