well another hot day was forecast, so i thought that we would stay close to the coffee shop as possible. the temp only dipped to 25 deg overnight so this generally meant that a crap night was probably had as well.
the course would take us up welshpool rd, over the observatory, up mundaring weir rd to kalamunda, back down the zig-zag and up kalamunda rd. it was a bit of a criss-cross on the map as we rode the same patch of road twice and also came within 100m of the coffee shop before riding back down the hill.
just over 20 riders showed up this morning, with the heat probably scaring most away. a couple of regulars were racing crits and ryan was sunning himself in thailand so i was interested to see who would bring the pain on today. it was therefore good when young mitch turned up (pictured). he is only about 18 or 19 and is in some wais program or something, so can pretty much ride a bike well. he has been out with us before and i have seen him crack ryan on a climb. so, it should be a good day.
as we rolled out we picked up alistar on berwick rd. al is a fly-in fly-out engineer, so doesn’t come out with us very often. however, when he does, he usually does a good job of hurting us. stuart was also back after a week watching the tour down under and doing a few serious rides while over in adelaide. all in all it should make for an interesting ride.
the trip out was fairly uneventful. we picked up russell and doug along welshpool rd just to swell the ranks a bit. the main thing was the hot wind that was blowing directly into our faces all the way out. i sat at the back the whole way out as the pack got split early on and so i dropped back to ensure everyone was still on. this meant that i would be starting the climb behind the eight-ball. however, mitch, al and stu were all back with me too.
as the climb started, the pace at the front began to slow, so i started to come around. michael and ben s were on the front, but i wanted to try to thin the head of the pack out a bit. michael did stay at the front for long as he had decided to do the entire climb in the 53 x 19. just cause he can. i pushed the pace up the first section with al, ben, stu and greg in tow while mitch was still finding his way to the front. i was trying to set a hard pace while at the same time waiting to see who would be coming around. by the time we hit the main part of the climb, mitch had taken up the pace making and was making it difficult for all. a little way up the steeper section he accelerated again and i just did what i could to hold his wheel. we managed to gap the others, but not for long as stu bridged across quickly.
i didn’t fair too well out of mitch’s acceleration and began to drop off his wheel. by the time we past the servo, mitch had 50m on me and 20 on stu. once they hit the flat section, they both sat up and i managed to catch them. i told them we need to keep going to stay away from the others as this was all part of the game. the next step up in the hill i managed to hold on for a while, but mitch stepped up the pace again, and i fell off the back. i knew i couldn’t catch them, so did what i could to try to stay away from the rest of the pack. repeatedly trying to stay on mitch’s wheel meant that i didn’t have much left, but managed to keep away from al to the top of the last pinch.
we regrouped at the top and headed onto the next climb. as we came past carmel and the sanitarium “factory” the group started to split a bit on the decent. I managed to come around the outside but on the uphill section I hit a rock or gum-nut with my front wheel while I was standing. it scared the crap out of me as it really twisted the handle bars in my hands. well it would have been interesting to get on tape as the video was running at the time.
we hit that little decent before the climb and I made sure I was already in the little ring as I know how steep this climbs starts out. russell turned off at this point so added to the others (dr paul, dr greg and dr ian) that we had lost on the first climb. I managed to get to the front and set the pace for a while. after the first pinch it is not a particularly hard climb, but long with dead roads that sap your strength. mitch eventually came around me and I managed to hold his wheel for a while. this also meant that we had gapped the field in the process. unfortunately my legs were not up to his standard and I fell off and ended up in no-mans land. by the time we got to the intersection, mitch had about 100m on me but also rode past the turn by about 20m. this meant that I “caught” him for the last pinch. stu had found his second wind and managed to bridge across as well.
a regroup at the top and we were on our way for a leisurely decent. not so leisurely for some as darren got cut off at the bottom of the hill and ended up leaving the road. I waited behind to make sure that he and the others were ok. the main group had kept on riding and we ended up getting scattered along pickering brook rd. as the main group was well and truly gone by the time I hit the climb, I decided to have a bit of a rest and just take it easy to the top. about halfway up the first part of the climb, todd caught up and past me. he wanted to know whether I got that on tape as he said it didn’t happen very often. at the very end, we picked up al who had tried to match it with mitch and was now feeling the aftermath.
we regrouped at the top and i asked who wanted to go straight to the coffee shop as it was only 100m away. we had a couple of takers, but as the majority were going to continue, peer pressure forced most of them to continue. i think if i had said that we would just go to coffee, there would not have been any complaints. i knew that we had to do more and we had lots of time up our sleeve. so down the zig-zag to the base of kalamunda rd.
when we turned onto kalamunda rd, the wind was coming quite strongly off the hillside and channeling straight into our face. this forced the group to split into little groups and i got caught in the middle one. i looked up the road and stu and al were in the front one, so i had to catch up as i didn’t want to give them 50m head start before the hill. i think that mitch was with me so we both came across.
as the hill picked up, i managed to come to the front and up the pace to thin out the pack again. my legs were starting to feel it but i kept pushing until only mitch and al were left. mitch then came around me and started pushing a bit harder. it was good to hear that his breathing was labored and i wasn’t making it too easy for him. al also came around and i managed to sit on for a bit. towards the top mitch then hit the turbo and spat me out the back. al lasted a further 10m before getting dropped as well. we just had to make do and maintained till we got to the top. it is a windy climb, so it was hard to judge how far ahead of the others we were, but we could still see mitch when we hit the top. neither al nor mitch were staying for coffee, so i was first in. well not exactly. christophe had ejected before the last climb and was happily relaxing with a coffee when we showed up.
water was the order of the day as i had sweated profusely throughout the ride. coke was also on the cards to get a sugar and caffeine kick to get me home.
the decent was good with the tailwind helping michael to get to 87 km/h and me to about 80ish. when we were all back together, we happily cruised along welshpool rd at about 40 without really needing to push to hard. as christophe and i led the pack along i was waiting for the attack to come and wasn’t disappointed. “mr excitement” aka dr melvyn took off around the pack to try to shake it up a bit. after weeks of trying the same move, he deceided to leave it a bit longer so he would have more of a chance. in the end we only had to sprint for about 100m before having to slow down for the lights.
the final sprint along berwick and christophe hit out early at the lights and got a bit of a break. i chased him down bringing jerry and greg with me. jerry came around me to take second wheel as we hit the downhill. i waited till we were back on the flat before launching. i came around both, but also saw a shadow on my right as greg was trying to come off my wheel. i had to sustain the sprint a bit longer than usual to keep him at bay, but also had another secret weapon. as it was hot, really hot, i was still sweating a lot. this managed to come flying off in the sprint and splatter all over greg as he tried to stay on my wheel. quite disgusting really, so next time he might want to be in front of me. rolled home and found the air-con had thankfully been left on. a quick weight check and i had lost 2 kg through sweating so it was an afternoon of drinking, drinking and more drinking.