For those who are not familiar with “The Crucifix” it basically entails all four of the major climbs that ascend Mt. Dandenong: The 1 in 20, Inverness Rd, The Devil’s Elbows and The Wall. The order in which they should be climbed is a matter of contention, but most agree that as long as you climb all of them then you’ve done the job (Strava actually awarded me the segment somehow!).
Night before mountain food.
THE 1 IN 20
With the other guys out of action with snow, study and surgery, I was left to tackle this one by myself. Late night coverage of Le Tour ensured a slow start, but I still managed to get rolling at a respectable 8:30AM. The obligatory slog through the eastern suburbs wasn’t eventful enough to mention, but it did earn me a valuable 500M before I even got to the hill. The first climb of the day was the 1 in 20, which never really gets over 6% and has a generous false-flat in the middle. It’s not difficult, but I had to resist the temptation to better my time, as it was one of the two climbs that I’d done before (along with The Wall). There was bigger fish to fry today.
I didn’t really feel like resting, so I made my way over to Inverness Rd straight away. My phone had no internet, so I got a little lost on the way. I added some Ks and went up some hills that I didn’t need to. After a while I found my way up to Skyhigh, as I slowly realised how much climbing I’d be doing IN BETWEEN the climbs. Eventually I found the turn off and dropped into the hill that I was just about to come up, in all its 20% glory. I wasn’t sure about this one. I hit my Max. speed on the way down the one lane snake that is Inverness Rd and did a U-turn at York Rd and wasted no time coming back up. Thankfully the beginning of the climb hovers around a much more manageable 10%, which was a ‘relief’ of sorts. The last 20% kick was an experience, but mercifully it was short. The whole climb is over in a little less that 3km.
THE DEVILS ELBOWS
It was a surprisingly long, slow haul over to the other side of the mountain to tackle my 3rd climb, The Devils Elbows. I descended down to Burwood highway (a friendly reminder that Mt. Dandenong is a relatively pleasant island in a sea of outer-suburban fish & chip shops and skylines with oversized exhausts). The first half of the climb was a 2.5km slog of 7-10%, which at this point of my day, I was definitely not flying up. After a few thoughts of a rest I resolved to hang on till the turn onto Churchhill Drive. My head was swimming at this point and I was forced to chill out, eat, and regroup. I’m glad I did because as I made the left-hand turn into the second half of the climb the scenery changed from guard rails and broken glass to perfectly smooth asphalt and overhanging tree ferns, and more importantly, a consistently 7% gradient. This may not sound like a holiday but I was taking what I could get at this point. That’s how it stayed for the rest of the climb, and thanks to my rest, I could enjoy it.
My legs were pretty weary at this point, but the thought that I was 3/4 done was comforting. I’ll apologize at this point too for the lack of photos (let alone clear ones). Without the other guys there is significantly less lolling around, and not wanting to stop mid-climb meant whatever pics were taken were on the fly, if the gradient allowed for it that is.
The Devil’s Elbows.
Another traverse and descent saw me to the bottom of The wall, the last climb of The Crucifix. I couldn’t even be bothered worrying about it, I just got on with it. Not long after I started a fellow lone wolf sidled up with the squeekiest drivetrain I’ve ever heard. The conversation was a nice diversion but as a slightly OCD amateur mechanic I couldn’t help but think of how much life he was taking off his drivetrain with every bone dry pedal stroke. Then I started cramping. I swallowed my pride and bade him farewell and did some preventative stretching. Luckily this saw me to the top.
That was it, I was sick of the place and just wanted to get home. The descent down the 1 in 20 was a nice little reward however, and good practice for something I’m not particularly good at.
A roaring headwind was an ominious start to what would be a suburban run home that I’d rather forget. I was yo-yoing between hating life and trying to scrape together enough elevation to reach 3000. I won’t bore you with the details, but basically it ended with me dragging myself up Studley Park hill 4 times to make the (vertical) distance. I’m sure we’ve all done a few laps of our block just to make up a century!
It’s going to be a long week, this was just day one. I temporarily made it to 9th on the Rapha Rising leader board. But that didn’t last long, not with the efforts that the Italian Alp dwelling zealots that overtook me were making.
If you’d like to nitpick there is a link to our Strava page on the right.