Route: Eltham, Kinglake and Whittlesea loop inc. Humevale Road climb
Duration: 4 hours 13 minutes
Kinglake climb time: 24 minutes 48 seconds
I was pretty keen to get a ride in this weekend, despite having only just returned from New Zealand last night. The choice was clear – ride today when the forecast temperature was 31 degrees, or procrastinate, and head out tomorrow when it was 41 degrees. Not the toughest decision I’ve ever made.
In the last episode I mentioned that I was keen to ride 100km+ on at least three more occasions before 3 Peaks and so I figured, why not get one out of the way straight away? I mapped out a route that took in the standard ride to Kinglake as well as the ride over to Whittlesea and the Humevale Road climb to boot.
I headed out to Kinglake and felt really strong from the outset. For anyone that’s ridden through Eltham on their way out to Kinglake you’ll know that there is a pretty hilly stretch between Eltham and Kangaroo Ground and with no warm up this section tends to cause me a few headaches. However, today I felt fine and I managed to power through the first 15km and then I was on my way at a fair clip.
It was a pretty warm day out on the road but having smothered myself in sunscreen before leaving I wasn’t too worried about getting burnt and the cool breeze that I was generating kept me fairly comfortable throughout the ride. I launched into the Kinglake climb feeling really strong but I didn’t want to go all out – I still had a long way to go. I found a good tempo and just tapped that out for a little under 25 minutes. I was about a minute off my best time in the end, but given that I wasn’t pushing at my max, I’m pretty happy with the result.
After reaching Kinglake I filled up my water bottles and got straight back on the road, pushing uphill through Kinglake West and out to the Yea road. I took a left and started rolling toward Whittlesea and down the couple of steep kilometres toward the bottom of the hill. Rather than continuing on to Whittlesea though, I took a left at Humevale Road and headed to the start of the climb of the same name.
It’s only the second time I’ve been out to that climb and it’s changed a bit since I was last out there. That first time was shortly after the Black Saturday bushfires and the road was in pretty awful condition, not to mention the state of the surrounding vegetation. Today though, the road was in far better nick and it was a joy to ride through the Kinglake National Park regrowth.
After climbing quite comfortably to the top of Humevale Road I turned left and descended toward Whittlesea for the second time. This time I passed Humevale Road and into the main township where I took a 5 minute break to rehydrate and get some food into me.
The ride back from Whittlesea to Eltham took me straight down Plenty Road which, while being fairly boring, is a pretty terrific road for cyclists. There’s a wide bike lane all the way down (to Greensborough at least) and it’s nice and flat so you can get into a good, fast rhythm. I did just that, reaching Grimshaw Street in no time at all and after pushing through Greensborough I was back in Eltham.
I was expecting today’s ride to be quite a challenge and with the heat, quite a draining experience. Instead I felt comfortable the whole day long and while I was quite dehydrated when I got home, I felt like I could easily have ridden another 50km if not more.
It’s such a psychological boost to knock off another 100km+ ride as the big day approaches. Knowing that I can get through a ride like that with very few dramas – and with only 5-10 minutes break – gives me far greater confidence than I’ve enjoyed previously. Sure, there’s a big difference between two short climbs in 110km and three big climbs in 230km but I feel like I’m headed in the right direction.
If I stick to my plan of two more 100km+ rides, with one of those over 150km, then I’ll feel even more confident than I do now. Without wanting to jinx any such plan, Brendan has flagged an interest to head up to the high country next weekend for a bit of a spin so, all things going to plan, that could be a great way of getting some more kays in.
For those that are wondering, the bike seemed to hold up pretty well on the flight back from Auckland last night. Quite remarkably it didn’t cost anything extra to take the bike on my New Zealand trip and the small inconvenience it caused was greatly outweighed by the benefits of having it there. That’s all I say about that as I’m planning on posting an extended summary of the New Zealand trip including my thoughts about the state of cycling in New Zealand and some possible tips for those looking to head there with their bikes.
As well as that I’ve got a great guest post to share with you guys in the next day or so that I’m sure you’ll enjoy. Of course, I’ve also got a whole bunch of climbs that are pretty much ready to be added to the site. So, plenty of cool things to look forward to.
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Until next time, stay out of the heat and we’ll be in touch soon.
43 days to go…