by Richelle Olsen
We had 2 weeks off over the Xmas/NY break. What could we do? Shane was injured, so our usual head to the mountains for hiking/running was out, and well we couldn't just stay at home! We had often talked about riding one of Victoria's rail trails, and had even bought a rail trail book, but like most things, ideas pass, and books go walkabout... Until now. Borrowing a friend's railtrail book, I sat down and found the longest one in Victoria, 97kms from Bairnsdale in Victoria's east, to Orbost. And with no way back from Orbost (you can't take bikes on V/Line buses on that route), it quickly became an out and back of around 194kms. 4 days/3 nights sounded about right.
Done, thats what we were doing. That was easy.
Our Rail Trail and/or Multi-day Cycling Experience
Shane - none, nada, zilch. Though he's a long distance, often multi-day, ultra runner, and has done his fair share of road riding and mountain biking over the years, so pain is not new to him.
Richelle - zippo, big fat zero. I've never done multi-day anything. Tho i do sporadically ride my mountain bike for 2hrs or so once every few months, and a few years back I did some crazy road rides, including the 210km Around the Bay in a Day. So I had a slight inkling as to what I was in for - and without an ounce of training, I assumed there would be a bit of hurt to go with it!
Day 1 - Bairnsdale to Bruthen 31kms
30 degrees with a 1pm start (after the 4hr drive from Melb) kept the day short, and Shane was very keen to not kill me on day 1! He showed he was human too, suffering from a cold, it was time to find some shade and the river.
Day 2 - Bruthen to Orbost 67kms
So today's intention was to smash me! Haha! And it worked! It was a big day on the trail after yesterday's ease in.
Day 3 - Orbost to between Nowa-Nowa and Bruthen - 53kms
Day 4 - Bush Camp to Bairnsdale - 44kms
The plan was to fill 30L backpacks with our camping gear for the 4 days, and wear them as we rode our mountain bikes. Shane's weighed around 15-16kgs, and mine 8-10kgs. So that's what we did. Shane recommends it, as it removes any excuse from just getting out there. I'd like to note my thoughts in that heavy packs on backs on bikes don't mix. They are uncomfortable and dig in where they shouldn't. BUT, it was definitely doable!! We were green with envy looking at the panniers attached to all the bikes we passed....sigh... I wish we had panniers!!
In saying that, we were also very lucky that we could be self sufficient with camping gear and clothes for 4 days, and food and water for 2-3 days in just 18kg of stuff.
Tent - MSR Nook (2 person) only 1.6kgs - many thanks for lending it to us Kylie and Adz. After being held hostage one arvo and evening by mozzies, I was very relieved Shane and I weren't sharing his 1 man tent!
Rollmats - Shane had his ultralight Exped Synmat UL7M , weighing next to nothing and taking up even less space. I borrowed a mountain designs rollmat, thanks again K &A!
Sleeping bags - again ultralight and packed small, we had Shane's Western Mountaineering -100 degrees beast (ok, Shane says I shouldn't exaggerate, its a -7 degree bag, same same - either way definitely overkill for this trip, but you make do with what you have!), and his Mont half bag, again, super light and super small, perfect for this trip.
Clothes - of course we both took too much. We were very lucky with the mild weather (well except for the kick ass storm!), so the thermals and the puffy jackets and wet weather gear went unused, but we would still pack them in case they were needed. I also splurged and brought my fave trackies, space takers, yes, but very worth it! I ended up tying my clothes bag to my handlebars to move the weight off my back a bit, which was a great relief.
Food - 2 min noodles, Ainsley Harriot cous cous, tins of tuna, muesli bars, porridge sachets, gels (don't take gels, they weigh a ton!), party mix, a packet of ginger nut biscuits, tea and coffee. We only ate around half of these though, as we did eat out quite a lot on this trip!
Water - We both had 1 bidon on our bikes, Shane carried 1L in his camelback and I carried 2L in mine. For the most part it was overkill. All we really needed was the 1 bidon, and maybe 500ml in the camelback, as there were a couple of points to fill up. The Snowy River Cycling Club very very kindly placed out some water on the trail in marked kegs in 2 spots, so the max between water would have been around 15-20km.
Bikes: Shane rides a Giant Anthem 29er dual suspension MTB, and mine is a Trek Fuel EX dual suspension MTB. These were great bikes for the rail trail, though you could do it on a hybrid, or a roadie with fatter tyres. I wouldn't recommend a roadie with slicks, as the hard packed gravel is soft in parts, and there's also some rougher sections.
by Shane Hutton - 2 July 2014
So the idea was brought my attention in around March this year. There is a group of cyclists that do ridiculous rides all the time but once a year they come up with an EPIC idea that involves something very difficult to achieve. This year they came up with the idea of EVERESTING. Choose a hill & rep it as many times as it takes to complete 8,848mtr the same height of Everest.
There are a couple of rules:
You must do it in a single push (no sleep). You must return down the same hill or mountain (no loops) You cannot do a hill that somebody else has already done & you must have a bike. Hmmm....
I thought well why not do it on foot??? Seems possible. Now the challenge was do you go somewhere like Mt Bogong and do 8 reps with the about 92km? Or do you do something short and sharp Glasgow track with 27 reps but only 52km……ahh the dilemmas!
The Glasgow track is a very technical trail. Covered in loose rock & is very slippery after rain. It also gets to around 45% steepness through a small section. In other words it's STEEP!!
I decided last Tuesday that Wednesday seemed like a good day to go to the Glasgow track & have a crack at Everesting. There was no real training for it & I decided to just go do it when I felt it was the right time. I bought a few essentials, packed my ute with everything I would need & went to bed.
After a pretty good sleep I was up at 5.30am. Richelle decided she would come down & take some pictures & wish me luck. We arrived at the track around 6.30am & I started almost right on 7am. The first rep was in the dark but it was a glorious morning.
The sun rose slowly & before I knew it, it was light. R said goodbye & went off to work. I had no great plan, just to power up and not run too hard on the descents. Try to save the quads & knees. I got through to rep 12 I think when my right quad started to put up a bit of a protest.
I stopped & had lunch at 1pm. It was nice to take a load off for a short period of time & just enjoy the sun a bit. I was so lucky it was about 15 degrees & sunny. There was no wind & it was just a perfect day. I had been checking my phone every 2nd rep & it was great to see all the support I was receiving for such a random act.
I had been told there would be some people coming to join me around 5pm. I kept hydrating & trying to eat but didn`t really have a lot of food. I stopped & chatted to some people who had come down to do their usual 2 reps & they asked what I was up to. I think they nearly fell over when I told them.
It was odd my calves didn't seem to hurt on the ascents but I could feel I was slowing a bit. I was on the descent of rep 16 when the first person showed up to say hi. It was Tegyn, he was ¾ way up his first rep. I continued down & he joined me on the following rep. After that my good friend Ian arrived (he is the person who Everested on his bike). Tegyn stayed with me for a bit but was there to train so he took off fairly quickly to finish off his 3 reps.
Just like that the sun had set & it was dark again. I kept wondering how long I would stay out for but now I had company there was no way I was going to finish up short. Sam showed up & as ever she brought her positive spirit. I descended quickly on the 19th rep with very shakey quads to find Richelle had arrived & had bought some KFC chips for me.
Yum Yum I devoured those & got started on the next rep. the shakiness in my quads had disappeared just like that. Ian & Sam cruised along with me on the next rep with Ian constantly talking. This was great because it made it easy for me to just stay focused on going up.
Natalee had joined in on the crewing duties (Ian's fiancé) & it was great to have the 2 girls at the bottom offering support on the completion of every lap. Another person who showed up was Ross. Ross had heard through Facebook about what I was doing & wanted to come & say hello & join in for a rep to help me along.
Mike was now here & happy to join for a few reps as well. So we went up as quickly as I could hahaha which was not very quick at all. I was happy to still be running the descents this far in. earlier in the day I had thought it would be cool to hit 20 reps & if my body was hurting too much I would drop. It seemed odd to get to 20 with just a sore quad so I thought I better go on.
Sam left after that & along came Ross K. He arrived at rep 20. The pizza also arrived at rep 20. I think it was around 9.30pm. I was not concerned with the time at all, it was never really a factor. This whole idea was to push myself & see how far I could go, so far so good.
So far I had not had any real low spots just a few moments where I needed to sit down to regroup the quads & ITB. Rep 22 was probably my biggest struggle. I am not sure if it was because I had eaten some pizza & I was trying to digest it or maybe it was just the 7400mtr ascent in my legs....
I pushed through with the help of Ian & Ross K encouraging me along. It was slow but I got there. We descended & I think this is where Ian decided to take a break. He had done amazing 7 reps. His biggest ever, awesome work by him. I pushed on with Ross K & tried to maintain the short breaks at the bottom just a quick fill of the water bottle & we were off.
I was on the way back down when my cousin Dan arrived, I think it was well after 10.30pm. He had never been on this track in the daylight, let alone in the dark & had seen nothing like it. It was steep & very technical loose rocks tree roots & wet. Dan did so well & stuck right behind me on the descents which is no easy task. It was at this stage that I knew I had it.
It was in the bag just 4 more reps……. then 3. Dan stayed for 3 then left, he had done just over 1,000mtr of vert in 6km a huge effort I was so impressed. I finished rep 26 & Ian was back on his feet, pumped up on sugar, and raring to go. It was edging close to 1 am so Ross K, Ian & myself made the final climb. I struggled with some dizzy spells near the top but felt ok.
It was an odd feeling I had done it. My legs at that point decided enough was enough & they would not be going down hahahaha made for a very slow descent. We got to the bottom I got a hug from Richelle & promptly sat down. Ross took off quickly as he was only meant to be doing a couple of reps with me, not staying out until 1 am...oops!
I sat down in a slight bit of shock. We had done it. Wow what an effort. I ate a few pieces of pizza a can of coke and had some hydration. I got my warm clothes on & rested for half an hr before jumping in the car & driving home.
STATS FOR THE DAY
Time: 18hrs 06min
Shoe of choice was La Sportiva Anakonda. I could not have chosen a better shoe for this run. They are designed for vertical K races. The superb grip did not let me down all day on a wet & super technical trail that averages 37%.
Track: Known as the Glasgow or Scar track. It is .900mtr long with a 338mtr gain. Averages out to be 37% ( I think) steep, rocky & slippery after the rain we had.
Hydration: Throughout the day I mixed it up with Tailwind & Gatorade berry.
I want to say thanks to everyone who supported me throughout the day, whether it was through social media or if you came down. Horgos that cup of coffee was sensational mate. It really meant a lot to me. It was a random act of Adventure.
What surprised me the most was it was not as hard as I had thought it would be. It is very much a mental game if you are willing to get out there & give it a crack you might even surprise yourself. I did this as a spur of the moment thing, it doesn’t have to be full of build-up & look at me kind of thing. Just get out there & do it. I was not concerned if I did not make it but at least I had a crack.
I encourage everyone if you have an idea no matter how big or small it is, have a crack make it a reality.
THERE IS NO FAILURE EXCEPT GIVING UP.
Want to run with Shane (at a more sedate pace!!)?? The join us on the Goldfields Track for a weekend!
Shane's an ultra runner and La Sportiva Ambassador, with a taste for adventure, always up for a new and different challenge.