May 30, 2012

The inaugural Melbourne Dirty Dozen

In the week before the Dirty Dozen, I’d tried to estimate how many riders might turn up. If everyone that said they’d turn up did turn up, we might have 25 if we were lucky. But with the weather looking pretty bleak and the queen stage of the Giro d’Italia finishing late the night before, 15 seemed a more realistic number.

So when the Donvale Demon and I arrived at the 7-Eleven in Upwey on Sunday morning and saw 50 cyclists waiting for us, I got an almightly shock. But I’m getting ahead of myself …

Image: Luke Yeatman

The Demon and I met at the Chandler Highway end of Yarra Boulevard at 8.15am and we were promptly joined by two other guys, Matt and Will. We got underway at a comfortable pace, riding down the Koonung Creek Trail toward Ringwood.

After about 10km a yell went up from the back of our small group — Will had a flat. Worse: his tyre was basically worn through from too much time spent on the trainer and even if he replaced the punctured tube, he was likely to puncture again. After a couple of minutes Will pulled the pin and called someone to pick him up. Our now-three-rider-strong group continued on.

By this point I was starting to get a little tetchy — we were going to be pushing it to get to Upwey by 10am. When I got a flat tyre no more than five minutes later, I went from being tetchy to downright irate.

I battled unsuccessfully for a few minutes to get the ridiculously tight back tyre off, my cold fingers lacking any real dexterity. After taking a few photos of my efforts (‘You’ll thank me for this later … you might just hate me for it now’) the Demon gave me a hand to remove the stubborn tyre and within a couple of minutes we were back on the road.

A great turn-out (Image: Betty Ridgway)

But the two stops had set us back and it was going to be a real struggle to get to Upwey on time. We toyed with the idea of catching the train from Ringwood to Upwey but when we had 15 minutes to ride from Nunawading to Ringwood, we knew it wasn’t going to happen.

We picked up the pace slightly and pushed on, and on, and on. Up and down the rollers to Ringwood, through Ringwood to Bedford Road, on to the Belgrave line rail trail, up and up and up. It took far longer than I expected to cover the ground to Upwey, traffic lights adding an extra element of frustration. I’d like to apologise to Matt and the Demon for pushing a little too hard on the way to Upwey — I was frustrated and disappointed in myself for not budgeting enough time for the trip (and any potential mishaps).

When we summited the ‘Mad Mile’ climb and pulled into the 7-Eleven it was with a real mixture of emotions. Embarrassment at being late to my own freaking group ride, surprise at the sheer number of people that had turned out, and relief that said people hadn’t packed up and left. All in all we were 15 minutes late for the party — not a great look. I apologised on the day but I’d like to say sorry again to everyone for keeping you waiting in the cold.

After a few minutes of ‘hello’s and ‘sorry!’s, it was time to get started. The guy who was instrumental in putting the ride together, David Blom, made a couple of announcements and after a short burst from his whistle, we were off. The first ever Melbourne Dirty Dozen was underway.

Here’s how the climbs unfolded:

1. Hughes Street

I started somewhere near the back of the climb and worked my way through the group as I went. I said ‘hi’ to a bunch of riders and thanked them for coming out. By this time the embarrassment was starting to wear off and the adrenaline was starting to kick in.

There’s no two ways about it: Hughes Street is a nasty climb and a tough way to start the day. There’s a couple of pinches there that are well in excess of 10% and I’m sure a few people were thinking ‘if this is #1, what are the other 11 like!’ I know I was.

I’d never ridden Hughes Street (in fact, the only climb I’d done of the 12 was Terrys Avenue … but more on that later) but I had seen it in Google Street View. Of course, photos never do steep roads justice and Hughes was a perfect case in point.

We regrouped at the Mt. Dandenong Tourist Road before descending toward Upper Ferntree Gully. Taking a left a Janesleigh Road, we were on to the second climb of the day.

Follow this link to see Marcus Nyeholt’s video of the Hughes Street climb.

The bunch at the top of climb #1, Hughes Street (Image: Andy van Bergen)

2. Janesleigh Road, Jones Avenue and Olivette Avenue

I started this climb dead last having waited for a couple of the slower riders on the first climb. As I’d done with the first climb, I moved my way toward the front, chatting with some familiar faces, so excited that we’d managed to get a great turn out.

One of the things that stood out about this climb was the wonderful switchback as you turn left on to Jones Avenue. Steep corner, narrow road, plenty of cyclists around: awesome.

Once back at Hughes Street we descended to Burwood Highway and headed toward Belgrave and our third climb of the day.

Follow this link to see Marcus Nyeholt’s video of the Janesleigh Road climb.

3. Alexander Avenue

This was a candidate for the easiest climb of the day. Roughly 1.4km long but only 6% in gradient, I never felt as if I was at my limit nor even close to it. Before I knew it we were up at Mast Gully Road, surveying the road that would cause such carnage a little later on.

We descended Alexander Avenue for a bit before turning on to the marvellously tight switchbacks of Oakland Avenue. A few people remarked that we should earmark Oakland Avenue as a possible inclusion in the next installment of the Dirty Dozen.

Follow this link to see Marcus Nyeholt’s video of the Alexander Avenue climb.

The eQuipo tranQuilo lads (l-r: Douggie, Demon, Marcus and Fletch) (Image: Betty Ridgway)

4. Gordon Avenue

If Alexander Avenue wasn’t the easiest climb of the day then this one probably was. A simple up-and-down one-way street, Gordon seemed like barely a challenge after Hughes Street. We got to the top, rolled back down and bunched everyone up for the twisty transition to climb number 5.

Follow this link to see Marcus Nyeholt’s video of the Gordon Avenue climb.

5. Brenda Grove, Tinto Grove and Acacia Avenue

If ever there was a way to lull riders into a false sense of security it was stringing Alexander, Gordon and this climb together. Sure, climb number 5 had one particularly steep corner but it was over in no time. Easy, right?!

At the end of this climb the bunch managed to get split in two (nice work Blommy!) but we eventually regrouped as we made our way to Wright Avenue.

Follow this link to see Marcus Nyeholt’s video of the Brenda/Tinto/Acacia climb.

Image: Betty Ridgway

6. Wright Avenue

If you asked the riders on the day which climb was hardest, they’d probably say Mast Gully Road or Terrys Avenue. I wouldn’t necessarily disagree, but for mine, no other climb had the same ‘WTF!’ factor as Wright Avenue. The road just heads dead straight up the hill and its brutal gradient is plain for all to see. At least Terrys and Mast Gully have the decency to twist and turn a bit when they’re at 20%+!

I started Wright Avenue toward the back but by the top I’d passed plenty of riders, including a whole bunch who were using the whole road to cut down the gradient. This road is freaking steep! I was using every tooth on my 34×28 and I was still wishing for another gear or two. The gradient eased off a bit toward the end as the road bent around to the right. After summiting the climb, we all rolled back down to regroup at Mast Gully Road.

Wright Avenue played host to perhaps the only negative moment on the day when a grumpy old resident of the street took it upon himself to swear at every cyclist as they rode past. I’m not quite sure what we did to anger him so much but he certainly wasn’t too impressed.

Follow this link to see Marcus Nyeholt’s video of the Wright Avenue climb.

Douggie from Team eQuipo tranQuilo leads the charge up Wright Avenue (Image: Betty Ridgway)

7. Mast Gully Road

I’d heard a bit about Mast Gully Road and how it reaches 20%+ not once but twice in less than 2km. I’d also seen images of the climb thanks to Google Street View, the steep sections in particular. That said, I’m not sure anything could have prepared me for just how horrendous that climb is.

The first pinch, as the road bends around to the right and disappears skyward, was a real kick in the face. I saw more than a couple riders walking up this first pinch, shaking their heads as they did so. The second pinch was even worse, not because it was steeper (which it might have been) but because the road was so thoroughly soaked and covered in bark.

Whenever I got out of the saddle, my back wheel spun out on the slick surface. Whenever I sat down, the front wheel lifted off the ground with every pedal stroke. As the road kicked up into some ungodly gradient the choice was made for me: I couldn’t generate enough power while seated to keep the bike moving. Out of the saddle it was!

I reckon my back wheel slipped every second or third pedal stroke in the final section of the climb and one occasion I had to unclip for fear of falling over. The second time I wasn’t so lucky. After my back wheel slipped on three or four consecutive pedal strokes I decided it was probably time to unclip my left foot. Of course I fell to the right.

Image: Luke Yeatman

Luckily I was more or less stationary at the time, thanks to a lack of traction and the ridiculous gradient, and I didn’t do any significant damage to bike or rider. I did manage to get a small scrape on my elbow and a banged-up hip but it could have been a lot worse (if I’d been moving, say).

At the top I shared a few words with other riders about the sheer insanity of it all. But, as horrific as the climb was, there’s part of me that would like to try it in dry weather to see how much of a difference a lack of wheel-spin makes.

Once everyone had made it over the climb (by bike or by foot) it was time to head back down to the 7-Eleven. At the servo many of us grabbed a drink and something to eat and a handful of riders decided to leave. The late start had disrupted some people’s schedules (sorry guys!) and others had only planned on joining us for a few climbs anyway.

After a short break, the remaining riders (about 35 of us)  jumped on to Burwood Highway and headed toward the eastern portion of the course. We turned left on to Sandells Road and made our way to Frame Avenue as a bit of light drizzle started to fall.

Follow this link to see Marcus Nyeholt’s video of the Mast Gully Road climb.

A rare bark-less patch of Mast Gully Road (Image: Betty Ridgway)

8. Frame Avenue

In the article I wrote prior to the ride I calculated Frame Avenue as having an average gradient of 18%. I think the Google Earth data might have been a bit misleading — it was definitely steep, but it wasn’t 18% average.

After the long, painful grind of Mast Gully Road, Frame Avenue’s 300 metres felt like a walk in the park. Eight down, four to go.

Follow this link to see Marcus Nyeholt’s video of the Frame Avenue climb.

9. Kitchener Avenue

We took a right at the top of Kitchener Avenue and descended to the end. As with Frame Avenue, Kitchener was definitely steep (above 10%) but at only a few hundred metres long, it paled into insignificance compared with what had come before (and what was still to come).

We regrouped once more, and descended Frame Avenue to Sandells Road and took a right turn.

Follow this link to see Marcus Nyeholt’s video of the Kitchener Avenue climb.

Andy van Bergen (left) chats to Ned Powell at the top of Frame Road

10. Sandells Road

The third-to-last climb of the day might have been 1km long at 10% but it certainly didn’t feel like it. Maybe it was because I took it easy (saving myself for Terrys) or maybe it was because it wasn’t quite 10%; either way, I got to the top feeling fine.

At the T-intersection I looked left toward the second half of the Terrys Avenue climb before turning away quickly. There’d be more than enough time to face that monstrosity shortly … no use jumping the gun.

We descended back toward Burwood Highway and took a left on to the Serpentine.

Follow this link to see Marcus Nyeholt’s video of the Sandells Road climb.

11. The Serpentine

A number of people said to me that The Serpentine was their favourite climb of the day, and it’s not hard to see why: those switchbacks are totally marvellous. Sure, the gradient is punishing at over 10% average but the tight corners and narrow road make it a climb to remember.

I started the climb in dead last again, having waited to make sure no-one missed the turn-off. I passed a few on the way up but it’s a climb I’d really like to have a red-hot crack at at some point (preferably when the road isn’t wet).

At the top it was time for a bit of a breather: 11 down and one to go. Of course that ‘one to go’ was the infamous Terrys Avenue — one of the hardest climbs I’ve ever done.

We descended Sandells Avenue to Burwood Highway and made our way through Belgrave to the roundabout where the bunch reformed. There was a suggestion that David and I go first, as organisers of the ride, and so we both set off on the final climb of the day.

Follow this link to see Marcus Nyeholt’s video of The Serpentine climb.

The wonderful final bend of The Serpentine (Image: Luke Yeatman)

12. Terrys Avenue

Of the 12 climbs we’d selected for the Dirty Dozen Terrys Avenue was the only one I’d ever done before Sunday. On my first attempt, in November 2009, I’d reached the top and said to my brother Brendan ‘I don’t ever need to do that again!’. And yet there I was on Sunday, leading 35 other riders up the climb, trying to build up enough speed to get up that first pinch of 24%+.

I managed to get through the whole of the first diabolical section before two riders passed me by: Ned Powell — who won B-grade in the recent Baw Baw Classic by a staggering 8 minutes  — and George Mallory — who many of you will know from his truly amazing blog post for CyclingTips about the time he climbed Mt. Donna Buang 10 times in one day to train for an assault on Mt. Everest.

Given the credentials of the guys who had passed me, I wasn’t too concerned. I took it easy on the flat and downhill section, saving myself for the inevitable suffering that I’d face on the second steep section of the road.

Wrestling with my bike as I lead out the bunch on the final climb of the day (Image: Luke Yeatman)

As difficult as this final climb was, I don’t reckon it was as hard as Mast Gully Road. For one, my back wheel wasn’t slipping all over the shop. Also, while Terrys is ridiculously steep, it’s consistently steep, meaning you can find something resembling a rhythm as you climb … even if that rhythm makes you look like you’re engaged in a wrestling match with your bike … a wrestling match you’re losing in an undignified manner.

I reached the top in third place with Andy van Bergen storming to the top just behind me. I’d climbed the beast in 16 minutes 19 seconds — roughly 5 minutes faster than my last effort (a greater-than-20% improvement!). I’ll take it.

And with that, the inaugural Melbourne Dirty Dozen was done. We’d started the day with roughly 50 riders and about 30 had finished — not bad given the slippery conditions and the sheer brutality of some of the climbs.

Follow this link to see Marcus Nyeholt’s video of the Terrys Avenue climb.

Evan Henley (l) and Andy van Bergen climb Terrys Avenue (Image: Luke Yeatman)

Given it was the first group ride I’d organised through this site (or at all) it was hard to get a sense of how it would pan out. As mentioned, I would have been happy with a turn-out of 15 so getting a group of 50+ was surprising and, to be honest, rather humbling. Tackling 12 steep climbs in a row has real appeal to me but I wasn’t sure how many others would be keen. Turns out I needn’t have worried — there are many, similarly crazy cyclists out there!

I also wasn’t sure how well the regrouping at the top of each climb would work. And with a group of 50+ riders you would think there’d be a couple that would get sick of waiting and just head off. I was absolutely stoked to find that everyone seemed happy to regroup and wait for others before moving on.

David and I had always planned for the Dirty Dozen to be a social ride and I think regrouping like that really created a great atmosphere at the top of each climb. Thanks to the faster riders for their patience!

And while I’m thanking people, there’s a bunch of people that deserve a special mention. Thanks to my partner Sharon and her parents Murray and Betty for coming out to take photos and video on the day. It was greatly appreciated!

Image: Luke Yeatman

A huge thanks to Heidi Lu Goodall and Luke Yeatman for coming out and taking photos of all the riders. If you haven’t already checked out Heidi and Luke’s terrific photos of the day, you really should. The links on their names above will lead to their respective Facebook galleries. Thanks to Marcus Nyeholt for filming each of the climbs. You can find links to each of the climb videos above.

Thanks to the handful of other spectators that turned up to watch and cheer us on. Having someone cheer you through the last section of Terrys Avenue is an amazing feeling – thank you so much!

A big thank-you needs to go to David Blom for making this ride possible. David spent many an hour researching the climbs and helping me put together a route that, we think, was pretty well balanced with the hardest climbs spread throughout the day. Thanks for your time and enthusiasm David and for directing proceedings on the day — it was greatly appreciated.

And finally, thanks to all of the riders that came along on Sunday. Having so many people turn up made it one of the most memorable days I’ve ever had on the bike. Thank you so much.

Post-ride refreshments in Upwey

So, for those of you that were there on the day, what would you have done differently? Are there climbs you would include instead of the 12 above? Could the ride have been organised better? Do let me know, either by leaving a comment below or via email. All suggestions will be greatly appreciated.

As requested by a couple of you, I’ve left space below for an honour roll of riders who managed to complete all 12 climbs of the first ever Melbourne Dirty Dozen. Rather than trying to remember who finished and embarrass myself by forgetting someone, I’m relying on you guys to tell me if you finished or not. Let’s get a complete list here!

And here’s an interesting factoid to leave you with: 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 …

The First Melbourne Dirty Dozen Honour Roll

  1. David Blom
  2. Matt de Neef
  3. Brendan de Neef
  4. Donvale Demon
  5. Matt Fletcher
  6. Marcus Nyeholt
  7. Ned Powell
  8. George Mallory
  9. Luke Chippindall
  10. Chris Burton
  11. Thomas Price
  12. Andy van Bergen
  13. Evan Henley
  14. Sean Morrison
  15. Warren Howe
  16. Hamish Moffat
  17. Craig Eastwood
  18. Murray Campbell
  19. Zach Tempany
  20. Glenn Ryan
  21. Dave Coultas
  22. Sam Dwyer
  23. David Rose
  24. Billy Belton
  25. David Kerr
  26. Richard Kempster
  27. Hermés P
  28. Goran Nikolic
  29. Matt Rodriguez
  30. Drew Wooding
  31. Pete Conradie
  32. Anthony Harris
  33. Vincent Bayliss

The bunch approaches Wright Avenue (Image: Betty Ridgway)

Image: Luke Yeatman

Gordon Avenue: nice and narrow (Image: Betty Ridgway)

Bunched up (Image: Betty Ridgway)

Image: Luke Yeatman

Route organiser David Blom battling away on Mast Gully Road (Image: Betty Ridgway)

Ned Powell was first on virtually every climb (Image: Betty Ridgway)

Image: Luke Yeatman

Image: Luke Yeatman

Image: Luke Yeatman

Image: Luke Yeatman

Image: Luke Yeatman

Image: Luke Yeatman

Image: Luke Yeatman

Image: Luke Yeatman

Image: Luke Yeatman

Image: Luke Yeatman

Image: Luke Yeatman

Andy, Brendan and Evan having a chat pre-ride (Image: Sharon Ridgway)

Representing LAID Cycling (Image: Sharon Ridgway)

Nicole and Tammy van Bergen (Image: Sharon Ridgway)

Brendan picks up a cheeky mid-ride Gatorade (Image: Sharon Ridgway)

Image: Andy van Bergen

Image: Andy van Bergen

Image: Luke Yeatman

Andy climbing Terrys Avenue (Image: Tammy van Bergen)

Climbing Tinto Grove (Image: Sharon Ridgway)

Image: Luke Yeatman

Image: Luke Yeatman

Image: Luke Yeatman

Image: Luke Yeatman

Image: Luke Yeatman

Image: Luke Yeatman


45 Comments

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  1. Vincent Bayliss / Jun 17 2012

    Hi Matt, if there is going to be an honor roll, could I ask you stick me on there? Once again, awsome ride and will see you next year.

    Cheers and thanks in advance,
    Vincent Bayliss

  2. Adam King / Jun 1 2012

    Thanks for the great ride. Will definitely be back again. Please add me and my buddy Glenn Landers to the honour roll – you can spot us on Strava from the ride. Cheers.

    • Matt / Jun 1 2012

      Hi Adam. Thanks so much for coming along. I just checked Strava and noticed that you guys missed a couple of climbs in the middle there: Gordon Avenue and Brenda Grove. :(

      Was that were you got your puncture?

      • Adam King / Jun 1 2012

        Yeah, Glenn got a puncture at the top of Alexander Av so we missed Gordon Ave and half of Brenda Grove I believe.

  3. Heidi / Jun 1 2012

    David, you, Chris and Matt’s early encouragement (before the ride) almost made me to try this exciting ride, but after driving (yes, drive not ride) through those climbs on that day, I most certain that I would embarrass myself in a lot of ways. But if this ride becomes annual event (as suggested by so many other riders here), since I do have passion but lack of strength on this sort of climbs, I would love to be a volunteer, any tasks like Welcome and Check in Riders (that way, you will get all the names recorded at the beginning, and tick off when finish), provide refreshment at the rest stop (If there are any), or making my favour chocolate brownies to share the joy at the end …. , I can handle multitasks (as most woman does), and I am sure there are a lot of family members would love to be involved if it is getting bigger, fundraising is other positive site for the ride.

    • Matt / Jun 1 2012

      That’s a really kind offer Heidi, thanks so much! I might just take you up on that offer! :)

    • David / Jun 1 2012

      The other thing to consider is that with the exception of Mast Gully and Terrys, the rest of the climbs aren’t as extreme in terms of gradient and length. If it means getting more people on their bike, I am quite willing to provide a few options of ride. The nature of the course that Matt and myself had come up with meant that you could potentially skip a climb and rejoin the group.

      The simple reality is that practice on any hill climb will improve your fitness and confidence, one only has to look at Matt’s beating of his previous best time up Terrys by over 5 minutes (after having smashed 11 climbs before it), or the Donvale Demon going from somebody who couldn’t make it up Mt Donna Buang from the base without stopping 10 times to kicking some serious butt in the 3 peaks ride. Reading stuff like that is inspiring, but to have help on the sidelines too is extremely valuable and very much appeciated.

  4. Robert Shepherd / Jun 1 2012

    Top work again boys. Having such a big group there to share suffer faces with on the way made the difference.

    Please add me, Robert Shepherd, pink Specialized, to the honour roll.

    Can’t wait until the DD gets big enough to close the roads off for!

    PS, have a look at some of the Strava segments if you want to hunt down any riders that were there but don’t look at the site.

    • Matt / Jun 1 2012

      No worries Richard, cheers!

  5. Adam Nicholson / May 31 2012

    so annoyed that I couldnt make it, looks like it was amazing. Will totally be there for the next one!

  6. chris / May 31 2012

    i think a fundraising behind this would be a great idea – was actually talking to the misses about this post ride…i’d imagine all the guys would’ve been willing to chip in a measly $10 and most would be willing to go higher.

    If you do it again next year, i seriously reckon you will be pushing up above the 80+ riders such has been the feedback on this ride. The only problem is, how would you go about getting a police escort?

  7. Drew Wooding / May 31 2012

    I had to walk up a few of them but I made it through all 12. Mast Gully and Terry’s Ave were just impossible to ride up on a 39×23; back wheel just kept spinning.

  8. David / May 31 2012

    The idea of this ride, came into being from having watched the Pittsburgh video (courtesy of Matt’s twitter stream) and thinking, can we do something similar? Initially my thoughts were to try to use streets through the suburbs of Melbourne and utilise the beasts that are Glenvale Rd and the old Templestowe Hill Climb Race track. I have a path that utilises the steepest streets around Vermont, Mitcham, Park Orchards, Donvale, Warrandyte, Doncaster East and finally the race track, I still intend to have a ride along the full length of this path at a future date.

    Given the success and popularity of our ride on Sunday, I envisage designing a few similar rides, whether these are done as a group activity, or just put up on Strava/The Climbing Cyclist website remains to be seen. Potential locations of such rides include Eltham, Wheelers Hill, Croydon, Oak Park, Doncaster, Surrey Hills and Hawthorn. Any suburb with a good, decent hill around will do. The goals of any ride will be the same, ensuring that the challenge is purely on the ascent of steep streets and that the timing and competitive aspect is on the climbing rather than the entire ride (owing to the potential of dangerous descents).

    As to why Upwey/Belgrave/Tecoma was chosen for this event, a few things came together. The first was that a friend of mine at work (who actually lives on Terrys Ave and cheered us on from her front yard on Sunday) came to me with an idea for a fundraiser for her kids kindergarten. Would cyclists be interested in doing a “time trial” up Terrys? This was at a point where Matt and myself were initially discussing the possibility of doing a dirty dozen style ride. My reply to my work colleague was that know a few of the roads nearby (Mast Gully) that we could possibly go one further and get somewhere near 13 (the number done in Pittsburgh). Sundays ride I suppose acted as a trial as to whether such an event would be something that would attract people and provide enough of a mix of fun and challenge. I would like the next ride that we do up Belgrave way shall try to be in aid of my friends charity – either via a donation or a sausage sizzle, etc.

    This initial discussion then led to a flurry of emails between Matt and myself and a preliminary map was drawn up. This first map was a bit shorter in length, yet it had a road (Leslie St) that hit 32%! The only difficulty was that Leslie St and one other road were one-way streets and Matt was concerned if we were to do this ride as even a smallish group, we would have to avoid the one-way streets and keep our riding legal. In the end, we chose with our map design to stick with the triangle defined by Terrys Ave, Burwood Hwy and The Mt Dandenong Tourist Road. To pick the streets, it was simply a matter of looking at a Google terrain map of the area and looking for streets of sufficient length that had as many contour lines running through them as possible. I was running by the mantra, if you make this ride incredibly hard, then more people will come, I think that is good as a rough guide. I think that was proven to be the case.

    By the time we had finished designing the course (I found the climbs and Matt linked them together), then Matt had calculated the lengths and average gradients of the climbs, we knew that we had created something special. The average gradient and length of the “hill climbs” were going to be tougher than the Pittsburgh event, yet our ride would cover less than half the distance of Pittsburgh as our transition time would be reduced owing to the compact nature of the course. Alright we had no cobbles and no Canton Avenue impossibility, but I think that Mast Gully and Terrys more than made up for that. Safety of riders also was a great concern, because whenever you go up, you must find a way down. The idea of fanging down Mast Gully or Terrys Ave didn’t hold too much appeal as the conditions might be slippery (as the turned out to be) and we didn’t want bodies flying off their bikes at high speed. This made the course a tiny bit longer, but I hoped that worked out well for everybody.

    I would like to thank all who turned up and helped make this event truly special, by keeping to our rules and the road rules, staying as a pack and keeping the event social. It isn’t always easy to make an event that allows the elite to show their skills and race a bit, whilst making it a fun challenge that is social and doesn’t have too much waiting time. I hope we managed to achieve that, certainly the feedback from a number of what I would call really good riders has been very humbling to have received. I love all the feedback, photos, video and strava data seen thus far, I don’t think that I could ask for anything more than the support shown by all who gave this ride a go.

    Finally a huge thank you to Matt, for writing up the articles, promoting the event, getting people interested and all of his on the day organisation was just amazing. I am still buzzing from this event and I am inspired to do more like it in the future.

  9. Evan / May 30 2012

    Thanks again for a brilliant morning out Matt and Dave!

    You both did a fantastic job of organising the course, and I thought everything went really smoothly.

    Well done on another great write-up and fantastic photos!

    Looking forward to the 2013 edition already, hopefully we’ll have the full Hells 500 crew out next time!

  10. scott / May 30 2012

    Great blog and great effort from all who gave it a go.
    maybe next time I will be fit enough to have a go myself

    depending on where you want to take it you could turn it into an event, but would that take some of the fun away?

  11. Dave Coultas / May 30 2012

    Thanks Matt,

    Was a great ride. Not sure how those roads and residents would handle 300 riders! The suggestions for improvement really depend on where you want to take it. To keep it as a group ride or turn it into an “event”? Plenty of time to mull that over. The main suggestions are: turn up early to your own ride ;-), perhaps have it earlier in the year and an earlier start time (9am?)

    • Matt / May 30 2012

      Nice one Dave and yep, good points! Did you get through all 12 climbs on the day? :)

      • Dave Coultas / May 31 2012

        Of course! Had a go up The Serp but got pipped by Ned. Creeped up Terrys but Mast Gully is the hardest for sure.

  12. Matt / May 30 2012

    Hey guys thanks again for the awesome ride. Can you please add me to the list Matt Rodriguez.

    Cheers,
    Matt

  13. Hermes / May 30 2012

    Hi Matt

    Thanks again for an awesome ride, and thanks to everyone for making it such a welcoming atmosphere. I would have to say this would have to be the hardest ride I will do in a long time. I was not convinced the night before that I was going to come, but when I woke up that morning I knew I had to tackle this course. Myself and 2 other friends did make all the climbs and would love it if we were included in the Honour Roll.

    Hermés P
    Goran Nikolic
    Matt Rodriguez

    Best moment would have to be the old fella outside abusing every cyclist that went past….That was classic….and also one resident giving his full support when we were climbing Serpentine (I think) saying “This aint the alps or the TDF, but all you guys have a lot of guts climbing this hill’

    • Matt / May 30 2012

      Thanks for coming along Hermes! Glad you had a great day.

      I love those little comments, the pieces of encouragement from local residents. So inspiring!

      Thanks, and yep, I’ll add you guys to the list!

  14. Vincent Bayliss / May 30 2012

    We gotta go annual with this one!
    Was an awsome morning and awsome turnout of riders. My legs chucked a few hissy-fits on the way but the rest of me loved the ride. The wet had me wheel-spinning on the really insane climbs but that’s cycling I guess.

    Thanks to the organisers and the others driving around taking the photos and vids.

    Awsome…

    Cheers, Vincent.

  15. David Kerr / May 30 2012

    Hi Matt, I rode and compelted the dirty dozen. I was wearing the burgandy SHCCC2012 Mt Buller jersey. Richard Kempster also completed the ride and was wearing the Orange and blue flemington jersey.
    I think the ride was fantastic and I expect to be back next year. The slippery roads and debris made it more challenging causing a few crashes and slowed quite a few riders. I suppose if the event was held 2 months earlier it would reduce the likelyhood of these being a concern, although you could still get rain.. This is not a complaint, just an observation that could make it safer and also allow for more interesting descents !
    keep up the great work !!

  16. Heidi / May 30 2012

    Matt, I have to say I was so surprise to see that many riders turned up for the start and more surprise to see that many to finish. With 12 ridiculous climbs, and cold and possibly wet weather, I thought you were lucky to get a dozen riders to start with, let alone the finish number. If I knew there were that many crazy/passion riders like you and your mates, I would bring my proper camera and ask (ok, maybe Beg) my husband wear one of those Devil’s costumes – call ‘Dirty Dozen Devil’. Hopefully, you will do it again next year, and next next ….year. I still feel amusing every time I think about the blank look on this old lady who happened coming out of her door, saw those struggling faces on the last climb, shook her head and mumbled something sounds like ‘nuts’.

    • chris / May 30 2012

      Bloody awesome ride!

      Best moments:

      a) The Serpentine…what a fantastic little climb that is. Hidden gem for sure and;

      b) The locals at the cafe at the bottom of Terry’s watching the waves roll out with a look of amusement and disbelief. Felt almost professional for a second there.

  17. jules / May 30 2012

    sounds like a great event. i love riding in the dandys but geez some of the locals are feral when behind the wheel.

    • Sean K / May 30 2012

      While going up Terry’s Avenue a car came speeding by, beeping and abusing every cyclist they passed.
      Cheers
      Sean

  18. norm / May 30 2012

    Big congrats to everyone that rode the inaugural dirty dozen. I suspect that you may have had more riders if the sky was bright and roads dry. That said, I think an event like this deserves to be ridden in cold, dark, miserable weather.
    Out of curiosity, how long did the ride take, from the first climb to the last?

    • David / Jun 1 2012

      Norm, It took around the 3 hour mark from first climb to the end of the last. I am sure that flying solo, it could be done much quicker.

  19. Sam Dwyer / May 30 2012

    Hi Matt,

    Thanks again for an awesome ride up some ridiculous gradients, the morale of everyone on the day definitely made it a lot of fun. I somehow managed to reach the top of each climb and got a few podium finishes on Strava too. Mast Gully rd is the first hill ever where I thought I wouldn’t make it up, much harder than Terrys and I’ll make sure to ride it a couple more times before the next one.

    Thanks again!

    • Matt / May 30 2012

      Great stuff Sam, well done! I’ve added you to the list.

  20. Nick Kapa / May 30 2012

    Great write up & nice pics! Shame I couldn’t make it, look forward to next one.

  21. Will / May 30 2012

    Great write up as usual Matt. Looks like a great day. Apologies again for the delay with my flat (to all!). Shattered I missed the ride, though with those gradients, glad I got my flat when I did. New tyres on the way (including one for the trainer!!). I’ll be at the next event with bells on (and new contis).
    Cheers

  22. Zach / May 30 2012

    Thanks matt was a great day, nice post.
    Can you add me Zach Tempany (greenedge kit)
    cheers!

  23. Murray Campbell / May 30 2012

    Hi Matt,
    Thanks again and also to David Blom for organising and running an excellent ride! My apologies for leaving soon after getting to the top of Terry’s – was getting cold and was dreaming about food! But should have waited for everyone to cheer them on…
    Can my name please be added to the honour roll as I climbed all 12 successfully? For me Mast Gully Rd was the worst with the 400m ramp straight up – it caught me out when the gradient was 2?%+ and front wheel lifting way too much and nearly went into gutter while getting off saddle. Improved my skills as the day went on too :)
    Thanks again!

    • Matt / May 30 2012

      Thanks Murray – it was a great day. I’ve added your name to the list. Cheers!

  24. GraemeO28 / May 30 2012

    That is fantastic. I aspire to be able to do the Dirty Dozen…maybe next year with training? :-)

  25. Sean K / May 30 2012

    Hi Matt,
    Once again big thanks to you and Dave for organising the ride. Can please add my name (Sean Morrison)* and my friend’s (Warren Howe)** to the honour roll.
    In case you want to know who we are:
    * – photo 19 of Heidi’s last climb album
    ** – photo 6 of same.
    Cheers
    Sean

    • Matt / May 30 2012

      Thanks Sean – done!

  26. Craig / May 30 2012

    Excellent ride. Having so many cyclists roll around really helped get up the hills – great stuff.

    • Matt / May 30 2012

      Sure did Craig. You got through all 12 didn’t you? If so, I’ll add you to the honour roll!

  27. Thomas / May 30 2012

    Matt & David,

    Many thanks for a great group ride.
    I managed to make it up all 12 climbs without touchdown, but like you Terrys and Mast Gully were a real struggle with the lungs, legs and will power.
    My legs and arms are still recovering … but the will power is happy.

    I hope it becomes an annual event.

  28. jaffa / May 30 2012

    Love it. Wish I was there. Family duties take priority though. May give this a crack in the next few weeks though. Well don!

  29. Ivan / May 30 2012

    Great pic of the LAID Cycling boys…..doing it proud!

    LAID Cycling will be back on board soon……if not for the dirty dozen, maybe the slightly muddy six

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