‘LATIGO @ 158 bpm’

August 21, 2011

Turning 40 is a mile stone birthday we’re told to celebrate and celebrate big.

For my 40th, I decided to spend a week with my best mates in Los Angeles and Santa Monica, my old ‘home’. A week of eating, drinking – did I mention drinking? And riding.

My birthday present to myself was an accent of Latigo Canyon. A 9.2-mile mountain climb I’d ridden many times over the years with my buddies Johnny Smelzer, Michael Kelley and David Lee.

We are all united through a passion or self-torture for road cycling. Hours spent on two wheels, sitting on a pole,peddling, duelling with cars, legs shaved and 40 mile per hour descents protected by an armour of Lycra!

'The Boys' - Johnny Smelzer, David Lee, Justin O'Brien, Michael Kelley

There is something ‘mentally satisfying’ even ‘mystical’ about climbing Latigo Canyon. So on the day of my birthday Johnny and I rolled out with a group of cyclists and set off up the Pacific Coast Highway (PCH) towards Malibu and 40 minutes to the Latigo turn off.

“9.2 miles of just sheer hell”, is how Michael Kelley describes Latigo.

Michael is the ‘fastest’ out of the four of us – followed closely by David Lee. “It is a great climb, it’s like a Tour de France climb .. Minus the French crowds lining the road, spitting on you!”, says Michael cracking a smile.

I’ll never compete in the Tour de France, but climbing Latigo makes you dream you could. It’s steep, alternating from 4.7% and 12% to the summit.

David Lee, who I first met in a spinning studio is a successful working actor and the funniest of our bunch. “It’s a bit of a ball breaker if I must be honest .. It brings out the honest man in you”, David says describing Latigo.

A view of Latigo Canyon, Malibu. California USA

“The first summit is a bit of an illusion because you get up there .. you think you’re there, then you pop around the corner and then there is suddenly another five miles to go and it’s kind of a little disheartening because it kicks up a little bit”, says David.

Most cyclists take between 35 minutes to an hour to climb to Latigo’s second summit. Johnny and I are part of that latter group!

My speedo is a heart rate monitor, the title of this story. 158 bpm – 158 beats per minute. There is no cheating on the road. I know I can push/peddle 158 bpm for an hour, increase it to 170 and I’ll throw up!

After 30 minutes zig zaging our way up Latigo’s bends, Johnny and I climb through the California coastal ‘June Gloom’ and into sunshine. We pass the time chatting, putting-shit-on each other.

A climbing graph of Latigo Canyon, Malibu. California USA

“What ring are ya in Johnny?”, I ask him. “The easiest one I got”, he replies.

“How about you?”

I quickly reply, “I got one gear left.”

“Ah…. You do not!”, Johnny fires back! I laugh and we peddle on.

15 minutes later we’re at Latigo’s second summit sharing a chocolate bar and jam sandwich before the 12 minute descent back to the PCH, then dinner and margarita’s.

It was the great birthday and I wouldn’t have spent it doing anything else!


    

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‘IRISH BACKBACKER’S STOLE MY CAR’

November 23, 2009
Cenotaph grass damaged by hoon

'SKID MARKS'

An 18 year old man has told Northern Territory Police – two Irish Backpacker’s stole his Toyota Hilux Ute and then crashed it at the site of Darwin’s War Memorial.

The teenager reported the theft at the Darwin City Police Station just after mid-night. According to Superintendent John Emeny, the man told Officers: “Whilst he got out to have a cigarette  … two Irish backpackers jumped into his vehicle and drove off causing it to roll.”

But under further questioning by Officers at the scene of the crash, the teenager admitted he had made the story up. He told Police the crash occurred while he was doing donuts on the grassy area in-front of the Cenotaph, at the Eastern end of Darwin’s Esplanade. The right-hand side front wheels dug into the dirt at one stage and a shift in weight caused the Ute to roll onto its side.

Cenotaph - 'Hoon'

'FILLING THE GAPS'

Darwin City Council workers spent several hours repairing the damage to the grass, filling in ‘wheel-rut’ marks left by the speeding car. 40 metres from the Cenotaph, the grassy area is used to seat the thousands of people who attended the Bombing of Darwin, ANZAC Day and Remembrance Day Celebrations each year.

Darwin Lord Mayor Graeme Sawyer believes the damage to the Cenotaph was limited because the ground is still hard, just weeks away from the wet season. But Mr Sawyer is appalled by the behaviour of the teenager, considering the significance of the area. “You’d have to be pretty stupid wouldn’t ya … obviously alcohol played a part. But just the attitude of someone who’d do something like this”.. The Lord Mayor said.

 The 18 year old recorded a blood alcohol level of one point six three – more than three times the legal limit. Police have also impounded the teenager’s Ute for 48 hours, using new Northern Territory anti-hooning legislation.  

'THE HOON VEHICLE'

'THE HOON VEHICLE'