Tour Down Under Stage 1 With Procycling Tours

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During the TDU of 2012, Steve and Michelle from Procycling Tours, a local Adelaide cycling holiday business, announced that they would be leading a ride from Norwood to Lobethal. We joined in on this experience, and had a great time, and enjoyed the support that the team from Procycling provided, so when they announced that they would be doing it again this year, we knew that we had to be a part of this fun.

The format for 2013 was changed, it went from being a free, basic supported trip to Lobethal in 2012, to a $75 fully catered, fully supported event, taking us on a fantastic ride through the Adelaide Hills. If you’re not from Adelaide, or haven’t visited here yet, we are very spoilt for cycling choices. Within minutes of the main CBD, we can be on either fantastic coastline and beaches, or magnificent hills with your choice of climbs based on how keen you are!

Our ride today took us from Norwood, up to Norton Summit, Summertown, Uraidla, Lenswood, Lobethal, Charleston to Woodside where we were based to watch the pro’s come through three times. We had two support vehicles on this ride, with the first taking the marquee, chairs etc direct to Woodside to ensure we had a prime location, and the second piloted by Michelle, carrying our water, lollies, cake, bananas, spares etc, meeting us at key locations along the way to ensure we were kept well stocked up.

I’m not sure if it was the excitement of going to watch a stage, or having Steve and his team supporting and encouraging everyone along the way, but I think every rider who took part in todays ride managed to set quite a number of PR’s along the way. Our ride from Lobethal to Woodside via Charleston was fantastic, it was an extra bonus 25km that Steve threw in for us, and a group of us set tagged along behind two of Steve’s team for an awesome paced 25km ride along the same course the pro’s would soon be riding.

Steve had chosen Tiers Rd, Woodside as our viewing point for todays stage, and it was a fantastic choice, as it was a long, steady, straight climb, allowing us plenty of time to be up close and personal with the pro’s. It really is incredible how close we can get! Lunch was served here by Michelle, which was made up of fresh salad rolls, a piece of banana cake and an apple all packaged up nicely for us, and a much needed ice cold can of coke, and cold water. Of course the lollies, fruit cake and bananas were all still available too for the hungry!

The ride home was almost as much fun as the ride out! The only problem with riding out through the hills, si that to get home, you have to ride back over some hills again, but the descents are almost always worth the climb! We followed Onkaparinga Valley Rd out through to Balhannah, Verdun, Bridgewater, Aldgate, Crafers, then on to the freeway bike track. Sounds easy enough, but there are a few great climbs along here too, including German Town Hill, and parts of Gould Rd which can get pretty tiring too! Still, at least it was not Ayers Hill Rd, more commonly referred to as “Bitch Hill”!

from the bottom of the bike track, it’s a fairly easy cruise straight down Portrush Rd to Norwood again, and usually pretty good, even though it can get fairly busy.

We had a few close calls out there today, Steve had a truck driver force him off the road and onto the gravel, Darren and I had a crane driver swerving along Portrush trying to prevent us from passing him, and someone kindly opened a car door on the Parade, which was narrowly avoided only by some seriously smart bike handling skills. So a normal day out in Adelaide really!

We had some great discoveries on the ride today. Michelle discovered that there is a thing called AM radio! That was a bonus. We met the owner of Velo-Porte, who was one of the participants in today’s ride, and a great bloke, and we learned how to fold a collapsible change room! Win/win all round!

So, a massive thanks to Steve, Michelle, and all of their support team, for taking such fantastic care of all us riders joining in with them today. I can certainly see why all of their tours get booked out, these guys are awesome!

Massive thanks to Sarah, for the awesome Christmas present of tickets for this ride, and to Matt and Reidy for also joining in on the fun with us! I can’t wait til Sunday to catch up with the Procycling Team again for the final city stage, where they have booked space at a rowing club for us to watch the race from! Woot!

Keep the rubber side down,

Smudge!

Steve adressing the troops!

Steve adressing the troops!

Reidy, Matt, and Sarah! Much love to all of you!

Reidy, Matt, and Sarah! Much love to all of you!

Hey, that's us lot!

Hey, that’s us lot!

Some of Steve's awesome support team.

Some of Steve’s awesome support team.

The troops on the charge!

The troops on the charge!

Velo-Porte with one of his many Fondriest bikes for hire

Velo-Porte with one of his many Fondriest bikes for hire

mmm, Fondriest....

mmm, Fondriest….

Picnic in the shade!

Picnic in the shade!

What a fantastic set up by Procycling Tours

What a fantastic set up by Procycling Tours

IMG_9214

David Mitchell hard at work...

David Mitchell hard at work…

Check out that drink bottle!

Check out that drink bottle!

Cygolite Expillion 350 vs Niterider 350

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I don’t understand it??

Does everyone remember when Cell Bikes had a sale on the Cygolite, and we all went so hard at the sale, that they actually ran out, and had to get more in? Well I was one of those who bought the light on sale, and loved it. It was bright, had an even brighter mode, and also had a strobe mode that would send rabbits into an epileptic fit at twenty paces. It had an awesome bar mount that could be adjusted, and clamp on to pretty much any bar diameter, and hold fast, no matter what bumps you went over. It was a USB rechargeable, and of course on the high beam mode, used to chew through the battery pretty well, but heck, get home, recharge it again, and you were good to go.

Well when we went to Tasmania to visit Sarah’s sister, as we were leaving, I gave her my Cygo, cos lets face it, Tassie is a pretty cold dark place, well, it was when we were there anyway! She was wrapped, as it could fit onto her bike easily, was so much brighter than what she had, and lit up everywhere that she wanted to go! Awesome, one happy lady. I had planned on replacing it with another Cygo when they came out on sale again, but when they did, the Niterider 350 was also on sale at the same time, and only a fraction dearer.

As I had never used a Niterider before, I thought why not give it a go! So the light was delivered, and there were a number of immediate differences, this unit was heavier than the Cygo, and a little larger too. When I charged it up and turned it on though, the next difference was amazing, it was even brighter than the Cygo. When I put this one in to strobe mode, just the reflection off the wall was enough to send the dog into spasms! This thing was bright!! So then the fun part came, the road test.

Hmm, this is where the massive difference between the two units became even more apparent. The Cygo has a nice clamping mechanism, that is adjustable, and locks on to any bar, and came complete with several different sized rubber shimmies. The Niterider, not so much. This holds on to the bar by squeezing together, and comes with the one stock rubber shimmy. Nor is it very forgiving with different bar widths. This means that on the Leggera, using the rubber supplied, it would clamp on to the bar, with only one click in place. Hmm, sort of felt ok, and squeeze as I might, I could not get any more tightness out of it. Frustrated, I went for a bit of a ride.

Wow, what a light, it really is impressive on the road, lights it up beautifully, lets you see everything that is in front of you, lets motorists know you are heading their way. Two abreast, I think they’d think that a car was heading towards them. It held ok for a while, and then I went over same rail lines at pace, and there went the light. Thankfully, it is a sturdy unit, and there were no cars behind me to run over it, so I backtracked, retrieved it, and tried to mount it again. Same issue, one click to hold it in place, which I thought will not do of course, as it will fall again. So I removed the rubber, turned it sideways, and clamped again, this time getting more bite, but not holding as firm.

Instead of falling off, this time when I took off, every time I went over a bump, the light on its mount, would point lower and lower, so I pretty much had to ride the entire way readjusting the light position. I tried several times to use various thicknesses of rubber, but was still not entirley satisfied with it, so I decided to get in touch with the manufacturers.

They were awesome, seems I am not the only numpty to have had trouble with the original clamp, and they promised to send me the new improved bar mount! Coming from the States, it took some time to get here, but when it did, the improvements were immediately noticeable. The new clamp is one of the best I have used now, locks the light onto any of my bikes bars, then also screws up tighter to hold it without any movement. In fact, you can make it so secure now that you have to back it off to readjust the angle. Awesome.

One very happy cyclist now, with a light that is far brighter than the Cygo, has a battery life that outlasts the Cygo, and fixes rabbits with its beam from 100 meters away! If I needed another light in this price range and style, which would I pick? It would have to be the NiteRider with the new clamp, hands down.

The clamp on the left is the original clamp supplied that came with the light, that could only be squeezed together, and hope that the “teeth” had enough bite to hold it tight. The clamp on the right is the new one, that has a screw that locks into the clamp, and can then be screwed tighter to hold is fast.

Crash Test Monkees vs Sukkie Hydration

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Sukkie Hydration (with dental protection)

Crash Test Monkee – Product Reviewer for Smudge!

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Well the Monkees are finding themselves with a few minutes to spare again, so it’s time to pump out another product review, this one on a sports drink for something a little different! And a sports drink that is a little different!

Now I must admit, I have never really thought much about sports drinks, and combining dental protection with them, and because I ain’t got me much book learnin’, I’m not sure how it achieves this goal! Ok, well, I should clarify, I know that the drink mix is made with less acids, and has calcium added to help strengthen your teeth, but Smudge Monkee Laboratories have not conducted any chemical tests on it, just field tests, where it really matters!

I first heard about Sukkie when I was on Twitter well over a year ago, and had a brief look online at the product, but apart from keeping in touch with Leon occasionally, I had not sampled the product. This all changed back in August, when I found out that a couple of guys riding from Perth to Wentworth had their sports drink sponsor pull out on them last minute, so I put out an urgent request for some assistance for these guys.

Leon was on to me straight away, and offered to send 2 cartons of Sukkie Hydration across to me for the team. Well this would have been ok, but Monkee Central is in Adelaide, and these guys were leaving from Perth! No worries says Leon, I’ll express deliver it to WA for them, name a town they can collect it from, and I’ll get it to them! How awesome is that? So a carton of Berry and a carton of Lemon was sent to WA on some of the fastest carrier pigeons known! This support was of immense benefit to this team, who were carrying water with them, but really did need that bit extra to add to their water to help with their hydration.

There were a few containers left after the ride which found their way back to Monkee Central, where I took the opportunity to both sample it myself, and also share the Sukkie love with some other people. I met up with a guy who had entered the Simpson Desert Bike Challenge, now this guy was fairly new to cycling, and had spent quite a bit getting a bike to ride the challenge on, plus kit, so was looking for some support from the Monkees. So I set him up with a tub of Berry, a tub of Lemon, enough sachets of Chamois Butt’r for the event, and a complete cycling toolkit.

When he returned, he gave me his ride report, which was awesome to get. Out of all of the riders, he was the only one who did not suffer from saddle sores, and had no problems out all with hydration, whilst some others had been hitting Struggletown with the conditions. I guess the fact that he returned from a five day desert challenge with only half a container of Lemon left gave an indication of which he preferred, it was Berry all the way for him.

At the City Bay this year, one of the girls running with us had not prepared properly for the run, and found herself massively dehydrated by the end of the run, but we did not realise how bad at the time. It was only when we were in the City when she was collapsing and being desperately ill, that we realised how bad she was! We got her back to a friends house, where fortunately I had my cycling bag. Of course in this just happened to be some Sukkie, so we mixed up a massive glass of the Lemon for her. One of the girls is a nurse, and she was actually thinking that we may need to even canulate this girl to get more fluids in to her.

But we monitored, roused her every 30 minutes or so, and got more Lemon into her. Within a couple of hours, she was able to get up off the lounge, and then with some more Lemon, she even managed to join us out on the back verandah! (Though sadly for her, whilst we were celebrating with drinks of a frothier variety, she maintained her regime of Sukkie.) Within another hour or so, she was pretty much back to her normal self. Now I know that this is only anecdotal, and we did not do any specific tests on her, but it was the Sukkie Lemon drink that did get her rehydrated.

Now, for the Monkees point of view on Sukkie. Well, I make no bones about it, I have tried lots of different drink formulas, and prepared sports drinks. Some of them have been fantastic, like Shotz and Zero which are great little tablets to take on a ride with you, but Sukkie has become my preferred drink powder. Like Konrad who did the desert challenge though, the Berry flavour is my favourite, it does have a stronger flavour than the lemon, and it could just be that my tastes do prefer the Berry flavours!

I used it when racing, and have used it on some hard rides, and always found myself well hydrated at the end of the rides.  The other week after mucking around on choppers, I found myself quite dehydrated, as it was not a bike that I could carry much drink on. When I got home, I downed some Sukkie Lemon, (yep, I’d run out of Berry), and found myself improving rapidly.

So, the short shot is, it works. Well, the hydrating part does, I still don’t know about the dental protection part!!

The downsides, and sadly, there are a couple. I am using small Shotz bidons that don’t have a big opening, so I tend to use my own spoon for putting the powder in them, and the lemon flavour can be a little bit, well, mild?, light? But once you get used to it, it really is quite nice. First world problems huh?

So thirsty.........

Product Review – Capilano Honey Shotz

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Crash Test Monkee - Product Reviewer for Smudge!

Capilano have recently been running a number of promotional campaigns for their latest product, Honey Shotz. This product is being offered by the hundreds to riders who register online with them, as free trials for the rider, and or the club they belong to. This is great value, as the box of 50 sells for about $19.00, and they are just giving them away for us to try!

As the luck of the Monkees goes, I received a carton of Honey Shotz too. These are small, 7 gram, sachets of pure honey, that are easy to consume, as the honey can simply be squeezed into the mouth, and does not leak like some gels can when you open them or consume them. This means no sticky fingers to try and wipe off on your kit or bar tape! Also, being honey, unlike some gels, you do not need to drink huge amounts of water to get them into the system, they are simply honey.

Because they are honey and not sugar, they are so much easier for the body to break down, and being honey, they are rich in carbohydrates and glucose. If you want to read some studies on the benefits of honey and sports, check out their website, they have published a study that was done on there.

I took some out to the Vets racing, and also took some along to the Cyclo Sportif event, and left a massive amount for the Vets to try for themselves. There are some distinct advantages to the Honey Shotz. The price is quite good for 100 units, they are easy to consume by folding them in half, they are clean to eat, and you do not need to wash them down with a bidon of water.

Sadly, there is a down side to them, albeit only a very minor one. Unlike gels etc, which are measured amounts to provide maximum benefit to the user, these are only 7 grams, which means when you feel the need for some assist, you really have to grab a handful of them to provide any benefit. All this means is that instead of popping one gel, you may need to pop as many as five Honey Shotz for similar benefit. As I said, it is only a minor issue, but it is one that Capilano may like to follow up on a bit further?

There is no doubt that they seem to work, and you really can not argue with the awesome taste of honey, but I wonder if the size of the packet could be increased? Even if they were only made to 10 or 15 gram sachets, this would reduce the number you have to pop, which also means less rubbish to get rid of either on the road, or from your jersey pocket.

If you like honey the taste of honey as much as I do, I would definitely recommend you try these out on your rides, I will continue to test out the last few, if I have many left by the time I ride again, as I often find myself slamming one through the day, just for the taste and quick energy boost they give!

Drop by their site by clicking on the image below, and you might still be able to sign on to test some out yourself!

Honey Shotz

Keep the rubber side down,

Smudge!

Roller Derby, what is it?

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I was asked by a friend to give her the low-down on Roller Derby, as she has seen that I have become quite taken by watching this sport. So I thought, instead of just attempting to explain it to one person, it may be easier if I just write a whole new blog post, that may help anyone else keen to learn about the sport. Please note though, that I am by no means professing to know much at all about it, just what I have seen over the last two bouts!

So, firstly, Roller Derby is not like the old RollerBall movie that may first spring to mind for those of you of the more senior years, such as myself. There are no balls on the playing arena, although some of these ladies do look extremely tough! The arena itself is an oval shaped course marked on the hard concrete floor, (can you get soft concrete?), that the players have to stay within.

From the outset, this sport is quite exciting. There is live music, the announcers all know the sport well, and get the audience involved, and the players themselves create a fantastic theatrical entrance that reminds me somewhat of some of the opening scenes that wrestlers would use, with the themed music, choreographed moves and props. All great fun. The other awesome part of this sport, is that these girls live & breathe it. If they are not playing, they are there volunteering at the bouts, or paying to come in to watch! You have to love it when they are that committed to making it both a success, and accessible to others to come along and enjoy.

The players themselves, are all female, (I’ve been told that there is no male league cos us guys are just too soft!), and all very capable skaters, and all take personal safety very carefully. They all wear helmets, wrist guards, elbow pads, knee pads, and whoever knows what else under their kit! Mind you though, when some of these girls go down, they can go down hard! I’ve been up in the bleachers my two games, and I would swear you can feel some of their landings!

There are more referees in a confined space than I have seen in any other sport, proving that yes, there are rules, and yes, these rules have to be followed. There is a sin bin area where player get sent off to cool down if they have been a little nawty, and continued nawtiness can result in them being benched for the remainder of the bout!

The teams I know of are the Mile Die Club, Salty Dolls, Road Train Rollers, and the Wild Hearses, all, as I said, under the watchful eyes of a team of umpires called Team Zebra! (Zebra easy to work out really, cos of the black & white striped umpires kit, oh, and they have an inflatable zebra mascot too!) Everyone out on the field, umpires included, have Roller Derby names, and I am not sure how they arrive at these, but some of them are:

Roller Derby Name Team
Suspend Her Sentence Team Zebra
The Brain of Morbius Team Zebra
Push My Toosh Mile Die Club
Grimy Knickers Mile Die Club
Karmen Getme Road Train Rollers
Kit Cat Crunch Road Train Rollers
Coconut Rough Salty Dolls
Crispy Saltbush Salty Dolls
Barrelhouse Betty Wild Hearses
Hot X Guns Wild Hearses

In a bout, there are two teams playing, and each can field up to five players on the track at one time. The positions are Pivot/Blocker who is denoted by a striped helmet cover, 3 more blockers in a tight pack, and the Jammer, denoted by a star on their helmet cover. The Blockers all start on the pack line, and the Jammers start some 6 metres back behind them.

The object is that within 90 seconds, the Jammer has to make their way passed all of the Blockers, then when they come back around, the Jammer in front is the Lead Jammer. As they make their way through the Blockers again, they score a point for each blocker they pass. The Lead Blocker has the right to call off the jam at any time they want, by putting their hands on their hips repeatedly.

So whilst the Jammers are doing their bit, the Blockers are doing their best to prevent the opposition Jammer from getting through in the first place, and then limiting the number of Blockers they pass when they come around and start lapping them. The game is split into two 30 minute halves, and it really is surprising how fast they time passes!

The half time break is 20 minutes, which allows plenty of time for those who want to go to the bar to do so, and charge up for the second half! What a sport!

So that is my little summary of a sport I am really enjoying watching, there is something about it that just appeals. Is it that base level of enjoying watching people combat each other? Is it the flashbacks to a mis-spent drunken youth, rollerskating at DownTown, causing havoc on the rink? Not sure, but I am sure that come hell or high water, I will be there for the Grand Final in July!!

For more information, and even a little informative movie file, check out www.adelaiderollerderby.com! Or check them out on Facebook too, as this sport is global, not just something that is played here! Awesome sauce my friends!

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