Extending Boundaries

Limitations and boundaries, sometimes they’re there to keep us from straying, at other times they’re merely a motivator to push to create a new perceived limit.

Hume Hwy Victoria

The Hume Hwy

Over the weekend, not only were some assumptions tested, pre-existing limitations were discarded.

<a name=""> As a cycling enthusiast the number of bicycles owned and ridden numbers in the forties. Alloy, carbon, steel, road, mountain bike, fixie, bmx, the list goes on. Participating in the Tour of Bright cycle race for the first time, it represented the premiere use of a Giant roadbike. Supplied with a demo 2012 Giant TCR Advanced SL1 bike from Giant, some longstanding cynicism about this manufacturer was not only to be pressed, but the odd-looks from the peleton towards a known never-rides-standard cyclist riding a ‘for-the-masses’ bike was assured.

Giant TCR Advanced SL1 2011

The Giant TCR Advanced SL1

Coming from a background of Avanti, Specialized, LOOK, Orbea, Paconi, Bonetti, a long-held disdain for Giant has been held pretty tightly. Having worked in the retail bicycle industry casually for over 10 years, some pretty concrete beliefs have been established that Giant’s speed-wobble on descents, are a bit sloppy and don’t corner well. Enough to arrest any chance of owning one.

Pedaling out into Bright at the foot of the Victorian Alps for the first roll on this brand new Giant was the first step over the threshold; limitation #1 discarded. Passing fellow cyclists remarks were echoing such as “Gee, got to get a photo of that, you on a Giant? That’s not right”. This was a test of not only boundaries and the bike, but resolve to put up with the free commentary; limitation #2 spent.

The race itself was nothing short of agony. With a new steed amplifying the eagerness, there was no option other than to get into the winning break for Stage 1. As grand as that was, the engine was unable to sustain the output and not far before the final climb it was evident that surviving to the finish would be an accomplishment. Nevermind, the finish of the stage was atop the mount at Tawonga Gap which meant a descent back to Bright was likely to restore the winning feeling.

Tour of Bright 2011 Stage 1 Finish

Finishing atop Tawonga Gap: JXP Photography

Tawonga Gap for any cycling event generally swallows up at least one cyclist into its clutches off the side of the road. Many have suffered its easy lull into confidence for the twisty and fast return to Bright and been bitten hard, fractured bones carted off in the ambulance type of hard. For this reason the road is no longer included in the race.

So it would be with a high degree of trepidation that the descent would be tackled on this Giant. With no memory of the descent as the last attempt was some eight years ago, this was a blind test. Ravaged with fatigue and dead legs, the only upper was a swig of cola before taking off.

To start, a convoy of cars and shattered cyclists prevented progress to around 5kph. Not helpful. After a short while, these were passed. Shortlived joy though as another vehicle prevented quick progress. An opportunity to pass presented and that was it, click, click into the 53×13 gear, not really that big a gear but it would have to do.

Thoughts trickled across the inside of my forehead, speed wobbles, poor cornering, safety?

It was not to be though. Prior to this day the favoured road bike upon which to descend was the Orbea Orca, certainty, confidence, direction, rapidity, such good geometry that it has been replicated multiple times on custom steel frames since. The Giant for this first experience also provided similar geometry.

Thrown out on each corner were those long held beliefs. A big fan of descending, anything that can amplify the thrill and also give optimal feedback of what’s happening underneath mere centimetres of rubber is well sort after. Even without attempting a new KOD (King of Descent), this bike provided certainty, rigidity and feedback like nothing before. The old saying ‘like being on rails’ is well applicable.

Reviewing the Strava file for the descent, it can be seen that compared to the current KOD holder, at the first kilometre a 30 seconds deficit existed.

Strava TG Descent Km1cr
Km1 – 30 second deficit.

Strava TG Descent Km5cr
Km5 – The deficit recovered.

Strava TG Descent Km6.5cr
Km6.5 – The deficit had been turned over into an advantage of 12 seconds. This causes wonder of what could be possible if the road was clear.

And so there it was, long held beliefs and limitations were discarded freely and the opportunity for new boundaries to be extended. The future? It could be a Giant in the stable, it could be a quicker descent, importantly however, flexibility, adaptability and an openness to change was reinforced when least expected.

What’s hiding beyond your boundary?
Bright VIC Tower Hill

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