Serendipity

You can imagine how pleased I was when my boss tells me at 5pm that we will be getting picked up for work at 7 instead of 7:30am. Starting tomorrow.

When I checked on Strava.com for what time I got back from this group last ride, it was cutting it a bit fine. I also noticed that I had left the hotel at 4:33 and spent 9 minutes waiting at “The Longhouse” for the ride to start. So I could probably leave at 4:40 and still make it. (can you see what is coming?) I did a bit of route planning and measuring with ridewithgps.com. Decided that I would join the group for the first little while, then cut the ride short and push myself heading home on my own through Bukit Timah.

Now, anyone who knows me, works with me, or rides with me, knows that I am late, or ‘just’ make it, more often than I am early. I was up at 4 and slowly waking up. “Plenty of time” I thought to myself. What a great feeling that is. Have a quick look around on the interwebs….

I can’t recall the exact time I realised “Shit! I won’t be rolling before 440 now”, but I really do enjoy the time between thinking “I have lots of time” and “I’m gunna be late”.

Skip ahead 20 minutes or so, and I arrived at the Longhouse at 2 minutes past 5. No one there.

“Oh well, time for some TT work”. Only a few minutes later, I see a bunch of blinking red lights in the distance, and I caught them as they rolled away from a traffic light. Time to sit up and stick my gloves on, as I’d left them in my pocket when leaving the hotel. I was thinking they were not going as hard as last week, when a guy, a few bikes ahead, pulled out to the right and rolled to the front and away, I looked down, we were doing just 28km/hr. Damn! This must be a slower group. So I slipped out to the right and proceeded to see if I could catch the other guy, who, by now was 50m or so up the road. It took 2 km to bridge, so I knew we must have been pretty well matched, or he was taking it easy. I rolled through after a short breather on his wheel.

Wordlessly, we began to swap turns, smooth and even. It was magic. I’m only guessing about him, but judging by the lengths of turns and the body language toward the end of each turn, we were both pushing along at the upper end of the comfort zone.

As we turned left onto Woodlands rd we had a few quick “thanks for that”s. I found out-

·         He was also late for the faster 5am group

·         He was from Vermont

·         He normally took this shorter route home

·         He has been here for just over 2 years 

Never found out his name, but we then wound it up again, till we came to a group just before Dunearn road who jumped on our wheels, but none of them could do a turn. Great stuff.

If these early starts continue, then I’ll be seeing him in 3 weeks, when I get back to Singapore next time.

Now if only I could get some of the local riders to roll turns…..

Days like this I love riding a bike, even more……

Times have changed

No less than 2 years ago, whenever I got something new, I would rush it together to I could get out and ride with it. It has always been that way.

When I was 16 or 17 I got my first frame and forks with my own money. The lower headset race was too small to fit on the forks! Rather than wait and order the right size part, I got a file out and filed down the forks. You may scoff, but that very setup is still going 20 years later.

Two years ago, I got another new frame and forks. Rather than hunt around for the best deal I could find on the web, I rushed out and bought a groupset, RETAIL, from a local bike shop. Very unlike me.

Now, for over a month, I have had to pretty tasty, brand-new, still in the box, Soul S4.0 wheels in my dungeon:

I have been waiting to get all the bits together.

I had a cassette tucked away in a drawer, and I had some tubes already.

Just had to wait for Veloplugs and tires:

YUM

So, What I’m getting at, Is that some time ago, I would have dug these tires out of the bin,

just to get on the road. As it is, I’m looking like I’ll race this afternoon, on an untested setup.

Is that such a good idea? Not really, but they are shiny, and a clean bike is a fast bike:

My wife thinks I have a problem.
She’s right.
Where will the next bike go?

My wife thinks I have a problem.

She’s right.

Where will the next bike go?

A Midwinter’s Ride; with grit.

June 21st is the shortest day of the year. It is also my eldest son’s birthday. So I skipped my normal Tuesday morning group ride today to be there as he woke and opened his presents. Priceless.

Once the 3 older kids were off to school, it was swimming for our youngest daughter. Finally a ‘leave pass’.

I have been inspired by some of TC’s (fyxomatosis) recent adventures, and have been keen to get on the gravel myself for a while. I’ve had a few ideas, and a little last minute google maps, ridewithgps.com etc, and I was away at 12 with a rough idea of where I was heading.

I was after the road less travelled,

and I knew this would lead to a few dead ends.

It did.

But I was keen to prove this sign wrong…

Smarts rd is awesome, even the sealed bit at the start:

Then, after a brutal couple of hundred metres of gravel and rutted 15%….

…….and it kept going up….

There were other ‘roads less travelled”, but they can wait till next time:

This will wait for another day

When I came across a bit of sealed road in the middle of the forest, I was curious as to why…

I figured there was something that people HAD to get to up this hill. But, the rest of the road in was dirt. It must get steep or something. I was not watching my Garmin as I went, but when I was finally beaten by the combination of 36x23 and gravel on tar, I saw 36%. Maybe one day I’ll get out there and try and measure it propery. I walked no more than about 10 metres before giving it another crack, and making it. After snapping this shot of the booty at the top, the descent was perhaps even more challenging, but I lost no bark.

Ran into another few spots justifying digging out the phone and waving it around:

I re-entered the ‘road’ world at the top of Burringbah. Where else to go??

For a quick refuel

Then the road home….

Now, some people who know me have become sick of hearing about a cyclocross bike I want to build. I don’t want it to do this with it:

It’s fire trails.

Get out there people and get your 23mm tires dirty. You don’t need to set records or perform intervals, just go at a pace you are comfortable with. Good time of year for it too, there is much less chance of coming accross a dirty great Brown Snake.

Here is the route I took. Can’t wait to get back out there.

Do not try this at home.

Sometimes, after a long day on the road,

What you need is some nice hot water…..

Yes, that’s right, a hot shower is great for washing away all the salt water, sand and grit…..

Sometimes, though, you need a little more.

"Herbals?" I hear you ask;

Indeed.

You desrve it, kick off those shoes and soak in a nice hot bath.

THIS IS LIVING!!

Some sweet cheecks as you get out…

and you’ll feel all brand new.

Style and “Ole Mate”

Cycling is one of those sports where style counts. Sometimes being the focus of someone’s passion, rather than performance. I must admit that I often find myself ensuring that bartape and saddle match, that my knicks and jersey match… etc.

There are plenty of websites and blog posts on “the Rules”, to tell you how high your socks should be, which jerseys are PRO and which aren’t. Now, cycling doesn’t have a monopoly on this, by any means. Just think of Golf, most courses won’t let you on unless you are dressed correctly. I remember at high school, I had a shirt collar in my golf bag, that I used to tuck into a jumper as we payed our dues. But I digress.

It is often a fine line in fashion between what’s cool and what is way-out-of-left-field-ugly.

Today I rode for a while with a guy I can’t help but admire. Ever since, I have been kicking myself for not getting his picture and having a bit more of a chat with him.

To set the scene, I was with my Sunday ride mate, Dave. We were the only two to turn up for the weekly bunch, though this is not a first. It was cold, and Dave had to be back in 3 hours. So we decided to keep clear of the chilled air pouring down into the Tweed Valley, and instead brave the traffic, roundabouts, skateboards, dogs, joggers etc and cruise up toward the Spit on the Gold Coast.

The idea, as we headed off, was to go north for just over 90 minutes, which would then force us to crank it up a little on the way home to be back in time.

As we pulled away from the lights at Coolangatta, I noticed a bloke behind us. As we went around the point and into Kirra, he was sitting in.

"No sweat" I thought, might even get to have a bit of a chat.

As I pulled back to say g’day, I was greeted by an amazing sight.

“Ol Mate” must have been 65, no problem there, I’ve had my arse handed to me by older blokes plenty of times.

He was on a Trek 5500 frame, and I think it may even have been carbon fibre, but he had down tube shifters and 8 speed on it, with flat pedals without toe clips, and the frame was grey so very subdued.

It wasn’t the bike though, He had a pair of knicks on, but they had so many miles in them, there were plenty of big holes worn around the chamois, a pair of Dunlop KT-26s were his shoe of choice, no socks, an orange fluro t-shirt with a yellow fluro safety vest over the top. Beneath his Kmart-style helmet, he had a torn off bit of tshirt, acting as a kind of bandanna. The gloves were the best though: knee length socks like my dad used to wear with his sandals when he was a maths teacher in the 80s, with holes cut in them to allow his thumbs to poke out. Total classic.

We said a couple of quick hellos and he asked if we didn’t mind him sitting back there, “Of course not”. Dave and I smiled at each other, but with our ‘faster return’ plan, we didn’t want to push the pace up to test this bloke out, so we just cruised along at around 30-32.

As we went through Tugan, approaching the little rise, ‘old mate’ waved me on saying something like “I don’t much like hills”.

"It’s not a race" I replied and calmly sat behind him. As he crested the hill, he reached down to the shifters and slapped it in the Big Ring.

"Oh yeah" I thought "Mucho respecto"

Thrower Drive, and the fall of the lights had him infront of us, he didn’t look back, or ease up, just kept plugging away, 10 bike lengths infront. A few km later we realised we were now sitting on 35 and still not bringing “‘ol mate” back. We rode up onto him and he gladly tucked in behind once more.

One of the things he said was “I’m not real good on the up-hills, but I’m a bloody genius on the descents.”

We talked about where we had come from and were going to:

"Kingscliff! I don’t go that far on holidays!" he said.

We talked about clothes:

He asked “Aren’t you bloody hot in all that gear?”

When we were getting close to Broadbeach, he said “Let me give you boys a bit of a tow for a while cause this is where I get off up here”

It was only my foolish pride that made me pull out and do a turn, I couldn’t have people see me sitting in on a bloke who looked like he was riding to the tip shop. What an idiot I was.

We said our good byes, but I never found out his name. Would love to ride with him again.

Salt of the Earth

OK, so people are saying that Andy has nearly no chance of taking the time back on Pisolero tonight. Bullshit.
Well, cast your mind back two years: People are continually saying that Carlos won the tour on the alpe d’huez. Sure he took a bunch of time there, however, there was still the final time trial. Carlos did an ‘unbelievable’ time trial.
Now, time trials are know as the race of truth, there is no where to hide, blah blah blah.
But after almost three weeks of the toughest racing, it is more about how much is left in the tank, how much have you been really pushing it. How long has Fabian been sitting on the front, decimating the peleton? Will he still win the stage? Probably.

Here is another thing: Watts. Andy and Alberto were locked together up the Tourmalet the other day. Neither could pull away from the other. Alberto is around 62kg, Andy is 67kg. So, Andy was knocking out more Watts. Now sure, Contador was able throw in a little spurt, which Andy closed right down, but he only managed one. Andy’s attacks were not so visible as Conador was marking him so well. I think they were both pretty much at full noise.
Based on past performances, one would expect Alberto to post a better time. Based on performances through the tour, I think Andy can take that jersey back.

Lets consider the so called ‘Silent Killer’. Hasn’t seen much wind in the last 3 weeks, hasn’t had ‘belly wacker’ like Sammy. I think he will ride onto the podium.

OK, so people are saying that Andy has nearly no chance of taking the time back on Pisolero tonight. Bullshit.

Well, cast your mind back two years: People are continually saying that Carlos won the tour on the alpe d’huez. Sure he took a bunch of time there, however, there was still the final time trial. Carlos did an ‘unbelievable’ time trial.

Now, time trials are know as the race of truth, there is no where to hide, blah blah blah.

But after almost three weeks of the toughest racing, it is more about how much is left in the tank, how much have you been really pushing it. How long has Fabian been sitting on the front, decimating the peleton? Will he still win the stage? Probably.

Here is another thing: Watts. Andy and Alberto were locked together up the Tourmalet the other day. Neither could pull away from the other. Alberto is around 62kg, Andy is 67kg. So, Andy was knocking out more Watts. Now sure, Contador was able throw in a little spurt, which Andy closed right down, but he only managed one. Andy’s attacks were not so visible as Conador was marking him so well. I think they were both pretty much at full noise.

Based on past performances, one would expect Alberto to post a better time. Based on performances through the tour, I think Andy can take that jersey back.

Lets consider the so called ‘Silent Killer’. Hasn’t seen much wind in the last 3 weeks, hasn’t had ‘belly wacker’ like Sammy. I think he will ride onto the podium.

Tour de Guts

Everyone seems to be raving about the eternal hardman, especially after this interview:Jens

to take nothing away from him, there are some other performances I like to mention:

  • Robbie: a Gendarme pulled over in front of us on the tourmalet, lit a fag! I asked is that everyone? “no I’m waiting for Robbie!”

a Gendarme pulled over in front of us on the tourmalet, lit a fag! I asked is that everyone? "no I'm waiting for Robbie!"

  • Cadel:I hope you are all enjoying France. 24th or something on GC, sore and sorry, I still am….

No appology necassery. You make me proud to be an Aussie.

  • Tyler: He may be a ranga, and he may now have climbed off, but racing on with this is tough.

 "Are you surprised at my tears sir?"

  • Gerro:Next time you put your socks on, try to do it with one hand and you’ll know what I mean.


It’s one thing to break your arm, then pull out of the tour. It’s another thing entriely, to break your arm early in the stage, then power to the finish inside the time limit just incase a rest day is all you need. Chapeau.

Thor: Haulin’ Arse since forever

Now, where I race, if you drop your chain in D Grade, they wait for you.
Not in B Grade.
Just saying

Now, where I race, if you drop your chain in D Grade, they wait for you.

Not in B Grade.

Just saying