Exploring the Adelaide Hills

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I had been sick 10 days, and was 90% better.  I had an entire day to ride in the Adelaide Hills, and I knew that could mean anywhere between 100 – 200km’s.  But I just didn’t know whether my body would be able to cope with the stress.  I would never pass up an opportunity like this, and just said screw it.  I’m doing this.  I had no plan.  I figured anywhere I went would present elevation and just randomly drove to the base of the hills & went from there.
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 The first climb to Upper Sturt was listed as 8.5km’s @ 3%, but the first couple of k’s were really steep at over 7% average and with heavy peak hour traffic wasn’t the best time to be climbing this road.  I opted to head up to Mount Lofty and the road kept working its way upwards.
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I was still under the weather, but could ride more freely.  I hit Mount Lofty & saw a sign that said 3km’s to peak so I braced myself for whatever this climb would throw at me.  About a km in I was still sitting in the big dog, and tapping out a nice rhythm, and I looked down at the speedo and saw that I was sitting at just under 20kmph.  I then noticed that the gradient and saw that it was 9%.  WTF.  I was gliding up this thing, and I panicked for a second thinking I was going to burn myself out, but I thought, well if I’m climbing it well then go for it.  The first 1.4km’s averaged over 7% and I cruised up it to finish 74/4340 on the leaderboard, which considering it was quite cold, I was sick & considering this climb has close to 15,000 attempts on it could not believe I could poll so high without trying.  I guess my fitness was better than I thought.
It was pretty cloudy up the top, and was raining in dribs & drabs.  I didn’t wait around to get cold, and continued to play the choose your own adventure.  I pulled out Google Maps & decided to head down to Greenhill.  There was this 10km descent down Greenhill Road which was simply awesome.  It was like an extended racetrack with amazing views of Adelaide from the hills.
I was getting a bit hungry, and decided to try & find some breakfast.   I found a bakery in Beaumont and had a little break.
 I had a look on Strava, and found an interesting looking segment up Mount Osmond that was about 13km’s in length.  I figured I could do it & then back track back up Greenhill Road back to Mount Lofty which looked an incredible climb.  I was in for a delight as 1.2km’s of the climb averaged 11%, and could easily be a Dirty Dozen climb.
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Hayward Drive
 I was still climbing well but really started to feel tired.  After 3km’s of climbing to the top I was pretty stuffed.  I was going to head back but then noticed the steep descent on the other side of Mount Osmond and thought why not.  1.2km’s @ 8% was enough to do a number on my legs, and I was starting to have doubts about lasting out the day and was considering cutting the ride short.
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View from top of Haywood Drive
I had a mechanical & needed to find a bike store.  I was recommended to go into Kensington, and after 1,600 vertical in only 50km’s of riding I actually welcomed resting on some flats.  I stopped for some Sushi, and was thinking damage control, even though it was only 10:45am.  I noticed a massage place on the main strip and wondered if I got a leg massage to get some life back into them whether I could keep climbing until 5:00pm.  The answer to that one was yes it did.
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The Greenhill climb to Mount Lofty is 12.3km’s @ 5% and I launched myself at it.  I tried to keep a good tempo, and really did a good effort until about 7km’s into the climb when my sickened body told me to get stuffed.  I kept a good intensity, but was in the hurt locker.  I passed several riders along the way, and unfortunately at the Mount Lofty turnoff someone jumped on my rear wheel.  I should have just let him overtake me but kept a high intensity.  I don’t mind someone wheel sucking, but I hate how you never know whether they’re just cruising or whether you’re hurting them.  He turned right at the turnoff, & I turned left so I never found out, and got to the top a complete wreck.
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Mount Lofty Lookout
Damage control crossed my mind again, but I figured this was a once in a lifetime opportunity and had to make the most of it.  I pulled out Google Maps again & the choose your own adventure continued. I realised that I wasn’t too far off Nortons Summit, and reckoned that if I went & did both ascents of it, then returned up to Mount Lofty & back to the car would be about 150km’s.
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Top of Nortons Summit
This is going to sound funny coming from me, but I would rate the Norton descent better than the climb.  The views were simply amazing, and it has a good consistent gradient that’s easy to find a rhythm on.
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View from near top of Nortons Summit
 Nortoons Summit is 5.6km’s @ 5%, and one of Adelaide’s more iconic climbs.  It has a nice steady gradient and lots of free flowing corners to easily break your ride up into.  It was a shame that I was climbing it on empty as it really suited my climbing style, and on a good day I could really pound out a good tempo in the big dog.
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I only managed 18.3kmph up it, and its one of those climbs that I would love to return to and give it some gas.
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I descended it again & climbed up Old Norton Road, which was a nice climb, but is used more as an arterial road & was quite busy.  Heedless to say I was quite wrecked by the time I got to the top, & wondering how the hell I was going to get back to the car in time.  After an overcast & cold morning the day had fined up and was quite warm.  I ploughed on, and just grinded my way up to Mount Lofty for the third time that day.
I checked my messages & there was one from the missus saying that I better be back by 6:00pm or else…….
Don’t ask where I got the energy from, but the next 25km’s I averaged well over 40kmph and absolutely smashed myself on the way back.   Over 150km’s & 3,700 vertical in the legs.   I got back to the car truly wrecked, but what a day! I’ve had the ability over the years to pull out some mammoth rides when I’ve been under the weather.  How I’ll pull up tomorrow will be another story…..
Here is a link to my Strava Activity here:
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Couldn’t resist doing this backstreet climb which peaked at 23%
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