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That’s what I get for mocking the magpies. They swooped at me and not just one of those males, it must have been at least 5 different lads.

I completed my 3rd of the peaks in 2 days but have had a break and some rest before I tackle the 4th in the morning. Catching up with my Aunt in Melbourne and some of my cousins who were brought up here in Australia.

Dinner Plain, a climb with a difference. The longest climb over a distance of 43km and one that brought me to new heights (pardon the pun) and an uncomfortable altitude of 1,845m above sea level (I will write a piece on training at such altitude and the affect it has on the body at a later stage). The travel to the peaks is quite a logistical obstacle and one that I had perhaps underestimated. Another aspect of the climbs which I had not considered are the horrific gusts of wind that are predominant at such altitude. On this climb I experienced head on gusts of between 55 and 65km per hour.

I was looking forward to a few downhill sections half way through the climb but had to pedal hard through it, not only to battle winds but to get away from several angry male magpies. Cousin Michael had said “your safe now nesting season is over”. Not so, these Dinner Plain boys were up for the fighting Irish cyclist. So I have officially been swooped, not off my feet, but almost off my Giant Liv. The first swoop was scarey, I found myself screaming out “F…Off Magpie”. Next few were funny, with one getting at my helmet. Hopefully that’s it from them, I never want to encounter them again.

I stumbled across some stunning views of the valleys and peaks on this spin, snow covered hills at the very top with sleeping snow resorts, not long shut down from a very busy season of skiing. The temperatures were an icy cold 9 degrees with cutting wind, in contrast to the low lying town of Mount Beauty which was 28 degrees all day. Different worlds but yet only 32 Kms apart.

The most shocking to the body is the suddenness at which you gain altitude, only 10km drive up Mount Hotham to reach our destination or start point and I’m already feeling nauseated, head starting to explode. I’m yawning and feeling like I should be going to bed instead of climbing mountains. It’s finally clicked with me why I woke up at 3am with woeful tension through my eyes and unable to sleep. This answers why my lungs seem to malfunction on the last sections of my climbs each day… I knew I was fitter than my body was exhibiting.

And these are the mountains where the Australian Olympic and AFL teams come to train. They can only train a few hours at a certain intensity as they experience similar symptoms. Our bodies are not getting the amount of oxygen it is accustomed to and has to function on more carbon dioxide in the system.

I wont reap the true benefits until it’s all over and I’m prepared mentally to feel like crap whilst on the higher altitude. So much to learn but what an incredible experience surrounded by some of the best views in the World. They say a day where one doesn’t learn something is a day not lived.

Thanks to all my supporters and well wishers, I only wish I had some of my fellow cyclists to accompany me on the rides and someone to stop me swearing at birds and most of all talking to myself.

Tomorrows ride up Mount Hotham is a toughie, then which one of them aint? Stair-like climb for 10km from the get go. It’s 32km in total and is pretty hairy at the top with a height of 1,845 metres over sea level. I’m hoping the wind dies down and the sun shines up there.

So off to carb load here and stretch out the leg muscles. An early start tomorrow as I want to warm-up over a 10 to 20km pre-climb.

So join me tomorrow to find out if I conquer Hotham.

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I’ve been “Swooped” on Dinner Plain. — 3 Comments

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