Friday, 10 February 2012

Alpine Raid

A while back, Jean signed me up to complete the 250k Alpine Raid as a present.
I thought, given that we get two days to do it, and folks do do it in one, how hard could it be?
The answer, hard. Very hard.
About 4500 meters climbing over 250k is pretty tough, but the raid feels harder cause a lot of the "flat" sections are actually mini little killer climbs or rollers that don't quite let you roll.
This is especially true of the stretch between Hotham and Omeo, which is the second part of day two. It seemed to defy the profile completely (which made it look downhill) and go on forever. Or maybe we were just more tired than we thought after the climb up mount Hotham.
This was my first serious climb in yonks, and I actually found it really nice and not too tough.
The weather was loverly, the traffic not too bad, and the relaxed start to the day that Audax gives you in this event was all very pleasant. The climb itself is long - 30k+, but only really steep in a couple of bits. I had been warned that the finish seems to take forever, but knowing the distance on my GPS, I knew not to get too excited.
For those interested, this site goes into the climb in a lot.

Day two started off easily enough, and had some of the quietest and most peaceful cycling imaginable along the Omeo highway towards falls creek turn off. It was another beautiful day, and I was feeling none the worst after yesterdays exertions, including several beers to aid recovery. Eventually we came to a stop at the turnoff to the well named WTF corner - the start to the climb up the back of falls. It might not look it in the pic, but there are several 15% pitches in the first few kays to really make you suffer. It was one of the tougher climbs I've done - only the Thailand climbs and maybe Hautacam had sustained pitches this steep. Though after half way, the going gets a lot easier, and I was still waiting for the final tough bit when I realised I was coming into falls creek, our lunch stop, and the start of some serious downhill.
Michael and I met up with Sally and Simon, who were doing a 130k 1 day ride to Hotham and back, so we descended more or less together, and up our final climb, Tawonga gap - not the hardest climb but after what went before, and in 37 degrees, it felt a lot like Alpe D'huez last summer, all over again!