Gus suggested I should turn my original discussion item into a Blog Post in order that it could become a useful reference resource for members who may be searching for information in the future.  Personally I am not well versed enough technically from the IT aspect to understand the difference but hey what harm can it do.  Any suggestions, questions etc from interested parties will always be welcome

So here goes:

You might be interested in our background and reasons for wanting to take part in something like the AAC.  Since arriving here in Adelaide about 8 years ago my brother and I have enjoyed all aspects of cycling here.  Martin is much more of a roady than I and has done some epic rides touring in UK, Europe & The Middle East, Australia, Malaysia, NZ and Tasmania. I on the other hand have lived a much more boring and conventional life, being a wage slave and fitting cycling in to spare time whenever I could.  I got very into MTB in the UK for a few years before coming here and when I arrived in 2004 I joined the Adelaide MTBC and took part in their various race series for a few years just for fun. During this time I have tried to convert him over to the other side and conversely he did the same to me convincing me that road riding could be fun too.  It seems he has won as I now do far more on road than off and he still shows little or no interest in the rough stuff!  We both commute to work in the CBD most days and find this keeps a good core level of fitness going which can be built on when required, such as for an event like the AAC

We had both taken part and enjoyed various local challenge rides but found that we wanted to try something bigger. I guess that is the nature of challenges, once you've done one you have to look for something else to top it.  When we became aware of the rides in the Victorian Alpine area we were naturally interested.  We looked at the profiles and could see that while 200km distance wise is considerable when mixed with the terrain it becomes something else entirely.  Add in the almost unlimited and unpredictable weather permutations and you have an event where almost anything could and has happened.  Asking around we became aware that many cyclists whom we admired had tried and failed usually due to conditions on the day.

We took the decision to enter 2012 AAC back in October 2011.  This was leaving us with not a great deal of time to prepare but we figured it was possible.  Chanting the old maxim attributed to Eddie Merckx 'forget cycle upgrades; just cycle up grades' we formulated our training regime for the coming weeks. In the end this consisted of commuting as normal plus an extra hills excursion during the week either mornings or evenings on the way home from work tacked onto the commute.  Martin lives in Belair so he gets more climbing in than I do on a daily basis.  We then added a regular week end Mt Lofty session which we figured we had to do in order to improve our endurance.  After a couple of warm ups starting with 2 and then 3 repeats (Tollgate to Summit Cafe) he was telling me we needed to do more...how much more then? Well I reckon we need to get to the point where we can do at least 6 repeats in one ride. Get lost said I if that's the case I'm quitting now!  We negotiated and eventually agreed OK 5 then. Well the most we did or could do probably was 4 and neither of us wanted to do more each time we got to the top of the 4th climb there was always some excuse that would come out. We took it in turns to provide the excuse but that level of intensity we both knew was getting towards the limit for a 'normal' person, bearing in mind that neither of us are as young as we used to be...Towards the end of our preparation we tapered things off a little with longer distances through the hills but we never did more than about 130 k.

Logistically we decided to leave on the Friday, Thursday being Australia day which was handy.  This would give us two days to get there (932km to Bright) and an easy afternoon on Saturday to do the bits and pieces like food shopping, collecting rider packs etc. My daughter made a last minute decision to come with us as she was looking to get more hours in on her learner driving log.  Another driver couldn't be a bad thing so we happily agreed to this.  The journey was uneventful, always the best way, and we overnighted in Echuca on the Murray.  We all decided this was a cool place and will return there at some stage in the future.  The bakery at Pinnaroo is pretty good too and we had an awesome vanilla slice in Ouyen on the way home.  After the event the return trip was despatched in one day.

We'd been packing in the pasta for the last few days and our last supper was no exception.  In torrential rain we were glad of the camp kitchen facilities at the Riverside Park in Bright and made the last minute preparations to bikes and riding gear in readyness for the early start in the morning. When the alarm went off at 05:30 I found myself blundering around in the dark armed with a bike light that would only flash for some reason (think it got wet inside).  Part of the riders pack was two sachets of 'Aussie Butt Cream' as you can imagine the application of said product gave rise to some hilarity on the start line as we compared notes on the various techniques we'd employed, or rather as we developed options that possibly could be employed, neither of us having been 'users' in the past.  I will say now that it seemed to work well as neither of us had any 'butt trouble' on the day!  Lining up to start we could sense most riders were a little excited and maybe nervous with anticipation, the adrenaline starting to flow. We decided to be at the back not wishing to get caught in any of the usual cut and thrust at the front of such groups.  As it happened the vast majority of riders behaved impeccably on the day and it was a real pleasure to be part of the group.  To us this represented the big one. We'd trained pretty hard and felt well prepared but neither of us had ever ridden in this region before and were not sure what to expect.  The first thing for me was the sheer grandeur of the whole Alpine area, there is something special about the mountains.  The hills of Adelaide are nice but the Alps are awesome!

We couldn't wait to get started but were glad we'd arrived with some time to chill before the big day. It was hot and humid on the Saturday culminating in an evening storm and more rain overnight. Sunday morning dawned relatively cool and humid but felt better than the previous day.  We started out for Towonga before dawn and in the early morning half light enjoyed the ride out for the first warm up climb of the day.  We soon spotted some familiar jerseys amongst the throng with a 'Norwood Cyclist' here and a 'Fat Boy' there, clearly we were not the only entrants based in Adelaide. The Tawonga gap is a stiff ascent of around 400m and was dealt with without too much trouble in the cool early morning air, I checked the Garmin and with dismay realised we'd just completed only 10 % of the total climbing for the day...after a fun descent taken steady as there was a fair amount of traffic we headed out for Mt Beauty. The first part of the climb up to Falls Creek was really very pleasant and we chatted as we headed up the pretty winding road with a distant view of the ski resort and lift in the distance but nearer the top we started to feel the heat and humidity rising with little shade. At the top we devoured some excellent food and quickly headed off down one of the best descents I've ever enjoyed on a pushbike - yee hah!

Back again through Mt Beauty and start the ascent up the gap from the other side. By this time the sun was getting higher and I could feel my temperature rising as we all started to melt in the heat.  The sight of a water stop and a lady with a squirty can was most welcome.  I didn't think it was possible to leak so much fluid through ones skin eeeww! Onward and upward grabbing handfulls of dried apricots as we went. another fun time on the descent was had by all and then we were soon back in Bright and it was time for lunch.  I'd already been through 6 bidons and was running low on powders. Fortunately at the main stop there was a Hammer promo and I grabbed some gels and tabs for the water which seemed to work pretty well. 

After some solid food we headed out again for more fun...This is where the serious bit starts. Old hands were saying the second leg is really where the ride starts and the morning is just a warm up.  I started to agree with them as we headed up the preliminary climbs to the Mt Buffalo National Park entrance getting very warm and legs not feeling too fresh. Still I consoled myself with the thought there was only another 20km or so to go to the top...or maybe 30...upwards...The sun was really hot now in the mid afternoon and the road surface was melting.  This didn't help, not only was the heat reflecting back up but it was like riding through sand. Half expecting my tyres to blow with the heat any minute we took each hairpin and each straight at a time, guzzling a lot of water, I was glad to see the first of three stops on this climb. This one was situated by a lovely cool fresh mountain stream and I fought off the idea of leaping in head first. At this stage I was on my 8th bidon and hadn't taken a leak yet...The next water stop is about another 7km and that's half way. Onward and upward and after what seemed an eternity broken only by the respite of sticking my head under a running stream of cool water we hit the half way stop (two bottles in 7km, that is a record for me!). This was wonderful not only did they have drinks but ice too.  Cramming a couple of handfulls into each replenished bidon we carried on. That cold water was nectar after drinking warm sweet yewrch the whole way. As I tipped my head forward for another pain relieving stint of standing on the pedals sweat just poured in a stream - I've never been so hot on a bike and it was becoming a real mental exercise too just to keep going up and not turn around and go down. Taking solace in the thought that there had been no sign of a cramp yet (my biggest fear on a big ride) we carried on. Everyone was going slow now our speed around just 9 kmh this was going to take another hour and a half at this rate...I can't do this for another hour and a half.can I?...

Finally we reached the top of the main climb and sped on a short down hill section to the lake before finding another 3 km of climbing before we could get to the refreshment stop in Dingo Dell. It was worth it when we got there the lovely people of the Audax Association who'd done such a great job all the way had saved the best to last. A cup of hot tea and bananas and custard, just fantastic! Topped off by a couple of nice young ladies who were operating a riding glass spa.  How civilised. Sitting in the shade finishing off the food admiring the view through freshly cleaned lenses I luxuriated in the thought that basically all the hard work was done now and I had a 30 km descent to enjoy before the final cruise back into Bright. We made it back after 8 hours and fifty minutes of ride time and the last 3km into Bright were probably the longest ever. the bidon count was almost 12 by the end and it was great to finish.  We convened and compared notes full of praise for a great event, well organised and staffed by such friendly and enthusiastic volunteers. We were suitably impressed.  So much so we threw ourselves into the river to celebrate.  Later after a shower and a bite to eat, we enjoyed the Paris by Night entertainment and just a couple of beers at the brewery which slid down without too much trouble. It had been a great day. Would we return? Youbetcha!  

Will add a couple of photos later.

Here are the times at the various checkpoints for anyone who is interested:

Sunday 29th January 2012

0620 200km

Ian Rawley

Bright (Start)

06:37:35 AM

Falls Creek

09:53:12 AM

Bright Football Club

12:30:01 PM

Mt Buffalo - Dingo Dell

15:54:18 PM

Bright (Finish)

17:16:30 PM

Useful website:

www.alpineclassic.com.au

Sorry but my pictures are very limited, either I was too busy to bother or my phone had expired!

View from half way up Mt Buffalo, its big country.

Relaxing on the river bank Saturday afternoon, drinks chilling in the water...nice.  More pasta salad anyone?


Views: 193

Tags: Alpine, Audax, Challenge

Comment by Dahondude on February 3, 2012 at 18:45
Nice ride report! That climb up Buffalo in the baking sun is a real killer. Out of interest how long did it take you to drive back? Ive always flown to Melbourne then driven up.
Comment by by76 on February 4, 2012 at 10:43

What was your overall time?  I had a friend do it this year and he agreed that the weather was an absolute killer.

Comment by Rob (Chewbacca) on February 4, 2012 at 13:19

A goal for me next year .....only need to wait until registrations are accepted for next year in a few months time....

Comment by Ian Rawley on February 4, 2012 at 17:25

Thanks for your interest fellas, I have updated the Blog with some times from the checkpoints obviously these include any food,drink and rest stops.  The Butt cream got full marks from us Clayton, did you not get on with it or maybe not try it? I'm about to order a 56 gallon drum online :D  Finally I think registrations are open pretty much straight away for the following year. certainly you will need to sort out your accommodation sooner rather than later.  We were lucky to get in but only had two small tents.

Comment by The Manimal on February 4, 2012 at 21:28

great write up, now you're qualified for the 250km...

Comment by Ian Rawley on February 5, 2012 at 18:41

@The Manimal- I will have to think about that...

@RD6 its about 932 km, so allow for around 10 hours driving.  We left later than we wanted due to the rain, around 9am. We got back to Belair around 7pm.

Comment by MattS on February 7, 2012 at 11:25

Pretty sure registrations for 2013 dont open till August.  Its harder to find accomodation than enter the ride if you leave it too late.  I have just rebooked for next year so we dont miss out.  This year I did the 250km raid which is over 2 days, stopping in Omeo.  I have done the 200 a few times and found the 250 route much more enjoyable not to mention a bit easier!

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