Gravel Grind to the Boarding House Dam

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 I have known of the boarding house dam for some time but had never really had the chance to go looking for it. I always figured it was one of those non-literal things like the name of a rock formation or something. The last time I did the MT Faulk road climb some people in a 4WD stopped and asked me if I knew directions. I went home and googled it only to discover that it actually was a dam. On top of that the parks service had built some woodern boardwalks close by. Figured “Epic Gravel Adventure to find the dam” was on the cards.
The route was pretty simple, go up Mt Faulk rd (Cat 2 climb) past Heaton lookout and follow the road till I found Slippery rock rd on the right. It was about 11k from the start. I dawdled my way up the hill, still sore from the previous days climbing just trying not to push the the red too much. This climb is where my Avanti Giro comes into its own. With the CXKing tires on it just eats its way up the hill. I have done the same climb on my XC bike and it took me 4-5 more minutes to complete it. Cresting the top I veered past the lookout turn and headed for the dam. 

Stopped to check the map. No phone reception. This way looks good. #wymtm #cycling #vitaming #gravelgrinder
Stopped to check the map. No phone reception. This way looks good. #wymtm #cycling #vitaming #gravelgrinder

I reached a fork in the road which I thought was too soon from what I had seen on the map. I checked my phone but no reception so I elected to stay on what I thought was the main road. Turned out it was the main road but to Cessnock. I headed for some kilometers down the road before i wondered. I knew there was a slight descent before I got to the turn but the road went away faster then I had expected. I was now descending looking to my right for the turn when I around a bend and all I could see was farm land. Oops… A check of the map, as I know had phone reception, showed that I should have turned at the earlier fork and I was several kilometers of course. TO add to this I now had to turn around and go up the hill I had just come down. The return gradient was 21% at times and my garmin was showing 4.1kph. It was a slow grind back up to the top of the hill then the trip to double back to where I had come.

So it turns out that a/ this sign is correct and b/ I was on the wrong road and had to ride back up it. #farkkkkkkk #cycling #gravel #vitaming #wymtm #gravelgrinder
So it turns out that a/ this sign is correct and b/ I was on the wrong road and had to ride back up it. #farkkkkkkk #cycling #gravel #vitaming #wymtm #gravelgrinder

I found the original fork and went down the right way. It was now raining however for what its worth the rain was cool and actually quite nice. The descent was more what I expected and went on for about 2k before I finally see the right hand turn and the first of any sign mentioning the Boarding house dam. A small rise for 200m and then a quick little descent saw me in a picnic area and the dam in plain sight!
The dam itself was small but really awesome. There was a small set of steps leading down into it and a pathway that ran along the left side. I followed this path down to a small bridge that had been built over the creek that the dam flowed into. A few pics later then it was back to the gravel as I was running behind the deadline I had. The climb back out was a constant gradient for about 2k. Then back onto the undulating Watagan road for a short while.

This was pretty cool. #cycling #pushygalore #avanti #adventure #gravel #wymtm #baaw
This was pretty cool. #cycling #pushygalore #avanti #adventure #gravel #wymtm #baaw

Finally I passed Heaton lookout turn for the final 4k decent and time to test out the new brakes. In short the work! Its a rough decent at the best of times but on a full rigid frame it will shake the crap out of your arms. The actual track is not too bad part form about 1k down for 200m and the final 1k, which is the steepest and the roughest. Sometimes the back would skip and the brake would grab which on landing would be a quick slide. The relief of hitting the tar was welcomed before a quick dash back to the car and sitting down. Now I feel hungry.   

Ride Elevation Profile
Ride Elevation Profile


    

 

Newcastle CX Cyclocross Round 3

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We are very much on baby duty now and when it came to the crunch we torn as to go to the penultimate round of Newcastle Cyclocross. the kids were desperate to go and ride their Cyclocross race aka the velodrome as they missed out the last round. So we packed up the hospital bags and the bikes and set off to Adamstown.

Course profile
Course profile

The cool and overcast day turned out to be quick bright and warm. By the time the kids where lining up to start their “citing lap” any trace of warm clothing was well and truly removed. Both kids even took the opportunity this time to do some warm up and practice. The lead out for the kids was by event organizer Shannon Lister. The course went anti clock wise around the velodrome before pulling of through the middle with a sharp left hand turn then around back onto the velodrome. The kids had to get off at this point on to the grass and get their bikes over 2 100mm high barriers. Most kids struggled to get over these, the design is probably somewhat flawed (yes I made them) in the end I had to laugh as Emily just kicked it over and walked her bike across. Both kids did great Connor was on the bike/off the bike incredibly fast and was constant throughout his laps. Emily took a bit more getting going on reach remount but to watch her take the sharp left of the track was amazing, she was regularly scraping her pedals as she stuck it in each lap. I suspect her ambition got the better of her as I turned round to find her off the bike, she stated she had tried to ride up the steep embankment that this velodrome had and come off as result. The last lap sounded and massive credit to her she got back on her bike and finished the lap out. Incredibly proud here of both my kids, who at the beginning of the year were struggling to even ride their bikes, let alone race in close quarters. (Watch out Emily will but a racing move on you to get past… 🙂 )

When it came to the my race I had chosen again to compete in the Elite Mens race. I had contemplated doing the B-grade race but I did want to say that I had completed all the CXNewcastle races at this level. As we were lining up to start they widened the entry onto the course. This last-minute reshuffle had me sitting further forward in the line then I had been in the past.

On the start it was on and either I read it right or a heap of others read it wrong because I was all of a sudden at the pointer end then I am used too. I did my best through this first lap as I was well within my rights to hold my place so I thought wide thoughts and pushed on as hard as I could. Attrition showed that with in the first lap and a half I was back towards the back-end where I normally would sit however I was doing a decent job of holding my own against another rider. #111 We pushed on for a lap with him right behind me before finally catching me after going to deep into a muddy hairpin and getting my handlebars caught on the bunting on the way out. I pushed on behind him, entering part of the crit track which allowed me to have a moment to catch a slip stream and get me breath back. With in moments we hit an unridable embankment and I was able to get the better dismount and grip to run up the hill. A clean remount and clip in saw me gain a vital few meters and cleared him for the next lap. However coming out of the same point on the track only on the next lap I was unable to clip in, took a to aggressive line through the corner and was spat out wide. Problem was this is also were a ditch was located and I did my best to ease the bike back onto the road whilst maintaining traction and clip back in. This loss of momentum meant that he was right on my tail, heading up one of the fast hills with much more momentum then me. I pushed as hard as i could but the gap had blown out to about 20 meters, with time i could close it but coming into the section that I had earlier run up to over take him I elected to ride up. Got to the top I did, before not turn quite right and not unclipping. I tumbled back bike in the air before 3 rolls down the hill had me trying to get back up. Well I can proudly say that it’s the biggest cheer I have ever got racing ( that wasn’t my family). I sheepish picked my bike up and tried to catch back up but he was no longer in my sight for this part of the lap.

About this time the leaders had caught me and it happened to be on the crit section of the track again. A quick push saw me in their slipstream trying to ride their speed. Within one embankment they had gained a few meters and by the time we had crossed past my earlier discretion they had put 50m into the distance. They would pass me 2 more times before the end of the race. From this point on I focused on the technical aspects of the track, bunny hopping the logs just got better each lap, and the vertical descent with the 180 turn back up proved to be a challenge but one I was able to complete faster and with out getting off.

On the last lap call I was able to keep in front of the leaders by a lap of the veldorome meaning that I could do the final lap and not too far down. Well 25/26 and “22’00” of the lead.

Finally NBN news was there to catch some of the action.

Newcastle CX Round 2

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Day 12 The Vegan Experiment: Cyclocross is here!

After the last few months of racing in crits and training and falling off, it was finally the day of my first Cyclocross race.

The kids were excited and we arrived at the day for registration. Emily wanted to go tin the participation event, Connor the kids race and I had elected to go into the Elite Cyclocross division. The moment I had signed up I started to regret doing it. Looking around I saw some face in the open division that I knew and had raced against before.

Emily went first in her participation event. For this the kids rode around the velodrome and out up the gate, around some cones and back in. Within a lap most kids had abandoned the push up the side of the velodrome and just rode around and around. Em went for the full ten minutes before getting upset that the event had not lasted longer.

Connor pushing is bike up on of the hills. This obstacle was what later punctured my rear
Connor pushing is bike up on of the hills. This obstacle was what later punctured my rear

After cheering his sister on Connor entered the kids race. He set off with as much enthusiasm as I have ever seen from him. However it became clear quickly that the kids twice his age were over twice as fast. Given the difficulty of the terrain he pressed on pushing his bike up and down the sections more then riding. With a great amount of confidence he rode of the dirt embankment with a flurry of pedals and speed. Halfway up the hill something happened and before anybody knew what happened he was over the side of the bike with his foot stuck under the seat. After some deliberation he decided to retire and fight again another day.

Going up "Stairway to Heaven"
Going up “Stairway to Heaven”

Finally I lined up at the very back of a 35 pack race in the Elite Cyclocross division. Matt who I met at the training session a week before lined up next to me and said hi. We joked about just finishing but I really had no idea of what was before me. The start bell went and all you could hear was the clacking if cleats and chirps of garmins. The dash up the first short hill was fine but the concertina into the first sharp bend took some work. A female rider was along side me all through these 180 degree turns before finally getting the better of me. After this was a short downhill with a sharp fast right hander into Newcastle velodrome. As we entered the velodrome the leaders were already exiting! I tucked in behind Matt and aimed to stick with him through the race. We exited the velodorme and headed through the tree section, down and around before attempting what the lead riders had deemed “the shortcut” around one of the trees. I stuck with it for the first few laps but kept getting caught up in my cleats. After this came the hardest part of the course. The aptly named “Stairway to heaven” 4 telegraph poles laid out up a step section of hill to form unridable stairs. This is really the first time you need to shoulder your bike. Run up the stairs around the top, down the hill, around a bike tree and back on the bike before returning to the crit course. A slight deviation up a steep hill with a 180 degree turn at the top before trying to control you descent back down to the crit course. This then gives you about 100 meters of tar to regroup, get a drink before going up a fast and steep embankment, down the other side then leaving the velo grounds. Into the park lands for what is effectively a 100m dash up and back on the grass. However its never that simple in cross right. Halfway along the out section was 2 x 400mm barriers. This is where the running dismount came into effect. Its an amazing hard on you body to run and hurdle whilst essentially throwing your bike into the air, land the do it again! Once back in the grounds of the velo was 2 of the shortest but steepes sections on the track. I, as most riders, chose to dismount and run up and down both parts. (I did attempt to ride up it later in the day but well fell off at the top, much to the amusement of other riders. From here it was a remount and a short dash to the start/finish before another 180 degree turn and back past the pit area up that first hill. Be the end of lap 1 my heart rate was over 180. This is basically where it stayed. I tried to set pace behind Matt where I could. Coming from the back I got to 28th position and felt that I was making slow inroads on catching Matt. Heading towards the commentary hill was sleeper buried in the ground. Most riders including me had been riding over it all day. I continued on in this fashion hitting it hard due the massive amount of speed i had coming of the last down hill section. Up around the tree before I noticed I was about to be lapped again. (I was lapped by the leaders by the start of lap 3) as we went over one of the hills i looked back to see where they were. As I did i saw that my rear tyre was now flat. It was halfway through lap 5. I returned to the pit area with the intention of retiring. Disappointed I did not get to finish but kind of relived as i was shattered, but no it was not meat to be. A kind hearted person in the pits found a spare tyre with the right disc and cassette on it. It even had air in the tyre so it was a sight better then mine. We bolted in the new unit and I was back out into the race. Desperately trying to claw back the places I had lost. By the last lap those stairs seemed huge, my legs were burning and I could barley breath. Determined I pushed on and crossed the line. 30/35. I didn’t come last and had a great time. I went back to the family, sat down and tried not to vomit for the next ten minutes before borrowing my daughters bike so that Connor and I could do some warm down laps before we headed home. Exhausted but what a way to spend your 36th birthday.

Dismount about to go up the stairs
Dismount about to go up the stairs

And did the vegan diet make a difference? I don’t know is probably the short answer. I finished the race which I am proud of. I did not eat a great deal and probably could of fulled better. I did not feel heavy and gluggy. I have raced my bike before and had an upset stomach. Being that I have a cold/flu I don’t feel its fair to look at performance. Being on a vegan diet for the last 2 weeks and succeeding at finished would say to me that there is no obvious performance deficits in being a vegan athlete.