I always feel a sense of relief when I hop on my bike at a Domestique 7 Peaks event. For the weeks and months leading up to the ride, it’s all about permits, approvals, road closures, insurance, registrations — everything but actually riding my bike. Getting there on the day and getting the ride underway is a reminder of why we do this — why Andy and I put these rides on in the first place.
For those that don’t know the backstory, the Domestique 7 Peaks Rides came about because Andy and I wanted to share our love of cycling in the hills. We wanted to get as many cyclists climbing Victoria’s great mountains as we possibly could. Four years on, we still get a huge buzz when we call for a show of hands at our pre-ride briefings and well over half of participants indicate they’re doing a climb for the first time, with us.
I was one of the last to start the climb in Mirimbah, having stuck around to help our trusty volunteers pack up. In the lead-up to the ride I’d entertained ideas of having a real crack at the climb. But with the offer of a more sociable option — thanks Nic! — and with tired legs from a tough CyclingTips Sickie Ride the day before, I was more than happy to take things a little more easily.
I’m always pleasantly surprised by the Mt. Buller climb. I’m not sure whether I’ve just done it so many times that I forget how nice it is, but whenever I get onto that road and start climbing, I find myself looking around, struck by the beauty of the surrounds.
It had been pretty warm at the bottom but a little way up the mountain, in the shade of the towering gums, a cool breeze was blowing, making for perfect riding conditions. It’s a cliche, I know, but cycling has a real knack of making you present in a moment; making you appreciate what you’ve got right then and allowing you to forget about the ups and downs of daily life.
I spent much of the climb riding with Andy’s sister Nicole and two foolhardy individuals that had ridden from Melbourne to Mt. Buller the day before (280km with more than 5,000m of climbing, in case you’re wondering). The fact that those two riders weren’t lying on a couch somewhere was staggering to me, much less the fact that they were voluntarily climbing a mountain. But, kudos to them!
Roughly an hour and 10 minutes after I set off from Mirimbah I reached the Mt. Buller village, Nicole leading us into the resort after a cheeky little last-minute dig.
Seeing and speaking to those that had conquered the climb for the first time was another reminder of what this series has come to mean to so many people. When you’ve climbed a mountain so many times, it’s easy to forget how satisfying that maiden ascent can be. To be able to share in the joy those people felt was a privilege; to know that we’d helped them achieve that, an honour.
And with that, the Domestique 7 Peaks Rides are done for another summer. We might have held fewer rides this time around, but with great attendance numbers (record numbers at Lake Mountain and Mt. Baw Baw), perfect weather at each event, and hundreds of satisfied riders, it’s been another very satisfying series.
As ever, there are some terrific people we need to thank. Without them these rides honestly wouldn’t happen. To my partner Sharon, my dad Ron and to Nicole: thank you, once again, for your tireless support. We couldn’t do this without you. To David Jukes: thank you for donating your time and riding “lanterne rouge” on Saturday. It’s a valuable service and an important role — I know Dale was most appreciative of your support. To Andy’s wife Tammy: thank you for your ongoing behind-the-scenes support. To Ben at his team at Mt. Buller: thanks for making us feel so welcome (as always).
We also owe a great deal of gratitude to our series sponsors; the brands and individuals that have ensured we can continue delivering these rides for free. To CycleCover, Tourism North East, Pro4mance Sports Nutrition, Verge Sport Australia and Bicycle Buyer/Swiss Eye Sunglasses: thank you. Your belief in us and what we do is greatly appreciated.
And, of course, to everyone that has come along and joined us on the various mountains: thank you for being part of it. We hope you’ve had as much fun as we have. To any of you that have bought some Domestique merchandise along the way, an extra special thank-you. Every little bit helps.
And while the rides might be done for this summer, there’s one more event left on the Domestique 7 Peaks calendar that we hope you’ll join us for. On Sunday March 20, from 11am, we’re having something of an after-party at Arrivée / Départ in Fitzroy, to see out the series. For all the details and to RSVP be sure to check out the Facebook event page. We hope to see you there.
In the meantime, be sure to check out the video I put together from Saturday’s ride (see below), not to mention Kirsten Simpson’s fantastic photos from the day. You can see Kirsten’s images throughout this post and you can download low-resolution versions of any of the 200+ photos she took over at her website. Simply use the password “Domestique” to get access. You can of course buy higher-res versions as well.
As ever, thanks for reading. Stay posted for an article, video and photos from a tough but rewarding mountain bike ride I did at Mt. Buller the day after the Domestique event …