No Place for Tropical Blood

Living in tropical Singapore was never good preparation for the 2017 Edition of the Baw Baw Classic. At the start line, a reduced Masters C peloton (down to 22 from 30) shivered in anticipation of the challenge that lay ahead; 104km and 3800 metres of ascents. I met a guy that’s completed the race 14 times; learnt that you can’t race in Victoria without a rear light from the commissaire. Thank you to the kind family that lent me a spare rear light to make my start possible.

No rear light, no start


The early pace was casual, as we rolled through the farmland around Warragul. I took my turn to pull from five to the eleventh kilometre. A few decent small climbs reduced the field to fifteen. But I was in trouble, not from pace, but cold. My Garmin read 7 degrees and light rain added to the chill. My gear was starting to get wet, making the wind chill magnify the pain. My lack of experience in the cold showed when I struggled to grab and open my first solid food from my jersey pocket. Forcing me to remove one of my full finger gloves. I soon found myself last wheel in the group, needing to put in a ew efforts to pull myself back into the group. My body temperature and heart rate were falling, not a good sign. Then a fateful three minute climb at the 40 kilometre mark saw a gap open in front of me. No matter what I tried, my cold body just couldn’t get back on the group. The reality was starting set in. I was out of my comfort zone.

Over the following kilometres my pace dropped. Faced with the tough choice of enduring the long solo climb up Baw Baw, I opted to make a tough decision, which started by committing myself to come back in 2018 better prepared.

Race Start for Masters C. Photo: Ernesto Arriagada


Knowing Dad had made the drive out and was waiting patiently at the feed zone at 47km, I figured the best thing for the body was to find some warmth and get in the car. At the time I was roughly 15th of 22, and yet to test my legs on the serious climbs of the day. But having not seen my own kids in several days, and thoughts of Mum’s homemade soup in the car, I chose to get off the bike.

I took me forever to get my VeloToze and Gillet off, as my body struggled with the ongoing cold. But once in dry leggings, trackies and a hoodie, my body finally started to thaw out.

A DNF isn’t great, it affects your confidence. But in this occasion, I’m certain it was the right choice. Maybe I would have been better in a higher grade where a higher pace might have warmed me sooner. Or maybe it’s just my lack of experience in the cold. Either way, I’ll be back next year. Twelve months to put in the preparation, which will include time in the cold, plus time on long climbs.


The 2017 #BawBawClassic was epic – rain, wind, sleet, sunshine, and even snow!

Check out all the action through the lens of Ernesto Arriagada (Photos by Ernesto).



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