Some say he is more brittle than High Modulus Carbon Fibre, and that his hacking skills have him on the ASIO watch list, all we know is he’s called Gus.
Gus moved to Adelaide nine years ago and while he rode a bike in Sydney, in Adelaide he
became a cyclist. Setting up the Adelaide Cyclists website in 2009 he’s a well known
member of the Adelaide cycling community but that doesn’t make him obsessive about cycling, in fact he’s far from it.
How and when did you get started in cycling?
I moved from Sydney nine years ago but before I moved I’d started riding a mountain bike around to lose some baby bonus weight, and then I started commuting to work. It was at the start of the cycling re-revolution and safe routes were starting to open up and drivers weren’t out to kill us. When I moved to Adelaide I was invited along to a group ride. Then I was given an old Giant OCR2 to keep up and after some serious struggles up to Mt Lofty, I was hooked.
You run the popular Adelaide Cyclists forum, tell us a little about why and when you started it, and what keeps you going with it.
So after I’d been in Adelaide a year and my second son was born I’d seriously started
reading more and more about cycling—mostly urban cycling blogs and sites like
urbanvelo.org. At the same time I was going through a career change from being a sound
engineer to a web content producer. I saw it as an experiment outside the confines of my
workplace to see how social networking and online communities could grow. This was 2008- 09, a time when Twitter had just started and Facebook had a mere 100mil users worldwide (it’s now 1.4bil).
So one morning I just started it with no members. Later that day there was one, then two, then four, six, sixteen, twenty and suddenly it was 300 which is the tipping point of social networks when they take on a life of their own. All the members were people looking for the same thing, information about cycling in Adelaide.
Of course, it was based on Sydney and Melbourne cyclist sites, but not related (although I do know the creator of those now too).
Its role has changed a lot due to the dominance of Facebook. It was a place for networking, asking questions, discovering like minded and creating pages for riding groups to communicate.
With that shift in mind I try and keep it specifically local — local cycling news, events, services, black spots, advocacy, suitable winter clothing, and best bang for buck training routes etc—because there are hundreds of sites on the web to ask what wheel set to buy but not many about riding in Adelaide. I don’t think if I was to start it today it would work. It just wouldn’t get that critical mass to survive birth.
What are some of your fondest thoughts about the forum, and conversely, any negative thoughts?
Coming to Adelaide as an outsider (I’m a member of the ‘guys dragged here by Adelaide born wives’ club) most of the people I know I’ve met through cycling and the site. It’s played a role in advocacy, helping people after accidents, getting new riders up and going more confidently, helped share great charity events.
One of the biggest, but also saddest, times was the Ride for Respect to remember Simon Whitely who was killed on Anzac Hwy in 2010. A member was affected by the event and created a ride the following Saturday to complete Simon’s ride drawing a huge peloton. It was nice to be able to help share that event.
Cycling has become so much more popular and Strava has certainly changed the way people ride. I decided a few years ago that I didn’t want to organise bunch rides. There are plenty of other people who do and can share them on the site or any other platform. They are difficult to manage with differing abilities, especially at the Adelaide Cyclists typical member level, and Strava has planted a competitive seed that wasn’t there before. Maybe there should have a no-Strava bunch ride.
You’ve had a bit of time off the bike recently, why is that
Sometimes life just gets in the way. Luckily it’s winter. My wife has had to travel on weekends a bit so I haven’t been able to get out on those weekends. I used to ride one or two mornings a week but I’ve got soft. I used to beat myself up about it but made peace with myself. While I still ride to work and on Sundays (if it’s not bucketing down), I spend my winter nights staying up late, reading, talking to my wife and kids, binge watching TV, brewing beer and, of course, watching the Giro and the Tour de France.
I will admit, come spring it’s hard to get going again so I do keep up some indoor training and cross-fit.
Are you just a roadie, or do you cross over to other disciplines?
I’ve got a Giant TCX cyclo-cross bike. I’ve raced it but in all honesty, I don’t have that taste for blood to be a racer. CX is fun, but if I’m not in competition I don’t really have the drive to train for it. It’s still a great bike to ride some gravel adventures, take on holidays or use as a commuter. I kind of like mountain biking, and the options in Adelaide are so good, but it cuts into the time I have on the road so I don’t do it much.
How many bikes do you own and what is your main go to bike?
Five. Giant OCR 2 (for the trainer), my old Giant Boulder MTB, Giant TCX CX bike, lovely old Adelaide built steel framed tourer called a Sierra but my main bike is a 2011 Focus Cayo 1.
How do you store your bikes?
All over the place but securely locked away and locked down in that locked away place (you hear horror stories thanks to Strava).
Do you do all your own maintenance or do you use a LBS? If so, which one?
I mostly do my own … well my riding buddy and neighbour helps me out a lot. He’s very mechanically minded and fastidious. I’ve learnt a lot from him but most of all, if you keep your bike clean and lubed, especially the drivechain, it’ll love you back and you won’t need to get it serviced often. Learn how to reset gear indexing, change a chain and cables and watch for end of life wear on chainrings, cassettes and rims and you can avoid big service bills.
Also a clean bike is a mechanic’s dream. Most of the work they do on your bike is de-gunking it to find the source of an issue. Keep it clean and they can spend more time on the important stuff. Saying that, there are many great mechanics in Adelaide but I’m not going to pick one… or maybe I will. Shaun Caire of Bicycle Caire is a lovely guy who knows his stuff and isn’t going to rip anyone off.
What cycling specific tools do you have in your “bike shed”?
The best service ‘tool’ is a Morgan Blue chain keeper. You screw it into your dropout and it holds the chain in line for cleaning when the wheel is removed. You can really get stuck into cleaning your chain so well you could eat off it but it. It also stops it banging and scraping along your rear stays.
I think every cyclist should have a bike repair stand, a proper set of Allen keys, a pedal spanner, a lube you go to and use regularly (Morgan Blue Race Oil), a degreaser (although cleaning your chain in diesel is good, except if you have a white bike). A torque wrench is also a good idea. You can get good priced ones. Go see Brian at Road Rage Cycles.
What is your favourite piece of cycling kit or accessory?
I could say Dura-ace wheels, Rapha race cape, Castelli Gabba or Specialized shoes (they’ve been really good) and I’ve got over 35 cycling caps, but to be different I’ll say my Belroy Elements jersey pocket phone/stuff holder. Excellent functional and stylish design. It’s
better than a zip lock bag and it’s Australian. I’ll also give a credit+ to my Icebreaker merino undershirt. It’s 11 years old and still going strong (and warm).
What do you love about cycling?
I could say the feeling of freedom and staying fit, but I really like the history and tradition of cycling. I love reading about the golden era of cycling of the 1940s and ’50s. The panache and the Italian heroes and the French challengers, how they trained (or didn’t) and the passion of the Italian Tifosi.
I love the current era too but I’ve read some great books on that time. One you have to read is Twenty-one Nights In July: A Personal History Of The Tour De France.
It was written by Adelaide writer and cyclist Ianto Ware as a 30,000 word fanzine every night as he watched 21 stages of the 2008 TDF. It was picked up by a publisher, rewritten and published and distributed via Penguin. The sleeve describes it best: Part love letter to the humble bicycle, part history of the Tour de France, Twenty-One Nights in July reveals how cycling transcended mere sport to become a philosophy for the modern age. Ianto Ware also introduced me to some other great texts like One More Kilometre and We’re In The Showers>>Sex, Lies & Handlebar Tape: The Remarkable Life of Jacques Anquetil>>Put Me Back On My Bike, the Tom Simpson bio>>When We Were Young, the Laurent Fignon bio.>>Tomorrow We Ride, Jean Bobet>>Slaying the Badger: LeMond, Hinault and the Greatest Ever Tour De France>>A Race for Madmen: A History of the Tour de France— there are so many.
I also love the films A Sunday In Hell>> Hell On Wheels>> Viva Le Tour and I just watched Pantani: The Accidental Death Of A Cyclist on Netflix. A tragic story with questions that may never be answered. Did the Mafia kill him because he wouldn’t ‘throw stages’?
Is there anything that annoys you?
Apart from the Mafia and doping… maybe I don’t get annoyed but I find the whole cycling advocacy and the public outing of bad drivers and video camera activists exhausting. Sadly people are turning to Fly6/12/ GoPro cameras for good reason, to protect themselves, but that comes at the cost of enjoying a ride. It’s easy to understand that when someone has almost be flattened by a car, or experienced a road rage situation, they are going to be angry and go online and share their feelings. This is often perceived as whinging but put yourself in their shoes. Unfortunately it comes at the costs of all the good cycling experiences and sunny day rides that go unshared.
Other than yourself, who is your favourite cyclist?
My neighbour and ride buddy (and mechanic) Simon who always gets me home on time, keeps the chain tight, waits for me at the top of a climb and patiently rides with me every weekend even though he can outpace me anywhere. I also love the panache of Fausto Coppi.
If you could have dinner with three people from the cycling world, who would they be?
Jacques Anquetil, because he famously said ‘To prepare for a race there is nothing better than a good pheasant, some champagne and a woman’, and also, ‘You can’t ride the Tour de France on mineral water’, so there’d be some fine eating.
Fausto ‘cycling is suffering’ Coppi to get the Italian balance and …
I’m not a Jensey fan-boy so I’ll pick Wiggo … no, actually, Adam Hansen. I like him
or Pierre Rolland.
What are your craziest/fondest cycling memories?
The most painful or wettest are the most memorable. I remember riding back down the Gorge Road in the pouring rain that had set in following a wheel. I was freezing, drenched and eating Belgian toothpaste when it occurred to me that I loved cycling. This is so horrible, but also really great.
What is your favourite post ride coffee/tea spot, and what would you normally buy as a treat?
Harvest Cafe Mylor is a great stop for a long black. I’m weak for banana bread or chocolate brownies but I feel bad because my ride buddy and I say we only train on half a peanut and a piece of ice. When I was on long service leave I’d ride everyday and go into Red Mill on Hectorville Rd and they got to know me and my order. Check them out, they’re open early.
Have you ridden overseas? If so, where? If not, where would it be?
I haven’t, except when I lived in the UK 25 years ago and almost crashed my cousin’s racer into the 400 year old dry stone church wall riding home from the village pub at night. I’d love to ride the Italian lakes—Como and Garda—and the Dolomites and perhaps the Loire Valley. An adventure ride to Patagonia would also be awesome.
What is your favourite training route?
I don’t know about this idea of ‘training’, but Norton, Lofty, Lower Sturt to Scott Creek, Mylor, Aldgate Valley Rd, Ashton, Montacute is pretty good. My simple evening or morning go-to route is Norton-Marble Hill-Montacute. I’ve ridding it hundreds of times and I never get bored. I try to look for something new or different every time. Recently I’ve been enjoying Lwr NE Rd, over to Seaview Rd, Rangeview Rds, Paracombe, Gorge. Actually, that is a good training route.
What is the biggest cycling lie you have told your partner?
I blamed a nonexistent flat when stopping a Cudlee Creek seemed like a good idea at the time.
What would you like your partner to buy you for your next birthday?
Focus Izalco Max or Cannondale Evo with SRAM eTap, Zipp 404s, or maybe a leave pass to go over to Bright and ride the Victorian three peaks.
Is there a local cycling outfit/company/cycling club/cycling group/person that you would like to plug?
Adelaide Cyclists’ H’eroica Ride, our nod to the Italian L’Eroica, is back for its sixth year on October 9. This year we’re encouraging the vintage bikes out of the shed to either ride to Anderson Hill Winery via the back roads like Blockers and Mawson or come out for a ‘Show and Shine’. More info here. http://bit.ly/adl_heroica
Is there anything else you feel like talking about?
Ride your bike, don’t be obsessed, if you want to race, join a club and pin on a number. If
you’re slow at climbing just remember that 60 per cent of the peloton are also more than half and hour behind the grimpeurs on mountain stages. Don’t forget your spouse and find another hobby for the winter.
Thanks Gus, I feel like you had a bit of fun opening up like that, there certainly is a lot of passion hidden behind that poker face of yours.