Surviving the Alpine Classic Extreme (ACE250).

Last Sunday, I rode my first Audax Alpine Classic Extreme (or the ACE 250) down in Northern Victoria. This ride was simply fantastic and the thing I love about Audax riding is the opportunity to go to some really amazing places. I’d never been to Bright or the Victorian Alps before and I wasn’t disappointed. My preparation for the ACE was however somewhat poor. I didn’t get any good rides in over January and I’d barely slept in the two days before the ride. On Friday night, my girlfriend Pia and I had pulled in at Gunning en route and we were constantly woken up by trucks stopping and starting throughout the night. At the Bright campgroup on Sat night, I was kept up by the noise of fellow campers and the discomfort of my camp roll. I got to sleep around midnight then woke up 3.5 hours later to prepare for the 4am start for the ACE250.

The start of the ride was amazing. I’d never seen such a big peloton with thousands of lights and reflective vests all rolling out of town. I gather most of the ACE250 riders choose the 4am start time. We headed out to the footsteps of Hotham at a good speed and I stayed with the front riders. The climb was steep but you didn’t really notice it when it was so dark and cool. I rode at my own pace and every second person that I meet seemed to be a medical specialist from Adelaide! Coming near the top of Hotham the mountain ridgeline split in front of us with the sun coming up illuminating half the mountain with the road ahead covered in darkness. The fog intensified near the top and it was hard to believe were already 2000m above sea level. At the Dinner Plains checkpoint, I fuelled up on bananas and coffee and started the 60km descent down to the second checkpoint at Omeo. I was feeling fantastic and pushed on quickly at the second checkpoint refuelling as I rode. Riding to Anglers Rest along the Omeo highway was the most awesome road. The road was level but constantly winding as it followed the contours of the river valley below for some 50km. Then suddenly you saw the mountains ahead. A sharp left and I’d turned onto the climb up Bogong Moutain which had most tough gradients of 8% over the first 9km before tapering off to 5% then 4% near the top of the mountain. I was lucky to get up the mounatin early in the day with some cloud cover and before the sun had got too intense. I was passing riders up the mountain and still feeling really good. I rolled into Fall’s Creek at 1.30pm and thought that I was really cruising. At Fall's Creek I stopped for a coffee, three ride puddings and three mini quiches and had good chat with Pia who was volunteering at the checkpoint. There was 70kms to go and half of it was downhill. The desent to Mt Beauty was fantastic, however, as I turned up the final climb at Tawonga Gap, which was 9km of 8%, my fantastic ride came a cropper. I started to cramp up in my ankles, then around half way the climb, I started to get the most foul stomach cramps which were like experiencing gastro. I was in a lot of pain and could not stomach any food or drink. I just had to pedal slowly to reach the top. Despite only having to roll down the hill into Bright, my pain did not end after the climb. The bumps in the road on the descent felt like punches to the stomach. I rolled over the finish line at 4:30pm after twelve and a half hours riding and I could barely raise a smile. I was hunched over holding my stomach. After around 30mins of sitting down in the river, then a few salad rolls I started to feel good again. I’m not sure exactly what happened on Tawonga. I may have hit the wall or may have eaten too much of the wrong food to cause my stomach to go into spasms, but it wasn’t a pleasant way to finish. As I had eaten well throughout the day, I think it was the latter but whatever had happened I hadn't got my nutrition right.

 Thanks to many friends here on SydneyCyclist who've sponsored me. I recieved $900 in donations towards the Oncology Children's Foundation and was given an OCF jersey to wear on the day for my efforts.

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Comment by Dan on January 26, 2011 at 1:20pm

Awesome! Well done.


Maybe it was the three 'ride puddings' that did it for you...

Comment by Struggler on January 26, 2011 at 2:25pm

I saw you come in.  I was with the OCF guy - Charles. 

Well done - more the achievement for having struggled.

Comment by Michael S. (Boxhead) on January 26, 2011 at 3:04pm
Great achievement. Sounded like you were doing it too easy up until Tawonga. ;-) As Struggler said "more the achievement for having struggled".
Comment by Adrian on January 26, 2011 at 3:25pm
Small world Struggler/Charles! Thanks for your advice before the ride. Yes, struggling may make for a better achievement but I'm all finishing with smiles. I saw the lantan rouge come in around 8pm and they looked pretty happy. I'll have to look after myself a bit better next time, and yes Dan, I'll stay clear of the rice puddings.
Comment by Tony Arnold on January 26, 2011 at 7:07pm
Well done Adrian.  That looks like one hellova day in the saddle!
Comment by DamianM on January 27, 2011 at 9:07pm
Well done Adrian. That's a long day on the bike! Shame about the stomach cramps though.
Comment by centurion48 on January 29, 2011 at 4:18pm

@Adrian, damned good effort, especially when things started to go a bit wrong. You might have been more dehydrated than you thought and that made digestion harder.

There is an opportunity to go back and test your nutrition plan over the route again in March:

3 Peaks Challenge 2011

Comment by Neil Alexander on January 30, 2011 at 1:50pm

I suspect the rice puddings. Three is an overdose. I only ate two and survived without stomach cramps. But maybe I should have applied one or more to my arse because that was very sore after 250km of pounding from a narrow saddle. Of course, it may have been the mini quiches. I didn't have any of those.

Seriously good effort, Adrian, finishing in 12.5 hours after poor preparation. I took 15.5... but I do have an excuse or three. I rode it alone, on a different day, on a heavy touring bike, and I am almost 25 years older than you. So I just thank dog that I even completed the route.

Comment by Lisa on February 1, 2011 at 9:01am
wow, congratulations Adrian. big effort. sounds tough
Comment by naomi on February 3, 2011 at 9:55am

Yes well done! I remember enthusiastically handing Nick a beer when he finished last year and all he could do was clutch his stomach in pain as well!

I hope I get to ride some of those parts I haven't seen yet myself one day - especially the Omeo hwy you describe.



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