Evan Snow, may not be built like a climber – but the ‘lumberjack’ is in training for a crack at the B Grade Club Champion in 2013. Here we have his report from his secret training camp in Victoria’s Alpine region.
Having done the 3 Peaks sportif a few times I have developed a penchant for extended alpine suffering. So, after cashing in every single brownie point at home – Mitch, AJT and I set off to conquer the 7 Peaks. With a wife and kids at home, every reader in this situation will understand that this was the only true challenge of the weekend. The 7 Peaks ride is the quest to climb 7 of Victoria’s HC climbs at your own pace over the summer. Seeing as it’s a 9 hour drive to the closest climb this was a one shot deal. We were going to try to squeeze the challenge in (along with a few other non challenge climbs) to a 5 day period.
First up was Hotham from both sides – a leg breaker by any normal measure. Setting out from Bright on the first morning and seeing the sign to Omeo, my turn around point, at 109km was a little daunting to say the least. It was the third time I have climbed Hotham and the first time I have been able to see more than 10 metres in front of me. With the spectacular view to distract me and good sensations in the legs I made fairly light work of Hotham (obviously went up the easy side – Ed.). The 56km drag from Omeo back to Hotham is only 2.1% but with the sun beating down and 109km and one HC climb in the legs it was the hardest slog of the whole 5 days but with the power of my compact cranks and the easiest gearing i could fit – my legs were spinning away.
Just cruising up Mt Hotham
Day two was a much needed recovery day with a leisurely cruise up Mount Buffalo to Dingo Dell – well as comfortable as a 16km constant climb up Buffalo can be. The consistent gradient and even more spectacular and ever changing landscape made this one of my favourite climbs. This was also enjoyable because i am now about 10 kilos lighter than when I last attempted this. Buffalo is also a great descent, but just be careful, some of the corners can catch you out.
By having a bike in the photo, people will know you rode as opposed to driving up
Day Three reinforcements arrived in the shape of Mitch Dicko – imagine a small shape. It was once again time to knock off 2 of the Challenge climbs. We drove over to Mt Beauty for a quick Falls Creek and then down to Mansfield to bag Mount Buller. Once again the heat wave made the second climb of the day very testing with sweat showering down on my bike and tar bubbles forming a gritty layer on our tyres. Fortunately AJT decided to sit this one out so we had a soigneur to give us fresh bidons to shower with every few kilometres. We stationed ourselves in the redneck town of Warburton in the upper Yarra Valley for the last of the Peaks, Lake Mountain and Mt Baw Baw. The perfect place for men to strut their lycra and smooth legs, although Mitch and AJT don’t have to worry about this issue.
Behind You! Some hairy mountain man or big foot!
We had planned on doing Donna Buang on the way to Lake Mountain but a quick recon the day before revealed a gravel road on part of the route so we detoured up Reefton Spur and we’re all bloody glad we did. I had never heard of it before but it was a great climb. 6% for 20km or so and then undulating road rising at 2% for the next 10km. We dropped down to Marysville for a quick bite (Note to self: Burger and Chips with a large Ice Coffee milk does not sit well up a HC climb) Once again the heat made this one harder than it looks on paper but we all made it up and with 60km of mainly down hill to get back to Warburton I would live to fight another day. Here’s a quick vid of Day 4’s riding https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=vHtM5twMxbs.
Mitch Dixon attacks when it hits 20%, even giving a look back
Saving the best for last, Day five was all about Mt Baw Baw. The anticipation of 6km @ 13.5% gave me a restless night sleep. Were the legs up to it after 7 HC climbs in 4 days? Would I be able to keep the pedals turning up the stretches of 20%? After a long windy drive to a town 12km from the base we mounted up and braced ourselves for a good flogging. At times it was bloody hard and by the half way point I was well and truly stuck in bottom gear (34×28) and I began to swerve from side to side but it was over surprisingly quickly and all my fears were allayed. Having polished off the 7 official Peaks we ducked back to Warburton for one last HC climb, the beautiful Donna Buang. All up in 5 days I rode 9 HC climbs over 586km for a total of 12,000m ascended. From there it was on to Adelaide for the TDU and a little bit of Fozzys Flying Tour pain train. If you get a chance I highly recomend spending some time having a crack at some or all of these climbs.
Evan Snow stomps out another HC climb
For more details on the 7 Peaks challenge – check out the website www.7peaks.com.au which will give you all the information that you need to get your journey underway.