Another challenging, hate it - love it kind of ride.
Did the 200k starting at 6:20.
Had a terrible nights sleep with a hot motel room and buzzing mosquitoes (only 4 hrs sleep I reckon.) - so knew it was going to be a bit tougher than last year.
Hadn't done as much training as last year - only 2 long rides with hills (Kinglake & Red HIll/Arthur's Seat), most of my training has been on the MTB in preparation for Otway Odyssey 100K MTB on 19th Feb. Last year most of my training was on the roadie (plenty of 150 + hill rides - well about 6) but it didn't translate well at the MTB 100k event – was still buggered on the climbs. Not sure why, certainly MTB requires more upper body strength which can be taxing and the MTB is about 12kgs as opposed to 7kg for the roadie. So my conclusion was MTB is better preparation for both, where Roadie is better for Road but not as effective for MTB. Most of my MTB training is hill type interval work - I do about 1.5 hrs x 4 per day with a 3-4 hour ride on the weekend. My attitude is really to have fun and stay fit, so that's my approach.
My MTB training is usually on a Single Speed so I knew I would have plenty of tractor power for the climbs, but as other's have said it's really endurance that stands out as the key to doing the ACC successfully.
Ride started off like last year, a quiet line of victims being led into the hills before us. As usual every one you talk to is very positive, great seeing the variety of bikes, must have saw about 4 fold up bikes including a bouncy one with chrome zigzag construction. Reckon this is about as close I will ever get to a Tour De France like experience, just loving it! Did anyone see the guy with no helmet, where did he come from? Thought he must have forgotten helmet he couldn't do that on purpose, although he did have a black beanie on for some protection. He was going pretty hard and saw him descending Falls very early on, say he was a pro I suspect.
Going up Tawonga Gap was its usual tough but fair type climb, was starting to sweat a bit, don’t remember this happening last year so was a bit concerned. Maybe I’m a bit sick or is it the humidity? Falls Creek climb was similar, just a nice steady pace – I was mildly quicker than riders around me. Like last year, I planned to do all climbs in 24 and keep 27 for final assault up Mt Buffalo, this does enable me to climb a bit quicker.
Descent down Falls was exciting until I saw a guy in a Degani top just going a bit too hard into corners, said to mate stay clear of him and we will pass when safe. Well next corner an Ambulance with lights flashing was coming up the road and Degani guy did his usual over speed into bend except this time he went wide and was probably 5 metres from a head-on. Guy behind him locked up rear wheel and went sideways, but had the skills to go around Ambulance. Would have been an ugly crash for Degani guy, only good thing is he would have had medical attention pronto.
Next was the hardest climb of the ride, well that’s what I told my mate to get him up Tawonga Gap, it’s a toughie, with the sun exposure and gradient. Had planned my water well and wasn’t going to back off on Tawonga climb, staying in 24 was taxing me a bit, but knew this was a short climb relative to others and reckon this is the real mentally challenging part of ride. Got to top, mate was still coming so went over and got a cool Gatorade, it’s beautifully relaxing sitting there with a cool drink in the shade watching all types of bikes come through.
Descent into Bright was uneventful for me, except mate’s got a puncture that delayed him for nearly an hour, I was waiting at Bright lunch stop and it turns out his tube had melted to the tyre and disintegrated. So he had to pick tube off tyre before he could go on. No problems there, he puts in new tube and it won’t pump up; new tube has holes in it along seams – cheap @!C* grap!
So we regroup, I was going to go onto Mt Buffalo climb but really the experience of doing it as a group is far more rewarding and I knew they would wait for me if I was in a similar situation. So off we went towards Mt. Buffalo climb, getting pretty hot now, knew from last year it would cool off after 15-20 minutes of climbing, was sweating again more than last year I thought, but the 1 litre per hour of Endura and 60 or so grams of Carbs was paying off nutrition wise. Felt good and knew I could do climb with the 2 planned water stops.
Kept seeing lots of descending riders – beautiful to watch, is there a better experience than conquering a hill and then descending down it. Said to mate the descent is the therapy for the climb. Was in 27 by now and pushing a nice rhythm up hill even felt I could spin a bit faster, but knew that would push me aerobically and never know could blow up. Seemed like last part of climb went on forever, kept seeing guys stop, almost beaten, some descenders were shouting ‘only 1k to go’ or ‘300 metres’, I thought sure then that zigy zagy Dingo Dell climb, still really 6k I reckon. Got to Dingo Dell, that was it, a Zen moment, only a descent and 6 k of road to Bright, mate’s arrived shortly after, we did it, felt we were a little under prepared this year, but rode within ourselves and thoroughly enjoyed the whole event, including volunteers and of course organizers and fellow cyclists. 250 I thinking, maybe, would like to do that Back of Falls climb with 150 on legs. Btw, actual ride time moving was 8:59.