Ride report follows...
We got up to Bright on Monday afternoon, just missing the storm that started the Harrietville fire.
The next few days were a bit surreal; strong smell of smoke and massive grey plumes drifting over the valley to the east, sound of fire bombers overhead, and a very strong sense of Bright being very alert but not overly alarmed.
When news came through that the ACE 250 was being rerouted as x 3 Bright-Cresta-Bright laps, I have to admit that I was very nervous. I’ve ridden Buffalo through to Cresta plenty of times, but never three times in a row. In all honesty, I felt I would have preferred the original ACE 250 route – even with the climb up the back o’Falls – so I found myself having to mentally prepare for Sunday.
For some warming up, I rode Tawonga return on Tuesday, Cresta return Wednesday morning, took Thursday morning off, then rode Tawonga return again on Friday morning. I took Saturday off and felt physically and mentally ready.
I’ve done Buffalo enough times to be able to compartmentalise the ride up, and I knew that would be part of the secret to completing the 2013 edition of the ACE 250: Gatehouse, Eurobin Falls, false flat, Waterland, sharp left with the kicker, sharp right with the brown and gold “ICE ON ROAD” sign, The Gap, Lake Catani, Dingo Dell, Cresta. With each ride up my goal would be to simply focus on the next intermediate step, and not worry about the total ride up.
Despite getting up at 3am on Sunday morning, I stupidly managed to miss the start by 3 minutes, so had to hammer down the road to Porepunkah and draft a marshall’s motorbike to get on the back of the bunch, and then slowly made my way forward.
The fist ride up went pretty well, except for a blood nose at the false flat that I managed to pinch and stop without having to get off the bike. Must have been the elevation I guess! Time for 1st Bright to Cresta was 2h6m; not too bad.
I got back into Bright around 7.30am, whoofed down some food and detoured to the camping ground to drop off my lights. I figured that by the third trip up, I’d want to be able to use as much of the bar as possible and the lights would likely annoy me. Plus, I’d be lighter!
The second trip up to Cresta actually felt better than the first and the legs felt OK at the top, although I was somewhat slower. Time for 2nd Bright to Cresta was 2h21m (although admittedly, I had detoured to the campsite to drop off my lights).
The third trip up was when the pain began to settle in. By the time I got to the Gatehouse I was already starting to feel it in the legs, it was getting hot and I was getting a sore arse. I had been taking on plenty of fluids and carbs, but the Gatorade was starting to turn my stomach.
“Two down one to go,” I said and gritted my teeth. Again, I broke the trip up into the various individual compartments and got on with it; Eurobin Falls – feeling OK, false flat – let it rip; Waterland – don’t look left, keep going; sharp left with the kicker – bit steep past here, dig deep; sharp right with the “ICE ON ROAD” sign – very close to The Gap from here; The Gap – I knew it wasn’t far, enjoy the downhill; Lake Catani – feeling good, nearly there; Dingo Dell – tempted to go right and grab an icy pole, stay on target!; Creta – thank Christ that’s over!
Time for 3rd Bright to Cresta was 2h30m.
By now it was pretty hot and my legs were pretty much cooked. I grabbed my cycling cap, soaked it under the water tap and put it on my head to cool down. Two volunteers were sitting under a marquee and I pulled up a seat and joined them, whoofing down a banana, muesli bar and some water.
Sitting at Cresta at that precise moment felt good, because I knew I had it in the bag. I stood up, thanked the volunteers for their hard work and good company, and said, “Much as I’m enjoying this chat, I need to get a wriggle on!” I think they understood.
The last descent down Buffalo was a ripper. About halfway back to Bright there’s a smallish uphill and then a beautiful sweeping descent towards the Buckland River. I hammered it and hit the bottom at around 65kph with a guy on my tail. He sat on my wheel back to the Porepunkah r’about.
About 1km past the r’about I started to tire and the bloke on my tail came around me and rode past. But then he looked around, slowed and waited till I jumped on his back wheel – what a gentleman!
I then sat on his wheel at 40kph all the way back into Bright; what a beautiful thing.
As I crossed the line my family where there to cheer me home, bless them.
My Mum asked how I felt. I answered, “To be frank, I’ve got a very sore crack and numb nuts. But other than that, I feel all right!”
And on that note, I complete my ride report.
Total distance: 236km (I did the ACE 250 route, but maybe they were a bit short on the k's, or my computer's a bit out?)
Total ride time: 10h 51m
Total time on bike: 9h 54m
PS: Well done to everyone who participated. Great effort!
Climbing Big Hills Builds Character