It’s just over fortnight since I was fortunate enough to participate in the inaugural staging of the Bowral Classic – a 3,000-rider strong gran fondo in the beautiful Southern Highlands of NSW. While the bulk of the ride (aside from the near zero degree temperatures at the starting line) was rather enjoyable, there was one decidedly unpleasant moment at about the 100km mark: the short but leg mashing grind up Old South Road. Now, as someone new to the area, I’d never ridden this stretch of road before and was ill-prepared for what lay in wait.
One moment I’m marvelling at beautiful fields and homesteads. The next I’m searching for gears that don’t exist and I’m really – R-E-A-L-L-Y – hating cycling, as I tend to find myself doing from time to time on such climbs. Over the ensuing 1km or so (average gradient 10% max 16.5%) Old South Road burned itself forever into my list of ‘least favourite stretches of Aussie road’. This isn’t to say I will never ride up there again, I almost certainly will. But rather it is now a place I’ll always remember somewhat less than fondly and most certainly save an extra splash of petrol for in the kilometres that precede it.
Other spots to have earned similar status over the years include the final 250m of Kissing Point Road near Turramurra on Sydney’s Upper North Shore (always a bastard, no matter how fit you are), the return ride out of Cottage Point near Akuna Bay in Ku-ring-gai National Park (I’m not too proud to admit I walked up there once), the final 1km to the top of Rockley Mount on the Blayney to Bathurst course (where the KOM distance markers always seem to be wrong?????), Corkscrew Road in the Adelaide Hills (most notably on a stinking hot mid-January day) and Scenic Road on the approach into Geelong (having ridden the preceding 90km or so along the Cadel Evans Great Ocean Road Race course).
None of these ascents are especially long. But, from this rider’s experience at least, all are especially unpleasant. Sorry legs.