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.
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.
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.
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.