Some time ago I read story by Alastair Reynolds, that whilst not being scary it showed the depths of obsession a man can go to. It was an odd book that even as a grown man put the wind up me. I’m not sure why but I think that was that I could not understand how an individual would push themselves, their bodies and families beyond breaking point because they could not let go.
This story has always stuck in my head but the premise lies back to Shakespeare. To the tower darkly is ones mans obsession with something even he does not understand.
I have been training and riding hard for the last few weeks. Motivated heavily be the arrival of my Scott CR1 and my recent entry into the Central Coast Cycling Club Crituriem Season 14/15. I have never done any road racing before and this seemed like a good place to start.
My local climbs at home were steep but reasonably short. I have been working them as much as I could but I wanted to go and do some more climbing. Watching a lot of cycling on TV and online show some fantastic climbs but around here their is not a great deal of big challenges.
Or so I thought, I mean how hard could it be? We set of from Edgeworth to take a scenic tour out through fletcher to see if we could find the start of the old hexham swamp train line. According to reports a large tunnel still exists in the middle of nowhere along this line. We where able to locate the start and scope the access point to take the bikes in. This was not an adventure for the day, our bikes were not exactly setup to be ridden through a swamp.
The ride continued through mur de minimi and across the expressway to Seaforth. This were the climb started. I was still feeling strong by this stage. We had ridden about 20km but Jye was very much starting to regret his decision of pizza and beer the night before watching the NRL grand final. We got the the Sugarloaf turnoff and stopped for a brief break before the ascent.
Let me take a moment to discuss the Scott CR1. The model in question is the s20, 2014. This is my bike, there are many other like it but this one is mine. Its my second road bike, the previous being the Scott Speedster s20 (2013). Both run Shimano 105 throughout (more or less) but primary difference is the frameset. The speedster has the new 6061 alloy aero frame, whilst the CR1 is a full carbon framset and is approximately 1kg lighter.
Stock, both bikes are equipped with a 12-30 tiagra cassette however my Speedster came with a 11-25 105 cassette. I was actually quite happy with it and plan to change the CR1 over as i did miss the 11 and rarely used the 30, even on my local climbs.
Leading up to this, I had put about 500km on the CR1. One of the biggest things to note over the Speedster was the way the back end of the bike felt. I wondered initially what the difference would be, would it be worth parting with the cash for the bike other than bragging rights about having a carbon bike? In short, yes. The first test ride, the second corner the bike just tracked so well through the corner, the back did not move or skip at all. I should point out that this was never a problem with the speedster, just this was better. It was very impressed with the bike but after a few rides I must admit I was not “blown away” by the step up, however I blame myself for this and not the CR1. I took the bike into the store I purchased it from and they took the time to do a bike fit for me. I’m 177cm and 61kg, riding a large frame. Within moments of getting the video working they found my seat was 25mm too high! Some more adjustments to the seat rails and the handlebar height had my bike in a very different position to what I had been.
So I had reached base of the climb with my bike. Since the bike fit I had been sore but the bike was running beautifully and I had been pushing myself to “learn” the new body position. Fatigue was there but nothing out of the norm.
After a 10 minute break to allow Jye time to contemplate his food regrets we started the climb. It was a gentle climb up, passing a clearing for the powerlines which not only allowed a view back to the ocean, it showed just how steep the ridge we were on. The road twisted and wounds its away around, the gradient ever increasing as if it were goading the unknowingly rider into a sense that it was nothing they could not do. Jye who was a head of me started to decrease is speed as we started the steeper ascent about 1500m into the climb. I passed him, already in a low gear but felt good and strong.
The road flattened ever so slightly as it twisted around 2 more bends. As i rounded the last one i was greeted by what is known on strava as “300m of spew” the road went straight up! In the middle it kicked up to 25%. I gritted my teeth, but my head down and focused on my breathing trying to get my already high heart rate down to a manageable level. Pedal, breathe, pedal, breathe, pedal, breathe, look up. Rinse and repeat. The road got steeper, I’m on the incline, heart rate is 181, I’m flagging, trying to sit, stand and just keep moving. I was almost to the top, head down, a bit further, almost there, head up, what the %&#$. The road turned and keep going at the same gradient! That was it, I had to admit defeat, I was gutted. I unclipped and got my breath back. I turned to see Jye down the hill in a similar state. I had been able to get quite a climb in and I was now ever grateful for my 12-30 cassette on the back. Jye by contrast had a 11-25 and just ran out of steam.
I waited for him to catchup before we continued on our way. The road flattened out for a bit before kicking up again to the summit. At this point I was determined to get as high as I could and went further up the road, Jye decided to sit. However this was short lived as I was not able to get any further the way I had and decided to do a 3 point turn whilst half clipped in. This resulted in me with one hand on the fence, one on the break and the wrong foot jammed under the pedal. Yelling out to Jye he came to my rescue, laughing of course.
I went a bit higher till I hit some stairs before wandering down to find Jye and take a break. At this point I actually looked how high we had actually climbed. We were still proud to have made the top. The trip down was incredibly faster then the climb up. We wandered our way back to Jyes place to finish up.
Conclusion is I was stuffed and defeated, went out the next day and climb my local hills, just to prove i could. I will see you again Mt Sugarloaf….
Disclosure: The CR1 in question brought my me and not provided by any company or group. The opinions in here are that of my own. I bought my bike from Dan at Pushy Galore (Avanti Plus) Wyoming NSW. I would highly recommend taking the time to give them a call.