It is just before six in the evening on Sunday 5 August at Land’s End, Britain’s most south-westerly point. A family plays at the landmark signpost while an unassuming cyclist, kitted up for what appears to be quick trip to get some milk, asks a tourist to take a photo. Photo taken, and without any fanfare, the cyclist quietly slips into the evening to attempt something mind-blowing. He won’t sleep for another 33 hours.
The cyclist in question is a mild-mannered school teacher from Belgium, Kristof Allegaert. He is not a professional cyclist but to those in the ultra-endurance cycling world he is as close as it comes to a pedalling God. Kristof has dominated every ultra-endurance cycling race he has contested. He doesn’t race across countries, he races across continents. Mainland Europe, Siberia and Australia have all served as stages for his superhuman endurance performances.
Forget the Tour de France, Kristof’s races are solo and unsupported. He has no teammates, no support cars, no massage therapists and no doctors to help him along the way. The rules of these more underground events require Kristof to carry all he needs or buy it or fix it himself along the way. He must find places to catch a few hours sleep, motels at best or a roadside patch of cold dirt at worst, before his relentless push forward. It is just like cycle touring but with a sense of urgency.
When racing Kristof covers more than 400 km every day, without regard to weather or road conditions, for more than a week. He has never been beaten in an unsupported endurance event but still he seeks new challenges. So who does Kristof race when there is no one left to race? Himself.
Kristof set himself the task of riding the iconic touring route from Lands End to John O’Groats and back again faster than anyone before him. The trip covering the furthest distance between two inhabited points on the British mainland is a rite of passage for British endurance athletes and a bucket-list adventure for more conventional cycle-tourists.
Typically cyclists take 10 - 14 days to complete the journey in one direction, Kristof’s task was to complete an out-and-back journey (known as “LEJOGLE”) in half that time. What made Kristof’s plan more remarkable was that there was no support crew. It was just Kristof, his Curve Cycling Belgie Disc titanium bicycle (that he has codenamed Natascha), and his credit card. No one else. He would look like any other cyclist out there, only those in the know his were aware of his mission.
Kristof left Land’s End alone at 6pm on Sunday 5 August and reached John O’Groats in northern Scotland at 1:15 pm on Wednesday later that week after an unsupported journey of about 1,350 km. Kristof’s comment on the effort, “Not bad for a rookie”. After a quick photo to prove his arrival, Kristof did a U-turn and started the journey back to Land’s End. His outbound trip was a wild ride. It was hampered by some early mechanical issues on a dirty highway stretch, unfavourable weather, unplanned detours due to heavy traffic and questionable accommodation. Amazingly Kristof was not deterred. When faced with wet weather and challenging winds in the north of Scotland Kristof reported, “Scotland is wilder in every sense. The conditions are rougher and it’s more desolate. Just how I like it.”
To meet his goal, Kristof needed to return to Land’s End before 3:08 pm on Saturday 11 August. He arrived just 16 minutes late, welcomed by the cheers of a single fan. Kristof didn’t seem too fussed about his late arrival. The final 200 km included atrocious weather and the busy A30 highway jammed full of agitated holiday-makers on the first day of their break. Did Kristof push through traffic intent on achieving his goal? No. He stopped for coffee breaks when he thought conditions were too dangerous, after all, he had no support car to shield him. His priority was to arrive safe.
Kristof didn’t carry a tracker for his “holiday ride” and seemed surprised by the attention. He shared occasional photos and updates from the road with a few friends which made some basic reporting possible. These messages and location reports were shared on social media allowing hardened fans to find Kristof on the road and cheer him on, often in the middle of the night. For Kristof though, this mission was nothing special. Endurance cycling has been in his life for so long that it is as natural as breathing. For him it was just another ride. A personal challenge. He let us follow his trip through a few messages and photos along the way. There are plenty of other adventures that are purely private to him - we will never know about them.
At the end, there were no autographs and no media commitment. After some food and a quick photo to prove his arrival Kristof thought hard to remember where he parked his car six days earlier, rode back to it, packed up and started his long drive back to Belgium. Alone.- Jesse Carlsson
Kristof Allegaert is supported by Curve Cycling, Sportful, Apidura, Supernova Lights, Uvex, Campagnolo, Lezyne USA and Enervit
Follow Kristof Allegaert:
This route climbs up Anstey Hill before passing onto the great gravel backroads that pass through to Forreston and Gumeracha towards a killler of a Checkers Hill KOM, before navigating some more fantastic gravel through the Adelaide hills before finishing down Norton Summit Road.
Est. Dist/Elev 100km/1500m
Recommended bikes: Road or cx bikes with 28c+ tyres.
A proper local back road bash, straight out of the CBD riders will enter Chambers Gully, the scenic route to Mount Lofty .From there we will take in a number of Adelaide's best gravel roads within spitting distance of the CBD, taking some lesser known roads and even venturing through the Eagle mountain bike park.
Est. Dist/Elev 60km/1200m
Recommended bikes: road bikes with 28c+ tyres or CX bikes
THU 18 JAN
Ride like a local! This ride is within the grasp of the city, however feels extremely remote.
Starting with some nasty bicycle infrastructure, the Caroline Bikeway climb ascends riders to Belair national park, continuing the climb up the beautiful, wide, gravel, tempo climb that is Queen's Jubilee Drive. A few cheeky shortcuts later and riders will experience the untouched, isolated world that is Mount Bold, taking in the dense conservation land and quiet air. Riders are treated to undulating gravel roads, before climbing through the Upper Sturt area to return to the city via Belair. We expect this to be about a 5 hour ride, in time to return to watch the finish of Stage 3!
Est. Dist/Elev 85km/1500m
Recommended bikes: Road Bike with >28c tyres, Gravel or CX Bikes.
FRI 19 JAN
A winding loop which starts on the iconic Adelaide climb of Norton summit, before diving back into the scenic valley of colonial drive and climbing its way back up to Cherryville. A quick decent takes us to the cobbles of old road, a quick detour that’s well worth it. From here riders tackle the infamous blockers road, famed as much for its beauty Astha burn it brings to your legs. With the climbing done riders wind their way back to adelaide, taking in some more of the great back roads within easy reach of the cbd.
Est. Dist/Elev - 80km/1600m
Recommended bikes: road bikes with 23c+
SAT 20 JAN
No description necessary, just join us on the best Wilunga pilgrimage ride out there.
Est. Dist/Elev - 150km/2000m return. (or 85km to Wilunga)
Recommended bikes: road bikes with 28c+ tyres or CX bikes
Bike racing, beer and load music in a multi-story carpark?! VTWO are bringing the carpark climb to Adelaide at the Tour Down Under.
Mario is local legend, he is one of those People's Champs that can muster a motley crew of riders any day of the week. He'll lure you into hills and then give you a good blasting. He has been riding rim brake G4's since their release. He has written up a brake pad review based on his experiences using 3 different brake pads.
OK I’m starting with my disclaimer, I know the Curve team as friends, but they’ll be the first to tell you that I’ll call things straight, as such I’m comfortable providing my personal wisdom based on my first-hand experience reviewing 3 carbon brake pad sets.
While my review is focused on braking performance, here is the quick and short on my Curve G4 25mm hoops mated to Chris King R45 hubs; I love them and am most happy with my wheels from both a performance and visual perspective. Not too stiff but just right given I can ride them all day and accelerate as quickly as my "engine" will allow. For the record I’m a 50 something (very) long time rider and whilst I may be slowing on the hills now that I qualify for Australian Pensioners Insurance, the hills are where I am most happy, be it with a group of mates or on a solo jaunt which is why I like nice things like my Curve hoops to keep me company.
Braking capability on carbon hoops is typically compared to that of alloy rims and I’m adopting that approach. Previously I have owned alloy rims from Campagnolo and Mavic. As a benchmark for this review I will adopt the standard that my expected alloy rim braking performance measure is 10 / 10 and I will compare the carbon pad performance accordingly.
The pads I tested over the span of 12 months were:
My riding consists of chasing hills followed by chasing hills, so I do need to be able to brake confidently and effectively on descents in weather ranging from dry to sopping wet sheets of water splashing over your rims whilst riding (typically if I got caught out). A breakdown of the weather conditions I actually did ride in was 70% totally dry, 20% constant drizzle to rain and wet roads and 10% I really should have stayed home conditions.
Typically Carbon rims require special brake pads specially designed for such use as opposed to any old pad which may see us regretting that decision later especially in wet weather. Now I know plenty of riders who don’t follow this rule and they anecdotally respond across the spectrum from “it’s all good” to “they damaged my rims” to “I had zero in the wet”. The main fallout for amateur punters using one set of pads across carbon and alloy wheels is the small alloy flecks that build up in the pads which when used on carbon braking tracks end up damaging that track. How could this happen you ask, well for the multitude of riders using alloy rims for training and general riding who then bring out the carbon hoops for race day or a trip to the hills and they can’t be arsed changing out the pads? My call is to use carbon brake pads if the brake track is carbon as the compound is different and is constructed to reduce heat on the rim in order to stave against rim delamination.
You will note that all these brake pads have grooves cut into them which depending on the ride conditions will clog up at various frequency so I advise cleaning them out frequently to both maintain air flow especially to aid braking on fast and long descents plus increase the ability for the pads to grab / contact the braking track better and to keep any small particles from damaging the braking track. My cleaning process consists if using a small flat head screwdriver to push out the gunk from the grooves followed by a light sanding to remove any glazing which may have formed then wiping clean. Also worth noting is that many (carbon) brake pads are recommended by rim manufacturers with the occasion that sometimes they are made specifically for the rim with the view to provide the best / better braking, feel and a reduction in wear.
Installation of all pads was simple and I did not experience any squealing nor any burning waft ensuing from heavy braking.
Curve Cycling Factory Issue Carbon Brakepads (Gigapower)
Dry weather braking comparison against my alloy benchmark is 7 / 10 as on a couple of occasions of long fast descents the braking began to struggle.
Wet weather braking performance was as per my preconceived expectation that I would need to brake quite early to scrub the braking track of excess water, which was the case 5 / 10 but I could stop and there was no shock factor.
Pad wear was as expected but increased in wet conditions so nothing unexpected 7 / 10.
Swisstop Black Prince Carbon Brakepads (Campagnolo)
Dry weather braking was initially phenomenal, wow, this was a step up and just what I had been looking for, noticing improved braking performance immediately. Later on though I did notice some stickiness in that I would release the lever whilst stationery but there was a noticeable grab lingering but nothing I could not live with in this scenario 8 / 10.
To say that wet weather braking was disappointing is overstating how poorly these pads performed. I do put this down to the composition of the specific pads against the composition of the rims. It is the only time I have experienced fear in the wet as witnessed by mates riding with me on those occasions I had 4 finger grab on each lever and was still moving in excess of 20km per hr not noticing any slowing 0 / 10, yes zero. This was further evidenced by the boys at Curve along with a few riders I consider blue-chip, that is, A-Grade and above on any given day (much better than this fussy old bloke that’s for certain).
Pad wear was a little quick from dry condition riding but exponential in the wet but it doesn’t matter if you can’t stop 6 / 10 if you’re riding in the dry and fugazi / 10 in the wet.
Campagnolo Red Carbon Brakepads
Dry weather braking performance is, well, most welcome, great modulation, snappy, and if you engage 2 finger braking you need to be careful not to lock things up. I love them 9 / 10.
Wet weather braking is better than expected. Yes you prepare earlier and scrub off the excess water but I found the ability to brake could be controlled accordingly against the conditions, that is, don’t expect to hightail into a sopping wet corner expecting to slowdown but measure accordingly to conditions and you have a solid 6.5 / 10 performer. I call this pretty good.
Pad wear to date has been pretty good 8 / 10 (note the pads may have an impact to wear on the rims themselves due the pads appearing to have a slightly more aggressive compound).
My review was never intended to be exhaustive but more a recount of my personal journey that now may hopefully save you some time if you’re looking to swap out the Curve provided Gigapads looking for any braking performance gains albeit they are pretty good in comparison but as I found you can equally find a better mating pad as one that is inferior. I’m lucky that I experienced the poorly performing example quickly so metered my speed, braking, awareness and approach in order to safely descend and make it home in one piece, yes it was that dire.
For me the Campy Reds are my friend and I’ll take any future recommendations from the Curve Cycling team as their premises always have visitor beer available.
Thanks Mars, follow his antics on insta via @mars_rides
Some thought it would never ever happen, but let us rejoice!
Today on the 25th of July, Cycling Australia has announced that they will allow road disc bike to be raced at club and state level. (UCI National Champs are still off the list)
Curve Cycling and our network of friends and riders are proud to see Cycling Australia take lead on this judgment. We all know that riding disc wheels is a much safer and reliable option when racing or going out a grand adventure.
CEO Nick Green OAM said that the new stance on disc brakes will encourage and allow more people to get involved in racing, particularly at the local club level.
“Cycling Australia is taking a leadership role in the global discussion around disc brakes and look forward to seeing a positive effect on the Australian cycling landscape with this announcement,” said Green.
Cycling Australia actively works at all levels to remove barriers for people getting into cycling, and we believe this is another valuable step towards getting more people to give racing a go.” he added.
When I read the announcement, I for one turned the music up and did a little dance. I look forward to racing crits on my bike!
Read the full article as Cycling Australia
Lisa Jacobs is one of our national treasures, 3 x Australian CX Champ (2013-15), she is one of the rare few selected to train with the AIS, in 2010 Lisa made the Australian National Women's team that raced the women's Giro D'Italia and has had many other road and CX racing accolades over the years, all whilst building a successful law career... So why did we take a 45min specialist on a 44 hour 800km trip from Melbourne to Adelaide?
Below are LJs words on the her TDU Pilgrimage
'The trick is not to think of it as an 800km ride. You're used to 100km rides, right? Just think of it as one 100km ride after another. And eat lots.'
- Troy Bailey, currently riding around Australia for New Life Cycle
'People, you need to have your shit dialled. Do not be that person who gets seven flats. No one will save you.'
- Jesse Carlsson, Curve Cycling; winner, 2016 Trans-Am; Australia's best ultra-distance cyclist
'I'm shitting myself a little bit.'
- LJ, night before the ride
On a crisp Saturday morning, just before 4am, a small group of cyclists gathered outside a 7-11 in Brunswick, Melbourne. Eight of us, to be precise, although we were joined from time to time by others (more on that later). The mission, as Curve described it, was to travel by bike 800km to the Tour Down Under in Adelaide, South Australia, in just two days. No support car, no team mechanic, and riding straight into a headwind. Why wouldn't you?
Rhino always looking strong - Mich Adventures Photography
It sounded pretty extreme to me. But Jesse Carlsson and Sarah Hammond had just done the same ride from Melbourne to Adelaide without stopping, as training for the upcoming Indian-Pacific Wheelrace. When they got to Adelaide they admired the view, then turned around and rode back to Melbourne. In comparison, this version seemed positively civilised. So I signed up. The fact that Jesse and Sarah are both superhuman ride-bots with a passion for self-punishment conveniently escaped me in the excitement of the adventure.
Kay's Carlsson and some guy in the back that looks like he is going to be nailed to a cross - Mich Adventures Photography
Nick eat The Ox - Mich Adventures Photography
Troy Boy and L.J., Ride Happy - Mich Adventures Photography
Throughout the ride, one of our crew had been kept busy tending to his many disciples. I won't blow his cover, so let's just call him 'Jesus'. Jesus was a top bloke, and everywhere we went we were joined by his followers who would ride with us and present offerings. And I mean EVERYWHERE. We only had to stop for a moment and a cracking human would appear out of nowhere, furnishing trays of home-made pastries and cold drinks. It was the stuff of miracles. Jesus took it all in his stride, and I suspect it happens to him a lot, but for us it was quite something. Most impressive, though, was the speed with which the universe responded to Jesus' call for beer.
A simple tweet on Sunday morning resulted in at least five separate roadside handups, including one family who had driven for two hours to stand by the side of the road with an esky full of cold beers and home-made posters. The day was filled with rad stuff like this. The CyclingTips crew drove past to deliver cold drinks (and yes, more beer).
Cycling Tips and #morebeersformaven
Countless cars on the way to the TDU honked and cheered as they drove past. There was a drone. Truck drivers rarely resisted the sight of ten cyclists cranking their arms in unison. In the pitch blackness of the Adelaide hills, blokes came to run alongside The Ox and a lone cracking human waved a cowbell in unbridled joy at the sight of Jesus cycling past.
Rhino. Nipples - Mich Adventures Photography
We arrived in Adelaide 44 hours after we'd left Melbourne.
We were exhausted, sore and so, so happy. I can't describe how good it felt to finish something I really didn't know that I could. I also can't describe how crazy all those ultra-endurance cyclists are. After two days, pain radiated from every joint in my body and every possible chafe point, and I was subsisting on a diet of Coke and anti-inflammatories. To think that ultra-distance racers do this for two weeks straight makes my head explode.
Grovel V2- Photo by Captain Flat
Would I do it again? Absolutely. Once the swelling dies down, that is. It was a brilliant adventure with an awesome crew, and the stories we shared and the friendships forged over those 800km are tattooed on my brain. Rumour has it that Curve will make it even bigger next year. Tempted? You'd better bring Jesus.
Zoom Zoom- Photo by Kays Carlsson
It has been a long time coming, but today we're happy to release our new complete bike builds into the wild. Grovel v2, CXR and Belgie Spirit complete builds are now available for pre-order now with delivery in February 2017.
Up until now, Curve has offered only the frames and components that define a bike. Curve wheels, frames and framesets have been proven in the toughest endurance bike races on the planet. It was time to wrap these up in a complete bike package, with quality components you can trust, no matter what your next cycling mission is.
Grovel v2 Complete
Want to get on the Curve program, but you're on a budget? The Grovel v2 is the Swiss Army knife of bikes and could be the weapon of choice for you. Version one of this beast has conquered Paris-Brest-Paris, the Japanese Odyssey and a forever growing list of bike tour missions all over the planet.
The Grovel v2 picks up where v1 left off. The strong, durable and light Columbus Zona steel tubing results in a frame that is good for CX racing, light touring and anything in between. We've chosen the wide range 1 x 11 SRAM Rival 1 drive train and no fuss SRAM Rival 1 hydro brakes. You can fit up to 700c x 42 mm or 27.5" x 2.1" tyres, giving you plenty of tread options.
The wheelset features solid Alex MP23 rims laced with DT Swiss Comp spokes to DT Swiss 350 hubs. Ever bought a complete bike and been stunned by the low quality wheelset? Not with this build! This wheelset is a solid all-rounder, tubeless ready and able to tackle the harshest conditions.
The build is completed with a quality Zipp alloy finishing kit. It's such a great value package.
Want a CX race slayer? After a lightweight titanium touring machine? Look no further than the CXR. With a low BB, thru-axle, short and sharp chain stays, the CXR was designed to go fast. But with the versatility that Curve titanium frames offer, the CXR has become so much more than just a CX race bike.
We've chosen the race-proven, high-end SRAM Force 1 drive train for this machine. The wide range 1 x 11 set up and quality hydro brakes work just as well on the race track as they do on fast touring missions.
Here's where things get interesting though. We've included Curve's race ready 30x25 carbon rims on this weapon. They're laced to DT Swiss 350 hubs for a wheelset that will handle CX race abuse as well as road riding with skinny 25 mm tyres fitted.
We're finishing this build off with quality Maxxis Rambler 700c x 40 tyres and a high end Zipp alloy finishing kit.
Want all the details? You can find them here!
Belgie Spirit Complete
After an endurance road bike for all day riding? Looking for a machine to take on the toughest ultra-endurance road cycling races in the world? The Belgie Spirit is the weapon of choice for you. From the early response we've had, it is likely to become the new benchmark for endurance road riding.
Featuring a SRAM Force 22 build with a 2 x 11 drivetrain and flat mount hydro disc brakes, this complete build is ready for the Indian Pacific Wheel Race or any other long distance mission you can dream up.
The wheelset is something special. We've gone with a 35 mm deep Curve G4 rim laced with CX-Ray spokes to DT Swiss 350 hubs. You're unlikely to see a wheelset of this quality on a build at this price. Nope.
A high end Zipp alloy finish kit completes the build. There are some nice details too. We've included our own saddle with titanium rails in the build. Nice!
Oh wait... the tyres! Maxxis Refuse 700c x 32 tyres are the pick for the Belgie Spirit. They were proven in a recent ride from Perth to Melbourne by one of the Curve Crew - not a single flat. Sure they're not the fastest tyres out there but they're built for all day comfort and zero issues.
Still want more details? Get in touch to sort out your Curve complete bike now.
In typical, Curve Classic's style, this ride is a 40km mixed surface jaunt that will make you laugh as hard as cry. We will be hopping from steep hill, to bike path to CX track to bike path, and then back to Curve Cycling HQ to share war stories and party with some beer and food. But 20kms into the ride we will be all lining up to race the "Hilliminator" a steep grassy knoll, where the winner takes all... the kudos. Curve Classic's are always road bike friendly, but remember to bring some new or sturdy tyres and as always, your sense of adventure.
BRING A PART, BIKE or BUCK: As part of the Good Cycles' education and employment program, Good Cycles build and give away bikes to the disadvantaged people they help empower. So if you have an old bike, frame or a bunch of good parts that you can donate to the cause then bring it along. We will also be asking you for double gold coin donations for food and beer, all proceeds go back to the Good Cycles.
WHEN: Thursday 15th December 5.30pm (roll out at 6.30pm)
WHERE: Good Cycles Bike Hub Docklands Bike Path
PARTY: Back at Curve Cycling Northcote at approx 8.30pm
FB Event Page https://www.facebook.com/events/440262996361853/
More goodness on Good Cycles: As a social enterprise, the organisation’s focus is on making a difference, rather than a dollar - with 100% of the revenue from their commercial enterprises going to support their numerous social and community programs. Using bikes as a lever for engagement, education, empowerment and employment - they work with those experiencing disadvantage to provide new opportunities and broader horizons. We all know how life changing a bike can be – Good Cycles are applying that knowledge to help those in need, working with at-risk youth, long term unemployed, refugees and asylum seekers - amongst others.
Their commercial operations cover their main CBD bike store, city-based mobile bike servicing, bicycle maintenance courses, the operations of Melbourne Bike Share and the recently opened Community Bike Hub on the waterfront in Docklands. They offer everything your LBS would – expert, friendly advice and service and a great range of bikes and accessories – along with the extra layer of knowing you’ve made a difference simply by visiting them. In fact Good Cycles now refers to anyone using their store and services as a supporter rather than a customer.
Find out more at GoodCycles.org or drop in at either Tenancy 2, Level 1, 150 Collins St ( Entrance on Batman Hill Drive) or at The Bike Hub at 131 Harbour Esplanade, Docklands – right on the Capital City bike path.
Looking forward to this one!
See you on Thursday.
When setting up a bike for the first time you should take the bike on a small local ride so adjustments can be made easily. But if the opportunity presents itself to christen a bike on a ride up the side of a remote mountain over dirt road and ruts 100km from home, then you should never ever say no.
Since completing the ascent of Ben Lomond last year as part of the Rapha Prestige, Ben (my mate, not the mountain) and I have been eyeing off his little brother (only just), Mount Barrow. Arthur, Barrow, Ben dominate the eastern skyline of Launceston Tasmania. While Ben is the most famous of the three, Barrow provides a road less ridden of equal beauty and even more brutality.
The Belgie arrives late Friday afternoon and with the leave pass arranged for Saturday morning, my night is spent a madly assembling the bike. Once together, it's a thing of beauty to behold. I am so excited to get out there, but a weather check shows that the window for success is sketchy at best with a sizable front coming through. We had no idea at the time or how sizeable this front would turn out to be but more about that later in the story.
The beginning of a chilly Tasmanian early winters morning finds Ben (again, the rider not the mountain) and I heading off through the rolling hills of the Tasman Highway. The forecast is grim but the blue skies ahead fuel our enthusiasm.
The beginning of the Barrow ride commences with a right turn off the tarmac onto a dirt road winding its way through green rolling hills of Tassie farm land. Then you hit the steep first ramp that pops you out of the green into the tall timber forest. The 14km climb is a battle of climb-rest-climb-rest, the blue skies begin to grey as we ascend through the forest to the exposed open rock scree road. Winding its way like a snake through the field of boulders is a rutted and rough dirt road to the summit - this what we had came for and why this ride is touted as harder than “the ladder” on Lomond.
Some notes on the Belgie once adjusted the bike handled the climb with ease. The compact gears balanced with the sure-footed nature of the Curve wheels provided made easy work of the rough terrain. This was especially noticeable in the tight loose switchback of the climb which from past experience on similar Tassie roads normally make road bikes squirm.
Ramp-turn-ramp-turn the exposed roads climbs ever upwards with the final pitch placing us in the clouds. We make the top, take a few minutes to recoup and explore the landscape, but it is clear that we should make our way down, with the weather closing in.
Going down the dirt ramps give us a chance to hit 70 km per hour over the open straight gravel sections, but then it was hard on anchors before entering the loose off camber corners.
Back down to the safety of the bottom, we make our hasty retreat with thoughts of cold beer and warm food of Launceston. I had a chance to reflect how the Belgie shined, it was sure footed and calm under fire. The speeds hit during the decent felt controlled and predictable on roads that were anything but. What can I say there is nothing quite like flying down a loose bit of gravel on a surface are barely wider than your little finger but at no stage did I feel out of control on this bike.
Barrow and its big brother The Ben are the essence of what Tasmanian riding should be about. Just one turn off the main road can turn an afternoon's ride into an afternoon of adventure, all within 100km of home.
So back to the subject of our chasing clouds well, they ended up dumping a wall of water 200-300ml of torrential rain behind us on to the slopes of Barrow as we retreated, turning the roads into rivers. This same cloud front continued its path washing away roads and causing wide spread flooding and damage throughout the Tamar valley. So what is the recipe for great adventure; a window of opportunity, willing participants and just a little bit of luck.
Adam was in some good company last weekend, and lucky enough to take the GMX through some of Tasmania's spectacular terrain.
My weekend in Tassie was a win! Here I was, feeling pretty lucky with an invite to come and ride Tassie thanks to local Launceston rider Scott Mattern (via Tourism Tas). The other rider on the invite list, was none other than the famous bike blogger, John Watson, aka John Prolly aka The Radavist. Our task was pretty simple, get from Launceston to the Central Highlands and back in a couple of days and share this “Credit Card touring” experience with you all.
It was set to be a “big tyred” weekend, we all wanted it all - the rugged trails, the beautiful winding bitumen and everything in between.
Scott and I were on Curve Titanium GMXs with 29x2.2 tyres and John was on a 44Bikes steel off-road tourer with some oversized 27.5 x 2.8s built by New England, USA. All our chosen wheelsets were carbon.
Our day 1 destination was the Thousand Lakes Lodge; Being 100kms+ from Launceston it was nothing too strenuous by normal Curve standards, but still plenty of gravel, vert, and silky roads to work over the legs and earn a good feed. The Leafy Fall climb to the plateau included some lovely tree lined roads and some steep gravel pinches, which was rewarded with stunning vistas, crystal clear lakes and the ancient geology that the Tasmanian highlands are known for.
An oasis in a barren landscape, our accommodation was was spot on. The Thousand Lake Lodge was a former Antarctic training centre, and was recently converted into a stunning lodge by racing car legend Marcos Ambrose. Lush couches, some bloody amazing local beers, wine, a nice feed and then a comfy bed to sleep in.
The ride back was just as nice, albeit with a rather adventurous downhill to finish off the day.
This section of the Tassie Trail was pretty smashed, littered with huge rocks and washed out areas saw us walking much of it, when you could mount the bike it was pretty wild ride. There were plenty of ways down the hill, and Scott was a little worried about his chosen route - but we didn’t give a shit, in fact the whole thing just added to the smiles and adventure.
This weekend and the company I shared, sums up about what I love about cycling;
Hanging with John Watson was pretty damn cool. He may be “world famous”, and “living the dream”, through the sharing of his two-wheeled stories, but down to earth nature and his fame doesn’t come without awesome talent and hard bloody work. He is on a mission to promote cycling and has taken big risks in driving his opinion to support those who give back to the industry. Chapeau!
Scott on the other hand is not in the cycling industry, he is a full time scientist, a Dad, a proud Tasmanian, and an all-round good bloke who just dead set keen to share his home turf with the rest of us. He gambled his valued time to help create this ride to help get Tassie on the cycling map.
Then there is me, the guy representing Curve. I love sharing the good vibes that these rides bring and get a real buzz from hosting rides that put the “awe” in awesome. But, ultimately we risk it all to make sure our products are worthy of the race you doing, the ride you are about roll on, or the adventure you seek.
So here we have three pretty different riders with more-or-less the same goals; to share and enrich others through this awesome pass time we call cycling.
There were plenty of other cyclists who helped make it awesome, so a huge thanks to Scott for organising it all. Thanks to John for the insight, Enduro Ben for being so chilled. Rob for the trails and Troy and Co from Sprung for the wrench. Thanks to Will from Van Dieman's Brewing, for the Pork, Lamb and Beer!