It's the weekend before Christmas ... did you get out for a bicycle ride? Or skiing? Or skating? or swimming?
Saturday - Rowan and I are working our way through the 7 Peaks Alpine Ascent Challenge (www.7peaks.com.au), and today we took on Mount Buller.
The Mount Buller climb is one of the longer ones because it starts in Mansfield some distance away. The first 33 km is a gradual-to-steep undulating ascent, against a headwind coming down from the mountains. A very long warm-up. It was also quite hot and I overheated on some of the steeper climbs. I was beginning to wonder if I'd make it all the way up, when the clouds started rolling in, and temperature dropped a little bit.
We took a short break in a little park at Mirimbah, at the park gates, and then the real climbing began and continued to the top. However, there was one section of about a kilometre in the middle where the terrain became a little flatter. I had been comfortably slogging away at 7 km/h for well over an hour, when all of a sudden my speed increased and I was doing the blistering pace of 15 km/h! I debated if the sudden increase in speed was the gel I'd eaten a short time before, or a smaller percentage of grade. I suspect it was the smaller percentage of grade.
The other thing that happened shortly after Mirimbah was the rain. It started to pour! Huge drops of rain bouncing off our frames and the road, and in no time we were soaked through. I debated about putting on a jacket, but opted not to. It was still reasonably warm (about 20C) ... except when the wind blew ... and I wanted to keep as much of the clothing I had in my Pendle Carradice as dry as possible for the descent.
The rain stopped several kilometres and some time later, and the sun came out again, peaking through the clouds so we were able to dry off a bit.
3 km from the finish we reached a hairpin turn, and the climbing became significantly steeper. I took one look at the road and thought I would have to start walking, but I gave it a go, and it wasn't that bad. There were a couple more steep pinches after that, and at 1.5 km to go, my legs suddenly told me that they'd had enough. I stopped for a little break and took some pictures, and then continued on.
My stomach was growling with hunger (I hadn't felt very hungry on the way up so hadn't eaten much), and my legs were protesting, as I rounded the next corner and took on the final steep climbs to Mt Buller Village. Again, I thought I would have to walk, but I gave it a final push, and ... puffing like a steam engine ... I topped the climb.
At some point around the 3 km from the finish hairpin, Rowan made a discovery. He had removed his 26T granny to put on the tandem for our 300K randonnee last weekend, and all he had was a 30T granny to work with. I think he toyed with the idea of walking too, but we both made it all the way to the top.
And, as on the other climbs we've done, there were lots of other cyclists around. We sort of leap frogged a couple women who were much faster than we were, but they stopped for a break partway up which allowed us to catch and pass them. Some of the cyclists were doing the 7 Peak challenge, others were climbing for other reasons.
We stopped for something to drink and a sandwich at the top, dressed in warmer clothes (the temperature at the top was quite cool and it was threatening rain again), and began the descent. The steeper 15 km down to Mirimbah went fairly well. I'm still quite slow on curvy descents.
But the remainder of the ride back to Mansfield was great! We had a tailwind and the lay of the land, despite the occasional undulations, was downhill. We flew along! We did have to make a few stops along the way, however, in order to shed layers as it was quite warm down in the valley.
And then we stopped for pizza.
Total Distance: 97.59 km
Rise: 1214 metres
Grade Average: 4%
Grade Max: 13% (I suspect this was at the end)
Mt Buller is the mountain in the distance on the right ...
Me, taking an "I'm overheating after that last climb" break ...
Rowan, looking way too fresh in the heat ...
Shortly after the real climbing began ... we cycled into an unusual part of the world ...
(Click photos for more photos of the mountains we've climbed on the 7 Peak Alpine Ascent Challenge)