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.

Dirty Dozen 2016

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.

Dirty Dozen 2016

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………

Dirty Dozen 2016

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.

Dirty Dozen 2016

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.

Dirty Dozen 2016
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.

Dirty Dozen 2016

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.

Dirty Dozen 2016

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.

Dirty Dozen 2016

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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