Do you live in the eastern suburbs of Melbourne and commute to the city by bike? If so, you may have found yourself grinding up Studley Park Hill at some point. Rising at an average of 4% over 1km, this segment starts just before you cross over the Yarra River, and finishes just before Nolan Avenue. With a strong tailwind, it is possible to ride up the hill with ease, but a stiff headwind will leave a rider labouring all the way. And if you are aiming for a top time, you’ll want that strong tailwind, and your legs feeling good – it’s a tough one!
My last RFWYA in Melbourne was a ripper – the crew had tee’d up a parting gift for me – a massive lead-out train was organised to help me try and take away a few targeted KOMs. A parting gift. Only I’d come off a massive few weeks – dead legs from the Pioneer Stage race, dead legs from the BAMF ride from Melbourne to Adelaide, dead legs from the Big Lap (300km long, 5000vm). And I was sick to boot. Regardless, I wanted to make the most of the lead-outs, and I loved the idea of the ride.
But I failed. Sickness and fatigue meant I just couldn’t push at 100%. Maybe not even 80%. It didn’t matter – I had a blast anyway. Watching everyone trying to organise a good lead-out and smashing themselves in the process was awesome. I didn’t manage to pinch a single segment, but I couldn’t have asked for a better send-off – I’ll remember that morning for a very long time.
Left a little disappointed that I couldn’t crack any top times that Tuesday – and couldn’t nail Studley Park Hill in particular – I decided to have one more go on the Wednesday night, one day before I would be leaving for Darwin. The winds were favourable.
With barely a warm up, I left home in the late afternoon and went directly to the bottom of the hill. Turning around with a break in the traffic, I immediately started to wind it up, getting the bike over 40km/h before hitting the bridge. The warm temperature helped make up for the lack of a lead-out train, and as the road pitched upwards, I found myself out of the saddle and throwing down the pedals as efficiently as I could without burning too many matches.
Through the steepest part of the climb, I was still feeling okay, and looking at the screen, I had a slight lead over the top time. Still unsure if I could maintain this kind of effort, and knowing I’d blown up too early before, I kept it consistent, but glancing down at the screen once more, I saw a malfunction that I definitely didn’t want to see. “Off Segment”. Crap. Garmin drop-out!
Not wanting to put my last effort to waste, I flicked the screen to show my speed and power. I wouldn’t know how I went until I finished the ride and uploaded, but I knew if I could maintain a high power output, I was still in with a chance.
Not long to go, perhaps a few hundred metres, but I could see the finish and was screaming at my legs to hold 300 watts. I was dwindling now, and shifted into an easier gear to keep my cadence up. I’d dropped down to well under 300 watts, but with the hill tapering off, I utilised the gear shift and higher cadence to finish off the segment at over 40km/h. 1:40s of pain and I’d just pinched another KOM! I wasn’t in my best form by a long shot, but I was stoked to get that one before the move.
It wouldn’t be one I’d hold for long, however, an email a few months later notified me that Damien Eagle had re-acquired the segment. Kudos. And well-deserved.
Average HR: 174bpm
Max HR: 184bpm
Average Power: 451W
Max Power: 614W