Terra Australis MTB Stage Race - Day 3

05 April 2011

Day 3 – Terra Australis

Dinner Plain to Bright

Total distance 81.5km

Total elevation gain 2600mt

Ride time: 5hrs 20min

Hike a bike time: 35 mins!!!

brad_hotham_day_3If I thought my breathing and start sucked yesterday, well today I could not have felt any worse or risk being dead.

With some rain falling overnight in Dinner Plain, the clouds were low and the temperature chilly. A lot of moisture in the air had my respiratory system sounding like a dying long term smoker.

To start with the course followed cross country ski trails from Dinner Plain to Hotham and then descended down the main road to the ticket box.  If you have ridden a road bike down here, you know there are a few corners to be careful and some very fast downhills.  With a wet, slick looking road and knobby tyres the road felt even more precarious and Brad and I were keen to take it easy on this bitumen section.

 

hotham_ticket_gate_climbArriving at the first feed station, we saw the 4wd track off to the left that went straight up. Initially it was rideable and then it was walkable!  Brad and I could see the orange and black of the Torq team as we grabbed our bikes and threw them on our backs (thanks Brad for that improvement in my hike a bike skills).  This was the first walking section of the day, with many more to come. In the end we did 35 mins worth of walking.

So now we were on a section which was referred to as a ridgeline, a razorback, or a sawtooth. You get the picture. We were up, then down, then up and then down again.  Some parts rideable for at least 50% of the climb, then hike a bike, hop back on, roll down the other side and try to get momentum up the other side.

There was one downhill section that was shaley with no smooth line, just flat slippery slatey rocks. I tried my best to secure the line, but lost momentum and got off and walked the last 20mts.  Happy to have left my studs in my new Shimano mtb shoes, I was able to walk on my toes up the other side of these saw tooth climbs, getting 100% grip in the steep ascents.  To be honest it was getting a bit laughable with all this walking, it was a pleasure to be able to pedal uphill.

 

Terra_Day_3_EbeneezerAfter only 30km and about 2hrs out on the bike, we finally got the reward of a super non stop downhill that lasted nearly on 20km with a mild climb in between to mix it up. Dropping all the way to Harrietville the warmth of the day increased as did the scenery of ferns and running creeks.  
Feed station 2 at 50km saw Brad drop in and fill up the water bottles for the last time today. Now it was time to climb again, up Mt Ebeneezer. This lasted about 10km and nearly 1hr and included some more fantastic hike a bike, saw tooth climbs. We could feel the end nearing, be teased with a small flowing downhill only to be greeted by another sharp incline before heading down again.

It was an emotional roller coaster, Brad and I were sure we were there, imagining the next crest would descend us into Wandiligong…but no…one more! Never have I been so annoyed, but that’s what these races do, they mess with your head, and if you just keep moving forward, the ride will come to a finish. That’s what I had to keep telling myself, “it will end”.

day_3_finishEventually we were flying down to Wandiligong, and I was now so tired and sore from climbing I was not taking full advantage of the down. Gee I was sick of my attitude and Brad got me out of the hole, even more so when we finally hit the single track of Morses Crk, some fun loops and then a fast finish at the recreation reserve.

It was great to arrive in the warmth of Bright, the vibe of the town and to know we would rest our heads here for 3 nights. Tomorrow we could relax, only a 20km Team Time Trial and a sleep in.

Torq were gaining time on us, we were keeping our lead to a solid 2nd in Mixed pairs, anything can happen in a 7 day stage race like this though!