2017 Amy’s Big Canberra Ride


Pedal Power answered our demands

Amy’s Big Canberra Ride has the right destination in Tidbinbilla Nature Reserve. But some of the particulars left something to be desired until now.

  • The 120km started at 0700 instead of 0800 (was going to be 0630, but that would require lights.) We had finished the Tidbinbilla loop by about 1100.
  • The 120km started without the encumbrance of the 68km riders.
  • Aid stops were nicely placed:
    • At the corner of Uriarra Road and Brindabella Road (as normal)
    • Tidbinbilla visitor’s centre, with a free coffee (located at the bottom of the hill, not after a 12% climb like two years ago)
    • Cotter Rd opposite the Cotter Campground entrance (not buried in Casuarina Sands Reserve like last year)
  • Tidbinbilla loop was clockwise like it was two years ago. That means a tougher series of long climbs to start, but no dangerous cross-over at the loop intersection.

They didn’t have the 60 km/h speed limit throughout the roads like during Fitz’s 2016; however, there seemed to be little traffic this year anyway.

Well-timed, well-placed rain

Saturday’s rain was rather heavy down South. However, on Sunday the roads were dry and the shoulders didn’t hold any surprises. However, there was gravel washed over the road in sections; not least around the fast descent near the Gravel Pit. They were probably caused on Saturday because there hadn’t been many cars to sweep clean runs.

Some out-of-town riders noticed the stench of roadkill for the first time. (Have you smelt the Harbour Bridge walkway on a Sunday morning?)

But our noses were more than compensated by the explosion of aromas in the Tidbinbilla Reserve; no doubt awakened by the rain. Bloody glorious! Christopher didn’t see an Antechinus this time, but the aromatherapy made up for it.

Tailwind

A south-easterly wind picked up on the way out. I was down to my 28T for most of the minor climbs from before the Deep Space Network until the Tidbinbilla turn-off.

It made for good times on the ride back, though. I lead a small group for most the way back until the series of climbs around Pierces Creek..

28c is how I roll

Fat tyres rule. But one must take care. Last weekend I burst the sidewall of a Continental Grand Prix 4000 S II 25c that had 6000 km on it, so I took the opportunity to put on 28c tyres. Everyone knows that 28c roll better, especially on coarse roads.

Despite fairly wide rims, the rear tyre bulged to 30.5 mm and rubbed against the rear brake bridge. It wasn’t just a bit of rubber, it was touching at every bump.

After changing the 30.5 mm Conti Grand Prix 4000 S II for a 28.5mm Schwalbe One on the rear I could roll without rubbing. They roll so well over everything. I set some PR and got close to others doing even less pedalling than before. I absent-mindedly rode over a pothole without spilling my drink. I did have a hairy moment on the loop when a corner tightened unexpectedly. I grabbed a bit too much brake and the rear kicked out a bit.

And I took another second off my Pierces Creek Descent time for a 47s time though I coasted longer. (Video on YouTube shortly.) I now have a straight flush of times from 47s to 51s.

If you are doing any riding out the back of Canberra, get fat tyres and keep the pressure low. I used 95psi (6.5 bar) because I am very heavy.

Garmin Edge 520 v11.0 – Now with faster grade calculation

I use the grade display on my Garmin 520; however, it used to take a long time to recalculate on change of grade. The new firmware is much faster.

So now I know why the road after the Uriarra Climb is so hard; the apparently flat road is 4%!

But every Garmin upgrade seems to reset the screens the take so long to configure and switches on live segments. I do not need reminding how far I am behind a racer mate of my on the first big climb of the day.

New records

I took it steady on the way out just to make sure my legs were OK. My legs felt very strong, which made a difference on the long climbs, despite dropping the 32T to a 28T cassette. Or perhaps because of.

And my descending was unencumbered by nervous descenders or slow traffic.

  • Tidbinbilla Ring Rd Climb (clockwise) 8:48 > 6:51
  • Tidbinbilla Road Climb (from after loop intersection) Cat 4 13:33 > 11:12
  • Pierce’s Creek Descent [2.4km -157m -6%] 2:47 > 2:34 (Vmax 80.6km/h)
  • Pierces Creek Descent [0.9km -97m -10%] 48s > 47s (average 75.5km/h, Vmax 80.6km/h, all time equal 12th fastest)
  • Cotter Climb Casuarina to Equestrian Trunoff [sic] Cat 4 25:24 > 25:05

Who breaks a chain link?

SRSLY! I do not mash the gears, I don’t change in a sprint and I clean and lube my chains like they were an intimate partner. I even have a Birzman chain stretch checker, which is why I changed my Ultegra chain with .75% stretch after 6000 km for a KMC chain with very few km on it.

I noticed my chain skipping at the bottom of the Cotter Road Climb. How I could have a stiff link at this stage was baffling; probably some grit. I pushed hard up the Cotter, dropping a cog when I could, and took 39s of my previous best. The stiff link wasn’t affecting me when in gear; I just had to take care when shifting, as I always do.

I stopped at the top of the climb, expecting to wiggle the chain a few times and then sprint down Cotter Road. But I could see immediately that the pin had popped out of the inner link and was a few millimetres out on the outside. Then I noticed half of the inner link plate had snapped off! The pin hadn’t pulled out; the pin didn’t have a hole to fit into!

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How does a link even break like that?

I nursed it home from there.

So that’s 3 tyres and a chain for 120km. At least I’ll be fine for the Bobbin Head classic.

Thanks to Pedal Power and the wonderful volunteers. See you next year.

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