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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!