Tag Archives: Bike

Mt Buffalo – conquered!

Took me two hours to get to the climb’s end but I did it. I’ve officially climbed my first proper mountain and I have the ride stats to prove it.

It’s long – really, really, really freaken long. My brother described it thusly when we talked about it a few days later: it goes on and on and on and on and on and on and on and on and on and on and on and on and on and on and on and on – fark! I’m only half way!! – and on and on and on and on and on and on and on and on and on and on and on and on and on and on and on and on and on. Just when you think it’s never going to end, there’s a small descent and the scenery opens out into the most amazing plateau. It’s a meadow at the top of a mountain. Grass, flowers, the whole bit. There’s a tiny little bit more climbing to do after that to reach the chateau that signifies the end of the climb.

The crazy thing is that I did it with a cold. Probably not the most sensible thing I’ve done recently but I had company. Louisa and I ended up nattering most of the way up as evidenced by this photo:

We took our time, stopping quite a few times in the shade to cool down and have a drink. It’s not like were were in a hurry or anything. We also snapped a few photos. I think this one is from about two-thirds of the way up.

But make it to the top we did. There were cheers from the group we were riding with when we arrived. And of course I took a photo of my bike at the look-out just to prove I’d been there.

Am I smiling? Or is it a grimace? (At least I look spiffy in my pink Rapha jersey. And yes, it matches my handle bar tape.)

However, something strange happened on the way down. For the first time ever on a descent I actually got a little bored. 21kms is a long, long way to descend on an unfamiliar road with a dead surface. Plus because I had a cold, my ears were blocked and I couldn’t get them clear on the way down which affected my sense of balance. I had to go more slowly then I probably would’ve a few months ago. By the time I got to the bottom, I was in a bit of pain and I had to stop to blow my nose in attempt to make my ears pop.

There was a cruel torment on the way back into Bright when the sign on the side of road promised it was only six kilometres away. Longest six kilometres of my life! When I finally staggered into the guest house the riding group I was with had taken over for the weekend, I was a shattered woman. Exhausted, drenched in sweat and feeling like death. I thought I’d feel some sort of achievement for successfully traversing my first proper mountain climb but mostly I just wanted to lie down and never get up. The sense of achievement came three days later when we were returning to Melbourne and I realised the mountain I could see to my left was Mt Buffalo. Then I truly realised what I’d done.

See that mountain in the distance? I rode up that, all 1,302m (4,272 ft) of it!

There were a few more rides on the weekend – rail trail tootle to from Bright to Myrtleford for breakfast and then back to Bright and a quick Bright – Harrietville – Bright trip but mostly this weekend was about Mt Buffalo for me and the realisation that right now I’m just not in love with cycling like I once was.

The realisation came as we were heading back from Myrtleford to Bright and were going to stop at a pub on the way. We had to ride across some grass and lucky me, my bike slipped out from under me and I fell. At least time it was on grass and the only damage was to my dignity. But sitting in the shade after everyone else had ridden on – at my request – with my partner, I realised I’m having a bit of a tough time with the whole bike riding thing at the moment.

It’s hard to get out on the bike. It doesn’t feel as natural to me as it once did. I still get edgy in large groups and I’m not comfortable being surrounded by riders I don’t know. I’m nervous and overly cautious. I’m not comfortable on the bike since I switched saddles to a narrower and less padded one with a massive cut-out. I thought it was because I got the seat height wrong but even after adjusting it, I’m still not comfortable. So a new saddle is on its way to me now. Maybe it’ll work, maybe it won’t. Don’t know.

Does the fact that I’m still trying count for something? I’m not willing to give up on it. Cycling and I are having a bit of a lovers’ tiff at the moment but maybe everything will be fixed with a new saddle and a few good rides.

Maybe now…


Work in progress. New shifters and brakes are on!


Whoo hoo!! All finished!! Oohh… look how pretty she is now 🙂

Maybe now I’ll shake off my well and truly entrenched case of CBF (or the more polite version of CBB – can’t be bothered – I’ll leave it to you to work out the other one).

Yup, I’m having some serious issues scrounging up the motivation to get on the bike besides commuting to work. Which means I’m barely riding my Cannondale. I always seem to have some excuse: it’s too windy, it’s raining, I’m tired… Blah, blah, blah, blah. But I think what it really comes down to is that I know I’ve become very unfit in the last few months. It means I’m back at the beginning and all the gains I’d made, the strength I’d developed is totally gone.

Case in point: this 70km spin around The Bellarine Peninsula left me totally shattered. The first two hours were okay, I wasn’t exactly powering along like I used to but I did okay up the hilly bits (granny geared it the whole way!). The third hour was a total disaster. We turned into a crosswind and it just smashed me. I felt totally drained and nauseous. About 60kms in, I had to stop on the side of the road. I physically couldn’t keep turning the cranks. I don’t think I’ve ever actually had that happen to me before, even on some of the epic rides I went on earlier this year which were way longer and physically more demanding.

And it was only a 70km ride. It took me three hours to do a 70km ride. What’s up with that? A few months ago if I was on the bike for three hours I was doing over 80kms.

Part of me just isn’t feeling comfortable on the bike. I can’t find my rhythm, which sounds so weird when all you’re doing is turning cranks. No rhythm required there! Yeah? Really? Try telling yourself that once you’ve lost it! Before today, the bike hadn’t changed. I have. And I’m not sure I like it too much. I’m slow and overly-cautious. I feel awkward on the bike, like I’ve got all the grace on a swan on land. I didn’t used to feel this way.

Coming back from an accident sucks. Got no idea how to fix my current predicament except to keep riding. And perhaps take a dose of HTFU.

Little niggles

So, it’s been about a month since I fell over. On the whole, I’ve pretty much recovered. Well, sometimes I yawn and it hurts but that’s nothing really. Everything appears to have healed well except for my elbow. If I bump it, the pain I experience is well beyond hey, you’ve just whacked your elbow dummy! pain. I’ve only done a few rides since the accident but each time my elbow starts aching about 40 minutes in. It was hurting today on my ride to work which isn’t that far. But I’m not sure what I can do about it. My elbow was x-rayed at the hospital and it was no sign of breaks or bone chips. It’s most likely tendon and nerve damage and there’s no fixing that except with time. I keep thinking I should visit my physiotherapist but what could she do?

My confidence is pretty much back as well. I don’t feel the anxiety I did on my first ride. Still, sometimes I can be edgy and I know I’m being overly cautious on the road, probably to the annoyance of other people. But I don’t believe being overly cautious is a bad thing right now. I’ve traumatised my body enough recently, I don’t need to to it again.

One thing I have noticed on my recovery is that my cornering appears to have been affected. I’ve always been pretty fearless when it comes to throwing myself around corners at speed (after learning them of course) but I noticed I’ve back off quite a bit. There’s a section on the bike path that I usually take great joy in hurtling down – it’s got a gentle decline on it where you can build up quite a turn of speed but lately I’ve been over-thinking my line and I start drifting off to one side before correcting myself by touching the brakes a little. When I do take corners at speed I’m chosing a much wider line (which is probably not a good idea on busy city streets). I’m fairly certain it’s because I’m over-thinking everything I do on the bike right now. I should probably stop it because that way leads to accident. Somehow I have to learn again to trust my body to do what I want to do and believe that the bike will respond how it did in the past.

If nothing else, this latest crash has taught me a lot about myself as a rider. Perhaps sometimes I was stupid and doing stuff that was beyond my abilities (eg. descending at 60km/h down Kinglake probably wasn’t the smartest idea when it’s a really technical descent). Sure, at the moment I really don’t like being overtaken by just about everyone but it’s inevitable. My fitness levels are nowhere near what they were and if I try too hard all I do is wear myself out even more quickly and have to struggle the whole way home. Not fun!

But I still love being on my bike. Sometimes when I ride to work I get caught at a train level crossing and I look at the people crushed into the carriages and think I’m never doing that ever again. All those people who complain that they don’t have time to exercise…

But now to fun stuff! Bike upgrades!!

The current thing is whether or not to get a new groupset for my Cannondale. I’m aware that it’ll mostly be a cosmetic change and I’ll get no real value out of it. But I still want to do it. There has been many discussions with people about what I should buy. Should I go for Campagnolo Athena or really blow out my budget and get Chorus? Or maybe SRAM Force? But it’s simply an aesthetic change so why spend the money?

My current suggestion to my brother (and bike mechanic) is for me to buying new shifters and brakes and be done with it. I’m fairly certain the rear shifter is shredding the cable again so replacing it seems like a really good idea. The brakes my bike came with are simply rubbish and I’d buy new ones right now if I wasn’t thinking groupset.

But I don’t know. I woke up this morning having decided that yes, I’m going to buy a groupset and hah!! to it being merely an aesthetic change. After all, it’s my money. But now it seems silly to spend the money when so few of the components need to be changed. And I’d have to buy some extra bits to get Athena to fit. New shifters and brakes seems way less complicated (and expensive).

Eugh… it’s starting to make my head hurt.

It was inevitable

I was always going to get back on the bike.

What I didn’t expect was how I felt. I didn’t expect to feel as nervous as I did. I’ve always been pretty confident on the bike. It’s been something that I inherently know I can do. But not this time. I wheeled my bike out to the street, swung my leg over and stood there, looking down at my right foot resting on the pedal which wasn’t even clipped in. I could feel my heart pounding in my chest. I was feeling really, really anxious – a feeling I’m not used to associating with bike riding.

Sigh.

Okay, so now I need to deal with the fact that my confidence is shot. I’ve never felt the way I did on Saturday morning before setting off on a ride. My nervousness wasn’t helped by the fact that three cyclists who were out the front of Cafe Racer wandered out onto the road in front of me, even with my one of the friends shouting “ding, ding, ding!!” at the top of her voice in an attempt to get their attention. If you look closely enough, you can see a spike in my heart rate which indicates when it happened. Beach Rd also seemed to be much busier than usual. There were a lot of cars out at 8am.

I didn’t expect this to happen. I thought I’d be able to just get back on my bike and be fine. But I wasn’t. The other accident I had last year, I hopped back on the bike and it felt just fine. I wasn’t nervous or uncomfortable. It felt like it always did so I figured that it’d be the same this time. I thought I’d just jump back on the bike and everything would be hunky-dory. Bit surprising to discover that it wasn’t.

Still, it wasn’t all bad. I got to ride with friends who were happy to ride at a slower pace than normal. It was great to be out in the sunshine with good company. It did made a difference to have people around me who were happy to keep pace with me and stayed on the outside of me. Having people around me who I knew could trust made a huge difference. So thanks to my peeps who came out 🙂

Too good not to repost on my blog

Some answers to just about any bike forum post I’ve ever read
posted by Skip Bernet, Surly blog

If you think your bike looks good, it does.

If you like the way your bike rides, it’s an awesome bike.

You don’t need to spend a million dollars to have a great bike, but if you do spend a million dollars and know what you want you’ll probably also have a great bike.

Yes, you can tour on your bike – whatever it is.

Yes, you can race on your bike – whatever it is.

Yes, you can commute on your bike – whatever it is.

26” wheels or 29” or 650b or 700c or 24” or 20” or whatever – yes, that wheel size is rad and you’ll probably get where you’re going.

Disc brakes, cantis, v-brakes, and road calipers all do a great job of stopping a bike when they’re working and adjusted.

No paint job makes everyone happy.

Yes, you can put a rack on that. Get some p-clamps if there are no mounts.

Steel is a great material for making bike frames – so is aluminum, carbon fiber, and titanium.

You can have your saddle at whatever angle makes you happy.

Your handlebars can be lower than your saddle, even with your saddle, or higher than your saddle. Whichever way you like it is right.

Being shuttled up a downhill run does not make you a weak person, nor does choosing not to fly off of a 10 foot drop.

Bike frames made overseas can be super cool. Bike frames made in the USA can be super cool.

Hey, tattooed and pierced long shorts wearin flat brim hat red bull drinkin white Oakley sportin rad person on your full suspension big hit bike – nice work out there.

Hey, little round glasses pocket protector collared shirt skid lid rear view mirror sandal wearing schwalbe marathon running pletscher two-leg kickstand tourist – good job.

Hey, shaved leg skinny as hell super duper tan line hear rate monitor checking power tap train in the basement all winter super loud lycra kit million dollar wheels racer – keep it up.

The more you ride your bike, the less your ass will hurt.

The following short answers are good answers, but not the only ones for the question asked – 29”, Brooks, lugged, disc brake, steel, Campagnolo, helmet, custom, Rohloff, NJS, carbon, 31.8, clipless, porteur.

No bike does everything perfectly. In fact, no bike does anything until someone gets on it to ride.

Sometimes, recumbent bikes are ok.

Your bikeshop is not trying to screw you. They’re trying to stay open.

Buying things off of the internet is great, except when it sucks.

Some people know more about bikes than you do. Other people know less.

Maybe the person you waved at while you were out riding didn’t see you wave at them.

It sucks to be harassed by assholes in cars while you’re on a bike. It also sucks to drive behind assholes on bikes.

Did you build that yourself? Awesome. Did you buy that? Cool.

Wheelies are the best trick ever invented. That’s just a fact.

Which is better, riding long miles, or hanging out under a bridge doing tricks? Yes.

Yes, you can break your collar bone riding a bike like that.

Stopping at stop signs is probably a good idea.

Driving with your bikes on top of your car to get to a dirt trail isn’t ideal, but for most people it’s necessary.

If your bike has couplers, or if you have a spendy bike case, or if you pay a shop to pack your bike, or if you have a folding bike, shipping a bike is still a pain in the ass for everyone involved.

That dent in your frame is probably ok, but maybe it’s not. You should get it looked at.

Touch up paint always looks like shit. Often it looks worse than the scratch.

A pristine bike free of dirt, scratches, and wear marks makes me sort of sad.

A bike that’s been chained to the same tree for three years caked with rust and missing parts makes me sad too.

Bikes purchased at Wal-mart, Target, Costco, or K-mart are generally not the best bang for your buck.

Toe overlap is not the end of the world, unless you crash and die – then it is.

Sometimes parts break. Sometimes you crash. Sometimes it’s your fault.

Yes, you can buy a bike without riding it first. It would be nice to ride it first, but it’s not a deal breaker not to.

Ownership of a truing stand does not a wheel builder make.

32 spokes, 48 spokes, 24 spokes, three spokes? Sure.

Single speed bikes are rad. Bikes with derailleurs and cassettes are sexy. Belt drive internal gear bikes work great too.

Columbus, TruTemper, Reynolds, Ishiwata, or no brand? I’d ride it.

Tubeless tires are pretty cool. So are tubes.

The moral of RAGBRAI is that families and drunken boobs can have fun on the same route, just maybe at different times of day.

Riding by yourself kicks ass. You might also try riding with a group.

Really fast people are frustrating, but they make you faster. When you get faster, you might frustrate someone else.

Stopping can be as much fun as riding.

Lots of people worked their asses off to build whatever you’re riding on. You should thank them.

~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~

Missing riding my bike like crazy at the moment. I really hate public transport but the weather is being crap at the moment and I don’t trust myself to be able to ride to work safely. My concentration still isn’t at its best and I get very tired by the end of the day. Next week!! Next week I’ll be back on the bike for my three day week (three days cos it’s my birthday next Thursday and I always take my birthday off).

So, I’m a klutz

I’ve had an interesting weekend to say the least. Hospital ERs are not my favourite place.

I came off my bike on Friday evening after work. It’d just started raining so I thought it’d be a good idea to turn my cycling cap which I was wearing under my helmet around so the brim could offer some protection for my glasses. What I didn’t take into account was how treacherous the smooth bluestone gutter would be. My left foot was already unclipped as I had just crossed an intersection so I was prepared to pull over. But when I put my foot down, I was still moving and I think it slipped out from under me. I lost control, the bike twisted to the right where my foot was still clipped in and I went down like a sack of spuds. Landed head first on the road, smashing my helmet – and in turn my head – into a metal manhole cover. Later on, we discovered a crack in my helmet so I gave my noggin a good thumping.

Went to hospital Friday night, feeling pretty awful. My head was thumping and I felt dizzy and nauseous. The ER was packed so it took a while to be seen by the triage nurse. (Really, why do people with the sniffles go to the ER on a Friday evening and waste everyone’s time?) Just as I started to feel really, really bad the triage nurse came over. He checked me over, gave me some panadol, refilled the bag of ice I had for my head and told me it’d be about an hour before I’d be seen in the so-called “fast-track”.

As we waited in the fast-track waiting room, I started to feel a bit better as the panadol dulled the pain in my head a little bit. More waiting and finally got checked over by a doctor. He decided I needed x-rays on my hip and elbow. Hip because this time I managed to land right on the bone, my elbow because I was experiencing some pain when rotating my arm and he was concerned I might’ve chipped bones in both of them. But I managed to talk him out of insisting I get a head CT scan which was pretty stupid considering it was my head that sent me to the ER in the first place. I was feeling okay at that point (alert and talking coherently) so he sent me home with some pain killers and instructions that I wasn’t to be left alone.

Saturday started okay. I didn’t have much of a headache when I first woke up but the lump on my head had egged up massively overnight. Fast-forward about two hours and it was a different story. I was really dizzy, to the point I couldn’t keep my eyes open without seeing three of everything as my eyes struggled to orientate on a point, incredibly nauseous and in a good deal of pain. Not sure why I decided it’d be a good idea to have a shower but the vertigo had backed off a bit and I felt really grotty. Turned out is was a bad idea as I nearly collapsed and ended up throwing up. At that point, it was decided I had to go back to the hospital and I really needed a CT scan to see if something was wrong with my head.

So back to hospital we went. I didn’t have to wait quite so long this time and I was admitted to the actual ER, not the fast-track. Had an ECG done, got hooked up to the heart monitor and had blood taken. I really don’t like people shoving needles in my arm.

The fun part was the nurse having to change the alarm on the heart monitor as it keep going it off. Turns out my actual resting heart rate is around 50bpm, which is the point where the alarm was set to go off. I thought my resting rate was about 60bpm but that’s apparently not the case. The nurse kept looking at the monitor, looking at me to see what was going on before asking how much riding I do. When I answered about 200kms, that was when she changed the setting because she realised there wasn’t anything wrong with my heart and I wasn’t lapsing into unconsciousness.

Spent about eight hours yesterday in the ER so they could do a head CT scan, a x-ray of my back as my neck and left shoulder had started hurting quite badly and a belly ultrasound to make sure I had no internal bleeding because I was complaining of pain in my chest when I had to sit up. The CT scan was kinda weird. I’ve never had one before. I got a bit of surprise when the thing I was lying on starting moving. I would’ve liked to have seen the scan (who wouldn’t want to see a pic of their brain?) but didn’t ask to as the senior doctor who did the ultrasound seemed a little puzzled as to why I was there. He couldn’t see that anything was wrong with me apart from some bruises and a bump on the head. I was finally given the all clear to go home at about 7.30pm. No bleeds on the brain, no broken bones, not even a bone chip. Just a mild concussion, a honking great big lump on my head, a headache that comes and goes, some soft tissue damage to my neck and left shoulder and some great looking bruises.

So yes, yet another misadventure for me.

Still, I’m okay. I’m very aware that I was extremely lucky. It could’ve been so much worse than me sporting a headache and lump for a few days as well as needing to buy a new helmet. I was always a bit of a helmet advocate before Friday but I’m definitely one now. If I hadn’t been wearing it, I would’ve cracked my skull open and I’d be in hospital right now.

Still, one thing I have learnt yet again is that on the whole people are pretty decent. I was helped by a total stranger, Marissa the occupational therapy student, who just happened to be driving by. She didn’t have to stop but obviously felt she needed to and should. She really didn’t seem to care that she was kneeling in a gutter in the rain, she just helped me. I’m really hoping she didn’t end up with a parking ticket because she parked in a 15 minute spot. Surely the universe can’t be that mean.

There is one big difference from my last accident to this one. Last time, I got stuck calling around, trying to find someone to come to the hospital. This time I had someone with me. It’s still a relatively new relationship but now I have no doubts about how he feels about me (not that I really had any). How could I when on Saturday, he got me out of the shower, dried me off, calmed me down, helped me dress, put my socks and shoes on and took me to hospital where he sat for eight hours holding my hand. You don’t do that for someone you feel meh about. He’s my hero 🙂

Something good, something bad

I’ve noticed a pattern. Something good is always either preceded or followed by something bad. It’s like I can’t have one without the other.

Things at work have gotten… umm… stressful. For the first time ever, I’m caught in the middle of a restructure. Plenty have happened around me (it’s a university, we restructure all the time) but this is the first one that has directly affected me. From where I stand, the process hasn’t been handled particularly well. There’s a lot of misunderstanding and defensiveness on both sides now and right now I can’t see how it’s all going to be resolved in a way that makes everyone happy. How we’re all supposed to work together, I have no clue.

I know that I should be worrying only about myself but I can’t help but be really angry at what’s being done to some of my workmates. I’ve worked with these people for over five years now. I see them every day. How can I not be concerned about what’s going to happen to them? Unlike them, I have the (dubious) fortune having a position to move to. I know I should be happy to have this certainty. However, I can’t help but have some doubts about what it’ll be like to work in the new group. The position description for the job I’ll be slotted into is vague at best and I’m not sure I want to be a “Content Analyst”.

Still, the daily work stuff continues as it always has and there’s a strong sense of solidarity in the team now. That’s one good thing to come out of the whole sorry situation.

All I can do is wait and see. The situation is out of my hands, I can’t change it.

It’s funny… I had a terrible week at work and spent a lot of time wanting to punch someone in the face but get me out on my bike and it just doesn’t matter. The stress just falls away. The weather on Saturday was – in a word – crappy. But it didn’t matter. I was with people I like, who make me laugh and I was doing something I love. Work is just work, it’s a means to end so I can do the things I actually want to do – like get totally filthy and saturated. Then sit around in damp bike kit, drinking cider at Little Creatures Dining Hall while my companions had a pint.

Sunday was another go-round of the Emerald Bakery Loop. The something bad of this was the stretch between Emerald and Kallista. I have no idea what happened but I was really suffering. I dropped further and further behind, I was gasping for breath and my legs felt like they were about to fall off. It was so incredibly hard and I still don’t know how I managed to get up the really tough section (3kms at about 7 – 9%). I felt sick and exhausted but somehow I did it. I wonder if the climbing is ever going to get easier or if it’ll always be this hard for me. Something good was that I had someone drop behind to stay with me for most of it so I had a wheel to follow.

Still, I had a ball flying down The Wall. When I hit 70km/h I figured I should probably slow down a bit as I was overtaking quite a few people, riders who had been 3 – 5 minutes ahead of me. Got to one corner and all I could smell was burning brake pads from the person who had gone through previously. Every time I get to the bottom of a descent like this I always have the biggest smile on my face. It’s an awesome feeling.

The descent down to Montrose was amazing as always. I don’t think I braked once and I managed to pick and stay on some excellent lines through the corners. I love it, just love it. Thinking about it now is making me smile. There’s nothing like the sensation of speed and the world flying past in a green blur. All those tiny movements you make on the bike which make it lean and shift with you. The bike feels like it’s a part of you, that it’s alive. It’s joy, pure and simple.

Something bad (work) countered by something good (bike and an unexpected development in my private life). The universe likes balance so I suppose this is the way it’ll always be.

And for my next trick…

…I shall attempt to ride up Mount Donna Buang this coming Sunday.

All 16.61 kilometres of it at 6.2% grade. It has an elevation of 1,250 m (4,101 ft) and it snows there in winter. It’s the closest mountain to Melbourne where you can go skiing in winter. I’m thinking it’s going to take me between 1.5 – 2 hours to ride up (and that’s being generous).

If I can do this, the 145km Great Ocean & Otway Classic Ride should be a breeze. Uh huh, right. I’ll just keep telling myself that.

I think Master Yoda has it right on this one: Do… or do not. There is no try.

SkyHigh

Sunday’s ride was an adventure out to the Dandenong Ranges.

And it was a total blast. It was the most fun I’ve had on a ride which involved climbing.

We started at Mitcham where two of us on the ride parked our cars. We picked up two more companions on the way and headed out to The Basin and the famous 1:20 ride up to Sarrafras. Unlike the ride the weekend before (which went something like oh my god, it’s so gorgeous up here on the way up to Aaarrrggghhhh!! I’m gonna die!! on the way down due the fact that it started pouring with rain about five minutes into the descent), the weather was kind if but a little chilly. At least this time I was better equipped. Had my arm and knee warmers as well as full finger gloves for the descent.

There was quite a bit of chit-chat until we hit the 1:20 ride and I did my usual thing of falling off the back of the group. The 1:20 climb is one you’re supposed to measure your time on. The road has start, distance and finish markers painted on it so you know exactly how far you have to go. I was hoping to do it in under 25 minutes but I couldn’t quite get there. I hit the finish line painted on the road at 25:20. So close!! However, I have a problem in that I get distracted by how mind-bogglingly beautiful the area is. I spend too much time admiring the view than concentrating on my time (check out Cycling Tips Blog for some photos of the area). Still, I have a target now so hopefully there will be some improvement. I’ll just have to learn how to set up manual laps on my Garmin. I should really read the instructions one of these days!

After a break in Sarrafras, we headed up to Olinda and SkyHigh on Mt Dandenong. It was chilly up there but the view was quite spectacular if a little hazy.

Having never been up there before, I was admiring the view when it was pointed out to me that the map that explains the view to tourists actually had shopping centres on it. So naturally enough I had to take a photo.


Look ma! I climbed 2069 feet!!

After coffees and hot chocolates to warm up, we headed down the mountain. The initial sharpness of the descent caught me totally off-guard and I found myself struggling to control my bike, trying to slow down whilst doing over 60km/h with really grabby brakes so I was essentially fish-tailing and scaring the crap out of myself. Once we hit Mount Dandenong Tourist Road it was so much fun. Unlike the Kinglake descent which is all S-bends and switchbacks, this was big sweeping turns. Means a lot less riding the brakes and a lot more free spinning. It was amazing. As I was hurtling down the hill, I could feel a huge bubble of laughter building. How else can you express the sheer joy of it? It’s as close as humans can get to flying and it’s simply amazing.

Rode the rest of the way back to The Firehouse in Ringwood in a kind of euphoria. The rolling hills on the way back were hard but I didn’t feel like I usually do. I’m never going to be a brilliant climber but on Sunday I actually felt pretty good. I felt tired and the effort at some points felt enormous but it was a good kind of hurt. Except when I dropped my chain near the crest of a hill. It seems that whenever I do that, I always manage to drop it in a way that means I can’t pedal it back on and I have to stop. Must be my special skill. (Can I get another special skill? This one is really annoying.)

I felt that all the effort warranted one of these…

Rides like this one make up for all the crappy ones. The ones where you feel like death and the effort of turning the cranks is enormous. There’s nothing quite like cycling to put the hurt on you but when it’s good, it’s the best thing ever.

Tree project

Week thirteen

And ta-dah!!! New wheels.

Aren’t they awesome?

The obligatory arty-farty shoot taken using a retro camera app for my phone.