The Bobbo

Due to popular demand the following is a ride report for the 2016 Bobbin Head Classic.

Disclaimer: Everything is relative.

The Bobbin Head Classic is run by Rotary, it's a fund raiser for Lifeline and is a service that deserves all the support it can get. Run in a number of formats, 27, 57, 80 and 100km the Bobbo caters to a wide range of abilities and attracts tonnes of riders (2,366 registered this year). A huge amount of volunteers are involved along with the constabulary and local councils and National Parks that close entire roads and regulate traffic. At the water stops volunteers provide bananas, water, Gatorade and muesli bars whilst out on the lonely whistling streets they provide direction and encouragement. To see so many people, riders and non-riders, unite for a worthy cause through a sport that often divides people was quite simply, amazing. After completing the Bobbo I can honestly say, I'm starting understand this sport.

It was with much trepidation that I selected the 100km ride two weeks before ride day. I'd just completed a 100k ride along the M7 and a work colleague was giving me stick. I have a history of biting of more than I should, so stuff it, I'm in.

Fortunately I live right near the Bob, thus my training diet consisted of riding through the park during the week and out to Mt White on the weekends. I figured if I can ride the first hill well, I can press on and go the whole enchilada. Always lurking in the back of my mind was the Akuna Bay climb and whether I'm gonna have the legs to turn my 30 yr old 2 x 6 chromoly roadie.

Up at 5am and I'm anxious as a cat in a Chinese restaurant. Try and eat something, I get my stuff together and I join the throng at the start. It's cold and bleak, I'm on my own and feeling really out of place. I don't look like a road rider at all with a Highland Fling Jersey and 5:10 clip less shoes, yet I somehow find solace in the fact that I'm wearing my new crocodile sox, and a seed of determination takes residence within me.

It's just after 6:30 and we are off, everyone is much faster than me. I've never ridden in such a large group and due to the speed difference I'm getting carved up a bit. My unease turns to dread and now I feel ill, I'm really feeling out of sorts. The ride climbs to Hornsby, it passes the top of my street. And standing there at 7am on a cold bleak Sunday is my wife and 12 year old daughter Jess. I pull over, punch a gel and have a chat. They are pumped, so many riders, such a spectacle, their enthusiasm is infectious and in an instant I'm standing tall and I can't even see the hole I was in. I ride off to the sound of Jess screaming "there goes my Dad" and I feel great.

On to the ride's namesake, a road I've ridden quite a bit recently and just like putting on my TLD gloves that stink from so many rides before them I'm in familiar territory and I feel comfortable. I'm bombing that hill like a maniac, no one is passing me now, I'm grinning like a mad man and I'm savouring every bump and wobble, soon they will be a distant memory.

We hit the river and as picturesque as it is I am focussed and it’s upwards we go. I'm not a good rider and I have a lot of riders pass me, some I will never catch, others I figure I might. The climb is a 4k 4% slog, I pace myself for the long haul and sure enough, it is the final km that counts. I’ve regulated my heart rate nicely (cadence sensor stopped working !!!) and I hit the gate and just keep on rolling, I know it aint no race but I have something prove to myself and I’ll only stop to put water in or take water out. The proof of the pudding is in the eating, upon posting the results I’m ranked 656 out of 2366 riders for the timed section.

I’m now focussed on the next big hill, McCarr’s Creek road to the West Head NPWS gate. The route however, travels via the back streets of St Ives and Terry Hills, there are some nasty little pinches in these here parts and often I’m out of the saddle to take the pressure off my knees, I suspect this is the result of my gearing and a genetic condition I have called “Chicken Legs”. A tinge of doubt crosses my mind but I relegate it to the back of mind to reside with my unfinished tax return for FY2015.

We hit a pinch in Terry Hills, just before the water stop and the group bunches, everyone is moving slow, in their lowest gear. A dude in front of me and slightly to the right drops his chain. The group is thick and time slows, a rotation or two of the crank and the desperate realisation that it aint gonna catch and a dance familiar to most ensues. Cleat and pedal remain steadfast in their lover’s embrace, the rider crashes to the ground and now lies like a turtle on its back, limbs flailing, in an attempt to restore dignity and re-join the herd.

I top off my water and hit Booralie Rd and old friend comes to visit. My left butt cheek (hammy or glute I don’t know which) starts to whisper sweet nothings to me. Uh oh, I know this one, every pedal stroke the talk gets louder, I’m 40km in and it could be a long morning.

The fang down McCarr’s Creek Road is awesome, we have a pace truck to keep us at 40km/h but I’m well behind him so I’m travelling a lot faster and it’s a blast, until.

Until it ends and the climb up to the West Head gate commences, a long arduous climb, but I get up there ok. I chat to another dude as the decision point arrives, left and down to Akuna for the 80 or right and up to West Head for the 100. My associate has enrolled for the 100 but he’s piking it for the 80, not me, I’m committed and I turn right, beating the cut off by 40 mins.

I remember West Head from my youth, it’s about 10km from the turn off and I recall that it is undulating. It’s amazing how many hills there are on a road experienced by bike as opposed to a car and undulating seems like an understatement, right at the end there are a few savage short sharp climbs, a quick pic and on to the drinks station, water out water in. It’s starting to sprinkle and as it’s a return loop I get to witness the faces of those slugging their way out to West Head. Some are on mountain bikes, flat bars, one dude is on one of those fold up commuter bikes with the little wheels. I yell some encouragement, for their benefit and mine.

The descent into Akuna Bay is fast and bumpy, the crowd has thinned and I’m riding on my own a lot, riding along the bay is nice but there is no avoiding the fact of what’s lurking in the trees, a nasty hill. A large group has stopped at the bottom of the hill and head off after I roll through, they soon go by me, but I am resolute to regulate my heart rate, this one is gonna be a marathon. The ride website puts it at 10km at 2%, that’s with some downhill sections. The main meal is 2km at 6%, the whole climb has crazy steep sections with gradients of up to 23% in sections. I’m out of the saddle a lot, I’m head down, my heart rate is living in zone 4, but I have a great rhythm and I know I can get it done. I’ve ridden 75kms thus far, my butt check has settled down and on my way to the top. I’m feeling strong towards the top and I’m passing some of my buddies from the bottom of the hill. When I get to the top I refuse to stop with the large group that has gathered and I keep plugging on. The biggest challenge is behind me, all that’s left is 15kms of undulating backstreets with various pinches, as Bullwinkle once said “there’s always room for one more”.

I finish with a rolling time of 4 hrs 55mins, my target was sub 5hrs. Strava says 102.7kms and 1800 metres of vert. I drank 6 litres of fluids and used 8 gels, this strategy paid dividends as I was able to get out of the saddle and stomp up those short sharp climbs at the end and do it with a smile.

I’m really glad I undertook this ride, my preparation was as good as it could be given my time constraints, I learnt a lot about nutrition and seems to be the key that to the part of the puzzle that was holding me back and I feel like longer rides are now achievable. The Highland Fling is on in November, 105km 2320 vertical metres, I reckon I could be a show.
Thanks T.3, its a bit of a stream of consciousness but I wanted to try and capture the vibe of the thing without dressing it up too much. I've never written a ride report before, I found it to be an interesting process.
Back for more sultanas.

I have a carbon bike this time with more of a touring setup for the gears (Domane 5.2). I cruised the gong ride with zero training, with a bit of work I hope to beat last years time by 30 mins.

anyone ?


Likes Dirt
Would love to, but get back on the country on 27, Will do some training rides if your after company, I am in wahroonga, not sure about matching your pace, but I will give it a go
Would love to, but get back on the country on 27, Will do some training rides if your after company, I am in wahroonga, not sure about matching your pace, but I will give it a go
Not sure what I travel at deserves the term "pace".

I don't live in the area anymore and will have to do all my training before work so meeting up is probably a no go, appreciate the offer though.

If you are thinking of doing it or need a motivator to ride more the Bobbo does come in varying distances 27,57,80,104 kms.
Not the Bobbo again !!!

2017 turned out to be a bust, got pretty crook a few weeks out and had a bit of a struggle coz no riding 3 weeks before the ride.

8 weeks out from the 2018 Bobbo, did a bucket load of riding over January and just completed a 4 week base programme, started an 8 week century programme tonite.

Fingers crossed.