The Seven Peaks is not an organised ride as such - it's more an initiative of a handful of resorts in Victoria's alpine regions. Recognising that cyclists travel to their region in the summer to ride their mountains, they print up a 'passport' that you get stamped at the top of each of seven famous climbs.
Today's ride was Lake Mountain.
We started the ride from Marysville, a small town which was devastated in the Black Saturday bushfires a few years back. While there is still some construction underway, a lot of the town has been rebuilt.
As we left the town and turned on to the Marysville Woods Point Road, the tourist sign announced a temperature of seven degrees. I was glad to have purchased some thermal leg warmers the day before. These and my arm warmers, undershirt, vest and jacket kept me warm... enough.
The Lake Mountain climb starts almost straight away, and the first four ks or so are the steepest. After that it flattens off a little and there's time to look around. The bush is fairly thick and the wildlife is abundant through this section - I spotted a wallaby or two, plenty of rabbits, and even... wait for it... a lyrebird! I've never seen one before!
I also started noticing the kilometre markers as well. On this climb they were fairly welcome, as the gradient isn't that steep.
Closer to the top the scenery became even more impressive, with views like this.
And some unique flora.
Up close these trees are quite beautiful. I could see them across the valley earlier in the ride and they looked so desolate - reminding me of the baldness of Mt Ventoux.
After almost two hours of riding, I reached the top. KKB had beaten me there by, well, a long time. Although the resort was officially closed until peak summer season begins early in the new year, a couple of staff were around and kindly made us all a coffee and stamped our passport.
The coffee was free and he threw in a piece of cake. Terrific service and completely unexpected!
I asked him about the trees and he said that they had basically died during the Black Saturday bushfires. He said the leaves wouldn't grow back, and that eventually they would fall. He pointed out that there were new trees already growing to replace them, much as the Marysville residents, who he said were ready to move on too.
According to ambassador Simon Gerrans, Lake Mountain is the best climb to tackle to start the 7 Peaks because of it's gentle gradient.
I could be in some trouble in the next week or so.
For now though, here's the first of the obligatory summit shots of Jens.