My first hors categorie hill climb.
My ride report is a bit delayed this time, because I didn't get around to creating the videos of the ascent and descent until yesterday. On 25th November, I got a lift with Toyopet (Tony) from these forums to Icy Creek, where we both rode up to the summit of Mt Baw Baw and then back, a round trip of about 70km with about 1900m of climbing. That was very hard work
. I've never ridden a hors categorie
mountain climb before, but I think I handled it reasonably well, with 1 brief stop about halfway up to catch my breath and drink a bit.
As with some of my previous ride reports, this has numerous photos, so just click on the 200-pixel thumbnail images to display the full-size ones. Also, these photos are mostly frame captures from my helmet-camera, so the fish-eye lens effect can be seen. With the kind permission of Matt & Andy from the Hells 500 team, I've also copied 5 of their photos to this report - thanks, guys
. At the summit, I took a few still photos using my phone camera. I left my digital camera at home, as I wanted to minimise the weight going up Mt Baw Baw, and the helmet-camera weighed on me enough!
This ride was organised by the Hells 500 crew, as part of their very nice initiative called the 7 Peaks Domestique Series
, and it was very well organised, with the photography and videography being top-notch. Well done to the team
, your efforts were much appreciated by us all.
The weather conditions were pretty good: the temperature at the summit was probably just over 20°C (I recall my Garmin Edge 800 showing about 23°C at one point during the ascent), and there was no rain or much wind.
This was the route we followed (this image may not fit in the BV forum web page, but if you show it in another tab, you'll see all of it).
For those interested in such things, my ascent from Big Tree Creek to the main gate at the summit was roughly 72 minutes, or 56 minutes from the The Gantry to the main gate.Icy Creek to Tanjil Bren.
We were originally going to do the ride from Tanjil Bren, but Tony was a bit ahead of time, so we decided to stop at Icy Creek, as we had passed the main bunch of riders as they rode up Vespers Hill between Noojee and Icy Creek. Once the main bunch caught up to our parking spot, we joined them. Here's a few photos I took of Icy Creek (actually after Tony and I got back there).[Taken at: 12:57:12, 12:57:24]
At the start, and shortly after.[Taken at: 08:20:51, 08:23:35]
Beautiful scenery on the way to Tanjil Bren.[Taken at: 08:34:46]
Arriving at Tanjil Bren.[Taken at: 09:06:23]
Once at Tanjil Bren, Matt & Andy gave all 80+ of us a briefing, giving us a rough idea of what lay ahead, and giving tips on the road conditions, plus warning to take it easy going down, etc. Yes, just over 80 cyclists were determined enough to ride up Mt Baw Baw
.Tanjil Bren to Mt Baw Baw.
Post-briefing, we all headed down the road towards Big Tree Creek. There's about a 4km descent, with a relatively gentle grade, down to Big Tree Creek, then the road ascends with a relatively gentle grade to The Gantry for about another 4.5km, then the pain begins: a grade averaging over 10% over about 6.5km to about 1km short of the Mt Baw Baw summit, with one point (referred to as Winch Corner) which exceeds 20% grade - that bit hurt
. The final 1km or so to the summit, thankfully, levels out quite a bit, offering a respite to tortured legs.
The briefing, with Matt de Neef in the middle by the car, and Tammy van Bergen (who did some (all?) of the photography) on the other side of the car.[Taken at: 09:21:32]
A hairpin bend just out of Tanjil Bren.[Taken at: 09:28:58]
Big Tree Creek, where the descent from Tanjil Bren ends, and the ascent to Mt Baw Baw begins with a relatively easy grade.[Taken at: 09:33:19]
The Gantry, where the easy grade becomes very difficult and stays that way for 6.5km.[Taken at: 09:51:36]
A lovely motivational sign warning us of 6km of pain
.[Taken at: 09:52:12]
More spots along the road between The Gantry and South Face Rd. The 3rd photo shows the red car in which the photography and video crew travelled. They'd drive past us, then setup at various points along the climb, taking photos and videos of us as we struggled past. As I said, a very well-organised ride
.[Taken at: 09:56:59, 09:58:39, 10:01:32]
South Face Rd is (roughly) 2/3 of the way up from Big Tree Creek to the Mt Baw Baw summit, and is I think the only major intersection along this bit of road. South Face Rd, as the name suggests, heads down the south face of the mountain, ending up at Rawson. Here's a few shots of before, at and after South Face Rd. You may note that in some of these, the cyclists are spread across the road a bit. This is because the very steep grade forced those with a smaller range of gear ratios to "snake" their way up the road. Tony told me he was doing this, so when we compared trip distances back at Icy Creek, his was longer
. I managed to ride up to the summit (more or less) in a straight line, as my lovely brand spanking new road bike has a low gear of 34/28, but others I think had a low gear of 39/28.[Taken at: 10:03:24, 10:03:38, 10:04:45, 10:05:14, 10:05:54]
Winch Corner, the really tough bit, and (in the 1st photo below) the 400m straight leading up to it. When you've struggled with a greater than 10% average grade for several km and then it briefly gets over 20%, it hurts. A lot
. The 400m straight leading up to the corner is easy enough to identify, because it's the only long straight section on the whole climb.[Taken at: 10:07:44, 10:11:32, 10:11:44]
About 3.5 minutes after Winch Corner.[Taken at: 10:15:20]
The end is near. 3km to the top means about just over 2km of steep grade remains.[Taken at: 10:20:34]
I made it!
.[Taken at: 10:44:48]
The main gate.[Taken at: 10:47:25]
The general store, where I got my 7 Peaks Passport stamped, so it's now 2 peaks done, 5 to go!
.[Taken at: 10:48:48]
This is me, looking a bit knackered. The sweat band came in very handy: a lot of sweat dripped off it when I wrung it out.[Taken at: 10:49:06]At the summit.[Taken at: 10:51:18]
While at the top, I took a few photos with my phone camera. Here's me at the gate, with my lovely new bike!
The view from the summit was good. Perhaps next time I'll try to take better shots.[Taken at: 10:55:30, 10:55:48]
While up there, we waited for Matt de Neef to get to the top, accompanying the last rider, true to the Hells 500 maxim "Nobody gets left behind". Did I mention this was a well-organised ride? The main reason we were waiting for Matt is that today was his birthday, so when he got to the top, there was a long double line of cyclists clapping, cheering and blowing party whistles for him
. I took these 3 shots below just after the obligatory birthday speech.[Taken at: 11:20:58, 11:21:08, 11:21:16] Others' photos.
As I mentioned, Matt & Andy were kind enough to allow me to reproduce a few of the Hells 500 crew's photos on this ride report, so here they are.
Part of the bunch. I am, of course, the guy with the helmet-camera on his helmet
The effort of Winch Corner (I feel tired just looking at these ones
My helmet-camera videos are on YouTube. I actually recorded 3 separate videos using the camera (and swapping batteries once): a 47 minute video from Icy Creek to Tanjil Bren, an 88.5 minute video from Tanjil Bren to the Mt Baw Baw General Store, and a 41 minute video from the Mt Baw Baw summit back to Tanjil Bren, 21 minutes of which is the descent to Big Tree Creek. I then edited the Tanjil Bren to Mt Baw Baw video from 88.5 minutes down to a bit over 17, added a few explanatory notes, and uploaded it to YouTube. The 2nd video I put on YouTube was the descent to Big Tree Creek, with no editing, just the 21 minute descent. At some point, I narrowly missed riding over a snake, but I can't recall exactly where in this 21 minutes it occurred, so if you spot it, then let me know!
I plan to put the Big Tree Creek to Tanjil Bren part of the ride, plus the earlier Icy Creek to Tanjil Bren part, on YouTube also, when I get around to editing them.
Tanjil Bren to Mt Baw Baw: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=MLrasbRD08E
Mt Baw Baw to Big Tree Creek: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Thmu-GiyGTU