November 29, 2011

Episode 2: new wheels, old climbs and offensive black discs

Route: Thornbury to Donvale, Launching Place to Mt. Donna Buang return & Donvale to Thornbury
Distance: 104km
Duration: ~4 hours 30 minutes

I learned a lesson the hard way last week: if you’re going to take a photo of your new bike and post it on Twitter, first ensure you’ve adhered to “the rules”.

First, make sure you’ve left the bike in the big ring. Second, pedal cranks should be positioned at nine and three o’clock. And third, one must never, ever take a photo of one’s bike (let alone ride it) with the massive black spoke protector still attached to the cassette.

I speak from a position of experience, having failed to do all three of the above. The Twitterverse wasted no time in setting me straight. Here’s a selection:

It's sexy. Especially the black guard behind the rear cassette! RT @: New bike! http://t.co/r7raiA4h
@ well if you ride it with the disk on I will tweet a pic if I catch you on the Boulie. You will never live it down!
@22rev
Kevin Russell

The following night I pulled out my trusty pocket knife and set to work, removing the innocuous piece of black plastic that had offended so many.

So what type of bike did I get? Well, it’s a Cannondale CAAD10 3. It’s got a (ridiculously) lightweight aluminium frame, carbon bottom bracket and cranks and full Ultegra componentry. More about the bike later.

When I got back to work on Wednesday last week I was already looking forward to the weekend. The cycling trip I’d planned the week before had ended prematurely and I was very much looking forward to getting out for a ride again (having a new bike to try out didn’t hurt).

My work colleague Paul (who wrote a terrific guest post late last week) had been talking about climbing Mt. Donna Buang at the weekend and I was more than keen to come along.

With Saturday being a write-off due to horrendous weather, we decided Sunday afternoon would be our best chance of climbing Donna without getting soaked. I rode from my place in Thornbury over to Paul’s in Donvale, we loaded the bikes on to his bike rack and we were off.

We jumped out at Launching Place and got stuck in to the 12km of rolling hills that serve as such a great warm-up to the climb itself. We set a cracking pace to the base of the hill, enjoying the fact the rain had stayed away. Better than that, the miserable grey clouds had departed leaving blue sky in their wake.

Some great views from the second half of the Mt. Donna Buang climb

It was Paul’s first time on the slopes of Mt. Donna Buang and he’ll be the first to admit he found the going pretty tough. We stopped a number of times on the way up and to Paul’s credit, he persevered, getting to the top before promptly collapsing on to the grass at the base of the lookout tower.

For me it was just great to get out on the slopes of the awesome Donna Buang climb again and on what turned out to be a surprisingly gorgeous day for it. The new bike performed beautifully on the climb and the compact crankset left me with plenty of gears to spare (which will be good for some of the steeper climbs I’m keen to try at some point).

The descent was particularly brilliant — the Cannondale feels so much smoother than my old Trek did and I found myself descending faster and cornering more confidently than I ever have before*.

After completing the descent from Donna Buang we flew back to Launching Place before driving back to Donvale. Paul had offered to drive me back to Thornbury but I was keen to ride home and notch up my first century since I started training for the 3 Peaks Challenge.

I sped back along the bike track that runs parallel to the Eastern Freeway and after a bit of a detour through Ivanhoe (thanks to some serious flooding near Burke Road, see image below) I arrived home a little after 7.30pm.

Looks appetising. Perfect for an early-evening dip.

In the end it was a solid hit-out and good to get in a solid climb early in the training process. That said, I’ve still got a lot of work to do and I’m really looking forward to the building up the training as I go along. I feel like I’m probably fitter than I was at the same time last year and the riding to work (albeit a short distance) is probably helping.

I’m keen to start extending my home commute so I get in more than the 9km it takes to get home. Those weekday kays, on top of some solid weekend riding, should help develop my fitness base and leave me in good stead.

Before we wrap things up a quick reminder to come and say “hi” over at Twitter, Facebook and/or Strava if you haven’t already. Of course comments on this post or anything else related to the site are always welcome to.

Until next time, stay safe on the roads, and happy riding!

103 days to go …

*I am not sponsored by Cannondale.

Previous instalments

11 Comments

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  1. mtd / Dec 1 2011

    was out doing a lap of the warby trail the same arvo, it was glorious day out. p.s. quick shout out for the new Cog2 bike cafe in Warburton, great caffeine and muffin stop after your Donna climb ;)

  2. Matt Wearne / Nov 30 2011

    So looking forward to try out this ride! Is Mt Donna Buang really busy on the weekends? Great post!

    • Matt / Nov 30 2011

      No, it’s not really that busy at all. You’ll probably see a couple of cars on the way up and a few on the way down, but for the most part, it’ll be just you, your bike and the beautiful scenery. :)

  3. Preben Kohler / Nov 30 2011

    Hey seeing as you live in Thornbury you can do a run of the boulevard before work? its not that far away. Im near Ascot vale and do a 35km ish loop up Moreland road and make my way to the Boulevard then back up Victoria. Short and Sweet. Done in an hour or so.

    • Matt / Nov 30 2011

      Thanks Preben. Yeah, I can certainly do that – it’s not far away at all. The biggest problem is me having the motivation to get out of bed early enough! I’m more inclined to hit the ‘Vard on the way home.

  4. Kev / Nov 30 2011

    Hi, another great article. I trust you took the “Rules” in good humor, likewise the “threats”. Keep up the 3Peaks training the photos are sure to inspire others to get out there and ride.

    • Matt / Nov 30 2011

      Hey Kev,

      Haha, yeah, totally. I thought the whole thing was hilarious and I hope the post came across as tongue-in-cheek. Thanks for your kind words. :)

      Best,

      Matt

  5. zzimmzamm / Nov 30 2011

    The Victorian countryside presents such a vast array of mountains of which I’m unfamiliar, and your posts (including pics) do well to highlight their existance. I am indeed envious! Though that being said, I cannot dismiss the fact that Adelaide too is blessed with some beautiful hills and countryside very close to the city, and which, thanks to the TdU have got worldwide attention. The mountain top finish on Willunga in January will be fantastic!
    With respect to your Cannondale, I couldn’t agree more with your comments, and I too will be riding my Caad 10 up the backside of Falls Creek come March. It is such a delight to ride!

    • Matt / Nov 30 2011

      Cheers zzimmzamm! I’m very keen to get over to Adelaide at some point with the bike. So many great climbs, and so close to the city!

  6. modcon / Nov 30 2011

    was walking along the yarra last night, still flooded along that path dood! super rookie mistake leaving that disc on, clearly we don’t hang out enough! ;). i love paul’s tenacity and your experience of his learning curve. remember the tough old days of being a beginner cyclist!? :)

    • Matt / Nov 30 2011

      Cheers mate. Should have sent you the photo first for approval ;) And yep, I certainly do remember those days. But as they say, it never gets easier to climb mountains, you just get faster!

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