Indoor Mountains …

The Peaks Challenge at Falls Creek entails more than 4,000 meters (13,100 feet) of climbing. Living in the flat land makes it hard to prepare the legs. One answer is an indoor trainer that can simulate the resistance that would be experienced climbing hills. I settled on the Tacx Neo 2T and with the help of Youtube got it up and running. I’m currently enjoying, if that’s the right word, a one month free trial of the Tacx software.

Here’s a shot of the pain cave …

I’ve repurposed a superseded lap top and thunderbolt screen and added an ANT+ dongle to the computer so that it can read my heart rate monitor. In this shot I’m setting off to climb the Jaufen Pass. The video advances to match the speed that you’re making whilst the software adjusts the resistance to reflect the gradient.

Here’s a screen grab nearing the top of the pass …

On the left of screen you can see speed, power, cadence, heart rate, time elapsed, the gradient and in the tiny letters the most important information is the distance to the top.

The real Jaufen Pass is in the Alps in the far north of Italy. On the Tacx the ride to the top is a little over 15 km and climbs 1,087 meters. Average gradient is 7.2% and it maxes out at 9.4%. You can continue down the other side but I can’t for the life of me see why you would, you reach impossible speeds with no effort and round corners in a fashion that would be lethal in real life and are too dizzying to look at on screen.

How does it compare with the real thing? It certainly feels pretty realistic and I think it will substitute well for the missing mountains.

As well as a library of videos there is a workout section where you can set up an interval session with control over gradient if that’s your thing and there’s a built in ramp test and FTP test.

The trainer will work with other apps such as Zwift and RGT. They have free introductory offers that I will probably make use of before choosing which way to go in the long term.

Meanwhile there are 54 days until the big event which equals four Jaufen Passes plus a whole load of connecting asphalt.

Really … ?

I have seen the Peaks Challenge describes as the hardest one day mass bike ride in Australia. My mother would have suggested I was trying to run before I could walk. The prize for those that complete the 235 km and 4000 meters within the 13 hours allowed is a cycling jersey.

Preparing for any endurance event requires the outlay of emotion, time and money. There is a gulf between romantic notion and reality. To arrive at Falls Creek in the sag wagon would be to drop right into the gulf … public humiliation and no jersey. What makes me take the gamble?

It’s not entirely a leap in the dark.

Experiment number one. 200 km ride.

This on a fairly flat course.

Nutrition – 2 bananas 1 litre of water.

Results – Average speed 24 kph, sore bum, sun burn.

Lessons learned – sunscreen, more water.

Experiments 2, 3 & 4. Ride up and down Mt Hotham, Falls Creek and Tawonga Gap.

These are the three major hills on the route. Each is a worthy challenge in itself but I made it to the top of them. Falls Creek from WTF corner to Mt Cope is the toughest and that’s the one that comes last!

I’d ridden most of the course in segments before shelling out the entry fee and booking accommodation. Can I put all the segments together in the allotted time?

The hardest ride that I’ve done so far is Omeo – Falls – Omeo, 150 km, 2,400 meters of climb. Lets call that experiment 5. It took 7hrs 30min at about 20 kph. If I could hold that pace the ride would take 11hrs 45min. That doesn’t account for all of the 4,000 meters. Let’s assume that meters climbed are far more influential than kilometers on the flat and divide the time by 2,400 and multiply the result by 4,000 we have a prediction of 12hrs 30min.

It might be possible. The job in hand is to make it probable. Climbing is the key. There are 74 days.

If you want to know the time …

Ask a policeman.

When I was a lad in England this was a popular song often played on the wireless. My father, a policeman, would tell me that it was evidence of the trust we placed in the men in blue. If I were lost or just wanted to know the time I could safely approach a policeman.

In fact the song was written by Edward William Rogers in 1888 and was a monster hit in the Music Halls of the day for Mr James Fawn. In runs through five verses and choruses of innuendo that the audience of the day would have latched onto in a flash.

The first chorus sets the scene …

Chorus.
If you want to know the time, ask a policeman.
The proper Greenwich time, ask a policeman.
Every member of the force has a watch and chain, of course,
How he got it, from what source? ask a policeman.

The police were drawn mostly from the working classes and paid a meagre salary how could they afford a watch and chain, expensive items in those days?

If you didn’t click the link above do try it now and if you’d like to learn more of the song’s history and see the full lyrics there is an excellent site <HERE>.

But those days are long gone. So much has changed. In those days you could ride a bike without a helmet, a deristricted sign meant that there was no speed limit, the police couldn’t stop you without a reason, there was freedom of movement, freedom of speech and freedom of assembly.

One thing that hasn’t changed is the regard in which we hold the police. Christine Nixon, former Chief Commissioner of Victoria Police did her bit by lying to the public about the role of African gangs in Melbourne’s crime statistics, topped off by going out to tea with her phone switched off as Victoria burnt one Black Saturday. Simon Overland, former Chief Commissioner, was in charge of the Purana Taskforce during the period that Nicola Gobbo, lawyer to the stars, was informing on her clients. Graham Ashton, former Chief Commissioner, has just been excoriated by a royal commission for suggesting that such outrageous behaviour passed “the pub test” because it was all in a good cause.

The present Chief Commissioner, Shane Patton, has shown himself excellently well qualified to run a Police State. His force managed to subdue and handcuff a pregnant woman in front of her children in her own home for a facebook post. I understand that she may be facing a 15 year jail term. Well serves her right, she should have organised a Black Lives Matter rally or a union protest both of which are exempt.

Mr Patton has resurrected or borrowed or invented the offence of outraging public decency. He should be careful with a hairstyle that does just that.

Welcome to China, have a nice day. It must be part of the Belt and Road agreement.

They All Think They’re Churchill …

The daily dose of Dan and the other politicians is stirring stuff …

We will fight on the beaches, we will fight on the landing grounds, we will fight in the meatworks …

and there’s every chance we will fight in the supermarkets that are suddenly meat free zones. Thank goodness I’m a vego. And what is it about toilet paper?

Stage 4 restrictions for the majority of Victoria’s population Stage 3 for the rest of us. Almost no valid reason to let anyone into your house only four valid reasons to leave it. House arrest. There does still seem to be a social licence for these measures. The other day’s Herald-Sun had some snippets from half a dozen persons in the street all in favour. The tone crystalises into putting up with short term pain for long term gain.

There is emerging some disquiet and disobedience. The utter nutters are in the vanguard declaring Covid19 a hoax or blaming it on the 4G network. Just to make sure that they have no protection by way of civil rights Mr Andrews has declared a state of emergency giving the police supernatural powers, after all, these people are not Black Lives protesters or union members picketing a building site.

Following the Covidiots are the invincibles, mostly young with little to fear beyond the death of a grandmother here and there. They don’t believe that Covid will kill them. The government tells them it will but mostly that’s untrue.

The current strategy is to limit the spread of the virus by severely limiting the movement of people. I do believe it will work. I expect that in a couple of weeks case numbers will begin to come down quite quickly. But then what?

The population of Australia is 25 million people. As of yesterday there had been 18,318 cases of Coronavirus infection. That means that 99.94% of the population are naive to this virus. Unless there are no cases left in the community there will be a third wave once restrictions are lifted. If there are indeed no cases we will all be safe … until we open our borders.

Will there be social licence for stage 5 restrictions when the populace realises that this isn’t short term pain?

Another Glass of Red …

Cheers.

It’s from 2017 grown and made in our own little slice of paradise.

We enjoyed another little sojourn in the bush. We live in splendid isolation and prefer to camp in splendid isolation. The only other human that we came close enough to talk to was at the fuel stop going and coming back and that is the one closest to home in any case.

How isolated is isolated? This is the map of a morning ride. It’s 13km from the bottom to the top of that red line so a swathe of country about 50km wide. There’s not a town or a named feature on it, one of the things I love about Australia.

Best bird in the couple of days was Gilbert’s Whistler and we came across this little guy …

We also came across the Shire of Hindmarsh Ranger, his job is to enforce the local laws …

 

A Brief Escape …

The accursed Covid has certainly changed our lives. Gayle and I were not intending to spend the winter in Victoria. Another road trip to the tropics looked good. It wasn’t to be. Nonetheless we are better off than many. Locked in a tower block apartment has got to be a nightmare. Fortunately for us we live in a sparsely populated rural location which wasn’t locked down when restrictions were reimposed on Melbourne.

We can’t go far but western Victoria is available and we’ve been keen to go to Woomelang for a look at their little silos. We camped by the lake at Wooroonook the first night. It’s a spot we can reach in little more than an hour. We were blessed with a clear sky, a perfect night for a glass of red by a campfire.

The landscape is pretty well flat but 8km away there is an isolated hill that gives a good view of the surrounding country. The mountain bike and I made it to the top of Mt Jeffcot. The view was splendid and the descent was terrifying.

Strava segments are named by their creator. Presumably this one is not part of a naked bike ride. And for a timid rider like myself you’d want shorts on to hide the fact that you’d packed your daks.

After lunch it was off to Woomelang for some small scale silo art. There are seven portable silos with work by a variety of artists scattered around. This sort of silo is often called a field bin. The artists that were issued with corrugated ones got the short straws. They were definitely at a disadvantage. I was particularly struck by the Western Pygmy Possum and the Mallefowl …

The camp that evening was in Black Box woodland at Lake Albacutya.

In the morning it was back on the bike …

The lake was dry as it usually is. When the Wimmera River carries enough water it spills through Lake Hindmarsh to Albacutya and then into Wyperfeld National Park. It hasn’t happened so far this century! It does have a nice concrete boat ramp for the next occasion.

A walk turned up some nice birds including Chestnut-rumped Thornbill and Scarlet Robin. My second cuckoo for the “spring” was calling prominently – Pallid Cuckoo.

After that it was home again, home again as a westerly front blew in bringing a gale and some heavy rain.

Gonna be crowded in Texas …

The morning bike ride took the McGees to the pleasant little town of Avoca. The Sunraysia Highway runs right through the main street. Three caravans passed us as we drank a takeaway coffee. Escapees from colder climes, the first we’ve seen in a while.

A lot of Victorians head north for the winter, a lot of Victorians have had to rethink their plans. That includes us. Mildura is Victoria’s warmest and sunniest town and that might well have been the destination of today’s convoy but it’s no substitute for Queensland where the border remains closed to us leprous southerners.

Texas, NSW is a little town just south of the Queensland border and just about as far north as a Victorian can presently get. They’ll need a refugee camp there before long.

R3R …

The big day.

The start

Most of these fit looking people are about to ride 108 km. I on the other hand will wimp it out with a mere 33.

That’s an average speed of 23.9 km/h – in line with expectations. Happy with that. The biggest climb is towards the end; fortunately there was still some gas in the tank.

It felt good to arrive back at the Maryborough Station and I’m sure it felt even better to the real heroes after 108 km …

An Event …

It is at least 25 years since I last entered an endurance event. As I recall it was a 42 km cross country ski race, the Kangaroo Hoppet at Falls Creek. I finished. It may have been 3000th, but I finished. I even had the cheek to sprint past some other poor bastard at the line condemning him to 3000 and 1st or so.

So now that I am a trained endurance athlete having completed three months of cycling about 20 km five times a week I am (or may be) ready for the R3R Charity Ride. It’s tomorrow and it’s not a race (not a race, not a race, not a race …)

The ride not race is organised by the Maryborough Rotary and sets off from the famous railway station. It is so impressive that Mark Twain described Maryborough as “A railway station with a town attached”. Unless, of course you believe the Twain scholars who tell us that he said no such thing. Even if he didn’t he should have.

If you want to join me you had better hurry up. Go <HERE>.

The route visits the three local reservoirs, hence the name, and the full journey is 108 km. However there is also an R2R – 73 km and an R1R – 33 km. I’ve signed up for the R1R. I know, pathetic.

But I will cut a dash. I am borrowing Gayle’s gloves. They will go on. It’s getting them off that’s the challenge but I’ll have all afternoon. I have invested in cycling shorts so that’s OK. The hi-vis work shirt tops the ensemble off, hopefully hiding the belly a little. Admittedly my fat wheels will put me at a disadvantage compared to road bikes. Nonetheless I do expect to be quicker than some grannies at least those accompanying very small children.

Wish me luck.