Cycling down under

Right, if your ears just survived the dramatic music and your eyes and heart survived the beauty in the video above then  – G’day mate!
When this blogg hits the screen I will be landing in Berlin on my way to Melbourne via Abu Dhabi & Sydney. On March 12 2017, exactly 14 years later to the day that Professor Marc Winslett, in a room high up on the 8th floor of the Royal Free hospital in London declared – ”Your treatment for cancer has been successful.” I will be facing the sort of challenge that makes you think, re-think, think again, and just for good measure, think a bit more.

The lingo!
Of course, I want to fit in. I will be staying with my ’Rellies’ and undoubtedly they will understand my english perfectly, but I dare say being on their home turf they will slip in the odd slang word for good measure just for a laugh. Do they say G’day as often as we think? Fair dinkum, Sheila, Gawd Strewth and Stone the crows! Well here’s a few words that may, or may not, get me out of a tight spot and my favourite:
Ankle biters = Little children

Falls Creek
Back to business.
Enter Falls Creek and the Three Peaks Challenge.
A 235 km ride, with 4000+ meters of climbing in temperatures that can hit the 40’s. Add to that a landmass ill-famed for housing most of the most venomous creatures on the planet and you can understand my intrepidation, oh and if that’s not enough … all to be done on the left-hand side of the road in under 13 hours. If I do it in under 12 hours I will get a finishers jersey!

The Route

Falls Creek bike route

So what’s it all about?
Three Peaks challenge is a ride that starts and ends at Falls Creek just to the North East of Melbourne, Australia. Or as locals say ”Straya”. The flat bits and downhill parts are laced with these three beauts!

1: Tawonga Gap.
Distance                                         7.6 km
Climb:                                             498 meters
Average gradient:                      6.5%
Ave. Ascent time                       33mins
Website citation: ”The first of the peaks to climb, Tawonga Gap is the smallest, but should still not be underestimated. After the descent of Falls Creek this is the first serious effort required. The climb has a few tight hairpins but generally is a consistent gradient and effort is required. Consider the amount of effort you expel, with an eye on your riding time with two peaks still to come.”
Sound advice thankyou. Gawd strewth … the language courses will come in handy.

2: Mt Hotham
Distance                                         30 km
Climb:                                             1332 meters
Average gradient:                      4,2%
Ave. Ascent time:                      2hrs 6mins
Website citation: ”With its formidable length and unforgettable moon-like summit”, the second peak to conquer, Mt. Hotham is among Victoria’s most iconic cycling climbs. The best way to pace yourself for the climb of Mt Hotham is to mentally divide into thirds – steep, false flat, steep. Taken as a whole, it’s a long tough climb, eased a little by a relatively gentle middle-third, and punctuated by a few very steep sections. The first of these, the Meg, is a 300 metre stretch with a gradient of 11.8%.” – How cute!

The second steep section, CRB Hill, is a 700 metre stretch with gradients in excess of 10%. And finally, you confront the Diamantina, the last and arguably toughest section of the climb (1.4km at 9%).Push through the pain and you are rewarded with views of Hotham Heights and the Mt Hotham Alpine Resort Entry.” .
Stone the Crows mate, you’re gonna croak on that hill!

3: Falls Creek
Distance                                         35 km
Climb:                                             1322 meters
Average gradient:                      4,6%
Ave. Ascent time:                      2hrs 20 mins
Website citation: ”The final climb is the Falls Creek climb from the Omeo side. With the road only being sealed in 2009, from the Omeo Highway to the edge of Falls Creek at Windy Corner, this climb is still a relative unknown to many cyclists. However, those that have tackled the climb will not forget it quickly. With the first 8 kilometers averaging around 10% gradient, it has been known to push many a cyclist to their limit.” – And just in case there may be any doubt of the severity of this climb;
Cycling tips own journalist cyclist reports:
”It hits you like a sucker punch in the face. The first 10km has nearly a 10% gradient and I swear people were walking past me quicker than I was riding.”
– I have no words! This race would be like doing Passo San Marco twice!
I do wonder how I will look back on this ride.

But first I have to get there
Flight booked UAE all the way to Sydney. 4 days of sightseeing/acclimatising and then on to Melbourne to stay with the rellies in Devon Meadows. My cousin Laura’s husband Dave, has sorted me out with a Alu-bike to ride around on so my legs don’t seize up. On the Friday before the ride we will head to and pick up the Specialised Tarmac I have rented just for the race.
My pedals, shoes, helmet and other accessories are going with me.

My Trek
I looked into getting it there, but there were too many airports and uncertainties.
Just from Abu Dahbi to Sydney and then Melbourne to Abu Dahbi would cost 3,000sek. To that I need to add Stockholm – Berlin – Abu Dahbi. Then Sydney – Melbourne, and lastly Abu Dahbi – Berlin – Stockholm. Made all the more difficult by the fact that I could only book my bike from Berlin only when I was actually at the airport in Berlin?
So the Lady Madone stays home. Safer there.

Vätternrundan 1994 and #5 was safely procured in record time 11hrs 30. I got my 5th Anniversary medal and of course, my next decision was staring me in the face. Not straight after the finish, or 30 minutes later as my knees were trying to spell sit down in sign-language but sort of 2 weeks later. My inner dialogue was: ”Gary, you do know that 6 means 10 right? You can’t stop on 6 that’s just silly, as is 7, 8 and 9.” So 10 it has to be 10.

PS: When Aussies speak of Europe are we ”Up over”?

I came, I saw, I biked

Gary Fleming: Currently a 55year old father of five girls living in Sweden who loves nothing more than to get out on the road and pedal.

You are cordially invited to join me at this blogg where I will re-tell the stories, experiences and history of my own battles with my trusty carbon steed plus reporting on current topics, training rides and camps, cycling in other parts of the world and finally what you may or may not have thought about; what you may need to make your Vätternrundan an event to remember.

Now a Veteran with 26 completed Vätternrundans in my water bottles I will be in Motala on June 9th for Halvvättern and again on June 15th. I have only one motto when it comes to cycling. ”My destination is not my goal, the road is my goal” Hopefully we will meet on the road