Wednesday, 30 March 2016

7 Peaks - Mt Baw Baw (7/7)

So over the Easter weekend, I completed my 7th Peak as part of the 7 Peaks Challenge. As you may or may not know, I didn’t end up participating in the Peaks Challenge Falls Creek due to being stupidly sick. I had it pencilled in on the 26th March to finish off the 7 Peaks Challenge as it is 2 weeks after the Peaks Challenge as tackling Mt Baw Baw straight after Peaks would not be the greatest of ideas.

The day came and I had the Canadian, my friend’s husband (Pete) scheduled in to ride up Mt Baw Baw. Pete is a pretty good cyclist. He rides to work everyday and he races A grade at crits. The Canadian has been having problems with his ankle and he didn’t get a chance to change his cassette on this road bike to be able to tackle Mt Baw Baw well so he ended up riding his mountain bike.
Pete and Dayna rode from Noojee with Dayna riding back to Noojee from Tanjil Bren where we parked (already a pretty big hilly day on the bike). We set off around 9:30am and the day was pretty perfect for the climb.

Once we rode through Big Tree Creek, it was a steady and very very manageable climb – so much so, I was spinning at 75-80rpm which we all know that it meant that we were not really climbing….
The official start for the 7 Peaks Challenge is at the Gantry and this is clearly marked on the side of the road. I saw a car parked there and it appeared that someone was just going to ride the 7 Peaks route without a warm up…

Once I hit the main climb, it was a struggle. The gradient was already above 10% and I was already standing up out of my saddle. I rode for about a few hundred metres or so before the gradient went above 12% for too long for me to be out of the saddle and I had to hop off the bike and walk… When I could, I got back on the bike but before too long, the gradient once again reached too high for me to pedal through out of the saddle. I got back on the bike on the start of Mt Baw Baw road after stopping to read about where abouts I am on the climb and if I have passed the 20% part or not….when I realised that I have not gone through Winch Corner yet….URGH! So I tried as much as I could to ride through it all by not looking up….but the gradient just shot up too high for me to ride through. 

Through this section of the climb, I had about 6 people ride pass me. All were pushing their max. All had sweat, snot, grinding teeth, grunts and just in a world of pain. Some were zig-zagging through the climb and eventually made it up….I walked (4km/hr).

Once I walked passed the stupid part of the climb, I got back on the bike and had 3 km left to ride to the end. I really just wanted it all to end but still had 3km to go, riding at 10%+….when I came around the corner and saw the entrance to Mt Baw Baw resort, I was so happy that it finally finished. The Canadian was waiting for me at the entrance and we stopped for a coffee before the descent.
My 7 Peaks time was 1:36 which placed me waaaaaaay below the Strava leader board but it’s all relative. Pete did it around 34min and the Canadian did it around an hour or so.

I put on both my arm warmers, wind jacket and gloves before we descended. To be dead honest, I didn’t even realise I was descending down steep roads. The disc brakes of my bike is great for that. I kept my speed below 45km/hr as the road conditions were horrendous. I stopped after the creek to take off my layers before the small climb back to Tanjil Bren. All throughout the ride back to the car, I was swearing to myself that I will not be riding up Mt Baw Baw ever again and this sentiment still holds. I don’t know if it was because I am not at 100% health wise (still coughing), over 4 weeks since my last hilly ride up towards Hotham, having an anxiety attack in the car when we got into Tanjil Bren or that mentally I was just not prepared to push through the uncomfortable-ness of the ride…

Mt Baw Baw is by far the hardest of the 7 Peaks to do. It is the only one which I had to hop off the bike to walk (I didn’t even walk up WTF, CRB, Meg…)

Now having done all of the 7 Peaks challenge rides, my personal ranking for the rides are as follows:

1) Mt Baw Baw
2) Mt Hotham*
3) Falls Creek*
4) Mt Buller
5) Lake Mountain*
6) Mt Buffalo*
7) Dinner Plain

*The climbs I have done more than once. 

Out of all 7 rides, my favorite has to be Mt Buffalo. I enjoyed how it was more of a constant climb and I could actually keep my cadence > 65rpm for 95% of the climb. I would do Mt Buffalo again in a heartbeat. 

Will I take on 7 Peaks again next year - the answer will be yes but will leave Mt Baw Baw out...because it is stupid..

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