I’ve just finished a rather sensational weekend’s riding in and around Mt Donna Buang and Lake Mountain, roughly an hour and a half’s drive north-east of Melbourne.
Organised by RIDE Cycling Review, supported by Jaguar Australia and expertly run by Dan and Jason at Soigneur, it will take some time to wipe the smile from my stubbly face. The weather was perfect. The terrain was magnificent. And the food and accommodation were little short of sublime. But the thing I dare say I’ll remember most fondly is the fact we had a dedicated bike mechanic with us the entire time; a fine rider in his own right whose backside on this particular weekend would go nowhere near a bicycle saddle.
It all started when I arrived at our weekend’s HQ on Friday with my bike box. Assuming I’d be building the thing up myself, I’d packed all my tools. I needn’t have bothered. For within minutes of arriving my Colnago had been whisked away into a back-room-come-bicycle-workshop to be expertly assembled and tuned by my new favourite person in the cycling world, a Melbourne-based bike mechanic by the name of Ken.
Let me just say upfront, Ken rocks. Not only did he painstakingly assemble and tune my bike while I unpacked and chilled out. He went through exactly the same ritual for the other 14 riders who were there for the weekend’s adventures; including none other than a Tasmanian guy you may have heard of called Richie Porte. No pressure. Ken’s responsibilities didn’t end there, however. For as we were to discover he would also hand-wash and retune our bikes after each of the weekend’s rides (with several segments on dusty gravel roads ensuring plenty of grit and dirt to be removed). The guy was even on hand to help us break our bikes back down for the trip home.
On several occasions as the riding group gorged itself on a superb array of food, beer and wine – be it lunch or dinner – Ken could be heard with his hose outside on bike cleaning duties, or inside with his tools ensuring each and every one of our beloved bicycles was cherry ripe for the next adventure. A few of us, entirely conditioned to being self-sufficient, felt rather bad about this at first. But it quickly became clear that rather than feel left out or jealous, the guy in the gum boots was actually loving every minute of it. (True, the fact he also got to drive a Jaguar XF each day on fast and winding roads as our official support vehicle may have had something to do with it?)
Given all this, I have come to a conclusion. Amateur road cycling nirvana might very well be defined as enjoying the luxury of waking up, having breakfast, getting into your riding kit and not having to worry one iota about your bike at any stage – because you know pretty much everything from the cluster to the tyre pressure will be in immaculate riding condition waiting for you to thrash it within an inch of its life. Before doing it all again tomorrow. You’re a legend Ken. Thanks mate.
Carbon Addiction enjoyed the weekend – including Ken’s never-ending bike love – as the guest of RIDE Cycling Review and Jaguar Australia.