Hi GWABR's! (pronounced Gwubbers)
Those who attended the December workgroup may remember the sage words of advice from triathlete trainer, Andrew Budge: "Grasshopper, Go Vertical!"
Being a flat-lander, it has been very difficult to find any REAL hills for training. Today I finally managed to do something about it!
I decided to try "Ride 1" from the DPI's free "Riding Through the Hills"
brochure. This ride promises a challenging 57kms from Midland, to Kalamunda, to Mundaring Weir, to Glen Forrest, then back to Midland.
Here's what I found:
0. Time & Distance - according to my computer it was 61.4 kms, and a ride time of 3h 18m. From the northern suburbs I needed 5 hours door to door (drive to/from Mindland), with lunch and rest stops.
1. Food - snakes are just brilliant in a "bento box" on the front of the bike - really helped to ward off fatigue. I have thought about trying "gels", but they seem too expensive. Dried fruit and nuts help too.
2. Fluids - a 3L insulated hydration pack filled with cold Gatorade - I
thoroughly recommend one of these - it is so much easier to take a regular sip rather than grovel around with a bottle in a cage, taking huges gulps of water that can reach reactor core temperature rapidly on a hot day. My fluids were still cool 5 hours after leaving home. If you look around you can find the backpack style ones at camping and surplus stores too - these allow you to carry lots of other stuff too, and maybe avoid pannier bags if you don't like/want/need them. Mine only has enough room to carry cash & keys, which can be a bit limiting on longer rides.
3. Road Conditions - mostly narrow, coarse aggregate roads with unsealed shoulders, littered with debris (gravel, sticks, honky nuts, glass etc). Can be a bit scary on the steep downhills - I was struggling to keep my speed below 30-40 km/h, even with brakes on quite hard! Make sure they are in good working order. Puncture risk seems moderate. The occasional cyclepath was available in the first and last sections of the ride.
4. Safety - Plenty of drivers (particularly motorcyclists) use the hills
roads as private race tracks, and come around corners too fast and too close. Wear bright clothes to increase your risk of survival! I also turned on my lights in the middle of the day. Tall trees create lots of dappled shade on the roads which makes you harder to see.
1. Midland - flat, hoon-filled busy roads, and plenty of glass (that's just the train station carpark!). Would've been better to park in Bellevue or Helena Valley, but it was good to get the legs warmed up before testing them too much.
2. Ridge Hill Rd - the northern end is quite testing. All the of the hard work seems wasted when you sail down the other side!
3. Watsonia Rd - start of the climb, not too bad...
4. Sherborne Rd - short, sharp street that becomes a short, very sharp street around the corner. About now you think "What am I doing here???". You realise going back means climbing Ridge Hill again...
5. Lenori "Oh My God" Rd - About now you'll be needing teleportation or CPR. Incredibly steep. Might as well be a cliff. I could barely walk up this beast. Bull ants were rolling down the road. Get to the top and know that's the steepest hill that you'll be at the wrong end of on this journey.
6. Railway Rd - By comparison to the last 30 mins of torture, this is a walk in the park. Before too long you hit Kalamunda. Time for a comfort break (Library or Stirk Park), some sustenance and a breather. This is the last stop for supplies for 20+ kms...
7. Kalamunda-Mundaring Weir - Set off at the Kalamunda Hotel. After about 10 mins of going down, down, down you'll be realising that what goes down must ride back up a bloody long, slow, grinding hill. I was finding it hard to slow down enough so that I could pick a safe path through the debris. Be careful! I was popping snakes in my gob every 15 mins or so - seemed to really help. After what seems an eternity you arrive at the beautiful, blue Weir. It was so windy, almost surfable whitepeaks were being whipped up on the surface. I elected to walk my bike over the narrow Weir foot bridge rather than follow the road down
to the Weir's base, which is followed by a nasty incline. On the northern side of the Weir I carried my bike up the steps, and then joined the Weir Village road which leads to the Mundaring Weir Hotel where you can get food and drinks.
8. Mundaring Weir-Glen Forrest - Need to grind up some long inclines. Just when you think you might be at the top, you'll see another hill in front of you. It really tests your stamina and will to live. Eventually you notice more down than up action. Once you can see Mundaring town on your right, the hard yards are behind you. Keep going...
8. Glen Forrest-Midland - this is dominated by steep, downhill descent.
Leithdale Rd is super steep - the antimatter version of Lenori Rd. My brakes were virtually molten after negotiating this one... Eventually you meet familiar roads in Helena Valley, and make your way make back to Midland.
What a great, rewarding day. You'll feel a great sense of achievement when you get home. I am gonna be sore tomorrow
P.S. Anyone else tried this ride or the others? Which are better? Harder/Easier?