Friday, 5 August 2011

Stage 4-7

Stage 4

We boarded a bus at 7.30am for a 3hr journey from Fernie heading North into Kananaskis Country. We arrived at our destination which was a very unremarkable paddock for what promised to be an easy day on the bike according to the distance and metres of elevations required to climb. The temperature was very warm around 25 degrees at the start line and we were dressed for a summery day. In fact the previous 3 days had all been quite warm so we were not prepared for what lay ahead. After getting our bikes from the transport truck it dawned on us that our bags with our hydration packs and food were on the shuttle heading for the end of the stage. An Australian volunteer whose husband was racing heard of our plight and when she saw one of the rental trucks turn up she asked one of the race organisers to look inside to see if our bags were on board. Luck was on our side and our bag was found, we were both extremely grateful for their help and were feeling more relaxed about the day ahead.

The race kicked off at midday for a very warm start up a very open exposed long hill. I was becoming accustomed to the 30-40 minutes of climbing at the start of each stage. We noticed the pace was much quicker today but this was mostly due to new riders joining the race to complete the 4 day solo event with their fresh legs. After the first long climb the hills became rolling and quite enjoyable to ride. At about 2 hours into the ride we started to hear thunder and a storm was rolling in all around us. About this time, a Deere sprinted across the fire road we were riding on narrowly missing Matt.

Shortly after the Deere incident rain started to pelt down on us closely followed by hail. We continued to ride the rest of the stage in the rain and the temperature started to plummet and was around 8 degrees by the time we crossed the finish line. We were treated to a number of creek crossings during this stage which were meant to be dry but the rain managed to get them flowing and the water was freezing. Just before we finished the stage there was a wide creek crossing that was waist deep which required us to carry our bikes above our heads. 

We crossed the finish line just over 4hrs and we washed the bikes and headed for a warm shower.

Stage 5
Today was marked as being the hardest day and it did not disappoint. We both started the day wearing a lot more clothes than the previous day including rain jackets to keep us warm. The morning was cold but not raining. In true Transrockies style we began the stage with a half hour climb. This climb was on a gravel road and steady until we entered the single track which we were greeted with with what we thought was snow. In fact it was about 4 inches of hail but had the same appearance as snow and was very cold to ride through. We rode through the hail for about 5 km.

The next section of single track was great fun and was downhill for quite some time before being greeted by the next climb of the day. We were told to expect a lot of climbing and a lot of steep climbing. After check point one which was about 22km into the stage we started the big climb of the day. It was very steep in parts and toward the top very rocky with lots of tree roots and very difficult to ride. To make matters worse the storm clouds rolled in again and when we were almost at the top, well above 2000 metres above sea level, the rain came down again. This time we had our rain jackets on and thermals on so it was not as demoralising as the previous day. After we reached the top we got to ride an amazing track for what
 seemed like a long time. The track was wet at this stage but still very rideable. However this changed when we started climbing again and we entered a section of track that had only recently been built. It was incredibly boggy and was impossible to ride without sliding out, or the bike getting clogged up to the point where it could not move very easily. We then headed into checkpoint two with about 20 kms to go.

For the final leg of this stage we were treated with more mud and rain as well as more climbing. At this point the mud had taken the toll on Matt's bike and both the front and rear brakes had deteriorated to a point where they weren't very effective. Fortunately the last 10kms were on a sealed road which made things easier but this was even tough as we had to climb up a 10% grade for a few kilometres before the final descent. All said and done the stage was the hardest but probably due to the rain. We rode around 68kms and climbed 2200 metres of climbing. We finished in a time of 6hours and 50 minutes. That night it was cold again but the Sky had cleared and the forecast was for a sunny following day.

Stage 6

Before starting the stage there was a last minute course alteration due to a Bear and her cubs being spotted where we were going to be riding. The officials did not want to take the risk so the ride was diverted at the end to finish at the Nipkiska Casino with a shuttle organised to take us up to overnight camp site - Rafter Six Ranch. Seeing a Casino in the middle of nowhere is quite a remarkable site but it had a lot of punters there trying to make their fortunes.

The stage began with a climb around 45 minutes before heading downhill. We rode some single track in reverse from the previous day and then did a stint on some fire roads which was quite a nice change. The sun was out and things were much warmer than the previous two days. Things were going well and then we started the first really big climb which took us up to an elevation of around 2100 metres. The views were amazing from the top which was clear and you could see in every direction as there were no trees. We then headed down some really rocky rough riding we was great fun. This was a short reprieve on our weary legs with the final big climb ahead bringing us up to an altitude of 2400 metres. The view from the final summit was even more spectacular. Then the fun began as we headed down another steep rocky descent. The journey down lasted for what seemed like an eternity and we had lost the feeling in our arms from holding on over the rough terrain. Once at the bottom we rode on a fire road for about 8kms up a long hill into checkpoint two. We were told that it was all downhill for the next 20kms and thankfully it was. It was a much appreciated section of trail which ended with about 5km's on the road. The rain held off and it was a very enjoyable stage. We crossed the line in around 6hours and 20minutes. It was the longest stage around 70km's with a similar amount of climbing to the previous day. The race organisers thought of everything and had frozen slushies ready for us as we waited for our shuttle to Rafter Six Ranch.

Stage 7

The final stage on paper, was the easiest due to the smaller climbs and smaller race distance. We started the stage with a short section of single trail before heading out onto the highway for around 3 kilometres of bitumen. The pace was fast with a massive headwind making the conditions difficult. We tried to ride in packs to be protected by the wind. We had a great start and stayed toward the front of the pack on the road before heading into the single track. The singeltrack was great fun and maybe knowing this was the last day made it all that much sweeter. There were short sharp climbs but nothing that could not be ridden except for a series of steep staircases. We charged into checkpoint 1 just over an hour into the ride and we knew today would be over quite quickly. We were then treated with more of the same style tracks and after checkpoint 2 there was an easy climb up 150 metres which gave us enough elevation to finish with a 5 kilometre downhilll descent to the finish line. Before we got to this point we encountered a few recreational riders out on the tracks, which Canmore has around 100km's of trails at it's disposal. The first chap we met followed us for around 2 kilometres and at first I thought he was racing with us. I noticed after a while he did not have a number plate on the front of his bike. He was pushing up our Tempo and he finally asked us how long our race was. We remarked that it was 7 days long and today was our last day. At this point he promptly discontinued the chase and wished us well.

We rolled into the main street of Canmore which was absolutely packed in a time of 3hours and 20 minutes. The stage was 45 kilometres and only 1300 metres of climbing. It was an amazing feeling coming across the finish line knowing that we had achieved only what around 3000 riders before us have done. We were given a finishers T-shirt, Medal and certificate to prove that we had completed the race. We finished 13th overall out of 20 teams in the Open Men's category. We were very happy with our result given the calibre of riders we competed against.

Thank you to everyone who supported our journey and we really appreciated your well wishes and emails which helped keep us motivated. Thank you to everyone who donated to the Friends of Bryan which I am sure will be gratefully appreciated. We are looking forward to a bit of a break from riding to let the legs recover.

Finally for me personally, I would like to thank my wife for supporting me through this amazing journey. From the 4.30am early morning alarm clock rings (which also woke her up each day), through to the long weekend rides that took me away from my family. I only wish that our children had been slightly older so I could have shared this amazing experience with my family. I promise not to tick off my other Bucket List ambition (Everest) any time soon.

Stage 2
We both woke up feeling strong and refreshed. We had a great breakfast which along with our dinners is provided to us by the event organisers everyday. The organisation of this race is phenomenal. The sheer logistics of feeding a few hundred people everyday let alone organise all of the other things required to run a race is quite mind blowing and the event organisers have done a better job than any other race that I have been to. After breakfast and getting the bikes ready we were lining up again ready for another hard day in the saddle.

The stage started with an easy couple of kilometres which were quite flat. This was short lived and we started up our first hill which was the same height as the Toowoomba range. The hill was not as steep as the hills from yesterday but we were very warm 25 minutes later when we got to the top. After the climb we were greeted with the most amazing single track I have ever ridden, which went straight back down the elevation we had just gained. This was the last bit of fun for next few hours. The next 35km was almost all climbing including a 1100 metre vertical climb. Parts of the climb were very easy while others quite hard. We climbed to an elevation of 2000 metres and followed the ridge line for quite some time. This was when I took a little swim in one of the big bog holes that we tried to ride around. A rider in front of me stop very abruptly and I was following too closely (It was my own fault) and I had only one direction to go which was sideways which is where the water and mud filled hole was.

After more of the same we finally got to the summit of the climb 2100 metres in elevation which we have attached an image to give you perspective of the height we had reached. We then headed down the other side down the track named 'Porky Blue' which is a double diamond run. We had been warned by the race directors the night before to walk the first 200 metres. We chose to play it safe and follow their advice. After this things got slightly easier but was still very difficult. After about 5 minutes of descending I noticed that I could pull my rear brake lever all the way back to my frame without any rear brake what so ever. The grade was still around 20% so you can imagine the thoughts going through my mind when this happened. I managed to stop and the brake was still all intact. I pumped the brake several times and got some power back. It turns out that the mechanic that fixed it later on said it is due to the fluid in the brake boiling due to overuse and old oil. He replaced the oil and hopefully it will be back on track tomorrow. Anyway after about 5km's of downhill it flattened out thankfully as our arms were aching from holding onto the brakes.

The next section was flat fire roads for about 5kms which rolled up and down. We then entered more single track for around 5kms following the creek line back into town. The single track was a great way to finish. We crossed the line in 5hrs and 19 minutes.

Total distance 52km
Total climbing  2000 metres.

Tomorrow's stage is shorter but has more climbing.

Stage 1

Hi All,

We are now back online and the race is over. Below is a summary of the last four days which were exhilarating but exhausting.

Stage 3
Today saw us leave the main street of Fernie for the 3rd day in a row. As we rode off from the start line the AC DC song highway to hell was blaring from the stereo which at the end of the stage I couldn't help but think how appropriate. Today's ride was in my opinion by far the hardest ride of the three days due to the amount of walking up step hills involved.
After a quick 2km on bitumen which was very misleading we then entered the first of 7 climbs all the same height as the Toowoomba Range. The first one was particularly nasty and almost all of the riders walked a very large part of it. When we got to the top we were greated with a small reprieve down for about 100metres of vertical drop and then went back up again another 200 metres to finish the first climb. By this stage I was thinking how silly doing this race was and wondered why anyone would punish themselves in this way. Matt on the other hand with his ostrich long legs seemed to be well suited to the hike a bike that would invariably dominate the stage. To his credit when I was getting very tired from the walking he would come back and help me out by pushing my bike like a true team mate would. I probably did not heed the warnings of the organisers to practice hiking with my bike enough and given my anatomically challanged limbs I was never really going to practice anyway it as I hate walking up hills. I would prefer to ride up them.
Anyway the first descent was named 'Swine Flu' and we both enjoyed the trail with the big wide berms. It was over almost as fast as it started and we were climbing again. This pattern of up then down repeated itself 6 more times. The trails in general were littered with more tree roots than the tracks we had already ridden which made things hard to ride up and down. There was a large amount of bridges and ladders to ride over which in some cases were a couple of metres off of the ground.
Anyway the stage finished at Island lake lodge which is about 1600 metres above sea level. Our time was 5hours and 40 minutes. We actually moved up two places today which is great considering how much I was suffering.
After the race we were told that we could catch a shuttle back to Fernie which was about 8km's downhill from our finish location. We waited for about 45 minutes and decided to ride back down. A lady who was with us coined the term 'Polish Massage' to describe riding back to your hotel room after a race. About a third of the way down the hill I heard a big bang and my rear tyre went flat. I looked down and I had a nice big nail in my tyre. About this time the shutltle passed us and I think we were both thinking we should have waited. After a quick tyre change we got to the bottom of the hill without too much fuss until we turned the wrong way on the highway thinking we were heading back into Fernie which in actual fact we were going futher South toward America. It took us about 2 km to realise and by this time our legs had certainly received their Polish Massage.
Anyway this may be our last update unitl we get to Canmore for the final stage as we are going into the wilderness for the next 4 stages. I will give a wrap up on the final stage if we do not get a wireless connection.

Today we raced the first stage of the race which was a 32 km time trial. Doesn't really sound so bad when you look at that distance but it was definately hard. The time trial starts with a nice 500 vertical metre climb over 5km's. This climb was incredibly steep in parts and the GPS device I use got to 38% on one of the sections. About half-way up the climb Matt got a puncture on his tubless tyre which looked like a sharp root tore a big hole in the tyre. The liquid designed to fill the hole inside the tyre could not seal it due to it being such a big chunk missing so we ended up putting a normal tube inside the tyre which held up for the rest of the first stage.
After the mammoth climb which wound itself around one of the many hills in the Fernie area and came to a definate peak with amazing views, we headed down the hill on the other side and were greated with even steeper sections than what we had just climbed up. It was some of the most difficult riding that we have ever done mostly due to the steepness. Canadians have a real fondness for making things steep and scary. We both made it down without any incidents and we checked into checkpoint 1 for some food and water.
After leaving checkpoint 1, I came off the bike riding up a hill section, which my riding friends will attest is more likely to happen for me going up than down. I fell on my shoulder and for the rest of the ride had quite a bit of tingling in my left triceps which was made worse by the constant braking. After the race I had a massage which help work out some of the soreness.
The remainder of the race was mostly singletrack that seemed to go up then down then back up again. There were sections of what they call northshore which is bridges, ladders and trees that are made into rideable objects. These were quite fun and a pleasant distraction from the steep hills which required more effort due to the concentration and braking.
Anyway we made it back into fernie in a time of 3 hours and 30 minutes which would have been around 15 minutes quicker without our mechanical issues. We are placed around half-way but we took it fairly easy today due to the remaining 6 days to come. Some of the riders doing this are sponsored worldclass athletes and it's great to see them in their element (and going twice our speed).
For the statisticians today’s ride was 32km, 1400m of climbing and around 95% singletrack.
Tommorrow's stage is a bigger stage with 52km of riding and 2000 metres of climbing. The consolation is the climbing is not as steep and mostly on fireroad which should make it easier.

Ryan and Matt

Progress Update 1
Hi All,

After a very long trip Matt, his wife Bekk and I made it to Fernie in one piece. We arrived around 6.00pm and by 10.00pm we crashed for a very well deserved sleep only before having a pint of ale at the local ski lodge. Although not part of our training regime it certainly helped me get to sleep on a somewhat confused body clock.

Today which is Friday here, we both woke up feeling somewhat refreshed and keen to see the local trails. I have always been an advocate of not riding two days before a race but the temptation was too great and we did an easy hour around the ski area which we are staying. The trails here are simply amazing and ride better than any other trails that I have ridden. I am sure we will be echoing that sentiment many more times before we go home.

After some lunch we then decided to go for a hike up the ski fileds. We caught the lift part way up and hiked a fair distance until a storm rolled in. A nice Canadian who was manning the top lift tower let us stay in his hut until it passed. We saw a few deer on our walk, ground squrrels and some fresh Bear prints.

Anyway thanks again to everyones donations, wellwishes and thanks to Luke for the cake which was greatfully eaten before we left.

Ryan and Matt

Wednesday, 8 June 2011

Sponsors List

Thank you to Bike Roar for their generous donation of $500.

BikeRoar is the most comprehensive bicycle review website aiming  to provide unbiased reviews to all cyclists. Whether you are a seasoned weekend warrior or a newbie to the sport of cycling you will be able to look up with confidence your next  bike, accessories, cycling holidays or latest cycling clothing and find comprehensive information as well as expert and user reviews to help you in your next purchase. BikeRoar will also provide a service where we can provide you with expert advice on your next purchase to take away the risk of buying the wrong item to give you confidence that you are buying what you need and that it will be compatible for you. So log onto  and register your interest to be notified of our launch day.

Thank you to David and Brenda Owen for their $20 donation.

A big thanks to Tim Pulsford for his donation of $100.

Thank you to Nick Verhoeven for is donation of $50.

A massive donation of $150 from Phil Elliot.

A super special thanks to Ian and Bronwyn Bowtell from Donaldson Electric Works for donating another $250 to the cause. I am sure Bryan will appreciate your massive contribution.

Thank you to Colin Williams for his donation of $20.

Thank you to Geoff and Lorraine Pauli for their generous donation of $50.

Thank you to Shelley Frampton for her kind donation of $50.

Thank you to Dave Archer from ARB for his generous donation of $85.

Thank you to Hamish Trumbell from Hillross for his donation of $50.

Thank you to Shane Archibald from SouthTown Tyre Centre for his generous donation of $100.

Thank you to Stuart Macdonald from Rudd Chains for his generous donation of $85.

Thank you David and Shaylee Fitzpatrick from Fitzpatrick Accounting for their generous donation of $100.

     Thank you Geoff Tyrrell from Rabobank for your donation of $50.

Thank you to Jason Rowe for his donation of $85.

Thank you to my brother Sean Myler for his donation of $50.

Thank you to James Wauch from Tamworth Hillross for his donation of $20.

A massive donation from the Toowoomba Mountain Bike club of $1,052.85 was received. Thanks to the executive for supporting Bryan and my ride.

TMBC website

A very special thankyou to Ian and Bronwyn Bowtell from Donaldson Electric Works for their kind donation of $250 to sponsor my ride.

Thanks to the Sydney Hillross duo of Brett Martin and Ryan Hooper for both donating $20.

Thankyou to Terry Pulsford from the Rabobank for Supporting my ride. Terry has made a generous donation of $100.

Tuesday, 31 May 2011

Up and Running

With only around 9 weeks to go things are up and running. I received commitment from the company that I work for Hillross to pay for 15 Jerseys which I plan on selling by way of donation to the Friends of Bryan. This has been a very generous offer from Hillross and should bring in close to $1,500 to the Charity. I have approximately 4 Jerseys left if anyone is interested please email me at


My brother in law (who is my riding partner in the transrockies) was also successful in approaching his company for a donation of $500 to Friends of Bryan. RUD are a sales and engineering company specialising in the industrial, mining, power generation and lifting sectors.  What a great start.  

For those wanting to make a donation please ustilise the direct deposit facilty of the Friends of Bryan Family Trust or make cheques payable to The Friends of Bryan Inc and post them to  c/ - Stacey Harland 20 Stewart St Withcott Qld 4352.

The Direct Deposit details are as follows;

Bryan Flemming Family Trust, National Australia Bank, BSB 084 961, Account Number 16 410 2994

Please also complete the request from here to receive a receitpt.  ttp://

If anyone has any ideas on how I should market this or who I should approach please post up your comments as I would love you to share your ideas.

Sunday, 15 May 2011

Inspiration - Where does yours come from

Take pause for a moment and ask yourself what inspires you?

On the weekend the family and I watched the end of Road cycling event held in Toowoomba aptly named 'Ride the Range'. The event is a 100km road cycling ride that finishes with a gruelling 6km climb that reaches 15% gradient in parts.

I decided to be a spectator for this particular event rather than participant due to my strict training plan which has me focusing on an easy week on the bike and I could see nothing easy about the range race. I am currently on a two week taper leading into a timed event called the Noosa 160km, which you have probably guessed starts and finishes in Noosa and covers 160km's of distance.

I found it difficult on the weekend not to compete especially given how many people I knew riding in the event. However I took something away from watching that I haven't experienced in awhile. I was really inspired especially by what I saw. It wasn't the local fast riders who got me thinking about inspiration but the every day rider who had never achieved a goal of this magnitude before.

A few examples in point: I was really moved by an inspirational Baby boomer who clearly had bitten off more than she could chew but kept on going in the face of difficulty. I could see her determination to finish even though her aching muscles were probably screaming to stop.

Another chap who was carting what appeared to be a Sherpa's backpack also impressed me. I could tell he was new to the sport by the fact that he was engaging in the act of maximisation not minimisation. I remember one of the first races I ever contested wearing a backpack with everything from food and water to a first aid kit contained inside. Over the years I have reduced my cartage to a pair of water bottles a few power bars to keep my weight down. Either way he was smiling despite his weight burden. 

Perhaps though my biggest inspiration came from a friend who completed the ride in a very respectable position. What was so motivational from his ride was perhaps the absolute satisfaction beaming on his face from having completed the ride and to have done so with very little preparation. I could sense the absolute wonderment of having done something that not everyone can do. It reminded me that anything is possible and I look forward to experiencing the same emotion at the end of my 7 days in Canada.

Best of luck with what motivates you.

Thursday, 28 April 2011

Training for cycling success

While I do not profess to be an expert in the field of Exercise Physiology, I probably have a little more insight into the mechanics of the human body than most. Although I have completed a Bachelor of Exercise Science many years ago, the real platform for my learning has been my voracious appetite to test training techniques and measure the results.

Prior to 2010 most of my training involved going for a hard ride 3-4 days a week with no real plan in mind. Despite my knowledge I convinced myself that my lack of performance was all genetically related, specifically my shorter legs, and that I would be better placed changing sports and competing against Gimley from 'Lord of the Rings' in a Power Lifting competition. I became frustrated with my results and started to research training techniques for cyclists. Once I started this journey a burning desire to improve my results began and my whole approach to training was turned upside down.

For those interested most of my training has been learned from Joe Friel's a 'Cyclists Training Bible' and from the work done by Dr Andy Coggan. I will try to summarise some of things that I have learnt in a simple fashion but please do not read this and expect to understand the 2 years of research that I have done in 10 minutes.

Ryan Tips:

1. Buy a training tool to measure your riding parameters. This can be done using a Heart Rate monitor, GPS device such as a Garmin with heart rate function or a Power Meter. If you have no way of recording how you are riding you will not be able to tell if you are improving.

2. Establish a baseline for the data you are measuring.

3. Create a training plan. Some rules that I follow include;

 - plan in 5 week blocks where the first 4 weeks progressively get bigger with the 5th week being no longer than half of the largest week. For instance in week 1 you ride 4hrs, week 2 5hrs, week 3 6hrs week 4 7hrs. Then week 5 will be no longer than half of the longest week which is 7hrs so therefore you should spend no more than 3.5hrs training during that week.

- Never do hard days on the bike consecutively. Always either have a rest day after a hard day or an easy ride day planned.

- Never have breakfast just prior to a ride. If you ride early mornings give breakfast a miss until you get home providing the training duration is not longer than 2 hours. If you do want breakfast first give your body 2 hours to digest it.

4. Sleep at least 8 hours a night.

5. If you start to feel a cold coming on only do light rides otherwise you will bring it on faster and make it more severe.

6. Train with the specificity principle in mind. running and swimming are good for cross training but if you are looking to become a great cyclist doing them will detract from your cycling fitness.

7.Weight training will not help make you faster on the bike. Check out Andy Coggan's research on this. Granted it may improve muscle imbalances etc. Weight training can also increase hypertrophy (Size) of muscles making you heavier.

8. A high Wattage, a measure of Power, or a high heart rate, that you can sustain for a race is a very good predictor of performance. This usually indicates that your anaerobic threshold (ability to clear lactate from the muscles) is quite high. For hilly races a high heart rate or wattage combined with a low weight (rider and bike weight) will be a winning combination. Therefore to become better at riding hills either increase you power at your anaerobic threshold or decrease your weight. Buying a lighter bike is not the preferred way of doing this.

9. Ride with people faster than you as they will teach you how they got faster. However do not sacrifice the plan by doing this too often. Only do this once a week so that their training does not rule your training. Morevover if you become the fastest rider in your group do not ride too many days with slower riders.

Good luck with your training.