Tuesday, 16 December 2014

1 in 20

According to the Climbing Cyclist, "1 in 20" is one of the legendary climbs in Australian cycling. At just 6.8km and 4%, its no Alpine pass, nor is it really 1 in 20. Still, as a cycling monument I had to ride up it when I was visiting Melbourne recently.

The climb starts off at The Basin and winds its way up through the woods and into the Dandenong Ranges National Park. I had to ride right across Melbourne to get to it, although it was relatively easy to find.

The climb is incredibly popular: its like Centennial Park in Sydney - cyclists are swarming everywhere: riding up, coming down, standing at the top chatting, waiting at the bottom to test themselves, or loading up/unpacking in the car park at the bottom. You can see the sheer number of cyclists in this film I made of my ride up.

You should also be able to sense the speed of the climb from the film. I rode up in 17"05, averaging just under 15mph/24kmh, so I wasn't hanging around. The road surface is good and someone has painted kilometre markers on the road to give you an idea of how far you have to go. In many parts you don't get a sense of climbing at all: I was in the drops for a fair bit.

It was rather misty at the top, and I had another 50ks to go, so I didn't ride any further through the Dandenongs. There are some other interesting climbs there though: a reason to return.

Australian Cyclists: why so unfriendly?

A photo posted by Gareth Enticott (@garethenticott) on

Me: "Hi, how's it going - you OK?"

Australian Cyclist: "Er yeah, why shouldn't I be? Why do you want to ask me that?"

For real. This was my brief conversation with an Australian cyclist coming back through Melbourne after riding up 1:20 in the Dandenongs.

Maybe I'd caught him at a bad moment? But sharing the roads with cyclists in Australia didn't seem that friendly an experience. For a start, no-one waves. No-one. I got a sly nod off one guy and that was it. It wasn't just in Melbourne, but in Sydney too. I quickly stopped waving to people when I  realised that wasn't how things were done down under.

Back in the UK, acknowledging other cyclists is part of being a cyclist - its part of the rules. So why not in Australia? To be fair, I did have one or two chats with cyclists out on their own, and the guys I rode with at Rapha in Sydney were magnificent.  But so many of the cyclists in Australia were in big groups. Maybe once in a group people feel there's less of a need to acknowledge others? But even guys out on their own ignored me. Was it just me? Or does this happen to everyone? Either way, it wasn't cycling as I know it.