I seem to go on about how early I get out of bed to get my training done. I promise this will be the last time I make a big deal out of it, but setting the alarm for 4am was painful. Not only because I was only going to get a couple of hours sleep after an impromptu visit from friends the night before, but also because my wife warned me that if I woke her there would be serious consequences. The fact that I’m able to write this post tells you all you need to know about that.
Last year there was a little over ten of us from the Greenwood Peleton who made it to Mansfield. There was another good showing this year with nine of us making the trip, Mountain Goat, Whippet, Beetle, Chugger, Squeaker, Hunter, Romeo and Tony (Needs a Nickname don’t you think?) and of course yours truly. It was cold when we reached Mansfield at 7:30 which meant a quick change into our gear. Perhaps I’m showing my age, but I found listening to “What does the fox say?” on Beetle’s iPod anything but motivational. There was also the usual last minute curse for the items that had been left behind, of which the only serious item was a missing helmet. With a final check to make sure everybody was carrying their 7 Peaks Passports we got rolling. We hadn’t made it more that 100 meters before we had our first stop. It seems nerves got the better of Chugger who needed to make another “nervous pitstop”. Five minutes later we were rolling again.
The ride to the base of Mt Buller is a very gentle incline and we held a nice pace getting there each taking turns at the front for no longer than a kilometer. It was now starting to warm up so we took the time to strip off all the unnecessary bits and fill water bottles. And then we were climbing. In no time at all the natural order of riders was established, and I was somewhere out the back. For crying out loud, what was going on? I’d shaved my legs, this wasn’t supposed to be happening. Oh well, there wasn’t much I could do about it except keep pedaling. Buller is an unrelenting beast. It just keeps going up and worst of all, unlike Lake Mountain where the worst bit is at the start, on Buller it’s right at the end. The last 1500 meters is all pain with an average gradient of approx 9%. As with all long climbs though there is a certain satisfaction that you made it to the top. Unfortunately Squeaker didn’t get to feel that level of satisfaction. In truth he did well getting up as far as he did but his back was causing him all sorts of grief so he stopped just before the final kicker. The lady at Alpine Central didn’t need much convincing to get another passport out and stamp it for him. He’d climbed 15 of the 17 kilometers. That was good enough.
The descent as always was fun. Not as fast as it could’ve been, but then we did have one bloke coming down without a helmet so we descended a little more cautiously. From there we held a very nice pace back to Mansfield, into a headwind too. The group got split into two which seemed to work out well. The front group was able to keep the momentum going and the second was able to stay together and made it in just a few minutes later.
So now we face Mt Baw Baw. The only HC categorised climb in the country with an average gradient of 11%. To say I’m more than a little intimidated by it would be an understatement, but I’m determined to do it. Time will tell. I’ve got a little bit of time to devise a strategy. Shaving the legs didn’t quite do it. Let’s see what I can dream up.
The Kids Cancer Project. Please consider.
The Alpha MAMIL facebook page.
Mt Buller Strava details.
The Climbing Cyclist’s review of Mt Buller.