ride report by peter
so my first hills ride in a long time and before i even started, i knew it was going to hurt. if i hadn’t been racing, i had been unable to ride due to other commitments. the racing was generally on flatter courses too, so it has been a different style of riding.
many of the usual suspects toed the line this morning, but we had an influx of estrogen as we also had four girls come out with us. davina was out on her final hills ride before she heads to the usa for eight weeks of racing. you can keep tabs on her progress via her blog which can be found here. a friend of hers, bec, also joined us along with sandy, who i used to do triathlons with, and anna an old regular. as far as the blokes went, we had ryan to keep us honest on the hills and carlo, a friend of stu’s who was a bit of a dark horse.
i had mapped out a new route this morning to take in the mundaring weir road. we often ride mundaring weir, but are usually heading towards kalamunda for coffee rather than away from it. i thought the change would be good, but to get to it, we would have to get across the scarp via welshpool rd. after mundaring, we would head back through darlington and back up to kalamunda for coffee. it was planned to be just over 100km by the time we got home.
the morning was fresh, but not as cold as yesterday. everyone was rugged up but wary of the fact that it was going to warm up as the day progressed. we headed out great eastern hwy to get onto orrong rd and picked up mike on the way out. great, both mike and ryan to hurt us on the hills. nice and uneventful on the way out and pretty soon we were beginning to climb the “lower slopes” of the welshpool hill.
everyone had been doing turns on the front and just as the road began to point upward, the guys peeled off to leave sandy and anna to lead the way up the climb. michael came to the front with davina on his wheel and i jumped on as he set the pace. a train of ryan, mike, mark and a new guy, carlo came past as the climb got harder. i switched wheels to see how long i could stay with them. i was sitting on carlo’s wheel when ryan swapped turns with mike and set a higher pace. i pulled off to the side and i think jerry may have been there too. all blood was channeled to legs so the short term memory was not functioning properly. anyway, eventually it ended up being ryan, mike & carlo up the road and they had about 100 metres on mark and myself by the time we past the servo.
after that, i don’t really know what happened to the front guy’s navigational skills. all three turned up lesmurdie road. when have we ever turned up that way??? mark asked me if we were going straight and we just kept powering by as they eventually looked back down the road and realised their mistake. the aim now was to try to stay ahead of the hapless trio.
as we crested the next section, we saw a few cyclists a bit further up the road. these turned out to be, doug, dr paul & dr greg. doug had lives up that way so always joins after the start, whilst the docs had left early and were going to do their own thing.
after the second “step” in the climb, we were still ahead of them but they were closing fast. ryan and mike had dropped carlo and very soon they had overtaken us. it was now a matter of jumping on board and holding on till the end. on the final pinch i tried a bid for glory, but came up a little short as they caught me as we crested the rise. we then rolled down to the intersection together. there may have been a dispute as to who should really claim the first on this climb, but the commasaires have reviewed the tape and have declared that they were stupid to turn up lesmurdie road.
a regroup at the top and we were off into bickley valley. a few of us tried for the landspeed record down the glenisla rd as it was ideal weather with little wind at that time. as i said yesterday, it was the winter solstice, which is the shortest day of the year. as we past through bickely valley it still had not seen the sun and was absolutely freezing. their winter solstice must mean a day of only three hours direct sunlight. another quick regroup to make sure we had everyone and we were off again, but unlike every other ride, we were heading away from the coffee shop.
the road to mundaring has a couple of main climbs and a lot of undulations in between. we hit the first one as soon as we turned onto the road and as i was “leading the way” i ended up with a decent gap on the rest of the field. carlo bridged across to me and soon ryan, mark and mike were there too. jerry briefly tried to make it across, but was a little short and didn’t manage to get a wheel.
the pace wasn’t high, but consistent, and we swapped off turns all the way to the weir. the decent into the dam wall was a lot of fun, especially the last couple of hundred metres where they have laid hotmix. all that road needs is about 20km more of it and it will be awesome.
as we came up out of the weir, we changed plans and would stop at the roundabout as i was concerned that some of the group may not know the way and would get lost. this meant that the second climb would not be that long, and ryan could go harder sooner. he did. about halfway up the first pinch out of the weir, he started going hard. mark and carlo dropped off but i managed to hang on, but only just. just as the climb approached the roaundabout and the grade steepened, both mike and ryan stepped on the gas and i had to let them go. i think mike pipped ryan for line honors.
regroup and off again. the pack stayed together till about the halfway point, where ryan, mike and carlo took off on one of the rolling hills. i again, managed to stay around for a bit but soon ran out of legs and could not hold wheel. mark and darren picked me up as they came past and we were only about 150 metres behind once we hit the regroup point again.
the rest of the decent into darlington was going to be controlled and the group would stay together. there were too many twists and turns for people to get lost in, and michael and i also wanted to take the group down one of the steepest hills in the area. this particular hill is called mills rd and averages about 17%. when going up (and we will do this one soon) your arms get sore from pulling up on the bars and you are always searching for an easier gear. when going down, you are going over the crest and still can’t see the bottom of the hill. you tend to ride the brakes the whole way down as you pick up speed in no time. there is also a semi-blind corner that you don’t want to cut, just in case. a small bonus climb to get us to darlington, and we started another descent.
this eventually brought us out at the base of ridge hill rd, our last bonus climb for the day. my legs were not cooperating by now and when carlo and ryan went, i couldn’t really respond. i just rode tempo to the top but kept them in sight till the start of the zig zag.
as we regrouped a coup happened. not from within the ranks, but rather from my legs. they said “i swear that if you make us ride up kalamunda rd i will put your foot through the spokes when you are coming done welshpool”. they were pissed, and who could blame them. i hammered them pretty hard today, and they were out of condition to start with. my cardio backed the legs and my brain made my mouth tell everyone that i think we should just go strai
ght up the zig zag. a few of the others turned off to go home and then ryan and mike took off up the zig zag at pace. i was content to just cruise along and enjoy the view for a while. a couple of other “hardcore” riders decided to still tackle kalamunda rd. darren, dr melyvn and anna all deserve the insanity medal for that one.
about halfway up i thought that i better make the most of it and took off catching mark by surprise. michael must have been expecting it and sat neatly on my wheel until i ran out of puff. he then took off up the road to leave me suffering alone. mark and jerry started the long chase and eventually swallowed me up then spat me out the back while they went after michael. i snuck down a back road and beat all three of them to the coffee shop.
as i said before, today was davina’s last ride with us for a while. i can still remember the first sunday when she and josie turned up. we went up carawatha hill in mt nasura near brookton hwy and davina had to push her bike up, claiming that she was a track sprinter, not a road cyclist. how things have changed, as now she is smashing it up those same hills and going racing in the usa. josie has also just returned from a few months racing in europe and will be heading back again soon. for the rest of us that are well past our prime, we can all live vicariously through those in the group that are doing well in the sport.
coffee was good. service was not too bad considering it was closer to 11 than 10 when we arrived. so refreshed, rehydrated and recovered (maybe) we were on our way again. a fast descent down welshpool was not an option as the wind was not in our favour. a group of us stayed pretty much together until the bottom, when i ran out of legs (again) when they began to time trial to the regroup point. all present and correct and we started rolling through to keep out of the wind. we managed to box ryan in almost till the end but he still managed to stretch his legs for a couple of hundred metres to the intersection.
lining up for the final sprint along berwick, both ryan and davina were eyeing each other off as neither wanted to be on the front. knowing i had no sprint, i went to the front and paced the final section from kent st all the way to the end. as we came onto the flat section and the final sprint, ryan, jerry and davina all jumped off my wheel but ryan was too strong and managed to hold off a fast finishing jerry at the unofficial invisible line.
so, a good first ride back for me, as i actually finished without totally dying and managed to keep the big boys in sight at the major climbs. we have a cyclo-sportif event next weekend so not hills for me, but after that the next race is not till august, so i expect that i would have reacquainted myself with most of the climbs in perth by then.