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27 October 2011

Apologies on apology

I haven't been posting updates to the blog since Monday because of a strange error. Looking at the bulletin boards, this error ain't unique to me. iPad, iPhone and iPhoneTouch users across the globe are reporting similar issues from about the same time that this started happening to me. Hold thumbs and if this works, I'll do some posts from the last three days by email.


P.S. I saved this draft over a year ago, now I'm returning to blogger from the app made for iPad, and will try again.

24 October 2011

Stage 3 on the Road to Melbourne

Phew, this one wasn't easy. We checked the weather forecasts and had an incling, but the conditions today were really challenging. When we awoke this morning it was wet and drizzly. A few riders found punctures even before we rolled out of Robe - we left late hoping the conditions would ease, but no chance. It was wet, a southerly wind, which I gauged at 30 plus knots at times (I sail as well) made it very difficult. When we rolled into Beachport, 50km from the start, we thought morning refreshments would be set up somewhere on a beach in the blowing gale. Relief! We were guided by our guardian angel, Michael, into a coffe shop, with dry towels, and mugs of cappuccino's. This made rolling out for the next stage just a bit easier: the rain had stopped, but the wind was still blowing straight onto our faces. One more puncture had to be addressed before we rolled into Millicent for lunch, set up in a sheltered courtyard, once again thanks to the ingenuity of our support crew. The tuna sandwiches were yum! Then the local press caught up with us, initially intrigued by Bernie's weird costume once more. The trainee journalist had a great chat to Marg, hopefully gaining more publicity for The final fifty kilometers took an absolute age to come to an end. The incessant wind made communication difficult, the traffic approaching Mt Gambier adding extra challenges to staying in formation - our ave speed today was just 23km/h for the 133km total distance, stretching the cycling time to 5hours 30 minutes, which together with our late start meant we didn't arrive until after 5pm. A hot shower and massage were some consolation for the days hard work. Forecast for our ride tomorrow Is improved, I.e dry, but the wind is set to continue to blow in our faces for one more day. Tomorrow we expect to be past the halfway point to Melbourne by the time we cover the 155km to Port Fairy.

23 October 2011

Headride Stage 2 to Robe

This morning we left Meningee under fog cover just after 7am. There was a slight delay because I flatted even before leaving the motel grounds! Anyway we were soon on our way, hoping to miss any early showers, the heat of the day and afternoon sea breezes during our 190km ride. The first 50km was great. Nice and cool, and not much wind. We stopped for the first morning tea at about 9. The spread was once again fantastic, thanks to the awesome support crew looking after us. The next stage was a tough 70 km. We stopped for a second morning tea, to get some fluids and fuel in. We had a nice tail wind for part of the way, but still most of us found it long. From that stop we had a 25km roll into Kingston for lunch. We obviously overshot the correct turn off, since we found that we had to backtrack a couple of km's to find the vans, serving up delish chicken wraps. (Rob promptly fell asleep afterwards, had to be woken to get going again). From Kingston it was the last 45km to Robe. The sea breeze had come up though and it was tough going. A number of us had a sprint towards the end. Brian and I tied first at the 60km mark into Robe; Billy kept me going all the way to the Best Western. The dip in the Southern Ocean after was exhilarating, as was the leg massage from Dr Tamara. Seven of us snuck off to the Caledonian pub, to watch the Rugby Union World Cup Final - what an exciting game! (8 - 7 to the ABs, but the French played a fantastic competitive game). And the pub came to the party with sea food platters which most described as the best they had - ever! The apple/rhubarb crumble was also not too shabby, and should help me to replenish the 13200 calories that I apparently expended on the way to Robe. We had covered 190km, at an ave speed of just over 30km/h. Another fantastic day. Tomorrows forecast has some wind and rain in it - we'll see what tomorrow serves up as we travel to Mount Gambier on ou Way to Melbourne.

22 October 2011

Hearide Stage 1 complete!

The day began with much anticipation, and indeed trepidation in some quarters! Everyone had finally arrived - the final couple of riders arriving at 10.30pm Friday on a delayed flight from Melbourne. After breakfast, activity turned frantic with the vans having to be packed up, bikes undergoing final preps, and the official photo op. We rolled out accompanied by a group of six local riders. The weather, though overcast, was mild, with little wind. We left the suburban streets quite quickly behind us, and soon were on the climb to Mt Barker. The climb of about 14km was the first test, and all passed with flying colours. Mark had a little mishap by rolling into a kerb while not paying attention - but he got back on the bike with little further fanfare. There was only one puncture en-route, and we were most taken in by the constantly changing, spectacular scenery. The winding roads from Crafters down to Aldgate were shrouded in green foliage of trees surrounding the route. Then there were the kilometers if newly sprouted vines on the way to Strathalbyn, then the open fields descending to the Murray pontoon, followed by stunningly pink salt water lakes surrounding the road in parts of the final stretch to Meningie. The ride took us about 6 1/2 hours in total, of which about 5 1/2 was actual riding. Once in Meningie we had a joint recovery session in the waters of the Albert Lake, before reviewing what was a very successful first stage of riding. Tomorrow we head to Robe - at 188km, the longest stage of our ride. Rain is focast early in the day, but NW/NE breezes should push us along to Robe quite nicely. We plan to leave at 7am, for what could be a long day!

16 October 2011

Superb training ride

Training route to Royal National Park
This morning had great conditions for a training ride. I was up at 5h45 to catch up with a group going to Waterfall. Riding in a group past Sydney airport is essential as the route takes one on the airport freeway,and that is not a place that you want to be in a small group!

Once we got to Waterfall (about 50km mark), a couple of us turned left, into the Royal National Park. Its amazing how much cooler and wetter its in the park, amongst the trees, than out on the open road. My legs were still feeling the after-effects of last weekend's riding I think, but eventually I got used to the hills again and really enjoyed the climbs.

Route profile and riding speed
After the ride through the park we re-joined the maid road, and a different bunch of riders back to the eastern suburbs. Looking at the stats (available online at Garmin ) we climbed a total of over 1100m, which is in excess of the daily total climbing on all but one day of our Headride tour from Adelaide to Melbourne - that's a relief. Our average speed was over 30km/h which we'll probably exceed if we ride well in a bunch on most days.

Today was the last of my longer training rides, and I will not do much riding this week, so that I am well rested before the first day next Saturday.


12 October 2011

Preparation for my way to Melbourne

My bike pod - thats how I take the bike on the plane with me
At this stage on my Way to Melbourne (just 10 days to go until we set off from Adelaide) the focus starts to shift to another aspect of preparation - equipment.

For eight days and 1100kms I will be dependent on 2 small areas of rubber no larger than a square cm between me and the road surface, light wheels, a simple chain and cog drive train, which actually requires some fine tuning to be effective, a carbon frame, GPS navigation aide, and well - an engine. (The engine has been the focus of most of the preparations thus far - to get and stay fit, and frankly by now its too late if you've missed the grade!) To address the former - my Giant TCR Advanced1 bike enjoyed a comprehensive service last week, lubricants, spare tyres and tubes were purchased and after completing 250+km over this last weekend, three punctures aside, I am confident that my trusted steed is ready to embark on the road to Melbourne.

Two other aspects are worthy of mentioning:
  • on the road riders may, and are quite likely to encounter, temperatures ranging from less than 10 degrees to the high twenties or more; wind still conditions or breezes exceeding 30 knots -head on, cross wind, or hopefully a tail wind; rain or shine. The riders have to have appropriate clothing to cover all eventualities - gloves, sleeves, leggings, wind jacket, rain coat and thermals, all light and snug fitting so as not to cause unnecessary drag;
  • a 150km+ day's cycling may require in excess of 8000 calories - these need to be continually replaced - its not sufficient to fuel up before - riders must have fuel to consume on the road including: electrolyte drinks, energy bars and gels, dried fruit, lollies, bananas, nutella sandwiches, protein shakes (post ride fuel) among other personal favourites.
In short there are quite a few things to think about.

I must say that embarking on arranging these final items I am getting really excited, and looking forward to the ride. Please go to for more information and to domate to the worthy cause that we are supporting.

27 September 2011

Visualization of Day One

The team will be meeting up at the Adelaide Hilton on Friday 21st October. No donations will be going to fund our accommodation, each of the riders are paying their own way, although the Hilton, as a Bronze sponsor, must be subsidising the accommodation somewhat so that we will not be having to sleep by the roadside for the rest of the tour!

I would have preferred an earlier start, but we will be completing some formalities, including the official team photo, before heading for the Adelaide Hills by 9am on Saturday 22 October. Within 5km of the starting point we will commence our first climb up to Mount Barker. The climb will last for a fair distance - 14km, with a maximum gradient of around 8%. Following this we will surely know that we are now "on tour"! It will be quite a baptism of fire, initiating us early on with a toughie. The rest of day 1 will certainly be easier, but at almost 150km, will still be a test of our endurance. During a ride of this duration it is very important to keep refueling and hydrating since it's quite possible to deplete the body of all readily accessible energy resources, and grind to a halt - literally, also known as "bonking" in the cycling fraternity! From previous experience on a day similar to this each rider will be burning between 8,000 and 10,000 calories, and these need to be replaced during the ride. Professional riders riding competitively literally eat on their bikes, with support crews providing feed bags and liquid to the riders on the go. Our group, however, will be stopping at a number of pre-determined points along the route to fuel up, and stock up with provisions thanks to our support crew. We will also have a short break while we cross the mighty Murray River by ferry at Wellington.

We will be riding in a bunch most of the way - this enables riders to consume up to 20% less energy compared to if they were covering the same course alone! This is particularly important if the weather conditions are adverse i.e. if there is a head wind or cross wind! As will be the case every day, I guess, we will be very pleased to roll into Meningie in the afternoon.

I have been in Meningie once before, and from memory it would normally not warrant much more than a fuel stop. It is a very small settlement along the salt lakes of the Murray estuary system. I recall a bakery/cafe, a garage and the hotel lining a very short stretch of the main road! I can imagine that I will be looking forward to a good cold drink, putting my feet up, and a good dinner in the evening so that I am ready for day 2!
Profile of a typical morning ride around Watsons Bay to Bondi

From a difficulty index point of view, Day 1 ranks third, primarily due to the distance being covered, however I think the climb, of 500m over 14km so early in the day will substantially add to the difficulty. As a comparison, during a regular morning training ride around Watsons Bay to Bondi return, a distance of about 35km, I will climb a total of 570m, but with a welcome few down hills interspersing the shorter climbs!

25 September 2011

Headride Training Programme

Taking on a challenge like the Adelaide to Melbourne 8 day ride has meant that I have had to significantly update my regular exercise programme and focus it on the specifics of the challenge. I guess one of the benefits of taking on such a challenge, is that one's training becomes very focused, and inevitably one becomes a lot fitter than would otherwise be the case.

Although most of the riders were finalised in early June, my ride was only confirmed towards the end of August, because, regrettably, I am filling in for David Anderson who picked up an injury, and was unlikely to recover in time for the ride. This has meant that my lead up time, and therefore training, has been compressed into just over 8 weeks. Additionally, I am the only one of the riders who is not regularly based in Melbourne, so I have not had the benefit of riding with the other riders in the Headride bunch - I am however going to Melbourne for a training weekend in two weeks!

My training objective at this point in my programme is to ride about 400km per week. This is being severely hampered this week / weekend, because of the rather ordinary weather here in Sydney! Upside is that I have time to update my "Road to Melbourne" blog and attend to a number of other preparatory activities - like analysing the ride route (I think that will be a subject of another blog post!). Thanks to Ollie Allan (, who helped me with training for the Tour de NZ two years ago, I have access to some of the methods of preparing for a multi-day cycling event such as Headride. Currently my goal is to ride six days a week and focus at least once a week on core strength exercise. 
 The above sees me getting up most mornings before 6am, so that I can be on the road before 6. When I ride longer on a weekday, I set my alarm for an hour earlier.

The one aspect that I have not attended to sufficiently is longer distance training. The longest ride during the event will be almost 190km, and in my training I have not had a longer ride than about 130km. I hope to address this in the up-coming long weekend in NSW, when I hope to get in a longer ride - perhaps a combination of group ride followed by an additional distance on my own. During the weekend of 8/9 October, I hope to meet up with the bunch in Melbourne and do Brighton to Sorrento, return with them - that should be a comparable distance to a long day during the actual event.

As I mentioned before, this is a charity ride being organised by Marg Noonan for the benefit of The Alfred neurosurgery unit. I would be really grateful if you could support me and the cause. Please go to to donate. I really appreciate it!

17 September 2011

The Challenge: Adelaide to Melbourne in 8 days!

About a month ago I embarked on my next challenge with gusto. Unfortunately it was because of a mate's injury that I got one of the fifteen spots to ride from Adelaide to Melbourne.

This charity ride, organised by Marg Noonan, is for the benefit of  the Neurosurgical Unit of the Alfred Hospital in Melbourne. More than 18 months ago Marg had a serious fall, and in gratitude for her recovery thanks to the treatment at the above unit, she hopes to raise $50,000 which will allow the hospital to purchase specialised equipment to further enhance its treatment of neurological injuries. In participating in this ride, I hope to help Marg meet her goal! Please visit the site at and also make a donation via this site, in support of our ride.

The actual ride is taking place from the 22nd to the 29th October, but in effect the journey has already begun. In eight days we will be covering in excess of 1000 kilometers, meaning that on some days we will need to cover about 180km. Parts of the route are quite flat, but traversing the famed Great Ocean Road means that we must also be prepared for some steep climbing. All of this implies that I have to get fit within the finite time before I wing my way to Adelaide on October 21st!

Although I am not unfit, I have some hard work to build up to the event. Up until the end of July, I had only been cycling about 150km per week. (I explained this to myself in that I had to get used to the hilly terrain of Sydney's eastern suburbs; in Melbourne for the same effort and time, my distance would have been quite a bit higher.) In order to be adequately prepared for the Headride, I need to get my weekly distance on the bike to be closer to 400km! Over the last two weeks I managed to exceed 300km by a margin, and at this point I am happy with that! Thankfully, that days are getting longer, and therefore I think I will be able to put in the time required to meet the 400km per week goal.

Over the next 6 weeks I hope to provide a journal of my Road to Melbourne!

03 July 2011

Crossed the Harbour Bridge

Today was a great day for being out in Sydney. I did not get out untill a bit later in the morning but it was well worth it. So getting the comparissons out of the way early, I have to admit Sydney's winter weather is a bit better than Melbourne's when it decides not to rain! I went out without long sleeves: the temperature was soon on it's way to 20 degrees. The other positive is that one gets to do hill training virtually as soon as one gets out the door! The negatives: roads are in a shocking state for cyclists (I cannot even think what to compare it to in Melbourne), and yes, you don't get a nice even long stretch to get the speed, and cadence up that often!

I have been intending for a while to discover how to navigate the Harbour Bridge on a bike, and decided today would be the day. It is not quite clear on a map, which way to go, and doing the research online, only served to reinforce that you had to know your way - and it's not that straight forward.

I made my way into the city, and was overtaken by 2 cyclists who seemed to be on a mission and decided to follow them. They turned into Clarence Street (one sooner than I have been planning to take), and followed it all the way to the on-ramp onto the bridge, before taking a turn onto the footpath, across a ramp, down a side street, and another ramp onto the bridge. Bikes are allowed only on one side of the bridge, and again I would have guessed incorrectly: bikes go on the inland side, and pedestrians on the ocean side. I had been warned of the lack of a ramp on the other side, where cyclists have to dismount and carry their bikes down fifty odd steps. So that was my first Harbour Bridge crossing on the bike - not that bad, when one knows how, but I still think on a weekday, the traffic will add further complications.

View of the "north shore" from our side of the Harbour today

Having started out a bit late, I decided to forego a 100km ride all the way to Palm Beach, but headed off to Manly, which involves crossing yet another bridge, called "The Spit". (I will have to do a bit of research how that bridge got it's name - had a few mental images going thru my brain, while on the bike!) The beach at Manly was packed, with quite a few surfers and some swimmers in the water. I cycled up as far as I could up to the North Head (entrance to Sydney Harbour), and then decided to retrace my route back. I stopped by Bondi Beach, before getting back home - having therefore visited two of Sydney's landmark beaches in about an hour time frame - I'm not sure that is possible by car with Sydney's traffic conditions. My route is available here: .

It was a great day for discovering, and now I'll be able to make further discoveries on the other side of the Harbour more confidently.

28 May 2011

Dear diary, ...

You have been recording our life in Melbourne for the last five years! There is nothing that I regret, and Melbourne you truly are an amazing place to experience, and if one is fortunat:e it is even better to be able to live there.

Life brings along fresh opportunities every so often, and recently I took one up which comes along with a relocation to Sydney. Sydney of course has it's own positives: it is very picturesque, cycling around it makes you hill-fit quite quickly, but it just doesn't well - have that style! We have been hunting around for produce markets - Melbourne, you gave us a choice of three within walking distance: no one can beat the Queen Victoria markets, if there is another such place, I've yet to come across it! Then there's Beach Road - a compatriot of mine on most weekday mornings when I "smashed" out at least 40km and tried to average >35kph. This morning, I rode to the office, hardly a sweat, <10km and <20 minutes: so I'm still looking for a route in Sydney where I can build up some speed to complement the hill work with.

We're already missing our walks along the Yarra to the footy on Friday nights, and of course the Melbourne Rebels' home ground - the Stockade! So much so, that we cannot resist the withdrawal symptoms, and are flying in for the Reblels contest with the Stormers (Pearl's team from South Afica) this coming Friday! C'mon Rebels! Give it one more go this season! Your time is coming - who would have believed even 2 years ago, that the Reds could be in danger of topping out the Super15 competition? With the quality of support, staff, facilities, players and culture, I don't think it will take as long as it took the Reds!

Anyway, we're doing our utmost to discover Sydney's beauty spots while we have the opportunity. This morning, after I came back from the ride we had coffee on Dover Heights, and then walked to South Head. The Harbour and Ocean views are spectacular, and to be recommended!

So diary, I will not neglect you! Allegiance with Melbourne is strong, even while I'll be posting from Harbour City for the next while. "Absence makes the heart grow fonder"!