strava.com. You put up some great vertical, 18,879 meters (that’s 61,941 feet). Had you climbed as much before last month? Was the KOM Challenge a motivator to do more?
Patti Whyte: Actually I climbed somewhat more in January – over 24,000 metres – although don’t worry the KOM Challenge isn’t unmotivating – just had a weekend off and a few easier rides in February. The KOM Challenge will certainly serve as a motivator now, although I suspect I will have to be careful to not go riding just for metres. The Challenge has certainly motivated our MMM group – in terms of competing against other clubs and amongst ourselves.
KOM: There’s has been a lot of participation by Australia riders in the KOM Challenge. Tell us about the riding down under – does it have a high profile to the public, does is get respect in the press, from drivers on the road?
PW: Riding down under is increasing at a huge rate – there are more and more riders on the road, trail and all other places bikes can be (yes the small oval-shaped thing where they go around and around). While there are more riders visible it doesn’t have a high profile to the public in terms of the media except when events like the Tour Down Under and TdF are on – at those times the media appears to actually know what cycling is. The rest of the time it is somewhat invisible, here in the land of Aussie rules football, not to mention rugby league, union and of course cricket. In regard to respect from drivers on the road, well it is nowhere near the environment and attitude that exists in much of Europe and it really depends on where you are, traffic levels, bunch size, time of day etc – so sometimes there is a level of antagonism, other times tolerance and other times acceptance – it varies and hopefully things will improve.
KOM: In January an Aussie Club, Peleton Sports from near Sydney, took Club honors, and now we have you and the seven other riders of the Mornington Cycling Group racking up a collective 88 thousand plus meters (good for 10th overall in the club standings). Seems like a good club scene down your way. Tell us about your club?
PW: The MMMers – there’s a little about the ‘madness’ below – essentially our club is actually a sub-group of a larger local bunch that includes guys who race and those who just ride, and the MMM is a bunch of guys (and yep me the girl with a Garmin) that do some riding together. We began a Tuesday and Thursday morning session of madness (riding up a number of ridiculously steep hills in a local neighbourhood) a while back and MMM has grown such that MMM rides often get about a dozen riders.
KOM: Your club motto is “where the madness runs deep” and we’ll also add that your strava page also states that “Twice a week The Mornington Cycle Group take off for an early morning assault on the surrounding hills. A form of group therapy where any with 'The Sickness' need not feel alone” - care to explain this a bit more, or shall we just leave it to our imaginations?
PW:As for ‘The Sickness’, well.....imagination will probably provide a reasonable answer but I think this description came about because one of our riders (my partner) thought that a flat ride might be a good idea, so when the usual Sunday ride involving the usual insane climbs was proposed he commented on Strava that perhaps group therapy was required. Another group member replied that MMM is group therapy, so...... The madness (in the men only – women started 30 min ahead) can be seen in this brilliant little movie of the big ride last weekend (235km, 4000+m).
KOM: Google maps tells me the Mornington Peninsula is outside the city of Melbourne, right? It seems pretty rural in the satellite view, and it also appears to show a few bumps that might have some altitude, is that where you got your February vertical?
PW: Yep, Mornington is outside of Melbourne, thankfully. The Peninsula is a relatively large area with the bay on one side and the ocean on the other. Mornington is a small town on the bay and rural isn’t very far away, ie only a few kilometres and you can be on country roads. We live about 15km from Mornington so for us its only a few hundred metres and we’re on country roads - the riding is brilliant in that there isn’t city traffic to deal with, there are many roads to ride on and the scenery is beautiful, with vineyards and views out to the bay. There are some bumps that have a bit of altitude although not a huge amount, ie the highest local climb is only 305 metres above sea level, but there is a lot of up and down and there are also ‘long ways’ up to the highest point so its not at all difficult to accumulate some metres.
KOM: Looking at some of your rides on strava.com, I see you had a pretty huge day just recently, 4346 meters (14,258 feet) and 235 kilometers (147 miles) with a 26.6 Km (18.5 mile) HC climb up Mt. Hotham. Tell us about this epic ride.
PW: ‘Epic’ is a bit of an understatement – that ride was the ‘3 Peaks Challenge’ which is a ride organised by Bicycle Victoria in the ‘mountains’ a few hours northeast of Melbourne. The ride is hard obviously because of the distance and the climbing, but what makes it epic (or insane) was the weather and the nature of the climbs. We had pouring rain followed by thick fog in the first 100km, then sun and warm, and then more rain and freezing cold. The Mt. Hotham climb, while long and with a few steep sections, is actually a really good climb and not too horrible – although that could be because it was so foggy that the “you can’t see what you’re climbing so maybe it isn’t too bad” rule applied. Given the ride distance the tougher climb was actually the last one – at the 200km point you turn a corner and head up a wall called Falls Creek – this climb finishes the ride and while the first 8km of the climb has an average gradient just under 10% there are huge chunks steeper than that. So it hurts. The ride was an amazing experience and all the MMM bunch made it over the mountains, so we had a great time.
KOM: Is there a racing scene in your area? Is your club active?
PW: Yep, there is a racing scene in our area – crit racing in summer and predominantly road racing in winter (which is coming up here in the southern hemisphere). The MMM group is made up of members of a local racing club and social riders, so some of us race. The summer crit racing is on Tuesday and Thursday evenings (in southeast Melbourne) and Sunday mornings, while road racing is on weekends. The racing scene includes riders from both Melbourne and the Mornington Peninsula, so no shortage of numbers. Our racing club has been slowly growing over the years and is part of a wider group of clubs that host races on a shared program arrangement.
KOM: Any aspirations to take your cycling to another level?
PW: Uh, beyond trying to keep up with the local A grade guys? - I have raced a fair bit and I’m somewhat past the age where it would be reasonable to race at a serious level. Racing at the world master’s in St. Johann would be one thing that I may aim for, otherwise will just stick with local racing and of course riding with the MMMers. And 3 Peaks will happen again in just under a year....
KOM: Patti, thanks so much for sharing the Australian cycling scene with us, good luck and good riding.
PW: Thanks, firstly for making the KOM Challenge happen, and for the opportunity to talk a bit about the scene here. Have fun!