Category Archives: Travel

Marv’s January Bike Log

Dear Rouleurs,

Well here’s my first bike log for 2017.  As per my last log, my holiday cycling plans didn’t go as planned,resulting no riding between 18 December 2016 to 6 January 2017…bugger.  Notwithstanding, I still managed 650 Km for the month.  My log and stats can be found here. This puts me over 100 km ahead of my monthly goal – 542km.

New pretty monthly graph for January.

The big numbers are longer training rides and the Cadel Evans People’s Ride, which you have read MMT’s report on here.  As MMT has signed up for Strava this year, he can produce a matching suffer score graph for the above graph.  It looks a bit like this.

January’s suffer score graph care of MMT’s Strava account. The 136 was the Cadel Evans People’s Ride, which was long and hilly.

For MMT, the Suffer Score roughly aligns with the distance of the ride but increases when MMT starts climbing or falls when I’m dawdling along.  I’m looking forward to fiddling more with these stats over the forthcoming months.

Until next blog, ride safe.

Marv

Ruining my visit to Clovelly Beach

Dear Rouleurs,

As almost none of my readership will know, I lived in the Eastern suburbs of Sydney for about 8 years.  One of the places I loved to hang out was Clovelly Beach, a secluded man made beach tucked away in between Bronte and Gordon’s Bay.  Last Sunday I visited the beach with the better half of Team MMT.  Sunday mornings at Clovelly are particularly special as the local surf club run their junior lifesavers program, aka nippers.  The beach and inlet are overrun by kiddies 7 years and older swimming, paddle boarding and beach running.  Its a pretty amazing sight and one that I’ve greatly enjoyed over the years.

God lives here according to Reg Mombassa.

God lives here according to Reg Mombassa.

However, MMT was greatly annoyed by overhearing two older English couples complaining about cyclists riding on the Pacific Highway in Northern Sydney.  The complaints included: slowing traffic down, being overly aggressive whilst ridding in a pack (its called a peloton dearie…sigh) and apparently causing them fright when they nearly ran one over.  WTF…..

Stupidity of this kind really should be rewarded with a Darwin Award.  First, as you visitors to our country, do us a favour, leave your money and GO HOME.  Second, the road is there for everyone to share and unlike you, those cyclists who pay taxes and have every right to use the road.  Finally, if you were frightened by nearly running over a cyclist, how to you think that person felt.  Possibly its time turn in your drivers license and pick up a mobility scooter.  These people really did live up to the often described stereotype…whinging poms.  Fortunately, they didn’t stick around for long, perhaps they were confused by sunny, warm conditions and the absence of rocks on the beach.

Until next time, ride safe.

Marv

 

When in London: Look Ma No Hands Cafe

 

Dear Roulers,

Here’s my first blog entry for 2016.  Back in October 2015, the Missus and I had a 4 week European Holiday that included a few days in London.  I spent more than a few hours visiting a list of bike shops and scooping up bargains were I could find them.  One of the best shops was a café that I used to frequent when I lived in London.  In fact, I can remember when it opened in 2010.  Tired of really crappy coffee offered by Starbucks, Costa and Café Nero, I was becoming quite desperate for a decent Australian style latte or flat white.

Fortunately, ‘Look Ma No Hands’ opened up and offered much better coffee crafted by staff that had a much better understanding of their expresso machine.  The shop had free wifi, a sunny aspect and a fledgling bicycle workshop.  Also, it showed old 70’s & 80’s TV coverage of the grand tours and monuments.  It was mainly frequented by students and bicycle couriers with the occasional suited trespasser like me.

20160107-LMNH-Map

So when I dragged my footsore wife from Old Street Tube Station to the there in late October 2015, it was with fond memories and quiet hope that it hadn’t changed much over.  I checked out the Café’s website and it seemed very promising.  Happily, reality for once matched the glamour and gloss of website.  The café was full of people viewing a crowd sourcing pitch for short film about how cycling was helping a young man  get the better of his clinical depression.

 20160107-LMNH-Cafe  20160107-LMNH-Wshop

The coffee was much better than I remembered it and we spent a lazy 45 minutes soaking up the vibe and trying on shop branded merchandise.  I purchased a short sleeve jersey and cap.  Both have been given a few test rides and have passed the ‘marv’ test with flying colours.  Its kind of cool to own a jersey that no one in Melbourne has or at least I haven’t seen on the back of another rouleur around my locale.

 20160107-LMNH-Jersey  20160107-LMNH-Cap

So to quote ‘Molly’ Meldrum and that irritating TV ad that’s on high rotation at the moment, when you are next in London ‘Do your self a favour’ and visit one of the great cycling cafes in the UK, Look Ma No Hands.

Until next time,

Marv

Mt Ventoux vs Mt Wellington

Dear Rouleurs,

This will be the first of three blogs inspired by Team MMT’s recent holidays in southern Spain and France.  This one focuses on our recent visit to Mont Ventoux, which has close proximity to the the old Papal city of Avignon.  Avignon has been on our collective travel bucket list for a while now. Besides being endowed with seemingly endless medieval architecture and history, Avignon is only 30 minutes from the iconic Mont Ventoux.  Initially when Team MMT drew up its holiday plans, a half day was allocated to attempting ascent on the summit.  Leading up to our departure, the realisation that a more serious preparation was required set in.  Consequently the attempt was jettisoned from our holiday itinerary.

Whilst we were in Spain, its was announced that stage 12 of the 2016 Tour de France would finish at the summit. From that point I was determined that we view the ‘Giant of Provence’ first hand.

MtVentouxMap

Initially as you drive towards Mont Ventoux, it looks like it has a snow cap, particularly in the afternoon light.  This optical illusion is provided by the famous ‘bald’ peak. The ascent from Bedoin starts at the 0km marker and winds its way through the town and nearby villages.  Once you enter the forest, the hard work starts.  As we visited in mid-autumn, it was ablaze with green, yellow, red and amber coloured leaves. It is easy to see why Paul Cezanne made his home in Provence. Most the climb is sheltered by this forest. In some ways it must be disheartening to riders, as the pinnacle isn’t visible until the last 6 km.

Whilst we were early, a number of riders were on their way up, mostly riding by themselves.  I was surprised to see a spritely 60 something year old on a modern Bianche making steady progress. Many riders were using either mountain bikes or eBikes. The road is well cared for and has many names and messages spray painted across its width.  Some of the hairpins turn were ridiculously steep.  Finally we emerged from the treeline and and had the ‘oh wow’ moment.  TV coverage doesn’t do the view up to and from the summit any justice it was spectacular.

In some ways it reminds me a bit of Mount Wellington in Hobart Tasmania.  The comparison isn’t as silly as it sounds.  Depending on starting  point, that an ascent of Mt Wellington is about 21k with an average gradient of 6.7%, but has a much lower pinacle at 1270m, compared to Mt. Ventoux.

Mt-Wellington_profile

Having driven up both peaks within 4 weeks of each other, Mont Ventoux is consistently more difficult, especially from the Bedoin side. From an asthletics perspective I think the east facing view from Mount Wellingon, overlooking the city of Hobart is superior.

In hindsight, having driven to the summit from Bedoin, deciding against an ascent was a smart move.  Quite frankly it would have been foolish given that my only riding had been on flat roads.  If I had come directly from Australia, rather eating and drinking my way around southern Spain and France with Team MMT, an attempt form the Sault side may have been doable.

From Bedoin the gradient profile is, quite frankly, intimidating.  A rider commencing their ascent from Bedoin, starts about 300m above sea level and climbs about 1600m over approximately 22km.  The basic math provides an average gradient of 7.5% with two really nasty sections over 10%.  However, its worth pointing out that this is an average and that there a number of sections over 12%, ‘hiding’ inside the orange sections….shudder!!!

Ventoux Bedoin profile-1

From Sault, the gradient profile is benign by comparison.  A rider commencing their ascent from Sault, starts about 690m above sea level and climbs about 900m over approximately 26km.  The initial approach is much easier.  The first 20 or so kilometres has a average gradient of about 3.6%.  However, the final 6 km is the same as the Bedoin route.

Ventoux sault profile-1

So onto the photos.  I’ve chosen 6 of the better ones. I have to point out that Team MMT was really lucky with the weather. It was both crystal clear and still at the summit. Prior reading indicated that Mont Ventoux experiences high winds for about 120 days of the year and has the highest recorded windspeed in Europe at its summit.

 BedoinSign-01
 ForestRider-01
 The sleepy village of Bedoin.  An intrepid rider ascending through the forest.
 SummitMarker-01  SummitSign-01
 The official highway marker.  Yours truly, with the famous sign.
 WeatherStation-01  SouthView-01
 The iconic ‘lighthouse’ at the summit.  View to the south.

so, where does this leave me now? Well I think I’m going to have to try Mount Wellington next time I’m in Hobart.  Hopefully, I’ll be able to source a decent road bike with a third inner chain ring.  After that well, I would love to return to Europe and have go at the ‘Giant’.  I had been thinking about doing the L’Eroica of Gaiole for my 50th birthday, may I’ll be able to add this as well.

Continuing on with the travel theme, in the next blog I’ll be writing about the visit Team MMT made to the famous Otero Bicycle Shop in Madrid.  Until then ride safe.

Marv