While the Northern Hemisphere Velominati were busy arguing about who injected what in the old races they’d been using to distract themselves during their indoor torture sessions, down South a bunch of like minded strangers from the internet decided that coffee, hills, sunshine & beer seemed like a great excuse to meet up for a ride…the reflections from the 2013 CogAdelaide are as follows.
The day for the Cogal finally arrived and of course the first question is which pair of legs had decided to show up. My good legs had been conspicuous by their absence all week but when I got out of bed it was immediately apparent that the “good sensations” had returned (a sigh of relief may have been heard). A bit of breakfast and I rolled down the hill to the start point and the morning caffeine. Not sure what sort of crowd would turn out it was good to see 10 people there. Coffee consumed we hit the road. The first challenge of the day was Windy Point, a 3km climb, where a pecking order could be established. Mrs Daccordi and Mike had shown up on the Tandem and immediately put the pressure on. Matt skipped across to their wheel and Myself, Mikael and The Harminator tried to hang on before realizing we still had 130km to go and better to settle into a more realistic tempo. The powerful Roleur figure of Asyax, my team mate The Chivenator and Sam were close behind.
With introductions made and some testing of guns done we settled into a good tempo and a chat as we went up and down the rolling hills terrain. Turning onto the flat, headwind dominated 6km run into Willunga the tandem upped the ante and chatting came to a halt as wheels were scrabbled for and focused on. To lose the wheel would mean being spat out the back in short order. As we got into Willunga I briefly considered visiting the bike shop for more bar tape, mine was pretty much chewed through!
A refuelling halt was called to get ready to ascend Willunga Hill. With the tandem pushing on due to time constraints whilst we refuelled, we were free to work a more sensible pace up the hill. A stiff headwind kept attacking options to a minimum. At the top we turned right , as the pros will do next Saturday and tracked across the top of the Range before the puncture fairy decided to pay The Harminator a visit. Tyre fixed we set off before a loud “Bang” announced that she wasn’t finished with The Harminator yet. Another tube went in and we headed down Wickham’s Hill and across to Meadows for our final break before the 60km back to the city. Finally picking up a cross/tailwind we headed back to the final set of climbs before descending into the city.
The first of these is up Aldgate Valley Rd, one of the most scenic roads in the area, and a good Sur la Plaque climb if the legs are good. The group split up a bit here as pressure was applied on the first ramp of the climb and we all made our way to the top. Here hostilities were ceased and we worked our way up to Stirling, up nasty Ayres Hill Rd (12% for 300m) and to the deciding point of the ride. From here there are two ways to Adelaide, straight down the freeway bike path, or up to Mt Lofty, a steep climb of 9% for 1.5km which requires a bit of Rule V with 130km under the belt. I’m proud to say all took the harder option, no quibbles, and were then rewarded with the sensational 10km descent back into Adelaide via Greenhill Rd. We all then met up at the pros crit race in town for Beer and yarns. And how could it be any better than to see Jens breakaway 200m into the first race of the year as we drank and chatted? The day finished up with a meal in Norwood and a glass of Red before heading home. Personally this was a brilliant day of riding and socializing. Many thanks to my fellow riders.
When I read there was a Cogal in Adelaide coinciding with the Tour Down Under, I thought “why not?” The VMH had cousins there, I checked and could get Frequent Flyer flights, so why not! I arrived on the Friday night, my carbon steed nicely packed in away in my new bike bag – I had flown with my MTB before, but never taken a roadie on the plane – would it be all in one piece? Would the wheels still be trim?
I nervously unpacked the case and put her back together – no damage. Took her out for a test ride, to check seat / bar positioning, and to suss out the location of the start on Sunday, so as not to be late. A quick bog lap of the Adelaide city square saw things all working correctly – I had just changed the cluster over to a 27-11, and was a bit nervous about whether I had the gearing running quietly. I did not want to upset fellow Velominati by breaking the Principle of Silence, and plus a skipping/ jumping chain was not acceptable given the demands of climbing on the Cogal profile. Managed to catch a glimpse of the Lotto team entering the race compound.
I pulled up at the Red Berry On Sunday morning, and was glad to see Mikael in his Witte Velominati jersey. Others gradually turned up, til we had 10 starters including both Mr & Mrs DaccordiRider (the latter on a tandem she uses to train sight impaired cyclists with Mike, another trainer as stoker). After pre-ride Espresso, we set off, and soon were tackling the first climb of the day of Windy Point. The lead group took off with Mikael and Harminator surging ahead. I was tempted to join them, but as this was the first 10km of a 150km ride , I wanted to last the distance and not go too hard too early. I did not want to cramp towards the end as we had to get over the 700m Mt Lofty late in the day.
I was a little concerned as most of the guys were 2/3 of my size and as this was my first venture out with Velominati, I hoped I would not embarrass myself. I joined the wheel of another and we paced ourselves up, wondering when the climb would end. I live in the hills in Perth, but most of ours cap out at about 300m, with most climbs going for 100-200m max. I had done the work, but perhaps not at the speed that the others were riding at. We regrouped at the top and headed south to the vineyards of McLaren Vale. On the down grades the tandem roared past like a road train, and we eventually caught it on the ups. Another decent climb on “Humpty Hill” saw us on the top of the hills (~400m) and rolling through twisty, tight turns towards a fairly solid push into Willunga. The somewhat famous (in Oz anyway) climb of Old Willunga Hill awaited us and I was keen to ride it so I could appreciate the camera angles as the pro’s tackled it (twice) the following Saturday.
We stopped for a coffee and nature break in Willunga, but the Tandem was keen to go and they set off early – that was the last we would see of them. The climb up old Willunga was fine – most of it at 9%. Harminator and Mikael surged ahead again as I settled into my rhythm and followed them up. It was a lovely climb, following the contours up, with glimpses of the golden fields and azure blue sea in the background. I passed over the “crown” at the top, and the others were waiting there (only about a minute) and we set off across the top of the range, riding 2×2 on quiet roads. A nasty piece of wire caused three tubes to be consumed on Harminator’s steed before we found the little bugger, and we pushed on to the lunch stop at Meadows. We were slightly over the half way mark, and riding well as a group, all taking turns. Temp was in the high 20’s (C). Scenery was fantastic – and no flies!
The final push home saw us heading over the back of the range through Mylor, Aldgate, Stirling and the 750m peak of Mt Lofty. This area is part of the main race stages on the TDU, and credit to Mikael on his parcours. This was some of the nicest riding I had done in a while. We passed the 100km mark and I was somewhat concerned that with 40km to go and at about 400m above sea level, we were heading downhill – what mongrel of a climb awaited us up Lofty??? The route Mikael had picked out through Mylor to Aldgate was spectacular – a narrow, tree lined road, in a steep sided valley with creek at the bottom. We climbed steadily up at about 3-5% and the Garmin altimeter clicked over slowly upwards – yes the V-meter was working, but I like to know where I stand and was still worried about cramping towards the end. Some nasty little pitches saw us into the picturesque villages of Aldgate and Stirling before the final ascent on Lofty. I was riding solidly – I think Harminator had some cramping going on, but I was starting to get hot-foot in my left shoe.
With the radio mast of Mt Lofty in sight, Mikael offered the idea of cutting the climb off and heading down the freeway – bugger that, I did not come all this way to not get to the top of Lofty, and tackle that sweet descent down the old road. We passed the Mt Lofty Lodge (this has been the area of a particularly nasty bushfire about 10 years ago), and headed on a 10km descent to Adelaide city. The view from here was stunning – with the city and sea in the background, this is why we ride! Warning signs said to watch out for koalas – more concerned about the descent thanks. A quick run down Greenhill Road saw us back before I knew it and after a few riders peeled off back home, Mikael, Harminator and I headed to the Belgian Beer CafÃ© for malted beverages and frittes. Time to get those shoes off – as evidenced in photo.
After a few flower-pots of Hoegaarden, and general back slapping – apparently I “ride well for my weight”- Harminator, we decided to part ways for a shower/ change and regroup that evening to watch the pros in the Prologue for the Tour Down Under on a 30-lap criterium in the Adelaide streets.
The first lap saw perennial crowd favourite Jens Voigt and a young rider from UniSA in a breakaway that lasted until about lap 25 until they were consumed and spat out the back of the Peleton. Being my first international bike race, the wind gust from the peleton as they flew past was particularly impressive, even to the non-cyclists in the group. Sprint trains from GreenEdge, Blanco and Lotto Belisol were trying to establish their sprinters in position for the final lap, with Greipel eventually being too strong for local Matty Goss. Note to self – iPhones take shit photos in this situation.
Thanks to @Mikael Liddy and @DaccordiRider for being the host Cogal-istas – a fantastic day out, great company, perfect weather, timed with some world class racing. Bigger and better in 2014 guys!
According to Mark Twain, a gentleman is someone who knows how to play the banjo but doesn’t. By this measure, if you consider the bike an equivalent instrument of pain, Mikael Liddy and Daccordi Rider are true gentleman. During our six hours in the saddle I sensed a good deal of pacing and soft pedalling from our ride masters as we visitors worked to keep the gaps from opening. And still I bonked. Yes Gianni, bonking is dumb but what could I do? I misunderestimated my food plan.
I guess the story of the day reflects pretty much every Cogal story so far. Nobody turned out to be using Velominati as a grooming ground for axe-wielding homicidal mania. Great coffee, clean drive trains, generous, quality characters riding all day on the best routes the region can offer, then beer. Xyaxx had come all the way from Perth – a solid effort indeed.
We were joined by a posse of hired guns who happily drove the pace. Matt, Chiv, (Laurens Ten) Sam and then there was Mrs Daccordi (whose initials happen to be VV) piloting a tandem with Mike riding stoker. This was a formidable combination when the road pointed up and devastating when it pointed down. Winding through the hills, I don’t know when I lost my bearings. I think it was around 1993. I decided it was good enough to follow wheels because I didn’t know the way. Classic roads – just like the Ardennes in drought. Sam and I missed the tandem move into overdrive on the false flats approaching Willunga and had no hope of chasing on. We battled the crosswinds and watched the train disappear.
After regrouping for coffee, Daccordi and Chiv paced us up Willunga. It was too early to be burning matches but I had to give it a nudge, just because I was there. It hurt so good. The tandem was up the road somewhere (I suspect Mrs Daccordi doesn’t do casually deliberate) so the rest of us spun through the vinyards and brown paddocks. At the Meadows feed station I was pretty toasted. Sam asked the waitress if she could administer the lunch via a drip. Memories of the return to Adelaide via Sterling are a blur of vineyards, eucalypts and followed wheels. As always seems the case, there was a final stinger/grinder before the glorious descent. I wanted to take in the panorama but the flowing bends were too good to pass up.
Massive thanks to Mikael and Daccordi and everyone for a heaps good day. They even arranged for a Chimay at ride’s end which was the best bad idea I’ve embraced in years. We got together that evening for a front row view of the Tour Down…oh wait…I remember now…not a real race. (Jens drove a two man break and everything).
Mikael Liddy’s take
When @DaccordiRider floated the idea of a Cogal in our backyard at TDU time I thought “Oh yeah, won’t be a bad way to set up a ride with a few different locals…we might even tempt a couple of interstaters who are over for the race.” Little did I know we’d have two Velominati make the trip over specifically for the cogal (with Asyax heading home to WA the very next morning), no pressure about putting on a good show then!!!
The route was done, the legs & bike were primed (although a ride with DR & his Mrs proved they weren’t as good as others) so all was left was to show up & ride like a lion. That of course didn’t take in to account getting a little too Charismatically Poisoned on the preceding Friday & spending most of Saturday battling a Ventoux sized hangover (oops), however Sunday came, and after a couple of espressi, I was good to go.
As we rolled towards the first climb of the day, there was a little nervous chat combined with plenty of scoping out trying to judge who might be packing Howitzers disguised as Starter Pistols. Much fun was being had with Mrs DR & her stoker Mike who were doing a very reasonable impression of the moto-based camera teams at the TDF with Mike in charge of the video camera. As the road pointed up we quickly realised that none of us were going to catch the tandem although my Grimpeur mate Matt gave it his best shot, I suspect knowing he’d be covering less than half the distance of the rest of us helped his enthusiasm though.
Some lovely rolling terrain delivered us to the vineyards of McLaren Vale & discussions were had around were the first nature/sustenance stop might be taken, with a consensus reached of Willunga we set off along the straight false flat & I managed to tuck in behind the tandem with DaccordiRider right behind me. What we didn’t realise though was that behind us there’d been something of a scramble for wheels and a break had been formed…one thing I will say though, following a tandem as pro as this while you’re on the rivet is the easiest way to work your way in to the tunnel. Watching the legs working in unison was a very mesmerising feeling.
Pit stop completed, the tandem had taken off to travel at their own pace and we set out to tackle Old Willunga hill. I’ve only ever tackled this either by myself, or with a massive crowd as part of Amy’s Ride so was pretty keen to see how I went in a small group of riders at a pretty similar level. Safe to say both Harminator & DaccordiRider equipped themselved more than well, while Sam, Chiv & I rolled over the KOM crown line astern with Asyax quite close behind when you consider the 20 odd kilos & considerable extra height he’d hauled up there. As mentioned above the Puncture Fairy soon joined our group of 5 & enjoyed the company so much she did in two more tubes before she’d had her fill from Harminator. Frustrations dealt with we had the twisty descent of Wickham’s Hill (understandably Harminator took things gently) before some reasonably forgettable km’s to the next break at Meadows.
More forgettable km’s after refuelling before we came to Mylor & one of the nicest riding roads in the hills of Aldgate Valley Road, Daccordi Rider, Sam & Chiv took off Sur la Plaque but I sensed our interstate visitors may be lagging slightly. After pacing the boys up to Aldgate, Sam peeled off home & we tackled what would make up the last couple of km’s of the stage to Stirling later in the week (although they’d do the climb 6 times) before heading up what’s known as ‘B*tch Hill’ to most cyclists or Ayer’s Hill Road to the street map.
At this point I did offer Harminator & Asyax the Anti-V option of a cruise back down the old freeway to the city instead of the final 3k rise to Mt Lofty, but in the spirit of Merckx both refused point blank. We ground our way up to Mt Lofty house before a slight dip gave the impression that pain was over, unfortunately for the uninitiated they didn’t know that the dip reversed itself in a 200-300m rise that easily exceeds 15% for one little bite at the guns.
Climbing done, it was time for the party piece, 15 minutes of descending with panoramic views of bushland, city & sea. DaccordiRider & Chiv respectively ducked away for work commitments while Asyax, Harminator & I rolled through the city to the Belgian Beer Cafe for frites & amber recovery fluid. After regaining our strength we ducked away to freshen up before watching how it was done properly & getting a lesson in breakaway riding from none other than Jens Motherfucking Voight. Put simply, an awesome day that I can’t wait to do again.