It's been a while since we've posted anything up as we've been having too much fun. I guess we've been quietly accumulating some stories and pictures.
A number of projects have been completed during the last 6 months, I've finally built my dream bike, it's a mixture of old and new. Scott has gone titanium whilst Gareth has completed his Gazelle. I'm also slowly completing a Van Werkhoven townie for my sister and Huw has finally replaced the broken Bianchi. We will be showing you more photos during the coming days and weeks.
Further to this, we've ridden up Baw Baw, Lake Mountain, Terrys Avenue, Donna Buang, Dandenongs and countless repeats of Yarra Boulevard. Oh, Niall and Scott have also joined a local club and are now racing track on weekdays!
Along with the scenery, we've also met some good friends along the way.
It's been a very eventful past few months and we can't wait to fill you in with what's been happening!
I wear dirt on the outside because dirt is how I feel on the inside.
Well I completed The 3 Peaks Challenge, just. I‘ll refrain from giving you a full account, partly because I was in too much anguish to take any photos. Instead I’m going to reflect on what I learnt in the lead up and on the day, and what I’ll change for next year. These reflections are probably more for my benefit than yours.
Top 5 things I feel that I did wrong:
1. I rode a bike on which I’d ridden a total of only 70km. I really needed to make sure everything is dialled in (fit and mechanicals), and generally trust the bike. For example I rolled up to the start line ready to descend Falls Creek only to discover that my stem was slightly loose and my front wheel was askew, which could have been very, VERY bad news if I hadn’t noticed it.
2. I took too much food. Not a bad thing per se, but the event was surprisingly well catered for. By the time I grabbed something at each rest stop and collected my valet bags I could barely fit it all in my pockets. Luckily I could send a bunch of stuff back to Falls in my lunchtime valet bag.
3. I didn’t get creative enough with my valet bags. I got very sick of sweet things. Instead of more bars and gels put something in there that you’re going to look forward to, even if it’s just a vegemite scroll, or some fruit, or whatever, just something to break up the monotony.
4. I jumped onto a group that was riding outside my limits, and subsequently did some turns up the front. This would have been ok if I was doing a shorter ride, but I can almost certainly say that the 30km from Porpunkah to Ovens at 40km/h+ in 40 degree heat was the beginning of my undoing.
5. I underestimated the effect the heat would have on me. After dealing with some close to zero temperatures while riding through winter and getting into some sketchy situations, I should have known that it would be equally as dangerous at the other extreme.
Top 5 things I feel that I did right:
1. I was friendly to everyone who would accept it. You never know if you’re going to end up having to work with somebody. Having a chat was the perfect distraction from the task at hand. I humbly apologize if I talked excessive amounts of shit at you if you were (un)fortunate enough to ride with me.
2. I swallowed my pride and stopped whenever I overheated, which was frustratingly often. I have a feeling that some people may have pushed on and got themselves into all kinds of strife. I saw one guy uncontrollably vomiting on the side of the road at the 200km mark…
3. This has been said already, but it’s so true. I broke the ride into bite sized pieces, just aiming for the next rest stop. I can’t imagine how much energy I would have wasted if I had have worried about the final climb up Falls for the whole 200km prior.
4. I continued to drink regularly even though my bidons felt like they were filled with tea, and they were supposedly insulated! Maybe I’ll try to find an esky that will fit in a valet bag for next year.
5. Taking most of February off the bike may sound like a ridiculous idea, and it probably was, but forced me to train very carefully for the 3 or so weeks before 3 Peaks. I just had to made sure that I reacquainted myself with some HC climbs (more for the mental boost), and that I didn’t exhaust myself. In the end I felt pretty good despite the long break.
In conclusion: Yes I finished, but nowhere near as comfortably as I was planning. I was feeling rather cosy sitting on the 10.5 hour mark at lunch, but some momentary lapses of reason and some high mercury saw me only just make it over the line in time. I can’t wait to take on the traditional route next year!
Here at VVMCC we let our posts age like a fine wine before distributing them to the masses, which is convenient, because at the same time we’re all a little bit lazy.
I promised you an account of my Festive 500 campaign, well I’m not going to bore you with a km by km account, especially as most of them were pretty wussy, but I will tell you about my Festive 500 ‘Queen Stage’. My plan on Christmas Eve was to tackle a ride of similar proportions to 3 Peaks Challenge to make sure I was good and ready, especially since I was taking a month off the bike in Borneo, a month that should have been used for solid training. Conveniently based in Reefton for Christmas, my plan was to take on Reefton Spur, Lake Mountain in its entirety, up the back of Mt. Donna Buang via Acheron way, and a full Donna Buang ascent to finish off.
Being based in Reefton meant I was only a few km from the bottom of Reefton Spur and smack bang in the middle of cycling paradise. I timed my ride to perfection. For those who have forgotten, the day before Christmas Eve was approximately 140 degrees C. This gave me a welcome rest day after a taxing 100km commute from Brunswick to Reefton via the glorious boonies on the 22nd.
I awoke early to discover it was a mere warm (not suicidally hot) Christmas Eve, which would only become cooler as I went higher in altitude, and there would be plenty of altitude gain.
Reefton Spur was first on the menu without any warm-up to speak of; actually it would BE the warm-up. Any grandiose visions of conquering mountain climbs at full flight came crashing down to earth as I was put to work on the consistently mellow but discouragingly long crawl along the ridge. Patience revealed itself as the key strategy of the day. I was almost on the verge of getting bored until I neared the upper grades and what are essentially the foothills of Lake Mountain. Those grandiose visions came back a little. The vibrant green of tree ferns and moss contrasted the bone white tree skeletons and there was not a soul for miles. Actually I would see few people on the road for the whole day, did I mention it was cycling paradise?
Steeling the show.
Instead of heading straight up to the summit of Lake Mountain my plan was to descend to Marysville, have a muffin, then tackle the full length of the climb. The warm-up on the spur worked wonders because I felt fresh as a daisy for the whole way up. I even gave Pinchy a call at work halfway up to gloat about where I was. He did a good job pretending that he was excited for me. Karma struck as soon as I hung up however, my back tyre started feeling a little bouncy, and a (very) slow leak appeared. Not being the type to cut a climb short I took as much weight off the back and tried to keep afloat for the last 9km. I kept on looking around the corners for the lodge but alas I eventually gave up and got my quick change on, only to jump back on and roll around the next corner to find the lodge looming. In the future I’ll keep my gloating to a minimum; the cycling gods have fantastic senses of humour.
After another ripper descent and a brief lunch in Marysville (bloody good bangers and mash), I headed to the biggest unknown of the day: Acheron way. I had learned that there was climbing and dirt, but I wasn’t sure of the extent of either.
Not long after turning onto Acheron Way I was flying at 40km/h plus along a paved flat section of road that shared the bottom of the valley with the Acheron River. The river crossed the road several times and occasionally felt like it was running on both sides. I couldn’t resist a little paddle to wash away the days grime. The dirt climb came soon after and it couldn’t have been prettier. The well-tended road wound through some quite dense rainforest for the best part of 10kms before flattening out. Then suddenly the whole Yarra Valley hit me in the face. The views were completely unexpected. I found myself on the side of a misty mountain completely alone save for packs of rosellas and the odd lyrebird, my legs felt no pain. I must have had the biggest stupid grin on my face when I popped out at Cement Creek and bombed it back down to Warburton.
A summery Donna Buang scene.
I didn’t give myself any time to question my Donna attempt; I just turned around and got to it. I did do some bonking half way up, so it was pretty slow going (one day I’ll set a respectable time up that mountain), but I had food, so I was fine. Funnily enough was my first Donna without snow.
I was invincible all the way back to Reefton.
The next day I headed straight up the spur again to the Lake Mountain summit and back down before Christmas lunch; one does not waste a morning in cycling paradise. I’d done nearly 6000 vertical in two days and my Festive 500 tally was looking healthy. I felt I was ready for 3 Peaks.
Then I went and took off to Borneo for a month, without even looking at a bike the whole time. I did climb a mountain though, which I’ll tell you about soon.
There’s nothing wrong with biting off more than you can chew, if you have all day to chew it.
Don’t take your Sunday bike on the Warburton Trail.
Shit i have been lazy. I did this ride way back in November and I have only just now sat down to add it to the pages of this little blog. Anyway, the story went something like this. A few weeks before my mate had asked me to come on a road trip to Canberra with him and some mates to pick up a vintage trail bike he bought. Surprise surprise that a few days before we were meant to leave the others bailed. i guess they looked up ‘Canberra’ and rightly thought fuck to that. So to make this entertaining for me as well I conned Andy into dropping me off in Jindabyne on the way through, and then swinging by to pick me up. It was only a small detour of a few hours so he obliged.
It was about 10 am when he dropped me off, and we estimated that I would have about 4 hours to get up and back. plenty of time. We parted ways and i began my ride up to the highest paved road in australia.
The climb itself while long was not actually all that difficult. It is a fairly constant and manageable gradient for the first half and allows you to settle into a rhythm and knock off the k’s. it is a gorgeous part of the country though, so it is by no means boring. As you get to about 23 k’s in, the road flattens off a bit. In fact it flattens so much it goes downhill. From here on thats how it is, all the little gains made in altitude are mostly lost again by a downhill section soon after.
By the time I made it this far i was also pretty much out of water. If you are going to do this ride, the only place to really get a refill it at the tollbooth. I found no accessible water at any of the ski villages on the way up. Luckily for me though there was an event on the same day I was there, it was called sea to summit or something like that. Basically compeditors start in Eden on the coast, 250odd k’s away and race their way all the way to the top of Kosiosko, then back to Thredbo village. This all sounds like a suitably epic ride, and kinda a sweet challenge. Except these idiots were running it. All of it. When i told people i was only riding from Jindy they looked at me as if i was the laziest person on the road. It was good for me though, the support crew supplied me with a few bottles of water on the way up. Cheers lads!
Eventually you get to Charlotte Pass ski resort, the highest in Australia. From there it’s just a short few k’s to the end of the road. And it’s pretty fucking awesome.
After I took the obligatory pics at the top carpark i made my way back. Once you get past the top plateau the descent is great. The road is in top condition and is wide with an awesome shoulder. Just tuck it and enjoy the payback. Pulling into the meeting point back in town, Andy opened the door of the car when I was about 20 metres away. He had just pulled up, the timing could not have been more perfect. After a celebratory beer we commenced the drive home. what a day.
After almost a year of organising, we managed get Aidan and Huw to come along for a ride. For one, it was a baptism of fire and for the latter, a spectacular dismount halfway down Kinglake. Both didn’t finish, but I’m certain we haven’t scared them off. Aidan is highly competitive and Huw is as strong as an ox and feels no pain. They’ll be back in not time.
We hadn’t done the Hurtsbridge-Wittlesea-Kinglake loop in over 6 months and it was a great way to gauge how much we had progressed with our riding. Suffice to say, we completely smashed our PBs going up Humevale Rd.
I was looking through my photo album and I found a set of shots taken from a solo ride back in November. It’s a fantastic ride if you’re ever around the region as it gives you an excellent glimpse of what the Grampians offers. There were two climbs that I took on for this ride, Mt William and Reeds Lookout. As the climbing cyclist has already covered Reeds Lookout, I won’t digress too much on it. Here’s a link for the lazy;
Mt Wlliam is pretty much the same as Reeds Lookout, except the views improve as you go up higher. It starts as soon as you turn left from Grampians Rd and continues on for 9.5km. The average gradient is between 4-6% and climbs 585m over the distance.
It’s definitely challenging, but far from punishing. There is a false flat at around the 5.5km mark where the gradient drops to 2%, providing some respite halfway through. There are two sections were it can end and mostly depends on your level of fitness. The first is the car park and if you’re up for the challenge (and fun), continue past the boomgates to the summit towers. It’s another 231 metres of climbing, averaging at 12% for 2km on a narrower bitumen road.
Here are some links –
Below are a few shots I took whilst descending Mt William. Forgive me for the quality, all shots were taken form my phone.
Photos of Reeds Lookout –
If you’re after another climb around the region, I would also recommend going up Boroka Lookout. Below is a shot of what awaits once you’re up there. I won’t do a write up on it due to a couple of reasons, I didn’t ride up it and the climbing cyclist has already done the job for me.
As you may have gathered from my previous post, I’ve been travelling during the last month through Japan and China to put my feet up after three years of non-stop work and study. One of the best things that I did whilst overseas (and blog worthy) was to go island hopping by bike in Onomichi.
I didn’t get many opportunities to go cycling in this trip, as my wife is generally averse to riding distances over 20km and that I travelled sans bike.
It starts from Onomichi City and ends on Shikoku in Imabari City. The main route follows the Shimanami Kaido, a 60 km road that connects the six islands.
The designated route is relatively easy as it follows the island coastlines, but you also have the option to increase the degree of difficulty by going inland and taking on the hills. There is also the option of taking the ferry if you pussy out halfway through the trip. Below are few photos of this ride.
For her to thoroughly enjoy it is a testament to how amazing this part of Japan is. I truly recommend that you do this on your next visit to Japan.