Love at first ride

The other weekend I had a fantastic time discovering what I would happily classify as one of coolest cycling destinations I have ever been. I’ll let you in on a little secret, it’s called Bright: a small alpine town in the Victorian High Country. Cycling haven, mountains, coffee, chilly river for recovery, mountains, brewery and more mountains!

Wait, what? You’ve heard of it? You go there every year?! You go there for training weekends?? Doh…

So, as it turns out I have lived a sheltered cycling life. Apparently EVERYONE has been to Bright! I was ecstatic to discover climbs that were 30km long and each took hours to ride. And then you can join then all up in a big loop and climb all day long. Ohhhh! So good. How have I been deprived of my cycling fantasy wonderland for so long?

First ride: Mt Hotham 120km, 1984m climbing

I headed out for my first ride solo and had no idea what to expect. I knew it was a big hill and that it possibly had three sections and that the last bit was a bit steeper. So I plugged away for an hour and a bit, meanwhile the temperature kept dropping. I had never ridden a 30km hill and I totally forgot how high I was going to get! By the time I reached the last 10km it really ramped up. Then there were a few steep downhills followed by big kickers. It was really windy by this time and no matter how hard I seemed to work I couldn’t keep warm.

At the top I was shaking and visibly struggling with the cold, but grinning ear to ear. What a climb!  I grabbed a stranger to take a quick photo, shoved some food in my mouth and got the hell off the mountain. And oh what a descent it was! Laying it into the corners and having a wicked time, it was the coolest feeling watching 30km click over in the space of a few minutes. Weeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeee!

It was a great ride and, having never ridden anything like this before, I declared Mt Hotham my new favourite climb!

hotham

Second ride: Falls Creek return via Tawonga Gap 125km, 2627m climbing

On the second day I headed out with the boys (Seb and Ezy) to see if I could tuck in and get through without feeling too much dead-Hotham-legs. Tawonga Gap was a nice warm up climb, gentle and pretty, however the steep descent reminded me that we were returning this way and it didn’t look as mild! We pushed on through the cute town of Mount Beauty and headed up to the Falls Creek climb. I was feeling pretty good and we started passing people left, right and centre. Spinning up the hill, I couldn’t count the number of people that scoffed and said “wow you are making that looks easy”… SO GET A COMPACT and stop complaining people!

fallscreek

At the top it was great to see Aaron and Steve, who were taking part in the 250km Audax loop (the one we bailed on because we are not fit enough). We took a leisurely stop for coffee and food back in Mount Beauty and continued home over Tawonga Gap. It was a brilliant ride and so with a new day came a new favourite climb, Falls Creek!

Third ride: Mount Buffalo 68km, 1335m climbing

Monday was Seb’s birthday and we debated about sleeping in and just getting birthday pancakes. Instead we decided to beat the heat, get out early, and have Buffalo for breakfast. Mount Buffalo that is! I wish I had gone into this climb with an idea of it’s length. I actually thought it was pretty short, but corner after corner it kept going. Winding through lush forest and huge boulders. About halfway up I was smashed. Totally shagged. Nothing like a gel at 8am to perk you up a bit.

Buffalo was a very mild gradient the whole way up. I wish I had been fresh because it would have been a really good tempo climb. Nonetheless, I was going so slow I sang with the birds and enjoyed deep breathing lung fulls of clean forest air. I had some inside advice to head to the sneaky lookout on the left at the top and wow, it was worth it.

Best view ever. I was jealous of Seb, as I could not imagine a better birthday present than that climb and that view!

buffalo1

And then to top of one of the best cycling weekend I have ever had, we went to the cafe for coffee, pancakes, coffee and then eggs. Rolling back to the motel to cool off in the pool, I couldn’t get the grin off my face. Even though it turns out that everybody already knows about this beautiful place, it was my first time here and it was indeed love at first ride.

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