Shifting – May Ride 3 – Gone gravel

24 May 2020
70 kms (44 miles)

Things are coming to an end. The exotic dancers  trees are starting to disrobe, concluding their brilliant and flashy show this year. The COVID-19 restrictions are unwinding. I trust Nature’s signals more than I trust the government’s, but I do forecast that winter 2020 will be an interesting one to see how it all unfolds. What will the weather do? What will the mixing of people in the traditional flu season do? We’re all an experiment in one big petri dish right now. Read more

Shifting – May Ride 1 – On fire

Earlier this year, everything was on fire. Or so it seemed. It was estimated that 80 percent of the Australian population suffered through the effects of long-duration smoke. The area burned was so extensive across the country, and the fires lasted for so long, that it is now called Black Summer. We’ve had an Ash Wednesday (1983), a Black Friday (1939) and a Black Saturday (2009), among others. But yep, this time we got a whole summer.

And so that seems a long time ago. We’ve moved on to another crisis – extensive in its impacts and effects on human health, the economy and ‘life as we knew it’. It makes summer feel so far removed. So when the leaves began to fire up this autumn, it has been hard to believe that we are just ending a summer that feels at least three seasons ago. Read more

Shifting – March Ride 2 – Throw the chain

22/23 March 2020

98 kms (61 miles)

There are times when you’re riding and the shifting is smooth. The terrain is gentle and there is not much thought or effort required to maintain cadence. And then there are times when the hill is deceptively steep when you are in unknown terrain and you get caught in a gear that isn’t appropriate for the grade. Sometimes you manage to shift into an appropriate gear at the last moment, or with a bit of a grinding clunk. And then there are times when you attempt to shift too much under too much strain, and you end up throwing the chain right off the cogs and finding yourself completely stalled in the middle of a steep uphill. If you’re lucky, you don’t fall off the bike, too, as you throw the chain.

Well, the world threw the chain this week. Read more

Shifting – February Ride 1 – Corrugated

99 kms (62 miles)

21/22 February

There are those moments when your heart catches in your throat. It’s a moment of panic, a moment of ‘oh shit’ realization that something’s gone wrong. The level of panic and the immediacy of reaction reflect the seriousness of the situation.

Luckily, I’ve not had too many of those moments in my life. But we had one on this ride where my heart was suddenly in my throat before it dropped to the depths of my stomach. There’s nothing like that feeling to spur you into action. Read more

Shifting – January Ride 1 – An unexpected treat

19 January 2020

45 kms (28 miles)

The morning begins with thick smoke and an orange tint to the air. It’s been that way most mornings since the beginning of the year.

They’ve said we were going to get rain on a couple occasions now and we got nothing at all. Today they say we’re supposed to have showers developing. We’ll believe it when we see it. We haven’t had rain since the first day of December.

But somewhere around 11.30, the north-northwesterly that should bring that rain strengthens and blows the smoke away. I’ve been working on coursework, but when I see the opportunity to ride, I pluck it right up. Read more

Shifting – Introduction

The road tilts up gently. The wind begins to push hard against your face. You automatically shift into an easier gear to maintain cadence.

Sometimes you can see when you will need to shift. Sometimes you can just feel it. Sometimes it’s subtle; sometimes it’s not.

One of the joys of having ridden for many years is how you know just by instinct when to shift. It becomes automatic and not something you usually even think about.

And so, this year looks like it will be all about shifting. Read more