One of my favourite rides of the year is fast approaching.... the 2018 Alpine Classic. This is the one ride of the year that goes into my calendar without a moments hesitation. Awesome roads, a long weekend, amazing weather, great ride options and a few bonus days of riding. But the thing that I love the best? The atmosphere.
There's a pilgrimage of riders to Bright every Australia Day weekend. Bikes are everywhere, the weather is warm and the atmosphere is full of excitement. It's the Audax Alpine Classic long weekend holiday.
In case you don't know, Bright is probably one of the best located towns in Australia for cyclists... if offers great food, great coffee and of course some of the best riding in Australia. Head out in just about any direction from Bright and you'll find an array of options, flat valley roads, rail trails, and a range of climbs to suit almost any level of ability. There's also back roads to be explored, dirt trails that are easily road bike ridable, and if you like a cross over to the off road scene the mountain biking is pretty amazing to.
The Alpine Classic has run the same routes for a few years now. 200km was originally the longest option but now theres a 250km and 320km option for the super hardcore out there. I've not been brave enough to have a go at the 320km, it takes in Hotham, the back of Falls Creek, Tawonga Gap (steep side) and Mount Buffalo. Using the word tough is an understatement. At the other end of the spectrum there's a 60km ride for those just starting the flex the climbing quads and want to find out why the rest of us are such lovers of these brilliant alpine roads.
The Alpine Classic announced earlier this year that they have teamed up with the Amy Gillet Foundation and are now officially part of the 'a metre matters' campaign. This is a great move, especially for a ride run in Victoria, a state where the Government that can't seem to get its head around passing laws.
Also, in what I think is a great move, the Alpine Classic has removed the red tape involved in many Audax rides that sometimes stops people entering the longer rides. There's no longer a need to qualify for the 250km option, no prior day light checks or requirement to wear an Alpine Classic reflective vest, the exception being, if you are using the ride to qualify for an 'Audax Brevet', basically a card that is officially processed by the Audax Club and can be used for qualification tor other Audax rides, or at the most simple level a trophy to say you completed the ride within the time limit.
The 2018 Audax Alpine Classic will take place on 27 January 2018, with the Bonjour Bright festival kicking off the day before.
There are 9 ride options for the Alpine Classic. They all take in stunning roads, are fully supported by some of the friendliest volunteers in the business. My personal favourite stop is at the top of Falls Creek, there's a brilliant atmosphere with more food provided than you'll know what to do with. The biggest challenge is to not over eat at this stop. There are riders milling around all over the place, kicking back in the glory of getting to this point of the ride, eating, sharing stories and enjoying the sun (hopefully). I really think than many of the other fondo rides have a lot to learn from the Alpine Classic in this area.
With Early bird running until the end of September 2017, ride entry starts at $95 and climbs to $275 for the 320km Ultimate.
You can check out the ride options HERE
60km Mount Beaty / 70km Mount Buffalo
Simple out and back rides, on takes in both sides of Tawonga Gap, climb that reads a little easier on paper than in the flesh, or the might Mt Buffalo that offers a long consistent climb for those wanting to take on their first big climb. In summary these two rides tare what I'd call tasters, great for those getting there first experience of some reasonable sized climbs without breaking yourself and finding the hunger for more.
130km Falls Creek / 140km Mount Buffalo and Mount Beauty
Getting more serious now, both of these options offer lots of up and down and will test all levels of rider (it doesn't get any easier, you just get faster). I had a brilliant day one year taking on one of these. Enough to really feel the legs but not crumple at the end.
200km Alpine Classic
The original. The founding ride taken on by 6 riders in 1986 that started this event. Taking on Tawonga Gap (both sides, Falls Creek and Mount Buffalo this is a serious ride that should not be underestimated. You'll need lots of fuel, training and time to get through this one... An absolute cracker. If you're super keen you can choose a 4am start, to get you to the top off Mount Buffalo to see the sunrise. Awesome.
250km ACE and 320km Ultimate
These are brutal. I took on the 250km ACE a few years ago and it hurt me. But it was amazing. A simple unforgettable loop that covers some of the best roads I have ridden anywhere in the world. The support is amazing and the back of falls, is well, horrible in a satisfying way. My advice for this one - ride a lot... then ride some more, then ride up and down as many hills as you can.
If you really want to push the boat out take on the 320km. It's the same route as the 250km ACE, but with the added 'bonus' of riding Buffalo first up. You'll need some serious stamina for this and should only be attempted by experienced riders.
There's one ride I have not covered, the 250km Alpine Raid at 2 day ride that follows the ACE route. We'll bring you more information about this route next week.
The riding, the festival and the atmosphere are just brilliant in Bright during the Alpine Classic, so get your mates (or family) together, book some accomodation and head up for a few days of riding and good times. You won't regret it.
Find out more HERE