Monday, May 10, 2010

6 hour Mt Franklin out and back

Yesterday was one of the best times I've ever had on my bike. I was thinking about spending the day relaxing and maybe mowing the lawn, but after reading a couple of other blogs, I thought I should get out and do mine proud :) So I did the ride that I had planned to do, Canberra to Mt Franklin hut. I guess it's 30km or so from my house to the start of the dirt and then another 25km on dirt to the hut, which is at around 1500m-1600m. I left the house at around 11:30am with three sandwiches, 5 mint slices and two 750ml bidons of water, lights and a tight knit cotton work shirt (hard yakka style). The plan was to eat a sandwich when I got to the dirt, and then 2 biscuits or a sandwich every hour after. The water was there because I thought I might need it, but it is autumn and I was about to spend most of the day at 1000m altitude or above.

The sealed road part of the ride is road that I've ridden many, many times before... good riding and very hilly, but not much to report other than it took a bit over an hour to get it behind me. From the start of the dirt to Piccadilly Circus (an amazing circus with elephants, lions, very tall and hairless people and marching band) is 9km and it's all up. the road had been freshly graded and was easy going in terms of being in control.... there was a LOT of first and second gear action, and I doubt that I got above third for the 45 minutes it took me to finish this section off. It was kind of a pain, and I had started to blow through a bit of water.... 5 kph isn't quite quick enough to generate that nice cooling wind that I was banking on. From Piccadilly Circus to Tumut is another 90km or so, and I think it's all dirt.... I'm thinking about organising a group ride through to there at the end of winter, so stay tuned. I'm sure there is somewhere to stay overnight at the other end.

The next section, from Piccadilly to Mt Franklin was up and down (but generally up), and the condition of the road got worse as it went on. The trees turned from a lot of pine (plantations) to small white gums... not quite snow gums (or at least not the wind tortured snow gums that I remember) but I felt like I was getting way up there. Looking down from ridgelines I could see other mountains that topped out a fair distance below where I was riding. some really nice rocky faces, too... It felt like I was back in Korea because of the steepness and tree cover. I ended up at the new hut on Mt Franklin at 3pm, which was my predetermined turn around time. It's a corrugated metal shed which is pretty swanky looking, and was apparently designed by Adelaide Uni students. I ate my second sandwich and also put on the work shirt... It was getting cool, and a lot of the riding was in the shadows on the ridges.

The way back was quite the reward for all of the climbing on the way up :) The tires (35mm Vittoria Randonneurs) did a great job and only suffered one pinch flat on the way back. I am now on the look out for 40mm tires, though. I'd like to be able to really bang down hills without fear of caving in rims. I was out of phone coverage from about an hour into the ride, and on the way down I started to work out how long it would take me to walk to a spot where I could call someone to help if I really did taco a wheel or have some kind of problem... I guess I was at least three hours from contact and tried not to think about it. So the two and a half hours climbing was descended in an hour and fifteen minutes, and that was a conservative hour and fifteen minutes, on the brakes whenever things got a little rough, which was most of the time. I had my last break on the dirt at around 4:30 and the sun was starting to set across the fantastic valley just off the sealed road. It's worth taking your road bike a few km up the dirt to see the sights up there, if you're interested.

I was particularly happy with a few things about the ride. My shirt was exactly what I needed. It cut the wind and added a tiny bit of warmth. The whole bike was again fantastic, I feel as though I've discovered its real strength. The eating strategy. I was feeling good enough to get out of the saddle even a few kms from home to power up the last of the hills. Some things I would change... Leave the house earlier and have more wiggle time in the schedule. I became more and more aware of how isolated I was as I got further along Mount Franklin road and further away from telephone coverage. I'd also like to go in a group or at least a pair next time! But overall, massive success, a great day.

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