around twenty three or so riders rolled up to the start today ready for another hot morning in the hills. mostly the usual suspects, but a couple of new faces as well. it was forecast to be 32 degrees today with strong easterly winds, so no matter where we went it was going to be hard. as i am going over east for a couple of weeks and will miss next weeks rides, i decided that we would do a long one no matter what the weather. this usually means heading down towards armadale.
cade, mike and stu were part of the group this morning, so if it was not one it would be the other, or even all of them that would be setting the pace. the course gave a lot of opportunities to deal some pain on the hills as we had four main climbs plus a couple of bonus climbs as well. the course went down albany hwy and then up carrawatha, carradine, down soldiers rd, up peet, across brookton hwy, over to pickering brook, up the observatory, then up lawnbrook to kalamunda. quite a long ride all up, but with a couple of very nice descents in between some of the climbs.
we picked up another couple as we rolled out through vic park but disaster stuck for dr nic before we even turned off berwick rd. as we approached the lights at hill view crescent, they changed so someone grabbed a handful of brakes. darren braked and swerved to avoid, but this meant that dr nic clipped his wheel. trying to keep upright she swerved left and then fell but not before pinning shao and his bike to the curb. a little blood on the knee and some damaged pride more than anything. she was ok but was probably angry more than anything and the adrenaline helped her do a big turn at the front.
cross winds played havoc on the way down to the first climb, but even before then we had lost a couple. dr greg had to be home by 9 so didn’t make it very far before turning back. dr paul turned up brookton hwy to have an easier climb and we never saw him again.
the first climb is carawatha which is a very short bonus climb. it starts off moderate for about 300m, then flattens slightly for 300m, then there is a kink so you can’t see the last 300m until you start it. the last section is about 15% and is quite brutal. being a bonus climb, and being way too steep for me, i tend to try to get into a rhythm and just get to the top without blowing up. cade, stu, ben, darren and a new guy bill all broke away on the bottom section and had gapped the rest by 20 or so metres. when the top section of the climbs started, darren dropped off and mike came flying past me and easily bridged to the remaining four. i was in my easiest gear which is a 23 tooth and was still reaching for something else. mike managed to come past the remaining boys and gap them before the top by about 10 or so metres. not sure exactly as i was still on the climb.
a regroup at the top (well some of us did) and we had a quick descent to the foot of the first main climb. carradine isn’t that steep but is about 3 kms long and has some really rough roads. combined with the head wind, this made for a testing climb. my legs were feeling quite tired today as i ended up riding on friday which is usually my rest day. the 24 hr torrential rain we had on thursday forced me to change my usual routine. this meant that i would be riding three hard days straight as friday was a hard time trial around the river before work. so, that was my excuse.
the climbs started well and i was content to sit in and see who would make a move. it wasn’t long before cade came around the pack and straight to the front to up the pace. i managed to jump on his wheel and let him break the wind for me. the increase in pace dropped the rest of the pack except mike who jumped across to my wheel. the three of us swapped turns with me doing the least work as i was having trouble even holding the wheel. my quads seemed like they were full of lead and my left calf was tight. these issues seemed to over-ride my cardio as i found that i wasn’t pushing maximum bpm as the legs started to fail first. probably just over training.
we continued to the top and with no-one forcing a break, we all finished together. the rest of the pack came through in ones and twos, but we had managed to create quite a gap. after a regroup we moved onto the first fun descent of the day. soldiers rd starts off rough, but has a nice smooth, wide, twisty, protected section at the bottom. there used to be a few sections where they had done road works and not fixed it too well, but these were now re-fixed. after negotiating the rougher section with its tight corner that claimed a fair bit of scott’s skin a year ago, i managed to accelerate around a few guys and get on michael’s wheel with a bit of clear road around me. hitting 78 km/h in the middle of the ride is great after going up the hills so much slower, but i was pushing my limits a bit on some of the corners.
the road has a small rise where i told michael i would wait for the others to make sure that they all got down ok. some of the others were already waiting there so they all headed to brookton hwy where we usually regroup before the climb up into roleystone. lindy and todd brought up the rear and i rode the rest of the way with them. when we hit brookton hwy, there was only michael waiting. everyone else had gone on ahead. i wasn’t particularly happy as this ride is based on the fact that we wait and regroup to make sure everyone makes it in one piece.
so michael and i started the climb with todd and lindy in tow. we didn’t set a blistering pace as i really couldn’t be bothered as i was still pissed off that there wasn’t a regroup. we managed to pass quite a number of the other riders who were well and truly strung out by the hills 10% average grade. once we got to roleystone high school i stopped and waited as the guys that had gone ahead were circling around not sure where to go next. everyone who passed by i just told to regroup at the karragullen, while michael and i waited for the back of the pack.
at the gull servo everyone had a refuel or toilet stop due to the excessive fluid consumption. lindy was surprised when she went to the toilets to find simon coming out of the women’s. it doesn’t surprise us much. on top of using the facilities, he committed the worst crime seemingly possible and left the toilet seat up. come on simon, if you are going to live like a women, at least know the rules. i hope the trans-gender surgery goes well…..just joking.
we headed along canning rd to the next regroup at pickering brook. this stretch is undulating but starts off quite nicely before the last couple of bonus climbs. we stayed together well until we hit the base of the climb and it started to bunch up. i wasn’t really meaning to start anything, but kept it in the big gear and powered up the climb until i had to change down. i was happy to cruise then but cade came past so i jumped on his wheel. mike bridged across and we worked together up towards the intersection. i dropped off just before the end and was quickly picked up by the chasing pack.
at this regroup point, there is always the option for an early exit as you can easily go straight to the coffee shop from here. it may be a reflection of the increase in the groups ability, but everyone was still keen to continue as planned, even though there was two more climbs to go.
we cruised to the bottom of the observatory and hit it as a group. as usual the pack spread as people found their pace and began to climb. cade and mike were at the front and had began to pull away from the main pack. i
was boxed in and had to wait till the group thinned out a bit before accelerating around and catching up. once i hit the front, the four of us, as stu had also jumped ahead, began to put some distance on the others. cade and mike set the pace well with mike still in the big ring for the majority of the climb. my legs were starting to feel a bit better as the preceding climbs must have “warmed” them up a bit. i knew that the climb levels out a bit after the main stretch and thought that if i can get ahead, i may have a chance of keeping away till the top.
i put it in a higher gear and accelerated hard around the others. i kept it up for as long as my legs would allow before finding a more manageable pace. i sneaked a glance back hoping like hell that there wasn’t anyone on my wheel and saw that no-one had chased me down. i tried to keep the pace on to stay away, but further checks saw that someone was gaining on me fast. i wasn’t sure who it was but right at the end, about 100 m from the end of the climb i was past by bill the mate of shao’s that had come along for the first time. bugger, i thought i had it.
the remaining bunch made their way up for another regroup before the second nice downhill of the day. climbing up the easy side of the observatory meant that we would get to descent the steep side. a few slight cross winds made it a bit more exciting, but we all made it down safely before heading straight into the final climb up lawnbrook rd.
mike had a 25 m gap as soon as the climb started and then he took off like a rocket. i tried to bridge across to him, but didn’t come close and had to find my own rhythm. as the climb progressed, he managed to put even more distance into me and a quick look back saw stu quickly catching me. he managed to catch and pass me but i stayed on his wheel. on the next pitch i managed to drop him but he caught back up near the top. neither of us got any closer to mike. once it leveled out we swapped off turns to try to reel mike back in but he still had about 150m once we hit the intersection of canning rd.
at this point it was a easy cruise to the coffee shop rather than it being the final climb. mike, stu, cade, shao and bill continued on and left us to some french style decadence. we were a bit late to coffee today, as a trip to armadale usually adds quite a bit of time to the ride, but service was quite good. they have even cottoned on to the fact that we now want to take the food with us to the table rather than wait for it to be brought out later.
it was a fairly uneventful descent, but a pleasurable one with favorable winds not causing too much disturbance. once we hit the bottom we had a visit from mr dickhead in a hotted up blue ford wank-mobile, who decided that even though he could easily change lanes as there were no other cars around, he wanted to come within a ruler length of the riders at speed. it’s time like these that i wish my bike mounted camera was working. i gave him the finger and he did likewise, but not much else i could do. i hope he wraps it around a tree some time.
jerry and i set the pace all the way back along welshpool rd, but were waiting for someone to make a move as the winds were very favorable. it wasn’t till the last bit that carl came around so i immediately jumped on his wheel and sat on to see how long he would last. as he started to fade, mark jumped and sprinted away in the distance. i didn’t really have the legs for it by this stage.
the final sprint and i ended up on second wheel behind russell. he is a big lanky guy, so i had a good position out of the wind. however, he ended up doing too much work and faded after the slight hill but is still didn’t want to go yet. jerry kicked out and took michael with him. i tried to go but couldn’t find enough to get past both of them, so michael easily came off jerry’s wheel for the finish.
a quick weight check once i got home found me under 70 kg for the first time in a while. not in the good way, however, as it meant that i had sweated out two litres of fluids that had to be replaced.
as i am away next week, i have requested that someone else write up the rides afterwards. i will still post the routes on thursday, but someone else will be running the group.
so stay safe, and watch out for mr dickhead.