From the Backblocks of Adelaide, to the Back Blocks of Melbourne, I take a ride with Andrew Southin.
- Where is home?
Hampton, Melbourne (1 km back from Beach Rd).
- How did you got started in cycling.
As young kids we used our bikes every day to ride to friends as it was a quick mode of
transport. Around 11 years old Father Christmas delivered my brother & I a Raleigh Racer (mine was orange). That meant we could explore further and ride to school (12kms one way) once a month.
More recently I bought a racer around 2005 and started riding 30kms each weekend. My legs felt heavy for days afterwards. Then one day I decided to ride to Frankston return which was 60 kms and it felt like I had ridden from one side of Melbourne to the other. I could only do a single ride each weekend, was not able to back up the next day.
After changing jobs in 2011 (I received my Trek Madone as a leaving present from work) I
stepped up the distances and frequency.
- Are you just a roadie, or do you cross over to other disciplines?
- How many bikes do you own and what is your main go to bike?
Two bikes. 2015 Bianchi InfinitoCV and 2010 Trek Madone 4.7
- What bike do you covet?
I’m very happy with the ride & look of the Bianchi. It does not stop me looking and admiring new bikes. I was in my LBS last week and the Colnago C60 is a very impressive machine. I seem to like the Italian bikes the most, Pinarello would slot in well also.
Last year I visited the cycling chapel La Madonna del Ghisallo above Lake Como. I has a cycling museum next to the chapel. This is a must if you are in that part of the world. It’s
full of old bikes and some modern bikes. Colnago donate a bike with each new release.
- How do you store your bikes?
In a spare bedroom.
- Do you do all your own maintenance or do you use a LBS? If so, which one?
Definitely LBS. I’m not mechanically mined but after a $500 bill to replace front & rear gears, chain, I now clean & lube the chain to remove the dirt too get a better life out of them.
- What cycling specific tools do you have in your “bike shed”?
Very few. A multi took and bike pumps. Oh, and a stand.
- What is your favourite piece of cycling kit or accessory?
I bought a Garmin 520 and the ride summary screen after saving the ride is great. The HR
zone summary is also good if you do interval training. I have turned off the HR alerts & calorie alert.
- What do you love about cycling?
Cycling can be a solo sport, a team sport. You make friends with some great people and visit beautiful scenery both in Australia and overseas. I take my bike with me overseas and plan the holiday around my cycling exploits.
At home, my best mate took up cycling about 4 years ago and is hooked. We travel to TDU
each year and have been to TDF. We have fantastic memories of this trip and have participated in other events in Victoria. We enjoy a beer and dinner after these overnight
rides and it’s the comradery that cycling people are famous for.
Cycling started out as a single ride most weekends. Now it’s ingrained into my life and I ride early mornings twice a week and longer rides on the weekend. I enjoy watching the grand tours and learning little aspects that help my training.
- What annoys most about cycling?
Not much. European race tv coverage start too late in the evening. Idiots that throw tacks in bike lanes.
- Other than yourself, who is your favorite cyclist?
I follow OGE, so Esteban Chaves is my favorite. He came so close in the Giro. You have to
watch the OGE Backstage Pass. It’s such a piss take but also showed how tight a team the
2016 Giro squad was and how proud they were of Chaves 2 nd place.
I stayed up and watched Mat Hayman win this years’ Paris-Roubaix and was yelling at the tv over the last 2 kms. Brilliant solo ride.
I can’t forget Cadel Evan TDF win. He was clean (I’m sure) which makes it even more
- If you could have dinner with 3 professional cyclists, who would they be?
Cadel, Mat Hayman and Esteban.
- What are your craziest/fondest cycling memories?
The places I have ridden in Europe and getting over some of those monster days in the saddle when you started out with sore legs and had to ride 120kms and & 3000 metres.
Last year I spent a week in Bormio at the base of the Stelvio. It’s the most beautiful town and the cycling is tough. The Stelvio is around 2780m above sea level and riding at this altitude hit me when I crested the summit. I felt quezy in the stomach. I could not face a brathwurst sausage from the food carts up the top.
I joined up with Stelvio Experience Bike Café (free guided group rides) and we rode up both
sides of the Stelvio. The afternoon climb up the north side was the toughest. The temp was
35c in the valley and then you start the long climb (24.3 kms at avg 7.4%) with some
ridiculous number of hairpin corners (60?). The last 5 kms ramps up when you have nothing left. You look up and think how will I get across the line. The relief on making it was pure joy. Then 20kms of descending & being chilled until you lose the feeling in your fingers.
I met a couple a few days later that I recognized from the climb. They were going around the bike shops to hire bikes. When I enquired why, they had cooked their carbon rims on the descent due to heat build up.
The next day was a recovery ride to Lake Cancano with Stelvio Experience. I thought this
would be easy. Turned out to be 1200m of climbing and many more hairpin corners. I was
quickly in the Groupetto.
On day 3 we had the Mortirolo and Gavia. Again +3000m of climbing. The Mortirolo is a narrow one lane road/track that just hits you from the start. I just rode to a heart rate as my speed was probably around 5-6 km per hour. The gradient is around 13% from the 3km mark to the 9 km mark. I remember standing more than any other climb and adjusting my cadence to keep my HR at a level that I could sustain. I don’t think I could talk, but was just listening to my forced breathing. The heat was sapping my energy (33c) and sweat was just dripping from my helmet.
You are riding on a narrow track with tree canopy blocking out most of the light but providing welcome shade. After cresting this and having a break at the top, the descent is fast. After around 30kms on the flat we stopped for lunch at a village close to the base of the Gavia. No amount of food was going to give me the strength I need for the afternoon climb.
As soon as I hit the bottom of the Passo Gavia I was spinning in my lowest gear. It was a long grinding climb (7.9% avg) but it just goes on & on for 18 kms. We got bad weather near
the top & had to put the rain jacket on & ride the last 4 kms in 5c temp in misty clouds. There is one building (a café) at the top and they serve the best hot chocolate and hot apple pie.
The heating was on and I started to dry off my clothes. This is where cyclists will help a
fellow cyclist out. Someone lent me some extra clothing & weather proof gloves.
The descent was hairy down to Bormio. The road surface at the top is full of pot holes and for the first 3-4 kms and with heavy rain it was low to mid speeds down on the hoods. My
fingers were losing strength with all the breaking and cold conditions.
Great memories that will last a lifetime.
- What is your favourite post ride coffee/tea spot, and what would you normally buy?
Where not latte riders so we skip this.
- Have you ridden overseas? If so, where? If not, where would it be?
Also rode in the lakes around Northern Italy and alps near Turin (Saluzzo). I rode the Col de Agnello which featured in the Giro this year. Amazing climb and you finish on the border of Italy and France.
In 2014 we did a Procycling tour with Steve Cunningham. This was our first foray riding overseas and it was a real buzz. We meet some great people on our tour and catch up with them at TDU each year and also Around The Bay ride. We stayed in a Chateau on a lake in Switzerland and had great accommodation and wonderful food and wines each day.
I thought I was reasonably fit but the climbing at TDF day after day makes you realise how fit the pro riders are. The entire trip was a highlight seeing the tour caravan and helicopters announcing the arrival of the riders, and then they flash past and the riders trying to get back in touch with the peloton are taking risks racing downhill on the edge of the road passing team cars at high speed.
We rode alpe d’Huez and many other great climbs.
In July I’m heading to Spain to ride the Pyrenees (Coast to coast from the Atlantic to the
Med). 7 days with the Col du Tourmalet on day 4. After a few rest days in Barcelona I am
heading to Andorra for 3 days of more climbing. I’m not on Facebook but I send my holiday
photos and a blog to my mate who posts them on AndyDeGiro Facebook if you are
interested. It has photos from my Italy holiday last year.
- What is your favourite training route?
My weekly training ride is along Beach Rd down to Mordi and return to Hampton (29 kms). Apparently on the weekend Beach Rd is the 2nd busiest bike ride in the world.
Once or twice a month in summer we head to the Dandeongs (1:20, The Wall, Perrins Creek, Crescent) and get our fix of the hills. The 1:20 is a great test to improving your times. I think my fastest is around 19 min 20.
- Is there a local cycling outfit/company/cycling club/cycling group/person that you would like to plug?
I have invested in a smart helmet start up company called Forcite helmet systems
(forcite.com.au) based in Sydney. They have developed the technology for smart snow,
motorcycle, cycling & industrial helmets. Keep an eye on this. Not sure when the cycling version will get picked up by a helmet company.