I had been hit hard with Bronchitis, and had been bed ridden for over 2 weeks. To top it off the night before my wife brought home some Asian takeaway which gave me some mild food poisoning and kept me up late. I shouldn’t have ridden, but had enough. I had to ride, after all I’ve ridden with worse before so didn’t worry about it too much. There were a number of dirt climbs that I have wanted to visit around Cardinia. I’m usually up at the crack of dawn to ride but needed all the sleep I could muster to get rid of some of this virus as I could. I didn’t leave home till after 9am and it was a cracker of a day out there.
The first climb I did was Bourkes Creek Road which is 2.3km’s @ 4%. I had this stupid notion of smashing Bourkes Creek Road and getting the KOM, which given I was sick was pretty dumb. I paced myself well and found a good rhythm and really was hopeful I could keep the pace up. For a dirt climb, the surface is as near to perfect as you could hope to get. It has constant free flowing corners and a fairly consistent gradient. I was actually doing well until about 1.5km’s in & then the lights went out and even though the legs felt great, I just couldn’t get enough oxygen from my infected lungs. I had to pace myself up the rest of it. I surprisingly missed the KOM by only about 30 seconds which is promising, and hopefully will get a chance to return when I’m better.
The next climb was Gordon Road. I’d never seen this one before and it is 2.2km’s @ 7%. When I hit it, the first 250 metres were only about 2-3% average and I was getting huge alarm bells at what was ahead. Sure enough when I turned the first bend the road went skyward and I could see a long section averaging over 12%. I had a head wind hitting me as well and really didn’t care about time and just paced myself as best as I could. My lungs started to hurt & I really just wanted this climb to be over. It peaked at 16% at one stage and is one of those horrible undulating climbs with incredibly steep pinches, which my 23mm tyres were struggling for grip. To say I was surprised when I came third on the leader board was an understatement. Given the headwind & my difficulty to breath I don’t know how I came within 22 seconds of the KOM. I stopped at the top for awhile to catch my breath. I was pretty crook and had to reassess and needed to take it easy. I hoped to pace myself better and headed off.
Foolishly I kept ducking up dead end roads which all seemed to have ridiculous gradients pushing upwards of 16%, which took more and more of what limited energy I had. I went up the amazing road called Olson road which came out at a track to the Bunyip State National Park but needed a huge break at the top and started to feel my body weaken. The legs felt good but the batteries were running low. I hit Bessie Creek Road and the surface changed to loose gravel. It was an incredible road to ride, but on my thin Road bike tyres I got little traction, and really struggled. It was 5.3km’s long @ 3%, and I started to get weaker and weaker as I progressed. I didn’t bonk, but after 40km’s of riding I knew I should be heading straight back to the car. I was sick and battling head/cross winds the whole ride, and the only thing that kept me going was the thought of that tail wind over the last 15km’s.
I started to crawl, and slowly made my way to Gembrook. I stopped at a Cafe for a Chicken Schnitzel which looked great but as soon as I took my first bite I almost chocked. It was cold and only half cooked. I already had a weakened stomach from the food poisoning the night before, and that half cooked chicken did not go down well. I had stomach spasms for the remainder of the ride & threw up.
The rest of the ride was a bit of a blur. I was planning on visiting the climb that my mate Stryder’s planning on Everesting on 8th June which is on Lakeside Drive in Emerald. It was about a 6km detour, and I was feeling that bad that I was 50/50 on whether to go & check it out. I can see why Stryder picked it. It certainly suits his riding style.
Just because I hadn’t tortured myself enough today I pushed for PB’s all the way back from Emerald to Upper Beaconsfield using that wind which had caused me grief throughout the ride. I had limited power and had to be happy with averaging close to 37kmph back to the car over the final 12km’s. In many ways this ride was amazing given the circumstances, and I was fortunate to discover about half a dozen new dirt climbs today and saw some amazing scenery. I’m back home & have lost my guts again and are feeling as flat as a pancake. Was it worth it…….