Photos of readers

Do send in your “I’m in quarantine” shots (two max) along with brief captions.  Thanks. Today’s reader is Aussie Phil Finnimore, another in the series of bikers and motorcyclists who seem to be common among our readership (or common among those who send in photos!):

I see that I have been beaten to it by other readers who are cyclists, including the cute young Marc! Here are a couple of photos of me doing what I love. In 2018 I won the Tour de Bintan in Indonesia for my age group – over 65 (I am about a year older than Jerry) – and managed to collect three yellow jerseys over three days.

There were only 5 of us registered for the age group. Two of the others I knew from riding in Singapore where I lived at the time, and I was confident I could beat them. On the first day, the time trial of about 17km, only we three turned up. I won and took the yellow.

On the second day, the 144km Gran Fondo Classic (about 90 miles), the other riders turned up as well, and one of them absolutely thrashed us. Apparently, he had food poisoning the previous day. I came second, but because he did not ride the time trial, I was still leader in the GC, the General Classification, so I scored another yellow jersey.

For the third day, the Gran Fondo Century, the others had all decided enough was enough and gone home. All I had to do was manage to stay upright for 111km (about 70 miles). Not all that easy, since Bintan is hilly and hot – almost right on the equator. However, I managed to survive the third day on the bike, and consequently was rewarded with the third yellow – the only rider on the podium.

The Tour de Bintan is a qualifier for the UCI Gran Fondo World Championships, so I was able to compete in Varese, in Italy, proud to be wearing the Australian kit, as shown in the second photo. I qualified again in 2019, and competed in Poznan, Poland. Unfortunately, there will be no race this year.

Lockdown here in Byron Bay, Australia, is not too severe, so I can do about 250km per week of cycling.

33 Comments

  1. Posted May 20, 2020 at 2:38 pm | Permalink

    Wow! Well done Phil! I am a semi-serious cyclist; but not racing.

    I do a little 14-mile time trial on my own nearly every summer day. I average between 15.9 mph and 16.5 mph typically (I am almost 60), which feels good to me; but of course is a very pedestrian speed for real cyclists.

    I am really a touring guy.

    • phoffman56
      Posted May 20, 2020 at 3:34 pm | Permalink

      I can easily average 19 m.p.h.–just need to press the little accelerator button or put on electric IV level–it’s an e-bike!!

      Maybe I need to go to a retreat to get weaned off it, like a drug. I know my proper bike is working like a charm, but it’s too tempting.
      e.g. just finished a 50km an hour ago, but at least it was set at elec I. Higher levels deplete the battery in as little as 25km.

      I bought this thing last August, should have much sooner with the arthritic hip. But they replaced that hip in February. That leg now works like a charm, so there’s no reason not to get back on a real bike.

      This shouldn’t be all about me.

      What sort of times do the older age groups do at the international level on the bike? I realize it probably depends on course profile, but not too much as long as it’s a loop.

      I have never competed on bikes, but have in nordic skiing. There are some extraordinary performances.

      At the age of 60 in the
      REAL Birkebeiner (not to be called ‘Birkie’ please!) , Ola Kvaale did 3h 0m 5s for the 54 km, 1600 metre accumulated climb, over 2 mountain ranges, finish (Lillehammer) about 300 metres higher than the start (Rena). (He must have been pissed off about that 5 seconds!) I’m nowhere near that, and ‘success’ for people like me is a function of the average of the 5 fastest times. He’s exactly my skiing age so I could never escape him being in the same age category. I estimate he would lower the needed average by nearly 10 minutes often (and beat the winner in the next younger age category.)

      We’re 80-84 next year, but I can’t manage races like that anymore, and he seems to have quit about 3 years ago. Maybe somebody from Trondheim knows. That’s where the latest wunderkind is from as well, named Johannes Klaebo.

      • Paul Matthews
        Posted May 20, 2020 at 6:21 pm | Permalink

        Just skiing 54km at any age is a feat in itself. I never developed good enough skiing technique to seriously contemplate that kind of distance — it would have taken me all day.(That I only started skiing in my 30s is my excuse, though it’s a flimsy one.) I have a number of friends who are passionate skiers, one in particular is very good. He’s now well over 60 and still does our “Gatineau loppet” every year. That’s a 55km race (unless they have to shorten it because of poor conditions). I’m not sure what his times are like these days. I’ll have to look it up. Was the 3h 5s time you mention with skate skiing or classic style?

        • phoffman56
          Posted May 20, 2020 at 10:22 pm | Permalink

          Birkebeiner’s always classic–just ordinary in the track skiing for those not familiar.

          It’s a day’s driving each way for me, but I’ve done the long Gatineau one over 20 times, not especially fast for sure. Other World Loppets I’ve done about 10 of, many years ago (even Australia in 2005), but only Norway several times, because it’s the best and because we visit friends there very frequently. I’m always way down in the bottom half of my age category there. Gatineau might very well be the 2nd hardest of them. After 70 we don’t get ‘refined’ age categories like in Norway. There are plenty of over 80s who finish it over there. Gunnar Tronsmoen finished in the 90-95 category last year. Nobody this year, for obvious reasons. I could go on and on…

          Actually if you are close to Ottawa, they do have very good shorter races, around 25km and shorter, both classic Saturday and skating Sunday. The 50 km classic now is point-to-point, bussing you to the start, and it gets pretty hard on the hills behind Meech Lake.

          We used to cross Meech back before about 1995. What killed it was one year when it went up to +10 degrees C, and you had to double pole through about a foot of water on top of ice. Apparently Bilodeaux (Sp?) was in the lead group of about 7 who all just stopped when they realized what it was they were facing. He ‘plunged’, they all followed, after much “What the f…??”. Then a huge climb on the other side. Many more average skiers tripped and fell down on the way across, froze badly after the climb, and ended up in the sag wagon, as they call it in biking. I managed not to, just barely.

          • Paul Matthews
            Posted May 21, 2020 at 9:56 am | Permalink

            I figured the race you mentioned had to be classic—thanks for confirming. I remember well hearing about the waterlogged traverse of Meech Lake, though of course I didn’t do it myself. Was it really 25 years ago? Now part of race lore no doubt.

            My physical activity has dipped a lot in the last few years after being a serious recreational cyclist for most of my adult life. Our Australian co-reader (and subject of this post) is inspiring me to remedy this sad situation!

            By the way I looked up my friend’s time in this February’s Gatineau race: 3:30. He must be 65 now. Pretty impressive, even though I see the distance is now “only“ 50km.

            • phoffman56
              Posted May 21, 2020 at 10:04 pm | Permalink

              Averaging over 14km/hr for 3.5 hours is damn good at any age, certainly at 65, even if it was skating. Depends on snow temp too of course, but hills are still there! Too icy and fast makes many snowplow the downhill, and then get little of that energy returned.

              I guess that’s like a mountain stage in
              T. de F. when it’s rain and wind. Descents are very entertaining on TV. Those French cameramen on the motorbikes are great!

        • Posted May 21, 2020 at 8:16 am | Permalink

          I never could either (insufficient fitness is my explanation!). Though racing never attracted me, so there’s that as well.

          I mostly did mountaineering in my 20s and I did OK.

          I was very fast paddling sea kayaks in my 20s and was encouraged to enter races; but, again, racing wasn’t my thing. Touring was: Enjoying the environment. And challenging myself.

      • JezGrove
        Posted May 20, 2020 at 6:40 pm | Permalink

        “…to get weaned off it, like a drug” – clean cycling at last!

      • Posted May 21, 2020 at 8:14 am | Permalink

        Well done! 🙂

      • Posted May 21, 2020 at 8:29 am | Permalink

        I think we’ll be buying e-bikes when we retire: It’s about 1500 vertical feet from town up to our place, over 8 miles (in Washington state; I am in (pretty flat) Minnesota now). I think I will find that very challenging in my 60s and 70s! And there are narrow sections (with guard rails) where one would like to get through as quickly as possible for safety’s sake.

        • phoffman56
          Posted May 21, 2020 at 1:25 pm | Permalink

          One good thing while I was hobbled on one side was that, as long as you were careful with the battery, you felt like if something really goes bad physically (or e.g. a thunderstorm, hurricane, ..) there was a way to get back to the car or house pretty fast and easy.

          This Elby of mine did 87 km on a very careful
          Elec I (or 0 downhill) and the monitor gave 20% battery remaining after all that. I figure flat, no wind (and no wheel-sucking), it’s good for nearly 125 km., getting by with a little help from your friendly electrons, and a prayer to George Harrison.

          • Posted May 21, 2020 at 1:43 pm | Permalink

            Thanks, we will look into that type of ebike.

  2. Dominic
    Posted May 20, 2020 at 2:42 pm | Permalink

    Double wow !!!!

  3. Posted May 20, 2020 at 2:55 pm | Permalink

    Inspirational.

  4. Posted May 20, 2020 at 3:06 pm | Permalink

    Impressive record!

    …I’ve spent many a lock down in Byron Bay in the 90s — non-stop rain, road flooded out etc, and being cooped up in a share house with some ageing hippies who spend the whole yelling at each other for having bought the wrong kind of tofu.

    Have they built a bike path from Byron to Mullum yet, or do cyclists still have to risk their lives on the Pacific Highway (as do the motorists)? (I haven’t been there since 2000.)

    • Brujo Feo
      Posted May 20, 2020 at 3:12 pm | Permalink

      Wow…that is impressive. Riding 70 miles in hilly equatorial heat is one thing–doing it on the third day is quite another.

    • philfinn7
      Posted May 20, 2020 at 9:15 pm | Permalink

      No bike path from Byron to Mullum, and just a pipe dream I think. It is possible to take back roads, and also bits of the old highway, so the Pacific Highway can be avoided. However, I ride it often. The wrong kind of tofu in Byron? Hanging offence. 🙂

  5. rickflick
    Posted May 20, 2020 at 4:18 pm | Permalink

    Good way to stay in shape. 😎

  6. Paul Monné
    Posted May 20, 2020 at 5:12 pm | Permalink

    Nice bike! Argon 18, (a Canadian bicycle company), has a track bike that should set some WR times when Olympics or World Championships happen again. It’s a shame that the Australians, and not Canadians, are going to be competing on this machine. I started track riding last fall. Both of my local velodromes are closed for the duration.

  7. Scott Gerum
    Posted May 20, 2020 at 8:10 pm | Permalink

    Phil,

    Marc’s dad here: Thank you for the compliment.

    Its nice to imagine him winning his own yellow jersey one day. Best of luck in your next ride.

    Scott

  8. Gary
    Posted May 20, 2020 at 9:14 pm | Permalink

    I love the first picture. Ride it like you stole it!

  9. philfinn7
    Posted May 20, 2020 at 9:21 pm | Permalink

    I have to say I am a bit embarrassed about the beer gut! I should have photo-shopped that pic. Still, it’s good for downhill racing. Thanks for the various comments. Yes the Argon is a nice bike but the frame is a bit small for me. I still have it, still ride it, but I have recently acquired a Colnago as well. I hope you are all familiar with the n+1 rule – where n=the number of bikes you have, and n+1 is the correct number of bikes to own.

    • phoffman56
      Posted May 21, 2020 at 7:19 am | Permalink

      In what I call ‘old farts endurance sports’, the older you get, the more expensive the equipment you own. Then maybe retirement, unwelcome, but injury, who-knows-what, and you msybe feel a bit guilty about owning all that, those pairs of high end skis in my case. Our poles are pushing $500 these days!

      I’m hoping, when finally cannot continue, to find a young person interested to inherit it, but needs to be just the right size.

      • Posted May 21, 2020 at 1:51 pm | Permalink

        I can no longer ski due to knee injury. I used to free-heel the Washington Cascades and BC all winter.

        I recently gave away my gear. Most was bought in the 1980s and so the skis were hopeless behind the curve technologically.

        I still have my old climbing gear and I can still climb a little. I doubt I’ll ever do anything harder than 5.2 in future, if that. But, I can’t give it away. 🙂

        I’m not like Fred Beckey, who was still climbing pretty hard Cl 5 into his 70s and 80s. RIP. (I can highly recommend the film about Fred: Dirtbag.

        • phoffman56
          Posted May 21, 2020 at 4:33 pm | Permalink

          Liked the film, esp. that sign “will belay for food”. I’ve walked up to the top of any mountain I could, e.g. lived in Banff campgrounds for 3 months once. But never climbed. I cannot imagine getting now the hip flexibility it looks like you’d need to climb at old age.

          One thing–if you fall off then and kop it, as the Brits say, not so many years of remaining life you’ve thrown away!

    • Posted May 21, 2020 at 8:22 am | Permalink

      I have tried numerous bikes but I keep coming back to my hand-made Walter Croll frame (1992) that I toured with in 1992.

      I currently just have the Croll and a Cannondale suspended MTB.

      I am VERY tall (almost 2m), hence the custom frame. It runs with 1.6-inch tires, so I am not trying to set speed records. But it is comfortable and can be rode easily in gravel, dirt, etc., which we encountered plenty of in various places. (Australia, Germany, and Norway spring to mind.)

    • Posted May 21, 2020 at 1:46 pm | Permalink

      Almost all of my friends have BAS: Bike Acquisition Syndrome. They too follow the n+1 rule.

      BAS is a close relative to GAS: Guitar Acquisition Syndrome, which I have as well.

  10. Posted May 20, 2020 at 9:34 pm | Permalink

    I believe cyclists may have the best benefit from the COVID-19 pandemic. I used to commute on bike, but now I work at home. I should spend more time on my bike to take the advantage of the empty streets.

    • phoffman56
      Posted May 21, 2020 at 7:29 am | Permalink

      Nice for roller skiing too. But still gravel trucks on some of my route.

  11. BillyJoe
    Posted May 20, 2020 at 11:35 pm | Permalink

    Hi Phil, I’m a fellow Aussie, but about a decade younger.

    After 7 consecutive years riding the 200km “Sorrento Return” option of the “Around The Bay” cycling event, I rode the 250km option in October last year. It took just over 9:20 hours with another hour on the ferry across the bay at the 150km mark.

    It’s pretty flat, so pretty easy going unless there’s a head wind. I train on a alloy hybrid bike on the compact gravel of the Warburton trail (88km round trip) and do a lot of mountain trail running so, by the time I get on the carbon road bike on the smooth asphalt surface of the “Around The Bay”, the bike seems to just roll along all by itself.

    I don’t know yet if there’ll be an event this year but I was intending to go “the whole hog”, which is the 300km option with the extra 50km including two hills of 3km at 8%. It has to be done in 14 hours though, and that gradient is about my upper limit over that sort of distance.

    • Posted May 21, 2020 at 8:24 am | Permalink

      Well done! That’s hard cycling!

  12. Mark R.
    Posted May 21, 2020 at 12:06 pm | Permalink

    Nice photos. I don’t own a bike anymore. 😦


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