The Little Van That Could……and Sometimes Couldn’t
One of the oldest Tandem Project team members is not a rider, though it does have wheels. Our as-yet unnamed faithful combi van has been hauling tandems from one side of the country to the other for as many years as the program has been running. It has certainly had its quirks, but so does everyone else in this team. The beauty of the combi, is that it can carry an impressive six tandems, plus various equipment. The tandems do not jostle around, but instead are lovingly hugged safely in the back all the way to their destination. It seems however, that there has been a falling out of love between the combi and Team Manager Victoria, or the combi is simply getting stage fright every time the legendarily cranky manager gets on board! Maybe it’s jealously? He wants Mike all to himself – you know, to bond with the boys, and Victoria’s double x chromosome simply ruins everything.
And so it was, on the way over to Nationals that the combi lodged its protest vote. The combi had been happily purring along, with Mike and Murphy on board, all the way to Horsham. There was a mere two hours to get to Ballarat, so Victoria kicked Murphy out so that he could get some sleep in the Skoda. The convoy roared back into action, all except the combi! Over and over the key was turned, with barely a shudder. In fact, no signs of life at all. This had happened before – it was simply a matter of letting the old boy cool down a bit – or so Mike said. And so we waited…….and waited……..and waited. Every time the key was turned – nothing…..nudda……zip!
Not that the lovely Horsham didn’t give us some entertainment courtesy of the local bogans. We had a vehicle park beside us, with a woman clearly off her nut – screaming away at the guy in the car with her. Doors were slammed…..more screaming……as you can imagine…….the boganess didn’t have much nice to say. Eventually the guy in the car started his retort. More screaming, until finally said boganess got her arm slammed into the door – she was attempting to scratch the dude at the time through the door, so trying to close the door on said psychopath was probably fair-cop! Screaming replaced by crying, wailing…..then more screaming.
Meanwhile, Mike and Victoria were trying to look inconspicuous in the giant, broken-down combi right beside them. On departure of the entertainment, road-side assistance was called. Enter the most useless road-side mechanic you could ever possibly imagine! We won’t enter into any details, but after establishing the battery wasn’t flat, no further solutions were considered or offered, and a tow truck was called for. This was an absolute disaster. Once up on that tow truck, the program was going to be in an absolute pickle! How on earth were we going to salvage our Nationals campaign?
The tow truck rolls around the corner and starts looking for where best to haul the combi onboard. I looked at Mike – utterly stressed out, and he decided to try the ignition one more time………..and the old boy roared into life! Victoria was literally jumping out of her skin. The sight of the tow truck was clearly an indignity the combi couldn’t handle. We chugged along without incident to Ballarat, too scared to stop even for a loo break, just in case we had the same problem again. While in Ballarat, Victoria was not in the combi again, and there were no more issues regardless of who was driver or passenger.
So it was with reasonable confidence that the convoy took to the road for the return journey to Adelaide. Three hours in and it was time to give Murphy a sleep in the Skoda again. Sound familiar? Victoria jumped on board the combi and, you guessed it, NOTHING! FFS! This time, a solution had to be found. Tony had pulled up and came over to help us. We knew it was a contact issue with the gear stick. When the gear stick was in a particular positions, then a spark could be seen. Between them, Tony, Mike and Victoria figured out how to remove the entire housing to the gear stick. To cut a long story slightly shorter, while Mike and Tony were pulling out and reinserting fuses, Victoria just sat there quietly thinking about things, correctly deducing the solution. She reached down and simply squeezed the gear stick closer to the contact plate on the other side and success! A spark, a contact, and ignition! We could now get the combi rolling regardless of the temperature – the prolonged heating up of the gear stick was expanding the ignition wire away from the contact plate. It has since been fixed!
Road Nationals Campaign
Spring has sprung and we are very excited to announce the squad will be travelling over to Ballarat to compete at the Australian Road Nationals Cycling Championship. Five tandems will be heading over with all the chaos of equipment, mechanics, pilots, stokers and support people. Our preparation training has commenced, with our teams eager to shake off the winter blues.
It has been a few years since the team attended the Nationals, and without our team attending the Para-National event has seen no other competitors turn out, so it is important for the visibility of the sport that we make our way over. We also thank Cycling Australia for accommodating our pilots with a short-term license for the event. Our pilots having to purchase full 12 month licenses in previous years has been a financial barrier that has prevented our attendance for the last three years.
Eye to Eye Ball 2019
Congratulations to our friends at Eye Play Sport and all of their amazing sponsors and donors who came together to make the Eye Play Sport Ball 2018 a resounding success. Money raised will be allocated to individual athletes and teams to continue the vital work of giving vision impaired people access to vocational and competitive sport. Special mention to Fox Creek Wines, Lexus Adelaide, Grahams Jewellers, Unique Opal Mine, BBX and Refined Real Estate for their incredible contributions on the night.
New Team Member – sort of!
A little bit taller, and with shoulders quite a bit broader, Beau Wootton returns to the Tandem Project. Beau is an extraordinary talent, and one of the most naturally gifted riders we have ever trained. Beau had a couple of years off cycling when he finished school, only to realise what every other cycling nut already knows…….cycling is ‘The Dark Side’ you can’t say no to. Luckily there are worse habits to have. The team hopes to fund raise for another tandem that can more easily fit Beau’s very long legs. Well, it’s either that or reduce Beau’s femur length by about 4cm. Understandably, Beau prefers the first option of a bigger bike!
Eye Play Sport Fundraiser
Speaking of fund raising, in his role of CEO of Eye Play Sport, Kieran Murphy is currently organising their major fundraiser of the year. A dinner designed to draw people into the experience of vision impairment, Dinner in the Dark will be an ‘eye opening’ event. If you have a group of friends or a corporate group who would like to take the opportunity to appreciate the advantages of eyesight, then jump onto the EPS Facebook site for information on ticketing. The event is scheduled for the 27th July.
Pilot Update: Manager Victoria Veitch
After retiring from National Road Series riding three years ago, Victoria was debilitated with serious fatigue for nearly two years. But thanks to excellent medical guidance and more blood tests and potions than you can poke a stick at, Victoria is well and truly on the comeback trail. Armed also with a very stunning new climbing bike, Victoria has been placing in the top three of most of her races. With a second place in the epic 90km Harrogate race, followed up by first place in the Balhannah Kermese, Victoria has set her sites on reclaiming some of the more significant QOM records around Adelaide. She has already reclaimed the Windy Point record, and will now train over winter for an attempt on Norton, which is held by an international rider who used a prominent local male rider to pace her up the hill – NOT KOSHER! Best of all, the recovery from fatigue has improved Victoria’s mood no end, which will make everyone around her, not least her husband, breath a sigh of relief.
Our chief mechanic recently had the good fortune of being supplied with new bar tape for our tandem fleet from Burgh Cycling. Donated products are always gratefully received as this project does not have insignificant costs to keep us on the road. We’re even more thrilled when the product is absolutely fantastic (also a bit relieved in that we can truthfully rave about a product!). Tony reports that Burgh tape is by far the best tape he has ever rolled onto a set of handle bars – and Tony is a fuss-pot!
a unique blend of comfort, grip & performance
Our unique polymer blend creates a surface that is water resistant, shock absorbing and grippy – even in the wettest of conditions. Perfect for cyclists who love all kinds of riding – but especially for those who love to get grit, sand and mud all over their pride and joy.
With RSB having come on board as a sponsor, Project Manager Victoria has been given all the excuse she needed for a redesign of the team’s kit to include purple for the tandem division of the team. Blackchrome have given us an exciting preview, so stay tuned for updated team photos to follow. The team has used the good weather for some solid training, and we hope to see some more tandems taking on the Masters racing scene this year.
Pilot Updates – Tour of Goolwa 2019 Division 3 Race Report
Team – Alison Skinner, Greg Chivers, Luke Dingley and Simon Veitch
Stage 1 – Team Time Trial
This was a danger stage for us. Dingley was the only one with a TT bike and he had 10 mins practice before the race, while Chiv had clip-on bars and a disc wheel. We set off well, riding solidly with Dingley and Chiv putting in strong turns, and Alison and Simon doing what they could. Surprisingly we came second and didn’t lose anywhere near the time expected. Great start!
Stage 2 – Finniss Road Race
A flat 66 km race that can be very windy, this year the winds were light, but the temperature was high. The team had a plan to try to force a breakaway, but a lack of wind and several strong teams determined to keep it together for a sprint finish, saw the race contained. It finished with a bunch kick with all 4 finishing in the lead pack and no time lost.
Stage 3 – Flagstaff Hill Road Race
A short lumpy course that saw us go up the nasty Flagstaff Hill twice, to finish at the top second time. First time over the climb, Alison skipped away to gain some valuable bonus seconds available at the top for the first climb. A group of 10 or so got a bit of a gap over the top with 3 of us up there, but it was quickly closed down. So, around we went again and leading into the rolling climbs before the main climb, Chivers hit the front and kept the pace high for about 4 km to discourage attacks. Onto the climb for the second time and Simon and Luke were well positioned at the front to see Alison accelerate away from the pack on the steepest section and take an emphatic win! Simon came third and Luke fifth with some good time gaps to see us take over the lead in the teams competition. It also saw Simon move up to 3rd on GC (40 seconds gap) Luke 4th and Alison fifth.
Stage 4 – Crows Nest Hill Climb Time Trial
A tough 4km hill Climb this is a tough stage to do with 3 hard stages already in the legs. Most years there is a pretty strong tailwind but this year it was only gentle and it was pretty hot. The team plan was for Chiv to tow the other 3 for the first 500-700m false flat and then peel off as it got steeper and we would see who had legs from there. Chiv set an excellent pace and Peeled off as planned, and Simon took over pace setting. Dingles then peeled off a bit further up the climb, and Simon and Alison worked together until the middle section where it flattens off briefly before kicking up hard for the last 2km. Then they both rode at their thresholds right to the top. Simon won the stage and Alison came in 3rd.
On GC, Bryan Macintyre held onto the lead by 7 seconds, Simon moved up to second and Alison stormed up to third. Luke held on to fifth, an excellent result. We took out the Team win by 2 minutes and 22 seconds from Hot Velocity, with Packard Bell in third place. Many thanks to Adelaide Hills Masters Cycling Club and all the sponsors for hosting such a great event. The event was brilliantly organised, ran smoothly and all teams competed fiercely but in a fun, friendly spirit. Best Tour of Goolwa yet!
New Member Profile – Flynn Johnson
If you were to look up the definition for ‘sports mad’ – you’re likely to find a photo of Flynn Johnson. At only 14 years young, Flynn already has the distinction of being the Eye Play Sport Sports Scholarship holder for 2018. The Tandem Project is happy to be working with young riders, and we hope to expand our reach to the next generation of vision impaired riders. In the meantime we have to share Flynn with cricket, track cycling, goal ball, public speaking, golf, rock climbing, ice hockey, parachuting, race car driving……..ok, some of that might be an exaggeration, but you get the picture. This is a young man who is making the most of every day and we are excited to help him develop further on the road tandem.
Tandems are never simple – taking the force of effort from two riders takes its toll, and tandems break. We are enormously privileged to have Tony Kemp as volunteer bike mechanic, who selflessly keeps our fleet on the road after they return to base camp limping. Between Mike Hoile and Tony, we would have to be paying for repair cost which have previously kept machines off the road. The latest addition to our equipment base, is a stunning lightweight racing tandem. The ‘Alchemy’ frame was previously raced as a part of previous Australian track and road campaigns. It sat for many years, unused and unloved in a bike shop, until it was purchased and then donated to the program by Kieran Murphy. It has since been rebuilt, with all labour donated by Tony, and the group-set very kindly given to us by our awesome long-time sponsor Ozone Cleaning Specialists. Thank you Tony, Mike and Ozone for keeping us running, one machine at a time.
Athlete Update – Kieran Murphy
This year hasn’t quite gone to plan. At times I have felt like my form has been better a week after a race rather than for the race. I’ve been sick, injured, or when I’ve been able to replicate good form, something else has come up. Shortly after returning from Italy for the 2018 UCI Para Cycling Road World Championships, I was on a recovery ride when I felt a sharp pain in my calf/hamstring. This would eventually be diagnosed with the help of an MRI as a torn hamstring tendon.
Before the injury I was flying! Consistently riding Windy point in under ten minutes with a new PB of 9:40s with pilot-extraordinaire Mike Hoile at the helm. Just as the year had panned out though, this form was too late as the Road World Championships had already been raced a few weeks earlier. The injury would eventually have me sitting on the sidelines, unable to ride a bike for 3 months and counting. Currently, doctors are hopeful I will be back on the bike in January, and if all goes to plan, I will be back racing in the Road World Cups in Italy and Belgium in May 2019. Injuries are never great, however it has given me time to reflect on the past few years in the Australian team and offered me some opportunities outside of cycling to keep my head space right. I am working for Eye Play Sport which is a charity – fundraising for blind and vision impaired members of our community to participate in sport. I am currently organising a DINNER IN THE DARK to be held February 23 2019. Rehab is part of the game and I’m excited for a busy 2019!
Return of a Superstar
Thursday’s high-performance training sessions just got a whole lot more fun with the return of Scott McPhee – Kieran Modra’s London Paralympic pilot. Scott is an extraordinary young man, whose diligence and application to the tandem have seen him succeed at the highest level of tandem sport. So, what could we do for such an exciting return, other than turn on a miserable, cold and wet day to give Scott the warm and fuzzies. Luckily Scott is no stranger to early mornings like the rest of our slightly ‘unhinged’ group, but we so appreciate having him give us a hand before having to dash off to work. His skill and talent as a pilot is a valuable resource for this particular training group.
In absolute sweltering conditions our World Championships TT in Italy was the most hotly contested TT’s we’ve raced. With less than 20 seconds separating places 4th-10th, and the top 2 decided by less than a second. Our TT was our quickest yet, on a course that was challenging; both technically and physically. With crashes happening right across the weekend it was another stellar performance from superstar pilot Lachy to keep us upright. We rolled across the cobbled finish line in 9th place with plenty of confidence for the road race.
Warming up for the road race it was another hot day, with the sun’s rays burning down we were in for another testing day in the saddle. Lucky for us the clouds started to roll in as we were all on the start line, much to the relief of the close to 30 Tandems.
Unfortunately, our race came to an end on the second lap, with us well positioned in the front group we had a puncture at the start of the climb on lap 2, and with some not so fortunate luck with the tyre change our race was well and truly gone!
Thanks to all those who helped us get to Italy, now time to hit the track ahead of Track Nationals in December.
Rather than blonde moments, these updates are reserved for those little things in life that pop up for our vision impaired community – just a giggle or two! This week’s moment courtesy of Kieran Murphy.
So, I’m in Coles, looking for Epson Salts. Remembering that they were on the bottom shelf, I squat down and am inspecting pretty intensely the items on the bottom shelf around where I think the salts are. At this point I had totally forgotten that this Coles had recently changed where a number of their items were. From milk to bread, the arrangement had all changed.
The last time I grabbed a box of Epson Salts they were on the bottom shelf under where all the elastoplast stuff was, so I’m looking there, but can’t find them anywhere. It’s actually one of the easier items to locate when you’re blind because the writing is REALLY BIG! Not content with not finding them I move across to the right, thinking that maybe they were in a different spot. I’m grabbing boxes to try and read them but they are to small – front, back, and side I can’t read them but regardless, these boxes were too small for what I was looking for, so I put them back. At this point people are literally grabbing items from above my head – either lots of people wanted a soothing bath that night, or I was definitely in the wrong section. I grabbed another box to have a read what they were, take out my phone and even take a picture so I can zoom in- it was then I realised………
I wasn’t looking at Epson Salts; not even looking at Elastoplast; in my hand, and now in my iPhone photos, I was looking at TAMPONS!!! Must’ve looked so odd from all the people walking past at this guy, inspecting the tampon section! Turns out Epson Salts were on the top shelf now!!!
It is with great relief that we report that Mike Hoile, our Tandem Project Captain and the best pilot we have, has returned to racing form. Mike has been back on the tandem for a couple of months, and more recently he has returned to racing A grade with some very strong performances. This recovery from a fractured neck of femur is very impressive. We will be typing up a recovery case study to go onto out website – as getting information on possibly recovery strategies for this particular injury in Elite cyclists was virtually impossible to find.
New Partnership – Royal Society for the Blind
We are happy to announce a partnership with the Royal Society for the Blind in SA. The RSB are committed to improving the everyday lives of people with vision impairment, recognising that sporting pursuits are an essential component of well-rounded community participation. For those in the RSB community who are unfamiliar with the Tandem Project, we are a volunteer organisation that trains vision impaired cyclists from beginner level, right through to elite participation in paracycling.
New Member Profile – Justin Jones
Justin has been riding with the project for approximately three months now, which means he has had to brave winter conditions for the most part. Here is what he has to say about his involvement in the project so far.
I believe the Tandem Project in SA has the ability to change lives for those with a vision impairment. For myself, I have finally found an outlet that I can build my skills and hopefully reach my goal of becoming a Paralympian whilst enjoying the training and development of cycling in general.
The team consists of well-rounded athletes who are more than willing to give up their own time to train those who are dedicated to making their dreams come true. Since joining, I have gradually seen my strengths enhanced by the guidance of key members of the club. A major reason I think the club is successful is that it is like a little family and we all look out for each other whilst getting the job done. Everyone is extremely willing to make you better as a cyclist whilst not putting you down as a person unlike some other sports I have been involved in. This team treats you like an able-body person rather than a disabled person defined by a set of limitations.
For me it has greatly helped me in my personal life as well as my professional life at a time where I’ve felt life start to get on top of me. This team of people with different backgrounds allows me to vent and have a sense of belonging. I’ve felt like I have finally found a group of people whom I can trust, and spend time with both on and off the road.
Since starting cycling, I have managed to drop approximately 30kg after getting some great lifestyle changing ideas from a few of the members and now I’m feeling as fit as I have ever felt. I’m greatly appreciative of the effort that everyone puts in and how they all band together to support each other. I’m looking forward to what my future brings with those people around me to push me when I need encouragement and I’m looking forward to seeing my development over the next few years.
Base Camp Renovations and Equipment Upgrade
Four years ago we started with three tandems that were well past their use-by date. Those tandems were stripped and rebuilt and form the work horses of the program, being ideal for teaching new comers the art of riding. New tandems were purchased both for the program and by some individuals within the program, and more recently, we have added another rebuilt tandem to the collection. This brings our collection of tandems to 12. It is with deep appreciation that I thank Captain Mike Hoile and Chief Mechanic Tony Kemp for their tireless efforts in keeping these machines on the road, and to all our wonderful volunteers, a big thanks for the numerous times we have done base camp clean ups.
2018 Santos Tour Down Under
The Bupa Challenge Ride was a major feat of organising for the tandem project as we were hosting guest tandems from QLD. The project was happy to provide a loan tandem to one pairing, while we provided a number of pilots to another stoker who arrived with his own equipment. Unfortunately, the event itself was cancelled due to very extreme heat, but that didn’t stop our guests from enjoying an amazing week of riding.
Australian Road Race Championships
The hot weather certainly didn’t get young hot shot Kieran Murphy off the hook during the January heat wave. Following his gold medal rides in the Australian Road Race and Time Trial Championships, Kieran returned for a three-week intensive training block with the Tandem Project. On the back of his Australian Championships performance, Kieran was selected for the Australian Team heading to Belgium for a World Cup Championship. Kieran’s results at the World Track and World Cup Road Races will be in our next project update.
The Project Takes a Hit
Two years ago, Tandem Captain Mike Hoile was out of action with a broken collar bone – sustained during a tandem criterium. This time, Mike fell victim to completely benign set of circumstances when his front wheel slipped out during a simple u-turn. There was no speed involved – just the very unlucky presence of a cat’s eye, and down he went. Mike broke his neck of femur right below the ball of the hip, and was taken into surgery that day. Mike is currently back on the trainer, and will begin pool rehabilitation now that he can drive. We hope to have him back and faster than ever for the spring racing season.
Division Two: Blackchrome Butterfields
Super Series Round Ten
Report courtesy of CSA
A booming category Two Women saw some of the most contested racing of the day. The Over 50’s, Sprint and Young Riders classifications were almost all completely wrapped up, but the overall GC was going to come down to the wire. The two main protagonists of the series Emily Hill (Butterfields Focus) and Hannah Seeliger (State Development) were locked in a tight tussle. With two laps to go Hill went on the attack, charging off the front of the bunch. However, it wasn’t to be. With a bunch of riders hungry to take something out the series they never let Hill get far, and it was Seeliger’s teammate Chelsea Holmes who slipped off the front of the bunch to take a comfortable victory
Joining her on the podium was Annoushka Sathianathan (PACC Silver) and Seeliger’s third teammate Staci McCudden. This move pushed Sathianathan up to second overall with Hill slipping to third. Hill would receive a consolation prize, taking the Overall Sprint honours. Sathianathan would claim the Master’s Category to go with her second place after a hard-fought battle with Bronwyn Dolman (PACC Black). Margaret Easson (PACC Silver) was a clear winner in the Master’s O50 Competition, claiming maximum points in five of the eight rounds. Seeliger would take home the Overall and the Young Rider’s Classification making for a very successful series for the promising rider.
Division One: MBA Blackchrome
Super Series Round Ten
Race report courtesy of CSA
With the dominant SASI team unable to attend Round 10 due to track commitments, it was the perfect opportunity for other riders to pounce. Breanna Hargrave after only just regaining the leader’s jersey, and holder of the masters, and sprint classification, could do little but hope that things would fall her way in her absence.
This was not going to be the case. Madeline Steele (Butterfields Focus) was in touching distance of the sprinters classification. Five points behind and with a maximum of six points on offer, she would need to take the opportunities on offer. Despite Jessica Mundy (Mercedes-Benz Adelaide-Blackchrome) pushing her on both, Steele took the honours in the two sprints, demonstrating the skills she picked up as a former track sprinter, and Claiming the classification over Hargrave in her absence.
Unfortunately for Hargrave it would be a similar story in the overall classification. This time she would fall from first to third, with Jessica Mundy claiming the series after placing second on the stage. This makes back to back wins for Mundy after taking out the 2016 series. Hargrave was also passed by Victoria Veitch, who came in with a crafty third on the stage, and making it a 1-2 for MBA-Blackchrome.
The stage honours would go to Jenny Macpherson, with a well-executed move. MacPherson, riding for Ventou Cycling Team, is also a CSA development coach, showing that our future stars are in good hands. Hargrave managed to hang onto the Masters Classification, and her teammate Maeve Plouffe took a comfortable victory in the young rider’s classification 10 points clear of her next closest competitor.