The first Saturday in September will host the fifth Adelaide Dirty Dozen. The ride has grown rapidly as word spread about the savagery served up. Adelaide is spoilt with excellent climbing but no community event has dared to punish participants like this one.
Words - James Raison
Why so hard? The reason is simple: it’s a free event with no on-road support, no closures, and no prize for finishing. There is just a date, September 3, and a rough 7am starting time. No-one is looking to make money so the bar can, and has, been set high. All you get for finishing is the satisfaction of completing Adelaide’s toughest annual course.
Dirty Dozen creator Adam Williss has upped the difficulty for 2016. A longer course, more climbing, and steeper gradients than ever. Why was the increase in difficulty necessary?
The 2016 Course
Participants roll from the traditional start point and biggest supporter; Red Berry Espresso, and roll to the now traditional first climb: Mt Osmond. It’s longer for the day at 10% for 2.2km, but far from the hardest. It’s arguably the most picturesque, offering outrageously nice views of Adelaide to the West.
Following that is some transition kilometres as riders make their way to Adelaide’s most ridiculous piece of bike infrastructure: the Lynton Bike Path. It’s steepest section is 15-20% for 300m which is idiotic for a path intended for commuters. This is a masterclass in fiscal half-assery and you’ll be cursing the local council by the top.
Don’t curse for too long though, the hellish rollercoaster of Sheoak Road is painfully close. The first wall is the worst, and over 20%, but there’s multiple kickers of 15% before the road ends after 5km. There’s a merciful respite period after Sheaok with some descending and more transitional kms through Coromandel Valley.
Oakridge Road makes its Dirty Dozen debut with a 10% gradient for 1km featuring a nasty wall of 20% at the back end of the climb before rolling through to its finish.
Another debutant follows, and one that will haunt the nightmares of all participants: Lewis Street. It’s hard to get an accurate gauge on this monster because it freaks out Garmins with its sudden and savage gradient change. It is in excess of 25% and is the steepest part of the course. It’s not very long, but it will leave many wooden-legged at the top.
After rolling through the lovely Cherry Gardens, the course drops down into Dorsett Vale Road before swinging around and climbing back out. It’s not daunting compared to what will follow but it’s another withdrawal from your energy bank account.
It’s a long way to the next Dirty Dozen official climb but there’s a pile of unofficial ones to remind you this is a climbing event. Just to be clear, these aren’t categorised climbs:
Next on the menu is the Knotts/Pound double. It’s a 2.2km drag averaging 8%, but the first km is 10%. The worst part about this climb is there’s still four to go and they’re all harder.
Cherryville is, in this writer’s not-humble opinion, the 2nd hardest climb in Adelaide. This road is an unrivalled mix of beauty and brutality. Riders will have to descend the narrow, hairpin-loaded road first before turning around and fighting the relentless 11% average for 2.1km back up.
The Dirty Dozen gets its ever first taste of gravel on the Haven Road, where the 8% average under-sells the maximum 15% gradient in the switchbacks. Those corners are also where you’ll find the loosest gravel. Haven connects to 14% Bishop which then drops you at the base of the Coach Road wall. Just a cool 20% ramp. You’ve done the full climb once you’re back on gravel.
Adelaide’s hardest climb is next, the ferocious Coach-House Drive and Woodland Way. Woodland Way is an almost straight up-hill drag that averages 12% but tops hits 20%. It’s a staple of the Dirty Dozen and a feared climb on the Adelaide scene. It's the only climb considered harder than Cherryville.
You’ll be completing the trifecta of Adelaide’s three hardest climbs with the next hill: Coach Road. It doesn’t sound so bad on paper with 9% over 2.3km but there’s a flat-ish 4% section, and a sharp but brief descent dragging it down. It’ll be your second trip up the dreaded Coach Road Wall for the day.
The final insult is Kensington Road, 1.2km of 12% up to the lookout. From there you can reflect on completing the 2016 Dirty Dozen and take a moment to enjoy that it’s the longest amount of time until the 2017 Dirty Dozen.