Monday, January 18, 2010

Making peace with the beast

I'm no climber, but even thin, fit people on light bikes tell me Tawonga Gap is a beast of a climb. I'm not sure why I dislike it so much, but it's always been my nemesis in the Alpine Classic and I wasn't overly looking forward to riding it today. The western side is the first climb of the Alpine, and it certainly gets the blood, sweat and tears flowing, but the eastern side is a real bastard: a five hundred-odd metre upward grind averaging 6.4 per cent over just seven kilometres, particularly cruel if you've already done a bit of riding and the weather is hot, conditions which are pretty normal at the 100km mark of the Alpine Classic.

The second day of the Semaine Federale offered a trip over the Gap to Mt Beauty as the 'medium' difficulty option. I was ready to take my medicine, but to my surprise, Tawonga Gap and me seem to have buried the hatchet. The weather was cool and overcast today, so maybe that had something to do with it, but I floated up and floated back - if anything about a sweating granny gear grind can be called floating.

Playground of pain.

I rose late, enjoyed a more modest breakfast and gave it some time to go down, so the outward journey was unremarkable except for the unseasonally chilly temperatures on the way down the Mt Beauty side of the hill and the fact I dropped one wordless wheelsucker on the climb and passed two folk on mountain bikes. At the lunch stop I discovered I had forgotten my brightly-coloured lunch ticket, so had to stick my hand in my pocket. After a most enjoyable and relaxed lunch in the cafe it was back on the road with chattering teeth hoping the first climb would warm me up a little.

Happily that's exactly what it did. Concentrating on not wearing myself out - there is a similarly gruelling climb of Mt Buffalo tomorow - and sticking to a steady pace, I found the return voyage much easier than the outbound trip. This steady pace saw me cheerfully at the top in just over 40 minutes, just in time for a bright red Hyundai i30 hatchback with NSW registration plates XBE023 to pass within 30cm of my elbow and speed off into the distance.

The descent into Bright was a blast, even with a little rain which made the corners slick, and I was happy to complete the 62km with two difficult climbs in just under three and a half hours on the bike. I was even happier to spot a bright red Hyundai i30 hatchback with NSW registration plates XBE023 in the main street of Bright while heading for a post-ride beer. It was clearly their lucky day, because I opted to leave a polite note on their windscreen, rather than carving it into their shiny new paintjob. All in all a righteous day's work.

344km so far this year.


lancefieldlairs said...

nice bit of restraint mate, I can never read the plates but had a similar situation with a dick on a motor bike that surprised me from behind with his horn, I caught up with him in a cafe...

Hamish said...

I think their paint job had it coming - well done on the self-restraint.

I've ridden Tawonga east twice and west once.. I didn't mind the west but I hated the eastbound both times. Dunno why. Should be nice and fresh for it on Sunday at least.