February 21, 2013

DD13: the 2013 Melbourne Dirty Dozen

Terrys Avenue: absolute carnage. (Image: Nigel Welch)

If there’s one thing I’ve learnt this summer it’s that there are lots of cyclists in Melbourne that enjoy riding uphill. Whether it’s been the 7 Peaks Domestique Series or last weekend’s Dirty Dozen, the size of the crowds has blown me away. It’s been so heartening to see such big groups of riders turn out for challenging social rides, but it’s also meant a lot of work.

When David Blom and I announced DD13 a few months back, we had more people sign up in the first few days than we’d had turn up to last year’s event. And as the weeks rolled on, and as we started to release information about each of the climbs, the numbers grew and grew. On the night before the event I did once final check and worked out that 290 riders had said they were coming. Incredible. But also terrifying.

Checking the map for directions.

Checking the route map pre-ride.

Around 50 riders started last year’s Dirty Dozen and, at the start at least, we rode as one big lumbering mass. We regrouped at the top of each climb before setting off again together. It worked reasonably well but with numbers for DD13 nudging 300, there was no way we could ride as one group. Instead we took a bit of inspiration from one of my favourite rides of 2012: Fyxomatosis’ Melburn-Roobaix.

Rather than having everyone start at the same time, we designated a start-time window – 8am to 9am – in which riders were free to rock up, collect a map and get going. The plan was to spread the group up as much as possible and, as far as I’m aware, it all went according to plan. I didn’t train for DD13. In fact, I was so focused on trying to make the ride run smoothly that I honestly gave zero thought to how I might go on the day. But I needn’t have worried too much.

Image00007

It was great to see some girls come along for DD13 after last year’s all-male affair.

Here’s how the day unfolded:

Climb #1: Frame Avenue

I remember Frame Avenue being one of the easiest climbs of last year’s event. Sure, it was steep, but I recall being hardly challenged by it. So when I rounded the first corner on Sunday and looked up to see the road tilted skyward, I was caught slightly off guard.

Image: Nigel Welch

Image: Nigel Welch

As I started climbing I thought to myself ‘Yep, this is definitely harder than I remember’. The lack of a meaningful warm-up hadn’t helped, but before too long I found a comfortable rhythm and climb #1 was out of the way. Click here to see the video of this climb.

Climb #2: The Serpentine

The last time I climbed The Serpentine I gave it a max effort, putting myself deep into the red. But on Sunday, I did the opposite, taking it as easy as possible. After all, what’s the point of burning yourself up with 11 climbs (and a bunch of bonus climbs) still to go? The steep 2nd left-hander proved typically punishing but I managed to stay seated throughout and pushed my way comfortably to the top.

After reaching the summit we descended Terrys Avenue to Sandells Road and followed that to Blackwood Street and the first ‘bonus climb’ of the day. In last year’s Dirty Dozen we’d descended this wonderful, steep section of switchbacks on a transition between climbs but in this year’s event, David and I were keen to do it in the opposite direction. Click here to see the video of this climb.

Image: Nigel Welch

Yep, I’m hearin’ ya buddy. (Image: Nigel Welch)

Climb #3: Wright Avenue

After climbing the Blackwood/Oakland switchbacks, it was down to Mast Gully Road to take on the Wrightmare. One of my clearest memories of last year’s ride is of Dougie Hunt blasting out of the blocks and tearing up the steepest part of the climb, only to run out of legs just before the top. I thought about trying a similar approach – minus the burn-out, hopefully. But after seeing just how steep the road was, I decided on a slow and steady grind to the top instead. Three down, 10 to go. Click here to see the video of this climb.

Climb #4: Hughes Street

With Wright Avenue in the bag it was time to head for Hughes Street — the longest sustained climb of the day and climb #1 from last year’s Dirty Dozen. I remember it being a tough grind straight out of the blocks in 2012, especially in the wet, and it was no easier on Sunday. The average gradient might ‘only’ be 8.5% but there are a couple of very steep ramps that make Hughes a very challenging climb. It was a relief to pop out at the Mt. Dandenong Tourist Road with a fast, enjoyable descent to look forward to. Click here to see the video of this climb.

Image: Sarah Thurrowgood

Image: Sarah Thurrowgood

Climb #5: Janiesleigh/Jones/Olivette

After regrouping at the top of Hughes Street, our small bunch descended from Tremont towards Upper Ferntree Gully, taking a left onto Janiesleigh Road just before Burwood Highway. I found myself at the front of the group as we worked through the easy opening section of climb #5, but it didn’t take long for that to change. We took the sharp left onto Jones Avenue at which point the road ramped up painfully. Out at the Tourist Road we took a sharp right and began the final steep drag up Olivette Avenue back to Hughes Street.

Image: Nigel Welch

Image: Nigel Welch

I remember thinking to myself ‘this is feeling pretty easy, maybe I should push it harder’, but I thought better of it, saving myself for the remaining climbs including the beast we were about to face. Click here  to see the video of this climb.

Climb #6: Mast Gully Road

After the fast descent of Hughes Street we stopped briefly at the 7 Eleven to grab a drink and from there it was on to climb #6. There were only three climbs I was really worried about on the day — Mast Gully Road, Invermay Road and Terrys Avenue — and with the first of those staring me in the face, I had to take a few deep breaths and compose myself. I might have done the climb a couple of times before, but rounding that first right-hander and seeing that first steep ramp never gets any less daunting.

Where I was able to take it reasonably easy on all the climbs thus far, Mast Gully Road is so steep that even just getting up it becomes an almost-maximum effort. I relished the brief respite that you get after completing the first ramp and from there it was just a slow, painful grind to the top.

On last year’s Dirty Dozen the road was damp and I managed to fall off when my back wheel slipped and I couldn’t get unclipped in time. I had no such misfortune this time around — the road was nice and dry and I made it to the top in one piece. Click here to see the video of this climb.

Ouch. (Image: Nigel Welch)

Ouch. (Image: Nigel Welch)

Climb #7: Mills Avenue

After regrouping at the top of Mast Gully Road our small group made the several-kilometre transition along the Mt. Dandenong Tourist Road to Mills Avenue. It was nice having a little bit of flatter riding between climbs, but the transition wasn’t so long that it felt like a chore. We turned left onto Mills Avenue and ground our way gently to the top. It’s a steepish climb — 13% for400m — but like the first five climbs, it’s gentle enough that you can take it easy rather than having to red-line it just to get up.

We turned around at the top, and descended back to the Tourist Road where we took a left and headed for the second bonus climb of the day: Olinda Crescent. Like Mills Avenue, Olinda Crescent is reasonably steep, but we cruised comfortably to the top, took a right, rode through Olinda then descended The Wall to Monbulk before heading for the second scary climb of the day.

Image: Nigel Welch

Image: Nigel Welch

Click here to see the video of this climb.

Climb #8: Invermay Road

I’d heard rumours about Invermay Road, and I’d seen photos and Google Street View images of the climb. But I’d never had the pleasure of riding up it before Sunday. That said, I knew it was going to be steep, and when I rounded that final left-hander before the really steep ramp, I wasn’t disappointed. That is one scary-looking piece of road.

It just disappears skyward at a truly alarming gradient and ahead of me I could see riders weaving and heaving their way painfully upwards. (Click on the link to the video below and you’ll hear my honest reaction.)

As with Mast Gully Road, it took most of my strength just to keep moving forwards on Invermay. It was easy enough to find a rhythm that I could maintain, but when the road’s ramping up at 20% in front of you, that rhythm isn’t going to be a comfortable one.

But, as ever, the pain didn’t last long, and I popped over the top, pushed through the final section of the climb and waited for the rest of the group at the intersection. Eight down, five to go, and time for something to eat. Click here to see the video of this climb.

Andy van Bergen attacks Invermay Road in the drops. (Image: Nigel Welch)

Andy van Bergen attacks the 20%+ ramp on  Invermay Road. (Image: Nigel Welch)

Climb #9: Priors Road

After stopping in Monbulk for a quick bite, our group pushed south towards The Patch and climb #9. By this point, with 8 climbs done, and having stopped for a little while as well, my legs were starting to complain. That said, and despite Priors Road being a long steep grind, it didn’t take long for me to get back into a rhythm. At this point, with Mast Gully Road and Invermay Road out of the way, I was totally focused on Terrys Avenue. Anything before that was just a warm-up.

After finishing Priors Road we embarked on another transition, this time through The Patch to Kallista. That stunning section of road also played host to another bonus climb that slowed things down quite a bit, and when we got to Sherbrooke Road, we hit probably the hardest bonus climb of the day. It was in the vicinity of 10% for nearly a kilometre and it certainly wasn’t easy. Click here to see the video of this climb.

Climb #10: Brae/Braeside

After descending Braeside Avenue/Brae Court carefully to the end, we turned around and came straight back up. This short climb proved to be one of the more challenging of the day, with an average gradient in the vicinity of 16%. It was a slow grind to the top but once back at Sherbrooke Road, we enjoyed the fast descent back to Monbulk Road and then another descent down towards Belgrave.

As we turned left to begin a short loop that took in climbs #11 and #12, we caught a quick glimpse of the first ramp of Terrys Avenue. It wouldn’t be long before I’d be pushing up those steep slopes, and I couldn’t wait. Click here to see the video of this climb.

Image: Nigel Welch

You’re doing well if you’re still smiling by this point. (Image: Nigel Welch)

Climb #11: Maskells Hill Road

After a quick transition through Selby and under the Puffing Billy rail bridge, we came to a roundabout and the start of the Maskells Hill Road climb. I pointed in the direction of the climb but I probably didn’t need to. As Fletch said as we started the first steep ramp, ‘I figured this must have been it’. It was certainly a tough little climb, but all I could think about was how I’d go on Terrys Avenue. Click here to see the video of this climb.

Climb #12: Bolton/Batesleigh

After descending briefly from the top of Maskells Hill Road, the road ramped up into climb #12. While the average gradient was nudging 9%  for 900m, I reckon it was the easiest climb of the day. I don’t know if it was just the fact that I knew Terrys Avenue would be considerably harder, or if I was just feeling strong, or maybe the climb actually was a little easier than the others, but it was over before I knew it and climb #13 was beckoning. Click here to see the video of this climb.

It's all about Terrys Avenue (Image: Nigel Welch)

It’s all about Terrys Avenue (Image: Nigel Welch)

Climb #13: Terrys Avenue

On paper, Terrys Avenue is probably the hardest of the 13 climbs. The fact  that it came right at the end on the ride, when the temperature was well into the 30s, ensured that it was the hardest climb of the day. The rest of the group stopped briefly for water in Belgrave but I was feeling good and decided to push on. I’ve ridden that first, terrifying ramp of Terrys Avenue a bunch of times now and on more than one occasion I’ve found myself thinking ‘I’m not going to make it up here without stopping’. But I had no such thoughts on Sunday, pushing up the ramp comfortably and settling into a rhythm as the road ‘flattened off’ to around 10%.

Image: Nigel Welch

Image: Nigel Welch

It’d be interesting to see just how much harder the climb would be if there wasn’t that long section of flat/downhill in the middle. On Sunday, I was very grateful for the respite. The first steep section had taken a lot out of me, and I got to the crest with my heart, lungs and legs screaming at me. After a minute or so of descending, it was time to hit the second and final ramp to the top. I never doubted my ability to get to the top, and it was feeling a little easier than it had during last year’s Dirty Dozen but man, that’s still a tough climb.

There were a few times when I looked up the road, hoping desperately it would flatten off, but looked back down quickly when it became obvious that it wouldn’t. I passed a whole bunch of riders on that final ramp but I got no real satisfaction from that; on Terrys Avenue it’s you against the climb; whatever anyone else is doing is purely incidental. Finally, in a little over 16 minutes, I got to the top of the climb. I’d completed the 2013 Melbourne Dirty Dozen.

Click here to see the video of this climb. Note that the video cuts out about 5 minutes before I reach the top — my camera ran out of battery.

I waited for the rest of the group to get to the top and from there we descended back to Thompson Reserve for a barbecue lunch courtesy of the Friends of the Belgrave Preschool. Thanks to the generosity of the riders, the Preschool managed to raise around $1000 on the day which is a fantastic effort — thanks to everyone who pitched in!

One of the coolest things about organising a ride like this is positive feedback that comes at the end. Sure, it might have taken David and I 100+ hours and many months of planning to get this ride off the ground, but when people you’ve never met come up to you afterwards and thank you, saying they had a fantastic day, it really is worth it.

Image: Tammy van Bergen

Image: Tammy van Bergen

It’s a real privilege to be able to put on an event like the Dirty Dozen and to see so many people turn up. So, how many people did turn up? Well, with the staggered start, it’s hard to get a feel for the exact number. But if I had to hazard a guess, I’d say we had more than 200 starters.

As you can see in the honour roll below, more than 100 riders successfully completed the ride (i.e. finished 10 or more climbs, skipping any or all of Mast Gully, Invermay or Terrys). And we had dozens more than missed out by just one or two climbs. That’s obviously a fairly high attrition rate, which says a lot about just how hard the ride is. That said, and at risk of sounding a little arrogant, I was expecting the ride to be a little harder than it was.

I remember last year feeling pretty smashed afterwards, but this time around I got home feeling fresh and my legs were fine. Perhaps I should have pushed harder earlier on? Speaking of which: I know it wasn’t a race overall (in fact I spelled that out quite clearly) but it was impressive to see Joel Nicholson (see image above right) complete the entire course in 2 hours 51 minutes — nearly an hour faster than me.

I’m slightly tempted to head out and try the course again at some point and see how much time I can shave off. I wonder if there’s any value in going harder up the climbs, or if it’s best to save time by not taking breaks and by going faster between climbs?

And so to the prizes. Our friends at Cycling Express were good enough to offer three prizes on the day: a $200 voucher for a lucky male that finished 10 or more climbs, a $200 voucher for a lucky female that finished 10 or more climbs, and a $50 voucher to the rider who racked up the most Strava KOMs or QOMs on the day. Let’s start with prize #3.

In the lead-up to the event I predicted that the $50 voucher might go the way of the ladies and I was right. Of the 14 KOMs and QOMs that were set on the day, 9 were snaffled by our winner, Tessa Fabry (seriously, click on the link to see the silverware). To give you a bit of an idea of how dominant Tessa was, here’s how her day panned out:

Tessa on her way to an incredible 9 QOMs (Image: Mark Dobson)

Tessa on her way to an incredible 9 QOMs. (Image: Mark Dobson)

  • Frame Avenue: QOM
  • The Serpentine: 2nd
  • Wright Avenue: 2nd
  • Hughes Street: QOM
  • Janiesleigh/Jones/Olivette: QOM
  • Mast Gully Road: 3rd
  • Mills Avenue: QOM
  • Inverness Road: QOM
  • Priors Road: QOM
  • Brae/Braeside: QOM
  • Maskells Hill Road: QOM
  • Bolton/Batesleigh: QOM
  • Terrys Avenue: 3rd

Well done Tessa! Well done too to Jennifer Brown who took out the QOMs on Wright Avenue, Mast Gully Road and Terrys Avenue — a terrific effort! And the sole KOM for the day went to Benjamin Craven who claimed the top spot on Brae/Braeside. In order to be eligible for the $200 voucher, you had to complete 10 of the 13 climbs on the day, and you were only allowed to skip the following climbs: Mast Gully Road, Invermay Road and Terrys Avenue.

If you skipped any of the other climbs, for whatever reason, I’m sorry to say that you aren’t eligible for the prize. Crucially, we needed you to prove that you’d completed 10 or more climbs otherwise, sadly, we didn’t put you in the draw. So, with that in mind, the winners of the two $200 Cycling Express vouchers, drawn at random, are:

  • Male: Larry Bird
  • Female: Jennifer Brown

Congratulations to you both!

Image: Nigel Welch

Jennifer Brown stomps her way to $200. (Image: Nigel Welch)

And so, in closing I need to thank a few people for making this whole thing possible. Thanks to Sam and the gang at Cycling Express for supporting yet another ride. Thanks to Tammy van Bergen and Nigel Welch for giving up their day to take some amazing photos (see below for links). It really is a privilege having these guys along to help out. Thanks too to Sarah Thurrowgood and Mark Burton for the great photos they took and sent in — it is much appreciated.

A huge thank you to David Blom, without whom this ride wouldn’t have been possible. Blommy was the driving force behind the creation of this year’s route — as he was last year — and deserves a lot of the credit for getting this ride off the ground. Thanks mate! And finally, thanks to all of the riders that turned up and made it an awesome and memorable day. I spoke many times in the weeks before the event about the importance of splitting the group up so we weren’t clogging up the roads. As far as I can tell, everyone did that really well, so, thank you!

Image: Tammy van Bergen

Image: Tammy van Bergen

Of course, mine is just one of hundreds of stories from the day. I know other riders found the ride considerably more difficult, with more than a few telling me it was the toughest day they’d ever spent on the bike. So, how did you find the day? I’d be delighted if you could share your thoughts in a comment below. And if you did ride on the day, don’t forget to order your DD13 jersey to commemorate the event! In closing, I’d like to share with you the final paragraph of my write-up of last year’s event — the first Melbourne Dirty Dozen:

Only five people turned up to the original Dirty Dozen ride in Pittsburgh in 1983. More than 300 competed in last year’s event. In our first running we managed to get 50.  Who knows where we could go from here …

I don’t know what next year’s event will look like, but if this year’s turnout is anything to go by, it could be large. Until next time, thanks very much for reading!

Photo albums

Click on the links below to see more photos from the day, courtesy of the following photographers:

Honour roll

The following individuals managed to complete 10 or more climbs (that is, skipping any or all of Terrys Avenue, Invermay Road or Mast Gully Road) and sent in a Strava link or equivalent as confirmation. The order of these names does not reflect the order in which the riders finished:

  1. Neil Smithies
  2. Cameron Taite
  3. Daniel Porter
  4. Darren Partington
  5. Andrew North
  6. Garry Davenport
  7. David Rose
  8. Brenton Cleeland
  9. Jordan Di Luzio
  10. Raelene Lesniowska
  11. Nick Altman
  12. Jon Thornton
  13. Joel Nicholson
  14. Andrew McKenzie
  15. Jaimie Barber
  16. Matthew Hoskin
  17. Gus Gollings
  18. Peter Brann
  19. Julie Jackson
  20. Rod Hill
  21. Goran Nikolic
  22. David Abzatz
  23. Richard Cubitt
  24. Tim Webber
  25. Peter Dickinson
  26. Mark Taylor
  27. John James
  28. Steven*
  29. Steve Tippett
  30. Matt de Neef
  31. Brendan de Neef
  32. Matt Fletcher
  33. Marcus Nyeholt
  34. Rohan Symons
  35. Matt Porter
  36. John van de Waterbeemd
  37. Kye O’Donnell-Stone
  38. Cam Tampion
  39. Simon Macauley
  40. Jim Kostas
  41. David Weiss
  42. Craig Simons
  43. Pete Mitchell
  44. Michael Cona-Davies
  45. Chris Burton
  46. Andy van Bergen
  47. Evan Henley
  48. Graeme Robertson
  49. Anthony Bibby
  50. Peter Trabinger
  51. Derek Trikarso
  52. Huyen Tran
  53. Mark Ryan
  54. Phillip Aarons
  55. Adam Gruer
  56. Ian Porter
  57. Paul Dalgarno
  58. Michael Krischunas
  59. Dave Burns
  60. Brad Lyell
  61. David Thornley
  62. Luke Chippindall
  63. Thomas Price
  64. Brad Clark
  65. James Williams
  66. Neil Brydges
  67. Chris Dunn
  68. Matt Rule
  69. Tessa Fabry
  70. Andrew Tsakmakis
  71. Jamie Hunter
  72. Stephen Chan
  73. Glenn Landers
  74. Jarrod Stonham
  75. Michael Dam
  76. Eli Thurrowgood
  77. Vlad Tsyrlin
  78. David Kerr
  79. Brendan Edwards
  80. David Lucas
  81. Jennifer Brown
  82. Anthony Dean
  83. Kip Gabriel
  84. Robert Gelder
  85. Leigh Johansen
  86. Nathan Pasco
  87. Darren Allan
  88. Sally Thurston
  89. David Grant
  90. Sean Pinan
  91. Tony Stuyt
  92. John Catalano
  93. David Franjic
  94. Nic Hamley
  95. Paul Jameson
  96. Peter Westley
  97. Liz Leorke
  98. George Voros
  99. Larry Bird
  100. Murray Campbell
  101. Robert Vandenburg
  102. Drew Heard
  103. Josh Aitken
  104. Steve Lightfoot
  105. Nick Shearman
  106. Cameron Stewart
  107. David Blom
  108. Adrian Sayers
  109. Peter Turewicz
  110. Matthew Bowen
  111. David Dickens
  112. Bruce Wright
  113. Peter Burns
  114. Carl Luxton
  115. Nathan Wright

*Surname not given.

32 Comments

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  1. Nic / Sep 3 2014

    I remember this being the hardest day I ever had on the bike. I’ve been riding for 8 years and have done some epics riding in the Vic high country and the French Alpes. But for toughness, this was in a class of its own. The heat didn’t really help but I think I would have preferred all these climbs in hot and dry weather, rather than cold and wet!

    One point for this year, the GPX files that were released were fantastic last year, so I hope they are being put together again for DD14. Easy to download them to your Garmin then just hit start and let the computer give you the turn-by-turn.

    Looking forward to DD14, Matt!

    • Matt de Neef / Sep 3 2014

      Thanks for this Nic. And yep, the GPX file will definitely be available!

  2. Rob / May 6 2013

    Looks like a blast, would love to join you all one day (Next year with some luck). Just a reminder to everyone the Adelaide Dirty Dozen is being held on 7th of September this year, 3000m+ vertical in 100km.

    http://www.adelaidecyclists.com/events/2013-adelaide-dirty-dozen

  3. Andrew / Apr 12 2013

    Today I got my DD13 jersey, looks great.

  4. Parris ONeill / Apr 4 2013

    I too was not on the honors roll but completed all 13 climbs . It was a brilliant idea my wife had too do this but at 110 kg not very smart. I was wondering if any one that had ordered a Jersey had received there’s yet or has it been lost in transit like mine .

  5. Tony Bolduan / Mar 4 2013

    It’s a gift that keeps on giving. I did the first 10 with a mate on Sunday, 3/3/13. 30 years ago I fell off on Mast Gully Road (pt 1) and swore I would never do that again. This time I did it.

  6. Larry Bird / Feb 23 2013

    What a great day, awesome work by Matt and David to plan the ride so well even the weather. A very challanging ride as much mentally as phsyical telling myself don’t stop keep pushing and before I new it I was at the top of each climb, I followed Jennifer Brown during the ride what a climber. I met some more great people from the Climbing Cyclist group and the post ride refreshments were much appriciated. I always look forward to the ride reports and photo’s (it is great to get some quality photo’s to keep to remind me of the pain as the memory fades) thanks to all the photographers great job. What a nice surprise after reading the ride report to see I had won one of the prizes.
    It was the best day, a big thank you to Matt and David, photographers and helpers also to Cycling Express and well done to all the other riders on DD13.

  7. Kon Korkovelos / Feb 22 2013

    Thank you Matt and David for organising a fantastic event and I think every rider would give you a big cheer of gratitude for your efforts. Perfect day for a tough course, which unfortunately sorry to say broke me on the day, but I’ll be back in a couple of weeks to break it back and can’t wait for next years event. Great write up too.

  8. Simon A / Feb 22 2013

    Great read, as always!

    Gutted I missed it, but won’t make the same mistake next year. Onwards to 300+ riders.

  9. David Sutherland / Feb 22 2013

    Thanks very much Matt and David for organising this event. It must have been an extraordinary amount of effort and consideration, and I am glad you feel that it is worth it. I am sure that everyone who rode in it would feel it was.

    I am not on the honour roll because, being somewhat time poor last Sunday, I had to leave Thompson Reserve by 11.00. I decided that I would ride the hills in numerical order until my time ran out. As it turned out that would be nine “official” hills and some “unofficial”: after Priors Road I ascended to Kallista and then rolled down to Belgrave and the reserve.

    But I really enjoyed my DD 9/13. Although that has to be seen in the context of pain and struggle, hauling my ageing 90+ kilo body up hill after hill. So…what were the highlights for me?

    At the base of Invermay I looked up at what appeared to be a looming cliff face and a little voice inside my head started to speak. “How are you going to get up there?”, it asked. “You know, you could roll back to Monbulk, and it is not too far from there back to Belgrave. And a lot easier!” Luckily I ignored the voice because I ended up teaching myself a new skill: zig zagging. Everyone may laugh, but I have never done that before, always preferring to crank hard straight up the hill, as I had done earlier on Mast Gully Road. To my surprise and delight I found that I could slingshot myself up the hill- and enjoy it! The fact that in doing so I was performing a pas de deux with another rider all the way up the hill, redolent of a Warren Miller skiing film running backwards at very slow speed, made it even more enjoyable. To cap it off that climb was recorded in Tammy van Bergen’s photo in her Baker’s Dozen and was one of the first published on the Hells500 facebook.

    Riding up Hughes Street we passed a couple of residents chatting by the side of the road, looking a little bemusedly at all the cyclists going past. “You must think we are stupid!” I called out. “No!” came the response. “I think you are wonderful! I am with you in spirit all the way to the top.” And I think he meant it.

    The comments from fellow cyclists were always enjoyable, especially those which resonated strongly with me- which was usually along the lines of “You’ve got to be kidding!” as we approached the next hill. You do appreciate of course that the language was often saltier than what I have just written.

    Looking down at my garmin when travelling up one hill I saw that I was moving at the grand pace of 3.5kmh. I am not quite sure why I consider that a highlight, but it is certainly a retained memory.

    There was great opportunity for reliving the ride afterwards, thanks to great pictures taken by skilled photographers. These meant that my family could see what I had been up to that morning, although they couldn’t glean from the photos any explanation as to why I was doing it. There seemed to be quite a few of me- i can’t really explain why that would be, but I put it down to my “santa” look- white beard, grey hair, red jersey with white trim.

    But most of all, the highlight for me was being there and doing it in a group of people who were good spirited and equally happy to be there. Hopefully if you run it again next year I will have enough time to get through all the climbs. But the fact that I didn’t this year didn’t take anything away from my enjoyment nor my appreciation of what you had done to make it happen..

    Thanks again.

    • Matt / Feb 22 2013

      Great stuff David, thanks very much. Your comment made me laugh a bunch of times. Thanks. :)

  10. GlennR / Feb 22 2013

    Great ride Matt. My highlight was following Andy at the start of Terry’s and hearing his geninuely happy ‘Yippee’ and watching him attack the climb. Oh, and Invermay when I saw the final ramp and verbally sighed in disbelief.

  11. Jon Thornton / Feb 22 2013

    I’ve never done a ride like that before. Such hard climbs. To me, Invermay was the worst. The first sight of that bitumen wall made my stomach sink like never before. Mast Gully and Terrys were probably physically harder, but Invermay inflicted deep psychological wounds.

    Thanks to Matt and David for designing such a brutal course and thanks to all of the photographers for taking such a huge number of great shots.

    A heard a rumor that the 2014 Dirty Dozen would be in Lorne. Some nice steep backstreets down that way. ;-)

    • David Sutherland / Feb 22 2013

      I thought you were riding really strongly up Invermay. You certainly helped haul me up it.

  12. Joel Nicholson / Feb 22 2013

    Thanks Matt and David for a stellar day, I know the cycling community of Melbourne really appreciates events like this and I know that they get me out of my comfort zone to do some riding I wouldnt normally have done. Without the Climbing Cyclist/Hells 500 events over the last year or so to introduce me to a really cool group of cyclists, I’d probably still be just riding the same old routes on my own.

    • Matt / Feb 22 2013

      This is terrific feedback Joel, thanks very much. :)

  13. chris / Feb 22 2013

    the reaction of the group as they rounded the first right hander on Mast Gully was absolutely priceless!

    A couple of cyclists at the top of that first steep pinch asked me if that was the hard part over, to which I replied, “that was the easy bit”. The look of disbelief on their faces was certainly a Kodak moment!

    Ah Mast Gully, how can a 1.5km bit of bitumen instill so much fear into grown adults?

  14. Dave Kerr / Feb 22 2013

    A truly great ride. Last year I enjoyed the group reforming at the top of each climb, but the ride was more challenging this year as the number of difficult climbs were more. The wet conditions of DD12 were very challenging however this year being that it was hot and dry it was important to conserve energy and drink sufficiently. I cant imagine how you can make it much more difficult or better in 2014, but I will see you there regardless. I really enjoyed the BBQ put on at the end of the ride..

  15. Richard Cubitt / Feb 22 2013

    Awesome day…I had a Blowout between Mast and Mills that sounded like a gunshot, glad it didn’t happen going downhill! I had only ridden up Terry’s before but will pop a few of these for future rides now I know they exist!

  16. Neil / Feb 22 2013

    Great organisation, great event, great day!

    Adding Inverness Road and dropping (say) Climb 12 for 2014 would add a 4th beast to the day.

    • Matt / Feb 22 2013

      It would! I wonder if the transfer between climbs would be too much … Blommy?

      • chris / Feb 22 2013

        Dont be silly….just put Falls Rd in there and then a trip to Sky High!

      • David / Feb 22 2013

        It and another special or 2 are planned for next year… Watch this space :)

        If you have had wicked thoughts about which roads to include, chances are I might have thought of them already ;)

        The Pittsburgh version’s longest climb is about 1.8km. So I try to keep all of the climbs to less than 2km (Terrys being an exception owing to the downhill)…

  17. David Grant / Feb 22 2013

    Well done on such a mammoth effort. As an event it was one of the most challenging things I have ever done and your organisation better than some of the professionally organised rides. Thank you for taking the time to do it and I was event inspired to order the shirt to commemorate the day.

  18. Brendan Edwards / Feb 22 2013

    Hi Matt, when I looked up Strava the next day, there were over 170 Strava users who went up Frame Avenue on the day, which will give a good indication of how many showed up for the day. I was amazed at how strongly everyone was getting up the climbs, considering how hard the course was. Given how hard you made this years course, I wonder what you will have in store for next year. Maybe I should start the training for next year straight away :-)
    Many thanks to all that were involved in setting up and running the Dirty Dozen 2013. It was an amazing day.

    • Ian Porter / Feb 22 2013

      I agree, I also checked Strava the next day, filtering results to 17/02/13 and most climbs listed 160~170 riders although there was some attrition towards the end (as might be expected) with the numbers down to about 129 I think for Terry’s Ave. As some riders may not have been ‘Strava connected’ the total numbers may have been even greater – amazing!
      Thanks Matt, and everyone else who helped bring us this great event. I have only recently discovered your group and this is the first event that I’ve participated in. Baptism of fire! I Think I’m hooked. Ian.

  19. Andrew / Feb 22 2013

    Good blog – i’m a bit disappointed my name is not on the honour role as i completed all 13 climbs and the optional climbs.

    I guess i need to lash out and buy some new technology…

    cheers,

    Andrew McPherson

    • BC / Feb 25 2013

      I agree, those off us who are not strava chasers have been the unfortunate pariahs of this “new world” of cycling.
      I don’t even have a basic computer on my main bike, the joy of riding cannot be expressed in a mere series of 1′s and 0′s that has no account of the experience. The 30 kph average on a sunny day with a tailwind has no meaning when compares to horizontal rain with a cross head wind that continually buffets your line.

      Even Strava, some of us refuse to use this gosh US based system for the Euro pure Endomondo, which just requires any smart phone instead of limited platforms

      Oh wait, I didn’t do it, so I don’t deserve to be on the list, but you should get your credit

      • Matt / Feb 25 2013

        Hi guys. I take your points. But this was something I addressed before the ride (http://theclimbingcyclist.com/dd13/#prizes). You didn’t need Strava, just a way of confirming that the 13 climbs had been done. A photo at the top of each climb would have been just as good … or any other method really. :)

        • BC / Feb 26 2013

          I was being just a little facetious ;)

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