Route: Eltham, Healesville, Toolangi & Kinglake loop, via Myers Creek Road
Duration: 4 hours 37 minutes
When I woke up this morning with rain pouring down outside my window, I thought I had missed my chance for a ride this weekend. My plan had been to drive up to Taggerty and try out the newly sealed road that skirts along the bottom of the Lake Eildon National Park between Eildon and Jamieson but when my alarm woke me at 7am I promptly rolled over and went back to sleep. I wasn’t about to spend 6.5 hours riding in the rain.
When I woke some hours later I found myself disappointed that I hadn’t gone out for a spin yesterday when the weather was perfect but I resolved to wait for a break in the head out today instead.
At about lunch time the rain appeared to have stopped and a quick check of the Bureau of Meterology’s website showed that no more rain was likely to sweep over Melbourne’s north east for the rest of the day. I dragged myself off the couch somewhat reluctantly, got kitted up and got on the road.
The previous morning I had picked up my bike from my local bike shop having insisted on a full service, including the replacement of all brake and gear cables. I’m not keen to take any chances for the 3 Peaks Challenge, which is now less than two weeks away, and so only a full service was going to give me piece of mind.
Rolling toward Yarra Glen I could already notice the difference. The bike seemed to roll a lot more smoothly, the slight buckle in my back wheel had been resolved and the slight rattle in the headsteam, due to a poor effort to reassemble the bike post-NZ, had also been rectified. In no time I was rolling down the Skyline Road climb and into Yarra Glen.
I turned left at the far end of town and rode the 12 lumpy kilometres to Healesville. To my great surprise I didn’t get any abuse or bottles thrown at me this time and I rolled into Healesville physically and psychologically unscathed.
Followers of this blog will know that I’ve ridden the Chum Creek Road climb a few times, but I’ve never attempted its sister climb, Myers Creek Road. Compared with Chum Creek Road, Myers is a little steeper and possibly a little longer but no less picturesque. It’s also good to get off the main road and during the ascent I was only passed by a dozen or so cars.
By the time I got to the Toolangi Pub the weather had changed quite noticeably. Where it had been overcast but dry in Healesville, it was now very foggy with a hint of rain. As I continued to work my way toward the Melba Highway intersection at Castella it continued to get progressively foggier and by the time I had crossed the aforementioned road and I was climbing toward Kinglake, visibility was down to less than 30 metres.
From the couple of times that I’ve driven from Castella to Kinglake I remember it being a mainly-uphill drag with a couple of steep sections but while I was climbing it I didn’t feel as if I was in any trouble. I got to Kinglake still feeling nice and fresh but the cloud cover at that point was ridiculous.
After a quick bite to eat at the local cafe I whacked on the ol’ wind vest and began my descent toward Eltham. With very low visibility and a wet road I was pretty keen to take it easy on the way down but soon enough I emerged from the clouds and the road ahead began to get drier. Despite the fact that the bike was feeling a whole lot better than before I put it in for a service, something had obviously gone wrong with the replacing of a gear cable because whenever I went to change into the big ring on the descent, it would slip straight back into the small ring as soon as I released the shifter. I stopped the bike and had a quick look and noticed that the gear cable was very loose. I tried to tighten it but after a couple of failed attempts I was more interested in getting home than fixing the bike so I decided to put up with it on the way home. Methinks I’ll be dropping back in to the LBS soon, unless anyone has some advice for this bike maintenance n00b?
The ride back from Kinglake to Eltham went quickly and painlessly and I found myself zoning out on a road that I’ve ridden so many times in the last few years. I rolled through Research and along the quick final kilometres toward Eltham and then climbed my way back home.
Despite what was shaping up to be a disappointing weekend training-wise, I still managed to get in another 100km+ ride that gives me a little bit more confidence for the beast that is 3 Peaks. As mentioned earlier, it’s less than two weeks until I take my place at the top of Falls Creek and begin inflicting 12 hours of pain on myself and while it’s probably obvious that I’m most apprehensive about that final, horrible climb, I’ll also breath a big sigh of relief when I summit Hotham and can start rolling toward Dinner Plain and Omeo.
So, do you think I can do it? I’ll certainly be giving everything I’ve got, but I’m interested to know what you guys think. Have I done enough training? Will I be fit enough to haul my sorry arse up the Back of Falls? Or will the real battle be psychological one? You can have your say by commenting below, by leaving a message on Facebook or Twitter, or by sending me an email.
Thanks again for all of the support, comments and suggestions over the last few months and it’s really heartening to get so many emails saying how much people are enjoying the blog, the climbs featured on the site or both. To those of you that mainly follow this site for the climbs, apologies again for my tardiness in adding to the list. As I’ve probably mentioned in recent weeks I’ve got a great handful of climbs I’m looking forward to sharing with y’all but I just need to get the time.
Stay safe on the road and we’ll speak again soon.
14 days to go…