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 2.3 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.
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.
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 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…….