The first climb of this years event was hell. It was quite a narrow road with gravel everywhere. There was only a small racing line you could ride & I was stuck behind a slower rider. If he touched his brakes or stopped then bring on the Domino express. It was worse on the descent with little traction & was very dangerous with my skinny little 23 mm tyres.
This is the Dirty Dozen.
I’ve climbed pretty much every single climbs from all of the previous editions. It was always going to be hard to top something which is already brutal. So why not add some dirt into the mix. I’m not fully in shape but there was a pinch at the end of Story Road which almost ended my story. I’m an expert at climbing dirt but this one unhinged me. Never before have I felt like getting off & walking at a Dirty Dozen. The only thing which stopped that was experience. I knew when dirt goes over 20% wheel spin is your greatest fear, and pedalling technique is paramount. Slow & steady as they say. Don’t stop till you get to the top. Suck it up princess!
When we climbed Little Joe, memories began to flood back from my Everest. Looking back I still don’t know how I found a way to make every single Everest harder than the last & Little Joe was one of the hardest for me to survive. I don’t know whether I love the climb & hated it. I was chatting with this guy who came down from Sydney to do a piece on the event for Bicycle mag. He had heard of me & told me that he had been recommended to approach me for an interview on Everesting.
I’ve only been writing for La Velocita for four months. Things have been feeling crazy with some of the things I’ve been doing but this was something. I guess if you want to put yourself out on social media you need to be prepared to be out there.
I was in the Matthew Keenan group. Dave Blom suggested I ride with them & I thought it a great idea to do a piece for La Velocita. Guess there was no way of getting lost when you’re riding with the guys who put together the course. They were shooting an episode of the Bike lane and we were followed around by a motorbike with a camera crew. Pretty sure I’ll be on the show. Right at the end we were setting up a shot at the base of Martyrs. I was with David Blom & Matt de Neef. He said: “you Matt, you Dave, you Hells do……”.
Found it really funny to be referred to as Hells.
My original intention was to smash the day, but I was having too much fun. I kept it in cruise control, and really glided up the hills. After the half way point my legs either went into gear or everyone died as I started to find my rhythm and started to fly up the climbs. It was great that the group I was riding with regrouped at the top of each climb & gave me lots of rest time.
My favorite climb of the day was through Milners Gap. It was short & steep but really suited my climbing style & started to enjoy myself.
I know so many people that did this event and was yapping left right & centre. It was great encouraging riders up the climbs as it was a very challenging course, and saw a tonne of riders getting off to walk.
Including the designer of the course David Blom – below
Hitting the last climb, I felt like I had energy to spare. I was following Matt de Neef up the final climb (Martyrs) & probably could have flown past him but he was using the whole road to zig zag and wasn’t safe to do so. I figured if I stayed behind him I’d be picked up behind the photographers and make his Climbing Cyclist write-up again.
It was funny to see Matthew Keenan at the top of Martyrs. He gave it everything getting to the top & left his tears on the climb. He asked me to get a photo of him with his phone in front of the 27% climb. Its great when someone who commentates the Tour de France & some of the biggest rides in the world finds something which shocks him.
At the BBQ at the end I was going around doing a couple of interviews for La Velocita. Still feels crazy approaching someone with your mobile phone mike extended.
Given my injury woes of last month, which has left me with so little time to get back in shape and to get as many of these incredible rides in. Barring sickness or injury it is looking like a fairy tale ending to the start of a new life. I have time for at least a couple more epics to fill the bucket list.