Took me two hours to get to the climb’s end but I did it. I’ve officially climbed my first proper mountain and I have the ride stats to prove it.
It’s long – really, really, really freaken long. My brother described it thusly when we talked about it a few days later: it goes on and on and on and on and on and on and on and on and on and on and on and on and on and on and on and on – fark! I’m only half way!! – and on and on and on and on and on and on and on and on and on and on and on and on and on and on and on and on and on. Just when you think it’s never going to end, there’s a small descent and the scenery opens out into the most amazing plateau. It’s a meadow at the top of a mountain. Grass, flowers, the whole bit. There’s a tiny little bit more climbing to do after that to reach the chateau that signifies the end of the climb.
The crazy thing is that I did it with a cold. Probably not the most sensible thing I’ve done recently but I had company. Louisa and I ended up nattering most of the way up as evidenced by this photo:
We took our time, stopping quite a few times in the shade to cool down and have a drink. It’s not like were were in a hurry or anything. We also snapped a few photos. I think this one is from about two-thirds of the way up.
But make it to the top we did. There were cheers from the group we were riding with when we arrived. And of course I took a photo of my bike at the look-out just to prove I’d been there.
Am I smiling? Or is it a grimace? (At least I look spiffy in my pink Rapha jersey. And yes, it matches my handle bar tape.)
However, something strange happened on the way down. For the first time ever on a descent I actually got a little bored. 21kms is a long, long way to descend on an unfamiliar road with a dead surface. Plus because I had a cold, my ears were blocked and I couldn’t get them clear on the way down which affected my sense of balance. I had to go more slowly then I probably would’ve a few months ago. By the time I got to the bottom, I was in a bit of pain and I had to stop to blow my nose in attempt to make my ears pop.
There was a cruel torment on the way back into Bright when the sign on the side of road promised it was only six kilometres away. Longest six kilometres of my life! When I finally staggered into the guest house the riding group I was with had taken over for the weekend, I was a shattered woman. Exhausted, drenched in sweat and feeling like death. I thought I’d feel some sort of achievement for successfully traversing my first proper mountain climb but mostly I just wanted to lie down and never get up. The sense of achievement came three days later when we were returning to Melbourne and I realised the mountain I could see to my left was Mt Buffalo. Then I truly realised what I’d done.
See that mountain in the distance? I rode up that, all 1,302m (4,272 ft) of it!
There were a few more rides on the weekend – rail trail tootle to from Bright to Myrtleford for breakfast and then back to Bright and a quick Bright – Harrietville – Bright trip but mostly this weekend was about Mt Buffalo for me and the realisation that right now I’m just not in love with cycling like I once was.
The realisation came as we were heading back from Myrtleford to Bright and were going to stop at a pub on the way. We had to ride across some grass and lucky me, my bike slipped out from under me and I fell. At least time it was on grass and the only damage was to my dignity. But sitting in the shade after everyone else had ridden on – at my request – with my partner, I realised I’m having a bit of a tough time with the whole bike riding thing at the moment.
It’s hard to get out on the bike. It doesn’t feel as natural to me as it once did. I still get edgy in large groups and I’m not comfortable being surrounded by riders I don’t know. I’m nervous and overly cautious. I’m not comfortable on the bike since I switched saddles to a narrower and less padded one with a massive cut-out. I thought it was because I got the seat height wrong but even after adjusting it, I’m still not comfortable. So a new saddle is on its way to me now. Maybe it’ll work, maybe it won’t. Don’t know.
Does the fact that I’m still trying count for something? I’m not willing to give up on it. Cycling and I are having a bit of a lovers’ tiff at the moment but maybe everything will be fixed with a new saddle and a few good rides.