Monday, November 21, 2011

Does this qualify as 'Epic'?

Words by Dingus Dave

A TDR crew of Mills, Watson, D’Alfonso and Hogan hit the slopes of Mount Donna Buang on the weekend in a ride that turned out a little wetter than expected.

Leaving Preston in a drizzle of rain, the boys drove out to Seville, about 25km from the base of Mount Donna Buang. During the drive, the rain turned from drizzle to torrential. A quick check of the BOM radar eased fears, as it looked as though the rain was sliding south. And sure enough, at Seville as kit was donned and final preparations done on the bikes the sun was shining and the sky was clear.

It was a rolling 25km to Warburton at the base of the climb; the beautiful scenery balanced out by the narrow shoulder on the road and cars zipping past constantly. But the final few km into Warburton, following the banks of the Yarra, were worth sharing the road for.

The boys turned off the highway towards the summit, and the road kicked up immediately. 17km to go, at an average of 6.4%, great training for scaling Mount Hotham in the Tour of Bright in two weeks time. The road quickly entered the forest of the National Park, and with the canopy cover above came the drizzling rain. Watson, who has had to pull out of the Tour of Bright due to work commitments, was happy to tap out an easy tempo and drifted off the back, leaving the other three to push hard in preparation for the beast that will be Hotham.

By the half way mark the rain was steady. But in the last 7km, the rain turned into a downpour. Hogan could barely see through his glasses due to the fog, so they came off and went into the back pocket. He fell behind D’Alfonso and Mills, who was climbing well in his usual big-gear style. With the eyesight of a mole, Hogan relied on Mills’ flashing red light up ahead to guide him.

Through the wide open car park with 3km to go, the water was gushing down over the road. “Good weather for ducks”, suggested a fellow cyclist as the TDR crew went past.

Watson continued his steady pace, grinning like a fool in the downpour.

The final few km of the climb are perhaps the hardest, as the road kicks up to 8% and then 9% for the final 1km. Mills paid for his early efforts, being reeled in by Hogan, while D’Alfonso powered on ahead, reaching the top just outside the hour mark, with Hogan and Mills not far behind. The boys waited for Watson, rolling some laps of the carpark to try to keep warm.

A quick regroup at the top, and it was time for a nerve-wracking descent. Numb fingers and toes were the order of the day, as Watson, D’Alfonso and Hogan took it very easy on the way down, while Mills was his usual fearless self and disappeared out of sight after just a couple of turns. Watson wore through a couple of months worth of brake pads, while Hogan’s arms were shaking like Popeye’s Olive Oil.

Pies and donuts were inhaled at the bottom at the Warburton bakery, although Hogan was shivering so much he could barely get the food into his mouth without smearing it across his face. The rain was still bucketing down as they started the final 25km back to Seville, but the lads were thankful to be able to warm back up on the ride to Seville. 86km down, and around 1400m of climbing. Training done.

Not satisfied with this for the weekend, Mills backed up the next day for the Victorian State Omnium Champs at DISC (we should hit up Gene for a report), while Hogan ventured south of the river to try his luck amongst the bling at the St Kilda crits, picking up a solid fourth in D Grade.

A good weekend all round.

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