Wednesday, December 11, 2013

Ash Dash 2013

A group powers away from the Silver Hill control.
One of the great pleasures of being involved in Audax cycling is being able to play the role of ride organiser once in a while. I love riding, but running a ride is a uniquely enjoyable and rewarding experience in a way I would not have suspected until I took over the running of some events from a previous organiser. One of these is the Ash Dash. Also known as the Annual Seven Hills Dash, this 210km ride traverses the biggest hills around Hobart in a single outing. It's a formidable day in the saddle and attracts only the toughest of local riders and the occasional daring interstate entrant. The Ash Dash ranks up with the Alpine Classic in Victoria and Fitz's Challenge in the ACT as one of Australia's hardest one day rides. I added a 120km option this year, although both rides are challenges with 4071m of vertical in the 210km event and 3032m in the shorter distance.

Happy riders at the Kaoota control. Only one more hill to go.
The ride takes a bit of organising, but online entry has made life so much easier. We had a respectable 23 starters this year and most entered beforehand so I was able to be very precise about how much food and drink I needed to buy for the supported controls. Saturday was spend shopping and then taking the food to the Woodbridge control for the volunteer there. Sunday night was spend on paperwork, including sorting out a running sheet so I knew where riders were likely to be on the course during the day and the opening and closing times of controls. I run the start, finish and one control myself and set up and pack up another control, so there's a bit of running around to do.

Plentiful uphills means downhills in spades too.
Sunday is a somewhat long one for the organiser with more than 13 hours separating the start time and the cutoff and a fair bit of driving, but it was made most enjoyable by the unfailingly cheerful riders who were clearly having a good time despite the challenges of the day. The weather was kind, not too hot for most of the day and the wind wasn't too much of a problem on most of the course giving some riders a welcome push up the final hill towards the finish. Even the rain held off.

What was most remarkable was the speed of this year's event. The first rider was around he course in nine hours, including stops. The last rider was barely over 11 hours. Last year the last rider finished at 8.20pm, whereas this year I was on my way home by 6.30pm, which seemed a little early. The volunteer who was to run the second-two hour shift on the final control turned up just as the last rider was passing through .

The Silver Hill control. Food and drink to satisfy the hungriest of riders.
The great benefit of having run this ride for a couple of years in a row now is that I'm constantly getting ideas about how it might be run better which I'm keen to put into practice next year. Thanks to everyone who helped out with the running of the ride and thanks to all the riders for their feedback on this year's event. I hope to see you all again on the second Sunday in December next year.

6907km so far this year.

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