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Monthly Archives: August 2012

Sunday was looking like being a great day for a ride in Melbourne, one of the best in what has been a cold winter. Gareth and I planned to do a loop around everyone’s favourite reservoir, Sugarloaf. Because of this fact and Gareth was so excited he went out and purchased a heap of new kit. So to celebrate his new understated yet epic gear, we present you with the Rapha edition.

I was awoken at the not overly early (for a cyclist) hour of 8am with a phone call letting me know to open the door. Bad start, probably due to the 7-8 whiskies consumed at a going away party the night before. We got slowly underway and eventually made it out to Warrandyte where we planned to start. Essentially our ride went something like this:

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Riding up from Warrandyte we turned right at Pigeon Bank Rd and continued up to Menzies and finally onto Skyline. The pinches along here were short and sharp, but a whole lot of fun. Be warned though, if you want to do this ride large sections of it are gravel, albeit well maintained and vey rideable. The scenery is great too, with views on both sides overlooking the valley down to the Yarra on one side and everyone’s favourite reservoir, Sugarloaf, on the other.

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Gareth even managed to urinate epically thanks to the new jersey.

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It only tool about 10k’s for us to agree that it was our new favourite ride.

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…until I suffered through a flat. This was a low point. Both in elevation and mood.

There must have been a community meeting at some stage to agree to have ample taps in front yards but have none connected to running water. We seriously tried three taps and none worked. With everyone’s favourite reservoir, Sugarloaf, just to our left it was cruel punishment for my forgetfulness indeed.

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From the junction of Skyline Rd. and Eltham Rd. you can descend into Yarra Glen and then climb back up. It is apparently a good climb and Gareth seemed to enjoy it, but I decided to try and find water (fail) and take this photo:

Getting a bit stalker-ish on this one…

From here we turned around and headed down Ridge Rd. and stopped in at a bbq/ picnic area that had water. It said it was untreated rainwater and not for consumption, but at this stage we were willing to run the risk.

The ride back down Menzies Rd. was heaps of fun with some fast, smooth rolling descents, but we knew what was coming: Pigeon Bank Lane. We had come down it so we knew it would be hard, but not that hard. It was like hitting a wall, a 30% wall of bullshit steep road. I couldn’t do it, I had to walk it, even the mountain goat himself was in the up-til-then unused 29 tooth cog and was delivering mail to both sides of the street.

Menzies Rd. down is a whole lot of fun

It was so steep that it even looked steep in a photo

All up we only rode 50k’s, but climbed about 1300m. It is a ride that could be easily done in a few hours and would still be a good ride. I know we will be doing this one a few more times over the upcoming warmer months. Well, after I fit that compact crankset…

Pinchy.

As I mentioned previously I had intended to do a ride up in the Snowy Mountains. Unfortunately my car didn’t make it, and Thredbo being in NSW, the trip was off (unless I wanted to take a coach that went through Canberra). From now on I had nothing but my legs to rely on to take me places.

Although I was disappointed, I could hardly complain. The sun was shining in Melbourne and I’d avoided almost certain hypothermia from riding up a snowy mountain, and potential broken bones from snowboarding down one. I was determined to go on a worthy ride to make up for it. Armed with some hot tips from a friend of mine, I decided to explore the Kinglake area.

The day started pretty haphazardly, and a little later than it should have. I’d planned to catch the train out to Hurstbridge to avoid most of the suburban chaos, only to discover that Metcards didn’t exist anymore. I decided that embracing said chaos wasn’t going to be so bad, but I couldn’t help but think the whole way how much I’d rather be racking up these k’s and elevation under a canopy of tree ferns, especially when forgetting to turn the Garmin on in parts meant some of it didn’t even count anyway.

My first port of call was the Kinglake climb which, although it seems like it would be on the way down, isn’t terribly difficult; a perfect place to go for a PB. Since I’d done it once before I knew what I was in for, so I felt comfortable pushing it, managing to beat my time by over 3 minutes. I’ve recently installed a 12-29 cassette, which I don’t often have to use to its fullest, but it does give me a very versatile spread of gear ratios for climbing. I’ve done this with 3 Peaks Challenge in mind, since registrations open soon!

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After a brief rain shower and breather up top I headed towards Healesville, with the intention of looping back around and tackling Skyline Road climb just outside of Yarra Glen. A big thanks to Matt, the author of http://theclimbingcyclist.com/ for giving me some goals when I map these rides, I’m working through the list! Unfortunately I turned off just before the end of the official Strava segment, so I wasn’t awarded it, but I’m still ticking it off. As I turned right at the top I was faced with a wall of dirt, and for the first time i dirtied my 29t cog, It was time to get lost. The road was a gravel rollercoaster with fantastic views, as a matter of fact I’d been surrounded by fantastic views since I started the Kinglake climb.  So what if it wasn’t the Snowys, it was still a pretty bloody nice place to be.

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I tentatively used a rocky narrow track to get down to the road that led to my 3rd climb of the day: Mt Slide Rd. Then it occurred to me that I was hungry, very hungry, or at least I would’ve been if I didn’t eat everything that I had. I was very mindful of how I was going to feel when I got to the top of the climb. I have to go back there soon, I was feeling far too washed up to appreciate the beauty of the dirt road winding through tree ferns, trickling waterfalls and zero traffic. Then the views kicked in, which managed to pull me out of my stupor enough to reach the top.

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Unfortunately the climbing continued most of the way back to Kinglake (with traffic), where I decided to resurrect myself with some baked goods.

By this stage I’d done nearly 2000m elevation and I was pretty spent, and I still had to get back home to Melbourne (via Arthurs Creek Rd, which is not the flattest). My one consolation was that southbound Plenty Rd is so fast you’ll find yourself doing over 40km/h on what seems like flat, which makes easy work of the last 30 ks. I strongly recommend that everyone pack good lights on long rides, especially in Winter and especially on Plenty Rd. You never know when you’re going to get back home. With the knowledge that I had a half eaten cheesymite scroll in my jersey to fall back on, and after thankfully remembering that I had legwarmers, I dove into the Kinglake descent. The rest is your typical slog back home. I finished with 170km (closer to 180 if you count the Garmin faux pas) and 2500m elevation, more than enough to make me forget, for the day at least, about where I could have been.

P.S. Don’t forget there’s a link to our Strava page on the right if you’d like to find out where all these nice places are, or if you’d like to beat us on any of the segments. Get out there!

Gareth.

The hills around South Gippsland are an area we have ridden before and while they might not be impressively high in altitude, they sure are picturesque.  So with this in mind Gareth and I drew up a ride that took us over Mt Worth, out to Mirboo North for a play lunch stop and pretty much down to Leongatha before turning up back into the hills to ride a dirt road Ron and I scouted the previous week called Wild Dog Valley rd.  Well there were no dogs, but it sure got wild.

this is basically what out route looked like. Actually it is exactly what our route looked like. Note last open tab displaying new skill learned.

We met up at the Ellinbank Primary School at about 7.  Schools are a great place to start a ride as there’s always water available.

It didn’t take long for the climbing to begin in earnest with the climb up Mt. Worth coming up in the first few kays.  It’s a nice climb and one highly recommended if you are ever in the area.  Not too steep at a fairly consistent 5% and 7.5km’s long, so enough to get the legs warmed up.  On reaching the summit you are greeted to the majestic sight of a local industry – logging.  Beautiful native forests make way to felled trees and forestry machinery.  It was actually pretty cool and eye opening thats for sure.

After passing six dead wombats (one of which scott bunny hopped) and a descent down a gravel road, the scenery opened out into farmland and rolling hillsides that categorise the region.

After passing so many of these guys it got quite depressing. Five dead wombats is funny, six is over the line. (despite much pleading, Scott decided not to ‘wombat’ hop this one)

Just off to the right was the most majestic Wedge-Tailed Eagle. You should have seen it.

Just over the fence was the most majestic dead wombat. You should have been there.

After a stop in at Mirboo North for food and water, we headed south and into what was going to be a characterising feature of the rest of the day – wind.  It was incredibly gusty and made for pretty slow going at times.  Despite the wind, we eventually made it to the start of the most difficult part of the day, Wild Dog Valley.

The first part of the climbing starts as soon as you turn onto Mt Eccles Rd from Wild Dog Valley rd.  It’s a steep, bitch of a climb that soon sorted the men from the boys, with me being the boy.  I was glad it was a road less travelled as I was forced to use up the whole road to reduce the hill’s severity.  It was soon all over though, enabling us to stop to collect our thoughts whilst we all finished off the last of our water and for Ron to admire a dead lamb.  At least the toughest bit was done…

“Dude there’s a dead lamb just over there”

…And then we climbed the next bit.  Just as steep, longer and on gravel.  This, coupled with the fact that the wind was stepping into the ‘this is fucked’ category made going tough.  So tough in fact, that in one extremely strong gust that blew me off course by about a foot, I turned around to see Scott had nearly been blown off the road.  This was definitely one of the toughest times I have spent on the saddle of a bike.

Scott takes some time out to adjust his rear derailluer and admire a local villa.

It was a tough one and I can’t wait to go back.

The return journey was rather uneventful, apart from a fallen tree or two.  The ride was completed just in time, as no sooner had we said our respective goodbyes, the heavens opened up and it bucketed down.

Well that’s it for this post, but we have some pretty cool rides planned (more snow riding hopefully) and we are always open to suggestions, so feel free to suggest any rides that contain climbs/ gravel/ sweet photo opportunities/ dead animals.

Until next time. Pinchy

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So I’m going to Thredbo tomorrow for some snowboarding. I heard there’s mountains there, so I’m going to try ride up one (weather (blizzards) permitting). I will document my frostbite for your reading pleasure.

Gareth.

P.S.  I know its pretty lame putting up two teasers in a row, but there will be some pretty Gippsland images to look at soon too, we promise.