Monday - Mt Hotham. We roll up to the pre-ride coffee stop under dark skies. Within two minutes it buckets down with rain. Great... and we were about to head 1800m upwards into even more clouds! Coffee over and the rain disappeared. We had nice tail wind to Harrietville before the start of the climb. Within a few kms we we down to four riders. Me, Kor, Stu, and Dave. I hadn't ridden with these guys before so I sat on the back as Stu and Kor tapped out a good tempo. I lost a few lengths on the Meg as the road hit 10%+, but scampered back as we crested the top and got back into a more manageable 4-5% climb. Into the meat of the Hotham climb - the long boring bit between the top of the Meg and the fast false flat. As soon as we hit the flatter section I felt more at home and kept the power down. 19kms into the climb we hit the toll booth - were I was dropped last year at the ToB. Again, same deal, I was dropped at the same spot! 10%+ for 1km just doesn't suit me... but I kept an eye on the PowerTap and paced myself along. 10kms to go at the top of the tool booth climb and visibility was down to around 5 meters in places. I caught a glimpse of the three guys up the road and they were no longer together. Up CRB hill I was pulling them back, but again on the 10%+ climb it was a pure suffer feast. A few of the fast downhills sections were hairy with not much visibility. I manged to peg back Kor on the base of the final climb section. I had Dave in my sights about 30 seconds up the road, and Stuart another 30 seconds or so up from him. I wasn't able to make any more gains and groveled over the top and down into Hotham Village. We timed everything well, the rain came down hard as we were downing our coffee and the sun was out for the descent. Relatively dry roads meant we could bomb the descent without much drama. I thought the hard part of the day was over until everyone started sprinting for road signs all the way back to Bright!Kor and I rolled over the TT course again later that night for more kms.
Tuesday - Mt Buffalo. An earlier start time, cooler conditions, and more climbing! We reach the base of the climb to see "Runners on Road" signs up. Some crazies were running from the base to the top, 11kms for around 2hrs - thats hard! We had it easier, around 20kms, under 1hr, and we were sitting down most of the way. :) Stu and Kor set the early tempo until we had to single-file for a few cars and other riders. I ended up on the front and decided to push hard and see how long I could last at that pace. First goal was to reach the left hand turn for the start of the northern side of the climb. Done. Only Kor and Dave on my wheel, I told them I couldn't keep this pace all day. They were enjoying watching me suffer, so kept me on the front for the next 30 minutes or so :). I start losing steam and dropped back to third wheel for a 'rest'. Dave gets on the front and pushes hard. Kor drops back off his wheel and gives me a shove as I go past to latch on. Cheers Kor!. Dave sets an awesome tempo for the rest of the climb, we reach the left hand hairpin and I know we're within 5 minutes of the top. Dave and I roll over the top totally spent - one tough ascent with everyone pushing each other much harder than we could have gone up there solo. We grab some happy snaps, watch some of the runners complete their race, then raced down flat-out. Kor managed to hold about 10-15m on me all the way down with Roland on my wheel.
Back home via Sam Miranda winery to see Marty Tobin (working on cup day!). We stocked up on a few bottles of wine - half our xmas shopping done. Another great weekend up at Bright, and many more to come!