Hi Everyone,

I'm planning on doing my 1st distance ride at this years Gong Ride and I've loved reading some of your posts about the dos and don'ts when it comes to the ride itself and the training leading up to it but my question is this:


As a relative newbie to the cycling community (I used to commute by cycle for many years in London) and someone who is still working on their technique and stamina (I can ride a relatively flat course in the 25kph range but struggle to keep my cadence above 70), can you suggest any other good group rides in the coming months that are a good introduction to the distance cycling world?  I'm keen to maybe get another circa 100km in before attempting a 150k and then hopefully a 200k.


Any suggestions would be appreciated (and especially ones that avoid lots of hills as that's my biggest struggle at the moment having piled on the kg's over the last few years!) as would training ideas for improving my cadence on the hills.



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Where do you live, Mark?

Must Cycling clubs run regular rides that cater for differing levels of fitness and skill. They will teach you how to ride in a bunch and offer plenty of tips for distance riding.

As a DHBC member, I can recommend their C25 Waterfall ride on Sundays (avg. 25km/h, ~80km), leaving from Marrickville. Otherwise you can find a club more local to you here - CyclingNSW.

Thanks Timothy.  I live in Annandale at the moment so not too far away from DHBC.  The C25 looks like a good starting point and hopefully by the time I've finished my training for the Gong Ride, I'll be able to keep up pretty easily.  At the moment I'm doing ~90k each weekend and varying the route I take, the number of hills and the distances.

Have a look at the Audax calendar: http://audax.org.au/public/index.php?option=com_wrapper&view=wr...

There are rides just about every weekend, ranging from 100km and up. Having a look in the sub-200km distances your options over the few months after the Gong ride are:

November 17 - Baby Gorges 100km

December 9 - In Search of Hills 150km

December 15 - Hawkesbury Randonee 100km

January 1 - de 7 wharves 100km

January 5 - Scheyville Scamper 100km

January 20 - In Search of Flat 100km

Basically all involve some climbing (generally about 1000m over the 100km), apart from the In Search of Hills, which has a whole lot of climbing (4000m over 150km), and the new In Search of Flat, which doesn't have a map yet but should be pretty easy.

I'm organising a couple next season myself (a 200km ride from Newtown down to Wollongong, a climb up Mt Keira, and then return, and a climb through the Blue Mountains (100km Penrith-Katoomba-Penrith, 200km Penrith-Lithgow-Penrith) - both will be later on in the season, so you can get a bit of riding in by then to take on the climbs ;)

The only way to get bet at riding up hills is.... to ride up hills! It is definitely important to keep your cadence high, 90rpm or so is ideal. Spinning the easier gear will help you stay out of the red zone Again, the only way to get better at that is to practice it - whether you are on the flat or climbing just don't let yourself shift into gears which require your to push through at a slower cadence. What is the gearing like on your bike?

Depending on whereabouts in Sydney you are, your local cycling club will have a bunch of rides throughout the week. I rode down to Wollongong on Sunday and was passed by at least 5 different clubs groups that were heading to Waterfall. I did latch on to one Dulwich Hill pack, I think their mid speed one, cruising along at a touch over 30km/h for a few kilometres before reminding myself that I had a fair bit more riding to do that day, but I know DHBC has slower groups on a Sunday morning as well (there is a 25km/h average group). There are also weekday morning rides - getting out to La Perouse is a good way to start your day.

Audax rides starting at Newtown? I'm in.

Just one this coming year, but if succesful I imagine I will put on a few more the following year. Simply due to who has put up their hand to run rides over the last few seasons, the Sydney area rides have been dominated by the northern suburbs or South Coast rides starting from Dapto (basically 1/3 or all NSW rides start in the northern suburbs, another 1/3 in Dapto, with the last 1/3 mainly in the country). I've only been able to do rides up north, apart from one starting in Penrith. Dapto is too far south for a lot of people to get to early in the morning (in my case, relying on public transport, it is more or less impossible due to the first train from Sydney arriving there after 7am). Rather than waiting for someone to organise rides somewhere else I decided to give it a go myself. Hopefully there is plenty of interest and maybe some more people will be inspired put up their hands to give us some regular ride options exploring the south/south west...

relying on public transport, it is more or less impossible due to the first train from Sydney arriving there after 7am

Go down the night before and stay in the YHA?

That is probably more money and time than I would want to put in to riding a standard brevet.

Thanks Rob.  That's a big help and definitely some ggod stuff to get my teeth into.  Rides starting around Newtown would be great for me as well but want to get the Gong ride out of the way 1st to see how I feel before I even contemplate doing more than double that and with a mountain thrown in for good measure!


losing kilos will help hill climbing, climbing hills may help you lose kilos.

I'd love to start doing these sorts of rides, too, but I'm unsure whether you need to have a certain type of bike?

Would I be allowed to ride my flat-bar, 8-speed hub commuter (i.e., my only bike)? Would I be able to even do the rides on a bike like that?

The essential equipment list on the Audux.org.au website Rob linked only mentions a road-worthy bicycle and lighting requirements. What else do you need to get started? What do people normally take with them? And how do they carry it, etc? Is there a good resource anyone can point me to that answers those sorts of questions?

I rode many of my first Audax rides on a flat-bar but it had a 10 speed cassette and compact double.  I think the only difficult part on a flat bar is that sitting more upright means you are fighting the air more than you would on a road bike.  But then I've seen a video of an Audax rider that did a 600 on flat-bar in India (I think).  The good thing about the drops I have are the many hand positions I can get meaning no more numb hands.

8 speed hub, Rob may be able to answer if that is suitable as I have no experience there.

On a 100 or 150 you'd take the same as any other rides.  2 tubes + tools, some energy or at least muelsi bars of some sort, 2 water bottles, an 'I can do this' attitude.  Mobile phone is always a good idea, I left mine in the car last weekend and it played a little on my mind.

I would suggest trying a 40/50km ish ride (Sydney - Sans Souci - Sydney is well supported for everything except City Rail to bail on) or a 80/100km ish ride (Sydney - Kurnell - Sydney, same issues) and seeing how you feel on your flat bar.  If you're comfortable at 80km, then there's a better chance you'll be comfortable at more kilometers.

The standard options for improving hand positions on a flatbar bike are bullhorns, or switching to a butterfly / trekking bar—at least if your levers are all set up for flatbar bar diameters.

Regarding the hub gear, I suppose the issue is gear range and hub weight more than number of gears.  Can you climb steep hills on your commute?  Do you have a fast enough high gear when pedalling on a slight downhill?  The weight-weenie aspect shouldn't stop anyone from riding on a hub.


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