Category Archives: Meta

Stuff about the blog. Site news. That kind of crap

Park Bikes Training Camp Day Three: Bowral to Sydney

Day three began with some tired bodies and interesting tan lines (tip: POC helmets let a surprising amount of sunlight in). Everyone had opted for the full ride back to Sydney, even though an option of a short ride followed by a train trip was offered. Today’s menu started out with a fast ride down the Hume Highway from Bowral to Picton, then a main course of Razorback, followed by a dessert course of rolling highway back into Sydney.

The first 40 kilometres were knocked over in under an hour. The terrain is mostly flat but with frequent downhill sections, which got everyone warmed up very nicely. The pace, and spirits, were high. Before too long we were off the highway and heading for Picton, at the foot of the Razorback climb.

It’s a short climb and not in the same league as the two previous days, but some of the bunch – me included – were sagging. We regrouped at the top, and took the left turn towards the Old Razorback road. We would only be descending this one today, but it’s a climb I’ll definitely be going back to do in the near future.

The descent is a little rough, quite winding but fast. My Fly6 tail camera captured some nice video on the way

Continue Reading →

Park Bikes Training Camp Day Two: Kangaroo Valley

IMG_0664Day two and there were plenty of tired bodies at the breakfast table. Start was delayed somewhat by heavy fog, so extra calories were taken on board and even more coffee put away. Meanwhile down in the bike room, the support crew were doing a sterling job on the maintenance side, making sure everyone’s gears were running smoothly, checking over tyres for leaks and swapping out a couple of cassettes for riders who’d overgeared a little. I really can’t speak highly enough of the support squad and the great job they did.

Soon the fog cleared and the bunch rolled out into Bowral town centre and off towards Fitzroy Falls. The terrain was rolling and soon we’d broken into two bunches, with me in the back group. Cresting a hill I saw the support car ahead with the front group and decided to bridge the gap and wake up my tired legs, which I’ll admit were feeling less than stellar.

Regrouping at Fitzroy Falls, we were treated to a clinic on descending technique, since the meat of the day was coming up – Barrengarry descent and the climb back out of the valley, on slightly damp roads.

My cornering confidence has been a little low since spilling at Olympic Park and cracking my rib, so my preparation was pretty much all mental. Remember the fundamentals – brake in a straight line and in plenty of time. Look through the corner. Weight on the outside foot and the inside hand, balanced through the centre of the bike. Don’t target fixate on the hazards. Relax. Continue Reading →

Park Bikes Training Camp Day One : Sydney to Bowral via Macquarie Pass

As you probably know, I’ve been whinging about my lack of riding recently. Injuries, life and general lack of Rule Five adherence have meant Summer 2014/15 has been poor. Poor to the point that my tan lines haven’t even arrived. In December.

So to get things kickstarted, I signed up for a little training camp run by our friends over at Park Bikes and Domestique.

The plan:

Day one, ride Sydney to Bowral via Macquarie Pass.

Day two, ride Bowral to Kangaroo Valley and return, with potential for extra distance if wanted

Day three, two home options, one all the way via Razorback, one with a train component


Continue Reading →

Idiots Everywhere. Yes, even on bikes

I’ve been away from Sydney for a few days of relaxation* in the Hunter Valley, so today was my first bike commute in nearly a week. And boy, was it a doozy.

First up, the usual texting drivers – for the record a Supagas delivery truck with P-plates and a dented, semi-legible front number plate (13 SUPA?) and a white Toyota Corolla plate BLT77K right behind the truck – both fiddling with their phones on Liverpool Road Ashfield.

texting driver

Business as usual. This stretch of road is almost guaranteed to produce at least one or two texters. I’ve even been in a ‘conversation’ with one for more than half a kilometre. I say ‘conversation’, what I really mean is I yelled at her to put her phone down for half a kilometre and she gaped slackjawed at me and carried on texting.

Next up in today’s gloroius commute, a Mercedes driver  AYV 97T who appeared in my left-hand line of vision as I was about to go into a fast left turn at Hawthorne Parade, forcing me to abort the turn and head straight on for fear of being rear-ended mid-corner. Typical case of following a rider too closely. Again, just business as usual. These things are so common that they’re just water off a duck’s back these days.

No, the one that really annoyed me was this

Yes, that’s right. Another rider making an idiotic attempt to pass between me and a row of parked cars. Ordinarily, I’m the one making the passing maneuvers going up this hill, but after the stupidity of the first few kilometres and because I’d only just finished my holiday and frankly had a bit of a hangover, I was trundling in low gear and not really caring.

Our friend here tried to excuse his stupidity with some mumblings about me being too far out – the video clearly shows I wasn’t – while I made it completely clear that this shit wasn’t on. If you’re passing, call it and go to the right.

To be frank, I don’t think it sank in.

So yeah, cyclists can be idiots too.


* relaxation: drinking lots and lots of wine in the middle of nowhere. Bliss. 


A Knight’s Tale

I turned 40 last week. I am now officially a MAMIL. To mark this milestone, I decided I wanted to do something big on the bike.

Everesting was my first choice. I’ve had two unsuccessful attempts before – both ending prematurely due to equipment failure – and the desire to finally get it done has been burning a hole in my head. So on Oct 24th I headed out bright and early towards Glenbrook Gorge in the Blue Mountains National Park, and the 11% 700m Glenbrook Gorge North Climb.

Successfully everesting this climb would take 107 repeats over maybe thirteen hours. I had a van full of water bottles and food, a few changes of kit and plenty of spares. I’d even gone and bought a new pair of Zipp 60 Carbon wheels just in case my trusty but slightly troublesome Zipp 30s gave up the ghost.

I was, you may say, prepared.

However the weather wasn’t exactly co-operating. Driving towards the mountains on the M4, the lower slopes of the plateau were lit up by lightning strikes, and I had an uneasy feeling. Sure, the outlook for the latter part of the day was pretty good, but there was more rain forecast mid-morning, and the sky was looking very much unsettled.

Still, nothing ventured, nothing gained. I parked up, got my wind vest on, prepped the bike and set out for a few exploratory repeats.

Which is where the plan started to unravel.

The descent into the gorge was wet and slippery. Worse, it had an oily sheen on the surface, so the descent very nervous indeed. I puzzled over this for a moment and came to the conclusion that runoff from the surrounding eucalypts must have been to blame for the oiliness. Riding up on the first lap was a bit of a strain but bearable, but the second descent was no less nervous than the first. The climb, at least, felt more comfortable than the first. I still wanted this to happen but with a cracked rib still an occasionally- painful reminder of a crash in late September, I wasn’t entirely enthusiastic. One more repeat and I was convinced – without the ability to go downhill fast I’d be losing valuable time, and worse, I’d be risking an injury on every single descent until dry road emerged sometime in the late morning. I don’t mind riding in the rain usually, but spending my 40th birthday waiting for x-rays would definitely wreck things. To compound the feeling of dread, the rain restarted, and thunder rumbled.

So I finished the lap, headed for the safety of my van and came up with an alternative plan.

The torture chamber

The torture chamber

I would go home, stick the bike on the turbo trainer and go for Sufferlandrian Knighthood. Ten Sufferfests, back to back, with only ten minutes rest between each.

Yes, that would do it. At home, in the dry, with a fridge full of Belgian beer nearby. Knighthood had been hovering on my horizon for a while. Time to get it done.

So I cued up ten of the best, threw a coffee down my neck and got started. Continue Reading →

New Toys

As ever, injury has been keeping me off the bike of late. So far the score for 2014 is:

  • Broken ribs: 1
  • Elbow bursitis: 1
  • Significant muscle strains: 2
  • Physio Visits: too many
  • Concussions: What? Who said that? Where am I?

Still, here at The Crankset Global Domination Headquarters and Bicycle WorkshopTM, I have taken delivery of a few new gadgets, which I’ll probably be reviewing soon. I am kinda sorta back on the bike, riding but not racing and hoping everything heals up enough so I can shed the extra kilos I’ve put on while moping around sulking and lurking on the sofa playing video games and drinking beer with my undamaged arm.

Wow that was a long sentence.

Anyway, first in the new gadget list: A Stages Powermeter on an Ultegra crank

Second, A Fly6 rear-facing combo tail-light and camera

Third, a Topeak floor-to-ceiling bike rack.

(I also bought a new helmet but that’s the same as the one I destroyed when I broke my rib so no review for you)

I’m easing back in, so impressions on the first two are preliminary at best, but the third I can enjoy from my chair and let me tell you this: If you don’t have one of these, you’re missing out. Yes, your spare room/home office/studio/den/torture chamber can have that bike-shop charm with your pride and joy hung from the wall looking all shiny and bling, so when you’re not riding you can still go and look at them and say to yourself “That’s a bloody nice looking bike, that.” several times a day until your significant other wants to kill you.


Just don’t try to hang a Pinarello Sword on it. Because 1: It won’t fit and 2: that bike fell out of the ugly tree and hit every branch on the way down. Seriously.



More mechanical madness

I thought I’d take the opportunity, after yesterday’s crash, to do a bit of much needed maintenance on the Domane. Given that I’ve basically wrecked my left shoulder, and shattered my road helmet, I’m not going to be on the bike for a bit. At least until I heal up and buy a new stackhat.

So, I went shopping for a few bits and pieces and got started. First things first: drivetrain. Off came the wheels and out came the chainwhip, and I cracked open the cassette to swap out the old 105 cluster for a shiny new Ultegra 10sp.

Well, I tried to. It wouldn’t come off. Eventually, after consulting the internet, I removed it. With a hammer. And I found this:



Yes, that’s deep scoring of the freehub body, which is the almost-inevitable result of pushing quite a lot of power through a very small surface area made of a very soft metal. My Zipp 30s come with a light aluminium freehub body, which was eaten by the rather more robust 105 cassette.

Needless to say the wheels have now gone in for a bit of a rebuild. The freehub could have been filed down to accept the new cassette, but I opted instead to get it done right, by an expert, instead of some loon weilding a beer hammer. Thank you Ashfield Cycles.

Lessons (re)learned

1. Paint is slippery

2. Tarmac is hard


Where have I been?

I just moved this blog to a new, shiny and fast web server and thought it might be an opportune time to post on why I’ve been absent of late.

A few months back, I had some fairly chunky troubles with anxiety and depression. It’s not the first time it’s happened, but it did sneak up on me and it hit quite hard. So I was off the bike for a few weeks there. It coincided with a change of job and a shift in my specialisation, which has caused a massive learning curve, biting further into my riding time. On top of that, getting back on the bike has been interrupted by a couple of periods of sickness and a painful recurrent shoulder problem, which has wrecked my sleeping patterns and required repeated physio treatment.

In the wash-up, I’ve missed a few key races, including the Ken Dinnerville Memorial Handicap, the Rocky Trail 12 hour, The Oaks Classic and a number of others. My power is down, my endurance has gone AWOL and I’ve lost a bit of handling confidence.

So, it’s not been a great couple of months, riding-wise. And then over the last week, I’ve been knocked sideways by a respiratory infection and as a result I’ve managed maybe 100km out of my usual weekly target of 350km+.

But Le Tour is here, and there’s an end in sight for the shoulder injury, and we’re past midwinter and back on the way to longer days and warmer weather. So things are looking up. I’m planning another Everesting attempt – my third – and trying to schedule in a twelve-hour chunk of time in which to take on Sufferlandrian Knighthood. Watch this space. And of you spot me out on the road, remind me about Rule #5, wouldn’t you?

2014 Shimano MTB GP Series Round 1

This weekend saw the first round of the Rocky Trail Entertainment Shimano MTB GP go off at Awaba MTB Park in NSW’s Hunter region. A huge turnout braved the mud and changeable weather after some rather touch-and-go weather conditions through the week. The first attempt at running the event was a washout, so everyone was eager to get the series started, not the least being the organisers, who took to social media to calm nervous entrants who’d spent much of the leadup glued to the BoM radar.

I was, of course, entered – with two changes from last year. This year I’d be racing in the seven hour category instead of four, and also I’d be ticking over from the Elite into the Masters age group, since I’ll be turning 40 in 2014.

Continue Reading →