via The Sufferfest: Hell Hath No Fury (minus the TT)
20:00 at or just below threshold
20:00 at or just below threshold
Just starting to get to the place where the effort is more a mental commitment than a physical limiter. Toward the end of the second interval there’s a minute long standing effort at 80-90 rpm. Hard, but I’m inching back into the zone where telling legs and lungs to shut up more or less works.
Without anyone to join me I set out alone. All the old climbs. Mt Pleasant of course. Stony Creek, Pigeon Bank, Menzies, Krueses and Alma. Flat Rock. The aim was just to get 120+km in and hopefully bag 2,000 vertical. I didn’t quite get there on account of running Flat Rock and Broad Gully Rds the downhill rout, but the bigger victory was 4.5hrs on the bike solo with no bad funk moments and pretty happy legs.
Pastel colored clouds at 6am made it worthwhile before it even began.
Plenty of time left to shave off as form comes in. I should be 30-40 seconds quicker up most of the hills with some more miles in the legs and a partner to kick it against.
116km 1,822m 4:47hrs
67km 249m 2:13hrs
On a cold Creswick morning: Creswick-Ballarat-Creswick.
43km 400m 1:33hrs
On the trainer…
4:00 @ RPE 8
Some very ill feelings. Superdry battery acid mouth. Vom threats. So, a good session.
With Fee on call and Little Aths on at 8:30, I snuck out at dawn to do a few hill repeats. Focus on staying seated and driving/pulling though with the hamstring and glute.
I got as many as I could in until the clock hit 7:00 but would have snuck in one more if I had’ve realized I was at No. 14.
25km. 464m. 1:05h.
In the lead up to the Melbourne Cup long weekend Mike, one of the developers at work, had asked around for someone to join him on the beautiful Warburton – Reefton – Lake Mountain – Mt Donnabuang epic. I immediately put my hand up, thinking about my unfinished business with that loop last time (i.e. not doing the Mt DB climb). I actually hoped that a few others, perhaps Jim or Neil, would be able to join us. It’s a big loop and it’s nice to have a spread of people for the inevitable break-up as each rider finds their own rhythm on the long climbs, but in the end it was just Mike and I.
It’s over an hour’s drive to Warburton. Heading out there in the car through the early morning alone, I longed to be at home with the girls. I tried my best to look forward to the roads ahead, but the feeling made me think about what it is exactly that I like about long rides. Partly it’s time alone in my head and the hours-long tempo of the crank, but it’s also the fun of catching up and talking endlessly with old mates. Without them it seems my motivation can wane. Just a matter of practice perhaps, or comfort. We all know our place and how to suffer and carry depending on who’s strong on the day (not usually me).
Mike and I met at the Warburton Bakery in the cold morning air. The clear sky that had vented off all of the previous day’s warmth also promised some heat later on, so I didn’t dare wear a jacket and I didn’t bring a gillet. Think of Tasmania and HTFU.
Out along the early stages of the Reefton Spur it became quickly apparent that this could turn into a very long day. Mike turned steady revolutions at a conversational pace while I rode just outside myself to hold his wheel or prevent a half-wheeling from becoming whole-wheeling. The half-wheeling wasn’t a signal from Mike, but it was a sign that the nerves I felt upon checking his Strava the night before (solid 300+km weeks) were justified.
The roads however we as beautiful as always. We chatted easily and before I knew it we were at the Lake Mountain summit for a coke and a muffin, seemingly having made it fairly easily through the first half of the ride. Last time I was already lagging at this point, and suffering in the cold.
We plunged down the hillside and into Marysville and in no time at all were enjoying lunch. Too soon after snacks for my liking, but when you get a chance to eat you eat. On the way out I felt heavy in the stomach and basically flat out denied even feeling the the threats of serious cramp in the quads of both legs. I was able to ride the cramps away but never recovered any sense of energy. I was happy to turn onto Acheron Way, one of the most beautiful roads I’ve ever ridden, but we encountered a surprising number of cars in the first few km, and from then on we were cautious about taking up the whole road, tiny as it is.
When the surface turned to gravel Mike pulled away some … or maybe I fell back, it’s hard to say. I struggled against the surface and what felt like a lot of false flat I didn’t remember from last time. The road was longer than I remembered, which I took as a sign that I was tiring. I started an internal debate with myself over how little I felt like riding up Donna vs how there was no way I was coming out here for a whole day and not doing that final 20km climb. I settled on telling myself I we were pressed for time and that we wouldn’t do the second mount, and secretly planned to jump myself with a verbal commitment to Mike that we should climb it once we reached the bottom. This way I could feel good about the ride being almost over until the crucial time, bury myself and deal with it later.
Around this point there was a snapping sound and the sensation that my rear brake had been applied. Looking down I saw that a stick had been pulled into the cluster and wrapped itself around the rear mech. I dismounted and back pedalled to pull it out, and saw immediately that it wasn’t just wood that had been snapping. The rear plate of the derailleur cage was completely broken.
Without much pause other than to give a silent thanks that I hadn’t decided on that Super Record group, I set about removing the rear mech and shortening the chain around a single speed. Although the derailleur came off fine, the SRAM power link wouldn’t budge even after a full ten minutes of pinching and wiggling. A car passed but didn’t stop. Quick link my ass. Out came the chain breaker and, being Leyzene, it worked just fine. Reassembling a not-meant-to-be-broken chain with a pocket multitool, no matter how good, proved basically impossible.
It was at this point that a lady in an old Pathfinder with a large basket tray of camping gear pulled over a short distance away. She climbed out, took some photos of the bushland and, eventually, strolled over. Not ten minutes ago I would have turned down her offer of a ride, but I was about out of tricks, and ready to recognise that my next option was a 15km gravel walk in road shoes.
If you don’t mind, yes please, I would really love a lift back to Warburton.
A few km down the road we ran into Mike, who had had a flat before turning back to find me. We said we’d see each other back at work and departed.
My saviour turned out to be a Swiss student, in Australia to finish a Masters in marketing. She was in love with the Australian bush, hiking and the outdoors in general. We swapped stories and lore until we arrived back in Warburton and said our goodbyes (many thanks, not at all, I know, but thanks again). I changed awkwardly in the carpark and turned the little car homeward.
106km. 4:48h. 2,584m.