Wednesday, 26 October 2016

Alpine training

Last year a friend and I did an alpine training camp in Spring. We stayed in Bright for 3 nights and rode 400km over two and a half days, including all the big climbs within sight. It was fantastic. Perfect weather, and finding ourselves in the middle of a World Tour pro team training camp half way up Mt Hotham to top it off.

There is a danger in trying to repeat great experiences.  The grass might end up being greener the year before. We were scheduled in earlier this year too, and all the professionals were sure to be savouring a well-deserved off-season.

The other change was that there were three of us this year, up from two in 2015. Well, that was the way it started. An hour or two into the first day of riding and one-third of us were heading back to Bright for a lie down. What had started as a benign sore throat was rapidly turning into something even less conducive to riding bikes up hills.

So then there were two. We’d decided upon Mt Hotham for day one, because day one had the best weather forecast, and Mt Hotham is the most exposed when it comes to weather. In fact, despite it being well into Spring, it had snowed at Hotham the day before. But the word in Bright was that the road was very rideable.

The snow was clearly visible on the mountain peaks from the valley and the extent of it became clearer as we approached the top. There was snow lining the edges of the road up ‘CRB Hill’, which gradually increased to walls of snow a couple of metres high by the time we reached the summit. It was spectacular.  
Near the top of Mt Hotham

Trusty steed, wall of snow

One third of us spent the next day in bed, while two-thirds started out with the Rosewhite loop out through Happy Valley. Mental note to self – take more food for the Rosewhite loop next time. We limped into Mount Beauty with tanks running very low after 90 bumpy kilometres. Fortunately baked goods from the bakery came to the rescue, and the rest of the itinerary to Falls Creek and Tawonga Gap for a total of 180km was able to proceed as planned. After our experiences the day before, the snow at Falls was very underwhelming. There was not a single snow flake by the roadside.

On our last day all three of us tackled Mt Buffalo. All three thirds were pedalling a bit gingerly, but for a couple of different reasons. But we all made it to the top and safely down again.

So after two and a half days of sunshine, the rain started as we drove out of town. It’s been raining quite a lot up there. The grass was very, very green.

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