Skip to content     Day 6 (Whitfield - Mansfield, 64 km, very big hill)
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Day 6 (Whitfield - Mansfield, 64 km, very big hill)

Ride Guide Map

Elevation map for day 6

We woke up tired but still satisfied that we had completed the hardest days of the ride, so there was nothing they could throw at us now to frighten us at all. The elevation map (see black line) looked pretty harmless - a gentle 200 m climb over 25 km would raise the heartrate a little, but not challenge us too much. How wrong we were !!!

We set off from the campsite, the girls going ahead while David and I dealt with luggage, and almost immediately, we struck a very large, very steep hill. Not at all what we expected. We caught up to Sophie and Krista and while David ground on up the hill, we stopped at a lookout and studied our ride guide profile. Sophie asked if the hill would continue like this for long, and I confidently said "no way". This was immediately contradicted by a nearby teacher, who said that at the schools briefing, they were told it was a very hard, very long climb of 25 km and not to let the children walk or slow down too much or they would never get there. What a way to sap confidence and motivation !! A weary determination came over both girls, and the rest of the day was a monumental mental effort by both of them to continue on against all desire to complete the rather unexpected challenge of the day. The red line on the elevation map turned out to be a better representation of the day's ride, and one that would have led us to a totally different mental preparation.

The one gratifying feature of a rather bleak day was the fact that so many other people were struggling with the unexpected climbing, and so there was a sense of unity against a common enemy (the misleading ride guide and the hill itself). Arriving at lunch was a significant achievement in itself, marking the top of the climb, but it was still a rather cautious descent into Mansfield with an undercurrent of mistrust as to what unsuspected horror might be waiting around the corner, unheralded by our map. The countryside itself was very beautiful, but I think the scenery may have been lost on Krista and Sophie, although David and I both had time to absorb some of it and to bask in pride at the determination and success of our girls in completing a very demanding day. It is wonderful to see them able to dig deep within themselves for extra resources they didn't know they had.

We set up tents with a view of Mount Buller, the completely exhausted girls showered and rested for a while, serenaded by a clown playing cowbells and reciting brainteasers, before we headed into town, David and I on foot, the girls taking advantage of the Shuttle Bus to commute the 1.5 km. We located a cafe, sat in the sun, and drank coffees and ate things through afternoon tea time until dinner. David explored the lifestyle and world view of mothers in Keilor with a very talkative gym junkie who was riding with her 10 year old soccer-playing (but apparently speechless) son and the afternoon passed pleasantly. We had fragrant lamb curry (adults) and pies (children) and decided that this location would be an ideal breakfast venue for the morning and headed back to camp.

Krista and Sophie went directly to bed, but have-a-chat David decided to engage in conversation with a young lady in the midst of teeth-cleaning - "I know you from somewhere" says David. "%$!%(!(%" says the girl whose mouth is full of toothpaste and David is standing in the only suitable spitting spot. "Blackburn High?" questions Dave. "%!&)%$!)&" says girl. "You did work experience with HP" continues Dave. Finally girl is able to relieve herself of mouthful of toothpaste by swallowing it only microseconds before her eyes were going to pop out of her head in frustration - and it turns out that indeed they know each other, and an enjoyable conversation follows. We then wandered back to the tents, realised that it was impossibly early to go to sleep and so we watched the band for a while and swapped stories and solved the world's problems until a more appropriate bedtime.