They say you always remember your first - your first mountain climb that is. For most of us, it is the great climbs that stand out the most in our own rides or in watching the grand tours, whether we are a mountain goat or flatlander. On a recent adventure out to the Yarra Valley and the Don rd climb (one of our favourites, picturesque forest with a touch of dirt), we started thinking about the climbs that drew us way back as a teenager falling in love with road cycling. As Melbourne lads, the Dandenong's were our local playground and the 1 in 20, the Wall and the Tourist Rd were staples, with an occasional sufferfest on the 14% plus of Terry's Ave.
As the adventures got longer, Donna Buang, Lake Mountain and Arthurs Seat all joined the repertoire and a bunch of lanky lads attacked each other with dreams of the Tour and the Giro in our minds. Then we discovered Bright and the High country. Buffalo, Falls, Hotham and Tawonga were a joy and Hotham was unsealed back in those days. We still look back fondly on those adventures and the pain/pleasure of the long climbs and the summer heat in the high country. If only places such as Cafe Velo had existed then, it would have been the complete experience!
Later, the chance to ride in Europe came along and the Pyrenees were the first chance to climb the fabled roads of the Tour. The Tourmalet, Luz Ardiden, Aubisque, Superbagneres, the list goes on and riding the roads still splashed with the painted names of our youthful heroes was a reverential experience. Not to mention the respect and care of the drivers - the honks of the horn were for encouragement not irritation and how sweet the sound of an allez from the roadside.
Yet still, it was the first climbs we remember with most affection. Looking back, we were lucky indeed to have such gorgeous and diverse climbs on our doorstep and it is the lush climbs of the Dandenong's we remember best as our first long climbs in the rides of our youth.
Comments will be approved before showing up.