The Return to the ‘Dirty Dozen’

dirty dozen profileFinding decent climbs in the local Geelong area can be a bit of a challenge. Where I live, it is fairly hilly, but to really get long sustained climbs you need to go farther afield into the Otways, or north towards Melbourne, and into the Macedon ranges, or if you can, out to the Dandenongs.

Nevertheless, undaunted, we had charted a nice challenging day of climbing in the Brisbane ranges, taking in a number of sharp nasty climbs that criss cross the country side here.

Two weeks ago, we’d had a failed attempt at this ride, when I earned two punctures. In the intervening time, Wiggle had come to my rescue. And so, with new tubes, patches and tyres at the ready, it was time to return to our Anakie startline, and the beginning of an expected 6 hours of pain.

wiggle delivery

Wiggle delivery day is a good day

7 am at this time of year, is never going to be warm. In fact it is bloody cold. Heading towards our start, it was hovering around 1 c as I drove out to our meeting spot. There was frost on the ground, and fog blanketing most of the area, as we hoped out of our respective cars, kitted up, and generally prepared for a long morning on the road. Fortunately there was little wind, and so we ventured out in the post dawn sunrise.

There were five of us this time, three newbies to the region, who had never ridden these roads before, and Byron and I, who unfortunately knew what was ahead. Now, none of these climbs are long. Each of them are probably at most 2-3 km in length, but don’t be fooled, each of them are quite nasty little hills, each tipping up at least to 15% gradient, and at times reaching 23-24% for a few hundred meters.

In total, the length of the ride was planned to be 130 km, with just under 2,000 m of climbing. Nothing to be sneezed at.

Heading out we immediately turned west down O’Neils Rd. With barely enough time to get warmed up, we were right into it. O’Neils is a classic example of a climb here in the Brisbane Ranges. About 1 km is length, it rises perhaps 100m. Although short, it pitches up to 21% towards the end.

Nice way to start the morning! I actually got a PB on this climb somehow when I look back at Strava (which perhaps doesn’t say much for my last rides here).

After O’Neils, we turned  south again, and then after a short distance, west up along Pringles Rd (2 km at 6%), then ‘Bride of Godzilla’ (1 km for 7%), before being confronted by the beast itself – ‘Godzilla’ (1 km rising to 23% gradient). This hill definitely does my head in. It starts out reasonable enough, but then as you turn left, you’re faced with just a wall, and unless you’ve ridden here before, its just not clear when it will end. Its not true that I hate this climb, but, well, actually I do. It’s never easy.

This part of our ride, was an out and back, so we turned back towards the east to do a reverse ‘Godzilla’. Not quite as fearsome as the westerly version, but it’s still not nice as it climbs about the same amount, just over a slightly longer distance.

From this point, you head north through Maude, and back towards Anakie. On the way, just to ensure no part of the day was going to be easy, we rode De Motts road, just out of Stigleitz which climbs around 200 m or so, over 6 km.

Finally we arrived back at Anakie. Having done half the climbing for the day, we had only 50 km under our belts. The bulk of the distance, and the hardest climb was to come.

rolling brisbane ranges

Rolling along just before the ‘Hell of the West’

After a water top up, a few energy gels, and fighting the urge to settle down in the local general store, under the nice warming sunlight that was finally coming out, we rode north towards the ‘Hell of the West’.

start of the hell of the west

Don’t be fooled by this photo, this is just the start of the ‘Hell of the West’

Glenmore road is one of those secret little hills, that not too many riders (or in fact anyone) knows about. In fact I’d never heard of it until a couple of years ago, even though I have lived in the area all my life, when an intrepid rider (who I can’t find on YouTube anymore), climbed this hill 84 or so times in a row to claim an Everest Challenge.

Now, I’m just happy to do this climb once. It’s about 1.5 km in length but gets to 23% gradient a couple of times. In the area, as you can see in one of the pictures above, the general terrain appears pretty flat and so the last thing you would expect is this nasty little number.

Riding down, the descent took longer than I remembered, and just reinforced the pain I knew was about to follow.

Hitting the base, there is a small bridge, which marked the turnaround point, to head straight back up…and I mean up.

meredith rest stop

Rest stop in Meredith

I was very happy to reach the top, chomp down another energy bar, and head off with the gang south again back towards Anakie. Of course, it wasn’t going to be that simple I’m afraid. By then, the wind has blown up slightly, at our backs at least, which meant we were going on at a nice clip. Until we turned west, off towards Meredith. Then it was up another climb (the name of which escapes me), before reaching Meredith township, and the awesome Back Creek Cafe for the biggest and baddest hamburger to refill the energy banks.

By now we’d done 110 km, broken the back of the day, with just a leisurely 20 km to go…oh, but with three final climbs to do.

Stopping for a big lunch always fills me with a little bit of dread. I’m just never quite sure if I’ll get moving again. I did try to just eat small, but how can you refuse an awesome parmigiana burger and fries. 1/2 hour later and we were off, gingerly.

Actually it was a cracker of a ride back. Up and down into Steiglitz, up again out of the gully, through the old mining town, then back along De Motts road for a second time, before the final descent into Anakie.

What an absolutely brilliant ride.

5.25 hours moving time, and 6.75 elapsed over the 130 km. It was just a fantastic training day, and general riding day with a good crew, and in the end  under a beautiful winters sun, with the mercury hitting a balmy 10 c or so. Can’t complain at all. And no punctures!

Overall my training for the week, had been on and off again. I’d done a couple of indoor sessions, and pumped out 130 km on the Saturday, riding up over Granite road around the You-Yangs. So just over the weekend, I’d clocked up over 260 km, making up for the limited training through the week.

Today (Monday) is a public holiday here. I’ve nothing particularly planned, perhaps just a light ride later in the afternoon…or a bit of Zwift action…not sure.

I’ve now got under 3 months to go (gasp), but I’m feeling really good. My riding may have been inconsistent, but yesterday just felt great. If I can tough out the winter, and get a few long rides in, I think I’ll be in good shape to make it around Ohio, perhaps not a fast time, but hopefully good enough to survive the 640 km!


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