I did the Alpine Classic 200 for the 2nd year this past weekend. It is one of Australia's most difficult rides through mountainous terrain, with 4 big climbs.
The trick is to pace yourself early on so as to leave some reserve for the last climb of Mt Buffalo. A trick which I am yet to learn. Like last year, I was properly buggered for the last climb and it requires great willp[ower to keep riding.
I pulled away with the earliest group at 6h20am. While inching to the start line I saw a Bike Friday, and a Brompton awaiting it's turn for a 70km event (more later). The previous day I spoke with the Moulton importer and learned that there was one participant on a stainless steel New Series in my group.
After starting I found a bunch with my preferred pace, and we cruised fast to the base of the 1st climb, to Tawonga Gap. The climb is fairly easy but again you need to pace yourself. Early in the climb we rode past a car which very early that morning had misjudged a corner and ended up in a ditch. Police were photographing the scene. About halfway up I found the chap on the Moulton. I slowed and we chatted about Moultons and Swifts to the top of the climb.
At the top Mr Moulton indicated he was pulling off for a rest, I thought downhills are for resting and started flying down. It was easy to keep up with the fastest descenders, even overtaking a number of them. There were a few exclamations of surprise to see such small wheels racing so fast.
First stop in the valley for a quick bottle refill and a few apple scrolls to eat, and off to the big one: Falls Creek. On the ascent I met the first few strong riders who were already coming back down - every year it is an unofficial race to see who can win it. Again I felt very strong and couldn't hold myself in well enough, especially near the summit where again a fair few riders who got overtaken expressed surprise. I didn't dally at the summit, just dropped my card, grabbed a banana and headed down the mountain again. It was coolish but not enough to require windproof clothing. Nice fast descending, the Swift carving through the corners and leaving many riders behind.
On the Falls descent I saw a rider sitting next to the opposite side crash barrier with ambo in attendance. He obviously flew out the corner. I hope he didn't injure himself badly. I also saw the BF and the Moulton still riding up.
The 3rd climb, back over the Tawonga Gap again in reverse direction, is much steeper and more difficult due to fatigue creeping up and the heat of the day beginning to make itself felt. I had only 1 bottle full from Falls Creek - a mistake as I had to stop at a water point on the 3rd climb to refill. The going was getting harder but I still felt strong.
The summit passed and again I found a nice fast pace group back home for the mid-ride lunch exactly 6h after I departed. I still felt OK at this point, and wolfed the food to hit the road again. The flat section to the base of Mt Buffalo felt harder and I realised that my matches were almost all burnt. The climb up Mt Buffalo is the most difficult thing I had ever done. 20+km of steady climbing without relent really takes it out of you. I stopped twice to relieve hotfoot a bit. Standing on the pedals which was one of my strategies also was not possible except for 30s or so each time due to leg fatigue.
About half-way up I saw the woman on the Brompton by the side on the opposite side. I stopped and chatted a bit. She was riding a 6-sp Brommie in beige. The gears weren't too great for the climb but she did it.
I finally did reach the summit of the 4th and last climb, well stuffed, vowing never to do this again. (Just hours later I was chatting to my friend about doing next year!
Some of my stats:
Saddle time: 8h57
Tawonga A ascent: 33m40s
Falls ascent: 1h50
I arrived at Bright mid-ride exactly 6h after the start. I was pleased with that but then took another 4h to conquer Buffalo - an hour longer than I wanted.
I am extremely happy with my Swift performance. It really carved those corners and is completely stable even at 80+km/h. My speedo recorded 100km/h max but that must be a mistake. Here is a piccie at about 32km into the ride: