Sunday, December 30, 2007

A Champion in the Making....Pt1.

Hope everybody had a great Christmas and didn't eat too much. I know I did.

Sorry it's been a little quiet on the riding front. Spending lots of time with the family and avoiding the bike at the moment. I did get a chance to play around with some old (and not so old) video though. It's all about Jayden and his own passion for the bike. Take a look and see what you think.


video

Wishing everyone a happy and safe new year.

Thursday, December 20, 2007

Cheers....

Last night was the Groupe Sportif (aka Kona) Christmas function. This was the third year of me attending their Xmas party and each year it gets better and better. This year saw us have the Werribe Open Range Zoo open just for us. To start with was the lion feeding. We got up close to the massive cats, they sure are a real sight.


All that was between us and becoming dinner was half inch of glass. This is Mark (the big boss man) enjoying a glass of red whilst the cat has other dinner plans on his mind.

After the feeding it was off to a mud brick gazebo for a BBQ with style and atmosphere to boot.


The Groupe family. Well most of them anyway. (sorry about the red eye, no time for photo shop) These guys have been extremely supportive of my racing over the last couple of years and it is always great to spend time socialising with them without a bike in sight. I am very grateful to be known as part of the Groupe Sportif family.
I also have some sad news. It is with great regret I inform you, my Dr Dew (as featured a coupled of weeks ago on this blog) is no more. It came off the roof of the car doing 100km/h on the way to the Christmas party last night. I watched it fly through the air and into the car following us and am very surprised there wasn't more damaged caused. Thank goodness for Middleditch insurance, they will cover the bike and the other car. Not to sure what to replace it with yet. maybe even a Ute.

Monday, December 17, 2007

Nice Lid

Christmas has come early. I just got myself a newly released Limar 969 Carbon. It has everything you would expect from a high-end lid, big vents, comfortable head locking mechanism, carbon fibre reinforcements and very lightweight. Nice styling to boot.



The guys at Limar also distribute sixsixone. So I now have a set of their XC racing glove in both black and white. Just the thing for hot summer rides.





The Randall Invitaional

Yesterday was a great day for riding in the bush. The dust was settled down nicely with all the rain from Saturday. What better way to enjoy the condition than going for a ride with about 15 of your closest riding buddies on some great (traffic free) trails in the back hills of Melton. I won't go into details, Ash does a great job of that over here, but I will say this was a fantastic ride and a brilliant way to finish off group rides for 2007. The trails were superb, plenty of climbing to be had and lots of laughs along the way. Not even the 6 or 7 odd flats we encountered could dampen the spirits of those who attended.




There were some very unique trail build conducted in this area. Check out this wire bridge. Held in place by star pickets, a real treat for those who venture out this far for a ride.







Friday, December 14, 2007

Retirement..

Last night Jason Jackson and myself organised (at last minute) a MTB ride around his local trail heading out towards Warrendyte. These trails has a lot to offer. I don't venture out that way much but each time I do I wonder why it has been so long since I last rode these trails

This is Jason in retirement, loving ride his mtb with no real structure, just ride when he feels like it. Sounds like me.


Tested some new knicks, AdiStar Bibs. Until now I haven't worn a pair of bibs I am comfortable with. These things get the two thumbs up. And the best part, no more lower back "issues". Hope you appreciate it Ash.




Thursday, December 13, 2007

Large load

I did some weight training yesterday. And no, I didn't go to the gym.

Makes the bike handle like a Kombi in sand, and forget about jumping gutters.

Tuesday, December 11, 2007

It was always going to happen.



For those of you how don't / can't read the Herald Sun.

Have been waiting for this one for a while now. Things might be a bit different along Beach Rd on a Saturday morning.

Monday, December 10, 2007

Product Review - Ay Up Lights

As most people are aware, I choose to ride most of my products because I strongly believe they are the best products available for the riding that I do. Lights are no exception. After using Vicious Power Arc HID lights for the past couple of year (I still believe they are the absolute best HID riding light on the market to date bar none), I was given the opportunity to test a relatively newcomer to the lighting market world, AyUp. Once again an Australian company (very important to me) and once again producing a product that excels in what it sets out to achieve. I was initially blown away by the physical size and minimal weight. This is what attracted me to investigate further on their function and practical use as a new enduro racing light.

AyUp have set out to achieve what no other lighting company have - to produce an extremely lightweight lighting system practical in just about every way possible. What I mean by this is that most other LED lighting systems over volt the LED to produce more light, AyUp run the LED’s at their specified voltage of 7.4. As a result, the LED’s don’t heat up, therefore there is no need to use cooling fins, excessive amounts of alloy, etc to keep the LED’s cool. This design also allows Batteries to be half the size/weight for the same burn times.

Because AyUp don’t over volt the LED’s they aren’t the brightest LED lights on the market. But, by no means is this a negative thing. I strongly believe mountain bike lights have gone to the stage where they are too bright – where you can see forever but get into some sand or a little rock garden and all you see is brightness, no track contrast. It is now time for manufacturers to move away from making their lights brighter and concentrate on making them lighter and run for longer.

Running the AyUp’s with intermediate beam on my bars and narrow beam on helmet and I can see clearly what I’m riding into. I like to call this usable light. I have now raced with AyUps in four 24 hour events and the only time I would have liked to have the Vicious strapped to my helmet was at the Worlds during a 90km/h fire road decent (although I’d ridden it 6 or 7 times in the light knew there were no obstacles to worry about).

Another interesting point with the AyUp’s as a dual system (one light on bars one light on helmet) is that they are still lighter and have a longer burn time than most single system items on the market. All this from a company who are continually pumping money into improving their products, from more styles of batteries, to bags with solar charging panels for adventure racers and the list goes on.

As a result, I’m more than happy with my lights, and very happy that AyUp are sponsoring me. But I would be using these lights regardless of sponsorship. An Australian company owned by mountain bike riders.

I Usually run the larger 6 hour battery with the extension lead running under jersey and into my pocket. You don't even know it's there.

I you use the 3hour battery in this way, this half of the system weighs 200g.

With the 6 hour battery, it jumps up to a whopping 250g.


The Vicious Power with a five hour battery come in at 600g.
Handle bar setup with small 3 hour battery, very small, can hardly see it from the top.
With the six hour battery you can still mount it comfortably under the stem,

Saturday, December 8, 2007

Once Were Warriors

Yesterday I was asked if I could help out ORCA (Off Road Cycling Adventures) by taking a group of kids for a ride in Murrindindi Scenic Reserve at Toolangi State Forest. I jumped at the chance. It’s always good to show young kids what mountain biking is all about. These kids (all boys aged 11-12) all come from broken families and are in need of positive male role models to help them make the transition from boy to manhood. The program is sponsored by Anglicare and called Peaceful Warriors.

My day started at Hallam picking up the ORCA ute and trailer fully loaded with Kona’s. I thought I have an impressive shed full of Kona’s, these guys have about 60 all kept up to date and running smoothly.



The camp leader informed me he wanted to teach the kids about teamwork and over coming obstacles in life. Having visited Murrindindi earlier this year, I had ridden the perfect track for this life lesson. I sold it as a ride’n hike. But I knew it was going to push everybody on the ride, including myself.

Oh, did I mention it was steep. Bloody steep.


Each kid had a “buddy” to support them whilst on the camp, a male role model. That meant 10 kids 10 buddies and 2 support group leaders and 2 ORCA mountain bike guides. This was a lot of bikes to hike up. We stopped at Wilhelmina Falls for lunch. After lunch it took 1 hour to get everybody plus bikes to the top, a total distance gain of about 400m. Everybody needed to dig deep and put in or we would have been there much longer.


Lucky we had a great descent back to camp. Everybody enjoyed the experience and the program leader was most impressed with the “lesson” ORCA was able to provide the kids. Total ride time = 5 hours, total ride distance 9.5kms. (And no that is not a typo)




Wednesday, December 5, 2007

Lifes good.

Today was my one day of the week spent couriering the streets of Melbourne. And what a great time of the year it is, the streets are crowded with Christmas shoppers, clients are panicking about jobs that should have been completed long ago, the sun improves your golden tan and as for me, not a care in the world. Legs pulled up real well from the weekend, so I just rolled around in my own little world.

This is Bourke Street Mall. Looks good since they revamped it a couple years back.


I ran into this ugly bloke on the way home, Mark Fenner from NSW. Another enduro nutter.





Tuesday, December 4, 2007

Jayden's big race....

Jayden lines up ready to defend title from last year. New course, new challenges and new machine.



He led from start to finish. All those hours of racing around the front yard after school paid off. Power went straight to the ground, kept eyes up and focused on the track ahead.

About to take the drop into the gully. He has had the correct riding stance for as long as I can remember.


His proud little sister. I think she will be ready to have a go next.
And year, Jayden does have a set of Ay Up's on his bike. He kept riding into the night and probably did more hour than most people racing in teams.




Kona 24

I think I found out the hard way why it’s so important to treat 24-hour solo racing with a huge amount of respect. After doing so many, I decided I would have a go at this one with minimal training and an extremely relaxed (even more so than normal) attitude. Since racing the Scott 24 six weeks ago I have only been on the bike an average of eight hours a week, usually less. This has been due to a variety of reasons, but the main one has been lack of time. I have found this low volume of riding to be a good break from the body crushing 30 hours a week I was doing pre worlds, giving me more energy to spend on other aspects of my life.

My race plan was always going to be sit back on the first day loop (6 hours), testing the body and seeing if I had anything to have a bit of a go during the slightly easier night loop (12 hours worth). The swap from day to night lap gave me a time advantage over John, who was storming ahead during the day loop. By 2am I had closed the gap to about 10 minutes and was feeling great. This was probably my first mistake. Getting a sniff of the win at my fitness level made me push a bit harder to gain more time. Then it happened, not sure what exactly, but I will just say lots of little things added up which took the race well away from me. I rolled around for three more laps before John caught and lapped me. This was a huge relief. It meant he wasn’t slowing down and I had no chance of making a mends on the time I had lost as my body cried out for help. Finishing that lap at dawn, I decided to have a rest and see if I felt like going out again.

I did end up going out again. Motivated by a congo line organized to say farewell at two of the sports great team enduro rides, Ash Thomas and Jason Jackson. Both leaving the Felt Enduro Team to “try something new”. I really enjoyed throwing the leg over the bike for one last lap with a great bunch of riding mates. It was a good way to finish the event off for me and I’m sure the Felt boys also enjoyed themselves.


Thursday, November 29, 2007

Opps he did it again...

Just a quick one today. Last night whilst out on the Fatties ride Sam "crash test" Bach pictured a corner in his head that didn't even exist and this was the outcome. This man has no fear when it comes to tricky technical xc stuff, which stands to reason when his regular job involves running into burning buildings. But to see his crash on the easiest of trails.....good one Sam.

I should also mention, he needed teammate and doctor in training Matt Ligtermoet to remove prickles from his face with a multi tool. Now that’s trackside maintenance for you.
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Monday, November 26, 2007

Different races.

Tonight I took the kids to a race of a different kind. Liz Randall (Ben and Alex Randall's Mum) was having an attempt on the 1hr World Record. Until recently there was no bench mark set, but now for Liz to get the record see needed to ride close to 40km/h. That's damn fast no matter what your age.

This is Liz warming up before the big effort.

Putting the power down. Only 60 minutes to go Liz.

Liz's coach giving encouragement.

The proud sons supporting Mummy.


Good efford. A few laps short of the World mark, but she can be proud that she gave her all on the night.
The kids and I enjyed the outing. The Darebin indoor cycling facility is amazing. Keep and eye out, I may even have plans to race on this track next year.

Sunday, November 25, 2007

Randall's Playground

Today I headed out to Randall’s playground. A little used area out the back of Melton. We were there doing reconnaissance for his invitation ride in a few week time. The trails are a bit weird out there, heaps of rock, kind of no low shrub growth but heaps of fun. There is plenty of climbing to be had, which is probably what attracts Ben out there, what goes up must come down.

I tried out the helmet cam, Notice the little amount of pedaling Ben is doing. I’m pedaling my ass off to keep this close.

video

See what I mean, have you ever seen terrain like this?

I caught Ben walking up one of the more technical, steep climbs (and yes I was walking first)



Looking farward to heading back in a couple of weeks.

Saturday, November 24, 2007

While you were sleeping....

With time running out to get any decent training in before the Kona 24, I made a last minute decision to test the endurance on the bike by doing a long road ride. I haven’t done any training rides longer than about 3 or 4 hours since heading off for the Worlds. Family duties have been keeping me off the bike and it scares me a bit to think I have to race 24 hours solo with the fitness I currently have. Two rides a week does quite cut it.

Thursday night saw me leaving home at 6pm for the Tour de Burbs ride around the outer eastern suburbs. It’s a fairly intense ride with enough climbing to get the heat pumping and legs burning. Once all of the other 50 odd riders were well and truly home and showered, I was on my way down the Mornington Peninsula to test the legs. I grew up in Mornington and here I was at a ridiculous hour of the night riding roads I haven’t ridden for many years, I felt many urges to drop down on the tri bars. It’s funny how the body remembers.

The ride went well. Apart from the consistent drizzle and moronic drivers, it was good to be out on the bike enjoying my own company listening to some tunes. The pace was very low and the climbing was keep to an absolute minimum, but hay, you do was and can do given circumstances.

If you could read the clock it would say 12:03 am. Crazy times.


I had to get back out on the bike on Friday. But it was only for 30 mins to work up a bit of a sweet for a test with the VIS. We are still trying to work through things and rectify and issues associated with nutrition and race at high intensity for 24 hours.

I had to wear this jacket to make sure I got sweaty. It sure was hot under it in the sun. I wore this jacket through winter when I did a couple of rides in the snow.

The patch. Absorbing the sweat.



Monday, November 19, 2007

6 hour of fun in the sun....

Yesterday was Round 8 of the 2007 Victorian State Enduro Series at Nerrina Ballarat. I teamed up with Randall for 6hrs or fun in the Sun. Leaving Melbourne at 7am saw us driving most of the way in gale force winds and rain to match. Getting to the race site at about 9am we were greeted with blue sky and what was the start of a very warm day. Our race plan was mainly to enjoy the great course that was put on by Club Mud and have fun in a "no pressure" race. The pace was pretty quick from the get go but Ben was able to hold onto the quick boys for his first lap. I was also holding pace until I took a wrong turn and couldn’t get back on their wheels. The course was a hoot to ride with plenty of technical riding to be had, but the steep climbs quickly got to both myself and Ben and we ended up riding a little off the pace but very consistent, finishing in forth place overall and in the two-man category.

For me it was great to see that in the heat I maintained body weight, rode very consistent lap times (one minute difference between fastest and slowest over six laps) and was able to keep my HR up, which has been a problem of late. It looks like the cupping session on Thursday did me good and I think I will has another session before the Kona 24.

Much of my down time was spent on the wind trainer, “keep those legs a moving”



Joel Reed, one part of the winning two man team.

Randall supporting Movember. Enjoyed the riding.



Thursday, November 15, 2007

The things that we do.

I tried a new masseur today, he does cupping. I haven’t worked out yet if the therapy has done me any good. I just had to post this photo of my back (Olivia took it) because it just looks cool.
I am heading up to Ballarat this Sunday for the six hour. Going to do it in a pair with Randall “just for fun”. We’ll see if the body recovers from the cupping and just enjoy the race. Might even see if I can drag Jayden out of bed at 6:30 so he can come up and show off his new bike.

Tuesday, November 13, 2007

Rip it up....

I’ve discovered a new genre of cycling. I like to call it “ripping up the bike paths on a pimped up hybrid”. Now that I’m only couriering one day a week my Dr Dew has been sitting idol for a while. I decided it would be pretty cool to stick some cyclocross tyres on it a use it for easy rides on the extensive amount of bike paths in my area. I have set out a few guidelines when riding in this style. Number one, no lyca allowed, must where demim shorts and a t-shirt. Number two, if you see some single track coming off the bike path you must take it. Number three, your bike must not be “off the shelf”, it needs to be pimped up or else you’re just another hybrid rider. Number four, gears are optional.

This is my hybrid. 2006 Kona Dr Dew, Mavic speedcity wheel set, Shimano 4 pot XT brakes, Conti Twister cyclocross tyres.


You never know what you’ll find at the end of some new single track. I’ve found some single track which was a whole heap of fun to ride, especially on one inch of rubber.




Product Review - Crumpler Sinking Barge

This is the first products review for my blog. I plan on doing them every now and again when I come across a product I truly believe to be innovative and worthy of a giant plug.

Over the lasts few months I have been doing a lot of traveling. I was fortunate enough to be given a Crumpler Sinking Barge backpack before we left for the US and I must say it has been brilliant. It is designed to carry both a laptop and a digital SLR with spare lens and flash in padded comfort. When you consider the cost of these digital devices, a good bag to carry them in is essential. The Sinking Barge is one of very few bags on the market designed to carry these two items in tandem reducing the need for two separate bags. I found it perfect to use as my carry on bag when flying that way I could keep an eye on my stuff or even pull them out for a bit of a play. There is even enough spare room in a separate compartment for other travel essentials.

Once at my destination, removing the laptop for day trip type stuff gives a bit more room for other things and accessing the camera is a synch with the clever design of the compartments. I found myself wanting to take my camera with me more often than I normally would because the bag does not reek camera bag and is extremely comfortable on all contact points. The padded camera compartment can be Velcroed out, giving more space if the camera isn’t required, making this bag one of the most versatile bags I have ever seen. If you have a large laptop, or a professional sized SLR, never fear because it also comes in a larger size, the Customary Barge.

I couldn’t do the bag justice in front of my camera, so I borrowed these images from the Crumpler website.






As most of you probably know, I have been working as a bicycle courier for the past ten years. A lot of this time has been spent with a Crumpler satchel strapped to my back. These bags are made bomb proof and if you ever were to have a problem with it, the boys and girls at Crumpler would get it sorted out for you reel quick.

I think Robyn was thinking about replacing me with a bag.