After failing my first attempt, it was kind of a big deal to get it ticked off the list. For no other reason than I like to finish what I start.
This is how that day unfolded, in words, images, and a fabulous soundtrack (even if I say so myself).
4.30am: Alarm goes off. Out of bed, shower, dressed, off to airport for 6am flight.
9.20am: Arrive in Melbourne, pick up hire car, pack hire car with luggage and bike bag, drive to SEG's house.
10.30am: Attempt to put bike together. Almost succeed. We managed to reaffix the rear derailleur and put the chain back on but couldn't for the life of us get the back wheel on! I know, it should just click into place. Because it didn't I started to second guess my existing bike mechanic work, gave in and took it to a bike shop.
11.30am: The nice man at the bike shop put the wheel on for us. He was also kind enough to put my pedals back on and pump up the tyres. As an added bonus, he also fixed SEG's track pump, which she couldn't get to work on her road bike due to an ill fitting attachment.
12.00pm: Hit the road for the long drive to the foot of Mt Baw Baw.
2.25pm: Arrive Tanjil Bren. Comment that it's raining and therefore not very good weather for riding up the steepest climb in Australia. Was told, "well, you're just going to have to suck that up, aren't you". In the nicest possible way. I really mean that about the nicest possible way. In moments like this, SEG has a direct but very charming and reassuring manner about her. I like it a lot.
2.30pm: Change in to cycling gear, freak out. Literally. I was shaking. I don't know how to explain this, except that I'd probably put too much expectation on myself and all of a sudden was contemplating failure once again. When SEG saw me shaking, she put an end to my faffing about, got me back into the car and on our way.
2.40pm: Drive on, and pull over a few ks from the bottom of the climb proper and start cycling, to supposedly get a "warm up".
2.45pm: Pass 'The Gantry' and start the climb properly.
2.50pm: Pass the point where I'd bailed out last time. Anything's a bonus from here, right?
I tackled the climb by getting straight into the easiest gear and riding within my limits. No matter how steep it got I just kept telling myself, "it's going to get really steep any time now, this bit's not hard at all." SEG gave me many, many words of encouragement along the way, to which I mostly just grunted responses. Being a support crew is never easy or glamorous...
Just over an hour later: arrive at the Village Restaurant. Get my passport stamped by a lone hospitality worker who probably thought he would be shit out of luck in attracting any custom today.
SEG - "Is this where we get a 7 Peaks passport stamped?"Restaurant Guy was really quite impressed, even though I explained that I didn't have much choice - this was my only shot at finishing off the 7 Peaks Challenge because I lived in Brisbane. He made us coffees and turned on the heater for us while I got changed into dry clothes and contemplated my small but significant victory.
Restaurant Guy (RG) - "Yes.... Yes! Did you ride up now..."
SEG - "My friend has just ridden up."
RG - "You rode up today? Now?"
AP - "Yes, I rode up today. Yes, In the rain."
My success second time around was due to many factors:
- A great support crew - SEG was the perfect companion on this adventure. I couldn't have done it without her.
- Specific cycling training - I've trained on Mt Coot-tha once a week all year.
- Fear - of failing, of succeeding, of hurting. You name it, I was frightened of it.
- Equipment - I got a 28 rear cog fitted. It's amazing what a difference just a few extra cogs makes.
- Daily contemplation - I changed my work password to something specific to this ride. It seems really trivial but if you're forced to type something motivational a couple of times a day it has to have some effect, doesn't it?
In the words of Alex Lloyd, "Start to believe it, trusting is free."