A Hells of a time in the Dandys

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I was invited to a ride in the Dandenong’s with the NBRCC Hells 500 crew.  Cruising out from home where I met the guys at the base of the Devil’s Elbow.  I was expecting a couple to show up and was shocked when a sea of Hells 500 riders descended the hill.  Each and every one of them is a badass climber and one things for sure.

I was in for some pretty hard climbing.

It was a golden morning and we took on the Satan’s Elbow, one of the Dandenong’s toughest climbs.  It wasn’t too long for the attacks to begin and Ben Wallhout flew out of the blocks and led the charge.  A number of riders including myself set chase.  The next 5.6 km was hell crawling up the steep slopes of the Devil’s Mayhem.

Image taken by the master of Instagram Lewis Greenhalgh

I’m not in top shape at the moment and I had to tap out a pace that wouldn’t hurt me too much.  After five and a half kilometres of insane climbing I was glad when I was nearing the finish line.  The trouble with One Tree Hill is that the ending isn’t clear.  Martin English was camped to the side of the road and he looked so proud of knocking out a good time.  I yelled out that the ending was well down the road and its always funny to see a grown man cry.  He jumped straight back on the bike and sprinted up the road going for that PB.

That invisible clock of Strava ticking over his head.

We descended Sherbrooke Road and headed up Perrins Creek Road climb, my first ever Everest.  I’ve climbed it over 140 times now and my blood, sweat & tears are part of the road.  I cruised up Perrins with Philip Natividad, who commented; “so much for this being a cruisy ride!”.  I offered one of my famous detours which usually involves steep gradients & riders cursing at me.  I’m lucky these guys eat hills for breakfast & enjoyed the excuse for some extra climbing.

We stopped in Olinda for Coffee, before setting off on what was my favourite part of the ride.  A dozen Hells 500 riders flying down the Mount Dandenong Tourist Road.  Andy Van Bergens own private Hells army of the twelve monkeys.  I’ve always loved the descent down to Montrose, but was excited at the prospect of taking on Sheffhield Road.

image taken by Philip Natividad
Dave Smith had missed the KOM by seconds on a previous attempt.  A pissing contest was brewing.

The start of Sheffhield is insanely hard.  We were smashing our way up this short sharp pinch that is just under 20%.  I cocked up the turnoff onto Sheffhield but soon got into a rhythm and was approaching it quite quickly.  I hit the hill hard and was catching the guys in front of me, and got over the top in good shape.  Thankfully I was holding back as there was still close to 4 km of Sheffhield left to smash.  Geez I was surprised when I had a look at the segment later.  I nailed the KOM.

image taken by Philip Natividad

From here Sheffhield becomes one of the highest speed descents in the Nong’s.  It is easy to hit speeds of up to 80 km/h.  I had half a dozen Hells boys in my sights, but alas I’m a climber and not a descender.  Giving it full gas, I could only watch as the boys were slowly taking off at me.  A couple of k’s in I was on the limit and had to pull back my pace.  The boys were more and more becoming a distant shadow up the road.  I had no hope of getting a good time.

I averaged 43 km/h and actually tied the previous KOM… Twas a surprise.

Lewis Greenhalgh took the KOM by a whopping 31 seconds averaging over 47 km/h ver 3.9km.  This is on a segment which has a 200 metre pinch averaging close to 20%.  Not only can he can climb, but is an insane descender and it was an amazing show to have watched (from afar).

I was cooked, and hoped to catch my breath on Liverpool Road……..

You think I’d have realised that I was riding with the Hells boys.

They were off like a rocket and I was dropped off the back & had to give it full gas to catch up.  There’s a 700 metre climb heading into the Basin & they hit it hard and fast.  I didn’t want to kill myself and eased off on the throttle.  Lewis and Ben smashed the KOM at 40.4kmph.  Two Everests in a matter of minutes.  Super impressive!

The third KOM to fall to the Hells 500 army.

I soon left the group and headed up the 1:20, where I saw hundreds of riders.  Cycling is becoming more and more popular and it’s great to see so many getting into climbing.  Even though I was cooked and had to pace myself up the climb.  It  and was surprised when I passed a dozen riders on the way up.  I cut across Belgrave South on the way home.

Nothiching another century and had an amazing ride.  There were some tales of bravery amongst the group.  Dave Smith was recovering from a pretty serious crash & was still hurting in big way and was gritting his teeth the whole way.  Dylan Nicholson had been hit for six with a virus and got off his death bed to hit the Dandy’s.  You could see that he was still quite pale and easily got ride of the day smashing out some very good times.

Image taken by Martin English

It’s great to be able to get out and ride with so many talented riders, and this is easily my favourite ride for 2016.

Here is a link to my Strava Activity here:

Golden morning
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