7 Peaks Domestique Series ride #1: Lake Mountain

This is what cycling's all about: great weather, great roads and great company.
This is what cycling’s all about: great weather, great roads and great company.

In the weeks before our first 7 Peaks Domestique Series ride, the number of cyclists confirmed as ‘Going’ never seemed to stop growing. I remember it passing 30, 40 and then 50 riders, at which point I thought ‘this is going to be bigger than the Dirty Dozen‘. And it was.

A few days before the ride I had a bet with series co-organiser and Hells 500 mastermind Andy van Bergen to see who could predict how many would attend. Andy guessed 67 and I went for a more conservative 60, expecting a few to pull out at the last minute.

We were both wrong. And not by a small margin.

The carpark was full before 8.30am.
The carpark was full before 8.30am (image: Tammy van Bergen).

Arriving at Marysville at around 8.40am on Sunday it was hard to tell how many riders had come along. The carpark was full (and then some) but with things to do before the ride got underway, there was no time to do a head-count.

After a quick, pre-ride address and after sharing around energy bars and gels courtesy of Winners Nutrition (thanks guys!), we broke into two groups. Andy’s wife Tammy and his sister Nicole led the first group straight into the climb while the rest of us set off towards Buxton for a quick warm-up.

With the short warm-up done, it was time to head back and tackle the climb.
With the short warm-up done, it was time to head back and tackle the climb.

It was a great start to the day: rolling along at the front of the group, chatting to Cyril Dixon, enjoying the countryside and fresh air and the fact so many people had turned up to take part in the ride.

After roughly 5km the group slowly turned around and headed back to Marysville. My brother Brendan led the charge to the base of the climb while I brought up the rear.

Andy had waited back in Marysville for the warm-up group to get back and he jumped on the back with me as we tackled the opening kilometres of the climb. After a few kilometres Andy suggested I head on up the road while he played Lanterne Rouge.

Nick and Kat on the first half of the climb.
Nick and Kat on the first half of the climb.

I took off up the hill, looking around each corner as I went, trying to spot the next group on the road. My plan was to move gradually through the field, spending a couple of minutes with each group before pressing on.

If you’ve ever tackled Lake Mountain you’ll know that the opening 4.4km are well and truly the toughest part of the climb. The steep gradients of those initial kilometres had split the bunch right apart so it wasn’t long before I came across the first riders.

I chatted with the first group for a few moments before I pressed on, giving it a max effort up the hill until I came to the next group. And that’s more or less how I spent the next hour or so — riding hard from group to group, soaking up the fresh mountain air, enjoying the perfect weather, chatting with happy-looking riders and generally having a blast.

Does it get any better than this? (Image: Maria Baranj)
Does it get any better than this? (Image: Maria Baranj)

As I moved from group to group I got a real sense of just how diverse a bunch of people we’d managed to bring together. Everyone had a story to tell. For some it was their first ride in the hills after recovering from injury (or after spending a few too many winter weekends in front of the TV). For others it was a rare opportunity to ride with a group of other cyclists, without having to head for Beach Road.

For most of the riders I spoke to it was the first time they’d tackled Lake Mountain. One of the biggest motivations behind the 7 Peaks Domestique Series was to get as many people out into the hills and trying new climbs as we could. To hear that so many people had come out to Lake Mountain for the first time, with us, was very satisfying.

Made it!
Made it! (Image: Maria Baranj)

For many of these first-timers, just getting through the climb was a grand challenge. Several people told me it was the longest, most challenging climb they’d attempted and that they’d just be happy to get to the top. Then there were those who were very familiar with the Lake Mountain climb and who were in search of a new PB.

For a select few, Sunday was a great opportunity to get in a two (or more!) ascents of the Lake Mountain climb.

But despite the mix of abilities and different motivations for being there on the day, virtually everyone I spoke to seemed to be enjoying themselves. And it was pretty hard not to enjoy yourself: exceptional weather, quiet roads, a great climb, amazing scenery, a great bunch of people and, at the end of it, a chance to collect the first stamp in the 7 Peaks passport.

Tony and Tammy cross the line.
Tony and Tammy cross the line. (Image: Maria Baranj)

As I crossed the line after about 80 minutes of climbing, one of our terrific volunteers Maria took my photo and I added my name to the ever-growing list of finishers that my partner Sharon was collecting. Maria and Sharon had been at the summit since the first riders got to the top and were still there later when the very last rider finished the climb. A terrific effort and one we’re all very grateful for.

After a moment’s rest and a quick chat to some of the other riders atop the mountain, Brendan and I headed back down the hill with the intention of meeting up with Andy. We found him about 6km from the summit riding with Tim — the last rider on the road — and Simon Atkinson and Paul Simpson who had also joined the the party.

What a great day.
What a great day. (Image: William Tao)

Brendan and I turned around and joined the others as they made their way to the top. Tammy and Nicole joined us a short time later and the eight of us continued upward, the summit getting ever closer.

After a few quick stops in those final few kilometres, our little group eventually made it to the summit and congratulated Tim on getting through the climb in one piece.

The question that a few of us had been asking as we neared the summit was ‘How many riders had finished?’ When Tim added his name to the list and Andy followed him we had collected a total of 97* names.

Andy van Bergen: Lanterne Rouge.
Andy van Bergen, Lanterne Rouge.

What an incredible turn-out. If you’d asked me a few weeks ago how many riders I would have been happy with on Sunday, I would have said 20 or 30. To see 97 riders finish on Sunday was not only inspirational, but very exciting and rather humbling as well.

Sharon tells me there were a handful of riders that didn’t write their names down on the list so we might well have had 100 finishers on the day. If you’re one of those riders, let us know and we’ll add you to the honour board (see below)!

Andy (r) and I, just before flying down the mountain (image: Maria Baranj).
Andy (r) and I, just before flying down the mountain (image: Maria Baranj).

I’d like to say a couple of ‘thank-you’s before I wrap this up. Thanks to Winners Nutrition for supporting the ride and supplying us with a box-load of gels and bars. I know the riders were all very grateful and I hope we can continue to work together as the series rolls on!

Thanks to Andy for all his hard work  in making the ride happen and for organising the boxes and bags for the clothing courier service.

A big thank you to my partner Sharon and her offsider Maria for all their great help on the day. It’s things like being cheered on, having your photo taken and being able to grab food and drink (not to mention warmer clothing) when you reach the top of a climb that turn a simple bike ride into something much more. Thanks ladies!

And thanks to everyone that turned up on the day — all 100 of you! It was an incredible start to the series and hopefully a sign of things to come!

The next ride in the series will be the mighty Mt. Baw Baw on Sunday November 25 and it’s sure to be an awesome day. If you’re interested in coming along, please let us know by clicking ‘Join’ on the Facebook event page or by sending us an email. We’ll be posting further information about the ride on the Facebook page and on the 7 Peaks Domestique Series hub page in the coming weeks.

And if you weren’t able to make it to Lake Mountain on Sunday but you’re still committed to completing the 7 Peaks series with us, fear not. We’ll be heading out there again on Saturday January 12.

Thanks for reading and don’t forget to check out the great photos below (and the honour board below that!)

More photos from the ride can be found on Facebook here and here.

Honour roll

These names were taken (more or less) in the order that riders completed the climb. But because we didn’t all start the climb at the same time, the list doesn’t reflect who finished the climb fastest.

If we haven’t got you on the list, let us know! If we’ve spelled your name wrong, you should have written it more clearly in the notebook … but let us know and we’ll fix it up! And finally, if your climb time isn’t listed and you’d like it to be, email Matt with the details (and a Strava link or similar to prove it!)

  1. Ian Stewart
  2. David Ablatz
  3. Troy Warren
  4. Dale Thompson
  5. Frank Zgoznik
  6. Chris Burton (1 hour 9 minutes)
  7. David Weiss
  8. Chris Hampton
  9. Adrian Sayers
  10. Aidan Rich
  11. Jarrod Stonham
  12. John van de Waterbeemd
  13. Richard Matison
  14. Tony Stuyt
  15. Evan Cooper
  16. Andrew Hamilton
  17. Nicole van Bergen (1 hour 16 minutes)
  18. Neil Smithies
  19. Andrew Catchpole
  20. Kevin Goodall
  21. Dave McLean (1 hour 21 minutes)
  22. Stuart Brown (57 minutes)
  23. Brendan Canty
  24. Jim Bougatsias
  25. Rob Urpis
  26. Brad Lyell (1 hour 29 minutes)
  27. David Taylor
  28. Sandy Woolley
  29. Shannon Turner
  30. Edward Green
  31. Simon Atkinson (1 hour 7 minutes)
  32. Ben Hellema
  33. Sam Thompson (1 hour 8 minutes)
  34. Thomas Price
  35. Ed Muggleton
  36. Nic Hamley
  37. Adrian Freeman
  38. Jamie Barber
  39. Wendy Garrett
  40. Cyril Dixon
  41. Brad Clark
  42. Simon Cornish
  43. Paul Simpson (1 hour 14 minutes)
  44. James Singleton
  45. Vlad Tsyrlin
  46. Geoff Foreman
  47. Gary Lucas
  48. Anthony Netkow
  49. Tammy van Bergen
  50. Tom Lucas
  51. William Tao
  52. Kris Dieber
  53. Tony Egan
  54. Brendan de Neef
  55. Shaun Smiley
  56. John Gogis
  57. Shea Dawson
  58. Heather Hoggan
  59. Peter Turewicz
  60. Paul Jamieson (1 hour 21 minutes)
  61. David Rose
  62. Craig Beeching
  63. Daniel Foster
  64. Karen Hill
  65. Rod Clark
  66. Graeme Robertson
  67. Peter Westley
  68. Michael Krischunas
  69. Matt McCullough
  70. Leigh Johansen
  71. Amit Verma
  72. Steve Baker
  73. Chris Allwell
  74. Lachlan Scott
  75. Lysiane Belton (1 hours 27 minutes)
  76. Matt de Neef
  77. Josh Goodall
  78. Glenn Page (1 hour 12 minutes)
  79. Janine Vavasseur (1 hour 39 minutes)
  80. Brian Beardon (1 hour 45 minutes)
  81. Tim Ling (1 hours 26 minutes)
  82. Nigel Welch
  83. Darren Treloar
  84. Rohan Wills
  85. Heidi Goodall
  86. Ashley Ray
  87. Simone Dwyer
  88. Brendan Cheshire
  89. Greg Sealby
  90. Peter Wirth
  91. Ned Powell
  92. Kathryn Feldmaier
  93. Jess Varey
  94. Bernie Peeler
  95. Tim Wodetzki
  96. Andy van Bergen

*Sharon and Maria are certain one rider was heading down the mountain as they neared the top of the climb in the car. They left #1 blank on the list for that rider — the first person to reach the top. If that was you: let us know so we can add you to the (top of the) list!

23 Replies to “7 Peaks Domestique Series ride #1: Lake Mountain”

  1. I love this sort of grass-roots, community-building stuff. Congratulations and thankyou for investing your time into organising these rides. Fantastic! I hope to join you on one or more of the climbs.

  2. Great day out and well organised. Am looking forward to the next one. In the meantime, it’s a revisit to Lake Mountain next week as part of Demons Double next week…

      1. I hope to be there yes, although I’ve had an audition scheduled on that day… I’m trying to move it, fingers crossed!

  3. Thanks for helping organise a great day. Your previous posts on tripple Donna inspired me to climb Lake Mountain a second time…… three was just too much. Really looking forward to some of the other climbs.

  4. sounds like a great ride and a fantastic intiative. With jan 12 some time I am sure I can get some good miles in the legs and negotiate a leave pass to join you on your next lake mountain ride

  5. Sorry about my poor hand writing on the note book. Number 20 on the Honor Roll is “Kevin Goodall”. I put my last name first on the not book. It must but the military training. Once again sorry.
    P.S. Thanks for a great ride.

  6. Hi Kat, you said your next one would be Buller, don’t you come for the Baw Baw one first, that will be on 25 Nov. Come on, for sharing encouragement, sympathy, painful tears, joyful tears (I know it sounds a bit dramatic with the word – tears, the guys will laugh), for whatever can be shared, we need some ladies ride (try to not think about walk here) for this tough one.

    1. I’m not sure I will be up for it, also a few different races on that week I was hoping to do so will see how that pans out, if not you may see me there, 23 days to train for it, she’ll be right! 🙂

  7. Thanks for the great organisation and great support. Getting to the closed resort up top then having the luxuries of fresh water, energy supplies, and even a bag for our rubbish, all brought up the mountain by your crew, shows a lot of thought and planning went into this. Looking forward to more peaks already…….

  8. Great work guys, it was a great day out, only my 2nd real climb I have ever attempted after Donna a couple of weeks ago (have ridden the 1/20 a couple of times but that doesn’t seem like a real climb now!) I am really excited for the rest of the rides in the series and will be doing some hill training in between instead of my usual flat Beach Rd rides, cant believe I have been missing out on great rides like this in my 4 years of riding! I usually avoid anything even with a slight incline but I am committed to taking on the challenge of the 7 Peaks, one little Tweet from Matt a couple of weeks ago to see if I could be convinced to come along and perhaps encourage a few of my female friends too has changed my way of riding and given me new motivation and goals to achieve this summer. Thanks to the ladies who helped out on the day, it was nice knowing there would be warm clothes if needed and water and gels at the top for us, plus the encouragement along the way, I was one of the last getting up the mountain and they were still there patiently waiting for all to finish, it was much appreciated, especially as they had given up a beautiful Sunday to stand around and help us who were getting the most of the sunny day! All of the other riders were really friendly and encouraging as they went past and happy for a chat along the way.

    Thanks again for organising, my next one will be Buller, look forward to seeing everyone again on that one!

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