Sherpa for the Spartans

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Distance:             176km
Elevation:            3,100 vertical

Here is a link to my Strava Activity here:

Sherpa for the Spartans

I am a member of the Cardinia Climbers (CC), & their premier challenge is their Spartan Challenge.  The founder of the CC’s Robbie Rowlands.  After 16 months, he finally set a date to complete this challenge on 12/12/2015 & a number of riders agreed to join the party.

Sherpa for the Spartans

So what is the Spartan challenge?  It challenged you to do things in three, and do them tough.  To complete the challenge you needed:

  • Complete a minimum of 300km in one continuous ride;
  • A Spartan must be a good climber, and on this ride must climb a minimumof 3,000 vertical;
  • Most importantly a Spartan must be willing to get their hands dirty, and must travel a minimumof 3 km over gravel roads on their Spartan Adventure

For finishing a ride like this you get recognition of being one big Bad Ass rider!

I would have loved to do the whole ride.  With a new-born baby it was out of the question to be away from home for such a long time.  The ride was due to start at 4:30 am.  I worked out that I could wake up at 3:00 am and get out there to do the first part of the ride around the Dandenong’s.  Then get home before lunch with 150 km in the legs.

I had a rough week & the night before was due to do the 11:00 pm feed & William wouldn’t settle.  This meant that I was only able to getting 2 hours of sleep before getting out on the bike.  Not ideal but nothing I haven’t done before.

The weather was forecast to be an overcast day with a minimum of 11.5 degrees.  All I can say is puck you weatherman!  He got it very, very wrong!

On the ride up to Berwick I had several small showers hit me.  The closer I got to Berwick the colder it became which was to set the tone for the ride.

The Cast

All were going for their first Spartan 300 ride and the team included the captain; Robbie Rowlands.  Team Brydon with Lisa & Blair, Thomas Joynt & I was able to talk my mate Geert the vert to go for his first triple century.

Sherpa for the Spartans

The Ride

We set off with a south westerly pushing us along.  There was the odd shower which hit us on an ongoing basis over the next couple of hours.  They were never long, but were great at sapping energy & ensuring that we were copping a constant spray of water from the back of the bike in front of us.  The pace was fast & there a real positive vibe and comrade between the group.  The Cardinia Climbers are fast becoming a very close nit group.  There is great passion amongst the group to help one another to become the best they can be on a bike.

My intention were to Sherpa & get up the front as much as I could.  Sadly my body had other ideas.  I was chatting freely with Geert for the first 10 km & then went very, very quiet.  I could match the pace, but the lack of sleep was hitting hard & I was slurring my speech somewhat.  Then getting dizzy spells.  A few of the guys rolled next to me & tried to chat but I’m afraid I was a bit incoherent & must have seemed a bit out of it.

I don’t do flats well & guess I figured I just needed a few hills to wake me up.

The temperature kept dropping.  With the on off rain conditions until it settled a little over 4 degrees with an icy cold wind which just sapped the energy.  This was mid-December with weather you’d expect to ride in mid-winter.  Not ideal for a 300  km ride.

The original intention was to climb Bessie Creek Road which is a road I’m quite familiar with and was looking forward to cruising up.  Robbie changed the course at the last minute & decided to go up Mt Eirene Road which I’d never climbed before.  As soon as we hit the climb my on switch went on.  It was an amazing feeling gliding in the big dog & could barely feel the chain moving & found that sweet spot on the lower slopes.  I cruised forward & just had that feeling that I could pull something special out.  I hit the accelerator and flew off & when I came up to the steep section could stand up and pump out a good amount of watts to continue flying up this climb…..

That was until it got really steep.  I was feeling good, but then I guess I forgot two major things:

  1. Having never climbed this climb before and had no idea what I was in for so had no idea how to pace myself.
  2. I was feeling like shit

Half way up the climb I thankfully realised that I was about to kill myself.  Then took the foot off the accelerator & cruised up the remaining section.  Given some of the steep pinches I was very grateful I did so.  I still managed to get 5th on the leader board but wasted what little energy I had left.

Sherpa for the Spartans
Thomas & Geert

What were we out doing?  It was freezing.  Its middle of summer & it was only 4 degrees.  All the guys had shorts & fingerless gloves on & they must have been burning up energy turning the wheels.  Me I started to bonk & went really funny.  Geert also started to drop off the pace somewhat.

Sherpa for the Spartans

It felt like I was riding like a yo-you.

I would absolutely burn up some climbs, then really struggle on others.  Shortly before Sheepstation Road I had a Muesli bar. Geez I must have just been starving as I suddenly found some energy, and went flying down the road.  Geert dropped back majorly leading up to Sheepstation Creek Road and was finding it ever more challenging to get up the climbs.  Given 300 km needed to be completed and were waiting around for 5 minutes at the end of Sheepstation.  We were looking at options & I offered to stay back to ride back with Geert & let him decide what distance he wanted to ride for the day.  The crew pushed on to Spartania and then it was just me & Geert.

Sherpa for the Spartans
Caught the boss napping in the back

It was a relief for me to be able to take the foot off the accelerator and all I could think about was food.  We opted to head towards the Emerald Bakery, and I tried to keep a steady pace that allowed us to recover.  We discussed options & Geert decided to ride back with me & knock off a 150 km ride.  By 10:00 am the weather was still under 8 degrees.  I had been riding now for 6 & a half hours & it had averaged well under 6 degress for the whole ride.

Sherpa for the Spartans
Sheepstation Creek Road
We had time on our hands & made a beeline across the Dandenong’s.  The vertical racked up as we went up and up and up.

I was really wrecked, but all of the training I have done throughout the year paid off and I was able to continue to tap out a steady rhythm.  Given the week I’ve had and the lack of sleep, knocking out 176 km & over 3,100 vertical was insane.

Sherpa for the Spartans

I had a great day and it was fantastic that Geert was able to pop in & meet my son which is always special to introduce my pride & joy to my friends & family.

Many records fell today and of course the team went on to nail the Spartan ride.  Lisa Brydon was the very first female to complete a Spartan ride and hopefully will inspire others to go out and join Spartania.

The Spartans

  • Robbie Rowland’s Strava Activity here:
  • Thomas Joynt’s Strava Activity here:
  • Blair Brydon’s Strava Activity here:
  • Lisa Brydon’s Strava Activity here:
  • Geert Vercruysse Strava Activity here:
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