If the answer to one or more of these questions is ‘yes’ you should join myself and the Donvale Demon on Saturday November 10 as we take on the Reefton Spur, Lake Mountain and Mt. Donna Buang all in one day. Here’s the Demon with a teaser …
NOTE: If you’re interested in coming on this ride, please let us know by ‘joining’ the event on Facebook, just so we’ve got an idea of numbers.
There’s something a bit sick (and not in a good way) about me lending my name to an event with ~3,500 metres of climbing – especially less than a year since my first climb, Mt. Donna Buang, nearly ended me.
Looking back, naivety was the only thing I had going for me. I didn’t understand the barrier to entry for cycling uphill was made of pain. Within a few hundred metres I got to know that barrier intimately, before falling through it to the next one, on which I impaled myself before hurtling into a vat of lactic soup.
I came out the other side only to tumble headfirst into my pain cave – a place of rudimentary Neandertal drawings, animal bones and scary noises. (I’ve been back in the cave since, and added some decent furnishings).
It’s worth pointing out the Demon’s Double route isn’t mine. I was told about it by Josh Goodall on this very website, who suggested I try it as preparation for 3 Peaks, which I attempted – and completed – for the first time in March. ‘Be warned’, said Josh, ‘it’s nearly as difficult as 3 Peaks itself’.
Due to various logistics, I knew in the days leading up to it I was going to do the ride solo. That didn’t disappoint me in the least. As a slow climber (ed. at the time!) there’s a certain relief knowing you won’t spend your day worrying that everyone up ahead has had to stop and wait for you; and that as soon as you arrive they’ll start riding again, giving you no chance to catch your breath.
As per Josh’s instructions I started at Warburton, heading out towards Marysville. Getting there involved crossing the Reefton Spur, which – I realised for the first time while doing it – is a decent challenge in itself. It goes up. It goes on. You’ll hear people saying it’s beautiful. And it is. But it hurts.
At Marysville I had a break before turning round and climbing Lake Mountain. Then it was back down, and back over the Reefton Spur, much (but not all of which) is a magnificent descent – albeit with some stubborn little pinches and rollers. I felt tired and full of bizarre mind chatter. Nonsense mostly.
It was a relief some time later to be back in Warburton, where the car was waiting, my change of clothes and … no wait, before that, there was still the ascent of Mt. Donna Buang, the second of the day’s peaks and the last of its challenges.
At the turn-off for the start of the climb I checked my iPhone and realised the battery was about to die. In my woeful pre-Garmin incarnation, this meant the Strava app would shut down at any minute. It’s hard to believe anyone cycled before Strava. What was the point?
I realised I’d have to switch the phone off to preserve the data from the ride so far. And so I found myself exhausted, alone, watching the sun begin to set, with no phone, no means to record my final climb, the car just a kilometre or so away (with at least one Chupa Chup under the driver’s seat) and no pressure from anyone – except myself – to keep going.
The decider for me was that I’d done so much work already and would regret not seeing the ride through. Even then, I rode into the encroaching darkness convinced I would turn around at any second and roll back down the mountain to the car.
Making it to Cement Creek – the end of Donna’s steepest section – would be enough, I thought, until I got there and decided to push ahead for the final 10km. There was nothing spectacular about those final kilometres: I rarely got above 10km/h, it was dark, I was miserable. But predictably enough I felt happy to reach the top – and pleased to rack up 17 rolling kilometres of descent.
Was it almost as hard as 3 Peaks? Meh! I’m not sure, to be honest. But it’s a decent day in the saddle.
The Demon’s Double will be held on Saturday November 10, and will start in Warburton at 8am. Further details will be available on The Climbing Cyclist and on the Demon’s Double Facebook page in the coming weeks.