Monday, September 13, 2010

Degani Kinglake Ride 2010

After weeks of riding in the rain it was such a relief to see just a few clouds in the sky on Sunday for this event. Only a few weeks ago on our 'course reccy' we could see nothing at all as Kinglake was shrouded in fog and - at times - heavy rain as I struggled through 72k. This day I'd cover an extra 40k+ (115k in total) on a tour from Whittlesea through Kinglake to Glenburn, Flowerdale and return.

The event (it is not a race), now in its third year, is over what could be described as a stunningly picturesque course through some of the foothills near Melbourne. Not two years ago, on Black Saturday 7 February 2009, it was a different situation and much of this area was devastated by bushfires. In the exact area of the ride 120 people died and over 1200 homes were burned. So the ride has become a part tribute-part fundraiser for people in the area too.

Amazingly, as you ride through there now, with fields of verdant green and trees sprouting new growth it is hard to imagine what it must have been like at that time, such is nature's regenerative power.

We got underway, in a field of a few thousand, at just after 7.30am and headed off for the first 30k of rolling terrain through Yan Yean (where there's a cool water reservoir - so that's where they keep it!!), Arthurs Creek, Cottles Bridge and St Andrews. You can see from the pic below that this section is on narrow country roads - really beautiful.

It is just out of St Andrews that the 'real work' of the day begins with a climb that is just over 7k long. Thankfully it is relatively 'shallow' and so it is no big deal to just pop into a small gear and spin your way to the top. It's also a chance to take in some of the scenery (the fires mean less trees so you can see more!). What is scary, though, is just how fast some people can ride UP a hill. I mean, crikey, the least they could do is actually LOOK like they were struggling a bit!!

And so by 9.30am the hardest obstacle had been conquered and I was sitting back enjoying a brief coffee stop before heading down the hill to Glenburn. This part of the trip was a blast as the road for 20k is straight down, mostly gently at around 1.4%, and you can cruise along as I did at about 37kph.

But as Isaac Newton might say, "what goes down must go up" and so the next 12k from Glenburn along 'Break O'Day Rd' (how quaint) is about the same gradient but heading skywards. By this time I was starting to feel a little tired and my riding buddies were nowhere to be seen so it was just as well that the views here too were magnificent. Through Flowerdale and to Hazeldene, a slight wind now at our backs, it was time to begin the slow ascent back up the "other side" of the Kinglake hill.

This climb hits 6% for about 2k which felt really hard cause we were all tired, but which in reality is not so bad for not so long. Another 1k at about half this gradient and by 100k you are back at the 'top' - this time near Kinglake West. After a short flat section it is time for fun as the road slopes downwards for the final 10k into the finish. It was a real buzz reaching a speed of 69.8kph without doing anything more than dropping low on the handlebars.

I cruised around to the finish in just under 4.5hours feeling tired but exhilarated. Of course my friends had long since finished (they didn't stop for coffee) but were kind enough to wait for me. Which was just as well as I didn't fancy a long ride home on the bike!

Thanks to my mate Dave for once again being chief team car driver and getting us there and back!

Next stop - Around the Bay In a Day!


  1. what a great day in a beautiful area :) We used to live out that side of town so that was my old riding ground. So you're not fronting up to MM? Have a great ride on the 17th :)

  2. Wow, that seems like a great event. I'd love day events where you stop, get some coffee, lunch a bit later on, and then continue on.

  3. Good on you Paul. Great ride for a great cause. Around the Bay in a Day will be big. I know how big the Bay is!


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