Here at Dirty Clean Eats we (generally) love anything exercise related, especially if it involves MAMILS (middle aged men in lycra). No wait, I think I got the last bit wrong.. Anyway, if it involves keeping a fit and healthy body and mind, and also gives back or helps something bigger, then it gets a tick from us. We all have that one wanker mate that makes us look bad by doing ridiculous challenges to raise funds for things, that friend in our life is Dan, and we love him…
What is it?
Simply put, an endurance event is something that crazy people put together for fun, and then slightly more normal people dare each other to see if they can finish. There are loads of different rides all around the country, but the event we chose was the ‘Audax Alpine Classic.’ They offer several different rides, we chose the ‘Original Classic – 200kms’ which contains over 4000m of climbing through Bright, Mount Buffalo, Mount Beauty and Falls Creek. This is all in a day- with a maximum time of limit 13.5 hours.
Why do it?
I personally had 3 main reasons for doing the ride.
- To see if I really could do it. Plenty of people doubted me- and to me that always throws up a little doubt in yourself. I have grown up riding bikes- but never been particularly good at it.
- To prove everyone wrong.. because lets face it, there’s no better feeling than sticking it to the haters. Don’t get me wrong, people were supportive… but I have never been the most ‘committed’ athlete. I would often (*always) choose the allure of a pub, or a night out, or anything with beer or wine. More often than not these events are followed by a day of couch and KFC, rather than the gym or a ride. So needless to say there wasn’t huge confidence in me from a lot of people- which made me want it more.
- Charity. Audax have partnered with the Kids Cancer Project for years now, and when you sign on for the ride you can set up a fundraising page as well. I’m a bit of a sceptic when it comes to a lot of charities these days, but these guys seem like the real deal. The feeling of raising money for a cause is great, especially when these little tackers get a really shit hand dealt to them.
How do you prepare?
This one is obvious- training. The best thing you can do in the lead up is to spend plenty of time on the bike, riding long distances and throwing in plenty of climbs. Or so I’m told. The first idea of the ride was floated in mid-May. From the start of July until mid-October I barely even looked at my bike. In fact, checking my Strava (great app for riding and running), I rode 3 times, for a total of about 80kms. Not an ideal start… but hey- it was cold and wet. It also served as a bit of a wakeup call- realising the event was only 3 months away, and I had never ridden even 100kms in one go, let alone 200.
I started getting up early and sneaking in a couple of rides a week in before work, for about 20-25kms each. By mid-November I was started doing longer weekend rides as well- and ticking off an average of 150kms per week. December brought the usual challenges- family and work functions, and a shitload of food and drink. I still made the most of these too- because I mean it only comes around once a year. Even still I managed to ride a total of almost 700kms, including my first +100km effort!
January came up super quickly, and by now the 3 of us that had committed to the ride were starting to realise the enormity of the task. I was starting to think that maybe everyone was right… and I wouldn’t be able to finish. To not let it get the better of me, in the first 3 weeks of January I rode 755kms, including 4 x 100km+ efforts.
The most important part of the prep though, came the day before the ride. In our cabin in Bright, sitting around talking plenty of shit, and then one of the guys pulled out the Nads hair removal cream. He said something along the lines of ‘if you’ve gone to this much effort, you might as well go the distance’. 10 minutes later and my… ‘legs’ were smooth as silk. I can’t lie to you- it’s not half bad.
It’s a nice early start for the day- 6.20am is when the whistle blows to head off. There were plenty of nerves, but overall we were all feeling pretty good about it all.
Fast forward 2 hours and I had made it to the top of Mount Buffalo, the first climb, and about 35kms in. Plenty of catering up the top with food and drink, so a quick stop and off again. Well, not as quick as it could have been, because one of our trio, who has elected to remain nameless (or as his mum knows him, Marcus), had managed to take a wrong turn. An impressive effort considering it was the only wrong turn possible- there is only one intersection on the entire hill.
Another hour saw me at the bottom of the next climb- Tawonga Gap. This was a bit steeper than Buffalo, and being 80kms in meant the legs were starting to get tired. But we pushed through to the top and cruised down to the next food stop at Mount Beauty. Falls Creek was the next climb, and a sneaky 35kms long, with the last 10km up to the Chalet ramping up quite a bit in steepness. This is about 130kms in, and a proper struggle. Another rest at the top for a drink and to catch our breath, and back down the hill. By now we had been on the bike for just under 7 hours.
Back down in Mount Beauty we stopped for another quick drink, then back towards Tawonga Gap. If there’s one thing you don’t want to see after almost 8 hours, 160kms and over 3000m of climbing, it’s another hill. Or someone dressed as one of those scary clowns. The last climb was brutal… the last 500 metres felt like 5000. Heading over the crest, and knowing the final hill was done and dusted was such a huge relief. I started the descent with a renewed energy. On the final (flat) 10kms, I put my head down and pushed as hard as I could. I started cramping up badly, but knew there wasn’t much to go. I crossed the finish in a total time of 9 hours 5 minutes.
- Just the feeling of finishing the ride is incredible.
- The fitness. Riding is a great way to build lean muscle, and your fitness and endurance increase massively. It’s also a reason to not get too carried on the booze over the summer- as a lot of these rides take place early in the year, you subconsciously take it easier.
- The opportunity to raise some money for charity, you’ll get a buzz out of that too.
- Probably the main one- you have a great excuse to keep your ‘legs’ hair free.
- Time.. Riding takes time. Lots of time. Especially the long rides essential to your training.
I guess the best way to judge something like this is asking the question ‘would you do it again?’ And that’s easy, because we already have!