December 7, 2011

Episode 3: an Arthurs Seat century

Route: Mordialloc to Arthurs Seat, return
Distance: 103km
Duration: 3 hours 58 minutes

You know the view is good if you stop descending to take a photo.

The last time I trained for the 3 Peaks Challenge, it wasn’t until the final month that I was consistently posting 100km+ rides. This time around, I’m coming off a much better fitness base and I’ve started posting centuries far earlier than before.

Not only that, but I’m feeling fit, I’m really enjoying the training and I can barely wait for the weekend to roll around again so I can get out for another long spin.

Last weekend’s adventure came in the form of an out-and-back ride from the traditional Beach Road turnaround point, Mordialloc, to the short-andsteep awesomeness of Arthurs Seat.

I picked up the Donvale Demon and my brother Brendan from their respective houses,  drove us all down to Mordi and got rolling as a light dusting of rain swept the road.

The Arthurs Seat climb is steep, but it's over before you know it.

With the rain came an unwelcome headwind which saw us working hard early and rolling through some turns on our down to Frankston. Out of Franga it was up Oliver’s Hill and then, a short time later, up the Mt. Eliza climb.

For anyone that’s ridden from the city down to Mordialloc you’ll know that it isn’t the hilliest ride around. And while the ride southbound from Mordialloc isn’t exactly all that mountainous either, there’s enough up-and-down to make you work hard for your kays (particularly when the wind’s all up in your grill).

Once over the Mt. Eliza climb we rolled into Mornington and took a right at Bentons Road, finding ourselves out on The Esplanade. The light rain had disappeared shortly after we started riding and with a hint of blue sky peeking out from behind the clouds, we enjoyed what really is a stunning piece of road.

Hugging the coastline in and around Mt. Martha, The Esplanade snakes its way up and down, providing great views of the water every so often. The road surface is wonderfully smooth and the three of us found it easy to push over the rolling hills without having to work too hard. My only criticism of that stretch of road would be the traffic.

Brendan descending Arthurs Seat in textbook fashion.

Of the many cars that passed us, few seemed to give us enough room (granted, it’s a narrow road) and the beauty of the road was often lost as we concentrated on staying out of harm’s way. If you could somehow organise to close The Esplanade to motor vehicles for a couple of hours, that stretch of road would be truly magical.

Having left Mt. Martha and the beautiful bends of The Esplanade behind, we found ourselves at Safety Beach and then, a few minutes later, at Dromana. For the past half-hour or so, the spectre of Arthurs Seat had been looming large over the coastal landscape, an almost-lone peak on an otherwise-flat peninsula.

We rolled out of Dromana and out toward the start of the climb, taking a quick break at the start of the climb to prepare ourselves. I had made the mistake of waiting for the Donvale Demon on the slopes of Mt. Donna Buang the previous weekend and we both agreed (as did Brendan) that we should all just ride at our own pace and reconvene at the top.

I was feeling strong so I took off, heading into the first corner harder than I probably should have. In fact, the whole way up I felt as if I was at my limit, gasping for air, my legs burning and the road just seeming to wind on and on.

Brendan eats while the Donvale Demon checks his Strava stats.

And then it was done. I knew the climb was only 3km long but, to be honest, I was expecting it to be harder and take longer than it did. I rounded the last corner and thought to myself “is that it?” before finding a bigger gear to push to the summit.

I had secretly been hoping for a time under 14 minutes for the climb, having posted a 14 minute 35 second attempt on my one-and-only attempt a few years ago. In the end I summited the climb in 12 minutes 54 seconds, quite a bit faster than I had thought myself capable of.

A short time later Brendan and the Demon reached the top, the latter suggesting that, despite the tougher gradient, he had found Arthurs Seat noticeably easier than Donna Buang. Knowing the climb was ony 3km long probably didn’t hurt.

We rolled back down to Dromana for hot beverages and sweet pastries before mounting up and retracing our steps back to Mordi. The ride back over Mt. Martha on The Esplanade was even better than the way down, thanks to seemingly lighter traffic and a lovely tailwind.

In fact, the tailwind stayed with us for most of the return, allowing us to cover ground quickly and pleasantly.

The Donvale Demon tearing up the tarmac on the return.

Before we wrap this up, a quick note about my 3 Peaks training more generally, for those that are interested. I’ve been blogging here about my main ride for the week but, these aren’t the only rides I’m doing. I’m also riding to work most days of the week and I’m also heading out on other shorter (less interesting) rides.

All this is to say that if you’re interested in following my training more closely (for whatever reason), you can find details of every ride at my Strava page. For other cycling-related fun and frivolity, come and say “hi” on Twitter and Facebook.

Until next time, please stay safe out on the roads.

95 days to go …

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One Comment

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  1. chris / Dec 8 2011

    Weather looks the complete opposite of what I had up Lake Mountain. Not a cloud in the sky and rolled the whole way in just the shorts and t-shirt.

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