Today was the Audax Alpine Classic, a very long day on the bike! Probably the longest, hardest ride that I can remember ever doing. Two hundred kilometres of alpine Victoria, starting in Bright, over Towonga gap, up to Falls Creek, back down and over Towonga Gap again, back to Bright, then up Mount Buffalo and back!

With far too little training I was in a woeful state by the time I got to climb Towonga Gap for the second time — after starting in the cool of the morning, the heat and flies were driving me crazy, and I was climbing the hill at a miserable 9km/hr. By the time I reached Bright after 130km, I wanted nothing more than to get off my bike, eat the food and go back to the campsite. Sore legs, sore back, sore arms, but after twenty minutes of lying in the shade and resting, that nagging little voice kept telling me that I really should try to complete the ride, that it was “only another seventy kilometres,” and that there were “only twenty kilometres or so of climbing” up Buffalo…”

The closer I got to Buffalo, the less it seemed like a good idea. The mountain reminded me of Mt Ventoux in many ways — a great massif rearing up in front of me, the road seemed to get closer and closer without ever gaining any altitude. Finally we reached the gates to the national park and started climbing, and climbing, and climbing… still hot, still more flies, and very little tree cover after last year’s bushfires.