I drove to the top of Hotham to provide support to KKB and a friend 180ks through a long, hilly ride.
So I could see what was ahead of me on today's ride. I was apprehensive about this. But in retrospect, I think I am also happy for the insight.
When driving, what I felt was lots of steep, uphill gradient, and what I saw were a couple of big dippers somewhere close to the top, that didn't look so rideable on my under trained legs.
So I was pensive and quite nervous about today's ride.
Gerro's assessment of the Mt Hotham climb was that it's one of the hardest climbs of the seven peaks. His tip was to use the flatter middle section to fuel up for those bits that I'd already deemed not so rideable.
He also suggested 34/27 gearing. Although I ride a compact on the front I have a standard 25 tooth cluster on the back so I was shit out of luck with that.
I also consulted Climb by Bike's rating of Hotham. From this site I found out that Hotham was fairly close to one of the hardest climbs in Australia... certainly the only climb in the Seven Peaks that outranks it is Baw Baw - and also found a somewhat terrifying profile chart.
|Mt Hotham profile from Climb by Bike. The 'not so rideable' bits are the red sections at the end.|
The climb ramped up out of Harrietville as promised and it wasn't long before I hit "The Meg". I'm not sure but I think the hairpin onto The Meg is where the highest gradient of the climb, 18%, hides. It isn't a long stretch of steep gradient, but it's long enough that you know about it, especially after 4ks of regular gradient.
Not long after this, the climb backs off. I took the opportunity to ride well within my limit and fuel up like Gerro advised. The scenery was breathtaking. With most of the trees lining the road naked from bushfires, there were outlooks across the valleys to neighbouring mountains for as far as the eye could see.
But this didn't take away from what was to come. With about 10ks to go I passed through the park gates and knew from here it was on! Next on the list was CRB hill. I couldn't think of anything for the 'R' but kept saying to myself... "Can't Bail".
There was a little respite before the climb kicked up again for a steep few kilometres. Finally, I made the top, and there was a few ks descent down to the General Store to get a coffee and my 5th passport stamp.
I took the time on the way down to really appreciate the views.
At the bottom, I felt like I'd ridden very conservatively - maybe I could have given more. I was happy enough though that the bits I thought would be unrideable turned out to be achieveable.