Brian Black is one of Reid Cycles, Reid Riders. Reid Riders are not professional cyclists or elite athletes, they are people just like you who have a passion for getting on their bike and enjoying life. Every now and then we send our network of Reid Riders new products to try, and in return we ask for their honest feedback. We share their reviews with you, and when relevant, take their feedback on board to improve our products for you.
Brian’s a keen cyclist and participates in events around the country, with a special interest in endurance races and triathlons. As well as providing product feedback, he leads the occasional group ride from our Sydney store, blogs about events, and loads more.
To me, cycling is a way of life. My source of fitness, transport, adventure and is something I passionately partake in everyday, if I’m lucky! It didn’t always used to be this way. Originally hailing from South-West Wales in the United Kingdom, rugby was more a religion than a sport. However, it was the purchase of my first road bike, the humble Reid Osprey, which changed everything. It was the realisation of my childhood desires to cycle and explore. Finally, late nights staying up to watch the Tour de France thinking that looks exciting, were now a reality. My adventurous spirit has finally been unlocked, beginning by exploring all that Sydney and the Northern Beaches has to offer, all on two wheels.
I was fortunate to have made some exercise buddies and regularly joined them for their social Sunday rides which helped to build my confidence and road riding experience. Now good friends, Sarah Anne and Warren Evans of Karmea Fitness continue to expand their fitness community, spreading their word of balanced exercise, lifestyle and nutrition.
As a keen runner, my new Reid was also my entry into the world of triathlon. I initially began small by participating in the sprint triathlons organised by Warringah Tri Club at Manly’s North Head. My first “big” triathlon was the last of the Sydney Olympic ITU series, an absolutely iconic course crossing one of the most famous bridges in the world some six times during the bike leg.
My triathlon participation recently culminated with the Husky Long Course race in February 2014. Despite my now trusty Reid Osprey being some two and half years old and having covered some 25,000km in its lifetime, I called upon it once more to get me through my first long course event. Much to the amusement of my triathlon friends, with their carbon fibre time trial bikes, I was confident the strong aluminium framed Reid would not only get me through the bike leg, but would do so exceptionally well.
As it turned out, over the 83km bike leg course, only five bikes were able to pass me on the day, four of which were professional triathletes including Pete Jacobs. Whilst the Reid may have looked out of place racked against some of the expensive time trail bikes, the position of 25th out of 68 and average speed of 33.75km/h on an undulating course speaks for itself (Strava Activity Log)
Having built up a good cycling base over a year of cycling around well known Sydney routes, such as West Head, Akuna Bay, Palm Beach and further afield to Three Gorges (consisting of Berowra Waters, Galston Gorge and Bobbin Head), The Royal National Park and crossing the Hawkesbury River to catch the Ettalong Ferry from Central Coast back to Palm Beach, I felt it was time to get really adventurous. So it began with a 3-day weekend epic ride from Manly to Newcastle, via Copacabana on the first day. A nip up to check out the beautiful Port Stephens on the second day and finally home from Newcastle, via Copacabana once again. A total of 600km over the three days and some 24 hours of riding.
Whilst pleased with my personal feat, I was most pleased with my $450 Reid Osprey, which was faultless. (Strava Activity Log Day 1: Stage 1, Stage 2, Stage 3; Day 2: Stage 1, Stage 2; Day 3: Stage 1, Stage 2).
Since this, the trusty Reid has been with me through two tours of the Snowy Mountains, using picturesque Jindabyne as base camp. After spending some time down in the New South Wales High Country, I started to develop the taste for hill climbing. After getting to grips with the infamous Tom Groggin, a climb of some 18km in length, with over 1,000 metres elevation and consistent pinches of up to and over 16%, I knew what real hills were all about.
The next logical step seemed to be to try a cyclo-sportive and my first was the Fitz Challenge in October 2013. Having never done anything like this before, I had no idea what to expect or how I would fair. Conditions were perfect on the day for the cycle, which took some ten and half hours in the saddle to complete the 253km Fitz’s Extreme Challenge (Strava Activity Log) with an accumulated elevation of over 5,000 metres. Crossing the finish line, my first thought was never again! But, the battle against cramp, the struggle against the ever present headwind, the determination to get to the top of the next crest, the seemingly endless eating of energy bars, gels, bananas, cake, sweets, water and sports drink to the point where you don’t think you can consume another mouthful or push another pedal stroke quickly begin to fade as soon as they appeared.
The exhilaration and satisfaction of finishing an epic cyclo-sportive begins to sink in, and far from thinking never again, you think about how good it will be next year!! Once again, the plucky Reid Osprey had got me through another milestone and in some style, proving you don’t need to spend the big bucks to do some serious and enjoyable riding.
Needless to say, it wasn’t long before I had designs on another challenge. This time a self supported effort to circumnavigate the Snowy Mountain roads which encompass Mount Kosciuszko, Australian mainland’s tallest peak. The challenge, to ride the 322km from Jindabyne clockwise around Kosciuszko, past Thredbo, down the steep Tom Groggin descent, turning north at Snowy Creek which marks the New South Wales/Victorian border, north to Khancoban (Strava Activity Log). From Khancoban I continued to head north towards Cabramurra, the highest permanently inhabited town on the Australian continent, meant a significant climb was going to be required. Following a short break in Cabramurra having cycled some 170km of hilly Snowy Mountain roads in 9 hours, I was just over half way in terms of distance, but lagging on time.
If you are extremely optimistic, which of course helps immensely as an endurance rider, the rest of the way home was all virtually downhill, since I was almost at the top of Australia as it were. So, I rolled onwards to the hook up with the Snowy Mountains Highway and began to follow the road southbound towards Lake Eucumbene and my next target, Adaminaby. From here, it was virtually the home straight. From Adaminaby I continued to head towards Cooma, before turning off towards Berridale on the Middlingbank Road.
Soon I would be on familiar territory and would know that completing this challenge was quickly becoming a reality with every turn of my increasing weary legs and rotation of those ever trustworthy Reid Osprey wheels. After setting off at 5:30am on New Year’s Eve 2013 with fog and low temperatures of four degrees celsius passing Thredbo on the Alpine Way to almost completely running out of water climbing my way along the Tooma Road towards Cabramurra in temperatures of 32 degrees, I finally made it back to basecamp in Jindabyne some fifteen and a half hours later.
An absolutely epic day in the saddle riding the beautiful New South Wales High Country roads and maybe the first time ever done on a Reid! But I’m guessing, it won’t be the last.