We managed to dodge the rain last weekend and it looks like we'll need to try and do the same tomorrow. We'll also need to dodge a bit of traffic with the picnic at the Rock and the leftovers from the Springsteen concert tonight also at Hanging Rock. Plenty of roads to choose from so we'll find a good one.
8 am in the usual place.
Hope you can make it.
Not much excites the cyclist in me more than my first sighting of Mount Buffalo as I drive in to Bright each year, in fact I reckon even a child's excitement on the promise of a puppy would be a bit low key compared to how I feel on that stretch of road come summer (bloody ungrateful kids).
This year's trip up to Bright with some of the Lairs was a ripper. Lots of great food and drink, wonderful scenery, brilliant rides the nicest friends anyone could want and the most generous hospitality all made this a perfect holiday.
I got there on Wednesday evening after leaving straight after work and was very quickly into relaxation mode.
First thing Thursday morning I headed up for the Mount Buffalo climb, since this is my favorite climb it was a no brainer that I would be heading that way. Kerrie was keen to have a go at Tawonga Gap so we split up once we got into town.
I climbed harder than I planned to but that will come as no surprise to any of you that know me.
I loved it and I felt good, especially since I had met up with two father son combos whom I rode and chatted with almost all the way up, Yeh, Yeh I love a chat.
The Chalet is currently undergoing some serious works so it looks like the much promised re-opening is getting a little closer.
After taking a few photos I headed back to Bright and to continue with the social and culinary part of the weekend.
Kerrie had already returned from her ride and Meg and Pete had arrived in Bright and were heading off to also have a go at the Towonga Gap clmb.
once all the riding was out of the way we headed in to town for the pre Alpine registration, a bit of a shop at the stalls in the Audax camp and a few drinks at the brewery then headed home for the first of our ripper meals that were a constant over the four days where someone would put a hand up as head chef then the rest of us would all kick in and fill in the gaps, yum, yum! Even our breakfasts followed the same formula. Janine also arrived on the Thursday evening, in time for dinner and a look at the tennis.
Friday was an early start for Janine for the first day of the Alpine Raid which meant the ride up Mt Hotham and down to Omeo where she would spend the night where on the second day she would ride the beautiful road to the start of the murderous clmb up the back of Falls Creek which she completed in fine style before making her way back to Bright.
For the rest of us the Friday was more of the same as Thursday but with only Pete and Craig taking the mountain bikes out for a go at the trails.
An easy day also meant the chance for us to catch up with Steve Ambry for lunch at a ripper little cafe in near the river.
Saturday mornning meant the big day had arrived, the inaugural Boys versus Girls Alpine Classic Shoot out...As Pete and I were doing the 200 distance and a four am start, the three am alarm was not exactly music to our ears but a quick breakfast and the short ride into town had us at the start line with the many other riders on there well lit bikes. the early starts present a wonderful sight with the procession oh lights as it heads out of Bright and up Mt Buffalo.
Meg and Kerrie had opted out of the two hundred distance so were able to have a bit of a lay in which saw them leaving Bright toward Towonga at 7 am, Pete and I were back in Bright and back on our way after them at about 7.40 ish.
The Tawonga Gap climb was a bit of a treat as Joseph joined us for it, of course this meant that we probably climbed harder than we would have had it been just Pete and I but that's the price you have to pay if you want to ride with Joey Halfwheels.
We were making pretty good time and were soon on our way down and in to Mount Beauty for a feed and a top up of our water bottles before heading up Falls Creek.
We had made it a fair way up before we received a text message from Meaghan saying they had arrived at the top of Falls for lunch which meant we had a lot of work to do if we were to catch them before Bright.
As we were approaching the top we passed the girls on there descent which spurred us on but must have spurred them on a fair bit more as this would be the last time we saw them before the finish in Bright. A quick feed and we were on our way with one of the most enjoyable descents I've ever had and were soon back at Mount Beauty and on the approach to the last climb of the day, Tawonga Gap...in the heat, and it was damn hot and I found it a fair challenge trying to keep cool and was resorting to poring water from one of my bidons over my head in an effort to keep cool. Pete saved the day when he pulled up at the spring about two thirds of the way up which provided just enough of a trickle to re fill our bidons to tip over ourselves, the short break was all I needed to get me to the top without any further suffering.
We were greeted at the top by Super Domestique Craig with any esky full of ice and cold water, you should have seen him fighting off the zombie riders as he tried to keep enough water for us before agreeing to top up anyone else's water bottles.
Craig told us that we weren't far behind the girls and if we had a bit of a dig we might catch the girls on the way back to Bright, of course I reckon this was more for his amusement than any real chance of seeing them before the finish, of course we hooked in anyway but it was not to be.
So here we are, at the point where Kerrie has made sure I make public...Team Mad Dog Meaghan and Kerrie beat Team Pete and Steve in the 2017 Boys V Girls Alpine classic shootout, well done ladies.
Of course this meant celebratory drinks and more food and a bit of a rest for the rest of the weekend.
What a brilliant weekend, Thanks to Pete for being such great company on the ride and to the rest of the gang for making such a great trip and a huge well done to Janine for completing the raid.
A bit of housekeeping, there is a ride planned for 8 am from the usual spot in Lancefield tomorrow.
There's been lots of riding up hills of late. Mount Macedon has had lot of visits from a few of us Kerrie, Janine, Meaghan and I have all done a few climbs in the last few days.
Kerrie, Craig and I headed up to Mt Buller on Monday where Craig gave his new MTB a workout on the new Buller-Stirling loop. A great day. Must be a big ride in Bright coming up...
There is a ride planned for tomorrow morning, starting at 8 am from the usual place in Lancefield (just down from the IGA supermarket).
Hope you can make it.
Gee, that last post was some time ago.
Riding tomorrow from the usual spot. Not Steve he is riding today and tomorrow in the Wimmera - probably done nearly a third of his 600k target by now.
Ps go Doggies
Andy and Glo have flown north for the winter and MD, Pete, Peter and Maura are about to head to France within days and Ken is checking out the Grand Canyon.
We'd better get a ride in before there's no none left in Australia to swap bikes with if we get a puncture. Ride is set for 9am tomorrow from Lannie. Hope you can make it.
I'm on my third cold for the year. I've had a good run recently and have been feeling pretty good on the bike as I'm building up to the GSR http://gsr.audax.org.au/ . It seems though that often after a long ride or an intense period of training of which I've had both recently I can bank on a spell off the bike, something we all feel we can do without and can find extremely frustrating
Since the Audax Bendigo 600 three weeks ago I have only been on the bike a hand full of times and even then only only short periods, not ideal when you're trying to keep things consistent and building your fitness.
It's still frustrating but these days I almost allow for a period off the bike after a long ride and even though it's only for a lingering cold which I would often back off for but still ride through if it's not particularly bad, it still allows time for the other niggles to come good, you've heard me, saddle sores, achilles, crook neck, they all benefit from a bit of a rest.
I reckon your immune system does get a bit knocked around and just about every second person that walks through the office has a sniffle just dying to launch itself at you.
So, luckily on this occasion my man flu hasn't been fatal and I reckon I might be getting on top of it but it was touch and go for a day or two.
There is a ride planned for tomorrow at 9am in Lannie, hope WE can make it.
I’ve been wanting carbon wheels for my Roubaix for ages but
have always been hesitant to spend the money but last September year I decided
to bite the bullet and lash out some of my hard earned on a set. As I was on a limited budget I decided ebay would present me
with the best deals and settled on a company called cn*carbon wheels and
ordered a set of 50mm carbon clinchers with ceramic bearings for $608.00 AUD.
Any correspondence with the seller prior to ordering usually
took a day or two due mostly to the time difference and was only possible
through messages on ebay or email.
Once ordered the wheels took about three weeks to arrive and
I have to say I was pretty damn excited when they showed up at the post office
for me to pick up.
I had them on the bike that night and couldn’t wait till the
next day when I could take them out for a spin.
On ride one I was pretty chuffed they looked the goods the
only criticism I had was that the holes which the valves went through were a
little oversized and allowed the valve to rattle around making things sound a
Ride two was also fun and the wheels felt good on the road.
After ride three the wheels didn’t actually fall of but
started to look like they might. Holes had developed on the breaking surface of
the front wheel and had started to show on the back. It looked as though there
had been air bubbles just under the surface and breaking quickly heated and
wore through the thin layer which covered them and exposed the cavity which
Not happy, what happens now? I was always concerned about
how things would pan out should there ever be a problem. My first email came
back with a reply saying that if I paid for return postage they would fix the
front wheel, when I told them this was unacceptable as both wheels were faulty
I never heard from them again, even after several more emails from me.
Thankfully Pay Pal came to the party and I got my money back in full but get
this only after I paid return post and provided a receipt showing such. The
whole thing took weeks
As ticked off as I was I still really wanted carbon wheels
but I did learn a lesson from the previous nightmare, I started to look around.
My first point of call Wiggle as it often is these days (after Abbottsford
Cycles) and found a set that I liked but was keen to deal with a company that I
could get on the phone to and ask a few questions should I need to so I
searched “carbon wheels” on Goooogle.
Having been bitten once I did have a few criteria I needed
satisfied, I wanted to be able to speak to the people selling me the wheels,
ideally I wanted to buy them from somewhere here in Australia, I wanted a proper
One of the first mobs I came across was Caden and after
having a look around decided to give them a call.
As soon as I got off the phone I knew this was who I would
be buying my next set of wheels from, yep the specs were great-50mm deep,
28.3mm at their widest, 18 spokes on the front and 21 on the rear, sweet
skewers and weighed 1520 grams for the pair-all good for what I was after. The
deal clincher (heh!) for me was speaking to the wheel builder when I rang, as
that’s who answers the phone, Ben was the guy that set the tension on my
spokes. Not only do you get to speak to an actual person, in real life, on the
phone but you get to speak to the guy who actually builds your wheels for you
and can answer any question you could possibly think of.
When I ordered my wheels he suggested what tyres worked
nicely on them, suggested air pressure and even gave me tips on fitting the
included brake pads. I rang him a few times and he was always patient and
Done deal, I ordered the wheels and six days later they
arrived, from memory the Chinese wheels took around three weeks.
I’ve had the wheels for about six months now and have had a
chance to give them a reasonable run, including one 150 k ride. I love them,
they roll beautifully, brakes work a treat, they look the bomb…and they’re
stiff so maybe not for a 1200. Would I recommend them? Hell yeh!, my only whinge (and it’s minor) is
that the free hub is pretty loud when you’re not pedalling and given a choice would go for a hub that's a little quieter, but some folk like that sound and it’s wouldn’t be
a deal breaker for me and damn I wish I were good enough to really put them through their paces. http://www.carbonbikewheels.com.au/
Would I buy another pair of cheap Chinese rims? No way.
There's a ride planned for tomorrow morning from the usual place in Lannie at nine, Hope you can make it.
Same old same old. 9 am start for a ride around Lancefield. Pump up your tyres, lube your chain and dust off your old jokes as share some quality time in the saddle. Good luck to Leigh as he heads over to the trenches
0430 448 120
High St down from the IGA
It is winter now so we are moving to the 9am start, Hopefully no rain in the morning. Steve is over a third of the distance into this weekend's Audax 600 k ride so won't be joining us. With any luck Leigh will be up for his last ride with us before he heads to a very wet Paris
This pic shows how close I came to not finishing the 400 I rode a couple of weekends ago I didn't notice it on the ride. I usually ride with a spare tyre on longer rides but on this ride I chose not to. There would have had very few options if this blew through the night on one of the remote roads we were on. I rode with George who also chose not to carry a spare on this ride, which is also rare for him...two wrongs don't make a right.
It was a great ride and was made better having had George to ride it with, he's riding very strongly and not surprisingly averaging about 400 k's a week.
I reckon I won't be taking a punt on my next long ride and will have a spare taped to the bars.
I haven't been around for a few weeks and haven't seen a few of you for a while so am hoping you can make it to tomorrow's ride. 8am at the usual place in Lannie.
Last Sunday was one out of the box, we had sensational weather and a destination to match. A 90 k round trip to Malmsbury for lunch made it a ripper ride and definately one to do again.
Tomorrow's ride starts at 8 in the usual place, hope you can make it.
Guru Andy made a good attempt of flogging a dead horse in the last couple of weeks but his auto correct got the better of him.
Oppy is on next weekend and will make it the tenth time the Lairs have fielded a team. the frst one we did together was made up of Andy Moore, Barry Moore, Dave Killick,Ted Van Geldonmalson, Stevw Xerri and supported by Ken Allender, the girl's team was Glo, Di, Maxine and a girl who's name I can't recall. We had a fair bit of rain on that one and have ridden through many a shower and the odd storm since.
Tomorrow is our last ride together till we head off next Saturday morning, starts at 8, hope you can make it.
Steve is on a 200 k ride today so may not make it tomorrow. A & G are at Jacqui Ginn's wedding then White Night then herding the grandbrats so definitely won't make it. Leo and Ken don't read the blog so will most likely be riding! Have a good ride
Good ride last Saturday, Steve, George, Peter Burnett flew up to Bendigo - how easy can it be? With a slight tailwind and dropping a few hundred elevation which turned into a stiffer breeze and a climb back home. Not sure why we left the servo in Kyneton, must have been the anticipation of the beer and entertainment in the main street of Lancefield! Peter on the other hand had the sense to meet Maura in Bendigo for lunch and the art gallery, saving himself for energetic tooting as he cruised past us somewhere north of Kyneton. Ken, John and Glo had a bit more sense than to do 200 but still managed 80ish through the Cobaws.
Starting field minus Peter who was still getting ready.
Spotted in the National Gallery of Victoria not a long Wei way from here.
Hope you and your's all had a wonderful christmas and you got some sweet presents. Ride is planned for 8 am Sunday morning. Tinsel is definately still permitted if not encouraged. Hope you can make it. Steve.
Crazy hot tomorrow so we've called an early start. On the bikes at 7 am to try and beat the worst of it.
Prize for most festive bike and a promise not to go back to the Purple Lilly again. Planning for coffee or coolie in the reserve.
If you click on the image you'll be able to read what Melbourne's finest were up to on a day which is set up to encourage cycling in Oz.
While I would probably encourage folk to wear a helmet that fits well, how about the two dickheads that actually fined the girl for this. What a great job, imagine getting home that night and thinking "ahh, the streets are a safer place thanks to me, think I deserve a nice biscuit. Reckon I can get another day out of that shirt too".
Don't worry about parking somewhere that has regular cycle traffic and addressing motorists that come within a whisker of killing someones mum, dad, friend...whatever. No, go and harass people for getting off their asses on a beautiful morning and enjoying life a bit. Or maybe go and park that highway patrol car on Kew boulevard and doing something to deter the tool that keeps laying tacks for cyclists tyres.I could suggest a great spot for them to stick their two fingers.
AND ANOTHER THING, There's a ride on at 8 am tomorrow, be great to see you.
It's Leo's birthday tomorrow.
I've just come in off the veranda after watching a thunderstorm roll in, it's still raining and it's lovely.
Thunderstorms are pretty normal in central Victoria at this time of year but fires aren't.
A big fire Flared up in the Cobaw Ranges on Tuesday and has been going uncontrolled till yesterday where the weather has brought it into check.
The Pics both show areas where the Audax Rock to Lock pass through, the top is the decent down Straws lane on Mount Macedon and the below is the Cobaws in which the Burke and Wills track runs through.
Burke and Wills will be quite a contrast to previous years, I hope the recovery is quick, much wildlife will be affected, not forgetting the folk who've have lost homes.
I'm running the ride on November 14th and hope a few of you can make it, check the Audax calendar for details.
There is a ride planned for tomorrow morning at 8 am. let us know if you can make it.
With the lairs trip to Bright planned for late November a few of us have become keen to do some hills in preperation for Mount Hotham and the back of Falls Creek. With that in mind Meg came up with the plan of an early start yesterday for a morning on Macedon. We started from various points and rode and meet at the park of the bottom of the South side climb.
Glo And I headed off from Newham and climbed the College road in perfect conditions.
The beautiful weather worked to entice stacks of riders out with many passing us on their way down as we headed up for our first climb.
Glo surprised me when she announced she would head down and give South side a go. She made it up as expected...without a hitch.
Meg, Pete, Kerrie, Janine, Mat and I also headed off from the park for a ripper time on the hill. Top bit of planning MD.
Riding home from Last Sunday's ride I took the opportunity to do exactly what I'd wanted the new bike for. About 15k from home I turned left onto Zig Zag road and took to the dirt on the back roads to home. I had a ball, so many nice roads close to home.
Ride is on for tomorrow at 8 am starting from the usual spot in Lannie. Hope you can make it.
Ride is on for 9 am tomorrow and we have a special treat with Joseph bringing little Edward to meet us for the last part of the ride and for a cuppa.
Let me know if you're a starter.
I have posted Andy's latest postcard below...
Hmm. left it a bit too long to continue the diary, many things will be lost in sweat over the last 10 days!
Thursday of SF week is the picnic. After the hot days preceeding we were expecting more hot weather and so itturned out. Met the others and headed off together. Lost Joan a few times on the hills but she was with us when PeterD found a Carrefour that sold week bix. Coffee stop not long after. We had coffee but the French riders were having beer! Great view out of the back window.
Getting hotter and hillier as we found the queue for lunch. No sign of Murk who was to meet us. Duck, potato/cheese and cake went down very well then time for a snooze with the pbp aspirants making sure their techniques were sound, judging from the amount of snoring coming from them.
After lunch we did the circuit down into the old coal mine which is now a sports complex with grass ski slopes, chairlift, lake etc looked pretty ok for a coal mine which of course are much better to look at than the big wind turbines we rode past on the way back to Albi.
Dinner was fried chicken and chips from one of the vans at the conviviality tent with everyone except Murk. He had made it to the picnic area but decided the walk was too far so he had a nice lunch in a nearby village. He had a light meal in his camper.
Friday was a flat ish ride so we did the p3 and finished with 116 or so. Very hot in the arvo so needed a good cidre or two to cool off. Silly paying the same money just to get fizzy water.
Dinner at the restaurant at the airfield was a bit pricey but they had Grimbergen beer and steak which suited me. The risotto was a bit light on but they did have a power point to charge PeterD ' s phone. A late night for Murk.
Overcast for our last ride for the week. We decided that the loop up the Tarn then back down the other side was too good to miss so we just did the p1 course. Started raining early and did much the same thing all day. The control at Ambialet was stunning. Curches on the tops of hills (one 1250ad so right up there as one of the oldest we have found), the power station that looked like a châteaux and the beautiful bend in the Tarn river. And as well as that the live music - Catalan we think- prompted one of the old cyclists to get a crowd of riders tripping the light fantastic. A two hour stop which could have been longer.
The ride back was even better than the ride up with the lush vegetation giving way to views down the valley and even a couple of tunnels to enjoy in the absence of cars.
Still raining at Albi so we had a snooze in the tent before tea. Met the others for the final dinner but the long queue that showed little sign of moving was too much for Murk. He needed an early night before he drove to Geneva the next day.
We managed only til 11pm when we deserted before the deserts came.
Great food and entertainment again. Walked back to the tent in the rain.
Sunday for us was pack up day. Fortunately it was dry in the morning as we packed our panniers and loaded up the bikes. Murk said his good byes and we joined the others for the ride to the stadium to assemble for the parade. Leigh had a puncture on the way so with the help of an old French racing cyclist (showed me his framed photo) we had it fixed quickly. Start of the parade was delayed as we put our raincoats on and off a few times before the skies lightened. The Kangaroo were a great hit again and our small group made a large impact on the crowd. In the last 100 m of the Parade the vollies narrowed the lane to allow one cyclist through the cheering crowds at a time. Quite an experience - partly because I was not sure I could keep on track and not skittle a few of the over enthusiastic ones, and partly because I thought we should be applauding them for their time and effort over the last years and a week to make it all work so well. Bravo!
After the parade we said goodbye to Joan, Peter, Leigh and Allan who were staying until they caught their train towards pbp on Tuesday.
We headed north towards Paris or so I thought. Little did I know. We followed the main road out to Cordes with St Antonin a possibility. the rain settled in big time after allowing us to ease into the long 6% grade out of Albi. The loaded bikes were not so spritely now! we made it to Cordes, only 30k and decided that we would camp there. Thecamping ground was a few k out of town but a nice walk. Another medieval village built on top if a hill, each one better than the last it seems. After a long walk around the crowded streets we had a lovely meal at a small restaurant near the camp.
Got to St Antonin for coffee the next day, another beautiful French village. We had our lunch along the road watching the Chateaux high above us. After a long climb out of Caylus we noticed the 'keep out' signs. The area for the next ten rolling k was an army base with deserted villages and no signs of life except for the army barracks where we could hear the men singing in the distance. Very odd feeling going along the very scrubby plateau. Could have been a million miles from France. As we descended the plateau in the heat of the day we stopped to admire the limestone cliffs and the distant sight of the Lot valley.
The run down was very nice at the end of a hard day's riding. Even better was the sight of another Medieval French village. Thus one is called St Cirq Lapopie and will live long in my mind's eye. The first view from the road junction was of the old town rising steeply from the lush valley with the curve of the Lot river competing the scene. We camped at the ground close by and walked up for an explore and dinner and both were excellent. No rain in the after noon and getting warm again.
On the road early heading to Gramat just short of Rocamadour. Beautiful ride up down the lot valley for a few k then right turn to head up the Cele river valley, a gentle climb until Bengues and lunch sitting in the sun outside the church. The climb out of th he valley to Espadallie was a typical French gut buster and we used our lunch fairly quickly. Maybe these legs are getting too old for the 8 per centers or maybe the garmin just gives me too much information. Anyhow we found a lovely old hotel over the top of the hill to prove that it was beer o'clock. The restaurant inside was full and the tables in the shade across the road were at capacity as well. At 2.30 in the arvo they must have been doing something right. Undulating to Gramat where we decided that we could manage the last 18 k to Rocamadour. As we rode in I tried to work out whether it would be as good as Iremembered it from 2003. Approaching from the west you do not see anything special at all, just the rather scrubby landscape. We set up camp and headed in the general direction of the village, now with a bit of a glimpse of the deep valley in front but no signs of anything special. A few meters further and we could see the amazing sight of the châteaux at the top and churches and houses clinging to the rock face further down. Full of tourists of course but not enough to have worn the stone steps down to the fossil layers - thousands of pilgrim feet would have achieved that.
Survived my first ride on a cows head today uninjured though a little undignified, celebrating with a more gentle ride tomorrow.
Ride's at 9am, let me know if you can make it or I'll send the cow around.
Mazamet. Too much for tea at the hotel - must learn not to have the three course deal even if it sounds ok. Used the Internet to get a few things done - free Internet at the last camping place was useless.
Met an older chap from nz who was also riding around and when he mentioned 1200 G asked him if he was going pbp. The 1200 turned out to be an enormous BMW motor bike. He has done quite a few trips including Norway to nz.
We started in the morning just as the rain did, great timing. Tried an Aldi for a sim card to no avail but did have to queue for ages as the cheques were slowly written out and processed. Drizzle and overcast on the way to Castres so into the main square for hot chocolate. Met an English cyclist Rosy who was also heading to sf. Decided to stay the night and after circumnavigating the town eventually found the camp. Set up tent and headed back to the Goya Museum which was worth the 5 euro. Cidre hot chocolate and crepes followed then a trip to the supermarket which was around the corner but only visible after looking for it on the Internet. Rosy told us about a velo route to Albi which we might try tomorrow.
A few spots of rain on the ride back to the camp slowly got heavier with lightning to match. Our first home cooked meal turned a bit soggy. Retired to the tent at about a quarter to seven and two hours later it is still pissing down. The new tent survived its first rain. Still overcast in the morning. Castres is full of one way streets and these ones did not work to our advantage as we were pushed away to the west twice so eventually went with the flow and found ourselves at a great boulangerie at a tiny town called Semalens. From here we headed north through rolling green hills and our first sunflowers. Glo was suffering and we rode through Lautrec without a sideways glance. The most direct route to Albi was deemed essential so we ended up on a busyish road which we realised had the gravel bike path beside it most of the way into Albi. Third time lucky to get a cold drink and ice cream in Albi before heading to Terssac to get our paperwork from the pick up point. As usual the strangers table was quiet and friendly. They also had noted that they will refund Peter and Jan's entry after they cancelled - the call of Vienna was more pressing!
No sign of Murk, our octinagarian friend from Lancefield. We rode off to the camping and with a few directions found our allocated spots and Murk already there with Australian flag flying over his camper van. He had talked his way in to the right place. After setting up the tent we headed down to the convivialati tent for some food and the best cidre in the world.
We are part of a contingent of 13500 cyclists and 2700 volunteers, mostly camping on the Albi airfield/motor race circuit. It is enormous - 1.5k to the food area, 1.8k to get to the gate. Mostly camper vans with some camping with bikes and panniers. Next year Dijon if anyone is interested!
First day's ride for us was the Sunday 3rd longest of the 4 routes. 120k with 1400m of climbing as it turned out. The climbs were regular and tending to the steep end of the scale. Past the enormous Aldi cathedral through the hills to the first Accueil at Valderies for a very nice cake and short black. Nine am, hardly anyone bothered to stop so we had the table to ourselves. Beer tent was being utilized however. On to the beau village of Monastic for our jumbo sandwich. Saw Peter and Leigh coming in as we were going out again. They took the long route from there and we didn't see them again until dinner in the Permanance. Hot day, lots of cyclists, lots of hills with the occasional châteaux. Cidre when we finished, shower then off to dinner with 500 of our closest French cycling mates. And Alan Walker, Joan, Peter and Leigh. Then to a well earned sleep
Monday decided that the 60 of a flattish p2 course would work for us and it did. Hot again so early start and finished by 12.
Tuesday. Great day today. Ninety k started in the drizzle and ended in a pleasant 28 or so. Climbed up to Realmont with few other cyclists - I think lots of riders needed a break and sat out the weather in Albi coffee shops with the Donnan team. Had a good lunch and look around Realmont. Lots happening in the town square and saw a poster for the next edition of Bubbles and Sebastian. Whoohoo for maremma films. Took short cut to Lautrec. Great place and turns out their windmill was used to crush a nut which provided a blue dye that Mark's great grandfather used to buy to use in their paint factory in Holland. A combination of road, gravel bike paths nasty climbs got us back to Albi in time for a cidre and then off to tea in the potato restaurant with Alan, Joan, Peter and Leigh. Murk no where to be seen after visiting his dutch friends that he hadn't seen for 20 years. The 2 year old baby was now ready to get married!
Wednesday. Forecast was for 36 and Glo still coughing. The loud French voice had just ceased when the cough opened up and hopefully kept him awake til all hours. Easy to decide to have a day in Albi which we had not really had a chance to see this time around. A Dutch couple chatted with us and Murk and it turns out they have stayed with a friend in Mt Macedon. After changing the charging system on the bike (the spinergy was not giving much power at the speeds we were riding) we rode the 6 k into Albi. A coffee in front of the enormous church could have been more leisurely but G was on a mission. Crowded church first then 3 hours in the HenryToulouse Lautrec museum. Great museum and great palace which contained it. No sign of previous owners - chased out by one of the revolutions? Afternoon meet a strong around town then stayed for the organ recital in church number 3. Back to the camping trying to do the very tired looking riders coming back from the days programme. No sign of Peter Donnan, Leigh Patterson and Joan who were planning to do the longest ride because it was flatter than the second longest. 150 k in the 36 degrees would be a fair ride. Off to the permanence for dinner, still no sign of Joan who appeared during the main course - taking her time and getting lost. No sign of the accordion player, lastseen fast asleep and very sunburnt at about 7 pm. dinner included some very nice polenta - first edible polenta I've come across! Still warm at 9.30
Monday 27 July 2015. Made it to Santa station on the bikes. always hard to get the feet going round in circles at the start of the ride. A couple of adjustment wobbles and we were off. Last bit to the station was on their bike path. Fantastic. got two tickets from the machine, no charge for bicycles. 12 euro each to Puigcerda and 3 hours on train. Checked out access yesterday on our trip to see Pili at Tarragona. still humid but should be cooler up in the mountains hopefully although seems to be hot everywhere in Europe except for Belgium where aidan had rain yesterday. The countryside around here and indeed the dirty streets of Barcelona are crying out for a good fall. Hopefully only at night when we are in accommodation!
Barcelona has been very enjoyable. Airbnb fairly basic but only $50 per night and Nahuel was very friendly. Used the metro a bit but most le shanks pony as usual. Didn't try the city bikes but they were all over the place. Barcelona has heaps of bike and pedestrian infrastructure all put in since our last visit. High population density seems to have encouraged alternative means of transport to the car. Pity the Australian planners haven't had a look over here. Rubbish and recycling also seems much better with fewer larger bins for all to use?
Barcelona was hot humid noisy and smelly so it seemed apt to overhear the song 'tar and cement' in Spanish at one stage of our half marathon around The town. the first of many runners enjoying the heat was some one wearing a melbourne marathon Spartans top. Only a ten year version so I didn't say hello. Strange to say I was wearing a marathon t shirt myself
Was not until nearly lunchtime that we entered the first church. Worth waiting for, the Cathedral ticked all the right boxes.
While waiting for the Puigcerda train we
had 25 minutes on the platform (thank heaven for lifts!) to work out how to get bikes on train
like in France they were all different. When ours came it meant a lift up from the station level but we managed. This train didn't have the low entry for bikes but did racks for them (in winter you stack your skis in the same place. Another 3 hours and we are on the bikes at Puigcerda. Unfortunately couldn't find the train tickets when the inspector came. When he returned after we had gone through every several times he asked how much we had paid and decided we had bought them so no extra fee. Much relief from us.
Coffee at Puigcerda before we started at about 2pm. Only 1 k to the border - seemed so easy to ride from Spain to France in the Pyrennes! the work started quickly as we labored out of town. didn't look like it but the slope was 6% and in the heat 36- we knew we were cycling again. G. did the bonk ina big way after 11k! A fair bit of traffic and lots of climbing for the afternoon. We climbed 600m up to the plateau and turned north. Temperature dropped so by 5.30 when we reached the lake it was only 15
Hadn't done a huge distance but felt it on our first day camping at Lac de Matemale was good. Coolish night but ok with the single sleeping bag.
Started after 9 to try to warm up. Climbed 30m in the first few ks then it was just about all downhill. Went from 1530m down to about 200! Spectacular gorges especially St George Gorge very steep and narrow, lots of cutting out of rocks to allow the road and Aude river space. Camped at Alet des Bains, small English run camp in a medieval village. Dinner in the old monastery garden. headed off in the morning to St Hilaire another Cathar town with a large monastery. Lunch was ham and cheese baguettes opposite the church. Into the amazing Carcassonne in the early afternoon.Camped and spent hours in the old citadel and then more time in the vibrant old town . Tired by the time we got back to the campsite so had the 3 course meal, read for a while wondering about whether the few rain drops would turn into rain. Did not happen until the next day, Thursday. Rain early which stopped for us to pack and start riding but set in by the time we had climbed through the vineyards to Lastours
lastours has 4 Cathar 'castles' perched high above the town. Rained the whole way up the hill. 40 k of 4-5% before we could finally roll down the hill into Mazamet.Had intended to go another 200 to Castres but dived into the first hotel we came too.
Ride is planned planned for 9am tomorrow.
I'm keen to ride out to Trentham or Metcalfe which will make it about 100k but with plenty if opportunity to shorten it if you are time limited or not so keen.
Let me know if you're coming otherwise I may chase the sun and stay north of the divide.
Hopefully tomorrow will be a bit warmer than last Sunday at the Wandong Winter Wander - made me wander why I was out there inside of home in front of the fire. Nine am in the usual spot. in the meantime I have collated Meaghan's Tour di Sicily emails. Read on.....
Ciao.....I am writing this on my phone so
apologies for typos, punctuation and
Since arriving last Sat we spent some time in Naples getting ferry tickets and
other travel/camping stuff sorted. Clearly finding gas for our camp stove was
going to be challenge! We have had to alter our plans a little due to ferry
availability but all good in the end.
I doubt we did Naples justice as we didn't have time to check out any of the
sights, overall it felt pretty dirty, chaotic and a bit ordinary. I found
riding out of Naples terrifying. The traffic and poor road conditions were
intimidating and the fact that we were the only ones on bikes was a little
unsettling. At least in Paris last year there were heaps of other cyclists. But
my fears aside we made it to Pompeii as planned. Pete got his wish and we
in the 'Spartacus' camp ground. It was pretty cute and about 10 metres from the
entrance to Pompeii. Pompeii was really cool, we both felt like we
the Romans walking around in their Togas and gold leaf headbands (well the rich
Romans that is not the slaves) it certainly felt a bit ghostlike to us. It
really is massive.
From Pompeii we rode to Sorrento and camped there for 2 nights. The camp was on
a cliff side overlooking the beautiful sea so not too shabby at all. We finally
found a place that sold gas for our stove, phew! On our last night the hotel
further up the hill had a music/opera concert thing playing and the Italian
singing floated down to us so we were serenaded whilst having our camp cooked
We then rode from Sorrento to Positano and then along the Amalfi coast to
and back again. Kinda like an incredibly speccy great ocean road. 82km
metres climbing so a biggish day! We were so glad we rode it in both directions
as we had plenty of time to soak up the views and take in how spectacular it
I got a bit low on sugar and shakey on the last part so we stopped, there was a
certain desperation to the way I consumed an entire large block of chocolate in
about 30secs, I think I may have offered Pete a piece but didn't wait for him
say yes before scoffing the lot, it must have looked pretty funny! Pete says I
flew up the last hill after that.
The Amalfi coast road was a bit hairy to ride but not nearly as bad as I had
been expecting (thank goodness for your calming advice Andy, you were spot
Having said that a selfie stick on the front of my bike would have captured
funny looks on my face when the huge tourist buses were heading straight
me with room for only one lane of traffic! Pete just get kept calling out
pedalling, keep pedalling". I am finding the cycling a bit different to
year. Everyone is very courteous but they like to get CLOSE and every car seems
to have multiple dents and scratches which doesn't give me a lot of faith in
their judgement. Last year’s riding has stood us in good form though.
Fabulous weather, mid to high 20's, quite humid but the afternoon thunderstorms
we were getting earlier seemed to have stopped. I am missing the beautiful
French baguettes we had last year but we have discovered a milky coffee Granita
thing which we are a bit hooked on. Pete has been cooking up a storm each night
using Italy's finest garlic, pasta, Pecorino cheese and tomatoes which taste
like they used to when we were kids. Super yummy.
We are managing the language barriers OK with the help of some rudimentary
phrases, sign language and Google translate but it is a poor second to having
you with us Glo. There were lots of big dogs in the Sorrento area, German
Shepherds and the like. Most of them are super fat, super grumpy and act like
they would take your arm off if they could, complete opposite to our
Harvey. They need some serious disciplining!!
We took the ferry to Sicily last night and rode from Palermo to Corleone today.
Another big day of climbing around 1400 metres. Roads are wonderfully quiet,
people friendly and scenery lovely. A welcome relief after the crazy, busyness
of Naples and the Amalfi coast. We met a bunch of MTB riders who were out
on their regular Saturday 100km ride, they looked super fit but did
seem to spend a lot of time drinking coffee, eating sweet cannelloni and
talking. We kept catching up to them and we weren't riding very fast!
I do hope all is well back home and it isn't too cold. We think of you
and wish you were here.
Hey Andy, thanks for a your news it was
great to hear what's been happening at
home. Must say I must admit I am not missing those below zero temperatures you
mention or the reckless drivers.
Since I last wrote we have long since left Corleone where we headed further
inland and south toward the coast. In Corleone we were lucky enough to enjoy
watching a traditional Sicilian wedding which was a few doors up from our
the bride looked stunning and it was really special to see. Lots of dark haired
men in dark suits and dark sunglasses and Sicilian women in tight dresses and
high heels, I have no idea how they managed the steep cobbled streets in those
shoes but I guess I am showing my age when I say that. I think some of the
guests at our B&B were wedding guests as they came in at around 3am and to
they were noisy would be an understatement. The speed with which an excited,
most likely inebriated Sicilian woman can talk is to be heard to be believed.
was like hitting fast forward on the DVD player only louder. I am not sure who
was the loudest, the woman on her mobile or the other guests who kept trying to
shoosh her up.
Our B&B host was over the moon when she discovered that we came from
she had been wanting to have guests stay from every continent around the world
and our visit completed the globe for her. She gave us a jar of Corleone honey
as a present to celebrate. As touched as I was I thought we should leave it
behind because when you are riding up such big hills every kg counts but Pete
wouldn't hear of it and I must say it has been delicious.
From Corleone our plan was to ride 100 km south to Agrigento in a day but we
completely sidetracked in a beautiful town called Cianciana along the way. I
so glad we did. The town came alive at night, Pete has some great photos of the
town lit with festival lights and everyone including babies and children
promenading till very late.
The riding continues to be mmmm....honest......that is a nice way of saying
steep! They certainly like to build their towns at the top of big hills here so
you can be sure that whenever you are approaching a town it is going to really
hurt before you reach your destination. However we continue to find the people
wonderfully warm and sooooo helpful. The most notable experience (and there
been many) was when we popped into a Barber shop to ask directions to our
accommodation, one of the clients left his chair at the Barbers and amid a
flurry of hand gestures which translated to "follow me" hopped into
his wee Fiat
and drove to our B&B in order to show us where to go. Meanwhile we
furiously behind the car. Actually if I am totally honest I got left behind on
very steep hill but Pete kept up.
The food specialities of the areas we have ridden through are goats cheese, in
particular Ricotta, which is to die for (I think the lack of pasteurisation
adds a heap of flavour) and cherries, a mere $3 a kg so we are eating more than
our fair share of both. Oh, and of course there are the cannelloni and Gelato,
From Cianciana we rode to Agrigento which completed our coast to coast ride. We
camped there for 2 nights before riding to Licato where we camped also. Weird
campsite, felt like a deserted 'Carnivale' location but luckily all the other
campsites have been great.
We have had many changes of plans along the way, I think we are up to Plan G by
now. One section of our original route has been turned into an expressway, we
tried riding down it but after the peace and quiet of the remote hills it felt
too scary and I got the yips so we hopped off it. Going by train for a small
section was our next best option but the train line was being repaired so no
trains were running. The bus would take our bikes part of the way but then it
connected with the school bus and we weren't allowed on that, I wonder why? So
we decided to give up on the coast and head inland. We pretty much just chose a
town (Mazzarino) for no particular reason and headed towards it. As a result
ride was up (of course!) through lots of vineyards and we arrived here today.
luck would have it, Mazzarino is gorgeous, a hidden gem of Sicily with again
wonderfully friendly people. Rita, our current B&B host says
"warm hearted" and I think that is a perfect description of what we
experienced so far. Rita and her husband Reno run a vineyard so we are enjoying
a bottle of their red wine with dinner tonight which they gifted us after we
drinks in their apartment and met Rita's family.
Think of you lots and wish you were here.
Hi there, here is my latest and most likely last update from
On leaving Mazzarino we headed east. We stopped at Piazza Armenia and
to check out the very,very old remains of some amazing mosaics and a stunning
ceramic staircase. Both were well worth the ride uphill, particularly the
ceramic steps. The scenery continues to impress us.
Our stay in Piazza Amerina was another fun surprise where we met Giovanni.
......we were standing in a little side street looking for a street number when
Giovanni drove past, stopped his car, rattled off something in Italian, handed
us a business card, pointed up a ways and drove off. Since it was hot and we
couldn't be bothered looking any further for accomm we decided to go check out
'Umbreto 33'. Turned out Giovanni and Mrs Giovanni ran a great B&B with the
worlds best breakfast and we had a blast staying there.
Giovanni loved to chat and Pete and Giovanni had a long chat about running
marathons which was pretty funny to observe since Giovanni spoke no English and
Pete no Italian. There I was sitting watching them, somewhat bemused, convinced
that they both had no idea what the other was saying when along came Kim, an
artist from Tribeca, New York who was also staying in the B&B and who spoke
Italian. Anyways Kim joined in the conversation and it turned out that both
and Giovanni knew exactly what the other was saying despite the language
barriers. I felt a little sheepish after that.
Giovanni also ran a local wine shop and when we popped in for a look he was so
eager for us to taste everything that we ended up doing just that, they
mostly fortified wines so high in alcohol. For a girl who is pretty much a two
pot screamer I felt completely undone by the time we tottered out the door with
some of his wine and local olive oil under our arms for our dinner. Gotta learn
to say no more often!
From Piazza Armenia we decided it was time to get some serious miles under our
belt or we were going to run out of time so we headed east away from the
mountains and towards the flatter coastline. It was fairly uninteresting
so the riding wasn't much to speak of but we did make up some much needed
kilometres. Siracusa I loved, especially the old section and we had our first
(of many I hope) seafood meals. Delicious. Ricotta cheese continues to be a
feature of the food here, by golly it is good! Since finding anything remotely
like a good latte has been impossible I have succumbed to drinking the local
espresso on Pete’s advice and I must say they are very smooth. Stand up coffee
and cakes x 2 (that is standing at the counter to eat and drink as opposed to
sitting at a table) costs about $4 in total, cheap.
Leaving behind the more remote inland region I couldn't help but reflect on the
fact that no matter how small the town you could always find a shop that sells
cigarettes, lotto tickets, coffee and water. Clearly the essentials! And in
particular no matter how small or remote the town there will always be a large
and very prominent wedding photography business. We happened upon another
Sicilian wedding last Saturday and the importance of weddings was never more
evident than when we noticed a Drone filming the bride’s arrival and the
arranging of her dress and metres long veil before she entered the church. For
an economy that looks to be doing it hard I found the filming of the wedding
using a drone an interesting contrast and thought it spoke volumes about the
Pete has done an amazing job of navigating and keeping us on the smaller, less
busy roads. After nearly two weeks of riding in Sicily I now feel much more
comfortable with the traffic and road culture. Most cars toot us but it is a
very gentle toot which indicates "I am approaching"or "I am
passing you" so it
is more reassuring than intimidating. I can't say the same for the cobblestones
however, I find them very unnerving on a bike with skinny tyres and heavy
panniers on the back and I doubt I would ever get used to them.....so......I am
thinking........I won't be riding my bike in Rome!
On leaving Siracusa we took the train North to Taormina and Mt Etna. The FOMO (
Fear Of Missing Out) side of me had trouble not getting down South to Ragusa
Noto but our days were fast disappearing and Mt.Etna was a must see for both of
us so North we headed.
Taormina was lovely, the campsite was brilliant, literally on the beach of a
very beautiful coastline and we had some great views of Mt.Etna. From Taormina
we rode uppity, uppity, uppity to Linguaglossa, a town at the base of Mt.Etna
and as I write this I am sitting on the grass watching the gas and smoke
from the top, it is pretty cool. Apparently 2 years ago this particular area
blanketed in black scoria from an eruption so I am hoping it is an uneventful
night and that we don't end up looking like the Pompeii mummies by morning!
Pete is doing a guided mountain bike ride of the North side of Mt.Etna tomorrow
(his 55th birthday present from me) and we are both doing a full day guided
of the South side on Friday...... in 4x4 jeeps ......my legs will be happy
Saturday we take the ferry back to Naples and then a train to Rome so our
cycling is drawing to an end. Pete has calculated we have climbed a total of
9000 metres so far which he tells me is the equivalent of a Mt.Everest and a
more so I am pretty chuffed at that figure.
Hope you are all well and the cold weather is not too hard to take.
Great ride last Saturday, 163 km on a cracker of a day made for a lovely day of riding for twelve of us, so much so that even while we were still riding we have planned for a 200 the weekend after Meg and Pete get back from their big adventure. Will post a date when we work out a few more details.
Ride starts at 9am tomorrow, hope you can make it.
Just a reminder, our mate Miles Smith headed off this morning for his attempt at the record of 120,805 km cycled in a year.
Internationally, there are three other lads whom have already set off for go at this.
You should be able to track Miles' progress as it's updated here: http://ultracycling.com/sections/records/data/hamr/
Miles rode the Oppy with a few of us last year with a ridiculously huge 82 tooth front chain ring on his bike.
Good luck Miles, here's hoping for "a lot" of fair winds.
Unfortunately the ridiculous weather put an end to our plan of heading out for a 200 this morniing and with a forecast of for 37C tomorrow we thought an early start might be a good idea.. We'll be heading out from Lannie at 7am to try and beat the worst of the heat and still get a decent ride in, Hope you can make it.
The plan for some of the gang is to ride the Rock to Lock 100k route tomorrow http://ridewithgps.com/routes/3382053
For those of us with less time or better things to do (like me) a shorter route is available.
8 am start
Andy has bitten off as much as he can chew and needs to put in a bit to get rid of some Chrissy pud.
Keen to be on the bikes at 8 am "sharp" and head off to do around 70 k's or so, those who have plans can peel off a little earlier.
8 am start, usual place. Leigh if you can't get the bra done up in time we can do a lap and pick you up at nine
Let me know if you can make it. Only did half a ride last week so I am aiming to finish this one!