Thursday, 28 January 2016

AUDAX Alpine Classic - Falls Creek 130km

On Sunday 24th Jan, I participated in my first Alpine Classic event. I only signed up for the 130km which is the route which takes you from Bright – Tawonga Gap – Falls Creek – Tawonga Gap – Bright. There is 3 climbs and the total elevation was about 2500m. The reason why I wanted to do this climb rather than the 140km (Buffalo – Tawonga Gap x 2) or the 200km (Buffalo + 130km) was that I wanted to an out and back route and I thought that the 200km was too much for me to do at this point. Having only done a 150km (with 2900m elevation) only the week before, I haven’t done enough long rides to be able to tackle 200km.

My legs after my Big Ass Ride were fatigued but I still pushed on as much as I could during the week. During the CF Altitude class, it took me a while to get going and only pushed towards my limit the last 20min of the session and during the Art of Cycling (Wattbike) session, my power zones were a bit off but it was the best I could push. I didn’t really do anything after Thursday’s session – just wanted to save my legs for Sunday’s ride.

I drove up to Beechworth on Saturday. I was late for accommodation around Bright and surrounding areas and could only find something affordable around Beechworth. It wasn’t an issue, it was only 45min away and closer to Melbourne. After I checked in, I drove to Bright to pick up my rego sticker and bought a crepe from the French Festival area. I bumped into a few friends and also visited friends who were staying at the Airstream caravan (they were riding the 200km from 4am). I stopped off at the supermarket for a few supplies before I headed back to Beechworth for dinner of leftover roast vegies from the night before and drank about 1 liter of hydralyte before I headed for an early night.

My 130km route started at 7am so I planned on a 5am alarm and arrival at Bright at 6:30am taking into account needing to find parking etc. It didn’t take too long to find parking as most stayed in Bright for the weekend and even more people started at 4am so the only “traffic” were supporter cars and cyclists.

I rode into the starting zone around 6:50am and waited in line for the start. At 7am, we started the event and headed towards Germantown. I stayed on the left as I wasn’t racing and I didn’t want to get caught up. Although getting into a pack would help, this day was about climbing rather than anything.

Once we got to the incline that was the (Bright side) of Tawonga Gap, the gap between riders started to widen. I stayed in my rhythm and concentrated on my cadence. I felt the ride was easier than the last time I rode up in January, maybe because I had plenty of people around me. I rode up the first climb with a PB of 3 minutes.

When I reached the top, I didn’t stop and just kept going….I didn’t need to rest or take photos. I wanted to minimise my rest times as much as I could. During the descent I passed two people (wahoo!) There was a control point at Mt Beauty but I only rode through it for timing. Once again, I didn’t need to refill my bottle, it was too early for a toilet stop and I just wanted to keep going.
The climb up to Falls Creek was good. The day was starting to get warmer but I just concentrated on my cadence. I recognised a friend’s bf during the climb and we rode together for a brief periods during the whole 30km as he went back and forth for several reasons. Overall, my climb up Falls Creek was 7min slower (2:40) than my first attempt in Nov 2015 (2:33). I stopped at Falls Creek for a toilet break, drank a third of a can of coke and ate half a banana. I have never been a “meal” person on long rides so no point trying anything new. I consume my calories during the ride and I hate riding on a full stomach.

I think I stopped at Falls Creek for 15min. I topped up both of my bottles and then off I went. Due to the temp, there was no need for jacket where as I needed a gilet and arm warmers during the descent back in Nov 2015. I was 7min slower this time around on my descent as well, I did slow down more due to so many people passing me at such high speeds (1:01). Once I got to the bottom of Falls Creek, it was a slight incline towards Tawonga Gap.

The climb up the (Mt Beauty) side of Tawonga Gap really hits you in the face. You can see it straight away and wonder how the hell does a bike get over that angle. I tired as much as I could to ride at a good candence and could maintain a cadence of > 60rpm for the first 1km. Then I could only maintain the ride at my tired legs cadence of 45-55rpm. I rode out of the saddle a few times and good practice on tired legs too. Due to the heat, my feet started to swell and the pressure was becoming a bit unbearable. I didn’t want to stop half way on the climb so I ploughed on until I got to the top. I stopped for 5min to undo my shoes, a quick massage and then it was off I go down to Bright.
The descent down to Bright was slow for me – about 5min slower than my PB. Then it was a 5km ride back into Bright. I tried to TT it back to town but I wasn’t able to sustain it as my legs were so tired.

Once I got back into Bright, I stopped for about 30min. I picked up my shirt after they sent me a text reminding me to pick it up during the event, ate some fruit and an icy pole and then it was back to Beechworth. The total distance according to my Garmin was only 121km, not close to 130km at all. 

My drive back to Beechworth was not great. I was yawning constantly. I took a shower and laid on the bed for about an hour before I packed my bags for the drive back to Melbourne. Driving back to Melbourne wasn’t the smartest idea on tired legs but it had to be done as I needed to get back to work on Monday. I didn’t drink any caffeine as I needed to be able to go to bed once I got home so the drive back was 4 hours of yawning.

My legs post ride are feeling the effects of over 7 hours riding. Luckily, they are not injured or anything like when I was running. Just tired.

I am looking forward to next year’s event already – I will either ride the 200km Sunrise event or the 250km. I really enjoyed the pace of the event and the support along the way. I have about 6 weeks left until 3 Peaks. I am more confident that I am able to finish within the 13 hour limit but I really do need to work on my descents more and climbing at a better cadence. As I am moving house on the 5th Feb, I won’t be heading back to the mountains until mid February. I still would like to ride the back of Falls Creek before 3 Peaks. Like I discussed with a friend, I don’t want to go through the entire day stressing out about it. 

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