Ol’ Dirty is an off-road bike event hosted by Andy Van Bergen who is the founder of Hells 500. This event has been running since 2012, and this years event promise a mix of newly discovered tracks, killer lines, and deep grooves. Andy promised “it wouldn’t be an Ol’Dirty production without beats, liquor, batchies, and chow. We’ll bring the party if you bring the party. We’re delivering a route this year that will blow your tiny minds. Not to mention a mid-ride break and lunch stop the likes of which you’ve never seen before (probably with good reason). All delivered under the wash of amazing beats, an incredible crew, and some of the gawdamn best peeps in this amazing little community.”
The name Ol’ Dirty refers to the rapper Ol’ Dirty Bastard. His tunes are always played at this event and riders are guaranteed some great quiet roads A company of like-minded crazy riders, and always some super steep unsealed climbs. You are guaranteed to see at least one, if not all riders getting off to walk.
This is the second year that this event was being held in Marysville, situated in the heavily forested areas of the Great Dividing Range. This was once a gold mining area. Today Marysville is a popular tourist destination, and tourists are attracted to the areas beauty and serenity. Cyclists, well we’re attracted to the hills.
The 2017 Ol’ Dirty is paying tribute to one of the last days of Ol’ Dirty Bastards life spent at Coney Island, by offering a carnival atmosphere.
2017 Ol’ Dirty
Due to suffering a number of broken bones late June I’m currently off the bike indefinitely. Whilst pain is preventing me from riding, my love of cycling hasn’t waned and I offered to volunteer for this great event. The alarm was set for 4:45 am, and coffee was my friend as I set-out in the dark of night. Much of what I was going to be doing today was a mystery. All I was told was this ride was to have a carnival theme and to expect hip-hop, popcorn, fairy floss, jumping castles, show bags & clowns. Psycho clowns.
My kinda scene.
There was a massive turnout and the course certainly didn’t disappoint. There was a mixture of mud, single-trail, mud, super steep climbs, more mud, hip-hop, psycho clowns, mud and to top it off a carnival near the end of the ride.
The entree of the course was a tough climb up to Mount Gordon. From here it just got harder. The highlight/low light of this years course was the super steep climb up to Dom Dom Saddle in the Black Spur. This peaked well in excess of 30%, and covered in mud. It would be nearly impossible to climb on a good day. The climb and muddy conditions nearly finished off a number of riders. Virtually every single rider was forced to get off and walk their bikes up this very, very, very, difficult climb.
I could feel their pain and could imagine their legs screaming trying to push their bikes up this hill. Many colorful words were being thrown around, but at the top was a treat. There was a rest stop and riders were handed out Bertie Beetle showbags. Yes showbags!
The ‘Bertie Beetle Showbag’ is a true icon of Australia.
It was first produced in 1963 and has since become one of the most popular showbags ever made. The Bertie Beetle is a small chocolate bar manufactured by Nestlé. It’s a chocolate coated bar containing small pieces of honeycomb, shaped like an anthropomorphised beetle.
Not what any of the riders would have expected going into Ol’ Dirty. This gave them something to bring up their spirits as there was still a long way to go.
After many more challenging roads riders were treated to one final surprise. A carnival in the middle of nowhere. There was a jumping castle, prize machines, popcorn, fairy floss, Burritos and some much needed refreshments. Waiting to welcome the tired riders.
Many looked shell shocked, but there was a good vibe that they had just experienced something wild.
I haven’t been able to do much since my injury, and was all a bit too much for me. I was very exhauted towards the end, but very glad that I made the trek out to Marysville. As a bonus I had the chance to catch up with a large number of friends. My favorite part was the climb up to Dom Dom saddle. It looked absolutely crazy. Most likely I would have had to get off and walk up it, but I would certainly have given it a crack.
A big thank you to Andy and Tammy Van Bergen and all of the support crew for putting on such an amazing event. The level of detail they put into an event like this is truly amazing. Going so far as to getting custom made teddy bears of Ol’ Dirty Bastard (see image below). My young son loved it when I brought it home.
One thing is for sure. Many would already be queuing up for tickets to 2018 Ol’ Dirty.
Sherbrooke Road is one of the most stunning roads in the Dandenong Ranges. It’s a very popular tourist destination with places such as Grant’s picnic ground, the Alfred Nicholas Memorial Gardens & George Tindale Memorial Gardens. With some of the Dandenong Ranges most popular wedding venues such as Poets lane and Marybrooke Manor, this road attracts a large number of tourist traffic.
No one has been crazy enough to Everest this road up until now due to the traffic.
Four riders, led by Adam Dawson organised to Everest Sherbrooke Road in the early hours of the morning on Saturday 29 April. Adam convinced his mates David Louis, Andrew Coveney and Fabian Ariano to come and do their first Everest. This was Adam’s second Everest after he Eversted one of the Dandenong’s steepest climbs “Kia Ora Parade” last Haloween.
This narrow climb up Sherbrooke Road is quite steep. The first km twists and winds its way up to the township of Sherbrooke, averaging around 9%. Boasting one of the finest hairpins in the Dandenong Ranges. This climb takes you through the Sherbrooke Forest, and is simply stunning. Its only downside is that you always expect to see water which trickles onto the road. This can be treacherous on the descent.
This turned out to be quite a challenging Everest. It rained relentlessly throughout the morning, soaking everyone to the skin. This caused the descent to be quite slippery, and everyone had their hands on their brakes on a road which never fully dried out. This cost time and energy spent braking extra hard into the corners. Adam said “A very wet day out on the bike. Unbelievable physical strength and mental fortitude on display from everyone.” When the rain eased up, the traffic set in, and there are only several points where cars could safely pass. More often than not cars would cut across the middle lane, regardless of whether a blind corner was up ahead.
Andrew commented that “between sunset to when I finished at 1:20 am there was only 2 laps when I wasn’t passed by a car”.
Fabian had Garmin issues, and Adam somehow copped four punctures. This cost him a tone of time. No matter what was thrown everyone stood tall. No one appeared to struggle on what is a tough little climb. There was strength amongst the group, and everyone pulled out the ride of their lives.
The ride of the day easily went to Andrew. Not only did he have to battle the traffic, and the wet and cold miserable conditions. Andrew had a horrendous run of bad luck. After two major mechanicals his wheel bearing went. There was an O-ring missing from his front assembly which he thought let water get into the bearing killing it. Given its only 2,000 km old I won’t voice some of the colorful language used. This almost derailed his Everesting attempt, and at one point Andrew was forced to change over to a Mountain bike, whilst desperate repairs were being done to his bike. Through grit and determination he pushed through this and Andrew finished hours after everyone else finished at 1:20 am in the wee hours of the morning.
Sherbrooke Road is one of the last icons of the Dandenong Ranges to be Everested. Their story is one of legend and each of the four riders can be very proud of what they ahieved. All up there have been over 1,600 Eversts completed, with the Dandenong Ranges still holding the record for the most concentrated amount of Everests in the one area. There have been over 30 separate climbs Everested in and around the Dandenong Ranges, proving its popularity.
Congratulations to all the riders and support crew that came along for the ride. I hope you can find the time to give them all Kudos as they all deserved it for such an incredible ride.
- Distance: 221 km
- Elevation: 9,052 vertical
- Riding time: 15 hours 13 minutes
- Overall time: 18 hours 5 minutes
- Noel Eastwood You can wear that grey strip proudly now. Congratulations
- Clint Woodward Always knew you’d knock one of these out one day, congratulations David 🎉
- Mr. T. Mighty impressive lads!! I think the decent would’ve been just as exhausting. Not an easy task on that road with the moss and traffic playing havoc. Congrats to all you blokes; David, Andrew, Fabian and Adam.
- Distance: 244 km
- Elevation: 10,039 vertical
- Riding time: 17 hours 17 mins
- Overall time: 20 hours 49 mins
- Clint Woodward Nice combo to hit 10000m on and another Nongs icon ticked off. Great work!
- Adrian Dickinson Well done Adam. Great achievement. ..way better you than me 🙂
- Paula McGovern Any excuse Adam not to change nappies!!!!
- Distance: 213 km
- Elevation: 8,848 vertical
- Riding time: 16 hours 40 mins
- Overall time: 22 hours 59 mins
- Adam Dawson Unstoppable. I would have chucked it in at halfway with the luck you were having.
- John Van Seters Now that’s one heck of an effort after all the mechanicalls thrown at you, well done Andrew, that’d some grit and determination!
- Martin English Maaaaaate!! This is amazing!! Well done you mad determined bastard!!
- Distance: 223 km
- Elevation: 8,920 vertical
- Riding time: 16 hours 9 mins
- Overall time: 18 hours 27 mins
The Hitchikers guide to an Everest
If you choose to do an Everest, then prepare yourself to possibly undertake the hardest experience of your life! It’s a pretty simple concept. You go up the hill, then down the hill, up the hill, then down the hill……..
How successful you are can be determined by your preparation. You need to:
- Realistically work out how long you will need to complete your Everest
- Have more than enough food to last through the ride
- Put togeher a nutritional plan
- Have more than enough fluids to last through the ride
- Bring a charger to ensure that your Garmin lasts the distance
- Bring additional comforts to make the ride more enjoyable, i.e. change of kits, music etc.
- Have adequate lighting for any night stint
- Work out how many laps you will do in-between breaks
On the day time can really fly, particularly on your breaks. You find you don’t really rest much when you stop. You’re constantly doing something. Such as topping up water, eating, changing clothes, going to the toilet etc. It is important to set-up your car so that everything is nicely organised. The quicker you can get in & out of your pit stop. The more successful your ride will be. If everything’s cluttered, then you can also find yourself feeling cluttered.
What sort of hill should you look for?
Here are some things to look for when selecting your Everest:
- Is there a place you can go to a Toilet? You may know a great back street climb, but it’s no good to you unless you can take a dump in someone’s front yard
- How narrow is the road? (the closer cars need to be to pass you the more uncomfortable the day will be, and the higher the risk that one of them may hit you which will end your Everest pretty quickly)
- Is there any wildlife that you need to keep an eye out for?
- What is the road surface like?
- Does your climb experience fog? You should be mindful of fog when there is no wind, and this is where it is important to know your climb in all sorts of conditions
- What is the traffic like? If you can pick a climb with virtually no traffic, you will be doing yourself a major favour
- Is there a good place to park your car at either end of your climb? I personally prefer to park at the top, but it’s a personal choice
- Are there shops nearby?
- Do you get reception for your phone?
- How well shaded is the climb?
- Is the wind likely to affect your climb?
- Does your climb experience abnormal temperatures? i.e. does it get really cold overnight?
Tips for making your Everest easier:
- Know how long your Everest will realistically take. If you’re working out your average lap time, don’t use stats of when you are climbing fresh. You really need to know what pace you will ride on exhausted legs & go from there.
- Get a feeling for your climb. Go and do a lot of repeats before you Everest it. I can guarantee after doing an Everest you will know every bump in the road
- Don’t trust the weatherman! Pack extra clothing for any contingency
- Avoid social media. It may help improve your spirits getting support from others while you are riding, but this will cost you time, and anyone could easily spend hours texting, facebooking, Instagraming, commenting on Strava etc.
- If you have friends ride with you, don’t stop riding! When they say goodbye, you could easily spend 10 – 20 minutes reminiscing, and if you get to the stage where you’ve been on the bike for 20 hours, then every minute wasted will hurt more & more
- Change your kit at least once during your Everest. May cost you a couple of minutes, but in the later part of your ride when you’re exhausted, the extra comfort will be worth it
- Don’t stop riding. Sounds pretty straight forward, but later on, you will get really exhausted and may feel like taking more & more breaks. For every minute spent off the bike in the later part of your ride adds exhaustion so be smart and try & ride through it
- Make sure you keep eating & drinking though out the day
- Keep your car neat & tidy
- Most important is to stay positive throughout. You need to be as enthusiastic on lap 60 as you are on lap 6
Preparing for an Everest:
Originally I believed the best training for an Everest was to climb as many hills as I could. I was staggered to see a number of non-climbers. Who only would climb around 2,000 vertical per week complete an Everest. In hindsight I’ve found that the endurance & pre-preparation is key to an Everest. The choice of your climb is also paramount to your success. Obviously the steeper the hill. The shorter the distance. Then again you need to be able to climb really steep hills easily. Or you pick an easy climb,& then you’re looking at doing a ride of over 300 km’s, which is exhausting by itself.
The hardest part of an Everest is by getting your head around doing repeats. I came up with a training ride which I swear by. If you have to do say 60 repeats of a 6km hill it would be impossible to train for that specifically. Instead I would recommend to pick a short back street climb, around 300 – 500 metres of equal. Preferably a little steeper gradient & then go & knock out over 60 repeats of that short hill. The benefit of this will be to get your head around doing 60 repeats. This will also give you an idea of how much vertical you can push yourself to do before needing a break. As a bonus it will give you an idea of what sorts of foods your body will crave when knocking out repeats.
At the end of the day it’s only a ride
If you commit to doing an Everesting, it will be one of the hardest things you’ve ever done. There is no such thing as an easy Everest. There are dangers involved which could prevent you from finishing. You need to be aware that your safety is worth more than finishing an Everest. You should never be scared to pull the pin. It’s much better to fail at 8,000vm, than to go through to the end & screw up your knee. Then not being able to ride for the following 6 months. Not everyone will be able to complete an Everest. For those that do you will be seen as completely badass! Make sure you plan well, train appropriately & make the most of your Everest.
The Drive home
Most riders end up driving themselves to and from their elected Everest. No one can really foresee how they will feel after torturing themselves for 8,848 meters. Please be mindful of fatigue on the way home. If you’re too tired to drive, then pull over and have a power nap. Please try to get home safely!
Head to the Everesting Website to find out more:
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.
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.
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.
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.
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:
“If you are going through hell, keep going.”
– Winston Churchill
The question has been asked by a number of people. Why when every Everest I’ve done has hurt me so much. Whether it was due to freezing cold weather, heavy winds, rain, illness, injury, mechanical issues, fatigue.
Why would I want to put myself through that once again?
With a baby on the way less than a month away I can’t travel far from home. A thought was borne that if I was only a few km away from home. It wouldn’t matter how long I was out for and could hypothetically just go up & down the same hill a lot of times.
I had a winter from hell. 10 weeks of sickness and then I strained my Achilles which kept me off the bike much of July & the start of August. From the start of my rehab I gave away all hopes of doing major epic rides. I only had 2 & a half months left & I spent a considerable period of time on rehab. I’ve enjoyed one of my best recoveries. Knocking out two 250 km rides & one 300 km ride. Somehow I got myself in shape to do an Everest. What better way to finish off but with my 7th & possibly final Everest.
Shane Harold has committed to attempting his first Everest. The climb was a fair bit steeper than he had originally planned. But thankfully went down & rolled a few laps and joined the party.
Stryder I’ve logged over 35,000 vertical metres on Everests with. We’ve Everested Colby Drive & David Hill Road together. And sherpered for each other a number of times. This may be my last and I’m grateful that Stryder wouldn’t let a small thing like Bronchitos hold him back from coming down. He had this in his system for well over two weeks. There were doubts that he would be 100% for a ride like this. He’s like me. He really thrives on the ability to pull something special out & committed at the last minute.
Daniel Solander Drive in Endeavour Hills ticks the box for an Everest in many ways. It has a car lane as well as a bike lane. You are completely separated from the drivers. The descent is fast and furious & you can hit speeds of 60 km/h without accelerating. The climb is quite steep peaking at 12%. This was resurfaced recently and is a beautiful surface to climb and has a fairly consistent gradient. It is quite a good climb for the average gradient.
The negatives are there are the toilets are 1.5 km away. There’s no shade & there’s traffic furniture right at the base of the climb & is technical to negotiate.
I would finish work at lunch time on Friday. Go & pick up my bike from the shop & try and get a few hours sleep. Then meet up with the boys at midnight on Danny Boy……..
“If one should ask me what “use” there was in climbing, or attempting to climb the world’s highest peak, I would be compelled to answer “none.” There is no scientific end to be served; simply the gratification of the impulse of achievement, the indomitable desire to see what lies beyond the heart of man.”
― George Mallory
The date of the 2015 Hells 500 epic was set for the Easter weekend. I had this far fetched scheme over four weeks of riding to do only 4 rides, but which would total 1,150 km’s & in excess of 26,000 vertical.
The best laid plans of mice & men…….
Dave Smith & Martin English teamed up to Everest the 1 in 20. Aiming to complete the 2015 Hells 500 epic.
Having this crazy notion of climbing 10,000 meters on the 1:20.
They were aiming at 36 laps of the 1 in 20, which would take them close to 500 km’s to do. There were hiccups. Dave Smith got really sick during the week & was forced to pull out. Gary Beazley was also really sick throughout the week. Deciding to start the ride with a cold which would really test him in the freezing cold conditions. We still wanted to keep Dave’s spirit live on so we nicknamed him the Ghost of David Smith throughout the ride.
Follow him at #ghost of David Smith
I had till 5:30 pm to ride. Normally I would wake up at the crack of dawn. I was struggling to recover from my Everest and slept in until 6:00 am instead. The forecast for the morning was for a minimum of 8. When I woke up it felt bloody cold. I looked up the weather and saw that it was 4 degrees.
Never trust the weatherman.
There were hundreds of riders taking on the 1:20 in the morning, and all rugged up. I was able to ride freely, but felt that I was lacking energy to push as I normally would. Definately not quite 100%. I was there to offer support, and to go up the front to help set pace as much as I could. Early on it was difficult finding a rhythm. Each of us had so much experience riding the 1:20, that we would automatically start to push without thinking about it. When riders were overtaking us, the first instinct was to jump on their wheel and get sucked along. On an Everest this wasn’t feasable. Lastly anytime we came upon riders to overtake, the instincts always kicked in to give that extra little gas to fly off on them once we passed.
Also bumping into old friends.
|Sunrise on Mount D|
I didn’t need to ask how cold it was overnight (only around 5 degrees)
Leaving them with 6 laps left to do.
It was a fitting way to hand over the 1 in20 crown from one champion to another.
Here is a link to my Strava Activity here:
Swans Road (Bacchus Marsh) 18/04/2014
“How many times has the weatherman told you stories that make you laugh?”
Always the Sun – The Stranglers
Mistake number 1.
Just to add to my misery it started to rain quite heavily.
I’ve ridden in some bad, bad weather, and really needed to HTFU!
I’d just get closer to failure yet again.
In two rides on Perrins Creek Road I rode 480 km’s. Completed 85 laps & climbed 16,500 vertical metres. Neither of these rides compared to the hardships that I went through today. I was now 1/3 in Everest attempts, and didn’t beat myself up as this was easily one of the hardest rides I’ve ever done. I was defeated by a headwind, and the cold , and I admitted that I shouldn’t have tried to Everest in these conditions. The weatherman got the forecast horribly wrong, but who trusts the weatherman?
Here is the link to my Strava Activity: