Latest Event Updates

The Belgie

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The Belgie was a mixed surface ride put on by Curve Cycling  in honor of the Melbourne Spring classics.  Close to one hundred riders turned out at the Rapha Club house for what turned out to be a great ride.  I still was unsure as to what the Belgie was.  I knew that it was a mixed surface ride, but what was I in for? There were two groups to choose from.  The Belgie (full gas) and the Dutchie (we will wait), and if you fall off the Belgie train, the Dutchie can pick you up. I opted on riding the Dutchie train which was being led by one of the world’s best enduro riders, Sarah Hammond.

The Belgie

There were over 40 riders in the Dutchie group and we set-off and headed through an urban maze of back streets.  After weeks of rain we were finally treated to perfect riding conditions.  I was rolling along with ease and foolishly wondered whether I would be getting much of a workout.  We rolled along to a bike path which took us up to the Yarra Boulevard, near Walmer Street.  The group went straight across the road, over the curb and onto this narrow scrappy steep walking trail that was clearly not suitable to ride on.  WTF!

I was heading up the rear, and there was carnage in front of me as rider after rider struggled to get up this steep hill.  I had to dodge and weave, jumping over roots, rocks and ruts, and dancing over the grass when I ran out of road.  I could hear the clank as chains were jumping off and riders were running out of gears, and jumping off their bikes.  Game on!  The path ahead offered little in the way of traction, and a tree had fallen over near the top and pretty much everyone had to get off to walk over it.  It was pretty full-on to the top, and we were just at the start of our ride.  Ok so this is what the Belgie was about!

Nice!

The Belgie

I was lost right from the start.  We were darting and weaving in among an urban jungle and would suddenly come out onto this incredible walking track which were clearly not designed to ride a bike on.  Every turn seemed to lead  to a short-sharp hill that had the word ‘evil’ written all over it.  Plenty of egos were shattered as pretty much everyone had to get off and walk their bike uphill at one point or another.  If you didn’t like a challenge, then go back to Beach Road.

“the Belgie is a ride where you can expect the unexpected.   Every turn offered a new challenge.  A new experience”  

We’d be riding up a residential street and suddenly turn onto a narrow lane way.  You’d be asking “how the hell did you know that was there?”.  These paths would be in all manner of disuse.  Sometimes dirt, sometimes no path at all, but always mighty fun.  I discovered to my delight that in a mixed terrain ride there were no rules.  A bike could travel anywhere and everywhere.  The Belgie

There was an allure to this ride.  The Belgie seemed an escape from the mundane of everyday riding and challenges you to go well and truly outside your comfort zone.  There was no machoism.  No pissing contest.  We were simply out for a good time.

The Belgie

Nearing the halfway point, we found ourselves on the Main Yarra Trail, and crossed paths with the Belgie group. They were riding like a bat out of hell, and there was some serious firepower in the group and a whole lot of smiles! We picked up a handful of riders that were spat out from the Belgie group, however there was no time for chatting as the clock was against us.  We had to be back by 11am, and with the additional firepower the pace stepped up quite a notch.  Those that were struggling before on the Dutchie train,  would have been digging deep into their happy place. Every time I looked over my shoulder, I would see the riders behind me really strung out, but hanging on.  Booyeah!

The Belgie

We made it back to the Rapha Club house and it was a real shame that the ride had to end.  Living in the outer south-eastern suburbs I miss out on a number of great group rides in and around the city.  The Belgie was a great mixture of roads/bike tracks/walking tracks & hills.  I went into this ride completely oblivious of the fun that I was about to have.  The Belgie gave me a chance to discover a side of the city that I never knew existed.

A ride like this you’ve got to be willing to throw your bike through all manner of torture.  If you’re interested in doing any of their rides in the future head to their website and sign up to Curve Cyclings newsletter for all the latest info:

or keep up to date on their Facebook feed:

Just be prepared to walk……

The Belgie

Dirty Dozen 2016

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Dirty Dozen 2016 was always going to be one of the hardest rides I’ve ever done.   The course was a lot harder than last years course, and there was 3 – 10mm of rain forecast.  I was coming off 5 weeks of illness, and with only a handful of rides under my belt I knew I was completely out of shape.  .

I only managed a couple of hours sleep before heading up to Warburton at 6am.  I was in desperate need of Coffee, and tried not to think about what I was in for.

Dirty Dozen 2016

I headed out with the organisers of the event Matt de Neef & David Blom.  It’s comforting to know that on a ride like this you can’t get lost if you’re riding with the guys who put together the course.  I started out well and paced myself quite well, and we flew up climb after climb, and it was a relief to get one of the most challenging climbs of the event  Story Road out of the way.

Dirty Dozen 2016

When we hit the bonus climb of the day; Clarke Road.  It wasn’t even a goat track.  WTF!  It was a walking track that went straight up and must have been close to 30% in sections and in horrible shape.  What was worse was the fact that the path was quite muddy, and on my 28mm slicks, I didn’t hold much hope of getting traction.  It looked impossible to climb, and half a dozen riders didn’t even try and stopped at the base of the climb.  There was a small gap in-between and I fanged it and split the middle.  There were several riders up ahead, pulling over to walk.  I kept going determined to make it.  I hit some mud, & copped wheel spin.  It could have been game over, but I danced on the pedals and kept it moving, and hit the next section of mud.  The gradient was 20% and I got wheel spin again, and again and again.  More and more riders were pulling over above me & it was a matter of time.  David Blom pulled over in front of me and I managed to climb a couple of metres ahead of him before almost falling sideways after hitting a deep puddle of mud.  It was time to walk.  The gradient was close to 30% of mud, so I didn’t feel too bad.  Everyone else walked.

What a relief it was to reach the tourist road.  Pushing my bike up such a steep gradient burnt a lot of matches, and things turned south pretty quick.  Blommy was talking to me & I wasn’t taking a single thing in.  Early signs of bonking!  I took it as easy as I could, and with the easiest part of the course up ahead I hoped to be able to recover.

The best laid plans of mice and men………

Dirty Dozen 2016

We hit Milners Gap & I felt really, really hungry, and made it halfway up before imploding.  The lights went out.  I was running on empty and suddenly I couldn’t manage any speed at all and went into a very, very dark place.  All the riders I was easily keeping pace with flew off up the climb, and my head was spinning.  I seriously had to consider pulling the plug on the Dirty Dozen.  I went through a lot of soul searching.  This year has been horrible with injury & illness marring the whole year.  I’ve cherished the few times that I’ve gotten to ride & all of a sudden a fire burned within.  No matter the cost.  No matter the pain I wanted to finish.

Dirty Dozen 2016

I managed to crawl to the rest stop where one of the events sponsers “Winners” were set-up with a table full of goodies.  I stuffed my face with a Gel, two energy bars & a whole heap of lollies.  Energy flowed back into my wrecked body, and I felt there was hope.  There were 5 more climbs up ahead, but knew that 3 of them were amongst the hardest of the event.

We made it to Dees Road, and I was in fairly good shape but realised early on into the climb that I wasn’t fine.  I struggled, and Dees is a road which gets steeper the higher you go, & peaks at 27%.  I had to go into my happy place to get up this one.  This climb utterly Deestroyed me, and I now had 4 climbs left to survive.  The next was really hard, but I survived and then we hit Hooks.  I’ve never done this climb before but had seen it many times and it is a very vicious piece of work.  I had great apprehensions about the climb.  We turned onto Hooks and immediately the road goes to the wrong side of 20%.  My legs felt like lead, and I gave it everything I had, but halfway up the lights went up & I had nothing to get up it.  For the second time that day I got off my bike.  I never get off to walk on a climb.  This was quite humiliating.  I had no energy to walk up the climb so turned around and headed back.

Dirty Dozen 2016
Running on empty

It was tempting to head straight back to the car, but with 2 climbs left I wondered if it was possible.  The next climb I’ve been up several times and felt I could do it.  Albeit slowly.  I figured if I could at least get up Surrey Road would give me a small measure of pride back.  I made my way up very, very slowly.  I was quietly confident, but foolishly had not read the climb profile.  Dave & Matt had thrown a variation of this climb.  We headed up a dirt road which went skyward.  It had well in excess of 20%.  I went as high as I could, but was just going too slow.  I didn’t have any ascendancy, and for the third time during the event had to get off and walk.  This was embarrassing.  I knew this could have happened, and I’m not one to hide behind excuses.

Dirty Dozen 2016

I was a wreck a the top and there was still one climb left.  Martyr Road.  I had no confidence that I could get up it.  I was already coming up with excuses and did not look forward to the fact that most likely I would be walking up its extremely steep slopes.  When I turned off onto Martyr I tried not to look up.  It is one scary climb.  I had a couple of riders up ahead, and didn’t last long until my legs felt like lead.  I had no hope of riding straight up this monster.  There was a course photographer Kirsten Stewart halfway up the climb.  I didn’t like the thought of getting photographed walking.

Dirty Dozen 2016

I started to zig zag from side to side.  I went into a zone, and found  I could climb.  It wasn’t pretty, and it was excruciatingly slow but I was doing it.  One of the riders in front of me got off and walked.  This was not going to happen to me.  I kept going until I got past Kirsten.   I couldn’t make it up the last two climbs.  Which is why I had to get up the hardest.  Soon my hamstring cramped.  I never get cramp and it frekin hurt.  I was so close to the top that I couldn’t give up.

Getting a chance to redeem myself was pure gold.  I averaged a shocking 6kph up Martyr Road but I made it!  The feeling of jubilation when I crested the top of Martyrs was unbelievable.  I did it.  I finished the Dirty Dozen.  This is the fourth year that I’ve attended this event and is one of my favourites of the year.  It rained most of the morning, and I was glad to get into some dry clothes.

Dirty Dozen 2016

I personally believe this was the hardest of all of the Dirty Dozen rides that I have done.  The weather was shocking, and we were all soaked the skin & coated in mud.

Who knows what they will have in store for 2017………

A Sunrise cycle

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There is something truly remarkable about getting out on your bike before the crack of dawn. You have the roads to yourself and the first thing you will notice that you are surrounded by the sound of silence as the world lies asleep around you.  It’s just you and your bike.

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Being able to see a sunrise on a bike is such a special moment.  You’ll get lost in the moment as the night air slowly begins to glow, and gets lighter and lighter.  You keep riding waiting for that special moment where the sun will poke its head over the horizon and you can basque in the glory of the sunrise.

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You may have been feeling tired up until this moment, but it will all be forgotten as you get to experience something, which makes setting the alarm so early worthwhile.  Hey as a bonus getting up really early gives you a chance to get a lot more riding in.

When was the last time you experienced a glorious sunrise on your bike?

Leslie Street (Belgrave)

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Distance: 200 metres
Average Gradient: 24%

Maximum Gradient: 32%
Elevation gain: 66 meters
Traffic: Light traffic
Surface: Sealed
Category:
4

Here is a link to the Strava segment here:

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Leslie Street is an urban legend.  A street that is so steep that even if you tried this one you will likely fail!  It is the Dandenong Ranges steepest road over 200 metres in length averaging 24% in gradient and peaks at an incredibly steep 32%.

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The climb would start just after you pass Tekoi Avenue off Mounbulk Road

Even though you are very unlikely to see a car on this road, sadly this is a one way street and the traffic goes the wrong way to try an attempt at an ascent of this climb. PLEASE DO NOT try this climb.

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Right from the start this one hits well in excess of 20%

I took a walk up this street & it made a climb like Terry’s Avenue which it joins onto seem easy.  I love my extreme climbing, and its a shame that this is a one way street as it would be one hecka challenge to get up.  Given how hard this climb is.  Do you reckon that you would you have been able to make it up this one?

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Preview of the 2016 Warburton Dirty Dozen

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The Warburton Dirty Dozen

The Dirty Dozen is now in its 5th year and is an event like none other. This event challenges riders to get out of their comfort zone and climb 13 hills that are so steep that even a car would struggle to get up them. The Dirty Dozen will be held in Warburton, a town which lies at the base of Mount Donna Buang in the Yarra Valley.

The Dirty Dozen is guaranteed to be hard, and not for the feint hearted. Here’s some tips on how to survive.

Martyr Road

What’s in store this year?

This is the second year the Dirty Dozen will be held in Warburton. Last year saw near perfect conditions and the event was a huge success. Riders were introduced to mixture of 13 sealed and unsealed climbs which left quite a few lasting memories.

This year the course is very similar to the 2015 course with the inclusion of two new climbs:

  1. Yuonga Road is super steep, and runs off the Mount Donnua Buang Tourist Road. This is the longest climb of the event and the first 1.3km is sealed and takes you up to the O’Shannassy’s Aqueduct car park. The tip to surviving this climb is to pace yourself up this first part and save some legs as the road turns to loose gravel and let’s just say there will be a number of riders walking up this one……
  2. Hooks Road runs off the Warburton Highway, and when you hit the base of this climb its ok to curse. The road goes skyward peaking at 26% & for a climb which is little over 300 metres in length it’s not a good sign that the roads so steep that you can’t see the top. Take care on the descent as this is quite a narrow road & there will be a number of riders using the whole road to deliver the mail up this one.

The Dirty Dozen is an event for the climbers. If you’re daunted by the steepness of the climbs, how will you ever know if you never go? The great thing with an event like this is that it introduces riders to a world of new climbing, & helps to make riders believe they can climb. Trust me, if you can get up these 13 beauties you can pretty much get up anything.

Matthew Keenan climbing Story Road

So how will you survive?

  • Travel light
  • Choose appropriate tyres for the gravel sections
  • If you’re not riding a compact, seriously consider investing in one. You’re gonna need it!
  • Bring plenty of fluids

Strategies:

  • If hills aren’t your thing; go back to Beach Road
  • Suck it up Princess!  At times your body will be screaming out ‘no more’, but we can assure you it hurts more (especially your pride) if you have to get off & walk
  • Drop the odd curse word here and there
  • Save something in reserve for the last climb up Martyr Road.  It’s a doozy!

 

Giving it everything

The climbs (click on the links for climb profiles):

  1. Madeline Street/Croom Street; 400m @ 17% (unsealed)
  2. Brett Road; 700m @ 13% (sealed)
  3. Brisbane Hill Road; 500m @ 14% (sealed)
  4. Yuonga Road; 1.3km @ 10% (sealed/unsealed)
  5. Ferntree Avenue/Brides Avenue; 1.3km @ 9.7% (unsealed)
  6. Leila Road/Story Road; 800m @ 14% (unsealed)
  7. Milners Gap (south-east side); 5km @ 7% (sealed)
  8. Milners Gap (south-west side); 6km @ 7% (sealed)
  9. Dee Road; 1.6km @ 9.3% (sealed)
  10. McKenzie King Drive; 900m @ 9.1% (sealed)
  11. Hooks Road; 300 metres @ 20%
  12. Surrey Road/Kent Street/Sussex Street; 1.5km @ 8.3% (unsealed)
  13. Martyr Road; 300m @ 20% (sealed)
The view down Martyr Road
Martyr Road

 Speical note:

There is limited parking around the township of Warburton. I’d recommend you park your car at any of the towns along the Warburton Highway & ride into Warburton.

For a scenic trip we advise to take the Lilydale Warburton Trail.

For event details & tickets head to the Climbing Cyclist:  http://theclimbingcyclist.com/dd16/#climblist

Warburton Dirty Dozen

See you at the Warburton Dirty Dozen

Glen Harrow Heights Road

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Distance: 500 metres
Gradient:  11%
Surface: Sealed
Terrain: Residential/Forest

Here is a link to the Strava segment here:

Glen Harrow Heights Road is this great little back street climb, which is nestled at the base of the Sherbrooke Forest.  This is a residential street where the houses have blended beautifully into the environment.  It looks like and feels like you’re climbing through a forest, with a canopy of giant Mountain Ash and Eucalypt Stringybark trees  to either side of the road and will make you feel very small.

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The climb begins at the intersection of Glen Harrow Heights Road & Monbulk Road.  Straight from the onset the road kicks up and never dips below 10%.  You’ll find that Glen Harrow Heights Road is a little wider than a car and has a number of blind corners, so take care and keep as far to the left when a vehicle passes.

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Start of the climb

Glen Harrow Heights may only be 500 metres in length, but when you’re climbing a road as steep as this the road will seem to go on forever.  You will need legs of steel, and an iron will to get to the top, and its worth it.  This is an awesome little climb.
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The climb ends shortly after you reach Forest Road (see above).  Here you have two options.  Follow Glen Harrow Heights around the bend which is quite steep and hard, or you can turn left onto Forest Road which is quite steep and hard.  The decision is up to you.  Personally I would drop down to the base and go and do both.

Please take care on the descent as this is a narrow road with quite a few technical corners.

Rowville Riders Fathers Day Ride

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Anti-biotics – check.  Cough medicine – check.  Nasal spray – check.  Cold & Flu tablets – check.  I had been sick for 3 weeks now, and still not healthy, but after three weeks of being sick I had to ride.  It was Fathers day, and my son William is 10 months old.  He’s been keeping us on our toes, but is my pride and joy.  I had to celebrate and what better way than to go for a bike ride.

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I joined the Rowville Riders on their loop up to Sky High.  The story behind the Rowville Riders is quite special.  What started with a handful of mates has grown into a community of riders who offer regular social group rides and a very supportive of riders of all abilities, and welcome anyone to their rides.  Even a bozo like me.  The Rowville Riders have recently merged with the Blackburn Cycling club and are fast becoming one of the biggest riding groups in the Eastern suburbs.

I rocked up just before 7am at the Rowville shops & Luke was complaining that his missus didn’t want him to go out for a bike ride as she wanted to have breakfast.  “fathers day is about me isn’t it?  I should be able to do what I want which is to ride”.  A sentiment that many of us went through to get out to ride. I think I speak for most male riders to say that birthdays, Christmas, Fathers Day etc, etc.  The greatest gift we can get is a leave pass to ride, and over two dozen showed up to enjoy the Rowville Riders Fathers day ride.

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So I got new pedals put on my bike this week.  I had been given them last year & had been sitting in my shed.  I put new cleats on my shoes as well & went to test them out and they wouldn’t click in.  I tried and tried and tried.  One of the guys joked “how did you earn your Grey stripe when you can’t even click in?”.  We worked out that the pedals that I was given were Shimano shoes, & my cleats were Look.  And Look they weren’t compatible……

One of the guys Joe lived around the corner and offered to lend me a pair of shoes which were a few sizes too big, which sounded great.  I went to follow him, and as the story of the day goes, followed the wrong rider, who when I caught up with realised my error.  I worked out that I could ride without being able to clip in.  The Look cleats sat in the Shimano pedals ok.  My next problem was the fact that the group had left & I would have to push to catch up with them.  I pushed hard, and took over 8km to catch them at the Ferntree Gully train station.

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When we got to the base of the 1 in 20 we realised that Joe wasn’t there & was waiting for him.  He showed up shortly with a pair of shoes in his back pockets.  YOU BLOODY LEGEND!  And the cleats made it so much easier to ride.  A fact that I was thankful about on the 1 in 20.  My legs felt great, but my lungs didn’t, and I struggled to breathe through my nose so I cruised up in a modest time of 22 minutes 20 seconds.

Everyone was in great spirits, & I was able to enjoy great conversation along the way.  We made our way up to Sky High where we took a brief break before heading down the Mount Dandenong Tourist Road.  This is one of my favourite descents, as the corners are all free flowing, and you can take most of them at full speed.  It was no surprise that many passed me as I’m not that quick downhill but I never mind.  I’m always there for the up.

Rowville Riders

 

We stopped briefly at Montrose, and I had been great at pacing myself up to this stage.  I definitely didn’t want to make myself any sicker.  Around the corner from Montrose is this nasty little pinch.  One of those that I really love, and had been on my wishlist to smash for years.  We turned left at the big roundabout and my legs were feeling strong & I couldn’t help myself. I stood up and gave it some gas to test out how I would go & went flying.  About 2/3 of the way up my lungs reminded me that I couldn’t breathe & my legs started to feel heavy. I managed to average 36kmph up this 300 metre hill & suddenly found myself out the front of the group.  I wanted to pace myself again but found myself amongst the fast riders on the front & was getting dragged along Canterbury Road at 40kmph.  I could keep the pace easily enough, but my lungs weren’t liking it.  By the time we hit Boronia my body wanted to go on strike, but I kept pushing.

It was a great day & I was so lucky that I got through it unscathed.  Special thanks to Joe for the loan of shoes.  I would have struggled over Mount Dandenong without any cleats.

If you ever get the chance I would highly recommend you join the Rowville Riders on one of their group rides.  They’re a great experience.

How the Dandenong Ranges was born

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I was asked the question the other day “how the Dandenong Ranges came about”.

The Dandenong Ranges started as a Strava group which I started in May 2014. I had this crazy idea of posting segments to this group for the lesser known climbs in and around the Dandenong Ranges. My hope was to introduce riders to a new world of climbs. Within a week I had over 100 members, and each week I would post more and more segments until I ultimately ran out of segments to post, and looked for new horizons.  The blog came about as I love writing & love photography, and had already written several cycling articles in the past.  I spent a bit of time trying to come up with a good name, which is something that I’m not that good at and nothing I came up really gelled. I guess I took the easy way out and used the name of my Strava group, and thus the Dandenong Ranges blog was born.

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Image created by Lou Wolfers

The articles were easy to do. I loved to ride epic rides and loved to get out there to explore and continued to challenge myself to do some very crazy adventures. Then came the climb write-ups, and my Strava group was the reason why I started to do these. I had run out of segments to post to this group, but still had something to contribute. I wondered if I could show people visually what’s out there, it may encourage riders to get out and explore some more. I looked at that list of segments that I had posted to my group & slowly went out with my camera & took photos and did the first of the climb write-up on Courtney’s Road in Belgrave South & guess I got hooked as I have done over 180 of them since.

The Dandenong Ranges is a hobby of mine, and I really appreciate you reading this blog and reading my posts.  If you’re not already doing so I would really love if you can sign up to my Facebook group or Instagram account.

Thank you to all of the support I’ve received along the way. Lou Wolfers who designed the Dandenong Ranges logo & Mike Boudrie, the editor of La Velocita who has given me some great guidance over the years. Also a special thanks to Adam Dawson, Joel Archer, Andrew Talanti, David Edwards, David Blom, and everyone else who has helped edit, offered ideas, suggestions, come along for my crazy rides and helped me along the way.  You know who you are. I’ve appreciated every single bit of help that I’ve gotten along the way.

And of course a special thanks to my wife who has endured me disappearing for days on end out riding & countless hours spent on the laptop, who’s patience and understanding has allowed me the time to put together this blog.

Thanks for reading.

Lakeside Drive (Emerald)

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Distance:  1.1 km
Average Gradient:  6%
Traffic: Moderate
Terrain: Resedential
Category: 4

Here is a link to the Strava segment here:

Emerald is one of the Dandenong Ranges oldest towns and was named after a prospector by the name of Jack Emerald who was murdered in 1858.  Emerald is a town which was born on gold.  Gold diggings were part of Emerald’s history, and the area really started to develop after a narrow-gauge railway was built between Belgrave to Gembrook in 1900, which was later to became the Puffing Billy scenic railway.  Today Emerald is one of the Dandenong Ranges most popular tourist towns brimming with country charm, and has great Cafes & shopping, and many tourists flock to the Emerald Lake Park (Lake Treganowan) for a picnic or to ride the Puffing Billy express.

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Emerald is one of those towns that has a large number of hidden gems.  Great backstreet climbs which cyclists will rarely venture down.  Lakeside Road is a residential street which descends down to the Emerald Golf Club.  Its worth descending down there just to check out the scenery.

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The climb starts next to the hut on the lake, and right from the onset you’ll find that Lakeside Drive has a fairly consistent gradient throughout.  The road surface isn’t what you would call bumpy, but it does throw you around a bit and adds that little bit of extra hurt to your legs.

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You’ll find the road is narrow and will need to keep an eye out for cars.  Normally its very quite around here and easy to hear the sound of an approaching car.  Unfortunately there is a fair bit of traffic that make their way in and out of the Golf Club and you will see several cars on the way.

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The traditional end to the climb is when you reach Emerald Road.  If you love your climbing then you won’t stop until you get to the top.  If you turn left at Emerald Road there is an additional 900 metres of climbing which will take you out to the township of Emerald.

Here is a link to the extended segment:

 

 

Cycling Warburton

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Beauty, serenity, adventure.  These are all things which you can experience when you take a ride out to Warburton.  This beautiful little town is situated to the east of the Yarra Valley and is a stunning place to visit, and an amazing place to ride.  The town lies in a valley at the base of Mount Little Joe and Mount Donna Buang.  The Yarra River flows through the town, and these are elements which are mixed beautifully in the one area.  Warburton is close enough to easily come down for a day trip, but also has enough variety to justify booking a night or three to spend some time in cycling paradise. 

Here are 8 of the best rides you can do around Warburton:13498127_10209153642773914_5423962821494460118_o

1. Mount Donna Buang

Mount Donna Buang is one of Melbourne’s most popular climbs. It is 16.8 km in length with an average gradient of 6.4%. A high level of fitness is required to make the ascent to the top of Mount Donna Buang. This climb takes you through a stunning Rainforest which is home to some magnificent tall Mountain Ash trees and ancient Myrtle Beech Trees, Ferns, Mosses and other plants and an array of wildlife.  If you get lucky on a clear day you pass several lookouts where you can see views of Warburton and the Yarra Valley which is a sight to behold.

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Mount Donna Buang

2. Lilydale Warburton Trail

The Lilydale Warburton trail follows the old Warburton Railway line which was originally built in 1901 and closed down in 1965.  The trail runs a distance of 40km between Lilydale and Warburton and passes through the beautiful Yarra Valley offering stunning scenery throughout. The trail provides a wonderfully relaxed and safe cycling experience.

The trail is suited to riders of all abilities and the surface is well-maintained, hard-packed gravel, and can be ridden on any type of bike (including a Road Bike). This makes riding easy and safe for adults and children alike. The trail is fairly flat overall, however there are a handful of climbs along the way that should be able to be climbed by riders of most abilities. Just be mindful that it is a shared trail, and you may come across walkers, runners & horse-riders.

The ride begins behind the Warburton Police Station which is just behind the Visitor Tourist Information Centre.

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Lilydale Warburton Trail

3. The O’Shannassy Aqueduct Trail

The O’Shannassy Aqueduct, was built in 1914, and was instrumental in delivering water to the Melbourne metropolitan area for 82 years. The Aqueduct was decommissioned in 1996, and is now use as a recreation trail which stretches 30km in its entirety, and offers a wonderful cycling experience.  There is access to the carpark at the top of Yuonga Road in Warburton. The trail is suited to a CX or Mountain Bike. The trail is quite isolated, so make sure that you bring adequate supplies as there are no shops along the trail.

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O’Shannassy’s Trail

4. The Reefton Spur

A short distance out of Warburton East is the Reefton SpurThis is a 20 km undulating climb which has an average gradient of 3% which is a pure joy to climb.  The climb winds its way through the Yarra Ranges National Park, and you’ll find several lookouts along the way which offer great photo opportunities.  You’ll soon discover why the Reefton Spur has a reputation as one of Victoria’s most popular tourist roads. 

The first 7km of this climb is quite challenging, before the road flattens out and becomes quite undulating till you reach the Cumberland junction.  It is important that you bring adequate supplies and equipment as there is only one shop Between Warburton and the end of the Reefton Spur.

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The Reefton Spur

5. Old Warburton Road

Old Warburton Road “aka Little Joe” is a tourist road which runs between Warburton to Millgrove, and is an excellent detour if you want to avoid the traffic on the main highway.  The climb up Old Warburton Road fromWarburton is 4.3km in length, and even with a steep descent in-between has an average gradient of 5%. A high level of fitness is required.   This road will take you across the lower slopes of Mount Little Joe and is a must do by bike. 

After reaching the peak the descent down to Millgrove is fast & furious and please take care on the descent as there are several high speed technical corners. 

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Old Warburton Road

6. Dirty Donna (part gravel)

The dirty Donna is fast becoming one of Melbourne’s most popular dirt climbs, and will venture through the western slopes of Mount Donna Buang.  There are many amazing photo opportunities along the way.  This road can be accessed via Don Road, which can be attempted from two directions:

  1. From Healesville, via Panton Gap.  The first 9.5km of this climb is sealed before hitting the gravel section. This climb is 24.5 km  in length with an average gradient of 5%
  2. From Launching Place via Don Valley.  This climb is 24.3km in length with an average gradient of 4%.  Whilst this side isn’t as steep as Panton Gap, it has a much longer section of dirt road to contend with, and offers a much more scenic ascent than the Panton Gap side.

Both sides require a high level of experience and fitness, and either may be climbed using a Road bike.  We recommended that you run at least a 25mm tyre. During the winter months Mount Donna Buang Road is closed to motorists, and not maintained over the winter months.  This has become a popular ride for the adventure seekers to do over winter.  The road is covered in debris from fallen trees and offers a number of challenges and is a bucket list ride.

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Mount Donna Buang Road

7. The Acheron Way (mainly gravel)

The Acheron Way is a 28km gentle climb which joins onto the Mount Donna Buang climb at Cement Creek.  The views along the way are amazing, through dense Rainforest and a seemingly endless array of giant Ferns.  The Acheron Way is a pure joy to ride. The road is sealed over the first 14.6 km out from Narbethong and has a consistent false flat with an average gradient of 2%.  The last 13 km of this road is over gravel, and its a great road to ride.  You’ll have to keep an eagle eye on the road. Loose gravel, animals, corrugations and the odd pothole are all dangers that you will want to avoid. I’ve ridden this road on a Road bike with 23mm tryes, but would recommend that you run at least a 25mm or 28mm tyre yourself.

Whilst there aren’t many steep pinches along the way, this is a long climb and will test you.  The gravel section has subtle gradient changes throughout, and is a pleasure to climb. When you get to Cement Creek.  If you’re a hill junkie you might want to turn right and climb to the summit of Mount Donna Buang. 

The Acheron Way is quite secluded and if you attempt to ride this road you should bring adequate provisions to get you safely home.

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Acheron Way image taken by Greenalias

8. The Roads less travelled

Some of the best climbing that Warburton has to offer is within the town itself. The town has dozens of sealed and unsealed backstreet climbs, and all are incredibly steep! Martyr’s Road is the most famous of these climbs and holds the reputation as one of Victoria’s steepest residential streets which peaks at close to 30%. This is a climb will sort the men from the boys, and one of those climbs which will cement your reputation as a mountain goat if you can get up it in one piece.  There is a number of backstreet climbs which we could recommend, but the most fun you would have is by getting out there and exploring them for yourself. 

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Martyr Road Image taken by Ewan Hilsdon

Cylcing around Warburton

There isn’t another town within the state of Victoria which has as many great riding options that Warburton has on offer.   There are a number of other great ride options that I haven’t mentioned, such as taking the dirt ride out to the Ada tree.  This is a giant Mountain Ash that is estimated to be at least 300 years old and stands about 76 metres high with a circumference of 15 metres.  You can visit the Californian Redwood Forest in Warburton East.  Or take a pleasant stroll across any of the three historical bridges in town.  Not to mention there’s some truly amazing Mountain Bike experiences.  Next time you’re out here go and explore. Do a choose your own adventure ride. Warburton is quite a special place to ride all year round.

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Californian Redwood Forest

Directions:                                           Warburton is approximately 72 km east of Melbourne

                                                              on the Warburton Highway

Accomodation Options:                      Visit Warburton Info Website

Information Centre:                            Warburton Highway

Cog Cafe:                                              For all of your bike needs, the Cog Café offers great

                                                               food & Coffee.  Bike rentals as well as bike repairs. 

                                                               You’ll find the Café located just behind the Police

                                                               Station at the start of the Lilydale Warburton Trail.

                                                                Visit Cog Café Website