Tag Archives: Riding

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.

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!

At it again!

Yup, this could be titled dumb things I have done – part two. Doing things that I shouldn’t be doing because I can’t hack it physically.

This time it was the Scody High Country Challenge. Signed up for it ages ago and was feeling pretty positive about it all. The challenge of Mt Buller seemed appropriate after conquering both Mt Buffalo and Mt Donna Buang. But then it happened.

Six weeks ago, I dislocated my right thumb.

This meant two weeks with no bike riding at all. I couldn’t even tie my own shoe laces, let alone get on a bike. It was over two weeks before I started riding again. But I could only do short distances before the pain in my hand got too bad – damn bumpy road surfaces! I knew there was no way I’d be anywhere near prepared enough for the weekend. But I did it anyway, with about 10 hours proper riding time. My longest ride was an 80km pootle around the Bellarine Peninsula the weekend before. (I do ride to work but that doesn’t really count when it’s only 10kms in the morning and 10kms in the evening.)

Not prepared at all!

Still, I lined up with everyone else on what was a very foggy Saturday morning, wondering if the new battery in my garmin’s speed/cadence sensor would stop the auto-pausing problem I’d been having (answer: yes and no – no because it still happened but yes because it didn’t get stuck paused like it had been). And then it began. We left Mansfield behind and made our way to the base of Mt Buller. At first it was okay. Actually, it was okay for about the first ten kms of the climb. I definitely wasn’t going to set any records for a blistering time but I was still turning the cranks over and I didn’t feeling like I was pedaling squares.

Then the nausea began. My stomach was churning and it got worse the further up the climb I got. In the last four or five kms of the climb, I stopped four times. At one point, I simply stopped. My heart was hammering in my chest and I just couldn’t turn the cranks over any more. I had to stop, I just had to. I forced down a bit of an Clif bar and contemplated the fact that I wasn’t even at the hard bit yet. That moment was a tiny bit soul destroying and I contemplated just turning my bike upside down and waiting for the sag wagon. Yet I didn’t. I clipped back in and suffered my way to the top. And my, did I suffer. My partner stayed with me for the final two kms and as we came around the very last corner, he heard a very little voice behind him squeak “Is that it?” in sheer desperation that it be the truth.

I got the blue “You are here!” sign and promptly got off my bike, fighting the desire to puke up my guts up all over the sign that two seconds ago had been a blessed thing to see. I walked for a bit but hopped back on my bike so I could ride across the finish line. Couldn’t be seen walking across the line!! Then we sat in the town square on top of Mt Buller in glorious sunshine as I chugged down a can of coke (rides are the only time I’ll drink it) and burped my head off. Slowly I started to feel better, my stomach unknotted and I relaxed. I acknowledged that fact that I was totally underdone for the climb. I had no clue just how hard it would be and my lack of knowledge of the climb made it even more difficult because I had no clue how far it was to go.

But I am proud of myself for not packing it in. I might’ve been in last group of people who completed the ascent but I bloody well did it!! I wanted to quit, I thought I should but I didn’t.

The descent was quite fun. I really didn’t like the first bit which is incredibly steep with a hair-pin turn. I was working the brakes the whole way down that bit, probably holding some people up but I didn’t care. I’d already seen what could happen if you crashed and I had no desire to put myself in hospital (one guy did – last I heard he has broken ribs and he cracked a vertebra). It was a much quicker trip back to Mansfield than it was going out. Simple fact is that there’s a lot more down than up on the way back!

Unlike when I climbed Mt Buffalo (with a cold no less!), I had a real feeling of achievement when I crossed the finish line in Mansfield. I had suffered but I had prevailed. I conquered Mt Buller on my first go.

Sunday was meant to be the 125km ride to Whitfield but my dislocated thumb put paid to that idea. It would be a 55km jaunt to Tolmie instead (the first water station and turnaround point). And my, what a tricksy little ride that turned out to be! What I didn’t know at the time was that you essentially start climbing as soon as you get out of Mansfield. Sure, it’s nowhere near as steep but it’s just as long as riding up Mt Buffalo! The “Welcome to Tolmie” sign appeared about 2.5kms before the damn water station!! It seemed to go on forever!

As we stood around the water station, I was eternally grateful that we would be turning around and heading back to Mansfield. And it was one of the funnest descents I’ve done it quite awhile. No real need to brake at all, just lots of big sweepers for corners and the feeling that you’re really in control because it’s not that steep. It was a lot of fun.

Will I do it again next year? Yes. I know it sounds like I had a terrible time but I really didn’t. I got to spend a long weekend in a gorgeous part of Victoria with my partner, doing what we love doing – which is riding our bikes.

But next year, I intend on being waaaaaaaaaaaaaaaay better prepared.

In other news, I’m heading off overseas next week for a grand jaunt. It goes something like this:

Depart Melbourne 12pm 27 March > arrive LAX 8:30am 27 March (love that whole arriving before you left thing) > Santa Monica 27 – 29 March > fly to Seattle 29 March > Seattle 29 March – 2 April > fly to New York (yay!!!) 2 April > New York 2 – 5 April > fly to Paris 5 April (very late at night too) > Paris from 6 – 12 April > fly to Hong Kong 12 April > Hong Kong 13 – 15 April > fly home to Melbourne 15 April. Arrive home 6am (!!) 16 April.

What’s missing for that is a day being bussed around for this year’s Paris-Roubaix. I think there are three stops along the way and then the tour company we’re going with will take us to the Roubaix Velodrome for the finish. It’s going to be very exciting.

Paris! I’m going to Paris! Mmmm… macaroons.

Should watch this more often

Things are getting better on the bike. I’m feeling great today because I totally smashed it on Yarra Boulevard this morning. Okay, so 1:12:50 is probably really slow for two laps and most guys could do three or even four laps in that time but it’s a PB (personal best) for me and I’m feeling pretty good about my efforts this morning.

Funny how putting a new saddle – black Fi’zi:k Vesta with K:ium rails – on and getting some spiffy new shorts from Rapha has led to an improvement in my attitude.

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.

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.


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).

Dirty Deeds

Went to my first ever cyclocross race on the weekend. Loved it. We got a spot right near a very muddy part of the course and had a great time urging the riders to go through the rather large puddle in front of us. CX is kinda like what we’d do as kids – get on our bikes and go down to the park to mess about. Except now it’s a race and there’s way more mud.

Can’t say it’s something I’ll actually do but it was certainly fun to watch.

There’s a few pics on FaceBook.

As for me personally, been doing hardly any riding at all. I’m still commuting to work but the weather has been decidedly unkind. Last night’s commute home was interesting. I had considerable trouble keeping the bike going in a straight line as I was getting hammered by a crosswind that threatened to push me into traffic. Maybe I’ll get out on Thursday morning. Maybe.

I didn’t plan to take a break. In fact, I had planned to do the 150km version of Scotty’s Ride in two week but other things have intervened – like dislocated shoulders (not mine I should add!). Still considering traveling up to Shepp to watch the race though (which would make my parents happy as they’d get a visit from me).

I suppose I should chose a ride to focus on next. I’m thinking the Genovese Kinglake Ride because last year I could only do the 70km version when I really wanted to conquer the full ride, which is 120km. We shall see.