So this weekend, I did my last "big ass" ride before Peaks Challenge. I went back to Tawonga South/Mt Beauty and stayed at the same motel. I arrived on the Friday afternoon and settled in for the night.
The plan for the weekend was to ride Mt Hotham again before the big day as the last time I did that route was in October. Instead of just riding Mt Hotham from Harrietville return which is approx 60km, I needed a big day out so I decided to start from Mt Beauty, ride over Tawonga Gap up to Hotham and then back over Tawonga Gap again, about 150km in total.
Once again, I left the house at 8am and rode up Mt Beauty side of Tawonga Gap (for the 3rd time ever). For once, I did this ride with fresh legs! By all strava records, I achieved a PR on all segments along this side of the climb. It makes a difference when this climb is not done during the hottest time of the day or after having done 100km already. So I achieved a PB of 10min on this climb. The descent down was also a PB, maybe because the temperature was pretty cold and I couldn't wait to get off this descent.
I had never ridden from Germantown to Harrietville before so it was good to see how I would fair along this route before hitting up the 2nd climb of the event. Apart from a few small inclines and cars (which won't be present on the day), the ride was pretty straight forward.
I stopped at the park at Harrietville to fill up my drink bottle and had quick toilet stop. The day was starting to get warm too as I could feel the sweat dripping off my face. I thought that with the amount of riding I had been doing over the last few months that I would improve on my climb up Hotham but at the end, it wasn't to be.
I found the ride pretty challenging from the start. My legs just didn't want to spin faster than 50rpm and I struggled with the heat. I guess because this was my 2nd time up Hotham, I had expectations that I would find the climbs easier but it wasn't the case. I found The Meg quite challenging, much more than my first attempt and I didn't find the 10km false flat in the middle as much of a relief as I did the first time in October. I struggled with keeping up the speed along this part of the ride. The last 10km of Hotham is where I struggled the most. Straight up after the toll gates there is a pretty long and sharp climb. I rode out of the saddle as much as I could. I didn't find the small roller coaster parts too intimidating this time around but I did find CRB hill more horrific this time around after actually reading about it more in write ups and blogs. I really had a lot of trouble keeping my cadence above 30rpm which was just soul destroying for me. I think at this point I had also ran out of water (both bottles) and was stressing out...I had 5 hot and sweaty ks to go....
I had to stop at one point along the ride to just rest. My legs were throbbing and I was just tired. I knew that I had one or two more sharp climbs to do before I see the water catchment and all the hard work was done for this peak. I have never been so happy to see that body of water as I knew the rest of the ride was downhill towards The General store where I could buy some coke....something I was salivating about for literally hours.
I stopped at Hotham for about 15min or so. I bought a Gatorade and a Coke and added a sachet of Hydralyte into both bottles with added salt. I didn't stop off at the toilets as I didn't feel like I was busting and I sweated so much on the climbs.
The descent back down to Harrietville was not too bad. The roads are smooth and I enjoyed the views. When I reached Harrietville, I felt like the sun was right next to my face. I had to stop and take a quick break....and bought another can of coke for a top up as there is no other method for top up until I reach the motel.
Although it was around 4pm, I felt like the sun was out on force and I was being chased out of all my energy. The ride along Tawonga from Germantown side was the hardest ever. It is my 3rd climb along this route and Strava also tells me that it is mostly my slowest too. No surprises there, this climb was done after a long day...
I stopped twice along this route. I was hot, sweaty and tired. My legs were f#$ked and couldn't keep my cadence > 30rpm which was ridiculous for a gradient no greater than 6%. I hated this climb. I felt like it went on forever and every turn the road took, I thought it was the end but when I reached the apex, it was not the end, just another turn.
When I finally reached the top of the climb, I was relieved and didn't even think about stopping. For once I was so glad for the descent as I was 8-10km from "home". My total time spent with the bike was 10:12 with 9:24 saddle time.
I am so ready for taper....my legs are shattered and I have two weeks until Peaks Challenge. No more long hilly rides until the 13th March.