With a baby on the way in a little over 7 weeks my epic days are coming to an end. I had hoped for a fairy tale ending, and there has been nothing more epic than all of the 6 Everests that I’ve completed. I was lucky to have my mate Gary Beazley volunteer to get up at 1:00 am to join me. I’m not a big fan of finishing rides like this after dark which ultimately means doing it on little sleep.
It was cold.
The forecast was for a minimum of 7 degrees, and really shouldn’t have been surprised when the thermometer dropped down to 2.7 degrees on Mount Dandenong. It was icy, and it was the sort of ride where we were overheating on the climbs & then freezing on the descents. This really saps the energy. I knew the Dandenong’s well enough to know that when it gets foggy & there’s no wind the fog can set in till nearly lunchtime & continue to be cold.
We started our tour of our Everests in the Dandy’s. Olivebank Avenue, The Serpentine, Colby Drive, Perrins Creek Road & David Hill Road. Memories flooded back of painful rides. Both of us reflected on how it was possible that we managed to finish those rides. The fog was thick & visibility poor, and these days are beautiful to ride through. Probably not on a 250 km epic. I picked a good route & we weren’t passed by a single car until the 59 km point. The road which we encountered the most traffic ironically was David Hill Road. This was one of my hardest Everests partly due to the traffic we copped that day.
By the time we left the Dandenong’s we were sitting on just under 2,000 vertical I wasn’t feeling crash hot.
It was a welcome relief to get off the main roads and settle into cruise mode on the Lilydale Warburton trail. It was quite foggy in the Yarra Valley which took away much of its natural beauty. We arrived in Warburton and discovered that I had stomach problems & lost my guts. Thankfully felt 100% better after. We stopped at the Warburton Bakery to get some food into us before the climb, and I was apprehensive. At the time we had 120 km in the legs & the climb scares the bejeesus out of me. I’ve climbed it 21 times & had 21 bad experiences along the way.
Given how far we had to return home I had doubts of getting up in one piece.
The ride was about climbing Donna, & I told myself to HTFU & put it in cruise control on the climb. The k’s flew & the higher I climbed the stronger the legs felt. I was waiting for that moment when I was going to bonk, but this never happened. Gary dropped off a little bit & I used this opportunity to get up the road to take the odd photo or two.
I was feeling so strong foolishly I went to smash my PB on the last km segment of Donna. I was nailing it until my chain dropped off. Wasting a tonne of energy for nothing.
The good news was we made it to the top & in one piece, and I was confident of nailing this ride.
The decent was icy cold & I was appreciative that I had brought extra clothing for it. I was intrepid about climbing Old Warburton Road the last of my Everests. I like the first 1.3 km which we Everested, but the second part of the climb always sucks. Its one of my least favourite climbs going around. It was a grind & a welcome relief to get over & done with. We hit a small section of the highway & traffic was relentless. I was glad to get back onto the Lilydale Warburton trail & away from traffic.
My ride went downhill from here. We were pushing into a slight headwind. Compounded with riding on the gravel which a fair bit was a false flat made for a real grind. A few rests were needed along the way. This was easily one of the most challenging sections of the day even though it was flat. Time was running late by the time we got to Lilydale & one of the biggest challenges lay in front of us.
The closer we got the huger they looked, and one of the biggest Everests that Gary did was 10,000 vertical on the 1:20. We had to revisit it. My legs were still turning over & could still keep a certain pace but I was bonking. Gary was talking to me & I was taking nothing in. I was in autopilot mode, and almost crashed into him at a traffic light as I was in a zone. I knew I could get up the 1:20 completely wasted so jumped up the front & tapped out a basic rhythm & kept the pace going the whole way and the k’s flew by.
The sun was out & the day was brilliant but I was hurting. I had done this ride so many times I could do it in autopilot & that sums up the return trip. We wanted 250km & I had to go the long way but we hit bike trails over the last 30km and just ticked off the k’s on the way back to Endeavour Hills. We ticked over 4,700 vertical for the ride which is one of the bigger climbing days I’ve ever done, and given my lack of hill work over winter was quite good.
I was good up until 200km, so still have room for improvement, but alas next week is set to be my last epic before retiring from the epic game. I soon will becoming a professional babysitter.
To be continued……
On to my last dance