Woods Point. Etape 1.
The Woods Point Ride.
Any excuse to get out of town, away from the computer is a welcome one.
Shifterbikes Dan said this is the 'hardest ride I've ever done'.
Rides such as this cement my sick passion for hurting myself, finding the limits, tripping over them awkwardly, and laughing about it at the end with friends over a good feed.
The terrain which is predominantly dirt fire roads of varying standards, the weather which ranges from snow to blistering heat, and the choice of steed was a refreshing cocktail called 'Hurt'.
Etape 1 - Melbourne to Eildon.
When Dan mentioned Warburton, I figured the first day was riding to Warburton.
Wrong. We were riding to Eildon, which I always confuse with Bonnie Doon which is ON Lake Eildon.
It was pitch black as I rolled out of the Boonies to meet Dan at Shifterbikes (Collingwood).
Not before I'd filled the tank up to and over the brim....
Dan and I headed east from Shifter Bikes, taking the suburban highway to the Warburton bike trail.
'I love that sound' Dan remarking of the rubber crunching rock underneath as soon as we were on the dirt. It was going to be today's soundtrack. I'd better learn to love it too.
Some 3 and a half hours later (4.5 for me) we met UpDave and Adele in Warby and headed straight for the bakery. Meeting UpDave and Adele IN Warburton was the START of the ride, at which point I'd ridden 90km. I mused to Dan how buggered we'd be by days end as I scoffed two HCT toasties, a macciato, MAXade, and caramel slice for the road.
Dan had a new set of wheels for this ride, and as segway I should mention the first time I met Dan.
It was Critical Mass' biggest ride of the year, 2003. The opportunity to ride through the Burnley Tunnel was too good to refuse, so I joined the hippy bretheren of neon clad commuters on another disruptive tour of Melbourne. A smooth looking character on a MINT Malvern Star town bike cruised by. This bike looked like it had never been ridden. I commented on what a nice bike he was riding, and he noticed I was riding a track bike and handed me a flyer for the Singlespeed World Championships (which I still have). 'Nice to meet you'.
For as long as I've known Dan I've NEVER seen him ride a hoopty. EVER.
Dan's custom built CX ride is a prime example.
White industries crankset, White industries freewheel with pawl and ceramic bearing upgrades, custom handwrapped carbon bars, carbon stem, TITANIUM fork, titanium bottom bracket with ceramic bearings, White Industries hubs with standard bearings replaced with ceramic and seals removed, Ti bidon cages, Carbon SLR saddle, NOKON cable outer, Paul V-Brakes and levers.
It's at the painters getting a new look, but for the ride Dan excitedly had hand built a pair of EDGE Carbon clinchers with DT aerolites, making his bike weight a measly 7kg - 3kg lighter than my own.
At over a gorilla (1K) per RIM it's the most blingin' fixed/free setup on the planet.
Back on the bike, the first cob web clearing was at the foot of Donna Buang. This is a favourite with the roadies as a test of their mettle, throw on 32mm knobbies, a 39:18 gear, a scorching sun and it was a plod up the mount. We left the main road and took a course north and we were on dirt. Dan pointed to a knob way in the east. 'That's where we'll be in two days, Woods Point'.
The day was fantastic, the roads blissfully vacant.
Team ARST (Set) flickr.
I'd been on the road for a 5 hours, and my feet wanted a break. We stopped in the shade by the bend in a creek and soaked, refilled our bladders, and ate. My caramel slice which Ibought from the bakery was a gooey blob of sugar. I shoved it in. Fuel is fuel.
The sun really hit out, the roads got steeper but by lunch we'd clawedon with Marysville just around the bend.
I'd never been to Marysville prior to Black Saturday, and not much stands of the original town other than the bakery.
It's a magic part of Victoria, go there if you can, ride and support the town with tourism.
More food, more water and a LOT more pedalling ahead of us. Dan pointed the route on the map (where it looked flat) and I just tried to keep him in sight.
After the fires, many of the fire access / logging roads have been covered in sand and loose rock. Lady Talbot Drive was one of those roads.
Powering through the boggy, slippery road was an energy sapping fight for each turn of the crank. My right hand was instinctively searching for the easier gear, but not out here.
The road pitched steeper, and steeper, and rougher until finally I could climb no more. I was walking. I followed Dan's line and hoof prints in the dirt up the road until the grade eased and I could pedal some more. Then it rose again and I was walking. Eventually I reached a stream, found Dan resting and figured this was the summit.
Wrong. The rode soared for another hour, again Dan was first to the top and waiting in hallowed light.
It was 5pm, and this time last ride, Dan was already in Eildon and I knew what he was worried about. The pub will close, and we will arrive in Eildon with no place to eat. Absolute disaster.
Dave and Adele met us shortly afterwards.
'Seriously, they should close that road'.
Just when everything looked rosy, and road was going down I hit a massive rut, pinch flatted, and waited for Mavic neutral support.
They never came, so out came the tools, spare tube and pump.
The bag - Crumpler Bumper Issue. A sturdy bag with enough room for a change of clothes, toothbrush, tools, snacks and my camera. With no bidon cages on the CX bike this meant adding 3kg of water to my back, but I barely noticed.
We were NEARLY at the top. Blue Range rd had a torturing series of 10 premature descents THEN climbs before we were finally descending a dusty, rutted road at full speed, painfully grabbing the anchors to maintain safe speeds through the soft corners.
Finally at the the bottom we returned to bitumen. Bliss!
The wind had picked up and was howling to the east. We had a short burst north and I had flashes of Flanders in my head and dropped the hammer. I REALLY did not want to miss out on food at the pub.
My bold move was quickly brought to a halt by my empty tank - I was stuffed. I'd been on the road since 6.30am and it was now 6.30pm and Eildon stlll an hour away.
Our home for the eve was Eildon Caravan park which was only 1km from the Pub.
I had a real Roubaix moment in the showers, I appeared to be wearing my kit even without it such was the grime I'd accumulated over the day.
Lily Allen was playing on the TV, we all hit the bar, ordered, laughed and cried. Day was over, all 203km of it.
Dan wasn't kidding.
This was the hardest ride I'd ever done.
There was 2 more to come.