2013

2013 Three peaks challenge

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The SCODY 3 Peaks Challenge was launched in 2010 by Bicycle Victoria in the Victorian Alps (High Country).  The even provides cyclists with one of the world’s toughest & most picturesque cycling challenges.  Starting and finishing at Falls Creek.  Riders must complete the circuit within 13 hours to receive a “Finisher’s Jersey”.  A must have trophy to the collection.  In 2013 a special jersey was introduced to recognise cyclists who were able to complete the event within 10 hours.

Peaks challenge

3 Peaks challenge

Amongst recreational cyclists, owning a 3 Peaks jersey is quite prestigious.  It offers you stature as a rider having completed it.  There was a huge cloud over the 2013 Three Peaks.  Sadly there were horrendous Bush fires raging that year.  Organisers were not able to commit to the ride until the last minute.  Due to extensive fire damage they were forced to revise the route.  Instead of riding up Mount Hotham & the Back of Falls did a route up Mount Buffalo.  Through Rosewhite Gap & returning up Falls Creek.  The weather forecast was due to be high for the event.  I wish that I knew the ride better as I would have prepared a whole lot differently.

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I was so excited about doing the 2013 Three Peaks.  Trained so hard, and planned out every little detail.  My diet is horrendous.  This was the only time that I actually stuck to a diet for the 5 weeks leading up to this event.  Things didn’t go to plan & I tore a calf muscle 3 weeks out from the event.  Luckily I had my single best recovery session & pumped out over 500 km the following week.
On the day of the event I screwed up big time. Due to the forecast hot day, I had planned on carrying a third bottle in my back pocket.  But of course forgot to bring it, and in the morning couldn’t find my food pouch for the bike.  I had to improvise & stuff food in my back pockets instead.
Let’s do this!

We showed up at the start line just as the first wave was leaving.  I was pumped, and absolutely flew down Falls Creek. I lost count of how many riders I was passing, and had fun on the descent.  As the sun was rising, the day was already starting to warm-up. I wasn’t pushing, but knew when I was approaching Tawanga Gap that I was in form.   This was the first time climbing Tawonga Gap and cruised up it.  I was passing riders effortlessly, and was thinking about the overall picture.  Concerned that I could cook myself if I went too fast, so paced myself.  So kept it in the big dog the whole way which felt like the right way to climb on the day.

Peaks challege
The section from Tawonga to Mount Buffalo was really fast.  I reached into my back pocket for some food.  Somehow I accidentally spilled a fair bit of my food on the road. I was aware that I didn’t have the spare water I may need later on.  No food, and small alarm bells were ringing, but I was flying. We hit Buffalo, & off I went. I was easily climbing it in the big dog.  Given how easily I got up Tawonga Gap.  I had this crazy notion that I’d do the whole thing in the big dog.  After all I’d climbed the Reefton Spur just in the big dog once before.  Given that I had never climbed Bufallo before, this was pretty stupid.
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Mount Buffalo
About 5 km’s up I was cruising and had been passing riders easily and things were looking good. A group of riders including the lantern rouge for the 10 hours passed me.   I jumped onto the groups wheel, and started to speed up. My aiming was for 10 hours, so felt this was the best way to go about it.  I was ferrel when I heard that she finished in a little over 9 hours, and was pushing a lot faster than what she should have been.
The organisers had set up lantern rouges for different times to help riders pace themselves.  Not kill themselves, and she should have finished at 10 hours 🙁  About 7 km’s into the climb I started to go into the red zone.  Stubborn pride wouldn’t let me get out of the big dog. The rest of the climb was a blur.   I did it quick, as I was ranked 15th overall on the day.
With some very big guns that were riding the 3 Peaks that day.

At the top I was stuffed, and was able to pick up some free snacks to replenish what I’d lost. I bumped into the Climbing Cyclist Matt de Neef up there.  And joined onto his group which had over 20 riders in it. The group did rolling turns at the front which I’d never done before.  Really enjoyed the pace we were setting, but I was working hard.  With the day was heating up, and there was little shade. I was down to half a bottle of water when the Peleton I was in flew past the next drink stop. I should have stopped & gone back.  The third big mistake of the day when I kept going given that drink stops were 40 km apart.

Peaks challenge
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The turning point

Rosewhite Gap beckoned and we were flying when we hit the base of the climb.  This coincided with me running out of water.  Rosewhite Gap is 4 km in length & a challenging climb on its own.  Climbing it in mid 30 degree heat without water is an experience I wouldn’t wish on anyone. I was dying. I had ridden the Amy Gillet Ride in 43 degree heat without water the year before.  Having experience in riding in extreme heat helped, but it was not pleasant.
I begged sips from 3 riders who lent me their bottles, and it helped. After the climb was done and dusted I was crawling by myself.  Desperately looking for someplace that had water. Chris Cox flew past me, and I hoped I could catch him to beg for some water. He flew off down the road & I had wasted what little energy I had left chasing him.
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Oh crap!
When I got to the drink stop, I stuck my head under the tap and poured a tonne of water over my head. I drank, and drank, and drank some more. Suffering heat exhaustion, and with over 70 km’s to go, knew that it was not going to tickle. I bumped into a mate Jordan who seemed worse off than me. I suggested we ride off together.  And took the wind for him from Rosewhite Gap back to Mount Beauty. Knowing I was helping someone out helped to inspire me.  I was able to go into a zone & really had a blinder through this section, and started to ride stronger. It was over 36 degrees at this stage, and there was no shade but things were looking good.
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Falls Creek

At the base of Mount Beauty we stopped, and I felt good.  I was a lot stronger than Jordan & knew he couldn’t keep my wheel up Falls & said I’d meet Jordan at the top & headed off. I was riding beautifully over the first 10 km’s of the climb up Falls Creek.  Smashing it past a large number of riders passing well over 100 riders along the way. Then the lights went out.  I had one of my classic bonks.  Probably one of my best/worst and it felt like I had completely ran out of fuel. I had a fair bit of water with me, and had been drinking.  Figuring my body had had enough and was telling me to f#%k off!
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The remainder of the climb was pure hell and I was crawling. I came upon a rider who was worse off than me, and I spoke with him and he said that he was out of water. Glad to repay the favour from earlier in the day, I passed him my drink bottle.  I was a bit mortified when he started sucking from the bottle, and almost drank it all. I was a bit germaphobic about touching the bottle afterwards.  Because he drank so much, I was now running low on water myself. I did such a good deed that the guy suddenly got some energy and left me for dead. The story of my day. I was lucky as Jordan’s parents drove by me and pulled over. I was delirious, and not very coherent, but they had water on them that they graciously let me have.
Then with 7 km’s to go Jordan flew by me, and guess my motor pacing him early on really helped.
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I tried to ride as hard as I could, but nothing was in the tank. At the gate to Falls Creek, there was more water that I was able to grab. Even though the climb was well sheltered it was hot, and I was pretty dehydrated. The last 6 kilometres were hell. I could see the finish, but it was so far away. When I got to the end I used every last ounce of energy and sprinted over the line, and got some cheers. I was on track for a 9 hour finish at one stage, and ended up crawling in at 10 hours 20 minutes. I was elated, but also horrified at the conditions that we rode in today. The 3 Peaks is one of those mythical rides, that seems to make you as a rider and I had now finished it. What now?
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I was dazed and bewildered
I sat around for ages just trying to make sense of it all.  Occasionally going up and congratulating someone that I knew. Chris of course blitzed the day, and did sub 10 hours.  His brother, also rode and had a cold and hadn’t done much riding leading up to the 3 Peaks.  He managed to get halfway which was tremendous in the conditions.
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I’ve had horrendous luck with a large number of events I’ve gone in. I don’t know if it’s just me, or whether I attract extreme weather.  I’ve had 3 events with heatstroke & dehydration, 2 with hypothermia, and 5 I’ve copped 60+km winds. I’ve considered returning to the three Peaks, but after what I endured this year.  I’m not too enthusiastic about returning. I talked with Chris about it after.  He said that we should come back later in the year and just do it the two of us which sounded a heck of a lot more challenging. But that’s another story…….
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Here’s a link to my Strava Activity here:
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In 2013, 1,300 riders started the event.  Only 83% of the riders completed the ride.

Mount Buller with Chris Cox

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Mount Buller with Chris Cox

On the way back from Falls Creek I went with Chris Cox to Mount Buller. Chris hadn’t climbed Buller before, and it seemed like a great end to such an adventurous week. We were both completely exhausted, and the plan was to cruise up it. I guess those who have ridden with me, know how sporadic I can be  It was a surprise on the first section that I was gliding up it in the big dog quite well. I didn’t push off, but knew that I could dish out some pain on the CC rider.  Keeping the pace high.  Chris didn’t last too long before snapping and dropped off. I wasn’t feeling strong, but stronger than the CC machine.  That was inspiration enough to keep a strong tempo.

Chris said later that he expected me to crack at some stage, and was going for it.  Expecting to eat a bman carrot at some stage. I kept looking over my shoulder, but never saw him for the whole ride. I had kept it in the big dog the whole way up. With a km to go and it ramps up to 10%, I came upon a couple of riders that I was clearly going to fly past. I had climbed the Reefton Spur & Mount Buffalo just in the big dog.  Wanting to add Buller to that list and went for it. That km was a struggle.  But was strong enough to push through and got to the entrance of Mount Buller in a time of 54 minutes which I was happy with.
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My final push to the very top, was stupid.

I still wanted to do the whole thing in the big dog.  The lesson I learned that climbing a gradient which peaks at close to 20% in the Big Dog just really hurts.  Your legs feel like cement. I got up it mind you, but it hurt like you could not imagine. CC came through several minutes later, very satisfied with his climb.
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I flew down the descent, and overtook a car half way down which was awesome. Somehow I actually got down 5 minutes quicker than the car. I set a record 12,500 vertical metres this week.  Although I failed big on my 3 Peaks failure, I sure made up for it over the next three days! I wasn’t in great shape leading into this week, but could take heart from all the hard work I put into getting ready for this week. The last three days was spent having a pissing contest with Chris.  At the end of it we were pretty even.  Given he had ridden so much further on the 4 Peaks ride, I know the truth of who was stronger.  But it was sure as hell fun.
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Here is a link to my Strava Activity here:

Riding the Strezlecki Ranges

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I suggested to my wife that I take her & her mum up to Coal Creek (Korromburra) for a day trip. 
The Coal Creek Heritage Village, which is a 15 hectare tourist attraction.  Similar to Sovereign Hill (Ballarat) but with free entry.  This  was established in 1974.  My parents brought us here many times when we were growing up, and talked my way out of visiting again.  

Negotiating three hours out on the bike, whilst the family enjoyed visiting the village. 

Earlier in the year I drove across the Strezlecki Ranges to Warrigal and had been high on my to do list since then.  I honestly didn’t work out how long the ride would be.  Thinking that it would be about 30 km’s one way.  I figured that I should be able to fit in a three hour block.

It was a really crappy Boxing Day, with 15 degrees, some rain & heavy winds.  As soon as I headed off it started to drizzle, and was getting barraged with cold 30+km cross wind.  It was a bad day to ride, but I just wanted to do this.  I knew I’d be in for a bit of climbing on the way up.  The Ranges are more a series of undulating climbs.  I pushed hard and enjoyed the scenery, albeit overcast and wet.  Half way through the ranges I saw a sign saying Warrigal 20 km’s.  I underestimated how long it would be. 

Oh shit I thought!  I’m screwed for time. 

I worked out the math in my head.  Coming to the conclusion that it would be doable to get out there & back if I completely smashed myself.  There was the hope that the return trip will be more downhill.  I apologised to my legs and went for it.  I came upon several steep descents, and a voice was saying that I would be in trouble on the way back.  There was more climbing than I anticipated but was just focused on getting to Warrigul.  I kept riding, covering the 40 km’s in 1 hour & 12 minutes & averaged 32.6 km/h.

I had to return into a head wind, and the rain picked up.  To be honest the return trip was a blur.  I was in the pain cave the whole way.  The thought, “can’t piss off the wife, can’t piss off the wife“.  Kept repeating in my head.  There turned out to be more climbing than the way out.  The weather got a bit colder & a lot wetter, but I managed to average 30.5 km/h which on tired legs in those conditions, I don’t know how I did it.

I got back to the car with 2 minutes to spare, & averaged almost 31kmph for the whole ride
You would love to do this ride, but make sure that you give yourself enough time 🙂

Riding the Strezlecki Ranges

I took this photo from the top of the Strezlecki Ranges on a day that had decent weather.

Green Edge Ride Part 2

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I had a winter from hell & this ride really epitomised this.  Major illness, injury a death in the family.  What worse could happen to me…….

I had a full two weeks to get into shape after my last bout of illness.  Somehow during the week of the OGE ride I developed a hernia & a cist.  This got infected and couldn’t sit without pain.  Annoyingly is the major criteria one needs to ride.  I had doubts as to whether I could do the ride.  I couldn’t do any exercise that week which added to doubts to my fitness.

Most of the pain ceased the day before the ride.  I opted to give it a go and wore three pairs of shorts to cope.  This would also make the ride more difficult as it was forecast in the thirties and with little shade would make me hotter.

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Green Edge Ride Part 2
Michelton Winery

 

Late, I’m late, I’m very, very late….

Given this was my second year doing this.  I have no explanation as to how I could screw up my estimation of how long it would take me to drive up there.  I was flying, but knew I couldn’t make the start line.  Pulling over and parking in Seymour and waited there for the first peleton.  This sucked as I missed the first 15 km of riding.  It was a relief when the Peleton came around the bend .  I jumped on and chatted away with Chris & Sam who I had arranged to ride this event with.

The pace wasn’t overly fast, and after awhile we got bored and Sam, Chris & I decided to rip the Peleton a new a-hole.  I wish I could have looked over my shoulder as I was belting out 40 km/h up this 400 metre rise.  I was really enjoying dishing out the pain but realised that I couldn’t keep the insane pace up and dropped back to get paced again.

Green Edge Ride Part 2

 

The climb

My advice to Sambo was pretty easy about the climb.  There are 15% pinches at the start and the first few km are really difficult so take it easy.  I was up the front and could see riders reel me in, figuring I must have been climbing really slowly so gave it gas.  It took a couple of k’s for them to reel me in and I realised they were Orica Green Edge riders.  Foolishly I cooked trying to keep ahead of them.  They were just casually chatting away whist I was gasping and heaving for breath.  I visited the pain cave.  Sam & Chris flew on by me.  It took me a few more k’s until I found the legs again to keep pace with them up the road.

That climb really hurt and it was bloody hot and I was smoked.  At the lunch stop I was chatting with Chris, when we realised that the whole Orica Green Edge squad had made an early exit.  We jumped on our bikes to try and catch them.  Chris dropped me like a sack of spuds and I soloed it.  15 lonely km later I was hot and it felt like I was going to have a horrid time getting to the end.  I caught a rider up ahead and we started to work together, and started riding quite quick.  Within 5 km we somehow had caught the OGE train in our sights.  They were a few km up the road, and we dropped the gas trying to catch them.

Green Edge Ride Part 2

 

The catch

We passed a couple of OGE riders who had dropped off for a nature break.  We had high hopes we could sit on their wheel to get back to the Peleton.  My day was really summed up when an OGE car flew on by us at 50 km/h with two riders inches behind it getting motorpaced back to the Peleton.  There went our ride, and our spirits dropped as we just couldn’t catch the group up ahead.

A group caught us and we sat in their wheels, but the pace stepped up and I was in the hurt locker.  It was frekkin hot and I just couldn’t keep pace.  I ended up doing it solo it back to Michelton Winery in the hurt locker.  Definitely not my finest ride, and really summed up my winter.

 

Here is a link to my Strava Activity here:

The Dirty Dandy’s (Domestique)

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Earlier in the year I had come up with a crazy ride where me & three mates hit all of the major dirt climbs in the Dandenong’s at the start of winter.  It was an incredible ride & had sent the link to the ride around hoping I could possibly others to try this crazy ride.  When I received an email from the Climbing Cyclists Matt De Neef saying that he wanted to make an event out of my Dirty Dandy’s ride.  I was blown away. He needed to revise the course somewhat.  But the main climbs were to be included, and wanted to know if I’d like to come along.

Hell yeah!

The Climbing Cyclists Dirty Dandy’s ride was special for a number of reasons. I met Paul Pagliaro on the ride who sadly passed away last year.  I was also able to meet the mighty Stryder.  Who showed up after only one hour of sleep and who absolutely blitzed on the day.

Basin Olinda Road was the first climb of the day.  I headed off first, and wanted to socialise, but with no one around figured I’d go for it. There were several sections that were covered in mud.  Although these slowed me down, I still managed to snag a PB. Silvan Road was next on the agenda, and we descended Dougherty’s to get there.  I passed a rider up the back who had punctured. I was so inspired to smash Silvan’s, but I knew from riding out here before that it’s easy to get lost.  By the time that rider got his tire fixed, he would have lost everyone, and gotten lost and his day would be ruined.

I knew the route well so turned around and waited for him to fix his tire, and take him through the rest of the course. It was Paul Pagliaro, and I got to spend a bit of time with him today.  He was such a nice guy and was saddened when he passed away whilst riding late 2014. I thought we would have lost the group, and would be riding the remainder of the ride solo.

It rained on and off on us, but was one of those rides that it just added to the atmosphere.

We descended down Perrins Creek Road, and then climbed Coonara which I really love climbing. We then descended Silvan’s Road which was an absolute nightmare. It was really gravely, and the racing line was minimal & bumpy as hell. We passed several riders who had punctured.  Ending up rounding up a group of about 5 riders who had mechanical mishaps who were now lost as well. I directed them down Olinda Creek Road, and then up Dougherty’s.  As everyone knew which way to go I absolutely smashed myself up Dougherty’s and up Barbers & finished 5th on the leaderboard (at the time).

I was surprised to see that the main group was waiting at the top of the car park, and we waited for the remaining group. We descended the tourist road for the final climb of the day Old Coach Road. We saved the best for last. There is a really steep pinch of paved road for about 300 metres at the start of Old Coach Road. Don’t know why, but thought I would go for it. I absolutely flew off.  You’d think I’d wander what 30 riders behind me were thinking.

Possibly “you’re a dick!”.

I was flying, and huffing and puffing and was surprised that 5 riders had pulled off and followed me. Damn, I realised that I had started a pissing contest. I put the foot down and realised that I had cooked myself and went straight into the hurt locker.

One rider passed me, but I was able to recover shortly after and kept a consistent distance. I was wheezing & gasping, and when we came out at the intersection at five ways I was cheeky and stopped the group. Honestly didn’t have anything for Ridge Road.  Pretending to be considerate & wait for the rest of the group to catch up. Ridge Road was a pleasure to climb after I’d caught my breath, and we headed up to Sky High and had some lunch, and what an incredible day it was.

We descended the tourist road and had one final pissing contest down Sheffhield Road back to the Basin. The ending was a classic. I was riding with three other riders.  I knew this fun segment near the 1:20 that ends on this ridiculous 15% gradient on a Z shaped footpath.  So I said to the guys I was with do you want to try it, and they said why not. I didn’t expect everyone behind us to follow,& almost 25 riders ascended this tiny footpath. Matt & Andy who were running the show were behind us, and wandering where the hell we were going.  One rider Milinda fell over on one of the sharp corners onto soft grass. Twas an amazing ride and one to be remembered.

Here is a link to my Strava Activity here:

Here is a link to Matt de Neefs write-up for the ride:

Cyling across Dinner Plain

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Two days had passed since my epic failure at the 3 Peaks. I had a decent ride yesterday, and still felt pretty tired today. Chris drove me down to Dinner Plain, and was going to give that a go. That first climb leaving Omeo was a pearler, and just kept going on and on, averaging 6% for 7.5 km’s:

 

Omeo

Cycling across Dinner Plain

I was climbing really well, and could have easily ridden off on Chris.  But slowed down a bit to keep together. Honestly I was pushing a little extra to dish out some pain on him. Dinner Plain was amazing to ride, and is horrendously undulating, and quite epic. The scenery can be quite diverse, and very open. I was doing a fair bit of the pace making, and we were flying without really pushing ourselves.

The longer we rode the worse I was feeling & Chris just got stronger as we went.  Just as we approached the final climb up to the back of Hotham surprisingly we copped a head.  This sapped the last of my energy & I started to feel nauseous.  The head wind was surprising as most of the ride there was no wind. I thought this could work out nicely as we could be in for a tail wind on the way back. Unfortunately Chris suddenly found his spark, and I died in the arse.

Watching as he sailed away from me, and I crawled into Dinner Plane feeling quite nautious.

I suggest that we continue onto Hotham, and it was an amazing climb getting up there.  With a lot of work into the head wind. I was surprised that we had covered the 43 km’s from Omeo to Dinner Plain in just under 2 hours, and finished 6th on the leader board at the time. Not bad for bonking on the last 10 km’s.

 

On the return trip, I was wrecked and I had no hope of keeping up with Chris who left me for dead right from the outset. I kept up a good tempo, and after descending from Hotham started to get that mojo going. With 45 km’s still to ride I thought screw it.  I’m going to TT this sucker and went for it. There was certainly more descending on the way back than climbing.  I was able to find the right rythmn throughout. I was thoroughly enjoying myself.  With 15 km’s to go I was surprised to see the CC rider up in the distance. He had either slowed down, or I was having a blinder. I knew if I kept my current pace I would slowly reel him in.

This really made the km’s fly as I was watching the carrot up the road get closer & closer.

Chris wasn’t watching over his shoulder and only realised I was there when I rode on by him.  He yelled out: “where the fuck did you come from?”. We started to ride together, but I could see that competitive spark fly in his eye.  We were approaching the final climb of the day, and could see this nice 10% gradient up the road. I had ridden so well and did have visions of cracking him on the climb.  I smashed it,  and we were flying, and would have been on KOM pace heading up the climb.

The best laid plans of mice & men……..

Halfway up the climb my legs went on strike, and that was me gone. I waved Chris goodbye, and watched as he flew off. His blood was going as he smashed it all the way back, and nailed some amazing times. I’m not the fastest of riders.  Somehow I managed to average 38.3 km over the 43 km’s back to Omeo.  I am still 4th on the leaderboard. Chris who I helped launch up the last climbed, missed the KOM by only 101 seconds.  If only I’d been able to hold on for longer.  I would have given him that lead out train to nail that KOM……

We were very surprised to find that we had finished in the top 10 of the leader boards going both ways on Dinner Plain.  Given the quality of riders who have ridden it was an amazing adventure. To have such a good ride after failing so horribly several days before also buoyed me up.  Making me feel alive again. This was my last ride up north, and one of my favourite rides of the year.

Here is a link to my Strava Activity here:

Here is a link to Chris’s Strava Activity here:

Beechworth Bash

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(13/11/2013)

Yesterday I bonked, and screwed up the biggest ride that I had planned for the year. I hadn’t fully recovered, but really wanted to make amends. Chris Cox said that he would take me out to Beechworth to show me some climbs. He was pretty nackered from riding 323km’s the day before & 6,000 vertical metres, and planned to cruise today. We parked the car up around Mount Pilot, and headed towards Beechworth. It was very hot & perfect conditions for me. I smashed it up the 3.6km climb @ 6% up to Beechworth, and Chris didn’t quite have the power to keep up, but we both had fun.

 

Beechworth Bash
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We then descended down the main Highway (Beechworth-Wangaratta Road). There was 9.1km’s of climbing @ 3%. Chris went to do the u-turn, but I went a little further up the road to get that little extra run-up, and flew past him on the first rise.
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Never get the CC rider’s blood going.
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Think he planned on cruising it, but changed his mind, and gave it full gas. I didn’t want to kill myself, but realised that I could dish out some pain on him, and set a fast tempo, and kept the pace high. He wanted it more than me, and it was a cat & mouse struggle on this long and hot straight road. At the end of it I averaged 23.9kmph, and was pipped by 1 second on the climb by Chris. It was a good titanic battle, and we were 1/1 on the climbs today.
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With one climb to go, I wasn’t going to hold back,& gave Mount Pilot everything I had. It’s 2.1km’s with a 4% average, and I averaged 25.7kmph. Unfortunately for me, this was part of the Beechworth Gran Fondo Route, and a lot of other riders also had plans to smash it, and only managed 9th on the leaderboard. Chris was stuffed, and to his credit was only 5 seconds back down the road, and in 14km’s of smashing three climbs together, there was only 20 seconds separating our times.
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Given the ride that we did yesterday, neither of us could believe how fast we were going for the day. I love my climbs, but have to admit that my favourite part of the ride was the descent to Mount Pilot:
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I averaged over 55kmph, and that was easily one of my favourite ever descents.
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Here is a link to my Strava Activity here:

Almost a Triple Century

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Almost a Triple Century

The second half of 2013 was a nightmare for me. We had a death in the family, a lot of sickness, I injured my knee & a few other things. Over the course of the winter I was lucky to get two weeks without having a spanner thrown into my training. The week before the 2013 Around the Bay in a Day I had a bad day at work.  Foolishly wanted to take my frustration out on the bike.

On the way home from work I was smashing segment times on a wet day.  The bike paths were greasy and slippery which was not smart. I was riding in a zombie trance.  It was really wet and was only about a km from home going into a roundabout in the rain too fast.  Not paying attention. I screwed up my line, and couldn’t brake quick enough due to the wet. In hindsight I should have tried a bunny hop maneuver up the gutter.

When you’ve got a fraction of a second to decide…..

I crashed hard and I was lucky as it could have been really bad. I can’t remember much except for the fact that I bounced up on the grass. Worse case I could have easily slid into the curve and it would have been game over for a long while. I ripped all the skin around my elbow the size of a tennis ball.  Plus ripped a massive chunk out of my hip. Of course I was thankful that the bike survived in one piece. This was my second crash on my Road bike.  Touch wood, haven’t had one on the Road bike since.

I knew the missus would freak out, so hid the damage from her.  Was very, very sore over the next couple of days. The ATB was 5 days away, and it was hit & miss whether I could now do the 2013 ATB. I was considering doing a shorter version instead. The day before I was really sore, but had made prior plans to ride the ATB with Chris Cox.

I felt like I didn’t want to let him down, so gambled and told him I’d still meet up with him.  But would have to see how I felt in the morning, as to whether I could ride. I woke up without any major aches, and thought that it could be possible to do the ride. Chris of course said, yeah I’ll pace you, you’ll be fine.

Think I would have learnt that he doesn’t know the word mercy…..

West Gate Bridge

The first 10 km’s went well & we were slowly bouncing from group to group. I was riding well to start with.  When we hit the Princess Highway Chris started getting bored with the pace and kept leap frogging groups. There were about 30 riders in front of us.  We were sitting on 38 km/h. Chris waved the elbow out & I groaned. I didn’t want to overtake on the Highway.  But he flew past this massive group at close to 60 km/h on a flat.  With one skinny rider screaming in pain trying to catch up. I was caught up doing this crazy speed that Chris was knocking out, and started to struggle to keep the pace that CC rider was dishing out.

Up ahead at one stage we could see a small rise, which was about 3% for 400 metres. There was a good 20 riders in front of us.  Chris commented that he didn’t want to get stuck behind all the slowbies, and at the base the elbow waved out. I started to curse and frantically stood up and cranked out a massive amount of power.  Couldn’t believe how these guys looked like they were standing still when we passed them at 54 km/h up the hill.

I couldn’t take any credit as it was all Chris dishing out the pain.

Chris was just a machine that day, and heading down to Geelong we would have overtaken hundreds of riders. My hip started to flare up after 40 km’s.  Every pedal stroke felt like my hip was on fire. I said to Chris just to head off, and he was nice enough to slow down to 40 km/h to let me keep up. The section between Geelong to Queenscliffe was quite undulating.  We flew into a horrendous head wind, and this section was a blur.

I lost count of how many riders we passed as I was completely in the pain cave whilst Chris was having the time of his life. I kept saying to myself “if you’re struggling, imagine how all the guys your passing are feeling?”. But you couldn’t get the grin off Chris’s face.

Don’t think he’s ever eaten as many carrots as he did today.

Nearing Queenscliffe I had to put the brakes on and crawl to the end. My hip was bad, and with 140 km’s down, we still had a long, long way to go. I couldn’t believe our time getting there though. Even with being slown down by a hip injury.  With a strong headwind over the last 30 km’s we managed a respectable 32 km/h average from Melbourne to Queenscliffe segment:

Thankfully we took a long break in Queenscliffe at a Café before heading back. I kept offering to let Chris head off, so that I can crawl back.  He was stoic today and carried me the whole way encouraging me, and letting me stick on his wheel. The wind picked up to a gale on the return.  We were copping well over 80 km cross winds. At one stage I was sitting on Chris’s wheel, and I was suddenly blown about a foot to my left. Chris slid almost a foot to his left as well.

I have no idea how we righted ourselves.

Sadly a cyclist got blown off her bike and crashed into a Caravan which would have been doing over 90 km/h. When we passed, they had the body covered in a blanket.  With the body was lying face down and not moving. The Emergency services were ferrel at us, and we assumed that there was a fatality.  This really soured the rest of the day. Thankfully we found out later that the rider had merely broken her elbow.  Which was a major relief to hear.

The winds were ferocious, and we passed a lot of riders heading back to Melbourne, and really felt for them. When you’re in the hurt locker and really struggling.  It’s not nice having two riders sail by like they’re not struggling, but we were (well I was). It was enjoyable flying by so many riders before.

By the end of the ride, we would have easily overtaken over a thousand riders, and didn’t get passed once.

I think I’m pretty expert at bonking, but today was something special. I would be riding well at 35 km/h, and then go a bit funny.  Then suddenly cop a dizzy spell and collapse. I bonked 6 times today, and had to beg for constant stops on the way back. We were riding in extreme winds, and my hip was killing me.

Realistically I shouldn’t have tried the long distance today. When we were riding, we still averaged close to 31 km/h, and was truly one guts effort. But of all the crazy rides I’ve done, this one I have to question why?

It was such a sweet feeling crossing the finish line 12 months after getting jacked off by the organisers.

I think at this stage that I had experienced so much pain on the ride that I was just numb. You think I would have learned.  Taking the Sag wagon home and caught the train, once we got back to the Alexander Gardens. But no, I had to have 300 km’s in mind. All I had to do was to ride slowly up the bike trails all the way home…….

To cut a long & painful story short, I was climbing a short hill in Pinewood. I had 288 km’s under my belt. I somehow got to the top of the hill & collapsed. My body went into shock and I couldn’t move. I just lay there for about 10 minutes completely shell shocked. It was so close to a triple century.

All I had to ride for another 25 – 30 minutes and it would be there, but I just couldn’t move.

My parents lived a couple of kilometres away, and it was mainly downhill.  So gave them a call & said that I’ll visit, then called the missus to see if she could pick me up from my parents. The rest is a bit of a blur. The state that they saw me in, a can understand their concern for me riding so much. Especially if this was what I was doing to myself. I couldn’t tell them the truth  That I was in this state as I had crashed the week before.  Anyone would have questioned why I rode in the first place, let alone close to 300 km’s.

I was injured, and overtook the majority of the field on the day. CC rider was amazing, and without his assistance that day would have been very, very bad. It’s a shame as the form he was in, we would have completed it in a very scary time. Even with the last 25 km’s being at a crawl I managed to average 30 km/h in horrendous conditions. The highlight of the day was the West Gate Bridge climb. I averaged 28 km’s up the 1.4 km climb & Chris used my lead out to smash out 29 km/h.

we were amongst the 6 fastest times up the WGB for the day.

Unfortunately it was one step forward, one step back. I was knocked for six, and had to use most of the next week to recover. Missing out on the triple century as well hurt, and wondered whether it would be possible if could reach that magic number. Given what he did for me on the day.  Was so proud that Chris was able to knock out his first triple century, and to this day he reckons it’s one of his favourite rides.

Me & Chris Cox

Check out my Strava Activity here:

Wish I could put Chris’s Activity up as was impressive his first of many Triple Centuries, but this was before he got into Strava.

Eventually youll get one of those days

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I had a winter from hell.  A death in the family, injury, sickness amongst other things.  During the week I had a crash and had ripped a hole in my elbow the size of a tennis ball.  Plus a fair bit of my hip as well, and was pretty sore.  Doing a 100 km ride with Chris Cox, & Sam Poole was probably not the smartest option at this stage.  Guess I’m a sucker for punishment.  I met Chris at Gisborne, where the wives dropped us off.  We planned to meet them in Daylesford.  It was an overcast day, with some showers forecast.  It was pretty cold, and not ideal conditions for someone who was injured.  We headed north, & met Sambo on the way up to Mount Macedon.

This was my first visit to Mount Macedon on the bike.  It was certainly on my bucket list although I wish I were visiting it under better circumstances.  Chris was in good form.  I don’t know whether he was just showing off or trying to torture us, but he hit the climb hard and we were dragged along.  It was a struggle to breath and spent the whole time in the hurt locker.  The south climb up to the summit of Mount Macedon is 9.9 km’s @ 5%, with long sections averaging over 10%.

Eventually I cracked and had to pace myself up the remainder of the climb to the Memorial Cross.

The Memorial Cross which commemorates those who gave their lives in the 1914 – 1918 war. The cross is 21 metres in height and 1001 metres above sea level.  The original structure was unveiled in 1935, but due to storm and fire damage, it was replaced in 1995.

It had started to rain, and we were riding through thick fog, and couldn’t see much of the cross.  We descended down past Hanging Rock, and rode into town.  Chris was smashing it, and I started to feel immense pain.  Any little bump we’d hit my elbow would erupt in pain and had started to bleed again.  We hit the climb from the North side, which was 7 km’s @ 5%.  I didn’t even bother to try and keep up.  I was cooked, & in pain and trying hard not to embarrass myself.  The boys were waiting about a minute and a half at the top for me to catch up.

Just to finish me off, Chris took me down to Straws Lane.  I knew that they would easily fly past me, and was a little ahead of them so pushed up the climb.  The boys mistook what I was doing as a challenge.  Their blood rose and decided to race each other.  Well I saw them in my sights for a fraction of a second as the Sambo vs Chris pissing contest erupted.

I just said f#%k you’s and crawled up. There’s only so many ways I can describe the word pain.  This climb was 4.4 km’s @ 7%.

Sambo left us at this stage, and Chris and I headed into Woodend for a bite to eat.  It started to rain pretty hard and started to get really cold, and I wasn’t feeling too crash hot.  There was a 2 km climb up the Tyden Woodend Road leaving town.  I was begging for this ride to be over with.  I didn’t want to hold Chris up too much, but had to find that balance of what I could comfortably push without killing myself too much.  As we entered Tyden I wasn’t surprised at the day I was having that I got attacked by one aggressive Magpie.

He hit me 5 times whacking into the back of my helmet every time.

Chris suggested a shortcut through Springhill Road.  The road surface was quite bad, and we were constantly dodging potholes.  Wondering what we were doing going down this crappy road, until we found the climb!  It’s rare to find a climb that just clicks, and has charisma.  Great scenery certainly helps, lots of corners, consistent gradient.  This one was hard, but it appealed to us.  Chris knew I was stuffed and said “see you” and was down the road in a flash.  I crawled up it, but with a smile on my face.

1.5 km’s @ 8% and I needed a big break at the top.  And admitted to Chris that I couldn’t keep going without needing rests which he was kool with.  The scenery past here was amazing, and I started to enjoy the ride.  Knowing that we were only 30 km’s from the end really helped.  As we were approaching the turn-off for Daylesford-Malmsbury Road we came upon a hill.  Chris instantly flew off.  I stood up to get some power, and then BANG.

My derailer snapped off.

I was staring at it in disbelief.  We had no reception, and were 20 km’s from Daylesford.  If I was on my own I would be right royally screwed!

The whole ride it only averaged 9 degrees, and we copped more than our fair share of showers.  Mumma always said that there would be days like these.  Chris said that he would try & get to Daylesford as quickly as he could.

Me, I started walking.

It was a beautiful road, and I enjoyed the scenery, but so many thoughts were going through my head.  I had experienced nothing but pain today, and given it dropped down to 3 degrees at one point.  Then poured rain on us, I should not have done this given how I was feeling.  I was mega lucky, as Chris must have hit some reception as his wife Sharyn came flying down the highway about 40 minutes later.  Shortly after getting the bike put on the roof, the skies opened up.  I was fortunate that she found me when she did.

We spent the remainder of the day at Daylesford.  I now had a broken bike, and was pretty sore from my crash during the week.  Foolishly planning on doing a 300 km ride the following week at the Around the Bay in a Day.  I know I have performed miracles in the past, but this was going to be one of those weeks.  Honestly I didn’t know if I could do it.  I hadn’t told my wife about the crash.  Trying hard to hide the pain.  This was hard as every step sent shockwaves throughout my body.  Then I had to clean the blood off my clothes after this ride.  As I mentioned mumma always said that there would be days like these.

Here is a link to my Strava Activity here:

 

Mount Erica ride

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I was holidaying with my wife around Walhalla in Gippsland.  Drooling at the prospect of climbing all of the rolling hills around the area. After driving through Rawson, we passed a sign pointing towards Mount Erica. I suggested we head up there to see if we could find a good hike (or a nice recee for a ride). The first pinch up the climb was over 20%, and it was a little used 4WD track. The climb was relentless, and turned out to be 4.3 km’s @ 11%.  Very extreme! I couldn’t help myself. I had to return. Later that day, my wife gave me the green light to head out for an hour, and headed straight up the road to Mount Erica (14.4km’s @ 5%).

 

The average gradient for this climb is highly deceptive as there are several descents along the way. Without a doubt, this is the hardest climb I’ve ever done (harder than Mt St Leanord’s & Mount Baw Baw). I had fresh legs, and was able to smash out a good time up to the start of the Mount Erica turnoff. After turning left up to Mount Erica and the road then went skywards, and I was feeling strong, and was able to set a good tempo. I was a bit naive as to what to expect by driving up there. There had been a large amount of storm damage which I couldn’t see from the car.  Branches & debris was all over the road, and I had only a tiny racing line to ride up at times.

This was hell!

I constantly had to move from one side of road to the other, and even had to bunny hop over several bigger branches.  Lucky I was in great shape, as I wouldn’t have been able to make it up to the top otherwise. After about 3 km’s of climbing, my legs started screaming at me, and I felt the muscles really straining to get up this hill. I love climbing very steep gradients, but the condition of the road made this pure hell.  There was a whole heap of soul searching as my legs were feeling like lead.

It’s not like me to want to get off the bike and have a rest, but the last quarter of this climb really pushed me harder than I had ever been pushed before. I wasn’t about to be defeated by a climb.  Thankfully I’d driven up here earlier in the day, as I knew how far I had to go, and just kept telling myself that I can rest when I get to the top.

HTFU!

I was in the pain cave the whole way and it was done. I was immensely proud of getting up this one, and was no surprise that I gave no thought to how I would get down this thing. The debris was atrocious, and I was liable to puncture, even going extremely slow. I had to consider walking the bike down which would take me forever. At the top I spied a couple of 4WD’s, and wished that I could convince someone to give me a lift down. 5 minutes later a group of 4 old people came out of the walk, and I started chatting with them.  Miraculously they asked me if they’d like me to drive them down. You beauty!

At the base of the climb they offered me a lift all the way back to Erica.  They couldn’t believe that I’d rather ride, and thanked them profusely. This was only the first day of my holidays, and I discovered a climb.  Strava only listed as a Cat 1 climb, was easily a HC due to the difficult surface at the end.

Here is a link to my Strava Activity: