The King’s Men, Melbourne are a bunch of Unhinged riders. You can check them out here.
The story goes that once upon a time there was a very strong rider amongst a city of strong riders. Tired of leading groups, this strong rider boldly declared:
“I am the King, if any of you are strong enough to follow where I lead then follow me”.
The newly (self) declared King proceeded to then lay down the gas, leaving most riders in his wake. However, a small group of brave riders dug deeper than deep in order to follow the King. And thus, The King’s Men were born. It may not quite have gone down like this but you get the drift… And I can say without hesitation that the quicker riders amongst this group are animals. Not ordinary animals either.. they are Hounds of Hell!
As you will be aware, the Unhinged Cyclist undertakes his annual business trip winter training camp in Melbourne every February. One might say that he travels from the lands of the Queen of England to do so.This year it was a monster and a future blog will give a summary of my exploits. However, one of my main goals was to ride with the King’s Men. I had heard about them 2 years ago and, to be honest, was a bit daunted by the prospect of riding with them then. Last year, the day I chose to ride with them was a “Daisy Day” or their easy ride. What I wanted was a crack at Full Noize.
Full Noise, or “FN” – comprises an easy pace in 2×2… formation to Club Clinger, issuing of instructions / ride brief by The King or designated rider, followed by an all out painfest in rolling formations.
Basically, Full Noize is a full on chain gang over 21km from a toilet block in Mordialloc to the brown sign at the Elwood BP near St Kilda. Check out the Strava segment.
Prior to commencing Full Noize there is an easy roll down to the toilet block (known as Club Clinger). At which point, The King (or one of his trusted men) will give a speech. After that the festival of pain commences.
More on this later.
It’s all in the Name
Now, as you might have guessed, I love a good nickname. I have been given a few and awarded myself a few over the years. I currently have the following on the go:
- Robbie J – My old DJ name (which also came to the fore in Melbourne recently)
- The Mower – forming a key part of my cycling identity
- The Unhinged Cyclist – more of a state of mind than a nickname but there you go
- RS1 – a cunning ‘number one’ added after the initials. Broadly awarded to the racers of Southborough Wheelers after “MK1” adopted the moniker. No real rules as to how you earn your “1” which needs tightening up in my opinion but I digress.
Now the King’s Men (“TKM”) subculture is all about the name. It takes months to go from a ‘Random’ to a Knight when one can wear the Kings Men kit and is awarded a name.
During my encounters with TKM I met the following fine gentlemen:
- The King
- The Skunk
- The Crack
- The Ghost
- The Boxer
- The Pimp
- The Padawan
- The Sherpa
- The Snapping Turtle
Good names on the whole. The current rankings give a flavour of some other names.
Half Mongrel – Tuesday 7th February, 6am
So, the Half Mongrel ride is designed to be a bit more sedate than Full Noize, allowing some of the wannabes a chance “To Roll” or to enjoy the pain of being in the paceline and doing turns rather than hanging on for dear life.
And for those that do not know what a half mongrel is, I refer you to the Urban Dictionary.
The Mower/Unhinged Cyclist/Robbie J/RS1 rocked up at the meeting point and introduced himself as Rob. He did not introduce himself as the Mower as that would have been quite presumptuous and would certainly have not done him any favours.
After a few pleasantries we started to ride down the coast at an easy pace in 2 x 2 formation. I slotted in but, to my surprise, nobody took up the space next to me. Fair enough. I knew that they are brutal with new blood and thus realised that I should probably have been at the back. As the pairs peeled off after doing a turn at the front I wondered if anyone was going to slot in. Nay, this did not happen. In fact, when I got to the front the two behind actually dropped the pace to see if I would ride off ahead like a lemon. Thanks Boxer. Thanks Sherpa. I was wise to this, however, and backed off until they thanked me for my effort and told me that they would take over. I enjoyed the exchange.
At the toilet block, the Kings Speech was delivered by The Stealth due to the absence of The King. Half of it can be found here.
The games then commenced. Even though this was a Half Mongrel day, I averaged 47.5kph over 26min 38s with a max speed of 64.1kph and max power of 1118W for a max HR of 177bpm. There were at least 2 stops for red lights! It was fairly rapid.
I did my turns for the most part and even did some (respect gaining) work to close a gap and was in the mix at the finish. It was hard but I was comfortable enough. Conditions were good with a gentle tailwind (2.8m/s) for the segment. I made one error in the ride by cutting in to the slower line and was told in no uncertain terms “if you are rolling, you roll all the way to the front”. I took this on board in the spirit that it was given and overall I was pleased with my effort.
Thursday would be a very different story.
Full Noize – Thursday 9th Feb, 6am
So I rocked up at the meeting point feeling full of beans, confidence and the remnants of a fair amount of alcohol (for me) from a team dinner the night before (but NO. EXCUSES).
I had garnered a modicum of respect from a few of the King’s Men as a result of Tuesday’s exploits. This afforded me with a ride partner on the roll down to Club Clinger, none other than The Skunk who is a thoroughly nice chap.
The big issue that we all had to face was the mahoosive headwind that was blowing straight down Beach road for the FN segment. In this instance “mahoosive” is defined as 10.1m/s = 36.4km/h = 22.6mph depending on your persuasion. The handy little app, mywindsock, suggests that this results in an air penalty of 8.6km over the segment. In Queens English it was to be fucking hard.
After a speech by the King himself, we rolled out at 6:40am.
There were at least 40 in the peloton. After about 40 seconds of easing into it, a couple of dudes at the front brought the Full Noize. At this point I immediately found myself doing 1000w just to hold the wheel in front. It was around this time that I made my first mistake by sitting in the pace line. I had it in my mind that I was going to pull my turns. I was doing around 400w in 4th wheel and as I approached the front this rose to over 600w pretty much until i was relieved of duty. My HR was 200bpm at this juncture with my previous all time max being 192. I was in big trouble..
1 min 40s later I was back on the front again pushing another 600w.. The good news was by this time my HR had settled down. The bad news was that I was cooked and too close to the sharp end with only about 8 riders rolling turns. I was stranded. I tried to sit in but it seemed that I was literally the first guy in the line who was not pulling turns which meant that it was requiring another 5-600w just to hold the wheel. By 6:46am I was done and out of the line.. 11 dudes then came passed me. The initial peloton of 40 was already reduced to under 20.
The video tells the story.
It was carnage. There were King’s Men all over the road so it wasn’t long before I was picked up another group. When I say picked up, I mean somehow found another 600w to get on the back of it. We then rolled turns through to the Brown sign which was still tough enough to be fair. My group included the King himself.
At the coffee stop afterwards, I learned that about 8 King’s Men had made the selection in one of the harder Full Noize rides due to the headwind. Hounds of Hell each and every one of them..
At the time I was disappointed as you might expect but, on reflection, I think that I did ok. I could have held on for longer if I had not pulled those turns at the start but where is the fun in that? And it would have only delayed the inevitable.. It also leaves me with some unfinished Unhinged business for next years’ training camp…
‘From the Queen of England to the Hounds of Hell’
As an aside, I hope that you enjoyed the soundtrack that accompanied the video. It is a remix of the White Stripes that I did in a previous lifetime when I fancied myself as a record producer. Possibly a little bit like David Brent wanting to be a rock star in his recent movie (but marginally cooler).
And yes the vocals are laid down by Robbie J. The guitar riff is not. That was done by a pretty cool producer known as King Roc.
This blog has just taken an unexpected turn from the humorous to the sad. It has been a long time since I have been in touch with Martin Dawson AKA King Roc. As I just went online to find a link to his profile for the blog I have found out that he passed away in November 2012. This is really sad news. Martin was a great DJ and producer and very generous with his time for a wannabe like me. RIP King Roc. You can read about him here and listen to some of his work here.
Thanks for reading. Next up, we have an update on the Unhinged Strava GC.