Exploring some dirt delight

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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.

Elephant Rock

The first climb I did was Bourkes Creek Road which is 2.3 km’s @ 4%.  I had this stupid notion of smashing Bourkes Creek Road and getting the KOM.  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 1.5 km’s in before the lights went out.  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, and was surprised to miss the KOM by only about 30 second.

Hopefully will get a chance to return when I’m better.

Bourkes Creek Road segment

Bourkes Creek Road

The next climb was Gordon Road.  I’d never seen this one before and it is 2.2 km’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.  Ahead was 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.  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 as I was pretty crook.  Now I 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 to explore.

They 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 5.3 km’s long @ 3%, and I started to get weaker and weaker as I progressed.  I didn’t bonk, but after 40 km’s of riding I knew I should be heading straight back to the car.  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 15 km’s.

Bessie Creek Road

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.  That half cooked chicken did not go down well.

I had stomach spasms for the remainder of the ride & threw up.

The Road to Cockatoo

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 6 km 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 37 km/h back to the car over the final 12 km’s.  In many ways this ride was amazing given the circumstances.  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…….

Hell yeah!

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