For the L’Etape Australia it is called the Col de Beloka. For the Tour de Chance it’s the Mur de Boloco, for a Wall it was, an almost insurmountable barrier to the ride’s progress.
Almost 90 kms into day 5, this 3km beast struck with an average grade of 15%, ramping at the start to 20% or better. Rising 450m in total it softened a little in the middle but twisted the knife in the final kilometre with more one-in-five action before it topped out.
Eight doughty souls made it, with Wayne Oxenham, David Clarke and Glenn Dobson conquering the Mur without stopping or walking. Bravo to all, but a special shout out to Wayne, Clarkie and Dobbo. Wayne’s time of 18 minutes, averaging 10kph, set a mark that will impress Tour de France champ Chris Froome when he rides this terror in L’Etape in December.
At the start of the day the riders disappeared into thin air shortly after departing Bombala (gravy capital of Australia) as the team climbed to the sullen, pewter cloud cover, and then were swallowed by thick fog. The opening route, the Monaro Highway, was a rude change from the prior day’s peace, with monster 26m log-trucks thundering past in the cold, damp mist of the morning.
Fortunately, the Snowy River Way was close by and with the fog lifting the tour resumed a quieter and more charming path, rolling through the granite high plains to the lunch break at the tranquil and historic village of Dalgety.
The morning had earlier handed out its own challenges, including a solid 3km uphill at a stiff gradient to the becalmed Boco Rock wind farm, plainly sapping the legs of those who later fell at the Mur of Boloco.
Jindabyne marked the end of 108kms and nearly 1700 metres of climbing. A less taxing day – “only” six or seven hours in the saddle.
Day 6 offers 169km to Queanbeyan and 1739m of climbing, which will see the cumulative total top Mt Everest.
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