So as i ride more it appears i am seeking out more altitude as well. Climbing on a bike has never been my strong suit being a larger man, however i have always enjoyed descending.
The old saying goes something like “what comes up needs to go down” but for me the challenge has always been to “get up”.
As I am slowly getting fitter, riding further, riding longer i am also riding higher. I have spoken several times with my coach Jess about my climbing ability or lack thereof, as at the very beginning she told me that “it never gets easier or hurts less, you just go faster” So every time my heart rate maxes out on a climb, or my legs give way- i keep telling myself this phrase over and over.
This weekend i completed a lap of the Otway ranges, starting and finishing in Forest, Victoria. I was previously entered in the chase the dog event a few weeks earlier, but happily slept in and avoided the horrible weather of the day. Unfinished business- so away i set off on Saturday morning.
Unfortunately the first 3 hours were in horrible rain and clouds. Sometimes towards the top of Mt Sabine, i could see only 10 feet in front of the bike as i was riding up into the clouds. The legs burned and I wished for every corner the climb would end. Km after km- for a total of 13km I climbed. It was not a hard climb, maybe 5% average, but there were a few pinches much steeper than that.
It was the length of the climb and the soft wet gravel which burned my legs. Once at the top I made the call and changed to a fresh pair of dry socks. This made a big difference to my moral and overall feeling.
Entering Turtons Track it was still drizzling with rain and very slippery- however this piece of road would now be my favourite to ride.
Twisty road that goes up and down in amongst the thick rain forest ferns. I’m sure there was a lovely view to be had- but the drizzle and most made it impossible to see more than 20 meters past the road. Each twist of the road brought an amazing sensory experience- not just visually but the sounds and smells.
Just an amazing place. On this piece of road there were still some steep climbing pinches but they were mostly short- so not to bad!
The next section was rail trail, mostly downhill and with a tail wind. Not only did my speed creep up- but the sun came out as well. New pair of dry gloves and quickly I arrived at my lunch spot the town of Gellibrand.
It’s funny how a feed and the sun coming out change the mood. I was feeling like I had a second wind and pushed on, through the farm lands and onto the last climb of the day.
This last climb I knew would hurt. I had been warned and expected. With a slight tailwind I put the bike in the easiest gear and just concentrated on each pedal stroke. The climb got steeper, my heart rate went up- bit slowly I created the top- which meant downhill pretty much all the way to Forrest.
Only one downside. The wind had come up and was a headwind home. It’s funny knowing you are only 5km from finishing and then fatigue catching up with your body making it almost the hardest 5km of the ride. Slowly I approached Forrest.
There was no rush- not a race and no one waiting to celebrate my finishing.. except for me. I was celebrating on the inside.
Getting off the bike and leaning it against the car I realised I had done it.
Crappy weather and all. Lots of high moments and plenty of times fighting a mental battle with myself to continue. I feel now the challenge is complete. I can do it. I achieved it. I have ridden on an amazing location and can’t wait to go back there to explore more.. my sense of adventure us been found again- I want more!