Tales from the Heavy Tandem

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Re: Tales from the Heavy Tandem

Postby ironhanglider » Mon Jun 30, 2014 11:42 pm

Daccordi Rider wrote:Hi Cameron,

Can you provide more info on AVCC meeting that has disappointed you? More probs with intergration?

We have heard that the Para Nationals will be in Adelaide next year. Hope so and maybe you guys can come down for some fun!

Cheers,

Simon.


Hi Simon,

The Para Nationals aren't on my radar, partly because I'd need a CA license which suddenly makes it a pretty steep entry fee, since I am only allowed out once per weekend and for the moment that is with the Vets because it is much cheaper to get a license and also to race. Besides we are not at the same level as the people who would really go there to race, so we wouldn't even be making up the numbers if we got dropped 20km into a 100km race. However if we get our weight down and improved our climbing we'd do much better.

All the information I have from the AVCC meeting was that which was reported in our newsletter:

The Bleat wrote:6. Motions moved by president

• equipment and clothing clause of rules be amended to prohibit cameras being attached to helmets and bikes. ACT vigorously opposed ban on cameras being attached to bikes (to enable recording of ‘aggressive drivers’). Carried - we can still have cameras attached to bikes, but not helmets.
• equipment and clothing clause of rules be amended to prohibit disc brakes on any road and time-trial bike in AVCC events until their use is sanctioned by UCI. ACT sought an exception to this rule for racing tandems. This was not agreed and it opened up a previous meeting's discussion on tandems racing with single bikes. The AVCC executive advised that mixed tandem and single racing should be banned on safety grounds. ACT vigorously opposed such ban before we had consulted with ACT tandem racers. Outcome: ACT was given a 6 month extension to allow mixed racing to continue in this jurisdiction and to present a case for it's continuation at September GM following consultation with tandem riders.
• equipment and clothing clause of rules be amended to prohibit mobile phones, headphones and radios being used while racing - carried.


As I said I think that there is a strong case to be made for the proper inclusion of tandems.

My impression is that the council makes some pretty poorly thought out decisions based only on the opinions of a few, rather than as the result of an informed debate. Hopefully that can be addressed in September.

Cheers,

Cameron
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by BNA » Tue Jul 01, 2014 11:23 am

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Re: Tales from the Heavy Tandem

Postby Daccordi Rider » Tue Jul 01, 2014 11:23 am

Safety grounds? What a crock! We have not got very far with inclusion here. There is much buck passing and wanting someone else to approve it first, this won't help. Keep us updated with any developments. Thanks.
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Re: Tales from the Heavy Tandem

Postby ironhanglider » Tue Jul 01, 2014 10:27 pm

Hi Simon,

No-one has ever been able to explain to me what they mean by 'safety'. Typically tandems fall within the spectrum of performance of single bikes in anything that can be measured.

Unless the authorities intend to start applying qualifying standards of performance to enable people to race there isn't much of an argument on safety grounds.

I can imagine licence testing for everyone now, stopping distances, weaving between cones, U-turns, riding along a white line etc. Whilst it would certainly improve safety in racing if people were better at handling their bikes, any suggestion of doing so would be met with howls of indignation. I can confidently predict that John and I could outperform at least some members of our club in any test. The point is that currently there is no move to exclude people from riding single bikes based on them being too slow, too wobbly or because they do dumb things in a bunch. Experienced, skilful and conservative cyclists are always the safest people to ride in a bunch with, but when you turn up to a race there are not many who will tick all three boxes. When you look at the people who volunteer to be tandem pilots they are almost always experienced and skilful, and the added responsibility of looking after a co-rider tends to make a pilot more conservative even if they are reckless by nature.

It would be interesting to know the general stats on how many crashes people have per 1000 races, I bet the insurance companies would know. I would be very surprised if the numbers for tandems either in mixed or segregated racing are even close to being as bad, let alone worse, simply due to the nature of the riders. We at least have some numbers with 166 crash free tandem races. Getting runs on the board is a pretty powerful way to refute the lack of safety notion (but that requires you to get the opportunity first).

Whilst not relevant to the AVCC, it appears with the disc brake rule that they do pay attention to the positions that are taken by the UCI and CA.


[url=CA Technical Regulations]http://cycling.org.au/Portals/10/Rules%20and%20Policies/2013%20Technical%20Regulations%20update%20as%20at%2001042013.6.pdf[/url]

Useful regulations:

CA Tech Regs wrote:
1.3.010 The bicycle shall be propelled solely, through a chainset, by the legs (inferior muscular chain) moving in a circular movement, without electric or other assistance.
Technical specifications
Except where stated to the contrary, the following technical specifications shall apply to bicycles used in road, track and Cyclo-cross racing.
The specific characteristics of bicycles used in mountain bike, BMX, trials, indoor cycling and Para cycling for riders with disabilities are set out in the part regulating the discipline in question.


3.5.01 All bicycles ridden in competition shall comply with the UCI Bicycle Regulations as outlined in Annexure 6 of these regulations unless special circumstances are granted from time to time by the CA Board of Management.


3.99.15 GUIDELINES FOR MIXED COMPETITION WITH ABLE BODIED AND ATHLETES WITH DISABILITY
Y Yes allowed to ride with able bodied N Not allowed to ride with able bodied
SR Sanction is required for persons to ride with able bodied (this must be done with the appropriate people i.e. Chief Commissaire, promoter, State body and any of the contacts listed below)
C A Club competition as determined by the State concerned
*** A chart showing that tandems are allowed to race in individual road TTs, and in club events for road races and criteriums ***
* Para-cyclists should be started after ABA’s in an IRTT and have a following car if open roads are used.

3.99.16 If a Club affiliated to CA requires or wishes to hold a Club event (as determined by the State) which contains visually impaired and able bodied riders in the same event they must allocate and register a suitable circuit or course which would be appropriate for mixed racing with single and tandem cycles.
If there is a road or criterium race which is held on a different circuit to those allocated, then the Club involved with that particular race should seek written permission from the State Technical Commission, providing a description of the circuit to be used, for tandems to race that circuit


1.3.010 refers to the 'part regulating the discipline in question' In relation to tandems 16.14.006 is silent as to the requirement for particular brakes. "Bicycles,tandems,tricycles and hand bikes used in road events must have two independent braking systems. Bicycles and tandems must have an independent brake on each wheel."

3.5.01 Even if the above does cause bikes with discs to be excluded, this allows for specific exemptions. I note that one way or another tandems with disc brakes have been allowed to be used at the para-cycling nationals. 16.14.006 of the UCI Tech regs is silent regarding disc brakes.

3.99.15 I must admit to being a bit puzzled why CA doesn't allow at least integrated club competition for the individual track events, TT and pursuit, and maybe the team events like team sprint and team pursuit, however I suppose it is one step at a time. I'm less surprised about the scratch race or keiran, but one battle at a time I guess.

3.99.16 I note that there is a requirement for a club to register at least one 'suitable' course. After that it would appear that all that is required is to seek permission, rather than to have any particular outcome from that request :roll:

Cheers,

Cameron
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Re: Tales from the Heavy Tandem

Postby ironhanglider » Sun Jul 27, 2014 8:00 pm

26 July 2014 Lookout Hill – Tidbinbilla Return E grade.

Well there has been quite a break from race reports recently. John had is dog training, there have been a number of races cancelled, and I’ve been on holiday in a land of fabulous cheese, wine, beer, chocolate and whisky. (Some will recognise the destination from a clue below and for those who don’t, well I’m sorry but you’re missing out.)

After such a long break, John and I were very keen to get out there and mix it. Despite the holiday, where I found some of the weight I’d lost over the last couple of months, I was still a lot lighter than the last time I raced with John. As a result I’ve been climbing better and was hoping that this would translate to better climbing on the long bike. Despite this we were still expecting to be dropped on the climbs, and hoping to chase back on the descents.

Terrain:
The race was 25km out and back which started at the top of Lookout Hill and is on one of those roads with no flat bits on it, except for the tops and bottoms of the hills. There are 3 significant climbs, Asthma Hill near the start, the Corin Intersection climb, and the Birrigai climb on the return. Significantly the last 3.5 km involve the descent of Asthma Hill, a fast run down a gentle slope leading into a 500m false flat to the base of Lookout Hill. There are 3 marked finish lines on Lookout Hill, a rarely used one at the bottom for the pure sprinters, one half-way up for the strong riders, and one at the top which favours the climbers. It is only about 500m to the top line but quite steep and that is where the finish for this race would be.

Weather:
Sadly there was a bit of cloud and rain around beforehand which is likely to have scared off many of the more soluble club members. This was a real shame as recent changes mean that the club has to pay for professional marshals, and the less well attended races cost the club money. As it happened there was only a light sprinkle of rain during the race itself, the temperature was in double figures so quite pleasant and there was little wind to speak of. All in all pretty good for racing.

The Plan:
It is important to have a plan, it gives you something to change. Ours was pretty simple, ride the final descent as hard as we could and build up a lead to the bottom of Lookout Hill that we could hopefully defend. Of course this relied on us being with or near to the others at the top of the last descent and our record on hilly courses isn’t terribly good.

The Race:
A small turnout of 9 bikes took to the line, including John I. and Bob who proved to be better climbers than me in my last race at Orroral Valley. Not surprisingly we rolled to the front from the start, we took at least one Klingon with us, and it may have been the whole group but I wasn’t looking around much. In any case the bunch was together at the start of the steep bit of Asthma Hill which was already encouraging since we have been dropped before getting to that point before. Up the climb we were pleased to find that we were not the first dropped, Phill took that honour and he wasn’t destined to see the bunch again. There was also two others John and Steve who dropped off the bunch in our vicinity.

Once we got to the top we were able to pick up the pace and chase back on to the bunch on the downhills, were able to pick up one of the stragglers and towed him back to the bunch but he didn’t come with us when we went around them. We built a lead into the drop to the bottom of the Corin Intersection climb. As expected we were caught about half-way up but we were really pleased when we got to the top, and were only about 10seconds off the pace. Another descent let us catch and pass the group again and we held a lead at the top of Birrigai.

This was a key bit of road for us since if the others had held on and sucked our wheel down the fast bit our advantage would be obliterated. We built a lead which we were able to hold all the way down to the turn and back to the climb back up Birrigai. This time there was only four who got past us as we turned ourselves inside out to restrict the deficit. Linda managed to catch us near the top and I encouraged her to stay with us but it didn’t happen. We got to the top of the Corin Intersection hill again only about 10 seconds off the pace and with a fast descent we were able to carry momentum and pass the others on the climb out the other side.

We briefly rode with the group until the dip before the final climb, which was going to be the key point of the race. Fortunately there were no big attacks put in up the climb and with a bit of effort we were still with the others at the top. By this stage we were feeling pretty good about our chances but there was no point in taking any tactical risks. I gave John the silent signal to go and we launched as the road started to tip in our favour. After that it was a matter of powering up the 55X11 until we topped out, did our best impression of a coat of paint on the top tube down the steep bit, and then powered down the final grade to the foot of the Lookout Hill. From that point we set a PR to the top where we discovered that we managed to hold on to a 37s lead from John I., Bob, Ian and Kirsty.

It was a thoroughly satisfying first road race win for the Heavy Tandem in E grade, and I celebrated with a Wizard Smith ale.

Some proof.

Cheers,

Cameron
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Re: Tales from the Heavy Tandem

Postby Daccordi Rider » Mon Jul 28, 2014 3:21 pm

Great stuff Cameron, well done on the maiden win. I hope you had more than one beer after that.
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Re: Tales from the Heavy Tandem

Postby ironhanglider » Mon Jul 28, 2014 8:11 pm

Daccordi Rider wrote:Great stuff Cameron, well done on the maiden win. I hope you had more than one beer after that.


I had a XXX Ale as well. :D

After so many races of chasing vainly after the first decent climb it was nice to put our opponents to the sword for a change. If this keeps up, the smart riders will slow to our pace up the climb in order to clamp themselves onto our wheel for the descent in the expectation that we'll tow them into the lead and let them jump away when we run out of downhill. Fortunately experience tells me that they are not that smart so we'll be able to take full advantage of our downhill prowess for a while yet.

Cheers,

Cameron
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Re: Tales from the Heavy Tandem

Postby find_bruce » Mon Jul 28, 2014 9:30 pm

ironhanglider wrote:Fortunately experience tells me that they are not that smart

And apparently don't read your reports here :D

Well done Cameron enjoy your glory for however long it lasts. Speaking of which, nice to see Kieran Modra & Jason Niblett doing well, although they are probably disappointed to have twice just missed out on gold
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Re: Tales from the Heavy Tandem

Postby foo on patrol » Fri Aug 01, 2014 9:32 pm

Daccordi Rider wrote:Great stuff Cameron, well done on the maiden win. I hope you had more than one beer after that.


X2 No more burgler rides for you, up to A grade now. :lol:

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Re: Tales from the Heavy Tandem

Postby ironhanglider » Tue Aug 05, 2014 11:54 pm

foo on patrol wrote:
Daccordi Rider wrote:Great stuff Cameron, well done on the maiden win. I hope you had more than one beer after that.


X2 No more burgler rides for you, up to A grade now. :lol:

Foo


Hmm Foo,
I'm not sure that a single win in E grade justifies promotion to A. :D

I have previously stated that if the others were any good at holding wheels, they could neutralise our advantage entirely and simply wait for an opportune moment to ride away from us at the end.
As it happens I was able to demonstrate this on Saturday when I was on my single bike, and held the wheel of another tandem to win a secret handicap. I'm about to post that in the Race Report thread.

Cheers,

Cameron
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Re: Tales from the Heavy Tandem

Postby foo on patrol » Fri Aug 08, 2014 2:06 pm

^^ :lol: Stirrin the pot mate! :mrgreen:

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Re: Tales from the Heavy Tandem

Postby ironhanglider » Tue Aug 12, 2014 10:42 pm

No racing for me, but at least there was some tandem racing happening.


It seems that some riders (3 in C grade in particular) didn’t read my report of the Cole Family Trophy race, which was posted in the club newsletter.

Having spent most of that report saying that if you work with Elton&Don you can go pretty quickly, it appears that the lesson was not learned.

This is what I’ve pieced together from some comments from Don and the race results.

The race started with 9 bikes in C grade (E&D had put themselves up), unfortunately there were 2 DNFs.

Technically this race is dominated by the climb of Mt Tenant which gains about 100m in 2.5km, it then drops down about 50m and the road then undulates gently out to the turn. Climbing the hill for the first time caused the bunch to break apart into a leading group of 3, a chasing group and then E&D. Apparently E&D were not too far off the pace though because they managed to catch the chasing group before Apollo Road.

It would seem to me that riders chasing should want to complete the course in the shortest possible time, in the hope of actually chasing back up to the leaders. Given that the return climb up Mt Tenant is relatively short with a big and fast descent it seems obvious to me that E&D would clearly get back to Tharwa quicker than the group, having demonstrated in the other direction that they weren’t going to lose much on the climb and that they would descend quicker. In the interests of overall speed it would have made good sense to pace them up the climbs and then hang on to their wheel for the fast bits, and work with them on the flatter portions. This was what I did last week with little trouble, and I’m no C grade rider.

In any case the chasing group chose to climb away from E&D up the back side of Mt Tenant leaving themselves no chance of catching the wheel as E&D blew past on the descent. After that I gather that E&D rode alone in pursuit of the leaders for the rest of the race finally finishing 3 minutes off the pace, and more than 3 minutes ahead of the next group of 3.

A good effort, however I am left to wonder whether if the others had been prepared to wait up the climb and worked with E&D, they could have collectively got themselves back up to the front group.

I console myself with the thought that if I had been in the race I might have come away with 4th presuming that I didn’t lose the wheel.

Speaking of racing, my friend Paul who has just returned from Glasgow with a bronze medal is looking for some competition later this year.

- 4-7 December, C1 event in NZ
- 13-14 December, C1 event in Melbourne
- 18-19 December, C1 event also in Melbourne
All these events should include kilometre time trial, sprint and pursuit for tandems. Would be great to see lots of tandems there!

If I could find a suitable large track tandem lying around I'd like to have a go.

Cheers,

Cameron
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Re: Tales from the Heavy Tandem

Postby ironhanglider » Sun Aug 17, 2014 11:40 pm

16 August 2014
ACTVCC Graded Scratch Race
E grade - 51km.

Well this was a day of mixed fortunes all round. John and I had been looking forward to this race, having raced on this course together only once before, without much success, but there is a fast descent which is always fun.

I woke up in the morning with a sore back probably as the result of a silly crash the night before, it may have affected me later but we still performed well enough.

What I also did the night before was to re-wax the chains and make some adjustments, and put the bike in the car ready to go for the morning. Saturdays are always are always a bit of a rush with my daughter’s ballet lessons and drop off logistics afterwards. Since we were racing a bit further away I made arrangements with John to pick him up before ballet rather than after to save a bit of time.

I packed my bag including my jersey and front camera the night before, with the thought that the last thing I would want to do before I left would be to forget my bag.

Sure enough the last thing that I did before I left … was to forget my bag. Fortunately I have always been in the habit of checking helmet and shoes before I leave on race day, so I was at least able to ride.

Since I had picked up John beforehand I thought that we could get in a quick shakedown ride to check the adjustments before we got out to the race. This meant that we were out on the roadside when we were spotted by Graham and Henry who were on their way out to the race in the club van. They stopped and in conversation mentioned that the start was an hour earlier than usual given the longer race and the travel time. A hurried phone call to make alternative arrangements followed, (much groveling required) and as a result we made it out to the race in time. Another stroke of luck followed when Elton showed up with an extra wind vest in club colours, so that I’d at least have a matching outfit to John.

Fortunately the adjustments were working, and the bike was just rolling nicely. It’s such a nice feeling to be riding a bike that is doing everything as well as it should.


The terrain:

The course is a Y shape with the Y junction itself virtually at the highest point of the course. Mathematically it is an easy course being 10km from the start to the Y, with 5km from there to the first turn and 10km from the Y to the second turn. The first leg starts with some up and downs before the 4km climb to the Y junction. The next section is not too threatening being along the ridgeline, but the other leg is a descent for virtually all of the 10km save for a steep little spike near the end. The return is therefore 10km up, 4km down and a few lumps for the last 6km.

The plan:

The plan was simple, limit our losses on the first climb, chase back on. Attack on the descent to the second turn to build a lead, then try and then conserve our lead for as long as possible on the long climb. After that we hoped to use the big descent to either attack or to chase back on and try and grunt out the last couple of rollers on raw power to contest the finish.


The race:

Likely since it was a long race we started off in a fairly friendly manner with a bit of conversation going on behind us. We’d rolled to the front on the downhills and everyone was content to stay behind us on the ups. Inevitably someone had to spoil it. In this case it was a new rider Angela who had clearly got bored with the pace we were setting. She pretty much rode off and we saw her chase down D grade and rode off the front of them and stayed there for the rest of the race.

Up the Cooks Hill Rd climb the bunch broke apart with Jan, Kirsty and Mike being clearly better uphill, followed by Liz and Don with John and I a bit off the pace. However we did manage to ride away from a couple of others, which boosted our morale. By the top we were still close enough to see Liz leave Don to bridge up to the leaders. This was not surprising since whilst Kirsty and Jan have a good power to weight ratio for the climbs, their power to drag ration isn’t as good so they don’t go so fast downhill and Mike wouldn’t have seen any reason to try and drag them away from the rest of the field.

From the top of the hill we chased Don down in fairly short order and the bunch not long afterwards, and we made the turn in a group of 5. At the turn Jan went around first which was a good move since she is not a good turners. This meant that the rest of the bunch had no choice but to turn at her speed and stayed together as a result. There was a nice sporting moment after the turn as we saw that Don was still chasing and the consensus was that we would wait for him. Since there was still 35km to go and he was clearly not going to threaten for the win today.

The bunch was still together back at the Y junction where we used our superior cornering speed to open up a small gap. We did hold off on turning on the afterburners for a while though to give the others a chance to get on our wheel, but there was no effort made to do so. With a shrug of the shoulders we set off down the hill in an attempt to open up a defendable gap.

We must have done ok since the bunch (without Don) only caught us with about 1km to go before the top, and to make matters better we were able to hang with them when they did catch us. It was a little beyond expectations that we would be able to make the Y junction still with the bunch. This meant that we could make use of the downhill to attack and then see if we could hold them off into the wind.

Fortunately for us there wasn’t much of an organized chase behind, so in the end we finished about half a minute up on the bunch, with the four of them crossing the line together, with Liz taking the honours from Mike, Kirsty & Jan.

It was another very pleasing ride. To get to the top of the Y the first time still with knowledge that we would be able to chase them down is a good feeling.
A look at the results showed that we were about 3 minutes off the pace from D grade, so there is still a bit of work to be done before we can start to think along those lines.

Elton&Don were also out for the race on Don’s bike in C grade and doing a longer second leg of the course. They don’t have quite the same descending prowess that we do, but climb better. They managed to also still be with the leaders at the Y with 10km to go. They at least got the chance to fight out a finish, and a tactical blunder from another rider ended up virtually giving them a lead-out so they were able to take a well-deserved win.

Cheers,

Cameron
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Re: Tales from the Heavy Tandem

Postby foo on patrol » Mon Aug 18, 2014 3:31 pm

8-)

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Re: Tales from the Heavy Tandem

Postby ironhanglider » Sun Aug 31, 2014 11:04 pm

No race reports for the last couple of weeks. I've been out of action for the last couple of weeks with an assignment and my daughter's ballet concert. The first one turned out to be a non-event as the race was called off for problems with road clearances. This weekend was the club championships, which are age based and I typically marshall because there are too many A graders in my age group.

However this time I thought that I would post just to nail our colours to the mast. John and I have decided that for this week at least that we would put ourselves up to D grade. With a two wins at our last two outings in E grade and with a favourable course this should be as good an opportunity as any for us to put in a good showing. I've always done well at Dalton, since for the most part the climbs are not steep, and the last few km are pretty flat. D grade gets to do an extra lap out to Gunning and return, but the extra will only bring the race up to 56km or thereabouts. With our improved climbing we are hopeful that we can be with the leaders when we get to the flat last leg.

With hopefully a bit more time on my side for a couple of weeks, I am also planning to put a bit of work into a submission for the club to present at the AVCC meeting in Perth in a few weeks. John has been getting a bit of a media profile of late with radio appearances and a story on page 2 of the paper in the aid of raising money for the Guide Dogs. He will be doing the Canberra Times 'Fun' Run next Sunday, although he will be walking, since guide dogs don't run when in harness. The media profile can only be a good thing for the cause of having inclusive racing.

Cheers,

Cameron
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Re: Tales from the Heavy Tandem

Postby ironhanglider » Mon Sep 15, 2014 10:13 pm

6 September 2014
ACTVCC Graded Scratch Race
Dalton - D grade. 56km

Well having been confidently looking forward to this race it didn't quite work out how we hoped. At the line we discovered that the tandem of Elton&Don were the only riders to show up to ride C grade, so they got bumped back down to D.

Terrain
The course was an out and back of about 20km to the East which went up and over a hill and back, followed by a much shorter legs to the West and another flatter one to the North.

The plan
We would try to simply hang on up the climbs to the east, and if not to chase back on the descents. If we were able to make it back to the start with the bunch then the terrain for the rest of the race would be fairy benign.

The race
What can I say, it doesn't always go to plan. With E&D in the bunch, the others simply left them on the front with only Kev chipping in for the occasional turn. We made it up the hill still with the others, and led them down the hill to the turn. After the turn however we lost contact as E&D led the others up the hill on the way back. On the run back down to the start we managed to of past one pair who had been dropped and caught another pair. We started to work with them on the way back out but we became aware of a rubbing from the front brake. We stopped briefly in a failed attempt to correct it, but ended up just having to press on. By this stage we were well and truly out of contention and had lost a lot of morale.

We finally dribbled in well off the pace. Despite the disappointing result I was at least pleased that we have recovered our turning mojo as we were back to doing reasonable turns.

Cheers,

Cameron
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Re: Tales from the Heavy Tandem

Postby ironhanglider » Mon Sep 15, 2014 10:35 pm

13 September 2014
ACTVCC 'The Mike' Handicap
D grade - 60km

The heavy tandem gets 25kg lighter.

Terrain
This race starts out with the hardest part straight out of the blocks with a climb up Blue Range Spur. This is followed by a descent to Condor Creek and a further climb to the end of the bitumen. The return leg comes back past the start at high speed and continues down a false flat to the turn at the top of Uriarra Crossing and the grinding return back to the start. Then for an encore we did the whole course a second time.

The Plan
We went into this race with the customary thought that we'd get dropped on the hills, and hope to chase back on during the descents and hopefully to put in some useful work with the bunch on the way down to the bottom turn, and hang on grimly back to the start.

The race
This race is named after Mike Paral who was reputedly a real hardman of ACT Cycling and greatly liked and respected by his peers, many of whom were the founding members of the ACTVCC. I remember the Iron Mike race in the late 80s was real test of endurance being from Deeks corner to the end of the bitumen and back twice to make 120km of tough racing.

As someone who cannot put in the sort of training necessary for that sort of race I’m quite pleased that it is run as a 60km handicap, which is still a hard race but at least doable. Even so I suspect that the race’s reputation for being hard scared some away, since there was a relatively low turnout of 50 bikes despite being good conditions for racing.

I’m quite a fan of handicaps because they encourage good bunch racing. Whilst it is a legitimate and successful (but unpopular) tactic to sit on the back of the bunch for the entire race and win the sprint, that tactic simply does not work in a handicap. When you race a handicap you have to be prepared to work for the entire race because if you don’t then your bunch won’t win, so finishing first in your bunch doesn’t achieve much.

With my regular stoker John away for this weekend, I teamed up with Don, who had found himself without a pilot. Don is significantly lighter than John so we were hoping to climb better.

We lined up in D grade with a small group of 6 bikes. From the beginning the pace was on, so much so that we lost Sue by the top of Blue Range Spur and Terry before Condor Ck. The remaining 4, Warwick, Des, David and us managed to stay pretty much together to the end of the bitumen and back to the spur on the return. Don and I did roll away on the descent to Condor Creek, but we knew that the others would pick us up on the climb back up the spur. The plan unraveled a little from there when David was the only one to come with us back down the spur. We were already making our way through the stragglers at this point and picked up Rosemary near the homestead, and rode together to the bottom turn as a group of 3.

Coming back up the false flat to the homestead David was riding hard, and we were struggling to just hold his wheel, it was too much for Rosemary. We caught the remaining E grade bunch of Ian, Jan and Russell at the homestead and Jing and Ross from G grade not long after that. We caught Graham before the top of the spur to become the leaders of the race.

In the meantime, Warwick put in a big effort to catch up to us at this point but had gone too far into the red to do so and promptly blew up. Des put in an impressive climbing display to catch us after Condor Creek and eventually left us behind on the final climb to the top turn, but we knew we’d catch him on the way down.

I particularly like the stretch of road from the top turn back to Condor Creek. If you get your entry to the corners right you can carry a lot of speed. However if you get the corners wrong then it simply gets scary and you have to brake. Fortunately I get it right more often than not and we pulled away from Des and David through the fast bit.

Having earned a lead we then rode hard to conserve it and still had a gap at the top of the Spur. It was now clear that we would have to ride by ourselves to the end, because if anyone caught us from here, they would be coming straight past. Our job now was just to make it as hard as possible for the faster riders.

At the bottom turn we were pleased to still have a reasonable gap back to a bunch that contained David and Des, with another couple of fast moving groups behind them.

That final stretch up the hill back to the homestead was just plain hard. I don’t enjoy time trials at the best of times, and let’s face it racing for the win with riders closing in from behind, has to be the best of times. I still didn’t enjoy it, we were just desperately trying to hang on and were battling cramps and fatigue, but we were buoyed by the encouragement we were getting from the others going the other way. However we weren’t fast and knew it. That road just seems to suck the speed out of you. It was only when we finally reached the crest with about 500m to go that we were sure that we would actually hold on.

We arrived at the end completely shattered but totally thrilled with our ride. I guess that is how a handicap should feel. Behind us came a single rider from C grade who only just held off the leading A grade trio with the rest of the wreckage following in behind.

Thanks must go to those who worked hard to make this race happen. It wouldn’t happen at all without the director and the turn marshals. But special thanks must be given to the handicapper. The top 10 showed that there were lots of riders who were in with a chance had their races panned out differently. 3 from D grade, 4 from C grade and 3 from A grade, however it seems that the lowest grades have slipped out of the Handicappers good books. I suspect that some form of bribery might be required if they are to change their lot.

For some reason I initially thought that there was a TT next weekend, now I am rather pleased to see another handicap. This one starts with a long downhill stretch and return which should be popular with the others in our bunch, as long as they can hold our wheel on the fast bits.

Cheers,

Cameron
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Re: Tales from the Heavy Tandem

Postby Ross » Tue Sep 16, 2014 1:05 pm

Hmmmm...not really a fair race if you were handicapped as D grade when your stoker normally rides in A.
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Re: Tales from the Heavy Tandem

Postby find_bruce » Tue Sep 16, 2014 1:37 pm

Ross wrote:Hmmmm...not really a fair race if you were handicapped as D grade when your stoker normally rides in A.

I thought pushing Cameron around was the stoker's handicap :mrgreen:
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Re: Tales from the Heavy Tandem

Postby ironhanglider » Tue Sep 16, 2014 7:37 pm

Ross wrote:Hmmmm...not really a fair race if you were handicapped as D grade when your stoker normally rides in A.


Hmmm must have missed your name in the results and I didn't see you out there either. However it is a question that deserves a serious answer.

Riding a tandem is very much a team effort, but the members are rarely equal. Don is a much smaller individual than his regular pilots, so whilst his power to weight ratio is pretty good, it is less of a contribution when considered as a whole.

It is true that Don has ridden in A grade with Ashley, who has been overseas for some time. More recently he has been riding in C grade with Elton. However last week when they were the only C graders who bothered to front so they rode with D grade. Even then they were unable to shake the pointy end of D grade. I am a different rider to Elton, I think that he would beat me in a time trial, but I'm confident that I'd beat him in a sprint. He is probably a better climber than me, but I am a more confident bike handler and descender. Overall I don't think that I'm a better rider than Elton particularly over a distance since my longest training ride during the week is 13km.

On the day several of the regulars in D grade were away, some of whom are much better in fundamental skills like cornering and holding wheels. If they had been there I suspect that course of the race would have been different, and that we would have been fighting out a sprint. I'm sure that our win will not go unpunished and that we will be foisted into C grade the next time we ride together.

Of course anyone who criticises the handicapper is automatically a volunteer to do the job for this weekend.

Cheers,

Cameron
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Re: Tales from the Heavy Tandem

Postby Ross » Tue Sep 16, 2014 7:55 pm

ironhanglider wrote:
Ross wrote:Hmmmm...not really a fair race if you were handicapped as D grade when your stoker normally rides in A.


Hmmm must have missed your name in the results and I didn't see you out there either.


Correct. I was interstate doing Amy's Grand Fondo but I haven't done a Vets race in months because they are full of burglars and prefer not to waste my money competing against disfunctional/non-existent handicapping and competitors without morals.
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Re: Tales from the Heavy Tandem

Postby ironhanglider » Wed Sep 17, 2014 10:09 am

I have a different view, but I haven't ridden in the same bunches as you.

I am enjoying racing with the ACTVCC, and am happy to pay to do so.

I have no desire at this stage to join one of the other clubs instead.

Cheers,

Cameron
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