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saturday 9th feb – benara rd

a forecast for strong easterly winds usually means a good ride along benara rd. this road runs directly east-west from caversham to noranda and goes for about 8kms. it may be a bit of a slog to get out to it, but coming home is always going to be fun.

bit of a weird week, weather-wise, as we finally got a reprieve from the oppressively hot days only to have the entire february rainfall in one day. even though the rain has cleared up, the cloud cover was still thick when i got up this morning. this kept both the morning temperature down and the actual daylight also low. damn daylight savings.

the route would be fairly simple today. out great eastern hwy, onto guilford rd, up west swan rd, hard along benara, down to whatley crescent and home. guilford rd would be hard into the head-wind and it was going to be a bit of a test to see if the group stayed together.

michael and i rolled out at the front of the pack and set a nice uneventful pace up great eastern and over the bridge from ascot. no dickhead drivers either, which made a pleasant surprise. along guilford rd the wind began to pick up and the leading riders were having to work a lot harder to keep the pace. occasionally some of our stronger boys would come to the front to lend a hand, but luckily not to increase the pace too much.

turning into west swan rd and we were all still together and it seemed that the boys were itching to go once we hit benara rd. i had previously stated that we could go all out on benara as long as we kept it together before, and regrouped after. surprisingly, it didn’t happen as soon as we turned the corner. everyone was kind of waiting to see who would make the first move first. it finally picked up and next thing we know we are doing 50km/h and are strung out. i wasn’t in ideal position, so had to drag myself up to the front in order to stay with the lead group.

the one problem with benara rd, is even though it goes for 8km, there are numerous stop lights and round about to contend with. the first round about comes up not long into it and immediately caused mass confusion. a car was coming from the right so the call was made and everyone chucked on the anchors to let them through. unfortunately, the lady in the car got scared and also stopped. this meant that we were trying to wave her through, she was trying to let us through and both riders and cars were not sure who was going through. in the end some slipped through while others waited and the car ended up somewhere in between. the road rules are that we give way, and we were doing that. unfortunately we didn’t come to a complete stop as we expected her to keep going so then we could automatically keep the pace up. it didn’t end up that way, but luckily no damage, just another driver that probably now hates us.

with a longer stretch to play with, the pace makers hit the front again and did a fine job of smashing the pack. by the time we hit the lights at altone rd, a very select group of five or six made it through as the lights went yellow. mike and cade were on the front and stopped pushing as we usually wait if the group gets trapped by the lights. not in this case, we are trying to push every advantage we can, so i went to the front and set the pace for a while. we continually swapped off the front and had a nice but very hard pace going until we caught the next set of lights at tonkin hwy. it would be a bit of a miracle if we actually got through those lights, so i was expecting a regroup at this point.

most of the group caught up, but we still had a way to go so back to the front to keep the pace high. we managed to string it out again, but everyone was beginning to waver a bit as even with a tailwind, the continuous efforts were taking their toll. it’s times like this that we really appreciate ryans limitless energy and single bloody mindedness that can often keep the pace up.

as we left benara rd, the pace slowed significantly allowing everyone to catch back up. a pleasant cruise through the suburbs of morley and bedford allowed everyone to catch their breath and get some fluids down. i realized that i had not really drunk that much along benara rd as i didn’t really have time, or enough breath to swallow between gasps.

there are a couple of rolling hills before we hit whatley crescent and we usually hit them hard. i had requested that we keep it together and the pack set a nice pace and didn’t try to smash it.

once we dropped under the rail bridge and onto whatley crescent, i was waiting for the pack to start hitting it hard. it was double lane almost all the way back to the coffee shop and there are a few rolling hills to contend with as well. ideal conditions with a tailwind and the blessing of the group meant that someone was bound to go. no-one went. not sure whether people didn’t know that they were on the final stretch into town, or that they didn’t know it was whatley crescent, but none of the usually suspects set out to smash the field.

michael and i were back about mid-pack and waiting for the break to go. i told him that on the hills ahead that we should go if no-one else does. we managed to spring off the front and surprise the head of the pack getting a gap straight away. michael neatly paced me up both the small hills before we started swapping off turns to try to keep the pack at bay. cade had broken away and was starting to bridge across, before we were held up slightly at a set of lights. the delay was not enough for the main pack to catch us, but cade jumped on once we were off again. we continued to swap off turns until around maylands station, i looked back and saw scott leading the group and right on our tail. i told michael we had been caught and we eased off the pace.

a perfect time to counter attack is when a break has been caught, and mike and cade went off the front together. a bad combination for the rest of us as both these guys could put some serious time into us. the pack was unorganized as people had been going hard for a while and the two of then managed to stay away. luckily, or should i say typically, they were held up by the lights at the graham farmer overpass, and we managed to regroup.

heading into the final sprint along riverside drive, michael and cade were on the front and itching to go. the lights had changed to allow a car to turn, so when they changed back, the two of them expected that ours would go green allowing us to go. unfortunately the light changed and allowed the riverside drive traffic to go, not us. cade and michael had anticipated the change and were already out in the middle of the intersection, so had to continue through. just like the paris-roubaix a couple of years ago when a few guys on the discovery channel team went under the rail crossing barrier, these boys were clearly in the wrong and have been duly disqualified.

the sprint opened up with doug and john hitting off the front as soon as we turned onto riverside drive. no-one seemed keen to go as it was still a long way to the end. we upped the pace to get on their wheels but still no-one jumped. i decided that i might be able to make the distance so took off hard to try to keep chris off my wheel. i managed to gap the field and kept the pace on. i had to look back a couple o
f times and rode like i was scared to keep them away. i was eventually caught at the victoria ave lights where i was held up.

when we pulled into the coffee shop, i had a look at my video camera and saw that it was off. damn thing keeps turning off after a couple of minutes of filming. will have to send it back. i’m a bit disappointed after it seemed to work well last sunday.

anyway, nothing else was really news worthy in the photo sense, so i took a couple of snaps of jerry’s new mavic r-sys wheels and dr paul was also really proud of his new pump as it does both valve types, so i got a shot of that too.

sunday 3rd feb – welshpool & observatory & kalamunda

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.

saturday 2nd feb – ridge hill rd

well we are into february already. easter eggs are starting to appear in the shops and pretty soon the damn awful day light savings will be over. apparently we are having the hotest summer in perth for 16 years. makes that extra hour of day light just delightful when it is still over 35 degrees with a howling wind. well you may have noticed that i don’t like it. i train in the morning and have family time in the arvo. daylight savings doesn’t work for me.

anyway, that was my little rant. today’s ride would take us back to ridge hill rd which we visited last sunday. however, instead of being a warm up climb, it would be the only one. the main reason that we headed this way was i wanted the group to come home via guilford rd. the wind was forecast to be a ene so it should have been a nice tail wind home. the rest of the route was straight forward. out great eastern, through guilford, over ridge hill, back down kalamunda rd and home along guilford rd. what could go wrong. well nothing. after broken collar bones etc, this was a pretty tame ride. i even had nothing to take a photo of, so i snapped the two waitresses that were serving our table.

again i requested that the group stay together. we would go hard up ridge hill and regroup afterwards, and stay together until bassendean in which we could go hard to get home. it all went magically to plan. steve b and dr nick led us out along the hwy and stayed on the front for a long time, but set a very nice pace. somewhere through belmont, a 4wd on the other side of the road travelling in the opposite direction yelled out some abuse. well dickhead, when you are travelling in excess of 60 km/h and yell something out your window, it all comes out sounding like blah, blah, blah. it doesn’t surprise me any more. there are dickheads everywhere.

once we got to west parade, dr nick swung off but mike b and ben came to the front. i was just about to do a turn but they insisted so i wasn’t complaining. there was a headwind too, so i was happy. we set a nice pace out to helena valley, but mike and ben were occasionally looking over there shoulder to see if anyone was going to help. i was there and was ready to take a turn, but if you have had enough on the front, peel off. we don’t have any hard and fast rules when it comes to doing work. you can easily sit in our group and not do any work at all and no-one will care. we don’t roll through unless we have to, but if you are tired, then just drop back as there will always be someone else ready to work.

so, we hit the hill with mike and ben having done a good 6 or 7 km’s on the front. good, i thought. it might wear mike out a bit. we started to up the pace as soon as the climb started, but i noticed that most of the pack was still holding on. mike set the pace and ben held his wheel. i just sat on to see what would happen. mike stepped it up again and ben dropped off, forcing me to come around to grab mike’s wheel. the pack started to really thin out at this point and i was having to really force myself to stay on wheel. the hill has a couple of steps in it and by the time we hit the first one it was only mike and myself left at the front with michael not far behind. mike kept the pace on and i was content just to hold his wheel, as realisticly i couldn’t come around anyway. by the time hit the second step, michael was on my wheel and i was stuck in a mike sandwich (not one of my favourite fantasies). we stayed that way over the top where we had about 100m on the rest of the pack.

we rolled down the other side and onto midland rd where we stopped to regroup, before kalamunda rd. we had a bit of trouble getting onto kalamunda rd as we had to turn right across 4 lanes of traffic. left hand turns are so much easier to plan for. we used to really turn it on along this stretch and i was dreading it today. however, i have been pleasantly and constantly surprised by the group as we kept it together all the way to guilford. i wanted take it easy along that stretch as it is not double lane for quite a bit of it and i didn’t want to run the risk of pissing off more motorist than we had to.

once on guilford rd and across the bridge, the road widens out and stays double lane all the way back to the coffee shop. with a nice tail wind, this was where it was going to be on. i wasn’t close enough to the front to see who went, but the group started to line out as riders hunted for a good wheel. there were a couple of guys up the road and the pack instinctively started to roll through. this went fairly well, until the right hand line disappeared and we were just in one long line. a couple of sets of traffic lights and most of the pack were back together. everyone was just kind of cruising, and probably more so, watching each other to see where the next attack would come from.

chris and myself were close to the front when the first of the continously rolling hills through maylands started. i stepped it up to see what the group would do and chris came with me. almost to the top and mike b came past both of us at quite a pace and easily formed a gap. i hit it as hard as i could and tried to chase him down. it took about a km (probably less but it felt long) but i finally caught him and thought we could work together to stay away. unfortunately roadworks and a small truck conspired against us, and we had to slow down.

as the truck acclereated out of the roadworks, steve r came around the pack and jumped on the back of it. he got a really good draft and managed to get through a set of lights that we were forced to stop at. the chase was now on to try to catch him before the city. i had to drop back into the pack as the escape with mike b had almost completely buggered me. the boys were doing a good job on the front and we managed to catch up just at the set of lights crossing the graham farmer.

there is one last little hill to go and i didn’t want to expend all my energy on it, so moved to the front to get a head start. i held ben’s wheel to the top and even though some of the boys (mike b) went hard, there were four sets of lights before the final sprint….and we got them all. so i was well rested.

we turned onto riverside drive and the last km and a half of the ride. no-one
wanted to go early, as ryan wasn’t there to do the long lead out. chris and i were on the front and everyone was just looking around. dr emma deceided to have a crack and came around the pack early on. everybody just looked at each other, unsure whether to chase or not as it was still a way to go. bugger it, i thought and went after her. up out of the saddle to ensure chris would not get on my wheel, i managed to catch, pass and then stay away from the pack till the lights turned red at the end of the road and allowed everyone to catch up. as the lights changed, steve r came around everyone and gave a two arm salute for his victory sprint. first to the coffee shop wins.
brett was waiting for us at the coffee again, his arm is now out of the sling, so a few more weeks and he may be back with us. i then spend the afternoon trying to work out how to mount the video cam on the bike. i think i got it working, so maybe tomorrow we can see some faces in pain as we tackle the hills. national olympic distance triathlon champs is on at the foreshore tomorrow, and in a previous life i would have gone down to it. now it is all about the bike.

sunday 27th jan – gooseberry & kalamunda

well it was forecast to be a hot one today and was already over 20 degrees by the time we started. about 25 rolled up to the start today which is a good turn out considering yesterday was australia’s national drinking day.

the course today was going to be as quick and painful as we could make it. two quick climbs before coffee then a bunch of undulations before heading home. the two climbs were gooseberry hill, and kalamunda rd. i really hate both these climbs as one is just too steep for me and the other i find hard to get into a rhythm. but cycling is all about testing yourself…and hurting other people as previously discussed.

we rolled out and headed along great eastern hwy avoiding the little patches of broken glass. aussies are tops at drinking and seem to be even better at smashing bottles on the road after they have finished. luckily there was only a smattering mostly near bus stops. the weather was nice, the pace was easy, nothing really to say about the ride out. it was just a good opportunity to have a chat.

once we approached the hills we picked up another couple of riders. russell, who often latches on if we are heading this way, and a new guy neill. he was just out an about and jumped on board for the ride. i had done a turn and had headed to the back so was right at the tail end talking to neill when we turned onto ridge hill rd. this wasn’t one of our main climbs, but is just steep enough and long enough to really hurt people.

as soon as the group hit the climb, it spread out across the entire lane. people were reordering themselves based on climbing ability and were trying to make their way around the slower riders. i looked up the road and greg and mike were close to the front, and i didn’t want to get left behind. up out of the saddle and a quick sprint around the pack found me at the front but also near out of breath. i sat on gregs wheel for a bit before hitting it a bit harder and seeing how many we could drop off from behind us. by the time we got to the zig-zag rd, only greg and mike were close behind. i was guessing that mike was saving himself for the next climb. greg also said that he expected there to be a further climb, so he may also have had quite a bit in reserve.

a quick regroup and we headed off to gooseberry hill. now this hill is not really that long, probably 2 kms max. but it does have some really nasty sections that make you want to find an easier gear. the climb is really broken up into 4 sections. the initial climb which is fairly steep, a reprieve in the middle, a really steep section followed by a f~ckin steep section. the wonderful thing is that each section is preceded by a corner, so you don’t really see it coming.

well i started mid pack again and had to come around the slower riders (i really must work on my positioning). once i got towards the front the pecking order had already started sorting itself out. i sat on gregs wheel with mike, jerry & michael in tow. we pushed on forming a gap to the others. i decided to see who wanted to hurt and came around greg to up the pace again. mike came with but the others kept up their steady pace. i am pretty sure once we hit the flatish section, it was only mike and myself, but greg may not have been too far behind. the reprieve section can often catch you out as you think that the hill is not too bad. you then turn the corner and start clicking back down the gears.

i tried to keep up with mike for as long as possible, but my legs were not working well today. i wasn’t smashing the heart rate, but my legs were just heavy especially the quads. i kept pushing on and tried not give mike too much distance. after the next little bend in the road and the road kicks up even further, i heard greg had caught back onto my wheel. as i said, i really hate this climb. if you are afraid of heights they say not to look down. with this climb, it’s best not to look up.

anyway, i kept the pace as high as i could so greg could not easily come around me. once i could see the road sign for the roundabout at the top, i accelerated a bit to see if i could close the gap a bit to mike and try to shake greg. dropped greg, but could not catch mike who was at least 50m in front once we hit the top. the only thing it did to me was put me very, very close to the spew zone. that awful feeling where, you know that you may have gone a little hard. i hate it as it takes a while to recover and i knew that the next climb wasn’t too far away.

the rest of the guys made their way up to the top of the climb, but no-one really looked happy. it is that type of hill.

a regroup, before a nice decent down the zig-zag. the zig-zag is often used by groups to come up to kalamunda as every other way involves a steeper climb. it is however, a one way road that goes downhill. we have used it in the past, but find it a bit too shallow to use for a sunday hills ride. it is scary when you find a car coming the other way towards you. that didn’t happen today as we were going the correct way.

the decent takes in 4 switch backs and was resurfaced a couple of years ago with nice smooth hotmix. only the last corner caused any problems as it was totally covered with gravel, so i waited to warn the rest of the pack. back down ridge hill rd again and onto kalamunda rd.

i don’t know why i don’t like this climb. we don’t do it very often as it can get quite busy. i have also avoided it lately as it takes us directly to the coffee shop and the temptation to stop early is too great. anyway, the gradient constantly changes which makes it hard to get into a rhythm could be the main reason we don’t get along.

i don’t remember a lot of what happened on this climb. i know greg was there at the start and i jumped on his wheel. then i think mike came around and i tried to stay with him as long as possible. he was going hard and again my legs didn’t want to play so i couldn’t hold his pace for long. looking back i could see jerry and michael together and i was stuck in no-mans land between. a saw another couple of riders up ahead and soon past dr paul. he obviously hadn’t stopped at the regroup to try to get a head start on the climb. i exhaled a greeting as i was starting to struggle by then. even the thought of keeping mike in sight by the top of the hill was going to be a hard ask. more than hard. he was long gone by the time i hit the funky gumnut roundabout at the top, but i did manage to keep jerry and michael at bay.

mike wasn’t stopping for coffee but when i rolled in i found that i wasn’t first either. darren and russell also hadn’t wai
ted at the base of the zig-zag and had beaten everyone else up the hill. well first to the coffee is the winner, so i couldn’t begrudge them that.

being a short ride, and doing a bit extra after coffee meant that we rolled up early for a change and promptly took over most of the outdoor section. service was excellent and one of the waiters continually bought out jugs of ice water which was well received. paris-brest cafe kalumunda (free plug).

the conversation at the coffee shop is varied and will often cover most topics. mostly bike orientated, but with eight doctors on the ride today, it can sometime take a bizarre twist. i recommend staying for coffee just to listen in on what is said as i can’t remember every detail. however, i would say that at least once every ride the whole table is pissing themselves laughing over some comment or story.

instead of the usual decent straight down welshpool rd, we were going to head down mundaring weir rd and though bickley valley, before heading back to the city. we usually head up this as the final climb of the day, so it was a pleasant change to be going down. we lost quite a few with a group of them deciding to take the quick way home. i was bring up the rear of the decent when i saw simon on the side of the road taking off his helmet. dr nick and myself pulled over to see what the problem was. apparently he had hit a bee at speed which had gone straight into his helmet and stung him on the scone. no allergy that he knew about so we continued, but i rode the rest of the way with him, dr nick and lindy.

the pack had waited near carmel school and we headed towards welshpool rd for the final decent. no cross winds today and i managed to keep up with the front guys. i even changed lanes at the bottom to take advantage of a passing 4wd’s draft and manged to crack 85 km/h but was pedalling at 140 rpm to do it. i need more gears for both higher and lower.

after a regroup, we headed along welshpool rd proper when adi dropped onto the tri bars and attacked off the front. unusual move as he is a very passive rider, probably cause he is young compared to the rest of us. with the wind behind us, most people took the opportunity to stretch their legs and took off after him. it was earlier than we usually go, but a fun diversion nevertheless. as we approached the final stretch along berwick rd the set of traffic lights at kent rd kept us fairly well together. i jumped at the lights and actually got on behind a couple of cars which were helping me to extend the gap. however, the road works conspired against me as one of the cars was turning so the other now couldn’t get around.

in the interest of making the world a safer place for pedestrians that don’t know how to look both ways, they are converting the rest of two lane berwick into single lane with huge traffic islands in the middle. these “traffic calming” devices are fine if you are a single cyclist, but now the cars cannot get around groups of riders as they don’t have enough room to pass before another traffic island appears. it just makes them hate us more.

anyway, we got the next set of lights which let everyone group up again. michael hit out hard and i jumped on his wheel, letting him draft me to the final sprint. as we approached the end greg and i think jerry started coming around so i got up out of the saddle and went for it too. the sore legs came back to haunt me as i got a bit of a gap but couldn’t maintain it and greg slid past at the end.

no last second car park crashes like last week, so i good ride all around. the morning was heating up so it was off home to a shower and an air-con, before watching the crits in vic park. legs are also looking forward to the recovery ride tomorrow. the picture is supposed to be of where the bee stung simons head, but he didn’t do the decent thing and swell up for the camera.

saturday 26th jan – rebold & cott

smaller turn out today as i expect that some people were taking advantage of the three day weekend and had gone away. probably about 30 or so which is definitely more manageable with getting through the traffic lights.

today’s route was basically a combination of the christmas ride and other routes close to the city. we took out the confusing city bits and would head down mounts bay rd instead. up winthrop past kings park, along hay st till we cut through perry lakes and up over rebold hill. back down west coast hwy then loop around past cottesloe and home via dalkeith and mounts bay rd.

we headed out canning hwy after saying that i would like to keep it together as long as possible and hoped like hell that they would. i had talked to a few of the better guys about not chasing down people that took off early so hopefully it would all be good.

a nice easy pace along riverside dr and mounts bay rd meant the the group kept together well. once we turned up winthrop the steady climb, i suspected, would convince some people to go hard cause they can. michael and i were second wheel heading up the rise and held a steady pace. steve b at the front decided to push a bit and would get a small gap before looking back and realising that no-one was coming to play. he did this a few times before getting bored and dropping back into the pack. a nice easy run down hay street in subi was nice as it is one way and the latte crowd hadn’t woken up yet. even the speed humps are quite low and don’t cause much grief.

a couple of undulations as hay st became underwood and we were still all together. passing through perry lakes drive there would have been at least 20 – 30 women on mountain bikes and other cruisey style bikes. must have been some “get to learn cycling” group which is good to see. we need more people on bikes.

over rebold hill, a couple of guys upped the pace a bit but nothing too drastic as everybody got back on (as far as i know – add comments if i am wrong) once we hit west coast hwy. i thought this may have been an area where we would lose people as it was heading into the wind, but a number of light changes meant that the group held well.

i ended up back on the front again and kept the pace steady with ben, down to the marine pde roundabout. a new smooth surface and slight tailwind was just begging for an increase in pace. ryan came to the front and asked if he could use his big chain ring. as long as we regrouped once we headed back towards west coast hwy there was no problem.

it’s not like i am trying to restrict people riding, but i am also trying to increase peoples social time during the ride. have a chat to the guy next to you. find out what they do for a living. see if they have any daughters over the age of consent. it is amazing the cross-section of humanity that cycling brings together.

anyway, the result of letting ryan go was that people like to test themselves and went with him. which is fine, except the guy that past me on the left side without warning me. i have a new toy for my bike. and all in one video camera that you can mount either on your helmet or bike. this was an experiment and i captured way too much sky, which meant that the riders came out a bit dark. anyway, i stuffed up and missed getting footage of the sprint later on, so below is the best i could do. (sorry about the sound, i thought i had turned it off)

anyway, the group spread significantly along past cott, which is a shame as you spend more time chasing than looking at the scenery, but regrouped at the lights as we turned to go past swanbourne shops. i suspect that we lost a few along the way, but time was starting to get away from us and we had to continue on.

that has been a bit of a problem lately. i lengthened some of the rides to make sure we didn’t finish early, but now the slowing of the pack has meant that we are taking longer. i am happy to let the boys smash it from the start, as long as there is someone to control the second group. not that we are all idiots. people just like to be told what to do, none of those stupid decision things.

well we were on our way home so the boys could do what they wanted. as expected the pace started to increase, but it was strange as the usual drivers were not at the front. it was as though the group new that we were going to increase anyway, so guys that don’t always push hard, were at the front forcing the pace anyway.

as victoria ave swings into jutland pde, and the road rises slightly, a group came to the front headed by ryan. this is his usual attack point as he know that he can hold it all across the slight rises, all the way to steves hotel. i got boxed in and had to fight my way around to chase back on. then got boxed again on the next rise. maybe i’m just no good at choosing wheels.

things calmed down a bit as we made our way past the uni as everyone was getting ready for the final push along mounts bay rd. ryan was about second wheel and i was sitting around fifth, so i thought that i may have been a bit too far back to get him when he jumped. however, as the lights changed and we rolled onto mounts bay rd, he slowed down and let some of the others lead him out.

the pace was on, but people weren’t rolling through as they wanted to hold there position, so the guys on the front started to flag a bit. michael decided to push the issue and took off up the road by himself. still no-one chased and the guys at the front didn’t change position. once the swan brewery was just around the corner, i started to chase michael down. i didn’t “explode” off the front, so i knew that i had everyone else on my tail. in typical cyclist thinking, if i wasn’t going to be first, then neither was michael. i managed to catch him before the brewery but was already into the 190’s and rapidly approaching the spew zone. a quick flick of the elbow and pretty much everyone else came past me as i gulped air.

so in the end i don’t know who got to the line first, but i have a fair guess that it was ryan.

being australia day, we got caught up in some bike path closures and had to back track a bit to get to the coffee shop. some of the others turned off and went back across to mends street, but the majority ended up at bells. with the road closures, though, there were not many people at the cafe, so service was prompt.

brett had decided to make the effort to come down and have a coffee with us as his arm is still in a sling from his fall. no pins or plates so it will be probably 5 weeks will he is back with us. his bike, however, will not heal that easily and a frame replacement may be in order. apart from that, he seems ok but it is not a situation that any of us want to go through again…..especially brett.

on a further note. i went down to watch the criteriums on riverside drive in the arvo. when i say that we upped the pace, it is probably not even half of the standard pace the open men’s division was doing into the strong head wind. those boys are in a different league.

correction – apparently wayne took ryan in the sprint at the end.

sunday 20th jan – patterson & canns & urch

well today was going to be the hardest set of hills that we have planned. of course i could devise a total bastard of a course, but i do want some people to come back again. we had 18 starters this morning, as i actually remembered to count before we left. none of the usual climbers had turned up so i was a bit unsure how the ride would go. there were a couple of new boys along for the ride, so i thought i would wait to see how things developed.

the course today would take us down towards armadale and to the start of the brookton hwy. a quick turn before the big orange building (hardware or hire place) and we would take the first climb up patterson. down and then up canns rd before a really good decent along soldiers rd to pop out halfway up brookton hwy. cross over up peet and then urch which takes us to the top of the kahuna from a couple of weeks ago. the usual ride back towards kalamunda before the final climb up mundaring wier rd. all in all a pretty tough ride due to the severity of the climbs. it also meant that it would be fairly long as any ride we do down towards armadale will be around the +90km.

so we headed off along berwick and onto albany hwy. the predicted easterly winds were getting an early start and making it hard going, especailly once we got to gosnells and there was not as much cover alongside the road. a nice moderate pace was set, and people took turns on the front all the way to brookton hwy. it is about 25km to the first climb, so at a nice pace it gives you a good oppurtunity to have a chat. once onto brookton hwy we lost our first two as dr paul and dr ian decided they had nothing to prove and would ride straight up brookton then along to the coffee shop.

the wind was ripping off the hillside quite well which made the little section of brookton difficult. as we hadn’t even started the climb yet, i was starting to get a bit worried. we turned off and onto some suburban back roads which lead to the climb. now patterson is an absolute bitch of a climb. it would be less than a km, but i would say it averages about 15% with some steep pinches in the middle. it is so steep, but still has houses on either side of the road. i really can’t understand how half these people mow their lawn as even pushing one of them would be a challenge. i would recommend the flame thrower method of gardening.

anyway, the climb started and doesn’t rise that sharply. there is a left hand bend just after and you look up the road at at least another 500m of sharp climb, before it backs off a bit. i was at the front with one of the new guys. he had that whippet look about him, so i thought i would see how he goes. as ryan, stu & mike were not with us today, i was looking for someone to push me. this, however, is not the type of hill were you want to totally blow up as if you stop, it is really hard to get going again.

the new guy, turns out to be greg, who ryan had invited along. so even though ryan wasn’t there, he still sent someone to hurt me. well as the climb went skyward there was a loud ping/crunch from back in the main pack as nick had dropped his chain at the most inappropriate moment. as the climb progressed i started to fade and greg got a bit of a break. i just tried to maintain and keep ahead of the rest, but josie eventually caught and past me. i had a strange feeling. my inside elbows were feeling sore as i was pulling up so hard on the bars that my arms were fatiguing. i kept pushing as best i could and hit the top about 25m from josie and greg. jerry came in not far after me as he has been climbing well lately.

the remaining 12 riders followed in dribs and drabs as you would expect with a hill of this steepness. everyone agreed that it is a bitch of a climb but i think it was a good warm up. at least everything afterwards would seem easier.

a very short quick decent and we turned onto canns rd. this is a very moderate climb with only a few slight pinches that interrupt your rythmn. it is a good climb to really test your cardio endurance as you can hold a good pace and try to out run the others.

as the climb started and the pack started to spread out a bit i hear this car horn and look around. this white magna is trying to come around and has got impatient. he floors it to get around the guys then flys up past us missing me by about half a metre. there was nothing coming the other way so he didn’t need to do that. just another arse hole really. it did piss me off a bit so i actually chased to see if he turned off anywhere. all i ended up doing was gap greg, josie and darren, and left me on my own. i just ploughed on ahead not pushing too hard but enough to keep the gap.

we regrouped at churchman’s brook rd and continued on. the decent down soldiers rd is great for a mid ride reprieve. the top section is a bit rough but it soon turns to hotmix and widens out significantly. there is one tight-ish corner on the top rough section and scott got caught out there about a year ago. it is all left handers then a tight right hander by which time you build up quite a bit of speed. scott went in a bit hot and his front wheel folded underneath him. quite a lot of gravel rash and a taxi ride home for him that day. i didn’t want to go through that again.

so i lead the decent so that i could ease things up on the offending corner. but i guess as i have riden this way a lot, i have gotten used to the road a bit, so we stretched it out through the corners. once we hit the hotmix, it is all on. they have fixed a number of the bumps and you can easily get to 70 km/h just rolling. there are only a couple of corners where you may need to brush a bit of speed off, but over all the best part of the ride.

we lost a couple more as a mate of shao didn’t have quite a good decent on a full tri bike, so took it easy. they both had time commitments so we left them as they were going straight up brookton hwy.

we crossed over onto peet rd and began the next climb. unlike the other week, we were now doing the bottom half of peet rd then truning onto urch and continui
ng to climb. the bottom section is quite steep. it probably averages about 10% and you can really feel it. greg set a good pace so i decided to just hold his wheel to see how he went. we dropped the others and quite quickley put a big gap into them. by the time we reached urch, we could not see them further down the road.

slight reprieve at the start of urch as it headed back down slightly. the climb on the other side kicks up quite sharply, then flattens then up again and again. greg and i hit the climb and started to up the pace. once it got to the stage that we were standing on the climb, i deceided to see how far i could push him. i kept standing and pushed towards the top of the first pinch and managed to put a significant gap into him. i didn’t quite push into the red zone, but my heart rate was defientely in the 180’s and i was panting like a dog. i managed to keep the gap to the end and sat up when it flattened out before joining onto canning mills rd.

we regrouped on canning mills rd and we were lucky to have anyone with us as the rest of the pack got a bit confused on peet and wasn’t sure wether they had to turn onto urch. another pleasant surprise has been the waiting time at the top of climbs seemed to catch me out. i would be talking to someone and look up to see that everyone was ready to go. so off we went.

the trip across the top to the pickering brook intersection was relatively uneventful, with just a couple of small climbs to further weaken the climbing legs. another regroup and we lost another as josie turned off early as she didn’t need to do quite as many km’s today.

as we headed down past the carmel sanitarium school, the best sphincter tightening experieince happened to greg. on the little decent, where you can quite easily get to 70 km/h, he was hit with a slight cross wind and the whole bike started the speed wobbles. it’s not something you want to happen to you and if you have never had it before, it scares the crap out of you. he managed to get it under control, but i would say at the expense of a clean pair of knicks. i waited for him to make sure he was ok, and we made our way through bickley valley.

i deceided that i was now too far away from the front of the pack to push the pace on the final climb up mundaring weir rd. instead i waited for the back markers to make sure that they were ok. as we hit the bottom of the climb i put the power down and was going to see how many of the group i could catch before the top. heart rate well above 180, panting for oxygen, and legs screaming at me i managed to pass almost everyone on the lower slope and had jerry in sight by the time we hit the “flatter” section. he looked back at this point and saw me, but i was still a fair way back. whacking it into the big ring i pushed hard to gain as much ground as i could before the gradient increased again. by the time we were on the last pinch i had him well and truely within spitting distance. i was a bit afraid that i would max out trying to reach him, but dug deep regardless and pushed it into the 190’s and almost to the point of no return. however, i caught and past him about 10 m from the kom line on the road. he said he didn’t even hear me coming.

i was pretty much spend. it must look funny to the others at the coffee shop as we often look like crap when we arrive. sweat dripping everywhere, looks of pain or just that blank stare when the light has gone out inside.

dr paul and dr ian were waiting at coffee shop already so we pulled up a table and ordered. service was exceptional today and the coffee’s came out quick. probably trying to get rid of us before the brunch crowd gets in.

anyway, dr paul recounts their road wanker experience they encountered on the way to the coffee shop. on a very quiet back rd (near where greg had the wobbles), a guy in a car comes up beside paul and ian and starts abusing them for riding two abreast and making it hard for cars to get around. he is doing this while driving on the wrong side of the road. dr paul said that he was very polite, but he is also very sarcastic so i’m guessing he just told him where to go. people just hate us cause they can.

coffes’s down and back on the bike. another car deceides to try to take jerry out, by waiting till the last minute before pulling out of a side street. he had all the time in the world, but waited till it became dangerous. nice cruise down welshpool rd, but the wind was a bit funny and only got to 78 km/h or so. slowed down at the bottom so that simon could catch my wheel, then time trialed it to the lights at tonkin hwy. a last regoup and john told us that he had the wobbles on the decent. he had them really bad last year during a cyclo-sportif race so got rid of the giant to buy a pinerallo. he is a tall, solid guy, so unless he goes full custom, i don’t think it will make any difference. he managed to get the wobbles under control though, so no damage.

the last slog up welshpool was a pleasure with the tailwind and a couple of guys had a bit of at go to see how far they could get. as usual, dr melvyn was one of the main antagonisors. the final sprint to the coffee shop and i thought i would wait to see who would have a go. jerry decided to lead out early, but chistophe and myself managed to get on his wheel. right towards the end, christophe came around me so jerry started his sprint, i had the perfect lead out with these two side by side so managed to come past in the next lane.

as the remainder of the pack came into the car park, there was a noise like a bike skidding on gravel. we look around the corner, and dr marc had slid the bike out about 3m from the very end of the ride. no real damage besides a bit of skin, bar tape and pride.

saturday 19th jan – reverse hale rd

not a bad turn out this morning. about 40 or so but it may have looked even bigger as mickey’s novice group is also growing. bruce was back with us after his girlfriend had a baby girl last week which meant he couldn’t ride. no commitment from some people.

anyway, the route would take us up great eastern hwy across ascot and along guilford rd. cut across to kalamunda rd then back down hale to welshpool rd and home via shep rd. the forecast was for south easterly winds so this should give us a nice tailwind home.

i reiterated again that we need to keep it together until we get back to welshpool rd and just keep it to a moderate pace. i’m not trying to restrict peoples riding, but we have the safety of the group to worry about. it frustrates drivers even more if they have five little groups they need to negotiate rather than one pack.

so we headed off with steve b and scott on the front. already there was a bit of half wheeling going on but i was sitting second wheel so if they started upping the pace too much i would just let them go. it was to early on in the ride for anyone to chase anyway. we picked up nev on the way. another good reason for posting the route beforehand. at least you can be a bit late and still know where to catch up. paul g mentioned that i was looking like a concerned father, as i was constantly looking over my shoulder to make sure the group was together. i guess that is just how it has developed lately.

as we cruised up great eastern, there were two utes of note. one over took us at a slow point and the passenger said “hey, peleton!”. maybe he was french, or maybe he got the munchies late one july night and caught a bit of the tour on sbs. probably the latter. the second ute of note was on the other side of a two lane hwy, going in the other direction, and the driver yelled out “get off the f~ckin’ rd”. maybe he was….nah, i’m not making excuses for him, he was obviously a f~ckhead.

across ascot and onto guilford rd where chris and myself took to the front. nice easy pace where i could still carry on a conversation. i also needed to be on the front as we had a few turns once we got into guilford, so i wanted to make sure we went the right way. a couple of turns later and we were on kalamunda rd. the pace was ok and i saw that there was one of the new guys, john, on the front. he started with mickey’s group and found it a bit slow, so stepped up. the group stayed together well through high wycombe, then i noticed john coming back through the pack. he had pushed a little too hard on the front to maintain the pace and was not really really paying the price. few more km’s practice at pace and he will be right. there is no easy way to get better. even with epo you still need to do some training. (not speaking from experience, or i would be a lot better).

it was about this point, as dr melvyn and i were riding together, that i remarked to him that dr pauls campagnolo knicks looked a bit see thru on the white strip that crossed his arse. the couple of inches of crack was confirmation of this. we didn’t tell him till we got back to the coffee shop though. also made a conscious effort to not ride behind him. “back in the cupboard for them” he declared when we mentioned it. not before getting a photo though, so everyone can see.

after crossing roe hwy, we still stayed together well. i was being repeatedly surprised by the groups restraint. these were the normal smash it spots as it is wide roads and head crosswinds that would hurt the group. we turned into hale, (or hawtin as it is called at the northern end), and this pretty much marked the halfway point. a little way along here i tried to change into the big ring and it seemed to half go, then drop back. funny. i tried again and noticed nothing happened. i grabbed the cable from under the down tube and it was very, very slack. bugger, broken cable and now i was stuck in the little ring. well i guess there will be no sprint for me.

it stayed together for about one km, then cade decided to come around everyone and shoot off the front. i was about third wheel and was hoping like hell that no-one would chase. they all knew we were going to stay together till welshpool, and i had even reiterated it to cade as we were on kalamunda rd.

well no. the front few guys took of after him. i just shook my head and held my pace with paul o next to me maintaining the group. ok, i thought, a few had gone, but let them go as i’m not going to yell at them and treat them like kids. (i will blog them instead). so they start putting some distance into us and i keep maintaining the same pace we were supposed to go. a few more break out and come around us to bridge to the break away. even some of the not as good riders tried to bridge, and ended up in another group stuck between us and the break. i just kept the pace but was shaking my head every time someone came around. there would have been about 15 riders that went.

the lights at tonkin sorted them out and we caught them there. i went to the front and had a few words, but in reality, what can i do. we have such a spread of abilities that i have to try to keep everyone happy. if anyone wants to step up and lead a slower group, i would be very happy. and by slower i mean the constant pace that we did for the majority of the ride. it was still over 30 km/h so it wasn’t a total cruise, but not the +40 km/h that happened later. for all the boys that went off the front, i would say that at some point in there schooling, the report card said either “doesn’t listen to instructions” or “blindly follows what the other boys tell him to do”.

anyway, we got onto welshpool rd and the pace picked up as expected. i knew i w
as going to have a rough time as i was gear limited, but managed to hold pace as a number of the stronger guys went to the front. as i have said in earlier posts in needed to work on my spinning, so it was probably good for me. i was glad i had an eleven cog on. the lights at leach pulled us back together slightly and the new hotmix they had laid was very nice to ride on. no real attacks followed, but just a general upping of the pace till shep rd.

not sure who was waiting for what, but the pace eased a bit along shep. maybe everyone was now trying to make sure they had their breath back before we hit the causeway and lined up for the final sprint. with ryan playing surf life saver this morning, there were a lot more in with a chance of not being totally blown away. bruce had turned off early to tend to his new daddy duties, so this really limited the number of potential sprinters down.

i decided to have a dig on the last rise before the causeway lights. the lack of gearing didn’t help, and probably just hurt some of the chasers more than anything. we lucked the lights and hit the causeway at a bit of a pace.

i tried to hold on as long as i could, but didn’t even make it across the second bridge before my cadence got the better of me and i had to ease back. it is not the most ideal sprint finish as there is two sets of lights and the second set is the finish line. not easy to pick a winner if everyone has to slow down to stop getting killed. anyway, they got held up at the first set at plain st so i thought i was in with a chance to get back on, but they only slowed a bit then the lights went green. i just cruised in to the end, but they got caught again at victoria st so i think it was a bit of a dud in the end.

so coffee awaited, or hot chocolate in my case, and a chance to socialise, which is the whole point of this ride. the coffee shop seemed to have gotten a few more wait staff as the coffee’s were coming out pretty fast. however, dr melvyn had found a way to circumvent the wait and ordered a milkshake instead.

i had a big day of stripping the bike down ahead of me as i needed to add a few gears before tomorrows hills ride. i also had a new bottom bracket to install and had to tilt the new saddle down a bit as i was wondering why i was getting a bit sore up front.

stay safe.

update for saturday 12th jan

i have talked to the three involved in the crash on saturday and all are doing ok.

wally has a few grazes and was a bit sore on saturday and sunday but generally ok.
he is very glad that he had a helmet on as it pretty much smashed in half.

darren went to see a doctor as a precaution and has a bit of tendon damage in his left hand and a bruised bone in his right wrist, which is why he said holding the bars was difficult.
apart from that, just a bit of skin off and some bruising.

brett said he felt like he has been hit by a truck. not surprisingly.
definitely a broken collarbone and may need to go see a specialist to have it pinned and plated.
also missing some skin from a few places, but back at work now but probably only typing one handed.

i think we were lucky there was no traffic and we were at a slow speed, otherwise it could have been a lot worse.

again, just to reiterate not to cross wheels, hold a straight line and call out any obstacles.

stay safe.

sunday 13th jan – greenmount & parkerville & mundaring

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.

Sth Perth Sunday Ride 04 (Greenmount &amp Parkerville &amp Mundaring Weir)
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saturday 12th jan – freo & cott

it’s just not the sound you want to hear as you are riding along. the scrap of metal on the road and the thud of bodies hitting the deck. just not pretty.

well it all started nicely. i gave a bit of a spiel before the ride saying that we really need to hold it together for longer before we smash the group to pieces. this meant that we should all ride at a reasonable pace (30km/h) for three quarters of the ride, then the last 10 km can be a smash fest. no complaints and it also allows the ride to be more social, which is what it is supposed to be.

anyway, the course today was going to take us down the canning hwy to freo, but we would turn into attadale to get off the main road and meander gently along the river side. once we got to freo we would go up the coast to cottesloe and back to the coffee shop via dalkeith. it is a pretty standard ride and most people would know the way. well it didn’t quite go to plan.

the first part of canning hwy is always a pain. lots of lights, and with the group consisting of over 40 riders again, we were sure to catch the lights. bit of stop start, but generally we were going along fine. once we hit the backside of applecross there is a bit of a section of no lights that we can get into a bit of a rhythm. along here we group swerved due to a shoe sitting in the middle of the road. i was riding about 4th wheel so had plenty of time to move around it. next thing i hear is a yell and the crunch noise associated with a bike and rider hitting the deck. a quick look over my shoulder and i still see bikes and people getting airborne.

not exactly sure what happened as i have heard a number of different stories. whether it was people trying to avoid the shoe, or a drain on the side of the road or whatever, there was a touch of wheels and dr ian (or wally as he is known) went down hard. hard enough to totally crack the rear of his helmet. it seems that brett was riding behind him and when straight into wally’s bike and over the handle bars. darren then hit brett’s leg and took a face plant as well. three down and rest took evasive action to prevent any further damage. luckily it is a two lane road and there were no cars behind us.

well i scream out for the group to stop and turn around to check the situation. as i approach the smell of burning rubber was quite strong. some people really locked it up to avoid the stack. wally was being helped off the road and seemed quite out of it. maybe a slight concussion, which would be no surprise considering the state of his helmet. some of the riders were slowing the traffic down and others were collecting bike accessories that were strewn across the road. dr greg and dr paul were having a look at brett who was lying flat on his back on the nature strip. suspected broken collar bone and a few bumps and bruises. darren was being helped onto the medium strip but just seemed a little shaken.

anyway, we debated calling an ambulance but instead called brett’s wife to come and pick him up. wally was not too bad after a bit of a rest and russell rode him home to make sure he got back ok. darren opted for continuing with the ride, as he only had a bit of bark off (see picture). dr greg and paul stayed back with brett to make sure he was ok and the rest of us rolled on with the ride. probably the last thing brett needed was 40 other people standing around looking at him. i called him at about 11 and he was still in the hospital. x-rays had confirmed that he did break his collar-bone so he will be off the bike for a while and will only join us for the coffee portion of the ride. great way to start the new year.

well, as i said the rest of us rolled away, and headed towards freo along side the river. not surprisingly, the mood was a bit subdued and people were taking it pretty easy. a hard hit out over the back of the pt walter golf course hill soon shook things up, but we rolled down the other side to allow a regroup. we cut a bit of the course out as we were a bit behind time and crossed the stirling bridge instead.

along port beach road, some of the boys decided to have a crack. even though is said we would keep it together until dalkeith, some guys have too much testosterone. anyway, i wasn’t going to yell at them and tried to keep the group together as best i could. it was amazing how many people then took off around the bunch to try to chase these guys down. the pace was higher than expected along past cottesloe but the group came back together after we turned off marine parade.

once we crossed back over stirling hwy and into dalkeith, it was definitely on. now i don’t mind this as everyone know the way home, it is long enough to test your legs, and there are short cuts for the weaker riders. it got strung out pretty early, but there are a couple of intersections that always allow for a bit of catch up. coming down past steve’s pub, i noticed sharon in the group. wow, hard pace and she held on near the front. not quite, as she knows the main short cut through waratah ave.

as we pushed on towards the uni, there were less than ten of us making up the final selection. i have a tendency to go early. way too early. so early that most people know that i will be caught before the end. not today. even though i was at the very back, i saw that gerry was on ryan’s wheel only two riders ahead of me. same as last sunday, i thought. just get on gerry’s wheel and come around him when he takes ryan. i watched ryan look around a few time so i came around the two guys in front of me to make sure i didn’t miss the jump.

he jumped. gerry wasn’t ready and missed by about half a metre. this is way too much with ryan as he is so explosive off the mark. i still jumped on gerry’s wheel as we came around the rest of the pack. i was hoping ryan would fade and gerry would drag me up, but the opposire happened. gerry faded and ryan kicked again. i came around gerry but couldn’t catch ryan by then and he beat me to the line (60km sign by the swan brewery) by a good 20+ metres.

a roll to the coffee shop, where mickey’s novice group had already taken up residence, and a well deserved brew awaited. no broken coffee machine this week, so a better finish than last week. lots of “i was just behind him when” type recaps of the accident, which is why i am getting different stories. probably the most important thing is not to cross wheels with the guy in front and have a few doctors on your ride.

anyway, stay safe. stay upright.

Sth Perth Saturday Ride 01 (Freo &amp Cott)
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