29 December 2012; 104kms, 2700m elevation

Christmas time is tough on the exercise efforts. After two solid days of eating and drinking on Xmas Day and Boxing Day it was time to get some training done. From the family farm in Lubeck (40km east of Horsham), there’s a few options for running and riding, but the best for riding is the Grampians.

Halls Gap is the main town hub at the centre of this mountain range, and is only a 50min drive away from the farm. So I packed up the bike and some gear, and I head off at about 5.30am.

An incident with a kangaroo on the way certainly made sure I was awake. Basically it came flying in from the side of the road and BANG, hip and shouldered the car, bounced off into a heap on the road, got up and kept going. I pulled over a bit shaken to check the damage to the car (and god forbid the bike on the rack at the back….) but luckily the only thing to see was a smudge in the dust on the rear door panel! How lucky was that!

I arrived at Halls Gap not long after, avoiding any other incidents, although I did notice a few ‘roos on the side of the road watching me, nearly as carefully as I was watching them. I took the bike off the rack, loaded up my bidons, checked a few things and set off.

The plan was this: to ride out to and up to the summit of Mount William, back to Halls Gap, then up to Boroka Lookout, down to Zumsteins, and then back up and over to Halls Gap again, so essentially there was three climbs, starting with the toughest first Mt William.

So I ride south out of town past Lake Bellfield, through a beautiful quiet country town, passing a couple of bikes going the other way – nice. There’s a short 900m climb before Lake Bellfield but apart from that it’s nicely undulating out to the Mt William road. I passed groups of kangaroos and emus as I went, as well as a couple of runners on the road.

I soon hit the start of the climb of Mount William, about 12km ride south from Halls Gap. I’d read about Mt William on a couple of websites somewhere, and had seen a profile graph somewhere else, but all I really knew was that it was about 6% ave gradient for nearly 10kms, then you hit the last 2km up to the summit that averaged around 12%! It could be fun!?! I worked into a nice rythym on the way up, with a few black wallabies jumping alongside me at one point before they got scared and jumped off into the bush. The scenery on the way up was stunning, and even though the clouds were surrounding me most of the time, I could see it was going to be worth it reaching the summit for the view.

The gradient jumped around a bit on the way up, with some pinches touching above 15% which certainly require some out of the saddle action, and with a 6% average for 10kms, it’s a solid climb to the carpark. Then there’s the gate for “management vehicles and walkers only” (and bikes is how I read it).

Once you get beyond the gate, the real climbing starts! The 2km to the summit average 11.9% according to Strava, and it feels like it! You climb 231m vertical in 2km!?? Some sections were so steep I was having to severely zig zag to avoid stopping, and looking at the strava elevation graph, it says some bits are over 50%!?? Can that be right? Anyway, whatever it was, it hurt like a shvitzer up the A. My legs and lungs were screaming at me to stop, but I couldn’t look myself in the mirror tonight if I stopped pedalling. It’s fair to say that my pain cave was deep and desolate at that point.

Upon finally reaching the summit after nearly 15min (for 2kms mind you!?), I was supremely knackered BUT the view was sooo worth it. The wind was nearly howling, but I was above the clouds and it was just beautiful to be up there.

Mt William - above the clouds Mt William – above the clouds

Phone 250 Beaut view

A few quick photos and some food, and down I went, and apart from being a bit bumpy in spots, it’s a great descent. I hit the Halls Gap road again feeling a whole lot better (and warmer!) and got down on the aerobars for some TT action back into town. I stopped at the car for a top up of food, and then headed to the base of the Mount Victory Road, which was the start of the Boroka Lookout climb.

This is a 15km long climb that averages about 4%, but there are some steeper pinches of over 10%, with the last of them approaching 20%. The climbing starts as soon as soon as you turn onto the road, and so I settled into a nice climbing rythym. The legs were certainly feeling a bit heavy, but as I’d done this climb a couple of years before, I had a rough idea what I was in for, and knew I’d be ok.

Phone 253 Heading up Mount Victory Road

I cruised relatively easy for all of the climb except for the steep little pinches on Mt Difficult Road which required getting out of the saddle for. They actually provided a bit of a nice relief from the seated constant cadence. After nearly an hour of climbing I hit the carpark lookout and breathed a sigh of relief. I rode to the lookout and took some photos, and had a chat to another cyclist who was there. “I normally ride Beach Road, so this is a bit of a change for me” he said in his Irish accent. Anyway after a good chat and a banana and gel, I set off again. Climb #2 for the day done, only one to go, and it was the easiest.

Phone 240 Boroka Lookout carpark

The last bit of the journey was a descent down to Zumsteins, which was about 18kms away, then a nice 12km climb back up, then the final bomb back down to Halls Gap of 10km. The descent to Zumsteins is just awesome, the roads are smooth, the views out to the north across the ranges and onto the flat farm land is stunning, and it’s easy to go fast. Once at Zumsteins I turned around and began the last climb of the day. It averages about 4% so its a beautiful spin really, although my legs were certainly letting me know they had nearly had enough climbing for the day. I reached the top reasonably comfortably, and began the descent. A car passed me just at the top, so I made the goal of trying to stay with it all the way down back to Halls Gap. He got away from me at one point, but I was faster through the hairpins, so caught up again, and proudly pulled up next to him at the Halls Gap road, and we gave each other a little nod and a acknowledging grin.

I rolled back to my car, noticing that the town was certainly awake now. There were tourists everywhere. I grabbed a coffee, some chocolate milk, a coke and a muffin from the cafe, and drove back to the farm.

Overall a tough but fantastic morning on the bike, and that route will hopefully become a regular one in coming years. Distance 104.6km. 2702m elevation (including a HC climb!). Moving time 4hrs36min.

Average Athleeet out.

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The plan was simple: IronBull and I were going to complete what we’d failed to do last time. ‘The plan’ went like this. Get up very early, drive out to Warburton. Ride up the Reefton Spur, and down into Marysville. Stop and have a coffee and muffin. Ride up and ascent Lake Mountain, ride back down the Reefton Spur and back to Warburton. Stop for a breather. Ride up Mount Donna Buang to the summit, and then back to Warburton to the car. Drive home.

Simple plan, not so easily completed though I found out. Donna literally spat me out and chewed me up.

It was an absolute cracker of a day, 1 truck passed us in the first 20km then no traffic at all along Reefton Spur to Marysville – what a road! Sooooo nice. Ironbull and I tapped out a good rhythym all the way to the Lake mtn turnoff then bombed down to Marysville. SOoooo different from 3 weeks ago when we were shivering violently and failed to make the Lake Mountain and Mt Donna Buang ascents due to time restrictions and it being bloody cold on any downhill section. We stopped in Marys for a coffee and muffin, this time there was no violent shivering – just enjoyed sitting in the sunshine.

We climbed up to Lake Mountain, which is a lovely ride and a great spin (after the first 4-5km of steeper stuff which averages around 8% gradient).

Riding back along Reefton Spur is just awesome, the road is sooo sweet, although we did have to watch out for oncoming speeding motorbikes, and then we pushed through last 15kms of rolling hills back to Warburton which hurt like a sfvitzer in my A. The IronBull and I did rolling turns trying to keep the ave pace over 30. 140kms ish down, and still Donna to do.

Stopping in Warby for a gatorade and a little renegotiation of hometime eta’s was required, and then we started the ascent up Donna in the heat of the day. I think I knew within a couple of km that I was gonna struggle…and how. Got to about 5kms in and I’d slowed to 10km/hr and the legs were screaming. I gave them a couple of Jens Voights (shut up legs!) but they didn’t listen. I kept telling myself to suck it up etc, but got another km in and had to pull over and stop. If I was on my own I’m pretty sure I woulda turned around and headed home. My inner demons were circling, taunting me with such things as “you poofta”, “you’re soft”, “keep riding poofta”, various other poofta insults, etc etc.

IronBull gave me some encouraging like “lets take a breathe and rest for a sec”, then gave the suggestion of riding on for 20min and seeing how I went. I reluctantly accepted.

I wobbled to a start and got going again. Literally 2 corners later was the dogleg at cement creek with it’s flat section – thankgoodness. Spinning never felt so good, then started up the ‘second half of the climb’. I managed to go the 20min, we stopped again for a breather with about 6kms to go, and by then I knew I could make it. It’d be slow but I’d get there. One final breather with about 2.5-3km to go and we made the final push up to the top. The last 500m of that climb sux no doubt, but you’re so close it doesn’t hurt as much. As I say if the IronBull wasn’t there with his encouragement and wisdom beyond his yrs, I’m pretty sure I would’ve pulled the pins back at 6kms. Thanks mate. I was gonna say I owe you, but after spending an hr 15min in traffic back from your place after dropping you off, now we’re even.

So KOM definitely to the IronBull yesterday, and that ride goes down onto my epic list. Over 8hrs in the saddle, 175kms and over 3500m climbing, done! But not without pain.

Epicly Average.

30 Oct 2012 top of Mt Donna B smashed

While others may have been out and about at a xmas party, or family gathering if you will, I went out for a run. The plan was simple: go out for a relaxed 6km-ish at a easy-moderate pace, down High Street, turn left onto Westgarth, turn left again near the train crossing and straight up north back to home.

With ‘Strava Lady’ giving me kilometer pace updates, I cruised through km1 at 4.43min/km. Km2 came and went at 4.14. Hmm I thought, that was a fair bit quicker, without really trying, and considering half of it was up the High Street rise up to Ruckers Hill Northcote….maybe I’ll keep going like this and maybe get a PR (Personal Record) for 5km on Strava!

Km3, so far so good: 4.13. Now comes ever slow slight uphill run back home.

Km4: 4.12! Cmmmon you Average Athleeet – maybe you’re slighty better than average!

Km5: 4.23; legs fatiguing, solid sweating, Strava Lady confirms a 5km run of 22.08min – a PR I found out when I get back home and review the data.

(Km6: 6.11; stopped for some water, and to watch the Xmas Carols by Candlelight shenanigans for a minute at All Nations Park in Northcote, then slowly jogged home)

So a 5km PR – nice, and with an easy Km1! Label me satisfied. Now, was this better than having a couple of beers with some other Average Athleeets and generally being festive? I don’t know, but it was certainly better than sitting on the couch.

Definition of an Average Athleeet: a moderately physically fit person, who aspires to improve their athletic/sporting ability to finish at least marginally better than middle of the road in their chosen sport or event.

Forrest mountain bike ride: 9th December 2012: 57km, 1250m elevation: with The Tav and Weirdog

The day started at 5.45am for me, waking before the alarm set for 6am….blah blah etc etc.

A false start in the car after picking up Tav (yes you do need your cycling shoes Tav, “orrh sorry guys be’d better do a U-turn off the freeway.) Thankfully only cost us 15-20min or so.

The weather was PERFECT!!! The trails were in pretty much mint condition, yeah as weiry said so many logs to get over there – I keep forgetting about that -certainly does tire you out a bit (especially during a 100km race!!).

Was great though – The Tav is a beast on a bike. When he puts the hammer down, the choice is either to get out of his way or try to hang on, coz he aint stoppin for no-one, unless that person is named Mr Log with a drop after it, who managed not only to stop him, but send him flying through the air. Very funny to watch from behind.

Anyway I managed to stick with him on the flowy stuff, beat him through the techy tight stuff, outlast him on the climbs (he went hard early and slowed after a while), and smash him on the downhills. Generally I felt pretty good, legs were good. Technically took me a while to get going but yeah was happy (and glad I didn’t ride with Tav just after the cape to cape coz think he woulda done me like a dogs dinner!)

We parked the car in town, rode out to Yaugher trails (and a bit of a heart starter once at yaugher road up the side), rode most of the trails out there. Returned to town and had a steak sanga at the brewery – v nice, but exe. Then rode the sth of town stuff, which is sooooo much fun I reckon – it’s either steep up or steep down, wag the dog or whatever is just super fun. Then climbed up no.2 trail to the top, which is a beaut ride in itself really, and then let it rip down Red Carpet. I pretty much let it all hang out, riding right on the edge of sanity and ability, got to the bottom knackered, but had beaten Tav by 2min and Weiry by a reasonable bit.

Choco milk and a coke at the general store, highway home – all said and done, another great day with a coupla mates on a bike. Reminds me of how much fun mtbing is though, and it still does a day on the roady most times. The only thing is you only get in conversations with the other riders when you’re stopped, whereas on the roady you can talk most of the way (except when spent up some mountain), but guess it means it’s great that we all enjoy both forms of cycling.

Sweeet action.