Mt Hotham is not for the squeamish

Last year’s file!

brown line = altitude, red line = heart rate, blue line = speed

I can picture the café in Harrietville, where I plummeted into the chair after the descent of last year’s Mt Hotham stage, not able to move for ages and intensely grateful for Mick’s foresight to send our friend Bruce ahead to collect the car from Bright to pick us up. The 30 km climb and descent had cost me so much energy that I didn’t think I could ride the 25 km back from Harrietville to our holiday apartment in Bright. It was the hardest thing I had ever done.

The café is the sign that the climb is about to start.

Finally I’m writing this post. It is well overdue. Colin asked me a long time ago in one of his comments and I promised to take up his challenge: to write down how I commit to ride Mt Hotham this year. It is meant as important part of my training for Bright this year – the mental preparation! Visualising the race and concentrating on each step I will have to take in order to be successful and to achieve my goal.

So this is how I’m going to race Stage Three of the Tour of Bright, the ascent to Mt Hotham, this year:

I will not contest the intermediate sprint just before the café and I will eat a Clif Bar before Harrietsville so I will start the climb well fuelled.

Once the road kicks up I will, steady and without haste, work my way up to my climbing heart rate of 162 bpm and find my rhythm as soon as I can. I will not stress about the attacks that will inevitably take place and I will not be tempted into chasing any of the faster girls. Putting myself deep into the red zone for the small gain of staying with them for those few more meters will not be worth the loss later on through fatiguing too quickly. Mt Hotham is a long climb.

I will concentrate on technique, breathing and drinking for the next four kilometres because the climb is steady and the effort will be known to my legs through the countless training rides up the similar gradient of Mt Mee. I won’t shy away from the pain of riding right at the climbing threshold but I won’t push pass it either.

I will reach “The Meg” within 20 minutes of the start of the climb. The Meg is a sharp rise of 12% for about 400 meters. It will hurt and I will get out of the saddle to keep my momentum. It will be only a short-lived pain and nothing in comparison to what is to come so I will push through and over and settle back into my climbing rhythm immediately after the Meg. I will keep an eye on the time and push steadily on to reach the 10 km mark in less than 40 minutes.

Once the road levels out to a mere false flat I will eat another Clif Honey Oat bar and keep the cadence high and spin my legs in order to get rid of some of the lactic acid build up. I will also keep my heart rate just below threshold for a little rest before the serious part of the climb that starts at the toll booths.

From here on it will be a matter of just pushing on for the last 10 kilometers and keeping the negative self-talk in check. It will be tough and it will hurt but I will be better prepared because this year I will have the 27 teeth cog on my cassette and I will have “I can do this. I have done this before!” ready, should the gremlins of negativity return.

It will be all worthwhile because the view from the top is stunning and the sense of achievement is worth paying the price.

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8 Responses to Mt Hotham is not for the squeamish

  1. trio says:

    You go girl! You are going to fly up it!

  2. Ant says:

    Think positive Groover – you will murder this thing.TIP: Use the "Big Shed" at Smoko as your marker to eat before you hit the climb. This is probably about 8 or 10km from the base of the climb, somewhere around the first sprint stage, and is a very prominent landmark to remind you.You've ridden it before, you know what to expect, now is the time to do it BETTER, FASTER, STRONGER.I will be there cheering you on. All being well I will find a suitable vantage point somewhere up the hill.

  3. Colin says:

    Great work Groover. I would suggest not responding to early attacks may well be your biggest challenge – that natural competitive surge is difficult to harness.

  4. Judi says:

    YOU GO GIRL!! you give me such inspiration!

  5. This sounds like a great climb! I wish I could do it with you. How's the descent? (And again, I salute your forethought and planning. That's often the most important part of training, the mental aspect.)

  6. Will says:

    best of luck …. remember during the pain to remind yourself how much fun your having 😉

  7. Bluenoser says:

    I'm using your wheel as inspiration to make the last two cross races you know…-B

  8. Buttsy says:

    When I raced up Hotham, I just did the first part as fast as I could without trying to bust myslef,as I knew the false flat was MY COUNTRY I passed a couple of girls who had cooked themselves, when we got to the false flat, the last steep hill is horrible – just gid rid of every last bit there…….wish I was racing but I'm not…..

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