Last Sunday I rode the 2011 Audax Alpine Classic 200km starting in Bright N.E Victoria. It's a tough ride with four pretty decent climbs involved. There were over 3000 cyclists taking part and there are several distances to choose from.
The 200 km ride started at 6.20 am so it was going to be an early start to allow for the drive to Bright. My alarm went off around 3.30 am and I had a pretty restless night sleep.quite warm and a few nerves as well.
I made myself eat a decent breakfast of porridge,toast,juice and coffee as I new the fuel would be needed during the ride. I drove into Wang to pick up a friend who was also doing the 200 km as well (we will call him HV for the rest of the story). Bleary eyed and with another rider from Wang. following us off we drove to the mountains.
Arriving in Bright with about 15 mins to the start of our ride we were busy setting up our machines,pumping tyres,filling pockets with supplies and making sure drink bottles were in their holders,last minute visit to the dunny.
Rolling down to the start I was keeping an eye out for my Melbourne riding mates from blogs past but there was just to many people around.We timed our run to perfection and in about 2 mins we were on our way. We were in a pretty good position about 200 metres from the front of the peloton. Pretty soon I realised our trailing rider on the way to Bright meant business and I watched him spinning into the mass of riders while I thought it wise to be conservative with nearly 200 km still to ride. Pretty soon HV was riding beside me and we cruised out of Bright enjoying the flat roads that were to become few and far between throughout the ride.
The first climb is Tawonga gap and the steepest part is about 6 km long with the steepest part 11.7% according to my cycling computer. Keeping plenty in reserve for the rest of the day I kept a decent tempo riding up the climb being overtaken by plenty of fit looking cyclists. Tawonga done for the first time I love the decent and passed heaps of people on the way down as we motored into Mt Beauty,together again with HV we cruised into Mt Beauty and straight upwards again heading towards Falls Creek. About 1 3/4 hours later we arrived at Falls Creek where I caught up with a couple of members of the Captains Crew looking great and keen to keep going. Unfortunately I had been feeling a little unwell and had stomach cramps on and off during the Falls climb.
Meeting up with HV again we dropped down the mountain like the man from snowy river sweeping around the corners enjoying the speed and forgetting about the climbing we had done and what was yet still ahead. Riding out of Mt Beauty I was feeling quite crook and was on the point of vomiting a few times. Not great when you are turning back to head over Tawonga Gap again and it's getting hot. I have ridden over Tawonga Gap plenty of times and I dont think I've ever been happier to see the top. With HV we descended toward Bright in the summer sun
and I was wondering if I was going to be able to get myself up Mt Buffalo and back as I was feeling pretty ordinary.
I don't know what they actually put in those energy gels but I had 2 in a row and washed them down with plenty of water and on the way out of Bright I started to feel a little better. Just as we were getting to the base of Mt Buffalo we passed a couple of young ladies from Wang heading back towards Bright triumphantly after doing the Mt Buffalo climb ( 70 km return) One of the ladies was Mrs HV who had not been doing much riding lately so it was nice to see her on her New bike.
Hitting the bottom of Mt Buffalo I was feeling pretty good and thought this wont be to bad. Anyway I think that thought lasted about 2 km to be replaced by " I reckon they have made this rode steeper than the last time I rode it 2 weeks ago" another gel downed and settling in for a warm ascent I realised this was going to take a long time and plenty of effort to get to the top. Plenty of people were doing in tough as well so I just kept spinning the crank and going forward slowly. Stopping for road works about 3/4 the way my left hamstring was cramping when I was trying to clip into my pedals and that was not very nice. onwards and upwards the main climb finally over ,about 20 mins slower than the last time I rode it, it was just another 5 km or so to Dingo Dell the final checkpoint on Mt Buffalo. The last 3 km is another tough climb and it felt like an eternity and when I rolled into the check point I was very relieved.
Regrouping again with HV we headed out for the trip back which is mainly downhill thank goodness as I had had about enough climbing for one day. Getting closer to Bright I wanted to finnish the ride strongly so I put in a concentrated effort to do so and rolled over the finnish line side by side with HV. Greeted by my 2 beautiful nieces
and a couple of the Captains Crew it was an excellent feeling of achievement and doing most of the ride with HV was a highlight of the day for me. My nieces and sister had a stall selling my Cycling Calendars so I joined them in the shade to recover. A swim in the river a hamburger, sausage and a couple of cold drinks I was feeling ok.
Waiting for my sister and co. to pack up the stall I got ready to head back to my car only to see the Silver Streak
crossing the finnish line after doing the epic Ace 250 km ride (he is in his 60 th year). I dropped by the Captains Crew for a couple of quiet beers then headed home feeling pleased,relieved and exhausted. It's certainly a tough ride especially the last climb up Buffalo when your getting tired.