Posts Tagged "Bike Rides"

Preparing for Fitz’s Challenge (or any other big ride)

This article mainly focuses on what to carry for a long day in the saddle. We’ll assume you’ve done your training, your bike is ready and you’ve done suitable carbo loading the night before.

Firstly I’ll say there are plenty of ways to prepare but this is just from my experience having done the 165km, the 207km event and this year I’ll be doing the 250km.

For starters, don’t over dress, it might be cold in the morning but the last thing you want is to be carrying an extra long sleeve jersey for a hundred kilometres. Better to go with a gillet and arm warmers. Arm warmers can be tucked away in a pocket and you can leave the gillet on, unzipped.

So what will I be carrying?


  • Sunscreen – Obvious I know, but it is amazing how many people forget it and on a sunny day, 8 to 10 hours in the sun is a long time and it won’t be your muscles that are the only sore thing at the end of the day if you forget it. Also from past experience it doubles as a chain lube in an emergency.
  • CO2 Cartridges – This is a bit of an optional extra but if you are stickler for riding at the correct pressure, this is going to be the easiest way to get your tyres back up to pressure after a puncture without carrying a floor pump.


  • Pump – Should be a standard item but I have seen people, especially on the shorter rides leave without one.


  • Or new for 2012, you can combine the two, Topeak have a released a pump called a called a two timer, which combines a CO2 dispenser and a pump.

  • Two Tubes – Never hurts to have an extra spare, just make sure you get the right valve type and valve length. If you are using deep rim wheels it might pay to carry a valve extender, just in case you need to borrow a tube from a fellow rider.


  • Adhesive tube repair patches – These are a great backup to carry if you are having a really bad day with punctures. They can also to used to patch a tyre, in case you are unfortunate enough to slash a tyre.
  • Multi-tool with chain breaker– I carry a Park Tool IB-3, I carried it for three years without ever using it, but the day I snapped my chain 50km from home I was pretty happy I had it. Also make sure it has 4 and 5 mm Hex (Allen) key, as these are the most common bolts on your bike.
  • Spare chain pin or a Missing link – While the prospect of breaking a chain is remote, if you do it is a bit of a game stopper. Spare chain pins or a missing link take up very little space so it doesn’t hurt to carry them.
    image      image
  • Tyre levers – Another obvious one, but just covering all bases here.


  • M4 & M5 Hex (Allen) bolts – These are the most common bolts on your bike and can be really useful if you lose a bolt on your water bottle cage during the ride. Once again, they are very light and small so it doesn’t hurt to have a couple stashed away for emergencies.


  • Small bottle of chain lube – Just in case you get caught in the rain for an extended period of time and the lube gets washed away. Being soaked through is bad enough without having to listen to your chain squeaking or grinding away. Finish Line make a great small 2oz bottle, which can be easily stowed away without taking up to much space.


  • Mussette & Saddle Bag – My personal preference is to carry my food in a mussette, spares and tools go in the saddle bag. A medium size saddle bag will easily take all the kit listed above. I like using a mussette because it is light,  as the day wears on and you have eaten your food you can just tuck the mussette in your back pocket. Backpacks weigh more and tend to leave you sweaty. With the mussette I’ve made slight modification which ensures the it will stay firmly on your back without swinging around to the front. Simply get a length of old bike tube and pin it to the corner of mussette. Then the other end ties around the front to keep it secure.
  • MP3 Player – I know there are safety issues using these on a bike but 8 to 10 hours on the bike can be boring and some motivational tunes might help you get through the day.


While most supported rides such as Fitz’s Challenge supply food, don’t count on it. Firstly you might not like it, I’ve never been a fan of fruit cake and if you are a slower rider, chances are they might have run out by the time you get to the checkpoint. Better to keep your destiny in your own hands and carry some food. As to what to carry, well that is a bit of a personal choice but just make sure it is easy to eat and high in energy.

    • Lollies – I know some people are a fan of lollies like snakes, personally I find they give you a bit of sugar rush and then you crash from the high.
    • Power Bars  I know they are favourite but I find them expensive and not really satisfying. Around lunchtime you are going to want something substantial and energy bars are not going to cut it.
    • Sandwiches – I have a preference for simple sandwiches made with low GI bread and chocolate spread. This gives me short term energy from the chocolate spread and sustained energy from the bread. I carry a bag of sandwiches cut in half, easy to access and eat while riding.
    • Fruit – Dried figs are an excellent source of sugars and potassium, good for stopping cramps. Bananas also have good levels of potassium but they are bulky and bruise easily, there is nothing worse than  a squashed banana during the ride.
      • Electrolyte tablets – These are the best way to carry additional electrolytes for when you refill your drink bottles. Just being able to pop a tablet or two into your water bottle is so much easier than trying to measure out powder from a bag. One tube makes up 15 litres. A tip I would suggest is to buy caffeinated and regular ones so you can carry a mixture on the day. Caffeinated ones are good to give you a lift, but too much can give you the jitters and excessive caffeine consumption (more than 500 –600 milligrams) can have diuretic effect leading to dehydration.  So carry a combination and alternate your intake.


  • Gels – I’m a big fan of gels for electrolytes and sugars, easy to carry and consume on the bike. One tip for gels is to get a couple of small water bottles like the one below and tip your gels into these. Easier to consume, less rubbish and no leaking gel wrappers in your pockets later.


And for Fitz’s my secret tip is a meat pie and coke from the Tharwa General store. Sure it breaks all the rules but in terms of comfort food, it hits the spot when you’ve done about 120km.


Other stuff:

  • Snap lock bags – Useful if it rains for keeping stuff dry, like your mobile phone, checkpoint card or route map. Also handy for keeping stuff organised
  • Money – Never forget, if all else fails carry bit of cash. For food, water, coffee or for any other emergency that might arise. I’ve even been known to use a $5 note in an emergency to repair a slashed tyre.


Anyway that is what I’ll be carrying, if you have any other useful tips please leave a comment.


King of the Mountains

Updated 26/6/2010, all the information in this post has been superseded and has been updated here /?p=748

There is more information about the individual climbs below. Also note that the elevation charts are not completely accurate, they are a close representation of the climb in terms of elevation and distance.





Mt Pleasant

80 m



Coppin’s Crossing

84 m



Pierce’s Creek

104 m



Red Hill

110 m



Mt McDonald

128 m



Three Sisters

141 m



Old Fed Hwy

160 m



Mt Stromlo

168 m



Corin Pt 1




Mt Ainslie

208 m



Black Mountain




Mt Ainslie (AWM)

240 m



Mt Majura




Fitz’s Challenge


2.68 km


Corin Pt 2




Honeysuckle creek




Corin Dam




Mt Clyde (NSW)




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
The yellow markers are locations of climbs that I am aware of but are yet to be recorded

View Canberra Climbs in a larger map

KOM All the climbs listed together

Cat X– The rides that will really test you.


Mt Clyde – First up I’ll confess, I haven’t actually done this climb but it is on my to do list. This climb is situated on the Kings Hwy, the road from Canberra to Bateman’s Bay. The climb was measured from Nelligen Creek. The climb is undulating until it gets to Governor’s Bend at which point it really takes off.

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.

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 – I measured this climb twice as it sits onto of a shorter climb and people measure it from different places. The first measurement was done from the pedestrian lights at the Australian War Memorial, this initial climb while only around 32 metres hits a gradient of around 8% making it a nice little warm up. The true climb starts from the turn off on Fairbairn Ave and that is where the second climb is measured from.

Mount Majura Our famous secret climb. This was measured from the turn off on Majura Road, not bad considering there is a quite a  climb to get there up Federal Hwy. One day when I have time I plan to measure the climb from the last roundabout on Antill street.

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%

Cat B – These represent good training climbs (well for me at least that aren’t going to 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.

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

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.

Other Climbs – So what’s next, what left to measure?

Smith’s Gap – Bungendore
Kings Hwy  – Queanbeyan
Mt Majura from the Antill Roundabout.
Hindmarsh Drive (perhaps)
Monaro Hwy – Theodore

Climbs that didn’t measure up – These are the climbs that will might seem to be substantial didn’t break the 50 metre mark that I consider the base for a good climb.

Ginninderra Drive – O’Conner – 43m

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


A road less travelled – Canberra to Mullion

I know just about every roadie in Canberra does the Uriarra loop. In the anti clockwise direction we all go down the hill to Uriarra crossing and turn left and go back up the hill. Have you ever wondered what would happen if you went straight at the intersection?

Well this is the road less travelled, Fairlight Road. After Uriarra Crossing there is a climb to get out of the valley, this is pretty much the same as if you had of turned left at the intersection. The road goes for about 2.5km to the ACT/NSW border. At this stage the average roadie would turn around when the road turns to gravel. This is where it gets interesting, the next 2.4kms is unsealed road. Taking a road bike on an unsealed road is always a good way to improve your handling skills. My tip is to relax your grip, look down the road, pick your line and stick to it. The road is not too bad but does have some corrugated sections but at 30km/hr on a road bike it gets bumpy.

Training Stromlo - Uriarra 15-03-2009

After that the road is pretty good condition except another 1km unsealed section about 5kms from Fairlight. The road continues after Mullion up to Carvan Rd which is the main road to Wee Jasper but I had to turn around to get back for coffee and the Sunday Paper. Maybe next I’ll organise to go through to Wee Jasper. BTW Mullion is just a homestead, there are no shops or services there.

Training Stromlo - Uriarra 15-03-2009, Elevation - Distance


The Bungendore Loop

I thought it was time to share another one of my favourite rides in the Canberra region. Like the Mt Majura climb I suspect this is not a well travelled route as I rarely see anyone else out there. Depending on the direction you take you will experience a completely different ride. Going in the clockwise direction will give you easier climbs with some really fast descents, namely Smith’s Gap going into Bungendore and the descent into Queanbeyan. The descent at Smith’s Gap is excellent the road is in good condition allowing for speedy descent. Without too much effort I was able to hit 82 km/hr. Obviously going the other way will lead you to having to ride up Smith’s Cap, while not in the same league as Black mountain or Mt Ainslie it is quite intense and will leave you short of breath.

Training Bungendore 12-10-2008

As for the ride sections.

Federal Hwy – As most people in Canberra would know this is a commute in either direction. While there is a lot of high speed traffic the shoulders are wide and in good condition making it a popular ride in its own right.

Bungendore Road Bywong- An undulating section of road with no shoulder, however it’s a quite section of road so no real safety concerns.

Macs Reef Road – There is more traffic on this section but most of the traffic seemed to be heading to Canberra. the road at Smith’s Gap looks fairly new and in good condition. There is also a shoulder on this section providing space on the side of the road while ascending.

From Bungendore to Captain’s flat Road – Is flat and reasonably quite, at this time of the year an excellent section to take in the scenery.

Captain’s flat road becomes undulating again and there is more traffic on this road. Not my favourite section of road but I’ve ridden it enough times without incident. Then there is the decent into Queanbeyan to finish off with a bit of fun and the ride back into Canberra.

bugendore loop elevation

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Escape to/from Batemans Bay

OK so the family has dragged you down to Batemans Bay again. What to do? When it comes to a decent road ride around the Batemans Bay area there aren’t too many options. According to the map the only substantial loop is from Batemans Bay down the Princess Hwy to Moruya and then back north along the coast.So given I was stuck in this dire predicament I decided to give it go.

Starting from Batemans Bay you encounter the biggest climb on the road to Mogo. The road is in excellent condition with a wide shoulder which provides a reasonably safe ride. Only place the shoulder narrows is through Mogo but the speed limit is reduced to 50 km/hr so I guess that evens it out. All in All the south bound leg is excellent with plenty of short climbs to keep it interesting. Sunday morning is pretty quiet and in total I was passed by two cars on this leg.

After Moruya there is a long flat stretch lasting about 15kms, the road once again was quiet and in excellent condition. After Broulee the road becomes undulating again but nothing like the hills on the Princess highway.

All up I would highly recommend this ride and if 65kms is more than you would like to do then there is always the turn at Mogo to the coast or the turnoff to Broulee to shorten the ride.

Cycling Batemans Man

map of the route

Batemans Bay elevation

elevation of the route