Tag Archives: Degani Ride

Reheated pizza never tasted so good

Yup, that’s what I scoffed down when I finally made it home after today’s Degani Kinglake Ride. It really wasn’t warm enough but I was hungry.

And entitled to be so. I managed to ride the 70kms in under three hours, which was my aim. I discovered there are some really fun descents between Whittlsea and St Andrews. I even crouched right down over the bike to see how much speed I could get up (apparently around 60kms) which isn’t something I’d normally do. But the descent was really, really straight so I could see exactly where I needed to be. It was too good an opportunity to pass up. I’m discovering a lot of the riskier activities in cycling comes down to confidence and I felt pretty good so it didn’t feel that risky even though I knew that if I came off at that speed it would’ve definitely meant a trip to the hospital.

I’m really glad I did the climb up to Kinglake before the ride. As I was climbing it became obvious that there were quite a few people who hadn’t. There was plenty of suffering going on but I actually felt pretty good. Knowing what to expect made a huge difference. I’ve had some problems with my back in the last week and it really started complaining about half way up but I was determined to not walk so I struggled on. I made a point of getting out of the saddle more often which relieved the pressure on my lower back.

They had a signs at the start and end of the climb so the riders could track how long it took them to get to the top. I was pretty pleased with my efforts – 35 minutes from start to finish. I actually overtook a lot of people and I think – once again – preparation was key in that. There wasn’t meant to be any overtaking on the climb up but I was moving faster than some people and it felt flat out dangerous to get stuck behind someone who was moving so slowly. That climb really isn’t one to be wobbling about on and I did get stuck behind a kid who was doing just that which really worried me. I preferred to take the risk and overtake. I was very careful and only did it when I could be 100% sure it was safe.

There was a nasty surprise on the way out of Kinglake. All of a sudden there was a climb of about 750m – 1km with a 9-10% grade. It was horrible, it felt like it was never going to end and my legs were like rubber. And then there was the nasty crosswinds which we were protected from when climbing up. We were getting hammered and I was finding it hard to keep the bike in a straight line. It was tough and at that point I just wanted it to be over but there was still 30kms to go.

Things did improve though. The descent into Whittlesea was amazing. The only way to handle the winds and give the bike more stability was to crouch down but of course, you do that – you accelerate, a lot. I hit 70kms (fastest I’ve ever been on a bike) and I was still being overtaken. I thought it’d be brown trouser time going at speeds like that but it was awesome. I wonder what it’d be like if it wasn’t quite so windy…

My stats…

My stats in graph form…

(The flat bits in my graphs are from when I stopped at two of the rest spots.)

Check out the top speed!

So yes, the ride was good. I don’t know if I’ll do it again. $140 seems a lot of money to do a ride that doesn’t really benefit the community and is one I can do any time I want. I suppose that’s true of any of the recreational rides. I’ll definitely head out that way again.

What you missed today

Me finally doing a serious hill climb!

My brother and I drove to Hurstbridge and hit out from there. A few very small climbs to get into the mood and then a long hard slog up to Kinglake. Actually there was a bastard of climb just before we hit the big one. Short and sharp, which I always suffer on.

Kinglake is about 500m above sea level and it’s a 7km climb up to it. I’ve discovered I do better when the rides are hard if I have something to pretty to look at. Kinglake is still recovering from the massive fires but it’s an amazing ride up there. The view on the way up was amazing. I would’ve stopped to take a photo but if I had, I’m fairly certain I wouldn’t have been able to get started again.

I really suffered in the last three kilometres. My average speed dropped down to 12kph. It was okay at first, the grade wasn’t too bad and there were lots of twisty bits to keep me distracted. The higher up we got, the more I suffered. A few times I was certain I wasn’t going to make it but my brother was great, he slowed down and offered encouragement. He actually got in front at one point and forced me to slow down. Being a much more experienced rider, he saw the signs of me about to blow up and made me slow down enough to get my heart rate down.

It was really helpful. My brother was more than happy to explain the ride to me, where the corners were and we worked on finding a suitable tempo that I will be able to sustain on the Degani Kinglake Ride in two weeks. My heart rate monitor is turning out to be a really valuable piece of equipment. I didn’t think I’d find that much for it but I find myself using it all the time.

The descent was awesome. Took us over an hour to climb up but about 45 minutes to get down. The only problem was that it was bloody cold coming down! My brother ended up giving me his rain jacket because I was so cold. We talked about how to descend, how to take the corners, when to brake and where to look to be safe. He stayed behind me a lot of the way, shouting instructions. Heh. My maximum speed clocked in at 60kph and I didn’t even realise I was going that quickly. Of course, my brother shot past me quite a few times. I don’t know if I’ll ever be able to ride like he does but I think I did okay.

It was hard going but I’m feeling pretty pleased with myself right now. I suppose it’s because I’m setting goals and achieving them. I may never be the world’s best climber but I’ve proved to myself that I shouldn’t be so defeatist. Hill climbing is definitely about mental attitude and telling myself I can’t do it is stupid because today is evidence that I can.

Me at Kinglake
Me in Kinglake, in front of the restoration project centre.

About to suck down a gel
About to suck down a gel but you can still tell I’m smiling.

Anyhoo… this is something my brother wrote in my birthday card which I really liked:
Bike riding is not about where you are going but what you see, feel, smell and think about along the way. Don’t try to destroy (yourself!) when you ride but create thoughts, ideas and a broad smile on your face. As you discover, make sure you enjoy!