Climbing, it is bloody hard work. About a week back I decided to tackle the January part of my climbing goal (which I still haven’t completely sorted out, but there is a blog post coming with more details) by taking on Woodhill Mountain. I mentioned it as one of my goals in a previous post about my 2012 Cycling Goals.
Originally I was planning to cruise around the Albatross airfield with Lewy for a lazy 100kms, but he had a small veterinary emergency he had to see to, so I changed my plans and thought I would knock over the January Challenge.
It was a bright sunny say, so I took off smeared in sunscreen looking like Casper’s bigger brother. I had a terrific 50kms of dairy country, rolling hills, river and creek views before I rolled into Berry for a milkshake and custard tart. I needed some energy if I was going to make the 2 climbs I had planned. The dingos breakfast wouldn’t be enough for today.
Woodhill Mountain has beaten me once before, so I know it is a tough bugger. But I have never been to the top, so it is still unknown territory for me. It always makes doing a climb a little less comfortable. Once you have completed a climb, you have some idea of what to expect next time you do it. All I knew was that the last time I tried, I failed. Using the Nowra Velo KOM segment on Strava, you can see it is 5.6kms at an average gradient of 6.0%.
I can tell you, it feels a lot more than 6%. I saw 14% a few times on the Garmin. I had to stop twice. Once for a nature stop, and once to catch my breath. Finally, I was over the top. 35:18 was my time including the 7:40 of rest time. I will beat that time one day, but for now, I was happy.
After Woodhill, it is a few rollers before you plunge into the Valley proper. I can tell you, it was a hairy ride. At one point my brakes were virtually useless. That is a scary feeling, especially when you don’t know the road. Once I was into the valley itself, it was a very nice ride to my rest stop, the bottom of the next big climb of the day, Berry Mountain, the western side. Along the way I saw wallabies, kangaroos and an echidna. There was also a gravel section with a 10% incline which had me trying out a new riding position to stop the rear wheel losing traction.
A stop for lunch and a stretch before I attacked the 2nd major climb of the day. Berry Mountain. I have done the Eastern side a few times, and I know it is tough, but I had about 70kms in my legs already, and a climb that would usually finish me off, so I was really going to have to push myself.
6100m at 6.2%, so longer and steeper than the first climb. Boy, it was a struggle. My legs burnt. My lungs scorched. I didn’t stop until I got to the top. By that time I was seeing little black dots at the edge of my vision. Heart rate at some points was 189. I think it is safe to say I had bitten off more than I could chew, but I was over the worst of it. The rest of the ride I had done before. A roll along the top of the escarpment before a blast down Cambewarra Mountain. Well, the roll along the top has a few more climbs that I remembered. It hurt. The idea of taking a run up to the lookout with given short shrift and I pedaled to the start of the descent before I had another spell.
From there it was the terrific descent of Camby, hitting 70kph+ a few times, before I stopped in to KFC for a couple of bottles of fizzy drink to perk me up. Then it was 30kms to get me home for what would be a 120km day.
Well, I thought it would. As it turned out, I had a mechanical issue about 15kms from home. For only the 2nd time in 14,000kms, I had to ring the bride to rescue me. I had managed to pick up some of that nylon packing tape and got it caught in the rear derailer. God almighty that stuff is indestructible. It had twisted itself through both jockey wheels and into my cassette jamming it completely. It took a Stanley knife to undo all the damage.
Ah well, a good 100kms and near enough to 1400m of climbing. I think it is my first time I have done over 1000m of climbing in the one ride. A successful day out and the January Challenge completed.