Archive for the "General Bike News" Category

Compulsory helmets

With the compulsory helmets law recently making the news again

I thought it would be interesting to set up a poll to capture people’s attitudes to helmets and if you think they should be compulsory

What is your view on the compulsory helmet law?

View Results

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And if you have any thoughts on the law please feel free to leave a comment


Canberra’s Hill Climb Guide

Welcome to my King of the Mountains V2.0, now with improved elevation calculations thanks to some good folk on the Vikings cycling forums I discovered how extract the data from Garmin TCX files so I could graph the actual data and not rely on the rather clumsy screen grabs. In addition I have used Tableau to graph the data, which allows you to select and compare only the climbs you are interested in. This is still a work in progress so any comment on the Tableau graphs is welcome. All the graphs can be viewed in greater detail by clicking on them which will take them to full screen mode.

Climb Elevation Distance Avg Gradient Max Gradient
AWM 34 0.875 3.89%  
Uriarra Crossing East 41 1.235 3.32%  
Tidbinbilla Tracking Station 76 1.655 4.59%  
Federal hwy 81 2.490 3.25%  
Mt Pleasant 80.871 1.600 5.05% 9.70%
Coppins Crossing 87 1.495 5.82% 10.26%
Stockdill Dr (Poo Hill) 93 2.265 4.11%  
Googong Dam 98 1.495 6.56% 10.53%
Redhill 105 1.695 6.19%  
Pierce’s Creek 108 1.140 9.47%  
Mt Tennant 109 2.830 3.85% 11.11%
Erindale Dr 114 2.735 4.17% 5.88%
Smith’s Gap 120 1.350 8.89% 15.79%
QBN 128 2.250 5.69% 10.34%
Three Sisters 129 2.335 5.52%  
Condor Creek 130 3.265 3.98%  
Mt McDonald 140 3.475 4.03%  
Old Federal Hwy 149 4.390 3.39%  
Wallaroo 163 4.025 4.05%  
Mt Stromlo 171 3.940 4.34% 8.43%
Monaro Hwy, Theodore 175 4.565 3.83% 6.50%
Old Cooma Road 182 4.180 4.35%  
Mt Ainslie 234 3.235 7.23% 12.99%
Black Mountain 236 2.625 8.99% 13.00%
Mt Majura 236 2.775 8.50%  
Honeysuckle Creek\Apollo Rd 467 8.420 5.55% 20%
Corin Dam 530 11.210 4.73%  
Charlotte’s Pass 857 32.145 2.04%  
Groggins 1002 17.855 5.61%  

The max gradient should be taken with a bit of caution, although it was calculated from the data because of the sometimes erratic nature of the Garmin edge units some of these calculations are a little random.

Map of the Climbs 
Cat X – Over 400m represented by the dark blue markers
Cat A – 200 –400m represented by the red markers
Cat B – 100 –200m represented by the green markers
Cat C – 50 –100m represented by the light blue markers

View Canberra Climbs in a larger map

Firstly here are all the climbs on the one graph, noting that Groggins and Charlottes Pass do continue on for some distance but I’ve cut them short here to ensure you can still make out the other climbs.

Cat X– The big ones to really test you.

Corin Dam – This climb has two distinct parts. The first starts at the turn off to Corin Dam on Paddy River road up to the gates at Woods Reserve. The first part of the ride is easy with fairly low gradient. From the gates to summit the ride gets harder as gradient increases and is what makes Corin a really good climb.

Honeysuckle Creek – Also known as Apollo Rd South of Tharwa. The start of this climb was measured from the bridge about 2km from the Nass rd / Apollo rd junction. This is one of hardest rides in Canberra in my opinion with some short sections hitting a 20% gradient.

Groggins and Charlotte’s Pass – are both located South of Canberra in the ski fields around Thredbo. The data for these climbs was given to me so I can’t comment on the climbs but I hope one day to get there. The Charlottes Pass ride goes on for 32km and there is a bit more of a climb but by the 25k mark you’ll have broken the back of this climb.


Cat A – Represent some of the “bigger” challenges around Canberra, these are usually the ones with the killer gradients.

Black Mountain (Telstra Tower) – The climb was measured from the turn off to the very top of the summit, past the car park entry where a lot of riders usually stop their timers. Black Mountain in my opinion along with Fitz’s Hill represents one of harder climbs in Canberra. What makes it difficult is the first 400 metres, which has quite a hard gradient of around 15%.

Mount Ainslie – Preceding the climb to Mount Ainslie is the climb at the Australian War Memorial which adds another 34 metres to the climb.

Mount Majura Our famous secret climb. This was measured from the turn off on Majura Road, not bad considering there is a additional 81 metre  up Federal Hwy (See the Cat C Climbs) before you get there. At about 600m there is an entry gate you’ll have climb over to continue the climb.

Fitz’s Challenge – measured from the half moon creek bridge to the KOM line at the summit. This is without a doubt a brute of a climb. While average gradient for this climbs is just over 10% in reality because of a dip in the climb most of the time you will be facing a gradient of 12 to 13%
Note I’m currently missing the data for this in version 2 but hope to have it soon

Cat B – These represent good training climbs (well for me at least) that wont  leave your legs screaming when you reach to the summit.

Red Hill Measured from the turn off to Red Hill. Reported gradient on the chart above probably doesn’t do Red Hill justice. In measuring the distance I measured to the summit which is at the restaurant but you can see from the image above the climb plateaus at around 1.1 km where the main lookout is. If measure the gradient to this part of the climb it comes out at around 9%, on par with Black Mountain, just shorter. Maybe not one of the beginner hills.

The Three Sisters – This is the climb out of Uriarra crossing heading back to Mt Stromlo. Measured from the bridge crossing to the KOM marking on the road. So called because of the three distinctive sections to this ride. Always fun at the end of a race, which happens frequently.

Mt McDonald – Located on the other side of cotter and goes up around cotter dam. Measured from the turn off on Cotter Road to the KOM marking on the road. Good training ride, not difficult, just a good consistent gradient.

Old Federal Hwy – This climb is located in the Yass Valley just past Sutton. Instead of going up the Federal hwy there is a turn off at the nursery which is the old federal hwy. The climb was measured from the bridge crossing the Yass river to the summit. As shown it is on par with Mt Stromlo

Mt Stromlo – Measured from the turn off on Cotter Rd to very summit which means going up the small road which is in average condition near the new observatory.  What I like about Mt Stomlo is the even gradient for the climb. Nothing challenging but a can be a good workout if you choose to push yourself.

Pierce’s Creek – This is the first climb after Cotter Dam on Paddy River Road on the way out to the tracking station. At 9% it is a toughy but relatively short.

Monaro Hwy, Theodore – This is climb as you leave Canberra on the way to Cooma. Nothing spectacular about this climb other than it has consistent gradient.

Old Cooma Road – Good climb with some steep sections on it. This road can get some traffic with the trucks going to the quarry.

Smith’s Gap – out at Bundgendore might be short but has a high average  gradient of almost 9%

Erindale Road – You’ll note the graph for this one appears quite “grainy” compared to the others. This is because it was actually mapped going down the hill and the higher speed meant there were less data points to graph.

Wallaroo – Good solid climb with some steep sections in it.

Kings Hwy, Queanbeyan – only advice here is get in quick if you want to do this one, they are currently redoing this section of the Kings hwy and it will be shorter and lower soon.


Cat C – I guess these can be classed as the beginner climbs but should not be underestimated.

Australian War Memorial (AWM) – Normally I don’t map climbs this small but as this is the lead into Mt Ainslie I thought it was good to have here. It’s s short climb but does peak at 8% and is a nice way to way to warm up before the big climb to Mt Ainslie.

Mt Pleasant -  Measured from the turn off on Fairbairn Ave into Duntroon. One of my favourite training rides. Starts of with a kick on the first section but then evens out to consistent climb.

Coppins Crossing - Measured from the crossing to the summit.

Federal Hwy, Watson – Starting from the last roundabout leaving Canberra, starts of easy, nice consistent gradient, smooth road. Importantly this is the lead up to the Mt Majura climb.

Googong Dam – Short climb but steep also it is a dead road making it a tough climb in its category

Stockdill Drv (Poo Hill) – so named because it is the road leading to the Sewage plant, the smell alone should be enough of an incentive to do this climb quickly.

Uriarra Crossing West– This is the climb opposite to the 3 sisters at Uriarra Crossing. It is a little below par but given it is part of the Uriarra loop, it a frequent climb and therefore people might like to know about it.

Tidbinbilla – On the road to the tracking station. Not to hard unless it is on the finish to a race at the tracking station.


Techie Notes

An interesting point came up while preparing the data for this post. You’ll notice that on some of the climbs the data points are a lot closer than others. For example in the Cat C climbs Urriarra West compared to most of the others. The difference can be attributed to the use of the new Garmin Edge 500 which appears to record data points more frequently than the 705. I guess this one of those less obvious feature improvements you get with the 500.

It should also be noted that while Garmin say their devices are accurate I have found on given day I can get up to a 10% variation on the reading for the climbs so if you’ve recorded these climbs as well but have a different elevation just bear this in mind. In fact you’ll notice with my Corin and Mt Majura recordings there are some odd spikes in the data which I just put down to these glitches.

For those interested I’m planning to write a follow up article on how I extracted and manipulated the data.



If there are any other climbs that should be included please let me know.


Who should you support in the TDF

I’m sure this all over the internet by now, but here it is one more time.



Security concerns with Garmin Connect

OK this might be me being paranoid but I started playing with Garmin Connect last night and noticed a real issue with privacy and security with the service.

To start with, when you upload your ride data by default Garmin Connect shares your data with the world unless you specifically change the privacy settings. So all things being equal the average user wont give this a second thought and will leave the settings on public access. Furthermore even if you do change the default settings it wont change the settings for any rides you have already uploaded, you’ll have to go back and manually change the setting for each ride.

So what’s the problem I hear you say with sharing my ride data. In a word “profiling”. As an anonymous user I can go the Garmin Connect site, search on my area of interest and find riders in that area. All the following screen shots were taken without logging on to the service. Here are a couple of riders I have picked at random. As you can see it’s not going to be to hard to figure out where they live


From here I can zoom in on their activities and see when they are out riding, walking etc. From here I can quickly look for patterns as to when the user will be out of the house and for how long. As a thief this is wonderful news and I’m going to guess that if you have a Garmin your a reasonably keen cyclist and as such you’re probably going to have a couple of bikes (btw I can also find out what type of Garmin you have). So I know where you live, what time you go out and how long you will be out for, thank you the bike shop is open. As you can see from this user I just need to go around to their place on a Saturday or Sunday morning and I will have about an hour to do what I like.

image image image

I don’t mean to pick on Garmin Connect as I’m sure other services probably have the same issue but if you are going to use these services this is probably something you want to keep in mind.


Canberra Tour ’10


To start with, what a great weekend of racing that was. As usual a big thanks to the Canberra Cycling Club, Jason Parkes and all the volunteers for putting on another great tour. Even though this was the lowly D2 race, the grading was just right which made for good competitive racing.


Stage 1 – was a nice 79km stage (which ended up being 89km) starting from Stromlo through Uriarra crossing and out to the first hill going to Condor Creek and because the organisers were so nice they said we could do two laps of the course, so that meant doing the three sisters climb twice, nice! In total that was 1500m of climbing.

The bunch started off all eager, too eager in fact with a number of guys crossing the double white lines. This happened a few too many times so the race director pulled us over and had chat with us to curb our enthusiasm. He also lightened a few wallets by $50 for their indiscretions. In reality there was no need to jump the white lines; the race was not going to won in the first 10km.

Another good move this year was not to have the KOM climb coming out of Uriarra crossing, this meant there were no stupid moves going down the three sisters into crossing, which is a really dangerous piece of road.

The first notable event came 30km into the race as we climbed the three sisters for the first time. I still don’t know what happened but in an instant 2 riders went down in front of me, a Vikings rider and CCC rider. I guess it was a touch of wheels and while crashes are never a good thing I figure I would rather crash going up a hill than down one. Anyway there was a moment of confusion, I wasn’t sure if I should stop to help or keep riding. Somehow it feels really callous to keep riding but I guess that’s racing. Anyway their misfortune was my good fortune as it allowed me to pick up my first points in the KOM comp.

So the pedalling continued for another lap with not much action until we returned to the three sisters again. Then the first of my glory moments, as I started to climb the three sisters in my big chain ring, I still don’t know what happened but I suddenly found myself off the front going uphill, inconceivable, at 88kg I’m no hill climber, but there I was stomping to the top of the first rise. By the time I made it to the top of the second rise I knew I had this one in the bag, Wow, my first contested hill climb which I have won and I was pretty stoked. I will say having the home ground advantage does pay off, I’ve been riding that hill every week for the last eight weeks in preparation, so that training thing really does work. At the top of the climb I had moment of clarity, I’m not Jens Voigt and I’m not going to be able to hold these guys for the last 10km so I sat up and rejoined the bunch.

The final 2km was the stuff we all wish for. Coming back into Stromlo I was in 5th or 6th position then as we went past the roundabout a gap opened up and I just felt that this was it. I poured it on, I felt my back wheel skip but I was off. Coming back onto the crit circuit is a nasty negative camber corner, I knew someone was on my wheel so this was no time to slow down, in another first for me I abandoned all fear and just went for it. Going down the back straight I knew was in bad position but I was committed and had to go for it. Coming into the final 400m I had Mark Toyer on my wheel but I knew there was no time to play as the bunch was only about 30-40m behind us. At this stage I figured I would rather go hard for second than be swallowed up by the bunch on the line. At 200m Mark made his move and went wide for the sprint. The next 200m seemed liked a lifetime. I remember looking over and thinking “not this time”; I also remember “shit! My hands aren’t in the drops; you can’t sprint with your hands on the hoods”. Crossing the line was awesome; there I was with half wheel on Mark, I did it, I actually won a sprint, another first for me and this one actually meant something, usually I’m sprinting for a minor placing. I now know why people are addicted to sprint finishes, the rush is awesome.

03/07/2010 Update: I was given the photo below of the race finish. So much for the half a wheel thing, but it sure felt like it at the time.tour s1 finish 5

And there it was, I was the leader of D2 race, what a buzz, but it was to be short lived.

Stage 2 – The 3.5k time trial up Mt Stromlo. I always knew this was not going to be my thing and my start didn’t help. Seconds before the start, I back pedaled to get my feet into position and I dropped my chain. “Stop the race” I thought, “back pedal, back pedal”, trying to get the chain back on, that’s not working. Off the bike, fix the chain, “which chain ring should it be on?” don’t care just get it working. Back on the bike, lots of colourful language helps sooth me. I managed to get going but I was definitely rattled. I figure I had lost at least 10 seconds.


Getting near the top I caught the rider in front of me but my chest felt like it was going to explode, I was struggling to draw to breath and pedal. I was definitely in my own little world of hurt. I knew I only had about 300 metres to go but pedaling 300m has never been so hard. Crossing the line was a great sense of relief but I knew my race lead was in trouble and sure enough moments later I see James Fowler come over the line and I’m thinking “oh that’s not good”. As it turns out James had posted the best time for the time trial.

At the end of the day Mark Toyer lead the race with James behind by 7 seconds and I was I further 2 seconds off James. So the dropped chain had cost me the race lead, unfortunate, but that’s way racing goes and I still had a stage win so I had to happy with that.


Stage 3 – Stromlo to Tidbinbilla and return, another 87km with 1300m of climbing. Another great day for racing but as we headed into Uriarra crossing the fog was still pretty thick which made it interesting, more so for the rider who had broken away and was in the fog by himself. He was only about 200m in front of us but was nowhere to be seen.

The day’s racing really started at the first KOM of the day with climb at Pierce’s Creek. It’s just over 1km with a steady gradient approaching 10%. Mark Toyer won that one with James and me out of the points. With the 3 second time bonus I now figured it was going to be pretty hard to catch Mark so I was going to play it safe and see what I could at the end, hoping for another good finish.

The race then slowed down at this stage, I think it all became a game of cat and mouse. I was on Mark’s wheel and James was protecting his 2 seconds by never being more than 6 inches from my back wheel. Then just before the turnaround the slow pace gave one of the CCC riders the chance to breakaway, to his credit Mark Moerman did a great job and was gone. I really had my doubts if we would see him again.N113821_ND3_3843_web

The second KOM of the day was Mt McDonald. Its good climb and the finish suited me as it starts to level out and at the line it’s only about 2% gradient. With a little help from Ian Mongan from Team Quon and fellow ADCC member he gave a nice lead out for the sprint to the line. Mark had seen this move coming and there was a bit argy bargy to be on Ian’s wheel. But in the end I think Mark knew he had the KOM competition in the bag and left it to me. James made a big effort to stop me but I still managed to claim 2 seconds on the line, Mark Moerman was still off the front at this stage.

Coming to final climb of the day at the 3 sisters, there wasn’t going to be any glory from the previous day; the legs were definitely starting to suffer.  The time bonuses went to a few riders who hadn’t previously been in the running so nothing was lost and Mark Moerman was still off the front.

Then in a nicely scripted finish we caught Mark Moerman with about 5km to go, so it was all together for a big finish, just like the Pros.  Coming over the last crest before Stromlo there was a surge, as we went for it for I noticed James was suffering and didn’t respond, I wasn’t feeling great myself, cramp was starting to set in, but I thought “here are my 2 seconds”

Coming onto the track I was nicely placed but I was suffering and I knew it was going to hard to do a repeat of the day before. At 200m I was still in about 6th but then Ben Huff from who was leading blew up and went wide to get out of the way, the trouble was I was already committed to going around him for the sprint so it pushed me even wider and lost momentum. That was it, with the cramp, I had nothing left and scrambled as best as I could get over the line in 10th, same time as Mark Toyer and 6 seconds in front for James Fowler. Second place was mine or was it? Either way my legs were finished.

In the end the final results showed Mark Toyer winning the race and well deserved win it was, Mark displayed great sportsmanship over the two days making him a deserving winner. James came in second, 5 seconds back after finishing back 6 seconds on the stage and I finished 3rd back another 15 seconds. I know this doesn’t make sense, we all questioned it but in the end that’s the way the results were published. Win some, lose some, it was still a great weekend of racing.


So I ended up with one stage win, 2nd in the KOM and 3rd in the GC, you’ve got to be happy with that. One thing that makes me smile is fact that James was 16 years younger and 22 Kilos lighter so with 3000m of climbing over the two days and to only finish 15 seconds behind wasn’t bad. Also in twist it turns out I finished the race with a slow puncture, in way I was lucky to finish the race so I really should be thankful I still got third. Karma I think it is called.

03/07/2010 Update: As it turns out, the officials reviewed the results some time later and it turns out I did finish in second place, 10 seconds behind Mark Toyer.