Yup, this could be titled dumb things I have done – part two. Doing things that I shouldn’t be doing because I can’t hack it physically.
This time it was the Scody High Country Challenge. Signed up for it ages ago and was feeling pretty positive about it all. The challenge of Mt Buller seemed appropriate after conquering both Mt Buffalo and Mt Donna Buang. But then it happened.
Six weeks ago, I dislocated my right thumb.
This meant two weeks with no bike riding at all. I couldn’t even tie my own shoe laces, let alone get on a bike. It was over two weeks before I started riding again. But I could only do short distances before the pain in my hand got too bad – damn bumpy road surfaces! I knew there was no way I’d be anywhere near prepared enough for the weekend. But I did it anyway, with about 10 hours proper riding time. My longest ride was an 80km pootle around the Bellarine Peninsula the weekend before. (I do ride to work but that doesn’t really count when it’s only 10kms in the morning and 10kms in the evening.)
Not prepared at all!
Still, I lined up with everyone else on what was a very foggy Saturday morning, wondering if the new battery in my garmin’s speed/cadence sensor would stop the auto-pausing problem I’d been having (answer: yes and no – no because it still happened but yes because it didn’t get stuck paused like it had been). And then it began. We left Mansfield behind and made our way to the base of Mt Buller. At first it was okay. Actually, it was okay for about the first ten kms of the climb. I definitely wasn’t going to set any records for a blistering time but I was still turning the cranks over and I didn’t feeling like I was pedaling squares.
Then the nausea began. My stomach was churning and it got worse the further up the climb I got. In the last four or five kms of the climb, I stopped four times. At one point, I simply stopped. My heart was hammering in my chest and I just couldn’t turn the cranks over any more. I had to stop, I just had to. I forced down a bit of an Clif bar and contemplated the fact that I wasn’t even at the hard bit yet. That moment was a tiny bit soul destroying and I contemplated just turning my bike upside down and waiting for the sag wagon. Yet I didn’t. I clipped back in and suffered my way to the top. And my, did I suffer. My partner stayed with me for the final two kms and as we came around the very last corner, he heard a very little voice behind him squeak “Is that it?” in sheer desperation that it be the truth.
I got the blue “You are here!” sign and promptly got off my bike, fighting the desire to puke up my guts up all over the sign that two seconds ago had been a blessed thing to see. I walked for a bit but hopped back on my bike so I could ride across the finish line. Couldn’t be seen walking across the line!! Then we sat in the town square on top of Mt Buller in glorious sunshine as I chugged down a can of coke (rides are the only time I’ll drink it) and burped my head off. Slowly I started to feel better, my stomach unknotted and I relaxed. I acknowledged that fact that I was totally underdone for the climb. I had no clue just how hard it would be and my lack of knowledge of the climb made it even more difficult because I had no clue how far it was to go.
But I am proud of myself for not packing it in. I might’ve been in last group of people who completed the ascent but I bloody well did it!! I wanted to quit, I thought I should but I didn’t.
The descent was quite fun. I really didn’t like the first bit which is incredibly steep with a hair-pin turn. I was working the brakes the whole way down that bit, probably holding some people up but I didn’t care. I’d already seen what could happen if you crashed and I had no desire to put myself in hospital (one guy did – last I heard he has broken ribs and he cracked a vertebra). It was a much quicker trip back to Mansfield than it was going out. Simple fact is that there’s a lot more down than up on the way back!
Unlike when I climbed Mt Buffalo (with a cold no less!), I had a real feeling of achievement when I crossed the finish line in Mansfield. I had suffered but I had prevailed. I conquered Mt Buller on my first go.
Sunday was meant to be the 125km ride to Whitfield but my dislocated thumb put paid to that idea. It would be a 55km jaunt to Tolmie instead (the first water station and turnaround point). And my, what a tricksy little ride that turned out to be! What I didn’t know at the time was that you essentially start climbing as soon as you get out of Mansfield. Sure, it’s nowhere near as steep but it’s just as long as riding up Mt Buffalo! The “Welcome to Tolmie” sign appeared about 2.5kms before the damn water station!! It seemed to go on forever!
As we stood around the water station, I was eternally grateful that we would be turning around and heading back to Mansfield. And it was one of the funnest descents I’ve done it quite awhile. No real need to brake at all, just lots of big sweepers for corners and the feeling that you’re really in control because it’s not that steep. It was a lot of fun.
Will I do it again next year? Yes. I know it sounds like I had a terrible time but I really didn’t. I got to spend a long weekend in a gorgeous part of Victoria with my partner, doing what we love doing – which is riding our bikes.
But next year, I intend on being waaaaaaaaaaaaaaaay better prepared.
In other news, I’m heading off overseas next week for a grand jaunt. It goes something like this:
Depart Melbourne 12pm 27 March > arrive LAX 8:30am 27 March (love that whole arriving before you left thing) > Santa Monica 27 – 29 March > fly to Seattle 29 March > Seattle 29 March – 2 April > fly to New York (yay!!!) 2 April > New York 2 – 5 April > fly to Paris 5 April (very late at night too) > Paris from 6 – 12 April > fly to Hong Kong 12 April > Hong Kong 13 – 15 April > fly home to Melbourne 15 April. Arrive home 6am (!!) 16 April.
What’s missing for that is a day being bussed around for this year’s Paris-Roubaix. I think there are three stops along the way and then the tour company we’re going with will take us to the Roubaix Velodrome for the finish. It’s going to be very exciting.
Paris! I’m going to Paris! Mmmm… macaroons.