Bike riding has always been a peaceful place for me!
I was a bit late to riding, learning at a friend’s party in my early teens and promptly crashing into the back of a parked car. My first second hand bike, when I was 15, became a ticket to freedom from the confines of an eastern suburban home and by 19 I was getting a custom built bike with 15 Gears from Hillman cycles in Brunswick and doing a 10 week university break tour of NZ. What a blast! In those days I was one of the few cyclists passing all the cars on Swanston St riding to and from workplaces!
I proceeded to include bike touring as part of traveling in Canada, Europe, UK and Australia. It is such a wonderful way to travel, ok, hard work but once in the flow, you can see and feel the country and discover all sorts of unexpected surprises along the way. In Scotland, I was overtaken by another cyclist from Germany and we proceeded to travel for the next 3 weeks together in Ireland.
I completed the 7 Peaks Alpine Ascent challenge in 2013/14 and again in the summer of 2015/16. I use my mountain bike so that I have low gearing for Mt Hotham and Mt Baw Baw! I have appreciated the company of my son this year on Falls Creek and Mt Buffalo and another friend accompanied me last time on Mt Hotham. I should say that I am 56 years old now so I am allowed to use “granny” gear!
I think Hotham is the toughest, its steep sections are long and the final climb to 1800+m never seems to end. In 2013 we did this in the dark, having made a hot start late in the day from Harrietville, to ride through the Bogong moths at sunset, through fog and chill temperatures for the final climb. This year I did it in the brazen heat of the day, drinking 3.5 litres in the just under 4 hours it took me to complete it.
So yes, its ok to go slow, using the low gears for the steep sections, its not a race but a wonderful opportunity to enjoy our high country.
My partner is my support vehicle and 7 peaks has got us exploring parts of the Alps we have not visited before like Mushroom rocks near Mt Baw Baw, Walhalla, and camping at Lake Catani at Mt Buffalo. I love climbing up through the forest, hearing lyre birds, kookaburras, currawongs and smelling the changing eucalypts with the ascent – eucalyptus, peppermint and nutmeg smells before entering the snow gums towards the top.
For me bike riding is a bit of meditation, falling into the rhythm and allowing thoughts to drift and settle; so I always look forward to the ascents, a few hours of quiet peace in the bush.