LaBaw Day 2014×

Since 2012 it has been tradition to make the most of the Labour Day public holiday AKA LaBaw Day.  Tackling Mt Baw Baw is definitely a challenge as it presents one of the steepest inclines in the southern hemisphere.  The logical approach would be to drive to the base and then ride up and down, followed by lunch and drive back to Melbourne.  

The problem with the LaBaw Day tradition is that the ride lacks any logic what so ever.  

Here is the description for the ride to seek out would be riders on the Facebook event page:

8+ hour ride to celebrate the 8 hour day

Train to Moe, ride back via BawBaw, the Yarra Ranges and the Dandies.

Big day

Meeting at Caulfield Station at 6.45am for a 7am train to Moe.

Be prompt.

Or, the train departs:
Southern cross at 6.45am and 
Flinder Street at 6.50am

Please bring:
-Breakfast to eat on the train it's a 90min trip
-At least two spare tubes and a pump. The gravel takes victims.
-Enough food to get you through long stretches of no shops
-Mates, if they're not sooks
- Cash 

Last year the ride started with 8 enthusiastic participants and finished with two.  This year only 5 would be eagerly awaiting the 7:01 Taralgon V-Line train; Straussy, Stacky, Tom, Sammy W and myself, Cam for those taking notes.

“Where are you lads riding today?”

We were greeted by an elderly lady selling raffle tickets for the local football club in Erica, approximately 30km into our 220km journey.  Upon explaining our route she shared little interest except for the fact that her tickets offered better odds in winning than winning Lotto.  Fair enough. We purchased two!

Gravel for 25km is never easy going.  Relentless corrugations and the occasional friendly 4WD whipping up dust and stones makes it far from desirable.  Thankfully we only encountered 3 punctures between the five of us.

Upon the completion of the gravel, the elation due to the sight of smooth disappears almost immediately as we were began our final accent of the last 5km of Mt Baw Baw.  Only 5km at an average of 11% it couldn’t have been any worse! For anyone who has ridden up this climb knows how painful it really is. 

The ride “home” from Mt Baw Baw was definitely a lot easier, yet we only were faced with one misfortune.  Sam’s desire to speed down the Vespers Hill descent didn’t go so well.  Crashing at high speed due to a dodgy right hand corner should have been a far worse result yet the only thing broken his front Shimano Wheel and a highly bruised ego.

LUNCH! If you haven’t made a visit to the Red Parrot Café in Noogee it is worth the trip for the toasted sandwiches.  Even if you haven’t ridden 100km, they are definitely a highlight.

Post lunch (approximately 4pm) we set off to complete our remaining 100km.  Compared to the first 100km it was going to be much easier as the majority wasn’t uphill.  Thankfully this year Straussy decided that it would be smarter to take the Warburton Trail home rather than attempting to ride over the Dandies and back into Melbourne.  This trail is a 35km stretch of gravel path that provided a shortcut back to Canterbury Road and meant we had the city in sight before daylight escaped us.

Somehow, the four of us who managed to finish all were riding strongly for the final 10km.  No cramps to speak and the thought of Grill’d chips and a beer meant we were back in Camberwell before we knew it!

Whilst we stuffed our faces with burgers and chips, it was disappointing we were missing one rider yet it was still a great feeling of accomplishment. Upon completion of LaBaw Day 2014 we were not presented a finisher’s medal or jersey, however it does mean you can eat whatever you want for the remainder of the week and not feel too guilty!