Friday, 24 June 2016

The Vintage Bean

The Vintage Bean is one of McLaren Vale's newest cafes as they just opened their doors in August of 2015. I believe I first stopped by The Bean in November --on my bike of course-- and have been a regular ever since.

The cafe is easy to find as it is right on Main Road in McLaren Vale proper. Specifically at the corner of Main and Field which also happens to be the start of the Willunga Hill stage of The Tour Down Under. For those of you wanting a map then check out The Bean's facebook page.

Jo and Martin wanted a special theme for their cafe and they picked a great one: retro 1970's. Complete with beads in the doorway, an old, TINY, red telly with of course broken rabbit ears, a rotary dial phone, and one of those "Ground Hog Day" clocks!

Along with some very dated looking (in a good way) tables and chairs, there are also 2 of the most comfortable couches ever and 5 of The Most Comfortable chairs ever. If you've never sat in one of those plush 70's chairs then just trust me when I tell you they are Comfortable.

See those two chairs across from the couch? You. Will. Never. Want. To. Get. Up.

Their coffee is spectacularly great as The Vintage Bean has partnered with Fleurieu Roast so that the beans used are roasted and ground right on premises making for a darned fine cuppa. I'm partial to cappuccinos when I'm riding and I think a cappuccino from The Vintage Bean is the best in the Vale.

Need a quick hit of sugar with that caffeine to finish up a ride? No worries! A few months ago a sidewalk signboard appeared out front advertising coffee and muffin for $7 Woo-Hoo! The muffins (along with ALL their cakes) are made daily on premises by their French chef Jean. The man knows his stuff.

And if you REALLY need a delicious hit of sugar then get one of their hot brownies mates! Served hot n chewy with a dollop of fresh cream. It is great after a long day in the saddle mates.

A vine-covered fence right out front makes a very handy bike rack, no worries.

I have only had the pleasure of eating a "real" meal there once and I can tell you without any reservations that the buttermilk pancakes are delicious! Sorry, no photos of them as I ate em too quickly.

A very nice feature in the summer is that their frontage faces South. Which means of course that you can sit at one of the four tables on the walk out front and be in the shade on a hot day. Perfect!

Unlike many cafes in the Southern region of Adelaide they are open 7 days a week! 8AM to 4PM even on most holidays --they were even open every day of the 4 day Easter Weekend this year! This is of course great news when you are out riding on Holiday Weekends.

Whether you arrive via bicycle, car, motorcycle, skateboard, scooter, or feet The Vintage Bean is a great place to start or finish a day of meandering through McLaren Vale or continuing farther South to elsewhere on The Fleurieu Peninsula.

Friday, 17 June 2016

Corkscrew Road

Corkscrew road is one of Adelaide's more popular short climbs --more so now that the Tour Down Under has started using it! And besides, just HOW can you resist telling your mates that, "Yeah, I did The Corkscrew today." Just make sure you use a smug but nonchalant tone :)

I don't recommend riding up The Gorge Road out of town to get to the North end of Corkscrew road. That section not only has many blind corners and no shoulder but is also used by the petrol-heads on the weekend. It's better to go up Montecute Road and start at the top of Corkscrew and ride down it IMO.

Also that way you can stop on the switchbacks and take cool photos on the way down! Just take it easy on the descent around the turns as there's usually a bit of loose gravel on the bitumen.

You can probably guess how the road got its name.

Corkscrew Road connects The Gorge Road to Montacute Road and averages 7% over its 3.6 kilometre length. A lot of folks only start the climb just past the creek bridge. That section is only 2.3 km and 8% for an elevation gain of 200 metres. Nice, round-ish numbers!

The numbers for the screwy part (that blue circle in the above pic, DUH) are: 400 metres in length, 4 switchbacks, and 46 metres in elevation gain for an average of 11.5%.

Some serious numbers for sure; especially if you hit it hard. Make sure you take the wide way around each switchback so you'll "only" see 17% on your gps unit; I have NO idea how far into the 20's it'd be if you took the steep inside line.

When you are past the steep stuff and riding up to Montecute Road don't forget to look over your shoulder and think, "Hell yeah, I pedaled up that!"

Corkscrew is one of those climbs in the Adelaide Hills that always makes various Adelaide cycling Top Ten lists and for good reason --heck the name itself is enough! It is also one of those climbs that I consider only to as hard as you make it. Of course 8 months ago I would have died on the climb so it's a relative thing!

At the top you can turn right to go back down to Adelaide, or turn left and go exploring. Enjoy!

The Strava segment for the whole length of the road is right here.