I was holidaying with my wife around Walhalla in Gippsland. Drooling at the prospect of climbing all of the rolling hills around the area. After driving through Rawson, we passed a sign pointing towards Mount Erica. I suggested we head up there to see if we could find a good hike (or a nice recee for a ride). The first pinch up the climb was over 20%, and it was a little used 4WD track. The climb was relentless, and turned out to be 4.3 km’s @ 11%. Very extreme! I couldn’t help myself. I had to return. Later that day, my wife gave me the green light to head out for an hour, and headed straight up the road to Mount Erica (14.4km’s @ 5%).
The average gradient for this climb is highly deceptive as there are several descents along the way. Without a doubt, this is the hardest climb I’ve ever done (harder than Mt St Leanord’s & Mount Baw Baw). I had fresh legs, and was able to smash out a good time up to the start of the Mount Erica turnoff. After turning left up to Mount Erica and the road then went skywards, and I was feeling strong, and was able to set a good tempo. I was a bit naive as to what to expect by driving up there. There had been a large amount of storm damage which I couldn’t see from the car. Branches & debris was all over the road, and I had only a tiny racing line to ride up at times.
This was hell!
I constantly had to move from one side of road to the other, and even had to bunny hop over several bigger branches. Lucky I was in great shape, as I wouldn’t have been able to make it up to the top otherwise. After about 3 km’s of climbing, my legs started screaming at me, and I felt the muscles really straining to get up this hill. I love climbing very steep gradients, but the condition of the road made this pure hell. There was a whole heap of soul searching as my legs were feeling like lead.
It’s not like me to want to get off the bike and have a rest, but the last quarter of this climb really pushed me harder than I had ever been pushed before. I wasn’t about to be defeated by a climb. Thankfully I’d driven up here earlier in the day, as I knew how far I had to go, and just kept telling myself that I can rest when I get to the top.
I was in the pain cave the whole way and it was done. I was immensely proud of getting up this one, and was no surprise that I gave no thought to how I would get down this thing. The debris was atrocious, and I was liable to puncture, even going extremely slow. I had to consider walking the bike down which would take me forever. At the top I spied a couple of 4WD’s, and wished that I could convince someone to give me a lift down. 5 minutes later a group of 4 old people came out of the walk, and I started chatting with them. Miraculously they asked me if they’d like me to drive them down. You beauty!
At the base of the climb they offered me a lift all the way back to Erica. They couldn’t believe that I’d rather ride, and thanked them profusely. This was only the first day of my holidays, and I discovered a climb. Strava only listed as a Cat 1 climb, was easily a HC due to the difficult surface at the end.
Here is a link to my Strava Activity: