Tales and tall stories…

Twitter Clowns

Kep Track Epic

With the Dwellingup100 off-road enduro coming up in September and having just done the Kep track with PIHC I was in need for some more distance mountain biking.  I’d only ridden the usual XC rounds and a few small enduros since the last 100km effort (2010 Karri Cup[1]).  I remember telling myself after the Karri Cup that I’d need to put in some more saddle time before doing the 100km again.  The time for action was nigh.

I was keen to give the Kep Track a decent effort after the small introduction a few months ago.  It’s basically a dirt track that follows the Golden Pipeline from Mundaring Weir to Northam, 75km away.  It’s not technical at all but does provide ample riding distance on dirt which would suit our purpose nicely.  I’m not really into touring and staying in Northam didn’t interest us, so it was put forward that we ride it out and back.  It’s not even hilly but my thinking was that what it lacked in elevation would be made up for in distance.  The Dwellingup100 involves quite a lot of up and down but is only a mere 100km – so surely this would be a good training ride!  A few emails to some interested parties, a short debate on a free weekend and a date settled on.  It’d be good to knock this one over in a day.

By the time Sunday morning rolled around our band of riders had been whittled down to four.   Lee, Craig, Dave and myself, rocked up to Mundaring Weir Hotel carpark at 0600 [2] where it was deserted and dark.  Dave and myself on dually’s, Lee on his cool Focus hardtail and Craig on his Surly Long Haul Trucker.  After some Mindless Banter™ [3]– mostly about how chilly it was, and jibes about Dave and myself not having lights we set off shortly before 0630.

The other three headed up the road and then wondered where I had got to.  Having done this ride before I knew the way.  I did the first half klick on the track whilst the others plodded up the road and then joined the track.  Jumpers and jackets were discarded shortly afterwards.  The 7km or so to Mundaring township is mostly wide-ish sniggletrack [4], crosses the road a couple of times and very pleasant to ride, even uphill.  It was dark, with just enough moonlight, and a bit of mist.  A favourite part of any ride, we were just waiting for the Tauntauns to appear out of the white haze…

We negotiated the unsigned dogs-leg at Mt Helena with no hassles thanks to my prior knowledge.  Most of the track is easy to follow but this intersection could be a trap for first timers.

Past the BMX jump track near Chidlow, the rest of us resisted Craig’s call to ride the jumps.  I was keen not to break anything too early in the day.

The next section of flat path was dry but quite bumpy.  In the not too distant past it seems a horse or two had been through here when it was wet and left many hoof marks which had now dried hard.  Kind of like corrugations but different. Certainly not the most pleasant surface to ride on.

Went past Baker’s Hill and it’s pie shop. Plodding along at a steady pace, Dave starting to feel the effects of his limited saddle time of late and the previous day’s crit race.

Nearing Clackline there was a fun downhill run ending in a gully across a stream. Video

Six or seven kilometres of deserted road provided Craig with a chance to stretch his Surly’s legs necessitating him to wait for the rest of us at a lovely paddock edge.  Reminded our two ex-pats of Wales apparently.  It is quite scenic in parts and all the sheep were out with their lambs following them about. We continued on past the West Northam water tanks followed by a nice run of downhill sniggletrack just before Northam where I got the chance to open it up and show Craig he can’t beat me at everything on a bike.  A cool, rough downhill, complete with dodgy pipe crossover (almost came unstuck here) before a short pathway blat into Northam town centre where the Garmin told me we had done 75km on the dot.

Not much doing in Northam on this lovely sunny Sunday.  I was looking forward to the mountain bikers lunch of choice [5] but was sadly disappointed with what was on offer.  A bakery, a cafe or Chicken Treat.  We settled on the bakery which was empty when we arrived but within a minute of entering it was filled with more than a dozen locals.  Purchases were made and we adjourned to the local park by the river to scoff down our sausage rolls, pies, buns, pastries, milk & Cokes.

After refilling CamelBaks and bottles we headed back out of town and climbed the steepest part of the ride.  The rough track next to the pipeline wasn’t as hard going up as I thought it might be when I was barrelling down it earlier on, but was still a task after the recent belly filling.

A regroup at the Wales-esque paddock took place as the others waited for me, before the short roll down the road to Clackline.  We waited there too as it seems Lee had a puncture.  Craig went back to help him out with Dave and me heading off up the track.  It wasn’t too long before Craig and Lee caught, then passed us and we were off the back again.  This was the last time I saw Craig until I finished the ride!  Lee I could see in the distance for a bit then he disappeared into the yonder again.  I was struggling at this point but a short break and a few lollies gave me an energy burst and helped me catch up to where Dave had stopped and waited for me.  He was knackered and inhaled his emergency gel and we had some more lollies to see us thru.  A lady rider heading the other way said she hadn’t seen anyone else on the track.  We figured Lee and Craig must’ve finished.  We re-mounted , determined to finish off the day.  Dave spent most of the remaining kilometres back to Mundaring township yo-yoing off the back of my wheel.  I perked up once we reached the downhill sniggletrack back to the Hotel, this was the prize at the end of the day and we bombed down it, legs forgetting that we’d already asked 143km of them. We rolled into the carpark, and the band was playing in the pub across the road, with 150km on Mr Garmin.

Craig was waiting for us – and had been for 25 minutes!  Strangely, Lee turned up a few minutes later than us.  Turns out he stopped to fix another flat and then got lost, missing the dog leg mentioned previously at Mt Helena on the way back and started heading to John Forrest.

The ride was certainly harder on the dually than if I had taken the hardtail as previous, but the whole exercise was time in the saddle on the same bike I would do the Dwellingup100 on.

* A big thanks to Dave since he wrote most of this and I edited in my bits.

[1] Karri Cup Stage 1, Stage 2, Stage 3, Stage 4

[2] “It’s 0600. What’s the O stand for? Oh my God, it’s early!” – Adrian Cronauer, Good Morning Vietnam

[3] Meaningless MTB-OZ reference

[4] Sniggletrack = singletrack

[5] burger with the workx & chocolate milkshake


SPR Saturday ride & Tour de Perth – Stage 1



Today they forecast an early shower but that failed to deliver, they forecast a top of 23C but it was warmer but there was a decent breeze (headwind at some points). I did the usual struggle out of bed and get myself sorted, didn’t want to be late today as was meeting CasualCyclist to take him for his first SPR ride and he was meeting me at my place. Durx was to join us but wussed out after an apparent late night, so he would meet us at the usual start point.

CasualCyclist arrived and after topping up the air in his tyres we headed off. The ride was fairly routine, but did notice a lot more people out than usual at that time of day. Maybe the warmer weather is bringing them out of hybernation. Also there was a fair amount of activity about with the Burswood open air Cinema in construction and the Camping & 4wd show on the foreshore.

We arrived before time and found Durx already there chatting to Lorraine. Madrapper was late as usual but with a 20km warmup u can’t blame him. He got in just in time for the pre-ride briefing. The route was explained and Global_Bean got a ribbing for his Movember efforts 🙂 The turnout was pretty good with 50-60 riders along for the trip.

The pace was steady on the head out and I kept 2nd wheel for most of the way to the split. After the split the pace picked up a bit on I was hanging off the back a bit on the long gentle uphill to Midland Rd. Along this stretch CasualCyclist got dropped, more used to the slower pace of an AUDAX ride he struggled with the pace the front runners were setting. A few more rides with the SPR crew and he’ll be up to speed.

After the turn onto Midland road Kim(thanks for the leadout) dropped back to help get me back in touch with the group, along the way we picked up a few other stragglers including Madrapper who was yo-yoing off the back also. We caught up just as the group hit some road works, so there was a chance to recover from the extra effort. From here I kept the wheel and avoided being caught snoozing til Guildford Rd. I continued to hold on for the 1st half of Guildford Rd but was bouncing of the back a bit, just staying in touch thanks to a few red lights. Once the rolling hills hit though I was off the back for good and just couldn’t seem to bridge the gap. I kept the group in site til just before East Parade where I caught a red and lost them.


Post ride coffee

With not far left to go I continued on at a steady pace picking up another rider who also got dropped. We continued on to post ride coffee and arrived only a few minutes after the rest of the group. I thanked Kim for the assistance and a few of the lads commented on my improvment since starting with SPR. I may soon keep with the group for the whole trip.

Route & Stats

Post coffee a few of us headed up to Kings Park to watch Stage 1 of the Tour de Perth, where a few of the SPR crew where taking part. It was good to have a club presence and get the club colours out for show. We stationed ourselves on the climb just before the finish line, where we hoped most of the action would take place. The Womens race was pretty much in the bag about half way thru with Queensland’s Ruth Corsett dominating the race, and the group finish was a sprint for the remaining places. The mens on the otherhand came down to the line. Graeme Brown was in front coming up the climb but it hink went too early on the sprint as he couldn’t hang on and ended up 4th, getting pipped by Richard Lang. Perth’s own Travis Meyer held on for 2nd place which was enough to secure him the Green leaders jersey at the end of the day.

Video of one of the mens hill sprints


SPR Sat Morning Ride 7th Nov

Well it was a struggle to get out of bed this morning and almost didn’t happen, but I dragged my lazy arse out for a ride with the crew. The weather was looking good, not too hot but did become humid. The wind which has been a factor over the last few weekends was pretty light today, just the way I like it. Enough to keep you cool but not too much that you feel your riding nowhere.

I headed off to the start and got there just in time due to the procrastination about getting out of bed. Thankfully the front tyre (thanks Lorraine) was holding up after having to find a temporary til my new one gets here from the UK (bloody postal strike). The real test would be to complete the ride without issue. Lorraine and Dave were already in the waiting SPR group.

Today our course would take us thru the city, out Scarborough Beach road and return via West Coast Hwy and Dalkeith. After taking off I forgot to start my Garmin 705 til halfway thru the city, so I missed the first few kms from the start. Going thru the city was a constant barrage of red lights but we eventually came to the good ol Mount St hill. Just before hitting this someone pointed out that my rear was flat. Think it was more a case of the tyre struggling under my hugeness but i put a bit of air into it for good measure.

The group continued on to Thomas Rd/Loftus St and I caught up with the help of yet more red lights. Scarborough Beach road was a fairly routine affair and I continue to maintain contact with the main group thanks to the constant red lights. A few individuals will need words about the dangers of running red lights as some incidents occurred. Halfway out the split took place and soon after I dropped off the back. I did manage to keep a few riders in sight for the rest of Scarborough Beach Road and half of West Coast Hwy.

West Coast Hwy was a nice ride today, the wind was light, more of a breeze and prooved to be refreshing. Most of the trip I kept a rider or 2 in sight til near Swanbourne. As I turned off West Coast Hwy a few of the fast group came flying past and a few more met me at the Stirling Hwy lights in Claremont. Heading thru Dalkeith is a fairly easy stretch and you can lift the head and see how the other half lives, with their mansions and glorious river views along Jutland Parade and surrounds. Here a few of the fast group stragglers came thru, I held for a brief moment but they were soon gone.

The final stretch thru Nedlands and along Mounts Bay road was uneventful but i had noticed the front was getting a bit light on air. I was glad it had survived this far and was looking forward to my hot choc. On arrival I found Madrapper and Lorraine had just arrived 5-10mins earlier (so I wasn’t too far off the group) and had already ordered our post ride beverage. We had the usual post ride discussion and discussed the plans for our Perth International Track GP outing tonight, before heading home to relax.


Route stats (1st few kms missing)

Full route (previous ride)

Man (and Bike) vs Rock

After another early rise I was packed and off to the WA XC State Champs at the Goat Farm. The weather was looking a lot better than Saturday morning, except for a strong wind, but in mountain biking the wind is less of an issue and actually was of benefit to staying cool while out on the trail.

Madrapper and myself arrived early but with no intention of wasting energy by doing a practice lap. We registered and setup bikes for the race. While preparing we heard the reports of what to expect on the course from those who had ridden it already. We were in for some climbing (which is pretty normal at the GF) but this time it was steeper and with a more technical surface (read heaps of rocks & gravel) than usual.

Just after 0930 we started, fairly uneventful with a nice wide road for riders to self seed on. Right from the outset it was climbing, the 1st km was the longest stretch of straight climbing with about 100m of vertical gain. A few riders got a bit of a push around the 1st corner by a keen spectator, while not overly needed it did aid the traction and relax the legs momentarily.

The first lap was just a matter of getting to know the course ready for the next 2 (normally thats what the practice lap is for). Most of the field had taken off and left me tail end which is normally the way on a track like the GF which has a large amount of climbing, I catch them on the downhill though (if they are not too far in front). The course zig zagged across the hill face with a few more ups and downs to mix it up. The GF has some fast sections, but is generally technical in nature due to the abundance of rocks.

After the initial climb I kicked back to enjoy the ride and lapped up every downhill run or change to get a bit or air. I passed thru the start/finish line and swapped my water for a chilled Powerade, ready to tackle the climb again. Needless to say I probably walk half of it. Saturday’s SPR ride had drained a lot of the energy I was relying on for today.

I was relieved to finally reach the top and get into some descending. A few nice switchbacks and little jumps had me feeling good again, but that was all about to change. On a fast sweeping left I went in carrying just a little (a lot really) too much speed, normally this is ok as u can usually use a bit of run off, but this section was different. The corner was off camber and the edge lined with rocks. The largest one I knew about so avoided that, but unfortunately there were many more hidden in the grass. Handfulls of brake did nothing to slow my speed, I went from 30km to nothing very fast as I collected a number of rocks and sailed over the bars, sliding to a stop in the grass. (This would have been quite spectacular to watch as a spectator)

A little deflated

A little deflated

After a moment or two laying on my back checking for feeling I sat up to see where I had landed. In some miracle my body had avoided any rocks on the way down(the bike was another story), and the only damage to me was a number of grazes, bruised shoulder & kit full of pointy irritating grass seeds. The bike didn’t fare quite as good but came out a lot better than expected. I blew out both tyres and twisted the bars and all attached cabling backwards. The rims look alright but will need a good inspection this week. The rest of the bike seems to have pulled up ok, save for a few scratches, but thats normal for MTB, (no flimsy roadie frames here 🙂 ). Also thanks to the fellow racer who stopped to check I was ok, I must have been in a bit of a daze as he triple checked I was ok before continuing on.

Enjoying the Climb

Enjoying the Climb

Once I had gathered my brain and put the bike back into shape it was a nice walk down the hill to the carpark. I loaded the broken beast and headed to the finish line to wait for Madrapper. He ended up meeting me half way there and I snapped him loving the climb back up the hill on his final lap. I hang  round the finish and caught up with Nic and a few of the other lads whom had DNFed as well or finished earlier races. We checked out the new season’s stock of Merida bikes and watched some rounds of the State 4X Champs that were also on at the time. Eventually Madrapper came in and we refueled on sausage sizzle and Coke.

A rather disappointing finish to the season, but I will be back next year to improve and hopefully have a  better season. This was the last XC race for the year excepting the Round Tu-it 6hr & Alcoa Dusk til Dawn 12hr in late November. I hope to make the 12hr work permitting and field a team with Madrapper and a few others.

Course & Stats (at least the lap I managed) *Note the sudden drop in speed at the end when crashing but also the sudden spike in HR when I must have been midair. You can also see how off course I ended up.

Bloody Weather Forecasters….

Well what a start to the day! What was supposed to be a fairly easy sat morning ride with SPR as a warm up for tomorrow’s XC State Championships, ended up being a battle of endurance and the fight to stay upright.

The weather forecast had been for a nice day, high 20’s and a few clouds blowing in during the afternoon. From the outset it was never going to be that. As I left the house I copped a quick sprinkle so doubled back for a 2nd layer in case it got really wet and windy. Heading down to the start point showed no signs of improvement, the wind was howling & picking up, plus a few more drops of rain were blowing in.

I reached the start point at South Perth just on 0700, so just enough time for a quick chat with Lorraine about the previous night’s saga of replacing a tyre at the last minute (I hate road tyres). I spotted Durx and Madrapper, we got the brief and were off. As usual I attempted to stay near the front so as not to get dropped to soon. Heading off i had a quick chat to the lads but a few kms in we lost Durx to a flat, not a good start to the day and he headed for home.

On the way out we would have the headwind, and coming a long Great Eastern it wasn’t too bad, manageable. The split near Ascot was fun as a few mad snap decisions of the group to join. I stayed with the main group and kept with them til we hit the Great Eastern by-pass, here I started to fall of the back, nothing new really, still not up to the pace of everyone else. From here the fight with the wind was a lone one. The start of Kalamunda Rd was ok, but the wind was picking up, but i just kept a consistent pace and trudged on. This was all fine until just near Abernathy Rd where it opened up and the wind was really at play, heading over the railway overpass was a mission in itself, gale force winds whipping up sand and ripping into the skin. This combined with the gusting of the wind made it an interesting task to stay upright and see where you were going. Needless to say I battled on and HTFU. I continued the battle with the wind along the rest of Kalamunda road and onto Hale road where finally there was a reprieve every now and again. Did have a small encounter on Kalamunda with someones Rotti that was lose on the road, causing havoc to traffic.

As Hale road got close to Welshpool a few of the fast, fast group caught me. They hung around for a bit trying to decide whether to wait for the rest or just go, eventually shooting off into the distance. By now I was heading home along Welshpool Rd, and now had a bit of a tailwind which made life a hell of a lot easier. I spent the rest of the trip wondering when the rest of the fast group would catch me but some how I held them off til the finish, which in turn earned me a Hot choc from Lorraine who said any of us Twitter lads who beat her, it was her shout. Thanks Lorraine, I got lucky today 🙂

The final part of the trip was pretty routine except for all the Tri (hards:) out training for tomorrow’s ITU Long Distance Triathalon World Champs. Some of those guys & gals are machines, better them than me. I enjoyed my Hot choc and chat with the crew before heading home to get started on the weekend and rest up before the State Xc Champs at the Goatfarm tomorrow.

Route & Stats

Ride of the Twitter Clown’s

Well with the Dwellingup 100 fast approaching i thought i really should get in a training ride or 2, and with a mate just getting a new MTB bike (he’s a roadie), what better a time than today. Myself and a few friends from Twitter decided to head down to Langford Park, Jarrahdale for a few hours, have a bit of training ride and induct the noob into the world of MTBing.

The weather was looking ok, no rain on the radar, but with the previous days rain the track would be fun. Lee stopped in on the way to pick me, no point using 2 cars to go to the same place when he live sup the road and we headed south. We got to the meet point on time and had to wait for Dave, who needs to remember the road keeps going :p Ended up finding him down the road in the main carpark where a few others had come along to ride the trails.

Heading out we decided to follow the signage and make use of the Wembley 6hr course from a little while back, this would be easiest in case anyone got lost. The course was still really easy to follow and in good condition except for a few low spots where water had built up. Most of the trail held pretty well except for a few of the wet spots being muddy and slippery, normally the dry gravel can be loose and on the edge.

The day was fairly uneventful, except an early trip into the scrub by myself (think i was still waking up at that point) and further down the track Lee got a bit keen over a jump and gave himself a nice graze to the forearm. Nothing that isn’t expected when having a thrash on the MTB.

After a lap and a half of the course is was time to head home as we all had other commitments for the day, if only weekends were longer. But we left with a parting quote from Lee – “I’m selling my road bike and going MTBing every weekend” if only all roadies had this presence of mind…. 🙂