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Tuesday, January 3, 2012

Heading for the hills

With the weather forecast suggesting mid to high 30's it made no sense to head to Mt. Buller as planned late last week but Kerry, John, Aidan and I went anyway.
We left my place just after 6am, to meet up with Kerry at 7.45am in our usual spot in Mansfield.
The early start soon saw JD trying to get some shut eye in the back seat as we headed up through the lovely countryside past Seymour and through Yea.
Buckets of sunscreen were applied in an attempt to avoid being fried completely. We were on the bikes not long after 8 and it was already getting quite warm.
We rode strongly through Merrijig then to Merimbah, at the start of the climb for a quick stop to top up our bidons and a muesli bar before we started the climb.
It wasn't long before Aiden showed us he'd been training and was out of site after only a few corners. Climbing at our own pace had the four of us climbing solo for the rest of the way.
The first 8ks has you working at a steady rate but backs off for a fast section,where I usually take the opportunity to swallow a gel before things get tough with about 3 or 4 to go.
The temperature also tends to drop off noticeably after around 8km, a good thing on a day like today.
The road has a few tight hairpins in it and I love them as it gives you a chance to get out of the saddle and pretend your Lance or even Cadel till the lactic acid reminds you who you really are.
With 3ks to go the work is hard and the steep pinches make an already tough slog even tougher, then just as you get to the right turn at the T intersection at the village the dreaded concrete section starts and within a short way the climb gets even steeper just when your legs are screaming for you to pull into the Cattlemans for a beer. The Arlsberg hotel marks the end of the climb for those who wish to stick to the sealed road and the turn around point back to the village to re group and have a feed before the trip down the mountain and back to Mansfield.
The folk in the Cattlemans have always been quite welcoming toward cyclists and have free iced water available to top up bottles, but I always end up buying something just to show appreciation for a bit of shelter and a cool drink (and to show I'm not a complete freeloader).
An innocent bystander was commandeered for a few happy snaps, then the descent back down into the heat which we were all less than looking forward to.

The ride down is a beauty and with little traffic a bonus which comes this climb and often a couple of poor buggers with a long way to go and thier pedals hardly turning, today it was a couple on mountain bikes. Unlike Mount Bufallo,Bullers road surface holds together well in the heat and doesn't turn to slippery goo.
A quick stop at the Merimbah store and we took off together again for the last 32km back to Mansfield. Our plan was simple, the sooner we got back, the sooner we'd be out of the heat so it was heads down and bums up at a hard clip back to the cars and the promise of some shade and a cool drink.

Aidans computer maxed at 43C and drinking from our bidons was less than pleasant but I've got to say I loved it and loved another day spent in the company of good mates in a top spot.
The promise came good as we cooled our heels in one of the three pubs and knocked back an ice cold Fat Yak.
We'll do it again soon.


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