Tag Archives: Bmc

Your mountain is waiting so get on your way

Road heading up a mountain

About half way up to Falls Creek, November 2017.

Last year I was in a meeting and somehow, towards the end, the conversation angled itself around to the fact that I was going away to Bright with a big group of friends to ride up some mountains which then leads to plenty of eating and drinking. I got asked why would you ride up a mountain?

At the time, all I could come up with was because it’s there?

It’s so hard to explain why I ride up mountains when I most definitely do not have the right body type for it. I’m probably¬† a good 10 kilos too heavy to ever find climbing easy.

But for some crazy reason, I keep persisting. Since October last year, I’ve ridden up Mt Donna Buang six times. My best time was set way back in 2013, pre-Juno and when I was riding heaps. I’ve been edging closer and closer to it but now I’ll have to wait until after winter to try again.

Donna isn’t by any means an easy climb. It has two incredibly steep sections, one right at the end which averages around a 10% grade and it’s a killer. Every time I get out there, I always end up wondering why I’m doing it. It causes me physical pain but yet I persist.

As I’m doing it I often can’t help but think how stupid I’m being.

Why am I’m willingly hurting myself? Why I am putting myself through it when there’s no obvious reward? I know it puzzles a lot of people, especially because I don’t look like someone who would willingly ride up a mountain.

It’s so hard to explain to someone who doesn’t ride a bike.

I always used to hate riding up mountains, really hated it. I found it so hard and the little voice in my head was always saying negative things to me like you can’t do it, you’re too weak or what made you think you could do this, you idiot. The only reason I persisted was because I really, really, really loved descending. There’s nothing quite like bombing it down a mountain as fast as you can. The rush of the air, the blur of the scenery flying past, the ease. It’s the best thing in the world.

Having a baby has changed my perception of climbing. For one thing, it’s given me far more patience and I understand that I can do whatever I want if I put my mind to it. I mean, I had a baby. I grew a whole new person! It kinda puts everything into perspective. My self talk has essentially boiled down to you had a baby, this is nothing!

If nothing else, it gives me time to think or to simply live in the moment. It’s become a mindfulness activity for me. It’s also time I spend alone which is a luxury these days. For me, it’s turned out to be really important that I have reminders of the person I was before I became a mum and that I’m still that person (just with some added extras these days).

I still don’t love climbing but these days I do have an appreciation for it.

Trees at the edge of the road.

How could you not enjoy climbing when you get to see things like this? About half way up Lake Mountain, March 2018.

To my bike…

Just wanted to say thanks.

Thanks for being there when I was angry, upset or just plain peopled-out. You have always been a safe haven for me, a way for me to get out my aggression and frustration that’s healthy and much much better than taking it out on those I care about.

Thanks for the time to think, the time to be alone, the time to remind myself that I don’t have to be what everyone expects or perceives me to be.

Thanks for being a safety valve, a place to go when everything is getting to be too much and I can feel my emotions bubbling over and going to places I don’t want to go. Thanks for being something that I look forward to, a bright spark when all looked pretty dark around me.

But best of all, thanks for the joy and the pleasure that you bring into my life. I can be in the foulest mood but I know that time spent on my bike will fix all that. It’s so good to be able to reconnect with a younger, less troubled version of myself.

Thanks for the time spent out in the sunshine. And, to a lesser degree, in the rain. Thanks for reminding me that I happen to live in a pretty amazing country and that there is much to appreciate.

Sometimes the riding hurts so much but that’s more than made up by the times it comes so easy and I feel like I’m flying. It’s worth it – the tired heavy legs, the sore butt, aching back – it’s so worth it.


There was a terrible moment when I realised I was going to be about 3kms short for the Rapha Women’s 100.

I had been so sure when I set out that I would get it. I was so certain I’d gotten it right and that adding a lap of the boulie before meeting up with the other women I would be riding with would give me the extra 20 or so kms I needed. Well, I was wrong! I realised that I’d miscalculated when I was still about 6kms out from home. D’oh!

Riding anywhere near 100kms is a big ask for me at the moment. I’m on the way to restoring my fitness – on and off the bike – but I still have a long, long way to go. I wasn’t even sure I’d be able to achieve the 100kms. But I did. I did it. Admittedly I had to ride around my suburb for about 20 minute to get the extra but I did. It seems like such a crazy thing to do but I guess I really am a cyclist because come hell or high water, I was getting that 100kms.

I so often struggle to find motivation. It’s been really hard to get back on the bike but I think I’m falling in love with it again. It’s such a huge part of me and my relationship with my husband. Without my cycling, I would’ve never meet him and I would’ve missed out on what’s turning out to be a pretty awesome adventure with him.

But this day was about my female friends and that’s fantastic too. I have so many wonderful, strong, fun women in my life now because of my bike.

It was a great day. Thanks to Bek, Marta, Louisa and Helen for making it so.

Bikes are better with Belgiums

new wheels

Indeed they are! (Techy bit: colour coded KingR45/HED Belgium/Sapim CX-Ray.)

My bike now makes a “RRRRRrrrrrrrrrRRRRRrrrrrrrrrRRRRRrrrrrrrrr” sound when I’m free-wheeling which is kinda awesome.

Dan at Shifter Bikes did a brilliant job. He’s some sort of magician. He must be because he knew exactly what I needed and wanted.

I blathered on about what was happening when I was descending (speed wobbles which scared the bejesus out of me when I was coming down Lake Mountain and the bike started to shake almost uncontrollably) and he knew my Easton wheels were flexing when I got over a certain speed. Funny thing is, I’d started notice something odd going on with my back wheel without realising it was my back wheel. It felt like my seat was wobbling a little bit and I couldn’t work out why. But this wasn’t happening at really high speed either. This was going on when I was doing boulie laps! And I’d noticed it tootling around town as well.

Turns out I needed stiffer wheels. And an overlapping spoke pattern.

Shifter Dan – genius!

These are not cheap wheels. But I don’t for a second regret letting him work his magic and following his advice about what hubs to buy. My only request was a pair of red spokes. I love finding and working with people who really know what they’re doing. I love the whole idea of being able to just let him do his thing and the end result being brilliant.

The experience of riding my bike now is simply awesome. We went out to the Dandenongs yesterday to try them out (Richard also got new wheels but hey – this is my blog!). There’s nothing to say except they were awesome and had me wishing I’d done this when I first bought the BMC back in February. Now I want to head out to Donna Buang. When I did the climb in March this year on the BMC, I managed the descent in just under 20 minutes (19:43) so I’m curious now to see if I can beat that time.

The bike definitely rolls faster with these new wheels. Coming down from Skyhigh I actually ran out of gears and ended up free-wheeling most of the way down. But it’s not that steep…

Going up?

Scan of my 7 Peaks passport with its four stamps

For someone who proclaims loudly that they hate climbing, I sure do seem to do a lot of it.

In the last six months, I have ridden up five mountains. I know, only four stamps above but I did Donna Buang as well (a week before tackling Mt Buller again – which went way better this year than last year). That’s real progress considering that until the middle of 2010, I had never ridden up anything steeper than Yarra Boulevard in Kew. Now I’ve conquered some of the bigger climbs in Victoria – some of of them, twice!

It’s taken me a long time to get in the right head space for climbing. I’ve accepted the fact that I will never be as quick as other, stronger riders but I can do it if I’m willing to plod along. Because of my prolapsed disc, I climb slowly – which can be incredibly frustrating when you’re always the last person to reach the summit. But I figure it’s better to reach the summit ages after everyone else has than be parked on the couch doing nothing at all. At least I’m trying.

I suppose I have been very slowly seduced by climbing. I get why we do it. It is really satisfying to reach the summit. The new bike helps too. I didn’t think I’d notice any difference but the stiffness of the carbon frame does make it easier to settle into a rhythm. I never really noticed any flex in my Cannondale but I have noticed that I seem to be more efficient with my BMC so the flex must be there somewhere. Both of them have Ultegra so it’s not a gearing issues (the only difference being that my BMC has electronic shifting). I dunno… it just seems a tiny bit easier. Maybe it’s a mental thing and I’m trying harder because I think the bike deserves a better rider. *lol*

There are thoughts brewing this year of tackling Mt Hotham. I have a real mental block when it comes to Hotham. It seem impossible to me. It’s such a long climb, sections of it are incredibly steep and everyone I know who’s climbed it all say how hard it is. Not exactly encouraging me to do it. But I’ve decided it must be done at some point. So maybe this is the year I’ll shove all my concerns to one side and just do it.

However! There is an upside of course. It’s a hell of lot more fun coming down the mountain than it is going up!

The mysteries of a bike fit

Well, not really that mysterious.

Mostly it’s get on the bike, get off the bike, get on the bike, get off the bike, pedal hard, get off the bike, get on the bike, get in the drops, get off the bike, get on the bike, get off the bike. Repeat what feels like about a million times until finally you’re done.

I had a Body Geometry fit at Bike Now. Nope, I don’t have a Specialized bike (but they were one of the brands on my radar) but it doesn’t make a difference. As they say on their site, they will fit you to whatever bike you happen to own, regardless of brand. Chris did a great job too. I’d seen him before when I bought my Specialized shoes and was having a huge amount of trouble with the cleat position. He sorted that and I felt that he really listened to what I was saying so it made me eager to have him do a fit on my new bike.

He’s good. Really good. We spent about the first half an hour talking about what I wanted to get from my bike riding (he was surprised I had no desire to race), my experiences on the bike and any injuries I’ve had. He did the sit bone measurement, checked my feet to see what my arches were like and checked to see how flexible I am (pretty flexible apparently!).

Then the whole get on the bike, get off the bike process started. At first he just watched me ride. Then he started tweaking and switched my saddle to a 143mm Oura Pro. The difference was immediate. I realised that the whole time I’ve been riding I’ve never really sat on my sit bones on the bike, especially on the right side. What’s most curious is at the bottom of each pedal stroke, there’s a centimetre difference between my left leg (126) versus my right (125). That’s a quite a hip drop I’ve got going on there courtesy of my prolapsed disc. Still, Chris thinks the pedal stroke thing might correct itself now that I have a saddle that’s the right width but it’s a big might. I’m not expecting things to change but still *fingers crossed*.

I know, I know… I’ve bought into the on-sell with the saddle and I am getting a black version of the Oura. However Specialized seem to be the only people who make saddles that are narrower than 147mm. Which is a problem for us girls with skinny hip bones. If you want a wider saddle, sure but narrower – forget about it.

Because of the fit, I’ve ordered a new stem. The one that came with my bike is 110mm but when we did all the measuring for an ideal stem length/angle it turned out I was more comfortable with a 100mm one. So he flipped the stem and angled the bars up. He took some photos of me at the start and end of the fit and you can see the difference. My arms are so straight in the first photo and much more relaxed in the second one.

The whole thing took about two and a half hours. It really was interesting. It was amazing how much information Chris gathered from just watching me ride. He worked out I wasn’t straight on the saddle after about 30 seconds of watching me ride while standing behind me. He really is interested in making the experience of riding a bike the best it can be. He spent a lot of time working on my position on the saddle and making sure it was in the right position, especially considering that was the main reason I went to see him. It was worth it, even though my arse hates me right now. I have a test saddle (brand new, mine is the first arse to sit on it) on my bike so my right site bone isn’t happy with me at all because it has to get used to doing some work.

Perhaps though it wasn’t the best idea to try out a brand new saddle on the 105km M.A.D. ride which included riding up Mt Macedon. Now, there are two ways to get up Mt Macedon. One is relatively easy, the other is quite hard. Guess which one I experienced? I’ve discovered that 13% climbs are an all-body experience for me. The next day everything hurt. Arms, back, shoulders. Still, I passed plenty of guys on the way up who were walking, even though I was only riding at 5km/h. It got the point where I was only looking about a metre in front of me and it got done to me dealing with it one pedal-stroke at a time. Looking up was crushing because the road just seemed so steep and never-ending.

There definitely wasn’t enough down on this ride. Took me 48 minutes to get up the damn mountain but there was only 13 minutes of fun on the way down! The rest of the ride felt like a bit of a slog. There was a lot of up and the down didn’t come until the last 20kms of the ride. Still, it was a fun day out.

You’re a handsome devil. What’s your name?

My brand new BMC

Yup, I treated myself to a new road bike. I bought my Cannondale way back in February 2010 so I’d started seriously thinking about a new bike in about the middle of last year. But the intention wasn’t to actually go out and get one until at the end of 2013 (there are a few other things that need to be paid for first, namely a wedding!). But fate intervened and during a web search I found Bartholomew. I thought it was just wishful thinking until I saw the price. And then it became a reality. (And yes, all my bikes have names.)


He’s a 2012 BMC teammachine SLR01 50cm frame with Ultegra Di2. And once again, I’ve been made to eat my words after saying I couldn’t see the point of electronic shifting for a cyclist like me – a pure recreational rider who will never race. I can certainly see it now! It’s just brilliant. It’s incredibly quiet (unless you decided to suddenly change gears going up a hill) and I often find myself wondering if I’ve actually changed gear.

The experience of riding isn’t profoundly different from my Cannondale. There’s definitely a lot more stiffness to the bike but the agility feels about the same. However, the feel of the bike might be because I had my Eastons put on the new bike so I’m riding around on wheels that I’m already very familiar with (and they were better then the Fulcrum 5s that came with it – the only disappointment when it came to the bike). I’ve also gone from 40cm rounded on top bars to 38cm flat on top ones. Not sure about that. They do feel a little too narrow for me but I’m hoping to get a proper bike fit done soon so we’ll see what the outcome is from that.

Still, it’s awesome to get about on it. It’s new and shiny. I think we’re going to be very happy together.

My new BMC

My new BMC

My new BMC

My new BMC

My new BMC