Training days

Velominati Rule #
 recites: “
Like your guns, saddles should be smooth and hard.

 Under no circumstances may your saddle have more than 3mm of padding. Special allowances will be made for stage racing when physical pain caused by subcutaneous cysts and the like (“saddle sores”) are present. Under those conditions, up to 5mm of padding will be allowed – it should be noted that this exception is only temporary until the condition has passed or been excised. A Hardman would not change their saddle at all but instead cut a hole in it to relieve pressure on the delicate area. It is noted that if Rule #48 and/or Rule #5 is observed then any “padding” is superfluous.”

That’s right! my dear Fizik Antares saddle is Velominati approved, but seriously hurts after a 380Km weekend. If any seasoned ultra-endurance rider will ever read this blog, I’m sure he/she would roll his eyes backwards, reading about my saddle-sores… What to do? I will jump on a forum and incognito open a thread about bum cream, hoping to improve my next mega ride.

Anyway, I’ve started this first long haul training session at the crack of dawn, under bucketing rain. The night before, I’ve gone to bed early like a monk and prepared all my gear in advance.

According to Velominati rule #9: I ride in bad weather equals I’m badass, full stop. But I would love to see the author of the rule book, receiving a bucket of cold water in his face at 5am. Sure badass, but seriously annoying.

The pleasure of riding was soon restored by the Australian wildlife, which is crawling on the road from every direction at that time of the day. Possums, crickets, wallabies and giant flying foxes (very large bats!) were just everywhere, on their way to bed.

Two hours into the ride I was in Lismore, then Casino (the self-proclaimed beef capital of Australia!!), finally heading south, toward Grafton. Between Casino and Grafton is my favourite stretch, 100Km through the forest, also known as the Summerland Way.

By the time I’ve got to Grafton, 23km/h have become the new 26Km/h, also due to the strong cross-wind I have been battling all afternoon.

Finally, after 12 hours riding I’ve made it to Yamba, still with some energy for a pub dinner and a glass of prosecco, a luxury I will have to forget once I’ll be racing the #TCRo6 .

Where to next time? I’ve been North, this time I went South, East is not an option…that leave us with West, for a jump into the retro that only Tenterfield can guarantee.


Fine, if you’re not that interested in bike tech. I suggest you stop reading here…

But if good tech. makes you salivate, or you’re simply curious, you might continue reading.

I’ve prepared the Bianchi the night before, swapped the carbon rims for more conventional alloy wheels and gone “fat” with tires, with a set of Vittoria Rubino 28mm all-round. I’ve also changed the brake pads and the cassette, with an easier “bale-out” 30T sprocket. I’ve kept the standard 53/39 at the front, as I like the big ring also for climbing these days. I haven’t used bar extensions (Tri bars), because of aesthetic and habits…but I think I will have to try the difference sometimes soon.

Three bags in total: the saddle pack with all my gear, clothes and food. The frame pack with only spare parts (tubes, patches, tools and oil). The top tube pouch with some energy gels, my phone and batteries.

This setup brought the weight up to 12Kg in total, excluding the water bottles, not so bad. The bike felt still fast and reactive, while the saddle pack didn’t sway too much while climbing, in contrast to what I expected.

A few lessons learned: I could have gone for longer and in fact, I rode home the day after, but the contact points with the bike are where I got fatigued. My feet, my ass and my hands. I will try to sort this out for my next long ride.

I think I’m on the right track!