Bikes from the bunch – Bright, Victoria (part 1), Giant
Some of the best lessons about cycling equipment come from the end user. For almost 20 years, RIDE Cycling Review conducted vox pops with cyclists of training bunches everywhere. Here is part one from #RIDE75…
There is a small corner of Victoria, not too far from the NSW border, which is a slice of cycling heaven. There are graceful mountains, fast valleys, twisting descents and excellent cafes, all of which combine to make Bright one of the best places to take your bike for a superb day of fun and challenges.
It doesn’t matter if your tyres are fat or thin, your bars are straight or dropped, or even how many seats are attached to the frame: Bright caters for everybody.
Known as a ski mecca, it’s nestled in among the towering peaks of Mt Buffalo, Mt Hotham and Falls Creek: Bright has reinvented itself as a focal point for two-wheeled recreation, as well as myriad other outdoor pursuits such as paragliding, trail running, kayaking and climbing or abseiling.
What better location, then, to find a former national road race champion, a former Tour of Flanders and Liège-Bastogne-Liège competitor and an Australian cyclist who has the perhaps dubious distinction of being on the receiving end of an angry fist from French five-time Tour de France champion, Bernard Hinault? Wayne Hildred (above) is that man and he still loves cycling.
These days, he runs ‘Bright Velo’, the kind of focal point that cyclists across the planet would give their favourite bike to be able to access. It’s a cafe, it’s a hotel, it’s a hang-out with plenty of seating and countless memorabilia and posters and jerseys, creating an atmosphere which has cycling at its very core.
Wayne has run the business for five years after a storied sequence of eclectic careers which involves everything from driving road trains, to working on an oil rig, to working in a food processing plant, to being a broke cyclist in Europe, farming in New Zealand… and, of course, swapping turns with Hinault and winning a national championships solo with an advantage of five minutes over the bunch.
What started out as a plan for his partner to run a cafe and for him to run a cycling tours business ended up being a full-time role in the coffee shop, with Hildred becoming the barista. There is also a small hotel to run, the end result being that Wayne has no time for his bike tours business.
“I could show you photos of 150 bikes spread out here, and a sea of bike riders in November,” he said of his busier months.
As with many outdoor business ventures, the weather and the seasons play their part.
“Melbourne Cup weekend is just unbelievable – they’re lined up to the door for four hours. We do a kilo of coffee on quiet days, we’ll do six or seven kilos on these busy days.”
In the five years Wayne has been running the business, he has seen the number of cyclists increase significantly.
“I could see it coming and there was no one in Bright looking after cyclists. Now they all do! In the first four years we really nailed it, and then there’s been other cafes built.”
– See our interview below to find out about the bike Wayne rides. –
Wayne (top) is one of four riders from a training bunch in Bright, Victoria, who was interviewed about his Giant bike (above) by Graham Springett in February 2017.
- Age: 61.
- Height: 173cm.
- Weight: 78kg.
“Giant TCR. I’ve never taken much notice of how my bike performs, it’s all been about me and how I performed. The bike was just a bike. However, my fastest descent on Tawonga Gap was on an EMC – the bike was getting old, lots of creaks and groans, and I needed to upgrade. My coach had contacts with Giant in Melbourne so they got me a medium TCR with slightly longer cranks, 172.5, and it is great.
“I won the [Masters] nationals on it, the Victorian championships… I was fourth in the worlds on it.”
“Shimano Dura-Ace 11-speed. I had the opportunity to go electrical but I’m old school, I like to know there’s a connection between when your finger hits the button and the gears. The gear change is smooth, it’s clean, it’s quick.
“The sprocket selection helps a lot, but on an 11-28 it needs to have closer jumps in the mid-range. Instead of 11, 12, 13, 14, 15, 17, 19, 21, 23, 25 and 28 – as the gears you always use are in the middle – having fewer double jumps is better. Maybe go 11, 13, 15, 16, 17, 18 and 19 and then double jump again. I don’t know if they can do that but what happens is that the middle range is what you use all the time and you’re always looking for small increments. When you hit a hill or you’re sprinting you’re looking for big changes.”
“About 350 a week. About 17 hours a week, I always go on hours… Uphill and downhill kilometres average out. My average training speed is 26, it used to be around 27. I was probably putting out 220 watts in the old days, at a cadence of 100-110 rpm. These days I’m probably 180-200 watts. If I’m on a program I’m watching my power all the time. I get used to what I’m doing and try not to stare at it, but I’m always glancing down to check.”
“Modern frames are definitely stiffer and lighter. This is four kilos lighter; I weighed my 1986 bike and it’s 10.5kg. I used to ride a Vitus and I found it to be too flexible, too soft in the bottom bracket. I got a guy in Sydney to build me a Columbus SLX frame which has spiral reinforcing in the bottom six inches of the main tubes. It’s like rifling, and it strengthened the bottom bracket. That was steel as opposed to the Vitus alloy frame. I went for a stiffer, heavier frame and my climbing improved out of sight.”
“I might go back to a shorter crank, I think that might make a difference. I get the feeling the crank is too long for my leg length. I used to race on 172.5mm but I never had a good sprint. My sprinting improved in later years when I was on 170. And in the head area, it’s too twitchy. I don’t know if it’s angles or what, but on a downhill or flat sprint, out of the saddle, it’s tricky. Uphill it’s better.”
Wayne Hildred (in a TT in 2015, above) will say that Bright is absolutely ideal for cycling, and he’ll probably do so while you sit in his cafe before or after a ride in the mountains.
All the ‘Bikes from the (Bright) Bunch’ interviews, click the links below:
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Note: the format for the ‘Bikes from the Bunch’ features in RIDE Cycling Review varied slightly over the years but the basis of the vox pops was a series of topics that allowed the rider to talk about what they rode.
We’ll be posting online versions of this popular series and, as many readers already know, the themes are:
- The Bike
- The Groupset
- Kilometre Count
- Good Points
- Bad Points
Sometimes there was a need for a little prompting, but often the cyclists had plenty to say about their investments.