Tag Archives: climbing

Marv does the Ride the Bellerine


Dear Rouleurs,

Its been a huge weekend at MMT, with AFL and Comedy Festival in full swing in Melbourne. Sadly, one half of MMT was in Bay M23 watching his beloved Tigers impersonating Greg Norman, circa 1996 USA Masters, when they lost in the last 15 seconds to Collingwood by 1 point.  Enough said…..

Last Sunday, 3rd April, was the third charity ride event on MMT’s calendar, Ride the Bellerine, ac charity event intended to raise funds to end Polio contagion in developing countries. Being organised by the good people of Rotary in Geelong, its a well run event for a very worthwhile cause.


MMT noticed the inaugural ride in 2015, but couldn’t get his act together to attend.  Apparently, the weather on that day was truly awful, so MMT isn’t feeling too bad about missing out.  However this Sunday’s weather was perfect, cool, overcast and not much wind to speak of.

The course starts and ends in Geelong’s Eastern Gardens and loops around the Bellerine peninsula via Barwon Waters and 13th Beach.  I did the short course 60 km, as I was uncertain of what the various hills in that part of the world.


Apart from one reasonably steep hill between the 10-12km mark, it was a relatively easy ride. The course and gradient chart is shown below.


So onto the some photos, again MMT was fortune to coax the other half of the team into support and photographic duties.  So have a couple of nice photos, plus the ones I took on the ride.

C'est Moi :-) With new Jersey and old Wilier.

C’est Moi 🙂 With new Jersey and old Wilier.

Start line in Eastern Gardens.

Start line in Eastern Gardens.

Feed and Drink Stop at Barwon Waters.

Feed and Drink Stop at Barwon Waters.

Barwon Waters Causeway.

Barwon Waters Causeway.

Posing in front of the event banner.

Posing in front of the event banner.

Wild surf on 13th Beach.

Wild surf on 13th Beach.

I have to say I really enjoyed the day and was glad MMT made the trip down to Geelong. My next planned ride is the BAD ride in Ballarat in May.  Before I sign off, I have to say to Peter Sagan who seems to have shrugged off the ‘curse of the rainbow’ jersey  easily with a very impressive win in the Tour of Flanders on Sunday night.  I really thought Fabian Cancellara was going to catch him there for while.

Until next blog, ride safe


Marv’s Feb Bike Log

Dear Rouleurs,

February was a bumper month for cycling with good weather providing excellent conditions.  My personal highlight, being the 60km Ballarat Classic, where I did some reasonably serious climbing for the first time.  My Garmin account reliably informs me that it was a grand total of 505 m. This is what my weekly distance count looks like.  I’m about 200km ahead of target now and I’ve zipped past the 1000km milestone.


I’m really looking forward to this weekend’s MS Cycle.  Hopefully this week’s clear skies and warm weather will continue.

Until next blog, ride safe.


Cranksets and Cassettes…its a ratio thing.


Dear Rouleurs,

I’ve been obsessing over gear ratios, drive trains and hill climbing.  As a 102 Kg Clydesdale, doing sportives this year, these things matter.  I’m riding the  60Km version of the Ballarat Classic in February and that course contains some serious gradient.  Certainly more than I’m used on my local Beach Road ride.

So I started out looking at triple chain ring. Straight away, I encountered two significant snags.  First, Campagnolo phased triple chain rings on their lower end groupsets, hence I wouldn’t be able to source a Veloce component.  Second, even if I had sourced an older Veloce triple, it would have meant changing over the front and rear derailleurs as well.  Essentially, that’s 3 out of 4 bits of drive train.  Given its Campag, that would be a costly trip to a bike shop.

Instead, I read a few blogs and landed on fitting a compact chain ring with a smaller 50/34t ratio and higher ratio 13-29t cassette.  Originally, I had 11-23t which I upgraded as part of Zonda rim package to 11-25t.  For everything I’ve done thus far 11-23/25t has fine.  I tend to do most of riding on the outer ring anyway.  The theory being I should be able to keep my cadence fairly high and not have to stand on the pedals to exert brute force.  So I’m swapping out the 11-25mm for the 13-29mm.

 11-25mm  To  13-29mm
 20160114-campy-veloce-cassette-10-speed-11-25  20160114-campy-veloce-cassette-10-speed-13-29

The compact chain ring is an interesting beast. Depending on what online cycling magazines Its being described as the ‘killer’ of the tripleset chain ring. Mainly because of its ability to provide similar ratios to the tripleset, whilst enabling manufacturers to avoiding extra tooling and production costs. Most likely, this is why Campagnolo doesn’t offer triples on the cheaper groupsets.

So these were the alternatives:

53-39 – Race -> I have one of these already
52-36 – Semi-compact –> the one I’m not sure about
50-34 – Compact -> the one I’ve decided on.

53-39t has been the standard chain ring for some time now. It’s used in races that are mainly flat and in timetrials, where the more powerful riders are using a 53 to 11 ratio to achieve maximum speed.

50-34t Compact crankset has been around since 2002 and has been used by the Pros to travel through mountain stages. The primary idea being that a smaller front chain ring allows a higher cadence which should reduce muscle fatigue. It also allows less powerful riders access to lower ration gears without ‘crossing’ the chain. Crossing the chain creates more friction and increases wear and tear on the drive train.

52-36t Semi-compact is the new kid on the block. Its reason d’etre is that it provides the best of both worlds means a 52-tooth chainring for attacking descents and sprints, while maintaining a smooth chain line from the big ring when riding on flat roads, and a 36-tooth inner ring which, of course, offers a lower gear for climbing than a 39-tooth ring.

My decision on which crankset was made easier…again…sigh…by Campagnolo not having Veloce 52-36 crankset. So I’m swapping this 53-39 for this 50-34.

 53-39t  To  50-34t
 20160114-campy-veloce-crankset-53-39  20160114-campy-veloce-crankset-50-34

So circling back to where I started, in about 2 weeks I’ll find out how all of this tinkering in my drive train worked. The Cadel Evans Peoples ride is fairly flat with the exception of a couple nasty little hills on the back end of the course. Hopefully this will all ‘gel’ together and provide a really efficient ‘gearbox’ for my 46 year old legs.

Until next time


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.


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.


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.

 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.