Monday, February 22, 2010

Marysville Lake Mountain Challenge Ride

On 7 February 2009 the worst bushfires ever seen in Victoria devastated this state, killing 173 people and wiping many towns (literally) off the map. The small town of Marysville was one of these and 34 people died here with almost every building and residence destroyed. In the time since, many sporting groups have played their part in trying to get things going again. Last weekend it was the turn of the cycling community with the Marysville Lake Mountain Challenge Ride.

I took part with a few friends as we covered 80km’s including the 20km climb up to the cross country ski location of Lake Mountain.

The day began with a two-hour car trip up to the start with much amusement to be had at some of the innovative directions coming from the vehicle’s GPS unit. Thankfully we were not relying on it for actual navigation! On the final approach into Marysville we were greeted with the sight of one of the steep hills we’d need to ride up later in the morning. Suffice to say this did not instil me with anything other than trepidation.

Walking to the start
Walking to the start - looks pretty green here!

Once in town it was pretty clear that although there were still a lot of green trees around (isn't nature amazing!) this was still only a shell of a town. Very few shops remained or had been rebuilt (including the famous lolly shop that was now operating from a shipping container). More disturbingly was the high number of "For Sale" signs beside vacant blocks of land. It will be a long time till this community recovers.

And so onto the ride. It was a beautiful morning, pleasantly warm and a light breeze. The first 15km through Buxton was all downhill and really easy as you'd expect and the following 11km was a gentle uphill - still very easy going. Then it was time for the left turn towards Marysville and "the hill" I had seen in the car earlier on. It was short, only 2km long, but at an average gradient of 9.6% including 0.5km@12.5% in the middle. OUCH! That woke me up. After that it was an easy descent back to Marysville to complete a 35km loop. The easy part was done.

Now for the climb up to Lake Mountain. I had never ridden this climb but knew it was hardest early on before getting easier further up. Hmmm, sounds straightforward enough, but it is a 20km+ climb so even easy is hard, and a 4.5% average grade will probably feel a whole lot worse near the top.

Well, "they" were not kidding about the early part being hard. The first 4km averaged 8.4% and included another 2km@9.6% (for the second time today!)

Lake Mountain toll gates
Lake Mountain toll gates - less than 10km to go!

After that it was much easier, getting more gentle higher up the climb and the final 9.5km after the toll gates were "only" at 3.6% (ho hum!) The scenery varied, from completely blackened tree trunks through to lush green regrowth. You definitely knew a big fire had passed through here recently but you also got a sense of how quickly regeneration could occur.

Reaching the top after a climb of just over 100-minutes it was time for some lunch, photos and a video.

I love descents and this one was no exception. There is something exhilarating about roaring down the side of a mountain at 50-60kph. And before long we were rolling back into Marysville and the finish.

Another great day, another great expedition!

PS - my long run the day after this was not quite so much fun as my legs were still quite fatigued from the ride. Oh well, them's the breaks I guess.

1 comment:

  1. It's still looking pretty burned up there. Another 5-6 years and you won't know. Tough ride! Sounds worse than Alpe d'Huez! Great descent though :)


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