TMCC

TARRAWANNA MENS CYCLECLUB

Victorian Alps Day 1 – Mount Hotham

It’s easy to be intimidated. Hills hurt. Deciding to ride up one of the biggest, more iconic, scariest climbs in all of Australia can do your head in. The fear of the unknown takes hold, how steep does it get? Is it snowing at the top? Will I make it? WHY ARE WE DOING THIS? The TMCC took a trip to the Victorian Alps to find the answers.

Basing ourselves in the picturesque town of Bright, we planned 3 full days of riding, with the intention of conquering 3 of the biggest climbs near by, Mount Hotham (1861m), Falls Creek (1780m) and Mount Buffalo (1723m). Truth be told the elevation gained on each climb is a touch less, the road doesnt always go right to the top, and sometimes you start a bit above sea level, so Hotham is 1573m elevation gain, Falls Creek is 1308m and Buffalo is about 1058m.

Hotham was up first, Day 1 – why not get the big one out of the way? The climb itself while long, is for the most part quite nice. It’s essentially broken up into 4 steep sections, with very cruisy long scenic sections in between. The first of the steep sections is the first few hundred meters! Starts with a real bang, and no doubt scares the hell out of first timers.

Riding out of Bright was nothing short of stunning. The sun was out, the skies were clear, morale was high.

Starting from Bright and going to the summit of Hotham also happens to be the 3rd and final stage of the Tour of Bright. Some big names have cut their teeth in this small race before going onto bigger and better things.

Heading south along Great Alpine Rd out of Bright, its only a short 25km trip to the small town of Harrietville. It feels like the second you leave Harrietville your suddenly going up hill, and the hill doesn’t look like its going to stop any time soon. The Hotham climb has begun! And for most people, it’ll be at least an hour and a half, if not two hours before they reach the summit!

This vintage jersey was pulled out of Chris’s award winning closet – won back in 2000. The sprint champ packed the climbing legs for this trip though! Turning a bad situation into a good one, Owen nursing a broken collarbone took on the support car duties.
The first real kick, “The Meg” – 300m long at 10% gradient. Not a lot of fun, but not too bad, we’re only about 4km into the climb.
Winding up the ridge line, its fantastic riding. The climb really backs off, and the road becomes lined with dead trees. Yellow markings instead of white, so you can see them when this road is covered in snow.
Blue skies and temps around the 15 degree mark, perfect. No snow, but the advice is still valid! There are some seriously steep drops off the edge of the road.
It’s time to climb. Another steep pinch.
The closer you get to the top, the more it opens up. The scenary is stunning, but you can also see how far you’ve still got to go. In this case, around the left as far as you can see, then some more.
On a clear day like this, the view into the surrounding Alps is amazing. It’s as close as Australia gets to feeling and looking like the European Alps.
New wheels, and the end of the climb almost in site, Ross is happy.
Ezio and the Tour of Bright Sprint Champ put on a lesson in climbing.
Mount Bogong in the disance. Its the tallest peak in all the Victorian Alps at 1986m. Thankfully there are no tarred roads up its slopes. And yes, there is a litte bit of snow still up there!
Done! Heading under the bridge you’re now going downhill into the Hotham Heights village. 30km of climbing finished!
Everyone got the top, some fresher than others, but Fish, pictured here gets a special mention. Not carrying a lot of fitness into the weekend away, he left nothing in the tank getting up Hotham. Smashed would be an understatement.

Reaching the top and pausing for a moment to admire the view – it’s an amazing feeling. Every one of the guys was as wrapped as the next: “Mannn that was fantastic!” “That last bit was rough, but what a sensational climb!”.

TMCC at the top of Hotham! With so much 5am riding, and coming off the back of winter, sun tans aren’t a common feature in the group. The support car had plenty of cream – turns out not everyone used it!
After going uphill for almost 2 hours, it was time to eat. With the cafe only serving coffees and cakes we rolled down to the “General Store”. While part of it is exactly that, the other half is a pub with possibly the best food in all of Victoria.
The General is highly recommended.
Getting a bit cool sitting around at 1800m, it was time to head back to Bright. 30km descent anyone?
Not long after “The Meg” KaBoom! Front flats are never fun, especially not at 50+km/h. Thankfully it happened on a fairly straight section of road. The only casualty was the top of the rim sidewalls. Not to worry, spare front wheel in the support car! Love it.
Cruising back into Bright, the temperature was now a balmy 26 degrees.

Day 1 – DONE!. The ride ended up being a fun 134km, nice warm up for the next day. Hotham comes highly recommended. It’s big, but incredibly unique, and well worth the pain going up! More Vic Alps posts coming soon!

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9 comments
  1. Greg918 says: November 30, 201111:11 am

    Awesome photo’s guys! Looks incredible down there.

  2. Greg918 says: November 30, 201110:11 pm

    Awesome photo’s guys! Looks incredible down there.

  3. norbs says: December 1, 20111:13 am

    I wish I had the engine to climb at places like that. Very very jealous.

  4. norbs says: December 1, 201112:13 pm

    I wish I had the engine to climb at places like that. Very very jealous.

  5. Anthony says: December 3, 20118:49 am

    Great work. Was that Ross in a sprint finish at the top – good hill climber for a big fella. Well done guys. Anthony

  6. Anthony says: December 3, 20117:49 pm

    Great work. Was that Ross in a sprint finish at the top – good hill climber for a big fella. Well done guys. Anthony

  7. Colin Anderson says: December 21, 20112:05 am

    fantastic to see the photo,s & read your tale, brought back memories of coming over from NZ a few years back & riding the Sem Fed Audax the week prior then the inaugural ACE 250– certainly sent me home with *dead* legs for NZ,s Wellington – Auckland 6 day 13 stage race- but all good experience & met some great Australian cyclists, who showed me how to *downhill* esp Buffalo & Meg.
    Colin Anderson New Zealand- just another oldie.

  8. Colin Anderson says: December 21, 20111:05 pm

    fantastic to see the photo,s & read your tale, brought back memories of coming over from NZ a few years back & riding the Sem Fed Audax the week prior then the inaugural ACE 250– certainly sent me home with *dead* legs for NZ,s Wellington – Auckland 6 day 13 stage race- but all good experience & met some great Australian cyclists, who showed me how to *downhill* esp Buffalo & Meg.
    Colin Anderson New Zealand- just another oldie.

  9. Mt Hotham says: September 7, 20146:23 pm

    Hi Tarra Cycle Club,
    Its Mount Hotham Resort Management here! We love your photos and were wondering if we could use them on our cycling section of our website http://www.mthotham.com.au. We would credit you 🙂 Please let us know, brennasharp@mthotham.com.au

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