Just got back from a weekend in Bright completing my 7 peaks challenge, bit of a ride report.
Decided that the best way to complete these would be to do as many as possible with Hells 500/ the climbing cyclist's supported rides. Cycling express and Winners energy food have come on board as sponsors and provided nutrition and drinks throughout (way cool) as well as some other secondary sponsors. Andrew Van bergen from Hells 500 and Matt De Neef (the climbing cyclist) are great blokes and ran the events well with support crews at spots along the climbs as well as at the end.
The goal of the trip was to get four stamps, Dinner Plain, Falls Creek, Hotham and Buffalo. Lots of climbing but an amazing weekend for it with perfect (if too perfect) conditions from start to finish. Also joing me was Dan Foster from the MRR and Tony/Toyopet from the RRR, as well as a heap of guys i had met on previous rides.
First ride: Falls creek. Friday morning 9am. Drove out to Mt Beauty to find a massive group of riders waiting for the start in glorious sunshine. At the start I once again went out too hard thinking I could sustain a strong pace, not considering the length and consistent gradient. Went out at a heart rate of 192 which is typical of what i climb the 1 in 20 in. The first few km were ok and i was in the leading few guys. Then reality set in and I started to struggle somewhat. Around half way to Bogong village a train of 6 riders with Toypopet hanging off the back flew past looking really strong. I tried to jump on but lasted about two minutes. My early exertions were pulling me back. Dropped off and another couple of riders passed individually, then Matt De Neef and three others caught me just after Bogong village, around 15km/400m into the climb. i did a bit better, staying in touch for maybe 10 minutes, but then again lost touch. the rest of the climb to Falls was a solid effort, the gradient description does not do it justice, its a hard climb of just over 1300m. I was back to low 170's HR and could not recover to push it up again. In the end i got to the top i think in 19th place, in a time of 1.41. I believe 82 riders made it to the top, the fastest being around 1.20, the slowest around 3 hours. The descent was awesome, i loved the open sweeping corners of falls with few tight ones, so could power down well. Total for the day was around 61km and 1450m vertical
Second ride: Hotham/ Dinner plain. Saturday 8am. Myself and Dan rode out from Bright to Harrietville to meet the bunch, with around 8 other riders departing 6.30am , keeping a moderate pace of only 25kph. The start was a chilly alpine day of around 4 degrees so was arm warmers and Gilet. At the start of the official ride the group were joined by Greg Henderson, pro rider with Lotto Belisol, and another pro rider, though unsure what NRS team he was from . Greg talked us through the ride, ensuring we all knew that the thinner air at the top, combined with the steep climbs will blow us up if you go out too hard. I had a plan, therefore, to try to climb a different way and try to be sensible. I was not worried about my time but wanted to enjoy the climb. I set off at the head of the bunch but locked on 175HR and spinning straight away in the little ring. I didnt move from this pace except at the pinches at the top. Worked like a dream all the way up and probably my best ever climbing result. The first 11km to the false flat were very easy, no strain or tiredness, but the clothing soon stripped down !. At this point three monster riders passed me including Joel who rode past me like i was not moving (he finished the climb over 20 minutes ahead of me in the end). Toyopet caught up to me and we climbed through the false flat together until he started to struggle and drop off. A few minutes later a flying train came through pushing 40kph, so hopped on for most of the flat section. At the start of the second 10km climb i was solo again around 8th on the road and steady until CRB hill around 5km from the top. Half way up greg Henderson and a few hangers on caught up to me and gently passed. I am sure he was having an easy day
, but I wasn't going to change my plan and stayed at 175HR. CRB was a tough kilometer but came through ok. Then pushed on down the steep drop to the final 1.6km Dimattina hill, this is where the pain started for many people but again i just took it steady. Coming over the crest and dropped down to the finish, just pipping Andrew Van bergen who was trying a sneaky KOM sprint to the line. In all 90 riders made it up. One guy was ambulanced to hospital after not paying attention to the dip before the final hill, coming off with a suspected broken collar bone and obliterated bike. After this i went solo to Dinner Plain, as i knew i could not make Sundays final climb from Omeo. The alpine wind and the dead roads were a killer, even on the flat i was down to 15kph so thankful its only a 24km / 300m round trip back tpo Hotham. Getting back to Hotham was tough, and the first 3km from the top hurt going up the pinches in hot sun and headwind. The rest of the descent was ok, i took it steady given the previous accident, and being pretty much alone on the road. At Harrieteville I hoped on the back of a couple of guys pushing hard into the wind back to bright, which i was very thankful for. 128km and 2400m vertical, time to Hothan 1.49
Climb 3: Buffalo. In the afternoon after Hotham we did Buffalo. This was by a long way the hardest ride, not because of the gradient but due to the hot weather and tired legs. We assembled at 4pm at the base and the temperature was 38 degrees. it would later reach 46 degrees in the sun according to Garmin. This climb hurt from the start. For around 15 minutes i held the same 175HR as Hotham but then it all got hard. I could not handle the heat and dropped back to perhaps 160HR and no more than 13kph even in the little ring. Passed by a lot of riders, though perhaps only 25-30 of the 92 finishers had done Hotham and we nearly all hurt. The climb slaughtered the peleton and was more spread out than any of the other mountains. It was a case of just keeping going rather than setting a record, I was trying my best to push on but the body was at its limit from perhaps 3km into the climb. i was withing a minute or two of perhaps 15 riders who I could see at every turn slowly stringed out. The heat was the main killer, being cooler my legs could have done better but I could not control my body temperature even fully unzipped. Got to the summit and didnt realise Dingo Dell was a further 3km uphill, so pretty much broken by the time I got to the top. I dont think anyone enjoyed this ride!. The descent was ok, used the Garmin 705 maps to predict the corners so had a good, safe descent. Beers at Bright velo with many of the guys was a good reward, but again heard of another riders down with bad abrasions , losing it on the hot , bubbling bitumen coming into a corner. 48 km, 1200m vertical, time 1.26
So in all for the two days did over 5000m vertical and 250km or so. any thanks to Andy and Matt for the organisation, made it a much easier on the rest of us to have a support crew.
. i was only ~700m and 35km off the distance of the three peaks according to BobM's report from last year, and was at 8 hours moving time, so I am sure I could complete it easily, but if I want to put my body through that pain again i am unsure, especially if hot.