Melburn-Roobaix 2017

Doug and I rode the (in)famous Melburn-Roobaix event on Sunday 25th June. Doug had ridden it last year and it was the first year for me.

We took the train from Sth Geelong to Southern Cross – it was an early start to get the first train at 6:43 but we made it and got to Southern Cross at 8am. Doug recognised some riders who work at the Viva refinery and we found out they were also riding the Melburn-Roobaix so we tagged along with them for the ride to the start point in Hawthorn, along the Yarra Trail. Easy.

We met up with the other members of our team for the day, Doug’s son Alistair, and Alistair’s friends Zack and Mel. Registration for the event was quick and easy and we were soon on our way, with lots of other cyclists, shortly after 9am.

There are no closed roads, marshalling or other niceties for this event, you are given a map and a set of questions to answer on the way to the ‘Roobaix’ finish at Brunswick velodrome, with a needed arrival time of before 3:30pm as that’s when the prize draws take place.

We basically followed the crowd, it’s hard to estimate the number of riders but there must have been at least 1000. At some points along the way we managed to cause quite a traffic jam, but luckily the car drivers out on the same route were well behaved and gave us room as we came out of cobbled lanes across streets in Hawthorn, Coburg and Brunswick.

We didn’t get lost, stopped for a coffee and lunch and made it to the finish at 3pm. Sadly none of our team won any of the prizes on offer. We did manage to pick up some free stuff though, including a year’s Bike Assist membership courtesy of the RACV.

Maybe next year I can persuade Doug to break out the fancy dress and we can compete for one of the prize categories!

It was a great day, unlike any other ‘organised’ cycling event that I have ridden. Already looking forward to next year.



Northern Bike Paths:  Sunday June 24th, 2017

Northern Bike Paths: Sunday June 24th, 2017

We’re past the shortest day and winter has set in with strong cold winds and grey skies.  Only two riders appeared at Rippleside for the start of a short circuit on a few of our norther paths.  Karen had been foiled by an incident which closed North Shore level crossing.

Richard and Helen (ride leader) set off north around the waterfront to the School Road path near GGS.  This leads to the Ted Wilson Trail.  Along the trail ride numbers increased by 50% when Lynton (somewhat sleep deprived) joined the ride.  The route followed Ted Wilson Trail to Church Street.  It was then a quick wind-assisted descent to coffee at Soft Cafe in Minerva Road.  The cafe was warm, coffee good, and conversation flowed.  It was difficult to get back into the cold and onto bikes for the ride home.  At this point riders went their separate ways, with only Helen completing the circuit along the Cementworks Railway path to Douro Street (via a stop-off to visit Coralie in rehab. at Grace McKellar) and then back to Rippleside Park via the Margaret Street overpass.  By this time the skies were stormy and the wind gale-force.

However, this was a most enjoyable ride – short enough and easy enough that it can easily be accomplished by most riders.

Next week’s ride is the annual Ted Wilson Memorial Ride, led by Maree Burn.  We look forward to seeing you there!

Riders on last year’s Ted Wilson Memorial Ride

Lara via Hovells Creek:  Sunday 18th June, 2017

Lara via Hovells Creek: Sunday 18th June, 2017

Seven cyclists joined Dave (ride leader) for an easy dawdle to Lara on Sunday.  Dave brought his ‘fat’ bike – which slowed him down to a pace more suited for a casual cyclist.  The riders were Dave S (leader), Dirk (tail-ender),  Barbara, Margy, Russell, Roger and Helen.

This is an easy ride, well within the ability of anyone who regularly rides the Saturday river ride.  Dave took the opportunity to go ‘off road’ every time an alternative dirt path appeared.

There was little wind – another beautiful sunny early winter morning.

Thanks Dave and Dirk and all cyclists for another most enjoyable Cycling Geelong ride.


Barwon River Circuit:  Saturday 17th June, 2017

Barwon River Circuit: Saturday 17th June, 2017

Around 18 cyclists enjoyed the river ride last Saturday, led by Peter.  Coffee was, as usual, at Barwon Edge.

Thanks to Peter and to Michael who was tail ender. 

On my way from the rive to The Bicycle Show, I tried out the new bridge over the railway on Little Malop Street.  It’s wide, and has a separate path for cyclists and pedestrians.  Thanks to City of Greater Geelong for adding this new infrastructure to our cycling city.

If you’re not riding on Saturday, tune into The Bicycle Show – 94.7 The Pulse FM – to hear our own Heather Howard presenting with Angelika and Maria.  Rod and Doug are also regular guests.  Next Saturday’s guest will be talking about the new shared paths around Kororoit Creek in Port Philip.

The Lazy Cyclists’ Guide

The Lazy Cyclists’ Guide

Part 2 – The Lazy Cyclist’s Guide to Hills!

If you’re a lazy cyclist, by now you will know that seriously lazy cyclists only ride hills in a downward direction!  This can make trip planning difficult.

HILL AVOIDANCEHaving proudly graduated from lazy couch potato, the lazy cyclist quickly develops a set of hill avoidance strategies.  Here are a few that are tried and tested over many kilometres of lazy cycling.

  1. Don’t live at the top of a hill.  Hilltop seems a great place for a cyclist to live – downhill in all directions.  But there’s a downside.  If you start off on the bike, it’s likely you’ll have to come home on the bike.  Sure, you can get off and push your trusty treadly up, but this uses up even more of your precious energy per metre than cycling.  If you must live in a hilly area, living at the bottom of the hill at least ensures a comfortable glide downhill to home.  Serious lazy cyclists have cycling comfort high on the list when choosing a new home.
  2. If you have to cycle somewhere hilly, see if there is a flatter alternative route.  There may be another way which has fewer or no hills without too much extra distance.  If this isn’t possible, there is sometimes another way that reduces the worst of the slope, or includes several smaller hills.
  3. Perhaps you enjoy a regular cycle ride with friends.  Sooner or later someone will decide that the next ride will give you all a challenge and take in some serious climbing.  This is when the lazy cyclist discovers a nagging injury, pressing appointment, aging relative who suddenly needs undivided attention, or an unexpected visitor from Vladivostok who can only visit exactly when the ride is on.  The lazy cyclist has a ready store of plausible and/or creative excuses.

If for some reason you simply can’t avoid hills, there are still strategies to help the lazy cyclist.

Downhills are the lazy cyclist’s optimum energy saving indulgence.  Do you have a partner or friend who can give you a lift you up the hill?  A few hills even have a one-way transport option.  You can spend half an hour coasting down the Murray to Mountains Rail Trail from Beechworth, hardly touching a pedal, and a sag wagon will pick you and your bike up at Everton Station and return you to your starting point.  Cycling up the trail in the opposite direction takes even a fit cyclist over an hour and a half.  Similar services operate on some real mountains – like Mount Wellington near Hobart.

HILL CLIMBS:  The crunch eventually comes for all lazy cyclists.  There is a hill which you just have to climb.  Even then, there are strategies to help you use less energy, and make it to the top.  Here are a few.

If the hill is short, increase speed as you approach, while still on the flat.  This extra momentum will impel you up the first part of the hill.  Change gears downwards as soon as you feel a slowing and keep changing down so that you are always pedalling quickly and without too much effort.

For a longer or steeper hill, if you need to go to an easier front chain ring, change down before you need to pedal too hard.  Changing gears while putting the chain under pressure is difficult and may lead to the chain coming off.  Sometimes, for really steep short hills, it’s best to select your lowest gear at the very bottom of the rise.

Long hills need special perseverance!  If possible, find a gear that allows you to keep going without exerting too much energy.  Speed should not be a consideration.  Even at 7 kilometres per hour your bike is going faster than you can walk.  Keep the pedals turning at a fast ‘easy’ rate.  Pedal fast not hard – it doesn’t matter if your legs give the impression of your nana’s Mixmaster.  If you feel yourself flagging, relax and have a rest stop.  Water is the cyclist’s friend, so have a good drink, and maybe a snack before taking off again.  Look back down the road and see how far you have come.  When you take off again, you’ll have renewed energy.

The lazy cyclist likes nothing better than freewheeling down a long hill.  Enjoy but remember – downhills have led to many a cyclist’s downfall.  Keep your eyes on the road ahead for possible potholes and other hazards.  Make sure you ease off the speed before corners, especially where you can’t see what is around the bend.  Easing off the speed also allows you to accelerate into the bend.  This gives you a better grip on the road surface.

Despite revelling in the free ride a downhill slope gives, if there is another uphill ahead, even the lazy cyclist should pedal.  This maintains speed, and helps you up the climb.  Some cyclists (probably not lazy ones) even find that getting off the seat for a short distance, while they still have this momentum, gets them further up the hill before they have to slow down and change gears.

There is no hill yet invented that can be driven that a cyclist can’t walk up!  If all else fails, walk.  Enjoy the view and surroundings.  Chat if there are other walkers and contemplate the downhill on the other side.  Who knows, a friendly motorist might offer a lift.   You will of course reply,

‘What me?  I couldn’t possibly.  I’m in training for the Tour!’

Mechanically-minded partner

Serious lazy cyclists choose their bike with care, and make sure it’s kept in tip-top condition.  If you are buying a bike, and know you will be riding up hills, choose one with plenty of low gears, three front chain wheels and a ‘granny gear’.  If you have a mountain bike, consider changing to slick tyres unless you will be riding off road.  The knobbly tyres that are standard, are much harder to push on smooth paths and roads.  Keep your tyres fully inflated and have the bike serviced regularly.  A dirty or dry chain will slow you down and make the bike much harder to push.  (Hopefully, you have a mechanically-minded partner, who would love to keep your bike looking like new!)

The less you carry, the easier it is to cycle up the hill.  If you’re carrying much gear, panniers keep the load balanced low down on the bike and help stability.  Don’t carry more than you need.

There is one last hill-climbing tip for the lazy cyclist who wants to make hills enjoyable (if you insist).  If you must ride up hills, then do it!  Practise hills.  Ride short rides with little hills often.  Graduate to longer, harder hills.   Incorporate hills into at least one ride a week.  Good luck and see you on the downhill payoff!

The Lazy Cyclist

First published in Flashing Pedals June 2007

Watch this space for:  The Lazy Cyclist’s Guide to Wind