Half an Everest of climbing

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Christian climbing strong

With a new-born baby I rarely get to stretch the legs on a big outing nowadays.   I was pinching myself when handed a rare leave pass lasting until around 4:00 pm today.  A bunch of mates were attempting to do 10 of the hardest climbs in the Dandenong’s to kickstart their 3 Peaks campaign and asked me along.

How could I refuse such an invitation?

There is something memorable about doing your first 3Peaks and I have fond memories of all the training that I put in to get there.  It’s a mythical ride that required months of training to make sure you can get through.  There’s nothing more that I would love to see than my mates succeeding.  The cast for the ride included Christian Purnomo, Geert Vercruysse, Eli Thurrowgood, Gavin Rossetti & Alan Lim. I set my alarm for 3:00 am, coincidentally around the same time my baby alarm started to cry.  I took a bee-line straight up Stud Road & met the boys at 5:00 am in Bayswater.

Its the middle of summer but I had a feeling that we were in for some shoddy weather.  There was low hanging mist forecast in the hills & from experience on a day with little winds the mist can hang around till lunch and keep the Dandenong’s quite chilly and I brought some warm clothes with me just in case.

The climbs:

  1. 1:20 to Sky High (12.5 km @ 4%)
  2. Inverness to Sky High (7.4 km @ 7%)
  3. David Hill Road & the Wall (8.6 km @ 4%)
  4. Perrins Plus (3.4 km @ 7%)
  5. The Crescent (3.3 km @ 5%)
  6. Sherbrook Road (3.5 km @ 4%)
  7. Terry’s Avenue (3.2 km @ 8%)
  8. Mast Gully Road + School Road)
  9. The Devil’s in the Details (4.8 km @ 8%)
  10. Fat Albert (1.2 km @ 7%)

The weather sucked.  It was humid but cold & I found I was overheating on the climbs & shivering on the descents.  I hate days like this in the Dandy’s as it can stay like this till lunchtime, and then the sun will come out towards the end of your ride to tease you. The climbs flowed into one another and I was trying to focus on pacing myself.  Alan lefts us after completing the Wall, but then Steven Wright joined us.

Inverness

I was pushing and something didn’t feel right.  After we finished climbing Sherbrook I did a bike check & span the back wheel and found that I was doing some resistance training.

The back brake was rubbing lightly against the wheel.

I had stopped at the top of Inverness to get some photos & dropped the bike on the ground & this must have knocked the brake.  I must have done over 25 km of climbing with my brake rubbing against my wheel & I was wondering why it felt like hard work……

Gavin & Damian

We were joined by Damian Brooks who showed up riding this massively heavy steel bike.  He was unbelievably going to use this to climb some of the Dandenong’s steepest climbs.  I’d have no hope of getting up on that bike.  Amazingly he gave it a go.  There was a bit of walking up hills involved, but believe me his ride deserves more Kudos than the whole lot of us combined.

Eli who organised the ride had left his car up the top of One Tree Hill & had a treat in store for us.  He had a shopping centre set-up in his boot for us.  Water, soft drinks, sports supplements, lollies & chocolates.  The cornerstone of any nutritious cyclists diet, and so awesome to have joined in on a group ride where so much thought had been put in.  A group of riders were riding past & saw the supplies in the boot & a couple of riders wearing Hells 500 kits & had to ask the question; “you guys Everesting?”.  I had to laugh.  I had done 100 km of riding at this stage, & hoped to improve from here.

Unfortunately our next climb Terry’s Avenue had other ideas……

Geert leading the way up Terry’s

My first two efforts trying to climb Terry’s resulted in me walking my bike up it.  It’s two climbs that have a descent in between.  Both climbs you’re looking at grinding close to 20% gradients for well over 2 km all up, and its downright scary.  I tried my best but my legs had gone.  I was able to climb it, but was pushing myself to my limits.  My body wanted to give up and I had to go into my happy place to get up Terry’s.

Eli gliding up Mast Gully

Mast Gully I’ve climbed close to three dozen times & its one that is incredibly challenging.   I know it so well that I could do it in autopilot mode, but from here it became a blur.  Mast Gully unfortunately finished off Geert who had climbed incredibly strong up until this stage.  Wish I could tell you more of the ride but I was simply hurting too much.  The tendons in the back of my left knee were stretching & there’s only so much I can push myself through that sort of pain.  I could keep riding, but had no hope of continuing up the steep stuff.

I headed home & took the scenic route through Glenfern Road & Lysterfield Road to get home.  It was a tough ride but such an experience.  I haven’t been able to do much hill work since my baby came along and haven’t done a ride like this for over 2 & a half months.

I couldn’t be happier.

I’ve done a lot of epics, and those days may be past me & I get a great sense of pride in following others epic journeys.  Today the boys have jumped onto the path of the 3 Peaks, & I wish them all the best.

171 km completed

4,424 vertical metres.

Here is a link to my Strava Activity here:

 

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