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Monthly Archives: October 2012

If ever you’re around Mornington/Frankston, make sure you include Tuerong rd and Derril rd (Moorooduc) within your itinerary. It’s a lot of fun. The same goes for Fairbairn Ave and Bradford Rd near Mt Martha reserve.

Oh! and don’t forget Arthur’s Seat.

Stay safe! Ron.

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I went back to the old town for the last weekend of ATB training. It was a long weekend for me, and the weather promised to be near-perfect. The other guys were getting some miles done down on the peninsula. My plan was to do a circuit of the ‘peaks’ around Bendigo, namely Mt. Tarrengower (in Maldon), and my old favourite, Mt. Alexander. I’ve touched on Bendigo before. It’s drier, and a little bit flatter (don’t even bother going North, it’s flat as a tack), but here is plenty there to construct a fantastic ride around. I find the countryside in the Goldfields to be either long slow slight uphills, or long fast slight downhills, and every now and then there will be mount that will come out of nowhere and stick out over the landscape.

History and stuff.

For my first ride I headed straight to Maldon to tackle Mt. Tarrengower, which was a new one for me. Pinch had done some recon and assured me that it was right up my alley. I was pretty keen by the time I rolled into Maldon, but soon got a sinking feeling. There were signs saying “Hill Climb” all over the place and I could hear the buzz of activity from the hill. As luck has it I’d turned up on the one day of the year that Mt. Tarrengower is closed. ‘The Mount Tarrengower Historic Hill Climb’ is an event which all the classic car enthusiasts, petrol heads, and steam punks come out for the day and race up the mountain. Balls. I’d wasted 80km round trip getting out there. Oh well, maybe I’ll just try again tomorrow. I headed to Mt. Alexander and somehow managed to snag the Maldon to Chewton KOM on the way. Hey I’ll take it, beggars can’t be choosers.

On the way the south side up I ran into a friendly young lass who was doing some last minute training for an upcoming race. It was interesting to chat to someone about how to approach training for actual competition, the ins and outs of injury management and measured efforts etc. It’s a different type of cycling altogether. She set a pace that was fine by me too. When we reached the summit we parted ways, she was off to do some more repeats of the south side.

On the way down I passed an older chap that caught up with me and immediately comment on my unshaven legs. The polar opposite to the conversation I had on the way up; we spoke of cycling in retirement and hand built Hillman frames. Thank heavens I’d done my research on my frame. He apparently used to race on them back in the day (some further research indicates that he used to win on them back in the day). He set a surprisingly quick pace (more than I’m accustomed to) and we talked shit for the 30 or so kms home, which we covered in no time flat. He mentioned that I “kept up alright” and should race. I don’t think he understood why I was doing all the distance and all the hills if it wasn’t training for anything, a man from simpler times. His comment “what does that thing tell you?” pointing at my Garmin, said everything.

The next day I dragged my tired legs out of bed, saddled up, and again headed towards Mt. Tarrengower. I took a recommendation to go via Fogerty’s Gap, which is a steep little pinch old Phil thought I’d like. The road rises quite steeply into the trees and he noted that when he was younger they used to say the white line looks like a goalpost. I LOLd.

Goalpost.

When I rolled up to Tarrengower for the second time I was relieved to see that it was ‘open’ and headed up. It’s only 2.5 kms or so, but at 9% average it’s not for the faint hearted, especially since the steeper parts are well over that. Thanks to the notoriety of climb due to the yearly events the road is also in pretty good nick. The views top were fantastic thanks to the geography (pimple in the middle of nowhere) and the grand old lookout tower.

The way up.

Mount Alexander 14 1/4 miles.

I retraced my steps from the day before and mashed it (perhaps a little too hard) to Mount Alexander. When I got to the base of the climb I hit the wall, hard. I had nothing left and I started to freak a little bit about being in the middle of nowhere, with no food, and no one to call. Eventually I realised I wasn’t so far away from Harcourt, and food, but the quickest way was over the mount. I was feeling marginally better after 5 minutes so I chucked it in my 29t straight away and gingerly crawled upwards. There was no diversion this time and I was definitely feeling the 110km from the day before. After a climb that was a lot less painful than I’d imagined  I made it to Harcourt, had a ham and mustard pickle sandwich and a half a bag of lollies. I don’t remember the way home so clearly, but it did involve, insane headwinds (and swearing loudly at them), minor hunger flats, grimacing, cramps, weeping, minor climbs feeling like major climbs and some mild sunburn for good measure. I’m fairly sure if I had a mechanical of any kind on the way home I would have lay down and let the earth reclaim me. Did it dampen my enthusiasm for my next ride? Of course not, it only whet my appetite.

My last minute training involved 230km and 3500 vertical metres in 2 days. I think I’m ready…if I can recover in time.

Gareth.

I’ve always been convinced that there are some underrated roads to be found out West. This Saturday it was only Ron and I, so I convinced him into taking me out that way. We headed out to Bacchus Marsh at an ungodly hour and rolled out North to Mount Macedon, with the intention of tackling the Gisborne side (the hard one…I’d heard), and the other side if we felt so inclined.

I made the assumption that the Bacchus Marsh-Gisborne road, which hugs edge of the Lerderderg State Park, would be nice ride, but we soon found that the traffic was too much, the shoulder non-existent and initially the scenery wasn’t even good. Luckily, when we started to get closer to the park we found ourselves on a pretty nice ridge. The road itself was no more hospitable, but now we had something to look at, on both sides. Lerderderg State Park looks like a lot of fun to explore if you had some knobbier tyres.

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The rain that had started as soon as we stepped out of the car only got progressively worse as the morning went on. Maybe that’s why we didn’t waste much time getting to the hill, until we succeeded in getting lost in the foothills of Macedon, which frankly, was quite pleasant. I’m certain I’ll waste more time getting lost around that area in the future.

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The beginning of the climb is unceremonious. One thing you know you’re ogling huge country mansions (Ron is planning on retiring there ASAP), the next thing you’re passing a ‘12% Next 2km’ sign. I wouldn’t say the 12% is very accurate, but it does put the fear into you.  Since I was being flippant and putting the fear into Ron, he told me to piss off and we went our separate ways.

Note: Ron was running a 39×23; I would want my alone time with that ratio too. He most certainly deserves a pat on the back for making it up alive.

As the first ramp ended I found myself in a little township (“Have I even bloody started this climb!”), and then there was another, and another. For the most part the percentage is in the low teens on these steep bits, and the flatter bits are quite short. I was thinking of Ron as I mashed away in my 26t, making a show of solidarity by not going into my 29. My 23t cog is somewhere in the middle of my cassette, if I even have one. There was no way I was going to be THAT sympathetic.

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It was a tough one, but before I knew it I was turning into Cameron Drive for the second part of the climb, which I was familiar with and knew it was nothing but mere undulations. I relaxed and took some photos, until my phone momentarily stopped working.  It came out of my pocked at 75km/h the other day. If you’re going to put your phone in your back jacket pocket, zip it up before you bomb a descent.

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Up top it was thick with fog, and my feet were completely numb. Even though I was dressed pretty appropriately for the day, I was wet, and knew the descent was going to be an unpleasant one. Unfortunately for Ron he was not so appropriately dressed. Plans to the head down to Woodend and come back up the other side soon became waterlogged. After high fives, hot chocolates and some snacks at the restaurant up top we headed back down the way we came.

Descending in the wet can be sketchy at the best of times, but the addition of shivering induced speed wobbles and given the steepness of the Gisborne side of Macedon meant we were taking it pretty easy. Memories of wearing my brakes out on Donna Buang after my snow misadventure was also in the back of my mind. We made it down in one piece though and wasted no time legging it back to Bacchus Marsh.

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I’d been thinking for a long time that it would be a good idea if we got some practice rolling turns (is it generous calling it that with only two riders?), but we’ve never managed to organise any. After some false starts and some yelling though rain we managed to get in a good rhythm all the way back through some of the worst weather I’ve ever ridden in. It was heaps of fun though.

Then we ate jerky and listened to country music all the way back to Melbourne. Good times.

Gareth.

Apologies in advance for this late post.  This ride occurred nearly 3 weeks ago (15th Sept 2012).  It’s been a crazy past few weeks with birthday parties, gettting rummy, moving homes and general lack of motivation hindering this blog entry.

To help get the ball rolling and for added inspiration, I decided to read fyxo’s blog and bumped into this gem of a post –

http://www.fyxomatosis.com/index.php/blog/66-r-i-d-e-s/838-a-new-resolutionrevolution

To put his blog into context, FYXO (Andy White), is one of the reasons why we spend our weekends riding around the bush.  His blog is a revelation and has been a huge inspiration for VVMCC.  Unfortunately, he’s recently announced that he will not be renewing the lease on FYXOHUB and this coming November, one of the most unique shops to ever open in Melbourne will cease to exist.  If you can find time on a Saturday during the next month or so, duck by to Sth Yarra and buy some jerseys and frames.  Support your local bike shop!!!

… Going back to our ride – Gareth, Pinchy and myself decided to give West Gippsland another go.  The ride took us through the towns Ellinbank, Seaview, Trida, Hallston, Allambee South, Mirboo North, Thorpdale, Childers, Yarragon and back to Ellinbank.  Apart from a couple of minor detours around Thorpdale, this was pretty much the route that we took.  The ride was approximately 115km with an elevation of 2,200 meters.

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It started off as usual, plan to meet up at a rendezvous (Ellinbank primary school), to start at 7 am.  We headed southwest from Ellinbank to start our first climb up through Warragul-Leongatha Rd. We’ve done this road on a number of occasions and Pinchy has previously described the climb as such –“Not too steep at a fairly consistent 5% and 7.5km’s long, so enough to get the legs warmed up.”

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ImageImageImageThe ride continues on to Grand Ridge Rd taking us to Hallston.  Be mindful of the left turn to Hallston, or else you will continue down south to Strzelecki Hwy.

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Grand Ridge rd (smooth tarmac) eventually turns into Old Grand ridge rd (Shitty shitty loose gravel).  Gareth can attest to this, as halfway through Old Grand Ridge, he flatted.

Once we got ourselves going again, we rode up Mirboo-Yarragon Rd.  This is another steady 4% climb that’s approximately 5 kilometres long.  Unfortunately, due to unforeseen circumstances/stupidity, Pinchy was forced to abruptly finish his ride.  Fiddling with his gearing (whilst riding), had caused his front derailleur to wrap itself around the cranks.

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As we had only covered 30 kilometers, we decided that the best course of action was for Gareth and I to continue, and to leave Pinchy to rub one out whilst waiting for his better half to pick him up.  Thus, we ventured forward to Mirboo North for lunch at the local bakery.

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After our quick bite, we headed north up Strzelecki Hwy and through Mirboo North-Trafalgar Rd, taking us to Thorpdale.  We took an impromptu detour into McDonalds Track as we had seen a sign for the “world’s tallest tree.” FYI, the tree was cut down during the 1800s and was replaced with this sign.  Suffice to say, the best thing about the world’s tallest tree is the small climb to get to it.

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We then took Childers Rd which eventually turned into the final climb of our ride, the unsealed Childers – Allambee Rd.  It had been raining sporadically during the days prior to our visit causing Childers – Allambee Rd to soften and turn the surface into a claggy-wheel-grabbing consistency.  On that day, Childers – Allambee Rd was essentially 10 kilometres of shitty bike masochism.  Gathering by the facial expressions that a couple of 4WD drivers were giving us as they drove pass, I doubt that anybody had ever attempted it with road bikes.  We might have appeared foolish, but that climb was easily one of the most fun I’ve had in Gippsland.

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ImageNote to self – buy a cyclocross.

The mud eventually turns into tarmac once it meets up with Leongatha – Yarragon Rd.  After that, it’s a pleasant downhill ride to Yarragon and back to Ellinbank.

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Thanks again Gippsland! It’s been a blast!

xox Ronskivitch