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!
They are off and riding... Starting from Victoria Square in Adelaide's city centre 20 brave riders have committed to packing their bikes for a 2300 km solo adventure into the great Australian outback. Ranging from early 20's to early 70's the age range is huge. It's a male dominated ride with Sarah Hammond being the only female.
I arrived at 5:15am September 3rd 2016 to the start point for what was to be my first experience in real life as to how an ultra endurance race event starts. Photographer Lana Adams emerges from the darkness, followed by participating rider Ty Domin. By 5:30am, 5-7 riders arrive. By 5:40am, another 10 or so appear. There is a mix of excitement, nervousness and curiosity. Everyone is checking everyone else's bike, meeting and greeting eager to get going. I try to meet all the riders as they arrive and take a pic of their bikes. Bikes are in no particular order, and not a complete gallery of every bike. (Apologies for not attaching riders names to each bike.)
At 5:45 Jesse and Sarah arrive and the starting group is quickly gathered for a obligatory group photo before commencing at 6am sharp.
Once the group shot is taken and 6am arrives, everyone gets moving. Having insight to Jesse's plan on day 1 (His whole race schedule for that matter.) I wanted to ride out to the outskirts of the city and into the hills to get an idea of the pace the leaders will settle into. RCC members join us as the meandering bike path turns into bitumen on Gorge Road, then takes a sharp climb of 10-15% into Batchelor Road where the group gets split up. Jesse, Justin and Gunther were nowhere to be seen. They accelerate once the tight bike path opened up and off they went.
30kms from the start point, I wave goodbye to Sarah and the rest of the riders as they begin day 1 of their journey that is Race to the Rock.
Im happy to have shared the morning with the riders and wish all of them luck.
With only a week until the 2016 Trans Am Bike Race kicks off, I thought it would be good opportunity to preview the 2016 event and focus, in particular, on the women's field. This year the women's Trans Am Race field is looking strong with some very tough riders lining up for the challenge. It could be a international battle between the U.S., Australia, Italy and the U.K. Read on to find out more about the riders to watch.
Designed as a CX race weapon, the Curve Cycling CXR is living life as a versatile adventure machine. Sure it's sweet spot is on the cross track but the CXR is being used for so much more.
Late in 2015 good friends of Curve, John Griffiths, Liam Crowley and Gareth Pellas attempted to ride from Canberra to Melbourne, mostly along the Bicentennial National Trail (BNT). It was an ambitious plan to cover around 1,000 km over an extended weekend through some tough terrain. We asked John to pen a few words to tell us about their adventure. Read on to check it out.
We just love hearing stories of the adventures that our bikes have been on. In 2015 the Curve Cycling team had some great adventures of their own, but so did a lot of Curve Cycling Grovel frames out there in the field. Here's the story of one of them, a trip from Darwin to Cairns by Ben Hirons.