I rolled up to Johnny Dante café in Cheltenham on the morning of Saturday 27th Feb to be greeted by the awesome Ridewiser team – Rob “Crowie” Crowe, the ‘Princess’ Leah Patterson, Andrew “AJ QuickDraw” McGrath and Jamie ‘Big Kels’ Kelly, as well as a bunch of eager SKCC riders.
It wasn’t long before Rob posed the question, “So Shel, if you had a choice would you choose the gravel or the highway?”
Now I’m not a huge fan of riding on gravel, but Rob assured me that the track that links Mordialloc to Carrum was less gravel, more compacted dirt. “And besides, I’m all for riders learning how to handle their bikes properly on any surface”, he said.
So that was settled – gravel track it was!
After a speedy cruise along the gravel (see my Strava for evidence) we arrived at the start of the Ridewiser Power Loop in Mt Eliza. We regrouped and Rob took us through a safety briefing and ran through how to approach some of the tricky sections of the course (like the infamously steep Canadian Bay Road). The first lap we took slowly, with the Ridewiser crew spaced among the group for support and to give us riding tips. Canadian Bay Road didn’t disappoint – I underestimated how steep it was and approached in the wrong gear and stalled half-way up. Luckily Crowie was riding right behind me and took me back down to the bottom for another attempt.
As we approached again he rode with me and talked me through my gearing and position, and this time I made it to the top. The second lap we did quicker in pairs, with some of the Power Pulse regulars trying to beat their PRs. One of Ridewiser’s girl Road Instructors, Leah Paterson, rode beside me for most of the lap, giving me pointers on how to control my breathing and position to conserve energy.
We regrouped again before hitting the Nepean Highway for the ride back to Cheltenham. The bunch worked well together rolling turns and we hit some pretty impressive speeds. During the bunch ride Crowie gave me some advice about my cadence – I feel comfortable grinding away in a big gear but Crowie encouraged me to keep the revs higher and gear lower to conserve energy and use the forward momentum to power along. This is something I’m going to work on.
We finished the ride back at Johnny Dante Cafe in Cheltenham and had a great lunch together.
For anyone considering joining a Ridewiser camp or training ride, just do it!
You will be challenged but you’ll be well supported and will feel safe. You’ll also have a heap of fun, meet new people and learn absolutely loads.
– Michelle Hyde