That was a ride and a half!
I knew that the 165km and 3000m of climbing would be a stretch, which is why I entered. I’m not much of a climber yet, but I do prefer long distances to short sprints.
The weather did not help. (Maybe a slight NW tailwind on some of the out climbs.) Early morning rain dampened the road making drafting sometimes splashy. The road was not so wet to be slippery.
Calm, humid and overcast; unusual conditions for Fitz’s. I recorded 12° at the start and about 20° by mid-morning. It dropped to 12° again just before Cotter and the second last climb.
The return was into the teeth of a 35-40km/h NW winds with gusts of 65km/h. Steve drafted me back, but I couldn’t avoid the big hits.
Then the rain. With about 35km to go it started. Big drops right in the face. Shoes full of water, face full of grit, drenched and getting cold.
Personal Records – Climbs
When Dave flatted at the top of Mt MacDonald, Stu and I kept going. I rode ahead to the Gravel Pit (33km) on my own. Steve and Dave wanted to keep rolling, so Stu and I jumped on. Somehow I got to Tharwa first. So I’m quite happy with the PRs I set, including this lot.
- Pierces Creek 8:37 > 7:26
- Break My Spirit 14:01 > 12:30
- Paddys River Rd Climb 9:48 > 8:25
- Fitz’s Climb 23:39 > 22:41
- Cotter Climb to Stromlo KOM 27:50 > 26:52
Personal Records – Descents
Since Steve Richardson told me to not attack descents but to tuck and recover, I’ve been posting some of my best times. More importantly, I’ve been able to recover and lower my heart rate ready for the next climb.
It does make riding in a group difficult. I’m slow on the climbs but very fast on the descents. Sometimes I waited for the others to catch up. Sometimes I caught riders who had been minutes ahead.
On Fitz’s Descent I did a 2:04 at an average of 71.9km/h, for a ranking of 30/2138. For Vmax Strava says 94.3km/h but my Garmin says 95.5km/h, which is the figure I’m going with.
Didi’s granddaughter is all grown up!
No photographic evidence, unfortunately. Photographers appear at the top of a few climbs to catch those magic moments when your heart is thumping and your tongue is hanging out. As if to reinforce these feelings, the photographer on Paddy’s River Road had a companion in the shape of what could only be described as an unfeasibly sexy young lady in an unremittingly sexy devil’s costume, with trident. She whispered words of encouragement as I passed. It may have been a Halloween promotion. Or a ruse from the photographer to get lots of photos of pounding hearts and tongues hanging out.
Fitz’s is not the only hill
After Fitz’s Hill lies 14km of climbs before the turnaround. The last climb is marked as 2.2km at 5.8%. That belies how steep the climb gets in between the brief flats. I measured 17% a few times. Arguably tougher than Fitz’s Hill.
Then there’s the 1.3km 7.3% climb out of the recovery zone! There were walkers on that hill.
I feel better after this year’s 165 than after last year’s 105. Admittedly, hot temperatures take more out of you than cold, but so does the wind. I just rode smarter this year.
My back and knees hurt and for some reason I got up at 5:00 to write this, which indicates a certain amount of discomfort. But my muscles feel good. I’ve just ridden the toughest imperial century in Australia and it feels like a normal, long, hard ride.
l’etape should be a doddle.
Roads are not closed during the event and there are no alternative routes. But this year there was a 60km/h limit along the entire length and Police motos for enforce it. There seemed to be less traffic this year and it was generally more pleasant on the road.
Climbing Pierce’s Creek I was overtaken (no surprise!). I looked across to see a girl on a flat-bar bike wearing a school tunic. I was not expecting that! As she passed I saw the poster for ‘bikes for girls in Africa’, who give bikes to girls so that they can go to school much faster and safer than walking. There are several such organisations and I’m not sure which one she was representing so I won’t add a link. Just look for the cyclist wearing a school uniform and going faster than you and ask them.
At the finish I noticed a pregnant woman had also completed the 165km. That will be a great story for the baby book.
The sun came out for a few minutes on the Cotter Road climb. (That’s it.)
210km Fitz’s Epic next year?
That’s a big step up. We’ll see.