Dirty Dozen 2016

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Dirty Dozen 2016 was always going to be one of the hardest rides I’ve ever done.   The course was a lot harder than last years course, and there was 3 – 10mm of rain forecast.  I was coming off 5 weeks of illness, and with only a handful of rides under my belt I knew I was completely out of shape.  .

I only managed a couple of hours sleep before heading up to Warburton at 6am.  I was in desperate need of Coffee, and tried not to think about what I was in for.

I headed out with the organisers of the event Matt de Neef & David Blom.  It’s comforting to know that on a ride like this you can’t get lost if you’re riding with the guys who put together the course.  I started out well and paced myself quite well, and we flew up climb after climb, and it was a relief to get one of the most challenging climbs of the event  Story Road out of the way.

When we hit the bonus climb of the day; Clarke Road.  It wasn’t even a goat track.  WTF!  It was a walking track that went straight up and must have been close to 30% in sections and in horrible shape.  What was worse was the fact that the path was quite muddy, and on my 28mm slicks, I didn’t hold much hope of getting traction.  It looked impossible to climb, and half a dozen riders didn’t even try and stopped at the base of the climb.  There was a small gap in-between and I fanged it and split the middle.  There were several riders up ahead, pulling over to walk.  I kept going determined to make it.  I hit some mud, & copped wheel spin.  It could have been game over, but I danced on the pedals and kept it moving, and hit the next section of mud.  The gradient was 20% and I got wheel spin again, and again and again.  More and more riders were pulling over above me & it was a matter of time.  David Blom pulled over in front of me and I managed to climb a couple of metres ahead of him before almost falling sideways after hitting a deep puddle of mud.  It was time to walk.  The gradient was close to 30% of mud, so I didn’t feel too bad.  Everyone else walked.

What a relief it was to reach the tourist road.  Pushing my bike up such a steep gradient burnt a lot of matches, and things turned south pretty quick.  Blommy was talking to me & I wasn’t taking a single thing in.  Early signs of bonking!  I took it as easy as I could, and with the easiest part of the course up ahead I hoped to be able to recover.

The best laid plans of mice and men………

We hit Milners Gap & I felt really, really hungry, and made it halfway up before imploding.  The lights went out.  I was running on empty and suddenly I couldn’t manage any speed at all and went into a very, very dark place.  All the riders I was easily keeping pace with flew off up the climb, and my head was spinning.  I seriously had to consider pulling the plug on the Dirty Dozen.  I went through a lot of soul searching.  This year has been horrible with injury & illness marring the whole year.  I’ve cherished the few times that I’ve gotten to ride & all of a sudden a fire burned within.  No matter the cost.  No matter the pain I wanted to finish.

I managed to crawl to the rest stop where one of the events sponsers “Winners” were set-up with a table full of goodies.  I stuffed my face with a Gel, two energy bars & a whole heap of lollies.  Energy flowed back into my wrecked body, and I felt there was hope.  There were 5 more climbs up ahead, but knew that 3 of them were amongst the hardest of the event.

We made it to Dees Road, and I was in fairly good shape but realised early on into the climb that I wasn’t fine.  I struggled, and Dees is a road which gets steeper the higher you go, & peaks at 27%.  I had to go into my happy place to get up this one.  This climb utterly Deestroyed me, and I now had 4 climbs left to survive.  The next was really hard, but I survived and then we hit Hooks.  I’ve never done this climb before but had seen it many times and it is a very vicious piece of work.  I had great apprehensions about the climb.  We turned onto Hooks and immediately the road goes to the wrong side of 20%.  My legs felt like lead, and I gave it everything I had, but halfway up the lights went up & I had nothing to get up it.  For the second time that day I got off my bike.  I never get off to walk on a climb.  This was quite humiliating.  I had no energy to walk up the climb so turned around and headed back.

Running on empty

It was tempting to head straight back to the car, but with 2 climbs left I wondered if it was possible.  The next climb I’ve been up several times and felt I could do it.  Albeit slowly.  I figured if I could at least get up Surrey Road would give me a small measure of pride back.  I made my way up very, very slowly.  I was quietly confident, but foolishly had not read the climb profile.  Dave & Matt had thrown a variation of this climb.  We headed up a dirt road which went skyward.  It had well in excess of 20%.  I went as high as I could, but was just going too slow.  I didn’t have any ascendancy, and for the third time during the event had to get off and walk.  This was embarrassing.  I knew this could have happened, and I’m not one to hide behind excuses.

I was a wreck a the top and there was still one climb left.  Martyr Road.  I had no confidence that I could get up it.  I was already coming up with excuses and did not look forward to the fact that most likely I would be walking up its extremely steep slopes.  When I turned off onto Martyr I tried not to look up.  It is one scary climb.  I had a couple of riders up ahead, and didn’t last long until my legs felt like lead.  I had no hope of riding straight up this monster.  There was a course photographer Kirsten Stewart halfway up the climb.  I didn’t like the thought of getting photographed walking.

I started to zig zag from side to side.  I went into a zone, and found  I could climb.  It wasn’t pretty, and it was excruciatingly slow but I was doing it.  One of the riders in front of me got off and walked.  This was not going to happen to me.  I kept going until I got past Kirsten.   I couldn’t make it up the last two climbs.  Which is why I had to get up the hardest.  Soon my hamstring cramped.  I never get cramp and it frekin hurt.  I was so close to the top that I couldn’t give up.

Getting a chance to redeem myself was pure gold.  I averaged a shocking 6kph up Martyr Road but I made it!  The feeling of jubilation when I crested the top of Martyrs was unbelievable.  I did it.  I finished the Dirty Dozen.  This is the fourth year that I’ve attended this event and is one of my favourites of the year.  It rained most of the morning, and I was glad to get into some dry clothes.

I personally believe this was the hardest of all of the Dirty Dozen rides that I have done.  The weather was shocking, and we were all soaked the skin & coated in mud.

Who knows what they will have in store for 2017………

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4 thoughts on “Dirty Dozen 2016

    Frostyremo said:
    September 19, 2016 at 11:58 am

    Great honest write up, it certainly was an epic day out.

      Brendan Edwards responded:
      September 19, 2016 at 11:11 pm

      Looked at Martyrs & there were 40 riders who averaged under 5 kmph up that sucker. The conditions weren’t that bad, but mixed with those climbs sure was a shock to the system. As you mentioned, worked out well that the weather scared a lot of riders off. Lots of spare sausages at the post ride BBQ 🙂

    Chris Balis said:
    September 19, 2016 at 10:33 pm

    Well done Brendan. Next year it will be a different story…guaranteed. Might even ‘try’ and keep you company. Cheers mate!!

      Brendan Edwards responded:
      September 19, 2016 at 11:12 pm

      Chris, expecting to see a sea of Yellow & Black Rowville Riders tops at next years event lead by Brett Davis 🙂

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