The plan was to complete Baw Baw on Sunday afternoon once Lake Mountain was accomplished. This seemed very achievable once the travel arrangements were in place. After all Baw Baw was a mere 6.2km but promised to be the steepest of climbs I would encounter on my visit. It is one of the steepest in Australia.
I had been extremely lucky with the weather on all rides so far, with the help of local knowledge and up to date weather apps (apart from the 107km gusts I encountered on Hotham!). On Friday I had some discussions with local cyclists about my mission. They questioned my sanity and suggested I was slightly mad to do both in one day. I would ultimately take their advice as I’m a newbie to this climate and countryside. It has thrown up a few surprises so far and I’m not prepared to take on anymore, after all I am suppose to be on holiday… really? So my plan is altered after Mount Buller.
After a debrief with cousin Michael (otherwise known as Gobshite for the duration of the 7 Peaks adventure), it’s decided I would be taking on Baw Baw the following morning. Three climbs in three consecutive days. No big deal, I hear you say😀
The approach to Mount Baw Baw was very special with huge native ferns, palms, and luscious green trees that smothered the undergrowth. I even had a meeting with a wombat who was sat on the side of the narrow winding road on the way up. This region was greener than Ireland and the air had a heaviness to it, a lot of moisture today. With high humidity and blistering pockets of sunshine, and no other cyclists here this morning, I would have to suffer and suppress all pain in silence and isolation.
This climb is very similar and comparable to the infamous Priest Leap in West Cork.
6.2km from the official start point at The Gantry to the summit with an average gradient of 20%. The surfaces are much better here and as I warmed up some 15km out I got myself psyched up for a relentless elevating ride. I was 4km in and was still waiting for that ramp up but before I knew it I was at the top, almost feeling disappointed. I hadn’t felt the 20% ramp… the training had paid off or I’m better at suppressing the pain and enjoying the outcome?
Pain is temporary as our club secretary reminded me by text a couple days earlier, a thought that helps you to push through the barriers when you are out there alone. In fact the climbs were becoming less challenging and I had just one remaining! Would this mean there was an anticlimax in store? I went through the ritual at the summit, got my photo taken by Christine who had joined the support crew for the day, a family day out.
Michael had forfeited his martial arts training today as he couldn’t bear not to complete all 7 peaks, and in hindsight he’d probably felt the pain more than I had. He had clocked up a few hundred kilometres driving in the past week. Some of the driving into the mountains requires patience and concentration as the roads are meandering and slow.
So with Baw Baw complete it was time to get ready to join Sundays sportive or Domestique ride up Lake Mountain with a few hundred other Australian riders. So no celebratory glass of wine tonight.
Some people ask why I do what I do, well one of my answers is “it keeps me off the streets”, and my latest one is “it keeps me off the drink”. No joking!