Threeway on Donna

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Mount Donna Buang has three major ascents, and I had not yet climbed from Healesville to Mount Donna Buang via Panton Gap.  All three are popular climbs, but I wondered whether all had been climbed on the same ride?  The descent from Mount Donna Buang to the Panton Gap would be tricky as there is a 13km section of gravel on a narrow road, but I was determined to work out a way.

Panton Gap (24.5km @ 5% & 1,128 vertical metres)
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Don Valley (25.7km’s @ 4.3% & 1,116 vertical metres)
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Mount Donna Buang (16.9km’s @ 6% & 1,084 vertical metres)
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I took Annual leave on Monday 10th February 2014 so that I could ride with Chris Cox.  We’ve done some great rides together, but I really wanted to come up with something special.  Both of us were in training to do our first Everest and we wanted big.
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I thought up the idea of doing a triple Donna, but was instantly hit with a brick wall to how we would descend the gravel road.  Given how narrow it is & bumpy I could see many risks and would rather a safer alternative.  I figured for the Don Valley ascent, we could use the route used in the Hells 500 event Donna done dirty, and do it as the second climb after descending Mount Donna Buang and head up the Lilydale Warburton Trail.  I don’t know how I came up with the idea, but I realised that we would have two cars, and came up with this idea that if we met up the top of Donna, we could leave one of the cars up there, and Chris could put his bike in my car, and I drive us down to Healesville where we could start & climb up Panton Gap to Donna, then descend and head up the Lilydale Warburton Trail and nail Don Valley to the top, then descend for a third time & do the main Donna Buang climb last, and then load the bikes into Chris’s car and he would drive us down to my car parked in Healesville.  We could do all three without having to descend on the gravel.  GAME ON!

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We met at the top of Donna at 7:00am, and it was a perfect day for it.  We did our thing, and everything went smoothly and we started to cruise up Panton Gap.  My legs felt like gold and I was cruising up the gap.  Chris was riding well but I seemed to be a little off the pace.  3 km’s in after finishing the second steep section Chris seemed to drop off a little & I dropped it into the big dog, and the legs felt golden & I just started to ride, and was flying.  It’s rare that you feel this way part way up a climb that averages 6%, and it felt great & I absolutely smashed it to the top from there.  At the top I stopped & waited up for Chris.  I only started to push a couple of km’s into the climb, and somehow netted 5thon the segment board, and if I had gone hard from the start reckon I may have KOM’d it, but them’s the breaks.  Chris was about 2 minutes behind me and when he caught up to me yelled at me “what the hell are you waiting up for me, go for it!”.  I knew I was feeling good, but also it’s nice to ride together so stuck with him for awhile.  After about 2km’s up the dirt section I just had that feeling & dropped the hammer and flew off on him, and even though I’d stopped for a couple of minutes, and had gone slower than I could have I felt I could have done something good, and gave it hell.  I smashed myself up that climb & finished 3rd all up the way to the top of Mount Donna Buang, and would have gotten very close to the KOM if I hadn’t stopped for those 2 minutes.
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This day started brilliantly.  Chris got to the top in 9thposition without being on best of form and we dropped down Donna.  There was no pressure on us for time so cruised and chatted, and unfortunately at the start of the next climb encountered some road works, & lost a little time, but headed off.  I was feeling good, and maybe it was cockiness, but thought I’d just drop the hammer from the start and flew off on Chris again.  I was doing great time up until we hit the dirt section on Don Road, and when I hit that bit I didn’t feel so good.  I ploughed on, but shortly after felt Chris’s breath on my back and looked over my shoulder and he seemed to suddenly find his on button, and he was flying.  I tried to hold him off, but after a km he passed me and flew off on me, and I was now majorly in the hurt locker.  I was thanking my lucky stars to reach the paved section at the turn off at Panton Gap, and could see Chris in the distance.  I was able to ride a lot smoother after then, but continued to keep the same distance on Chris.  The first ascent went so well, and this one felt like a nightmare.  I pushed all the way, and you know you’re riding well when you have a shocker and reach 5thon the segment board.  Nowhere near as good as Chris’s, particularly since we both were slowed by road works, and Chris didn’t get going till quite a few k’s into the climb.

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We descended Donna, & said to Chris that I’d cooked myself.  He was happy to cruise up Donna, and after smashing ourselves so badly, we casually chatted the whole way at a conservative 1 hour 18 minutes.

My knee felt quite sore on the ascent, but what a day.  We could have been the first riders ever to do all three ascents in one ride, and to get so high on the leader boards in two of the three climbs, was just mind blowing.  You’d need at least two riders to give this one a go, but of all of the rides that I did in 2014, even though this was only 135km’s was easily my favourite.

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Here is a link to my Strava Activity here:
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Here is a link to Chris’s Strava Activity here:
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