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.