10.2.15

Arthurs Seat Provides Fittting Climax to Jayco Herald Sun Tour

Cameron Meyer's podium finish.
Cameron Meyer’s victory in the 62nd edition of Australia’s oldest stage race, the Jayco Herald Sun Tour, proved a fitting end to the annual five-day event.

In what is now old news, Meyer was able to withstand a thundering finish by Kiwi cyclist Pat Bevin up the final steep climb, to retain the yellow jersey by 11 seconds.

In what was an expected win by crowd favourite Orica Green Edge, the race finished atop of what is fast becoming another equally popular cycling icon, Arthurs Seat. It was the 'pimple's' fourth event finish in a row no less, should you include last year’s final stage cancellation due to the extreme heat and threat of bushfires throughout the state of Victoria.
Coming around the bend at Murray's Lookout.

You only had to listen to the instantly recognisable accent of cycling commentator and journalist Phil Liggett, to realise that not just the event, but the climb itself is gaining a staunch following, well beyond its masochistic band of weekend warriors. Normally a category three climb, Sunday morning’s Herald Sun rated its combined trifecta of accents as a category one, which in many respects gives it the credibility it deserves.

...despite its meagre 3.03 kilometres, this granite hill is remarkably steep. For half its length it has a gradient of 9.5% or more, with an average of 8.1%. That makes it steeper than France’s Col du Tourmalet, Hautacam and Italy’s Passo dello Stelvio... excerpt Lycra, Lattes and the Long Way Round.

Spectators gather at the final bend at Chapman's Lookout.
Watching the procession of Tour cyclists sprint, for the second time, around Murray’s Lookout, filled me with a yearning to be on a bicycle myself. That’s not to say I didn’t have the opportunity, for many non-competing cyclists (as with the iconic European Tours), were climbing Arthurs Seat during the interlude between the Tour cyclists' climbs.

Music reverberated 500 metres below us, from Franklin’s Lookout, the steepest and most exposed switchback on the climb, while up at the finish-line, the normally deserted car park on a weekday in winter, was alive with spectators, dignitaries, stationary bicycles and bicycles in motion, as well as the constant voice-over of the race in progress.

After watching the presentation that followed, Roz and I enjoyed a quick meal at the Arthurs Seat Restaurant overlooking the Bay. By the time we had finished lunch there were but a few tell-tale signs left standing from the event that had just taken place.

A well-earned celebration.
Perhaps becoming a little stale, to say the least, from passing the same corners and views, on average seven days a week, my accents up the hill these days sometimes feel more akin to a handicap race with me carrying weights in my saddlebags. But the next day, as I did my three mandatory climbs up to the near-deserted summit, I felt I had something more to ride for. Yesterday’s event was just another wonderful reminder of how lucky I am to live at the back door of such a magnificent place.

Which reminds me: there’s a considerable amount of planning taking place at the moment to apparently make the summit even more spectacular and popular than it already is. Let’s hope that it’s not at the expense of what it has become renowned for (and without too much intervention from the private dollar): its inherent landscape, its open parkland, the most beautiful views of the Bay below, and for masochistic cyclists, a spiral staircase with an 8% gradient.







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