“I have been inner-city riding for decades and I approach it the same way as I would walking thru a pub full of aggressive drunks swinging iron bars. If you get hit, it’s simply your fault for not paying attention and taking precautionary measures…. ie: The ‘law’ or who’s ‘right’ or ‘wrong’ has got nothing to do with.”
“Marky”, commenting in relation to Michael O’Reilly’s piece in the Fairfax press today. I must say he has a point. I hate pubs full of aggressive drunks too.
Welcome to the first in a new series of essentially useless GPS Strava segment analyses. Of zero value to pretty much anyone, we take closer look at the overhead views of popular segments and race circuits from the world of Strava to see what they reveal about those who create and/or ride them – all for no other reason than we can. We kick things off with the circuit that inspired the whole idea: the Stephen Hodge Criterium Circuit, near Canberra.
Name: Stephen Hodge Criterium Circuit
Location: Stromlo Forest Park, ACT
Used by: Canberra Cycling Club
Apparently most of the ACT locals laugh about this circuit as looking like a ‘cock and balls.’ Whilst yes it is somewhat phallic in appearance, geez, if my tackle looked like this I’d be off to the doctor quick smart as there’s something going on with the right hand side that no amount of chamois creme is going to soothe.
What does it say about the club?
After much consideration I believe there are two possible interpretations here. Either Canberra CC have a priceless sense of humour … or … they simply have shocking attention to detail and never checked the top view properly before the circuit was built. Pushed for a decision, I’ll go with the former. I wonder what Sigmund Freud would say about it?
After some pretty candid conversations with a few riding mates from Canberra yesterday, I’m wondering if you can glean anything about a cycling club and/or event from the shape of its race circuit(s) and, specifically, the overhead satellite view? No idea if much will come of it, but in coming weeks I’m going to explore race routes from all over Australia and the world. For example, I’m reliably told there’s one well frequented crit track in the ACT that has a striking resemblance to parts of the male anatomy.
Of course if you’d like to nominate one for investigation, let me know. Or even better send me the Strava link.
“Car left! And fugitive!”
Originally posted on thefarkerrs:
Last saturday I entered the B grade race in the afternoon at Heffron. This is a very hard and challenging track not only the surface but the multiple corners and wind.
An unusual thing happened as we were heading down the back straight at circa 40kph. I am a bit taller in the pack so tend to see things before they happen and on the 7th or so lap noticed a guy running onto the track bare-chested holding what I thought was a metal long pipe. My first through was that he as going to take a swing at the peloton to knock out a few riders. When I saw him run past us full speed – I thought that was weird until I noticed a 4wd Police car in hot pursuit! All I saw was the reaction of the policewoman a gasp at driving the 4wd into almost into a peloton of 30 guys heading straight for where she wanted to go!!
Riding like a maniac for thirty consecutive days might make you feel like a badass and impress your mum, but it won’t necessarily make you faster.
It’s counter intuitive, alright. Especially when, as a hopelessly obsessed road cyclist, all you want to do is spend as much time as you possibly can in the saddle, day after day, week after week. Yet as the hours and kilometres mount impressively on Strava, it’s easy to lose sight that quite often this doesn’t equate to better performance. In fact, the reverse can be true. Whether it be from overuse injuries, fatigue or even the monotony-fuelled ambivalence of doing the same thing over and over, there’s plenty of evidence from people far smarter than I to suggest that simply riding a lot may actually make you slower.
This is why at all levels of cycling – and sport in general – there’s an increasing focus on the importance of structured training and active recovery. For example, when speaking with Simon Gerrans at Mt Buller late last year, the discussion turned to how far he rides in a typical week? Somewhat surprisingly to me at the time, he couldn’t actually tell us and, instead, talked about spending structured time in saddle; his focus, and presumably that of his Orica-GreenEDGE team-mates, is entirely about time and intensity – on and off the bike. Distance ridden is largely irrelevant.
Whilst nothing like Simon Gerrans of course, I’ve also had my own experiences of late which demonstrated at a very personal level the importance of not riding like a crazy bastard all the time. I had a pretty good start to 2014 with plenty of time off in January. Coupled with good weather and a trip to Adelaide for the Tour Down Under, it gave me the opportunity to race and ride a lot, which I did all month. At the time I felt like a pig in shit. I couldn’t get enough. However, about three weeks ago the wheels started to fall off. Suddenly, I began to feel jaded on the bike. I felt unmotivated. I felt slow. It snowballed to a point where I genuinely wasn’t enjoying riding my bike and it was a struggle to haul myself out of bed to go riding some mornings – something I’d never experienced before.
I hated feeling that way and, more because I was feeling sorry for myself than any scientific approach to my training, eased back on things for about ten days. I didn’t stop riding altogether, but it was a significant cut-back. And guess what? My body recovered. Since getting back into things this week I’ve felt better than I have for months. My speed is up. My enthusiasm is up. My love for all things bike has returned. The world is good again.
How long will it last? Who knows? I guess the trick is not to get too carried away like I did in January. We need to pace ourselves and focus on the end game, not the prime.
It’s one thing to try a few bunny hops on your BMX in a quiet suburban street as a kid. But doing it over a gutter at 50km/h+ in the final stages of a professional bike race? Peter Sagan at his sublime best. Thanks for the link Waz.
And just for fun, here’s what can happen if you’re a mere mortal…
Okay, so I’m excited. Are you? The top guys might be in the Middle East this week. But it’s just over a month until the first of the big spring one-day races in Europe, aka the Classics. They come in a variety of shapes, sizes, road surfaces and – as 2013 graphically demonstrated – weather patterns. There’s the big four spring Monuments, of course. Milano-Sanremo, Tour of Flanders, Paris-Roubaix and Liege-Bastogne-Liege. But there’s also a support cast of great races in the non-stop glut of two-wheeled awesomeness that is March and April in Europe. Will it snow? Probably. Will it rain? Probably. Will it be hot? Probably? Will it be windy? Probably. Will there be more crashes and Flemish flags that you can poke a paper cupful of pommes frites at? Probably. Will anyone be surprised? Not in your life.
Here are the dates. Lock ‘em in.
Milano-San Remo, Italy (circa 1907)
23rd March 2014
E3 Harelbeke, Belgium (circa 1958)
28th March 2014
Gent-Wevelgem, Belgium (circa 1934)
30th March 2014
De Ronde van Vlaanderen (aka Tour of Flanders), Belgium (circa 1913)
6th April 2014
Paris-Roubaix, France (circa 1896)
13th April 2014
Amstel Gold Race, Netherlands (circa 1966) – Ardennes Classic
20th April 2014
La Fleche Wallonne, Belgium (circa 1936) – Ardennes Classic
23rd April 2014
Liege-Bastogne-Liege, Belgium (circa 1892, the oldest still-running one day race on the planet) – Ardennes Classic
27th April 2014
Pretty excited about the upcoming issue of Bicycling Australia magazine. It’s out next week and, amongst plenty of other good stuff, features two stories from yours truly; one profiling my climb up Mt Buller with reigning National Road Champion Simon Gerrans, the other with none other than Australia’s first – and only – Tour de France winner, Cadel Evans. As always, you generate a lot more content from these interviews than you can ever fit into the final article, so I thought I might take the opportunity to whet the appetite here with a few things that didn’t make it into print for the Cadel piece.
We talked about a lot of things in our two and half hours together at Barwon Heads last December. Riding. Music. Politics. Cars. Given we both have young families, we also spent a fair bit of time on the joys and challenges of parenting. I asked Evans if he was a hands-on dad with his son, Robel?
“Yeah, whenever I’m home. I try to have him participate in all the things I do so that he can learn. He can clean my bike a little already, he took that up voluntarily.”
Evans revealed he even trusts young Robel with the Allen Keys on his BMCs. “Actually that was his first game with the bikes,” he laughs, “find the bolt that fits the allen key. I used to think ‘You’re never going to find the 2mm’!”
I’d never let my kids tighten and loosen bolts on my bike, and wondered if that means he has to do extra safety checks before going out for a training ride, to make sure nothing’s loose?
“It’s okay, he can’t get them undone yet!” Evans laughs. “But yeah, I try and have him learn everything he can; he has quite good manual dexterity so screws and bolts, he’s into that.”
Bike mechanic of the future, perhaps?
“If he wanted to be. But I’m not in any way pushing,” he says. “As a parent you show them all the different opportunities out there in the world, and they can work out what they want.”
We also talked about what it’s like to be an elite sportsman and how his already-lofty international profile skyrocketed after he won the Tour back in 2011, something he’s still reminded of in the most unexpected ways and places.
“I remember just after the Tour we went for training camp with the team (BMC), we were riding through some prairies in Utah and one car came along pretty much in the whole ride. The driver was screaming out ‘Cadel! Cadel! Well done, Cadel!’ It was like, ‘I’ve seen a cow and a cactus and this guy. Things like that were a bit…whoah!”
In a piece of hard-hitting journalism that would do Today Tonight proud, I’ll end this piece with perhaps the biggest issue of all: what colour socks does Cadel Evans prefer, black or white?
“White socks when it’s hot and not too dirty,” he says without hesitation. “Black socks when we’re going to get filthy and stained.”
You heard it here first, folks. Now get out there next week and buy the mag so you can read the real thing. You know you want to…