sunday 20th april – welshpool & observatory & kalamunda rd

ride report by darrenrolling into the carpark i was a little earlier than usual but a few has arrived already. i was hopeful that we going to get a few more than last week? unfortunately, racing, the cold weather, and/or lack of commitment ( i can only assume) meant that there would only be about 9 of us today. huddled and shivering rob sat on the step, head in hands, looking like he did last week, was this déjà vu, another big night? turns out he was under the weather, well under. when john arrived we had a brief conversation about how cold it was, he said it was only 8c or 9c. felt about 2c, turns out you were closer to the mark and we are all woosies for being so rugged up.

with no one to lead the way we stood around in the cold until 7:05am or so. this weeks route was reasonably familiar so ‘someone will know the way’ i thought – so up welshpool rd we went. melvyn and i took the group out, camille turned off before we hit welshpool road, probably because most of the usual suspects were not there, luckily young matt and his micro front chain rings were there to keep us honest.

it was an uneventful ride to the foothills. we picked up a few passengers whose cyclosportif team piked on them. it still felt baltic as the sun was well hidden behind the scarp. the pace slowed as we started to climb, so it was up to me to get things rolling. young matt was not far behind. as we hit the straight exposed section i could feel the heart rate increasing, and hit the front derailleur changer to get an easier gear. oh no, stuck in the big ring. fiddling with gears i eventually locked everything up and had to step off, reset and started all over. matt sped off to the summit.

as we rode past the petrol station we ran into doug who had tried and meet us on welshpool rd but turned around at the grain terminal as he thought he missed us, not realising that we were late. at the top, there was daylight between matt and the rest of us. a quick chat at the top and off to the observatory we went.

the group held it together until the start of the observatory climb, i went with matt off the front and we were joined by todd. matt decided he would play cat and mouse with us, clearly overestimating our climbing and acceleration abilities. so todd and i played wile-e-coyote to matts road-runner. matt would slow up, wait for us to pass and sprint past as quickly as possible (beep beep) until he has put 100m or so into the gap and then waited up again. so todd and i endured this humiliation until the top of the climb. we were shortly followed by rob and john, with the others not too far behind.

a bit of procrastination we headed off down walnut descent, with doug, melvyn and rob trying to keep pace with matt. i stayed at the back, a bit nervous that the new bike may get the speed wobbles. as we headed over the top of aldersyde rd i had made up a bit of ground on the lead group as we turned into mundaring weir rd.

feeling good i set a good pace and headed past rob and john, surprisingly matt stayed with them. head down, i found good rhythm and after a little while looked back to see quite a gap had opened. maybe i was half a chance to get to the roundabout first? ……..not likely! matt made the gap in about a minute and despite staying with him for a while and trying to dig deep on the flat section near the top, matt dug deeper and sped off to the top to finish several hundred metres in front. rob also recalled that he was surprised that matt stayed with them for so long, only to take off like a rocket (beep beep) and bridge the gap. soon we were joined by john, closely followed by rob (coughing all the way).

once we were together again we all headed off to the zig zag, only to cop a sprinkle of rain and some wet roads. where did this rain come from?. most of the group descended at a fast but sensible rate, but the freshly washed roads did raise the stress levels a tad. at the bottom, matt took off home. the scenic views down zig zag showed us that there was more rain on the way so we sat around discussing whether we should make a run for home to avoid the weather or go to the coffee shop and face certain drenching on the way home. i wanted to go straight home, robs vote was via bushmead road (surely there is a coffee shop in midland) but the deciding vote went to todd, lindy and mike who were resolute that they needed another climb. doug headed home via forrestfield.

melvyn led the way back to kalamunda rd. rob suggested that goosberry hill rd could be a good option (joking), but was the first to hit the climb back to the coffee shop, and waved todd and i through. todd took the lead most of the way up while i tried to decide if i had any energy left, sort of, maybe, not sure. i stayed with him on the steep sections and when it levelled out on a nice flattish section, the big ring and plenty of beats per minute saw me pass and open a gap. so… first time to be first to coffee shop but i have no illusions about where my form is. john, rob and todd were not that far behind.

just enough time to re-arrange some tables and my double shot mini-bowl arrived, that was fast! some water, some more cyclists, a hot chocolate here and a flat white there, all served in rapid time. melvyn and mike ordered what would only be described as lunch (which they inhaled). we sat around discussing the finer points of interval training, sally robbins’ rowing efforts, shimano shoes and all facets of personal lubrication (for triathlon, get your minds out of the gutter).

instead of asking the group who would write the blog for today i asked melvyn (as he has previous credits and regularly comments on articles) if he or i should contribute this week. his well considered response “you should write the blog, because (long pause)…… you should write the blog” nuff said, so here it is.

heading back john led the way and when the group hit the downhill on lesmurdie rd they all seem to step up the pace. rob made the mistake of taking my wheel and we dropped to the back, so rob went around to catch the leaders. melvyn and i were last to welshpool rd at which point he took off to get to the bottom fast. i was the slowest descended on the day, but didn’t get speed wobbles even at 70kmph, so the new bike is looking ok so far.

a time trial effort brought lindy and i back to the field but it was clear that john had won the honours of being first to the bottom. at the tonkin hwy lights we encountered our first boy-racer/bogan/redneck who zipped past at a rapid rate with inches to spare.

melvyn and john dragged the group back up welshpool rd into the cold westerly wind. i went for the bonus points at the grain terminal. mike reacted but i managed to hang on despite dying on the hill before the leach hwy lights. being too exhausted to contest the macdonalds sprint, i watched john take off with absolutely no one chasing, john was also surprised when he looked back, so slowed down. melvyn peddled slightly faster than everyone else and managed to pass john on the line.

on the way back to the shop i got dropped at a set lights so i dont know how many made it back. props to rob for winning last weeks final sprint effort against stan and myself despite both of us turning off along berwick a few hundred metres before, but well done this week for some strong efforts with a chest cold and paving our way in mucus. good lu
ck to lindy in the 1/2 ironman in a few weeks, hope those 19hr training weeks pay off.

in summary: cold start, nice middle, bit of rain, windy end. seems that the climb up kalamunda rd and coffee rest, meant that we missed the rain and did not get wet! nice!

saturday 19th april – rebold and cott

cold, damn cold. i had to go back in the house and get my jacket this morning, much to the disgust of my sleeping wife. i always prepare everything the night before (including pumping my tyres) so that i minimize the noise when i get up. if i creep around quietly, i can usually be out the door before anyone wakes. this morning was not my stealthiest. if i was smart enough to thoroughly check the weather report the night before (it is all about preparation) i would have noticed that it was forecast to be freaking cold overnight and i would have got the jacket out just in case. so no, not a good start.

the course today was added not long after christmas as we kind of went this way for our christmas ride. a few extra hills, some fast paced sections and a few more km’s turned it into a standard saturday ride course. today it would take us around the bottom of kings park, onto hay street through subi and over rebold hill. a quick lap around cottesloe and we would then head back the normal route through dalkeith.

despite the cold we had a decent turn up as we would have had close to 40 riders roll out. a nice and gentle trip along riverside drive and onto mounts bay road allowed the group to ease into the ride. even the climb up thomas rd was not too stressful as the group remained under control. as we rolled down hay st which becomes underwood ave, i was surprised when we hit the few rolling hills that there were no real attacks as everyone found a nice climbing pace to the top.

once we came around rebold hill, i was going to allow the group it’s head of steam up the climb and along west coast highway till we hit swanbourne. as we turned onto oceanic and started the two small climbs around rebold hill, dr nic came charging up the road from almost the back of the pack. she hit the front and kept going with nev not far behind. i was waiting to see who would react but the group looked content to let them go. i switched it up a gear or two and started setting a faster pace which the guys could get a tow behind. we picked up nev and then dr nic before the top of the hill and by the time we crested, had a group of around 7 or 8 riders. with the chase and hill over, the momentum left group and the rest of the pack caught up by the time we hit west coast highway.

the group really seemed to not want to go hard at all today, and it took a few prompts to get it to start chasing. michael and nick finally broke clear along this stretch of road before the group reacted. however, it didn’t even manage to get strung completely out as no-one seemed eager to flat out chase them down. we regrouped around the lights at swanbourne and made our way down to the southern end of cottelsoe to come back up marine parade. a few of the boys wanted to stretch their legs a bit and i was content to let myself slip to the back of the pack and take up position as last wheel. with the race set for tomorrow and my flu like symptoms forcing me to have tuesday off this last week, i was a bit dubious of my form. i had already struggled a bit on some of the climbs for today, and worried that it my be a bad sign for tomorrow.

so, the group stayed together through a relatively fast tour of cottesloe and we meandered our way past the swanbourne shops. a nice big 4wd decided that we were too slow and tried to get past only to find that he was running out of road before the intersection. he had to slow down and push back in, splitting the group in half. smart man. if he had waited ten more seconds he still would have made it to where he wanted to go.

the route took us back home through dalkeith and the group will always go hard along here. always??? not today. with team p0rn0 making other plans to see how we can control the sprint, none of us were planning to do any work on the front. this left nick and a couple of others to force the pace, and they were not keen to hurt themselves either. chris stamped off the front to try to get something going but no-one would chase and he soon grew tired of playing and was absorbed back into the pack. finally as the group approached the last few undulations on birdwood pde, the pace picked up thanks to nick, christophe and nev. the group strung out a bit but not to the extent that we have seen it smash everyone apart.

team tactics were still in play and we were trying to keep mid pack to keep us out of the work load and in position to attack. a car interrupted us on the turn onto hackett dve and the front guys got a bit of a break. i mentioned to chris that is they got a good set of lights onto mounts bay, we were done for. it would have been an unusual set of events to get that to happen, and we caught them as they sat waiting for the green.

now, the team tactics for the day was to sit in till about two km’s out and then we all go hard down the right hand lane to get a break. we would all line out and try to deliver ryan to the line in one piece. now it didn’t quite go to plan. just before we were due to go, stu got a puncture and was off the back for a quick change. when i finally did decide to go there was too much traffic and i couldn’t get into the right hand lane, so i knew that there would be some hangers on.

brendan had made a break earlier and had a bit of a gap on the field. nick was on the front chasing him down with the rest of the train strung out behind him. as i led off the front, with (hopefully) the rest of the team in tow, i knew that we were not going fast enough, or over far enough to stop anyone jumping on board. too late for second chances as we had committed to the move already. i did a turn and manged to pick up brendan from his breakaway. i flicked the arm for michael to come through and looked back to see what the move had created. half the field were attached to us and the rest were still being pulled along by nick. i hadn’t totally smashed myself as i was hoping that i could jump on board as the tail came past. as i waited for the many riders to pass by, i started to doubt that the move would pay off at all. i ended up letting them go up the road and paced myself to the coffee shop. it turned out that chris had done an extra big turn to deliver ryan to the line but with steve firmly attached to his wheel. steve wasn’t too happy with some of our tactics and was unhappy with a blocking move by chris at the end when he released ryan. oh well, not a complete failure, but we will try something different next week.

coffee stop was good, but with a notable exception. big john who works with me at rio, didn’t make it back to the shop. his wife was waiting for him (as is the tradition) but he phoned up saying the he had four flats on the way back from cottesloe. with stu hitting a pothole to puncture and dr melvyn’s brake levers coming loose (after some dyi maintenance) we were lucky that there wasn’t a stack.

i have also started to take orders for the new group jersey, as had been posted on here earlier. if you want anything (jersey, knicks, vest, armwrmers) then see me after the ride or send me an e-mail through the blog. i will finalise the order over the next couple of weeks.

race day tomorrow at wandi, so hopefully we can get a ride report from the hills ride a well.

ride routes 19th & 20th april

i will be back on deck for the saturday ride this week after a couple of weeks of clashes. however, i will be doing the trophy race at wandi on sunday so will miss the hills ride again, but i promise i will be there on the long weekend. thanks to darren for blogging last sunday’s ride.

saturday 19th april
rebold hill & cott
Sth Perth Saturday Ride 11 (Rebold Hill &amp Cott)
Find more Bike Rides in Perth, Australia
sunday 20th april
welshpool & observatory & kalamunda rd
Sth Perth Sunday Ride 06 (Welshpool & Observatory & Kalamunda Rd)
Find more Bike Rides in Perth, Australia

sunday 13th april – peter clark memorial part 02

peter clark memorial support race
race report by peter

so after tackling the tour de perth last week i thought that i really needed more practice in the hills and was going to skip this race. after a bit of e-mail banter, chris and bruce said that they were in as chris claimed that it was a flat circuit. i had a think about it and decided that i needed race km’s in my legs rather than just hills, so even though i really enjoy the sunday hills ride, i needed to play boy racer instead. there were a lot of excuses flying around team p0rn0 and i finally had enough and said that this will be an event that we will be doing, so make sure your excuses are good. from that we had five starters out a possible eleven. perhaps i should explain team p0rn0.

there are quite a few teams that race in perth and quite a few bike shops that have people riding for them. we have been happy riding with the guys that we ride with and therefore decided to form our own team and race together. an initial discussion on team kit and sponsors, threw up the potential to be sponsored by a company such as and therefore we nick-named ourselves “team p0rn0”. most of the regulars from saturday and sunday have been involved and the new jersey design is what we will be racing under once we get it made.

so come race day, bruce, chris, ryan, stu and i were all registered and ready to play. jerry potentially was going to turn up on the day after talking to the race organisers, but an early morning text from him claiming a late night involving wine paid heed to that. other excuses ranged from being in france to no excuse what so ever, just a big blouse.

so the race was being held out in gnangara which was well to the north and unknown territory for this southerner. i checked google maps and found the start line and course. i printed out a map and headed up the freeway for an early morning cruise. unfortunately, google maps was not exactly accurate and tried to make me take a road that doesn’t exist yet. luckily i had the backup ubd on hand to guide my path. i have no idea of anywhere that far north so i could have been driving around for hours otherwise.

anyway, i collected my race number and noticed that our field had 62 riders. pretty big pack for not so big roads. i thought that it would make positioning interesting if you wanted to make a move. ryan, chris, bruce and myself took a quick lap around the course, for three main reasons. 1. chris said that there was a hill in it so we wanted to see how big. 2. there was an hour till our start time so we needed to kill some time. 3. we all needed to find a secluded part of the course to take a pee as the portable toilet had not turned up yet. so after chris claiming that it was a flat course, and the main reason that he was doing it, it turns out that there were a number of hills that would cause some concern when tackled at pace. as chris said, i did get the bike trainer out to do some warm-up. after watching all the open divisions do it last week at the tour de perth, i guessed that ther must be something in it. also it takes about 35km for my hamstrings to even attempt to feel normal, so if there was a surge before then, there was a good chance i would be left behind.

there were nine divisions racing today and we took off after the open men with a lot of juniors already on the circuit. with quite a big pack you received a good draft at the back but at the expense of the yo-yo effect that the constant speed changes cause down the line. the first half of the circuit doesn’t really have any flat ground and there were little accelerations on the small climbs and out of the corners that made you keep alert. we had eight laps to complete to make up our 70kms while the open men did ten.

the main hill came after turn two and you started climbing straight out of the corner. it wasn’t long, or steep, but just enough to break people’s rhythm and make them sit after half the climb. this meant that each lap, we were up and sprinting to keep together, then sat down once we caught up halfway up the hill.

so, i took up my usual position at the back of the field with the other boys not to far away. i was surprised that ryan spent so long towards the back with us as he usually likes to be in the thick of things. the thin roads and sections of double white lines made positioning hard as you really needed to sprint around a lot of people to make it near the front. i wasn’t too worried as i was only there for experience not to make an impact.

we yo-yoed around for a couple of laps with the occasional one or two making a break but not getting very far. not sure when, but a group of around six or seven broke clear and scooted up the road. it was hard to gauge if they were support men or what as there were so many others on the road already. we were constantly overtaking single riders and small groups that had been dropped from other divisions. it seemed that each time we went over the hill we would lose a few off the back and a couple would scamper up the road. the strange thing was, that after the hill the road really flattened out and the pace was turned off and became almost pedestrian. this then allowed those dropped off the back to get back on with relative ease and those that escaped, a free run at catching the break.

on the fourth lap i was up out of the saddle as usual on the hill, but this time stayed standing and kept the power on over the top. when the rest of the pack sat to finish the hill, i basically sprinted around them and got myself a nice gap. unfortunately there was no-one else around me as i had gone from the back of the field and the next couple of guys were quite a bit up the road. the nice flat section also had the bonus of a slight head wind as well which made the chase a little bit too hard. by the time i caught them i was pretty much spent and could only manage one turn at the front. i thought about it and decided that i probably didn’t have another four laps at this pace so let the other three guys go. i looked back and saw how far the field was behind, so knew i didn’t have to wait long. i really only went off the front to see what was inside of me. should i have saved it for the end??? maybe, but i also wanted to know if i could escape during a race.

i past the open women’s section just before the finish line and continued to rol down the other side of the hill. a guy past by and i thought that he pack was about to swallow me up. next thing i know there is a hand on my back and another guy is trying to push me in front of himself so i can work for him. i sat up and said that i was waiting. giving him the benefit of the doubt that he probably could hear me in the wind, he pushed me again. i gave him the flick of the elbow and looked back at him saying that he can do it himself, i was waiting. so off he went. the pack was so close by then, that by the time i exited the first corner, they were all over me. luckily, as i had rested sufficiently, i could easily pace back up and not just be spat out the back.

the last few laps saw ryan and a few others doing a lot of time on the front trying to pull back the break. by about lap six, i was around mid pack with chris and we were discussing ryan’s tactics for expending all his energy before the finish. we thought that he would be the great hope for us especially with an uphill finish, but were concerned that he was going to be out of gas by the end. if we were smarter, we could have used him to pull back the break, and then one of us positioned ourselves for the sprint. it was not to be and we basically did the race as a bunch of individuals.

the last couple of laps and the pace and distance were starting to take there toll. a guy two bikes in front of me connected with someone when the shoulder disappeared on the edge of the road. he was so close to coming off that i

sunday 13th april – peter clark memorial part 01

peter clark memorial
race report by chriswith much cajoling several of us had agreed to enter this race, our loose “team” went in with good intentions. things weren’t looking to great; with bruce’s recent form not really up to much due to the little annabelle, peter complaining of flu symptoms, stuart thinking the course wouldn’t suit him and my heavy legs and a sleepless night, ryan was never really going to get much support from us lot. anyway with a nice field of 65 riders there was going to be plenty of places for the rest of us to hide.

so my aim was to complete the race with the bunch and if at all possible give ryan a hand for the finish. i completed the race but was of no real help to ryan unfortunately.

peter was far too professional, warming up on his rollers. i like most of the others would rely on the tried and proven method of using the first 10-15km or so to warm up. my experience in perth has shown me that typically the bunch takes the first lap reasonably steadily and then the fun begins.

things went according to the script and unfortunately for me this usually means i suffer from about a third of the way into the race until the continued surging abates. today it was impressive to see the bunch strung out as we chased breaks, 65 guys hammering along at 50km/h stretched over 100metres.
anyway my legs came good after about the fourth lap when peter made an attack to get onto the back of a couple of guys. he didn’t stay there for long rejoining the bunch a little while later. i maintained my position in the rear of the bunch and figured i’d see how things went on the last couple of laps.

the work done on the front, including a fair portion by our own pool boy, brought the break back. i had already told him don’t go near the front and to save himself for the sprint but i guess he wanted to do a bit of work before we got to that point. after several attempts to get around the bunch but getting foiled each time by the pace of the bunch or the double white lines, i gave up.

i was expecting the pace to pick up on the last lap, particularly over the last climb at the south of the circuit. i prepared my self for one last push with the aim of getting closer to the front of the bunch. mission accomplished i settled in to hear guys crying out that some guy was going to stay away.

at this stage with one corner to go and an uphill sprint finish i didn’t think my position or legs would allow me to accomplish anything flash. as usual though

there were the usual bunch of guys who thought they had something but didn’t have anything. so the last 200m were littered with guys rolling for the line. i still had some gas in the tank and like peter had to find a path to the line. i was pretty happy that i had managed to look after myself and have the legs for the sprint. a quick head count of riders in front of me over the line had me in the top 15. no money, but i hadn’t expected to finish.

whilst peter got back on the rollers to spin his legs out i shot the shit with michael and bruce whilst we all enjoyed a coke and a sausage in a bun.
a great event put on by the ndcc and lets hope the numbers continue to improve.

next week, the b grade trophy race.

sunday 13th april – darlington & mundaring

ride report by forward: le paris brest cafe 9:45am – “so who is going to write the blog”
i guess failing english in yr 12 makes me the most qualified.

rewind carpark: 6:55am i was running just on time as usual – a benefit of living close to the shop.

as i arrived, lindy was pulling her bike out of the car and josie and rob were sitting on the pavement near the stairs. where was everyone else? the day was magnificent with a light easterly wind, but you could sense that the turnout was going to be less than average.

today would see us take on darlington and mundaring weir, if only someone knew the way.

most of us stood around thinking – “is that it” until about 7:05am, rob lifted his sore hungover head for a moment to ask who was going to lead, to which every one replied – “you are!” but alas his gps was left in the last pint he shouldn’t have had the night before.

doug piped up (luckily) “i know the way”.

famous last words. doug led the group of eleven on a mission down great eastern hwy, etc. for 17kms, putting in a strong turn into the morning easterly, chewing through a few partners, until he realised (at bushmead rd) that he could sit at the back and just yell directions, which left me at the front to ride the next 5km’s to marriott rd.

marriott is one of those nasty climbs that comes out of nowhere and bites hard. i got a little excited and gunned it as the usual sunday mountain goats were either racing at gnangara or snoozing. apart from the first section, it is a nice climb with some flat sections for getting your heart rate back under control. i was first to the regroup point on darlington rd, followed by ben (who was gaining rapidly) and dr marc. we didn’t have long to wait for the others.

the short descent down darlington was uneventful, but having ridden this before i knew that the climb into rycroft is nasty, and whilst tempted to stay in the big ring you need to get into your easy gears before you hit the climb. starting at the back of the climb i could see several quickly realise that they wished they were in a lower gear. the crunch of changing gears at 20rpm seemed to be a common sound and eventually (english) mike couldn’t grind anymore and had to step of and find a more appropriate gear.

by this time i passed a few and saw and ben far ahead. another rush of adrenalin to bridge the gap but ben still managed to hit the glen forrest rd regroup first. at this point rob took the opportunity to have a pit-stop and josie, who was on a “recovery ride”, turned for home.

as we ventured onto glen forrest the group noticed a few elderly runners, jogging on the roads around darlington. as we headed up thomas/phillips rd we noticed more people shuffling slowly up the hill. this continued until we hit a road closed sign at mahogany creek, which strangely had a guy holding a stop sign. all was revealed as a guy in grey with a number on his chest, came belting on foot toward us, clearly on a mission followed by a few more greyhounds. we had ridden into the middle of the wamc darlington half-marathon.

we were forced onto the run course and rode carefully in the middle of the double lane road. runners left and right did not stop one turkey in a workmans tray cab trying to pass us at every opportunity. fortunately, this was the only agro we received all day (all the other the rednecks must have been tucked up, warm and cosy in bed).

back onto phillips/mundaring weir rd, i took the opportunity on a slight downhill to overtake the group, only to be passed by ben and todd looking to race to the roundabout. like a red rag to a bull i took off and managed to recapture my pride but destroy my legs.

the run down toward mundaring weir was uneventful, but a little chilly in the shade, with doug, stan and rob showing that they were the most daring. the climb out of mundaring weir is always hard. dr marc, attacked past the weir carpark with stan, ben and myself in tow. i lasted about a kilometre and realised that i hurt myself enough today and it is a long way to kalamunda. by the time i reached the top of the climb the few in front were about 500m ahead. (english) mike joined me through a downhill section, overtook and managed to make up the gap to the lead group (nice work) just before the descent to the hairpin and the final climb to the coffee shop.

sitting down waiting for coffees at the cafe i found out that dr marc took the kom honours in and was first to the cafe. service was very fast, but i couldn’t help noticing that everyone was contemplating caffeine and the hard ride out of mundaring weir. awkward silence for a minute or so led me to exclaim “ahh introverts come out to play”, which broke the silence and got some banter going.

the descent down welshpool rd was always going to be fast with only a slight breeze and very little crosswind. a few cracked 80km/h, with stan taking the honours of being first to the bottom. i managed to find a second wind and paced the group to over 45km/h along welshpool through queens park to the leach hwy lights.

following a brief stop at the rail crossing, ben took off in an attempt to get the bonus sprint points. i chased after him and managed to pass him at the 60k sign. i turned off along berwick but don’t imagine to many made it to the shop.

in summary – an outstanding day for a ride, moderate pace, no rednecks, interesting scenery, fast coffee, easy descents, no real incidents to speak of – where were you !

well done to tom boonen for winning paris-roubaix and keeping me up until well after 1am.

saturday 12th april – freo & cott

ride report by chris

well, my legs felt like crap after a tough couple of weeks training and i was hoping for a nice easy roll around the designated route. the weather was fabulous, a little cool to start but it was clear it was going to warm up.

so formalities out of the way we set off for freo at a steady pace down the hwy. i was on the front and joined by young nick, we chatted about the usual stuff bikes, racing etc. once we hit the river side along by attadale things quickly heated up. the usual kick off came with cade winding things up, he was quickly joined by the rest of the guys (and no i’m not being sexist, there was a distinct lack of the female gender on saturday).

as i mentioned i was looking for an easy one and reminded a few of the guys as they passed to regroup at pt walter. i didn’t have a lot of confidence that they would as once things heat up and the testosterone kicks in you never know what’s going to happen unless someone gets up the front and takes things in hand. this wasn’t going to be me today as i intended to save my legs for sundays peter clark memorial race. so things got a little messy from here on to the café.

i’m pretty sure we dropped a few before we got to pt walter and there were a few of us then struggling along past the left bank hotel. we kept the main bunch in sight but i was personally just limiting the damage and controlling my work rate. a brief regroup was forced by the changing lights but this all went pear shaped once we hit the beach. i’ll never understand why some of the guys want to hammer along the beach, particularly past cottesloe. the scenery is great and since we don’t get down this way often personally i’d rather take it in.

well, i worked harder than i wanted too and chased back onto the front guys dragging a few along with me. once again we regrouped, sort of, as we headed for the blast through dalkieth. now this is where i normally would have a bit of a dig and i managed to control myself for a little while. in the meantime a bunch of guys went off the front and from what i heard afterwards it was only the lights at mounts bay rd that brought the leaders back to what remained of the faster portion of the bunch. i did learn later that for once the pool boy was beaten for the sprint but he claimed to have spent a significant amount of time on the front. little did he know this was going to come back to haunt him in sundays race.

i was with the second bunch and hoping that things would be steady-steady to the finish, keep dreaming chris was the prompt response from the group. nick and i were back on the front again for a while until a tall fella on a trek came by. i figured that would do me and jumped on for the free ride and so things went. i didn’t bother trying to chase as others started to roll through until le kuan began his acceleration. again i grabbed the wheel and off we went, jerard came by and i yelled at le kuan to keep it going. a struggle ensued but it came down to jerard and i pushing into the breeze for the points. we are still awaiting the official judges decision, given jerards no-show for sundays race, i’ll be claiming the moral high ground.

tour de perth support race – stage 03

an interesting day greeted us for stage three. it was kind of wet but kind of wasn’t. there was a fog hanging around kalamunda with a slight drizzle dampening things, but definitely better than yesterday. an unsettled night’s sleep as i kind of had a feeling of what today would bring and it wasn’t going to be pretty. my legs were feeling heavy after the efforts yesterday as they were not used to backing it up.

i registered for the stage, put my wheels in the spares ute and went to warm up. my crank felt a bit funny and on closer inspection, the little bolts that hold it all together had worked loose a bit. good job i spotted that before rolling out. anyway, i briefly saw jerry, mark and todd who were doing the hills challenge that morning too. it goes from kalamunda to mundaring to kalamunda to mundaring to kalamunda and covers 100km. i did it last year and cramped so bad for the entire second half that i had to get off and stretch a number of times.

all the opens and supports would roll out together today and roll under a neutral flag to the start at carmel. this gave us a bit of a warm-up and a preview of the hill to the finish. however, a combination of pre-game nerves and over hydration saw no less than thirty guys stop somewhere along the way to have a pee before the start. i must admit i was guilty of this too.

as we waited for the start, i commented on how hot it was especially compared to the day before. The sun was out and sitting around, you could feel it burn into you. the open men were off first followed by the support men then the open women. i had taken up my usual position at the back of the field and was talking to the open women lined up behind me. josie was wearing the leader’s jersey after making up enough time over davina in the time trial. she was also complaining about the heat, and i said that i was surprised that she hadn’t already cut the arms off her new jersey. she seems to do it to most of her jerseys to stop the tan lines. anyway, the open men were off and we didn’t have long to wait till we rolled out too.

the game plan for me today was just hang on as long as i could and hope that i did not get dropped to embarrassingly early. the first stage was a confidence booster for me so i thought that i may be able to hold on. however, the legs were telling me a different story.

we had rode the course the previous weekend and did three laps around plus welshpool and mundaring weir rd to complete the package. i knew the course well, but it was the pace that i was worried about and how soon the attacks would come. i thought that i would be more worried about the hill to the finish rather than the climb up patterson rd to the observatory. the observatory is a long climb, but with no real steep sections, so you can set yourself a nice pace to the top. the climb to the finish is short and sharp and just steep enough to really hurt. we would have to see which one would be my undoing.

we rolled out at a decent pace and as soon as we were on canning rd a couple of guys decided to break away. as it was a five lap 84km race, i thought that they may be going a little early in the day. they had a bit of a gap but no-one seemed worried as there was no way that they would be able to hang out there all day, not with two climbs per lap.

unfortunately the gap was big enough for a small truck to think that it had enough room to pull out onto the road and travel along in between the break and the main pack. it was one of the trucks that service the orchards in the area so was no surprise when it also turned up patterson rd with us. so now it couldn’t get around the break guys as the road had a couple blind corners and the break guys were now also slowing down.

so we traveled up the first part of the hill behind the truck, before the road straightened out and it could pass the two riders ahead of it. the main field then swallowed them up and continued at a reasonable pace over the rest of the climb. i was not too surprised that the pace was not on early as i think that everyone was just testing their legs and seeing was damage was done by the previous day.

over the top of the climb and then into a fast descent. there were a few guys out sweeping some of the sections were the gravel had washed onto the road, which was a smart idea, as the rain from the previous day had deposited quite a bit of crap. up past hill to the finish line for the first time and again the pace was not too high as i found it manageable and made it to the top in one piece. however, by this time i was wondering if i could even hold on for another four laps.

as we rocketed down towards pickering brook, a few guys tried to go off the front. i wasn’t sure how many as being at the back does have it’s disadvantages. i am pretty sure that there was two groups that had gone and by the time we hit patterson rd again, the pace was on. the field immediately became strung out as guys started to chase the break away bunches. the other disadvantage of being at the back was the fact that there were a lot of riders that i had to get around to find my rhythm. stu and brendan were also caught with me and strangely enough we managed to get away from the guys behind but end up in no-mans land on the climb. stu set a nice pace to the top and brendan and myself managed to hang on till the decent. just before we crested, chris was up there taking pictures of our misfortune. i dropped off a bit on the last bit of the climb and now began to have doubts over my ability to complete three more laps. i managed to bridge back to stu and brendan, but so did a group of about 7 or 8 riders. we now had a decent size group that we could benefit from if we decided to chase.

the hill to the finish was done at a reasonable pace as i don’t think that anyone wanted to be on their own if they got away. darryl one of the wais coaches was doing running commentary at the finish line and commented that we would need to work together if we wanted to catch the guys up the road. this spurred us on a bit and we started to try to get a roll through happening. not everyone wanted to play and some were just looking for a free ride to the end. this made the chase a bit harder, but we managed to catch a few of the others that had been spat out the back of some of the leading groups. there were also a few of the open men ambling along the road quite content to finish their day with a training ride.

we hit patterson rd hill and no one wanted to lead. i went to the front but was soon overtaken by stu who has always been a better climber. the group strung out behind him as he set a rally good pace. he would occasionally pull over to the right and look behind him, but no-one really had enough to come around him so he just continued up over the hill. once at the top, i yelled at chris to “shoot me, shoot me now”. unfortunately he only had a camera with him.

the decent gave a bit of a reprieve, but i now seriously doubted my legs ability to get through two more laps. well two and a half, if you count the fact that we still hadn’t finished the third lap. i told stu but he said that he felt good and if he could do it then so could i. yay. two more laps. my heart wasn’t in it though.

as we tackled the finishline climb for the third time, brendan and i dropped back a bit from th
e rest of the pack with another guy stuck in between. we managed to push hard once the road flattened out and catch the other guy to get a draft for a sec. we all realized that we had to go hard to catch the others or it would be all over for us. brendan commented on how far the rubber band would stretch before we were totally gone. he stood up and sprinted up the road to manage to get back on, while i resigned myself to the embarrassment of riding be myself for a while.

the other guy didn’t make it back on either and was stuck in between me and the back of the pack. once we hit the patterson rd hill i tried to set myself a decent rhythm to grind my way up the hill. whenever i turned the corners on that hill, i could just see the pack ahead disappearing around the next bend with the other guy still hanging off the back. he looked around a few times, trying to judge whether i would be catching up to him to give him either a hand or some company. unfortunately i would be doing no such thing.

i set myself a goal earlier that i would be happy if i just finished the event. it was always going to be jumping in the deep end with my first race being a three stage tour, but i thought that in now can’t get any worse. sucking down carboshotz and making sure i kept drinking, i made my way up the climb and onto the decent. i managed to pass one of the open men who was having a worse day than me, and also one of the open women.

i now had two goals.
1. finish the damn race
2. don’t get lapped by either the open women on my fourth lap or the open men on the fifth lap.

i plugged away for another lap which was very uneventful. didn’t come across any other riders and saw not a soul either up or down the road. with no human company and no radio the only song that was on permanent repeat in my head was the last one i heard on the radio this morning. mika – big girls. i don’t like that song so much now. i would say that the most embarrassing thing would have to be crossing the line at the end of the fourth lap with quite a crowd there, knowing that i had one more to go.

anyway, with my legs shot, my brain fried and my bike now making crap noises after the crap weather on saturday, i finally rolled over the line. a quick look behind me and i saw no-one so i ducked over to the footpath where stu and chris were. as i got my breath back the open men flew past and continued on their final lap. i only just got my lap in before them. as this stage finished a fair distance from the start, i had to scab some money off chris for pepsi as i really needed sugar and caffine to get me back to the car.

a quick check of the speedo’s and it seemed that stu had put 12 minutes into me over the last two laps. it sounded like a lot, and it probably was, but i was just glad it was over.

in the women’s event, josie had broken away with a girl from queensland and took the stage win and a couple of minute’s advantage, with davina taking the bunch sprint for third. so at least someone had a good stage.

i rode back with stu to kalamunda and headed off to get changed. the opens had a criterium in the afternoon and i was so glad we didn’t as i don’t think my legs would have been able to back it up especially out of the corners every lap. so it was off to chicken treat for a carbo injection before settling down to watched the crit.

with a clear advantage in the open women’s event, it was going to be hard to beat josie for the overall, but davina managed a big sprint at the end to take the stage with mel second and josie third. this wrapped it up for josie, but it was good to see a couple of our sunday regulars taking two stage wins each.

as for my cycling race career, it was a good first attempt and i intend to keep it going with some more events during the year.

tour de perth – hills challenge

race report by mark

i won’t go into details of the lead up to the race, but jerry and i cajoled each other into entering, and i’m glad we did. after a school camp-over with my boys on friday night, and a wet and lazy saturday during which i felt very sorry for pete and stu, the real hard core riders, sunday morning found me driving up to the start in kalamunda.

i arrived at kalamunda at around ¼ to 8, and met jerry who was still umming and aahing about whether to ride. “no question” i reassured him, it would be good, and the weather was clearing.

registration was painless, and complete by 08h15. race to start at 08h50.
we ambled around a bit, then jerry went off to find a toilet, and i went back to the car to fetch my race number.

we met back at the start line at 08h47, and mingled in with the crowd waiting to start.
jerry remarked that they all looked a bit too relaxed and asked if they were doing the 100km ride.
“oh no” came the answer, “we’re doing the 50km. they 100km group left a little while ago”
what the f???

that was it. no time to stretch, gulp a drink of think about it. clip in and pedal like there’s no tomorrow.
the first 100m is up a hill (nice!), to the roundabout, and then down.
jerry stayed on my tail most of the way, but downhill is one of my favorites, so i waited on the uphill section.

i saw the first stragglers going up the other side as we approached the hairpin at the bottom of mundaring weir rd, and we caught them on the way up. i asked how far ahead the bunch were. “far already” was the answer. my heart rate stayed in the high 170’s to 180’s from there on. i psyched myself up for a long hard time trial – not my favorite event by any stretch, but at least i have a reasonable understanding of my body under race conditions, having done around 150 – 200 races between 1995 and 2004. unfortunately i’d only done around 5 social races after that!

i knew we had to ride smarter than the others to have a hope of catching them. that meant sharing the load, taking the race line through corners wherever possible, never dropping more than a foot behind the wheel in front, and always being in the drops when you’re in front on the flat or downhill. it’s all the little things that add up and make the difference in time trials. any wasted energy just meant we got less out for all our hard work, and we’d just be chasing for longer. i relied heavily on the fact that the real smart riders were either in the real tour de perth, or with pete and stu in the support race.

as we approached the descent to mundaring weir, i saw a few small bunches totaling maybe 20 or so up ahead. i knew i could catch them on the downhill, so backed off the chase a little.

around that time we caught another bike, who stayed with us and shared the load a bit for 5 km or so.

then the descent into the weir, and i cruised past several on the way down, and caught the first few of that bunch near the start of the climb on the other side.

we passed quite a few on the road up from the weir towards mundaring, although jerry being a doctor, is not such a risk taker, so i took it easy on the climb while he bust his guts to catch up.

it’s amazing how useful it can be to descend quickly in races. not so much by cornering fast (though that does help), but just by gaining on the fast straight downhills. around that time we caught the young riders choice guy who i stayed with till the end. He was strong and when i asked why he wasn’t with the front bunch, he replied that he was too slow on the downhills to stay with them.

that decreased our efforts in front by 30%, and meant that we could up the average speed, which we did. our new comrade hadn’t been chasing that hard till then, so was on fresher legs. we fixed that quickly.

it was fairly uneventful back to mundaring weir road; we passed a few more here and there, and the climb out of the weir was as horrible as always.
at least the conditions were perfect – about 20 – 25 degrees, little or no wind, and ok roads. somewhere along the way my polar monitor died, and reset itself, so i never established my actual final time.

another fast descent into the hairpin at the bottom or mundaring weir rd, then the very familiar climb up to kalamunda. but no incentive of coffee and ham & cheese croissant this time. just the thought of a u-turn, and more chasing. at least we’d soon find out how far back we were. about half way up we saw the leaders on their way down. i counted exactly 21 of them, spread over maybe 1km.

jerry took a split and estimated that we were 9 minutes behind the leaders at that point. we stuck together up the hill, at a moderate pace (i measured almost 10 min for the climb, that i’ve done in 8m20 on a good day). but at least then we’d been able to quantify the problem. i always tell my guys at work, a problem well defined is a problem half solved. i knew we wouldn’t catch the very front few, but a top 10 finish was possible. this race was not going to end in a bunch sprint, so the final climb would be crucial in gaining or maintaining positions.

another fast descent, and then waited for jerry and our newfound riders choice partner, before settling into a rhythm chasing the group. we saw them often in the next 50 km, but it took us until around 5km from mundaring before we caught them. the last 4 or 5 km were spent watching our riders choice mate doing all the work. He was a real legend and i did thank him profusely after the race.

somewhere at this point jerry got left behind, and ended up turning right at mundaring too early by mistake. this meant he inadvertently overtook the group at the u-turn which confused the hell out of me when we caught him up again. at the time i blamed the confusion on my mind playing tricks on me due to extreme overexertion (i’d averaged over 170 heart rate for about 2½ hours which is not good when your theoretical max is 175). once in the bunch of 12 or so i vowed to do as little work as possible from then on; and i’m pleased to say i stuck to my arrangement.

the pace was moderate but ok. we were not going to catch the front 8, so best to conserve to be able to defend any attacks, and save the rest for the final hill.
on the climb out of mundaring weir, i started to hit the wall, and fell behind the front of the group as it split up. i had to make one of those decisions which i hated doing; “how badly do you want this?”

i decided i wanted it badly. i called out to my friend called pain to stay away for a while, sucked on another carbo shot, stood up and pedaled hard to bridge a 100m gap. but i got there.

from there to mundaring weir rd climb to kalamunda i hid in the bunch, till the descent to the hair pin.

i gave it stick on the downhill, and pulled a gap of about 150m on the bunch. the legs did not feel good as i started the climb, and a chase group of five caught me after a few hundred meters. we stuck together sharing the load up the hill till the false flat where one guy broke away. i was in 5th place and shouted for the others to close the gap, but only one did. that created a gap of 50m very quickly. i made the mistake of hesitating, and then going. i closed to around 20m but then cramped in the calf, and fell back to the bunch immediately.

i was already in the big blade, but dropped down 2 gears and ground away, as this is the only thing that helps me with cramp.

that left four of us at the end of the false flat heading into the final sting of the hill.
i stayed behind till the next upward kink about 300m from the top and then kicked. fortunately the muscles behaved, and i pulled a comfortable gap of around 100m which i kept to the finish.

so i won my mini sprint up the hill, but i missed a top 10 by one place. oh well; shit happens.

nevertheless, i will remember it as one of the best races i’ve done, even though i’ll always wonder what might have been, if only ….

The website for the South Perth Cycle Club