Wednesday, April 25, 2012

MGG #6 Report

Dargon Track
Photo: Rolly

What a day! We set a new attendance record - 68 riders - on the wettest MGG ride ever. What is wrong with you people?!

Read on for more...

Belgrave Station
Photo: Rolly

It was a wet start to the day with riders descending on Belgrave Station by train, car and bike. 68 riders milled around in the carpark, got registered, were given cue sheets and, with the usual formalities, were sent on their way to go ride 84km of mixed terrain in the beautiful outer south-eastern suburbs of Melbourne. Our best turnout yet, and with a forecast of isolated thunder storms throughout the day. Nice.

Belgrave Station
Photo: Rolly

After seeing the last riders disappear up the road and around the corner, we decided to have a quick coffee before getting out on the course to take photos etc. Walking across the overpass and up to the main road we found a cafe and... waitaminute! The Commuter Cycles/Velo Hub crew were inside just sitting down to a huge cooked breakfast! I know we said it was a ride, not a race but c’mon! You’ll all be getting “special” cue sheets next time that will be a bit longer than everyone else’s ;)

The Breakfast Club
Photo: Blakey

The course started with a nice 10km warmup on paved roads through the tall trees of Belgrave before hitting the dam wall at Cardinia Reservoir and the dirt roads beyond.

Cardinia Reservoir
Photo: Rolly

There were lots of CX bikes this time, a good selection of tourers and some sweet 650B rando machines. MTBs were represented but didn’t have as strong a showing as they have in previous rides. Maybe they were all at the Wombat 100?

Rolling hills
Photo: Rolly

After the first checkpoint at Pakenham Upper, riders took corrugated backroads to the Cardinia Aqueduct Trail and, after blasting through Upper Beaconsfield, hit the first creek crossing. This one was easily traversed by tip-toeing across the rocks but the second creek crossing was a little harder.

Easy crosing
Photo: Rolly

Some took their shoes and socks off and waded through, some just waded through, some found the small rocks a bit further downstream and skipped across with dry feet, and some looked down at the creek and said, “I can do this!” before riding through it on a BB-submerging wave of enthusiasm.

Less easy crossing
Photo: Scott G

 Hope your bearings haven’t seized!

Video: Rolly

Surprisingly, the weather held out for most of the day and riders enjoyed the sunshine, riding through the backroads and the bush. Various stories of adventure and disaster were played out throughout the day. Alex “sticked” his derailer and had to bail out. Reuben lost one of his yak-skin Rapha gloves and then, in a seperate incident, managed to lose the other one too. Liam found one of the gloves and returned it but still... wearing one Rapha glove Michael Jackson-style? Not epic. The bad luck must have rubbed off the recovered glove onto Liam too as he subsequently lost his cue sheet and had to bail out to the finish on main roads.

Photo: Rolly

In what must have been the highlight of the day for them, Rolly and Jelmer found a frisky pig that clearly thought it was a dog.

Video: Rolly

My wife’s been saying “Go go go go c’mon pig, yeah!” ever since I showed her that video. Thanks guys.

The second checkpoint at Trailmix at Lysterfield Lake Park was only about 14km from the end so riders took their time, relaxed, got coffee, cakes, lounged around and chatted while Blakey took pictures of their sweet rides.

New Tom's SS rig
Photo: Blakey
Ben's classic rando
Photo: Blakey
Ben's sweet Thorn
Photo: Blakey
Original Stumpjumper!
Photo: Blakey

One bike was of particular interest to the various Rawland nerds in attendance. Scott G, our first international rider, was in town from Seattle and had brought with him Alex Wetmore’s sweet 26” S+S coupled Travel Gifford. This bike was a major inspiration and influence for the Rawland rSogn which both Blakey and I (Angry) are proud owners of. Major celebrity bike moment!

Seattle Scott and the Travel Gifford
Photo: Blakey
Seattle Scott probably didn’t know what Blakey had roped him into but he toughed it out, rode the Gifford well and was treated to some classic Aussie moments like riding through a mob of kangaroos in the bush.

Video: Scott G

That’s one to show the folks back home. Lucky he stopped filming before they attacked!

The sun was still shining when the lead riders started arriving back at Belgrave Station. In a minor controversy, the first rider back was Michael on his Cannondale tourer. He caught the initial lead group of 6 at Trailmix and decided, “Y’know what? I think I’ll just keep riding.” And so the lead group of 6 were caught napping and Michael flew back to Belgrave Station, hung around for a long chat and then rolled off home before the fast guys had even finished their coffee. Oh well, it’s not a race anyway.

Winners are grinners
Photo: Angry

The group of 6 fast guys arrived soon enough and the stories and chatting began again. Worth noting was hard man Steve D who’d taken 1st place in C grade at the Hell Of The West the day before and still had the legs to ride hard today.

Photo: Rolly

Riders started rolling in in dribs and drabs, most of them with smiles on their faces and stories to tell. One rider had broken a spoke and limped home on the wobbliest wheel I’ve seen in a long time. Another had busted the paddle clean off his brifter in a desperate attempt to find a lower gear, “C’mon! Just one more!”

Smiling because it's over
Photo: Blakey

Grinners are winners
Photo: Blakey

About 1km from the finish was a suburban street called “Broadway”. Perfectly normal and quiet looking street. Except it kicks up to something like 25% for about 100 metres right at the end. I’d like to say this was an intentionally sadistic course design but, truth be told, it was just the quickest way back from Birdsland Reserve to the station. I think this little hill saw a lot of riders trying to find “just one more” gear and a lot of mail was delivered that day even though it was a Sunday.

Broadway whups Rolly
Photo: Blakey

Jelmer collapsing at the top of Broadway
Photo: Blakey

The afternoon wore on and, unfortunately for those still out on the course, the rain returned. In a big way.

The weather forecast of isolated thunder storms was accurate. Every now and then the already cloudy sky would darken ominously and forks of lightning would shoot across the sky followed by loud claps of thunder. This would be followed by a massive dump of torrential rain and then, 10-20 minutes later, it would all clear up again and the sky would go back to looking benignly cloudy. This cycle played out a couple of times and we started really feeling for the riders still out amongst it.

There's a storm coming
Photo: Ben

A lot of riders had finished under blue skies, stood around chatting for a while and then slowly made their way over to the trains or casually loaded up their cars and driven off. The ones still out there, the slower riders who may have been struggling already, were now being dumped upon royally by these massive angry thunder clouds.

Photo: Blakey

Some took it all in their stride of course. The two Bens rolled in casually on their classy rando machines. Full fenders, dyno lights, handlebar bags, rain jackets, “Is it raining? I didn’t notice.”

Photo: Blakey

Others looked a little more bedraggled though still full of smiles.

Nik (on the tallest Pompino I’ve ever seen) started showing around his homemade cycling caps stitched together from old tea-towels and couch material. I scored a stylish velvety cap that I’ll wear when I retire to the drawing room after dinner to smoke my pipe with the other men.

Nik and his awesome caps
Photo: Blakey

We’d ticked off most of the names on the rego list and now we were trying to account for the remaining riders. Ok, so-and-so is probably riding with xyz, these three will probably ride together, etc. We figured we had a fair idea where everyone was except for one rider, Steve’s workmate Lauren.

Jed rocking hi-viz
Photo: Blakey

Apparently Lauren is a regular bike commuter but has very little experience off the blacktop. After listening to Steve bang on about Dirty Deeds CX all day at work she thought she’d give it a go and pretty soon she found herself on an offroad-worthy hard rubbish bike - curated by Steve, Erle and Blakey - at the DDCX Women’s Skills Session on Saturday. She must have enjoyed it because Steve was like, “Hey, you should do this gravel grinders ride too, it’s on tomorrow!” Talk about being thrown in the deep end! As the hours dragged by, the rain came down, the light started failing and we started wondering how she was going.

Tired but happy
Photo: Blakey

The Breakfast Club finally rolled in looking worse for wear but still happy. They were the last group out there and with their arrival we’d ticked off all names bar one.

Too soon for smiles
Photo: Blakey

Was she still riding? Did she bail out home without contacting us? What if she had a mechanical while riding alone on a back road? The rain was hammering down and the temperature was dropping quickly as the sun started setting. Did she have good rain gear? She’d been out there for over 7 hours now, man this rain must be killing her.

Getting dark and cold
Photo: Blakey

Finally, with the sun setting, the clouds darker than ever, the rain dumping down relentlessly, we saw a lone rider come round the corner and roll slowly down into the carpark. The other commuters huddled under the bus shelter nearly shat themselves when Blakey let out a huge cheer as Lauren rolled up, soaking wet, muddy, scratched and bruised but with the biggest smile on her face.

Lauren rolls in smiling
Photo: Blakey

What a ride.

She’d ridden, and navigated, by herself for nearly seven and a half hours, climbed the hills, crossed the creeks, jumped the fence, bush-bashed up the eroded track, couldn’t find Trailmix (it was probably closed when she got there) so just kept on riding and never, ever gave up.

Steve D was right when he said she was determined. Chapeau Lauren.

Photo: Scott G

And that pretty much sums it up. Some people rode out to the start, did the ride, then rode home again and called it a fun training ride. For others, it was maybe the hardest ride they’ve ever done. Either way it was fun.

Photo: Scott G

Special note

At one point the cue sheet directed riders to jump a gate and ride behind a house for about 100 metres. Apparently the residents of the house confronted some riders and informed them that they were on private property. I’d like to apologise to the riders who may not have appreciated being directed onto private property and apologise to the residents of the house who were shocked to see so many bike riders jumping the gate at the bottom of their backyard. When designing these rides we try to make them as adventurous as possible while still being safe and legal but we probably pushed it a little far this time. Won’t happen again. Thanks to all riders who were courteous and polite to the residents of the house. We’ve since exchanged emails with them and they’re actually really nice people who would have been happy to open the gate for us if we’d only asked. Sorry Mrs. W!

Belgrave ferns
Photo: Rolly

Photos and links

If you have any more photos, videos or links to writeups, email us and we’ll include them here :

Blakey's flickr (including Rolly's pics)
Angry's flickr
Scott G's flickr
Ben's photos and writeup


  1. Great write up! Will probably steal it for my blog. :) Man, what a fantastic time.

    - Scott Gamble

    1. Thanks for the ride and the appreciation! Had a great time too. We all thought Broadway was some kind of sick joke but at least the downpour had stopped by the time we got there.

      Idea for a future MGG ride - French Island.