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Monthly Archives: February 2013

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.

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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?

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Reefton Spur.

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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.

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Lake Mountain.

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Furry friends.

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.

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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.

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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.

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Don’t take your Sunday bike on the Warburton Trail.

Gareth

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.

my begging and end point. On the shores of lake Jindabyne

my beginning and end point. On the shores of lake Jindabyne

pretty much all uphill.

pretty much all uphill.

This is fairly indicative of the view for the first part. Yellow lines, nice roads and gumtrees.

This is fairly indicative of the view for the first part. Yellow lines, nice roads and gumtrees.

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!

yep, thats the road snaking it's way off into the distance.

yep, thats the road snaking it’s way off into the distance.

sometimes i rode on the wrong side of the road. YOLO

sometimes i rode on the wrong side of the road. YOLO

Thredbo village. No water.

Thredbo village. No water.

Holy shit it's snow in November!

Holy shit it’s snow in November!

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.

An Italian bike at a ski resort seems fitting.

An Italian bike at a ski resort seems fitting.

The view from the top. There is a path off to the the left that leads to the summit of Mt. Kosiosko, but I was under time constraints and in road shoes. Kosiosko can be seen on the left near the tree.

The view from the top. There is a path off to the the left that leads to the summit of Mt. Kosiosko, but I was under time constraints and in road shoes. Kosiosko can be seen on the left behind the tree.

When you give your phone to someone to take your picture while riding, find a frail elderly person. you might still be able to catch them after you take your shoes off.

When you give your phone to someone to take your picture while riding, find a frail elderly person. you might still be able to catch them after you take your shoes off.

If you're a really good snowboarder this stretch of road would excite you. It is known as the Charlotte Pass road gap. Yep, from the rock on the left over the road. It is unbelievably massive in real life.

If you’re a really good snowboarder this stretch of road would excite you. It is known as the Charlotte Pass road gap. Yep, from the rock in the trees on the left over the road. It is unbelievably massive in real life.

The descent into Jindy is awesome and is a great reward after all that climbing. spectacular views of the lake too.

The descent into Jindy is awesome and is a great reward after all that climbing. spectacular views of the lake too.

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.

The bike even starts. (After some Aerostart)

The bike even starts. (After some Aerostart)