According to one of the advice from a coaching program I am following for my Falls Creek Peaks Challenge, I need to be able to do a big ass ride comfortably in preparation for the event. One of the routes they recommended was the Warburton-Lake Mountain route. I originally signed up for the Lake Mountain Classic held on the 9th Jan organised by the same group who organised AUDAX. The entry was much more affordable than other events ($20) but the aid along the route was minimal – all you really need is water stops. The day finally came along but I decided to not do this event due to the following reasons:
- - We need to move house and had about 6 houses lined up for inspection that day.
- - I had a Hen’s dinner which started at 6pm at the Docklands which meant that I needed to finish 150km by 3pm (impossible) on my speed.
- - I didn’t sleep due to cramps all through Thursday and Friday (they are so bad sometimes they actually wake me up).
I then decided that I would do this ride on my own the following week – we didn’t have too many houses to inspect (we did inspect up to 13 houses during the week already), I didn’t have to deal with cramps anymore and the wedding is on the Sunday (for the friend who had the hen’s dinner).
I had planned the route according to the climbs I needed to do and the drink stops along the way – utilising cafes and bakeries. So the plan was to ride from Warburton along Reefton.
I started my ride at 7am and there were about a dozen guys at the same parking area as me. I figured they would be riding Donna Buang instead of my route as they were all talking about the chilly descents.
The temperature hovered around 5 degrees when I started but as I was climbing out of Warburton, I opted for no arm warmers or jacket as I do warm up very quickly during climbs. I just rode in my Fondo jersey and my Rapha knicks. I was pretty cold when I first rode out of Warburton but it wasn’t unbearable.
I decided the route for the day would consist of climbing out of Warburton and then ride into Marysville. I remember from the Giro della Donna that I had gone through 1.5 bottles of hydration by the time I had climbed out of Reefton and at the T intersection of the Lake Mountain climb. This also meant that descending down to Marysville, I would not be running out of hydration before the climb back up to Lake Mountain summit. As it was not as warm as the Giro day, I had gone through one full bottle of hydration and only about quarter of my 2nd bottle by the time I reached Marysville. This was perfect as it gave me a chance to fill up my bottle with a more electrolyte concentrated solution for my Lake Mountain climb. I bought a juice first at the Bakery but also opted for a coffee too which made my break longer than needed.
The climb towards Lake Mountain was tougher this time around compared to the first ride on the 15th Nov. I guess 60km in the legs with 50km of climbing didn’t make them the freshest. The first 4km of the climb was tough as the average gradient was around 8-10%. I couldn’t keep my cadence > 40rpm and I trained on riding out of the saddle half a dozen times. I met a couple of guys at the Marysville bakery also rode up Lake Mountain. They had come up to Marysville via Acheron Way rather than through Reefton. They both rode passed me in a flash and they would have also started 30min after me too.
After the first 4km of the climb and the gradient levelled out more towards a more manageable one around 4-6%, I could keep my cadence around 55-65rpm. The temperature also started to heat up and I could see little bubbles of tar forming along the road which “popped” and “crackled” as you rode over them. Some of the tar would stick to the tyres and made the climb (felt) slower than usual.
The second half of the Lake Mountain climb, although an easier climb, I felt like it went on forever. Maybe it was due to the heat as it was around the middle of the day, maybe because by then, I had about 80km+ in my legs and already climbed over 2000m in elevation. The climb took me nearly 20min longer to do compared to the one in November. I started to cramp at about 12km mark of the climb and that was when I decided to utilise my more “salted” hydration solution and the cramps went away.
By the time I reached the top, I was tired. I stood at the entry into the resort for about 5min before I decided to get off the bike and bought a coke! I am not a big coke drinker, especially from a can so it took me about 45min to get through half a can of coke. I decided that I really need to scoot along before it was too late.
The descent down to the main roads didn’t take too long. I stopped half way to take off my wind jacket. I have decided to ride with a wind jacket instead of gilet and arm warmers as I only had to carry one thing rather than 2.
The rest of the ride down via Reefton back to Warburton felt like it took forever! Although most of the distance was a descent, there were a few short and steep climbs and rolling hills which sapped the energy out of the legs. Each slight incline felt like another mountain climb. The last 5km from Warbuton East to Warburton was the worse…I was so slow and it was nearly 5pm.
By the time I got to my car, the bakery had closed and I was hungry. I quickly got into my car and drove to the nearest McDonalds (sorry!). The funny thing is, whenever I have a big training day like this, I crave salty savoury food but I actually don’t have much of an appetite.
I finally got home around 7pm but just took a shower and went straight to bed. I was just dead to the world and just didn’t want to think for the rest of the day. The next day, I had planned on doing a recovery ride but I opted out of it and just enjoyed the company of my partner whilst we had breakfast down at Black Rock, met a friend for her 32rd Bday cake sharing and then got ready to head in for our friend’s wedding.
I am glad I did this ride – it gave me confidence that I was able to get myself through the big ride. I only felt “over it” when I stopped riding. If I had ridden Donna Buang at the end of the ride, it would have made the equivalent elevation to Peaks Challenge but not quite the distance.
In terms of nutrition – I am pretty satisfied with that I consumed. I would just add the salted solution from the start rather than during the middle of the ride to prevent cramps. I would also refrain from stopping at aid stations for too long. Just a quick one to fill up water is all I need. I do need to change my music or even incorporate podcasts or audiobooks in my rides just to break up the repetitiveness of the music I have been listening to on my long rides since October.
This weekend, I have the 130km AUDAX ride and then it’s a few more weeks before the big event in March.