My first Snow ride

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(October 2015)

I had recently been knocked for six with a chest infection which lasted 3 long weeks. Needing to rebuild my fitness, and with a whole day to ride, opting to go to Healesville.  It was forecast to be sub-zero temperatures, and I brought a tonne of clothes with me. The sun was shining.  There was no wind, and the weather was perfect even though it was freezing. I wore two sets of gloves, 4 layers of clothes, a neck warmer, a scarf, a beanie, two layers of pants, & some waterproof shoe covers to stay warm.  I set out up Panton Gap for a slow warm-up ride. As I was nearing the top of the sealed section of Panton Gap it was minus 5 degrees.  There was snow along the side of the road. I was like a kid in the candy shop.

What a day this was turning out to be.

My first Snow ride

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I descended back down to Nyora Road, which turned off Panton Gap and was in for a surprise. I had no idea how long it would be and it was a dirt road, but in perfect condition to ride a Road bike.  This road took me up to the top of Mount Toolebewong. It turned out to be 3 km’s climb @ 6%, which was incredibly scenic.  With a lot of switch backs to make the climb really enjoyable. I’ve done a lot of dirt climbs, and this was easily the most enjoyable.  It was gold for me to discover, and only a couple of riders had climbed this road before. I thought that if I had energy later on I would come back & climb it from the base of Badger Road & set-up a segment.

My first Snow ride
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I dropped back down to Healesville, & wanted to go for a PB up the Black Spur in the climb out of Healesville. I was completely spent when I last did it and had a really poor time. The climb is 3.6 km’s @ 3%, and I paced myself really well throughout, and felt good.  Especially considering it was minus 2 degrees. I was very shocked to find I got the KOM at 25.4kmph up it.  This is a time which could easily be beaten, and expect to get the email one day.

Try doing that in minus 2 degree weather!

My first Snow ride
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After returning to Healesville, it was warming up to a nice warm 1 degree outside.  From here I then went for a sprint up Badger Creek Road, which would be an incredible road to ride if it weren’t so narrow. I wasn’t giving it full gas, and was surprised to get 2nd on the leaderboard, especially as it was so cold, and I still wasn’t 100%:
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The next part of the ride was what I came for. Riding from Chum Creek Road to Mt St Leanord’s.
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I really wanted to smash this climb, but had foolishly used too much energy on the Black Spur and on Badger Creek Road.

I went into TT mode, but wasn’t able to put out the power I would like on Chum Creek Road. It’s a beautiful road to ride on, but also challenging as to get a good time you’ve got to mash it out in the big dog.  Which really uses a lot of power, and really drains you to keep the intensity up for the whole climb. I had climbed to the top of Mt St Leanords from Myers Creek Road before.  This I found to be one of the hardest HC climbs I’ve ever done.

My first Snow ride

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That was a lung burner, and I honestly thought that this way would be easier. When I got to the turnoff for Monda Road to go up to Mt St Leanords my legs were screaming. As you hit the start of the 3 km gravel climb, it goes straight to 10%.  My legs went on strike. Monda Road is a bloody hard climb, and to do it after 18 km’s of climbing was extreme, and I was in the pain cave. There is cross country skiing at the top, and I had dozens of cars pass me on the narrow road which added quite a few challenges. The last km the road turned to slush.

I was climbing a muddy 10% gradient which was an experience I will not forget.

I got covered from head to toe in mud, and was mega relieved to reach the top. The little snow I saw before paled in comparison to the snow covered slopes of Mt St Leanords, and my pain was forgotten. I climbed it in 1 hour & 9 minutes with an average of 18.2 km/h. Given the conditions and how I felt at the time, this time will easily fall in the future.  But at the time I was the second rider to have ever climbed this monster.

My first Snow ride
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I was cooked, but had ridden so quickly in the morning that I still had a lot of time to ride.

I needed some food & decided to head to the Toolangi Pub to see if I could get some food & drink before working out my options. They were really crowded, and there was an hour wait on the food.  Thankfully I was able to talk them into just selling me a warmed-up desert, and had a chocolate pudding. I was freezing cold and had to sit next to the fire to stop shaking. There were at least 40 riders there, and I must have seemed a sight.  Caked in mud.
I had two options, to descend down Meyers Creek & fluff around Healesville, or could go the really long way.  Heading through Toolangi and then descend the Melba Highway down to Yarra Glen.  Then return through Old Healesville Road. I had dreadful times through here, and figured I would get some PB’s regardless of how bad I rode.
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I should have been wrecked, but I managed to push really well through Toolangi, and really improved my times somewhat. From here I planned on smashing the descent down the Melba.  Unfortunately got so excited that I didn’t stop & TT’d it all the way back to Yarra Glen.  Averaging 40.5 km’s over the next 14 km’s into Yarra Glen.

Foolishly completely cooked myself in the process.

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I was spent, and just crawled my way back to Healesville. Maybe I should have just gone home, but I had the time, and I crazily decided to ride up to the top of Mount Toolebewong. I was riding completely on empty, and can’t remember much of the climb, but it’s a good one. I was the first to ever climb this section, & it was schweet to discover a virgin Cat 1 climb.
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From recovering from such a bad illness to being able to ride 162km’s & 4,134 vertical metres several weeks later was a dream come true, and not only did I get to do my coldest ride (minus 5 degrees), I got to ride in the Snow, and got coated in mud in the process.
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Here is my Strava link for the ride here:
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