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Bright Cycling weekend November 18-20

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Bright Peaks Trip #4

I have been invited to head up to Bright November 18-20 by John Mogavero, for a 3 day cycling weekend. We are taking on one of Australia’s hardest challenges. The 3 Peaks course! On top of this we will be making ascents up Mount Hotham & Mount Buffallo. The Victorian Alps has some of the best riding that Australia has to offer.

Bright trip
Image by Luis Lopez

This is the fourth year this ride has been run. John Mogavero has brought together a bunch of mates, who each year during the month of November, head up north to have a cycling party up at the Victorian Alps.

“I rather enjoy organising things so back in 2013, I asked a few of my cycling buddies to see if they were keen to knock a few of the 7 Peaks? I find it very satisfying to have riding mates coming along who haven’t been before and are totally blown away with the rides, the scenery and the mateship. Everyone comes back with a different perspective on riding and almost in depression riding back in the burbs” – John Mogavero

This is a ride which caters for riders of all abilities, and what started as a group of 6 riders in 2013, has grown every year, and now attracts a group of 40 riders to experience the Victorian Alps. This is a non-supported ride, which for those who are wishing to fill up their 7 Peaks passport, helps to tick off several of the climbs.


Ride #1

Mount Hotham

Distance:                        32.4 km
Average gradient:        4.6%
Maximum gradient:    18%
Elevation Gain:             1,347 metres

This scenic climb up the Great Alpine Road is considered to be one of Australia’s toughest climbs. The climb begins in Harrietville, and for the early part of the climb is flanked with tall forests. The first 10km is quite hard. The climb flattens out until you reach the ticket box, and the final part of this climb is memorable, with some incredibly challenging peaks that will leave your legs screaming in pain.

This is a tough climb which can expose you to the elements. On a hot day you will cook! Wear plenty of sunscreen and bring plenty of drink.   If it’s cold. Expect to freeze, and be extremely careful in high winds.

Click link to view 7 Peaks review on Mount Hotham.

Donald Todd Bright trip 2
Image taken by Donald Todd

Ride #2

3 Peaks

The SCODY 3 Peaks Challenge was launched in 2010 by Bicycle Victoria in the Victorian Alps. It offers cyclists one of the world’s toughest & most picturesque cycling challenges. Starting and finishing at Falls Creek.  Riders must complete the circuit within 13 hours to receive a “Finisher’s Jersey”, and is 235km in length, with a painful 4,400 vertical along the way. Amongst recreational cyclists, finishing the 3 Peaks course is quite prestigious, and gives you stature as a rider having completed it.

Philip Narividad Bright trip
Image taken by Philip Natividad

Ride #3

Mount Buffallo

Distance:                         23 km
Average gradient:         5%
Maximum gradient:     11%
Elevation Gain:              1,119 metres

This climb takes you through the Mount Buffalo National Park. Its landscape is truly unique and offers some truly breathtaking views, with, towering cliffs, waterfalls, Snowgums and wildflowers.  Mount Buffallo has a steady gradient of around 5% for the most part.

The park contains the Mount Buffalo Chalet, which has a spectacular gorge, which is a must do.

Click link to view 7 Peaks review on Mount Buffallo:

David Jukes Bright trip 1
Image taken by David Jukes

I’ve been injured for pretty much the whole year, and have been forced off the bike for really long stretches of time. After over 7 months of knee and Achilles troubles, I have finally seen the light at the end of the tunnel, and have to start training for a ride like this pretty much from scratch. Between working 6 days a week, and having a 10 month old baby. Training time is limited, and I will have to be smart in order to get myself in shape for a ride like this.

I have only been up the Victorian Alps once in 2013 for the 3 Peaks. It was the year where we experienced the Black Saturday Bush Fires, & organisers were forced to put in contingency plans and run a revised route via Mount Buffalo & Falls Creek. This was the hottest year the 3 Peaks was run & dehydration and heat stroke was the story of the day. I was on track for a 9 hour 3 Peaks at one stage, and suffered from really bad heat stroke & ended up struggling in at 10 hours 20 minutes. I have unfinished business up at the Alps.

To be continued……..

Rocacorba (Spain)

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Distance: 9.9 km
Average Gradient: 7.4%
Elevation gained: 745 metres
Surface: Sealed

Here is a link to the Strava segment here:

Rocacorba is a beautiful mountain, 20 km north of Girona.  It’s a climb that is quite brutal as the road snakes its way to the top.  It’s changing gradient makes it hard to find your chi, and is a lot harder than its average gradient of 6.5% suggests.  What has put this climb on the map is that it is the playground for the pros.  Girona is a picturesque town which attracts many of the world’s best professional cyclists, to base themselves for training all year round.

In the foothills of the Pyrenees Mountains and within 35 kilometers of the coast, its climate offers great weather all year round.  With quiet roads, this makes it the perfect training ground.  Its most popular climb is the climb of Rocacorba could be said to be a pissing contest between the pros.  Simon Yates of Orica Bike Exchange current holds the Strava record with a total time of 28 minutes 3 seconds (21.3kmph average).  The unofficial fastest time was set by Ryder Hesjedal on 22 June 2016, blitzing 27 minutes straight.  How do you think you would fare against these times?

Rocacorba Miquel Bohigas Costabella

This fabled climb starts a little out of the town of Pujarnol.  When you first see the sign for Rocacorba.  Hold off.   The official start to the climb is 2.9km down the road after you cross a small bridge over the Matamors River.  The climb is steeped in history, and was named after Santuari de Rocacorba, a structure which was built in the 12th Century and lies on a little hill near the summit.  The first 4km of the climb are a gentle warm-up before the fun begins.  You’re faced with an undulating climb with pinches that rise up to 10-15%.  There are some short downhill sections along the way. You’re legs may say ‘thankyou’ and enjoy a brief respite, though on a climb like this when you hit the next steep slope don’t be surprised if your legs tell you to ‘f#@k off!’.

Roco Jofre Ferrer

This is a must do climb.  The scenery is incredible, the road surface is in good condition and there is little traffic throughout the climb.  For those of us who are not professional climbers, doing a climb like this is great to compare how fast you are compared with the likes of Bradley Wiggins, or David Miller.  You never know, they may fly by as you’re climbing…..

How to get here:

  • By car, Girona is off the A7 which is the main highway in the area
  • The  Girona Airport located about 10 km from the city centre
  • There is a train service to Girona
  • Bus & Taxi are other great alternatives


Saint Gotthard Pass (Switzerland)

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Distance:  11.8km
Average Gradient: 7.5%
Elevation gain:  897 metres
Surface: Sealed/Cobblestone

Here is a link to the Strava segment here:

If you like cobblestones then this is a climb for you.

Saint Gotthard Pass is located 66 km south-east of Switzerland.  With a summit at 2,106 metres, the Gotthard Pass is one of the highest mountain passes of the Alps and has for centuries been one of the busiest routes linking south and the north of Switzerland side of the Alps.  The first road over the pass was opened in 1830 and named after a chapel erected about 1300 in honor of Saint Gotthard, bishop of Hildesheim.  This climb offers some truly stunning views, and is well known for its collection of hairpins with the final 8 kilometers on Cobbles, and has been known as the Roobaix of climbing

St Gotthard Pass warrenski
Image taken by Warrenski, courtesy of Flickr

With a combination of spectacular scenery, challenging climbing and an seemingly endless supply of switchbacks.  Not to mention the challenges of climbing uphill over 8km of cobbles makes it a must ride climb. This is one of Switzerland’s most prestigious climb, which featuring regularly in the Tour de Suisse.

Photos taken as we went over the Gross Glockner pass towards Italy

If you suffer from Vertigo.  A word of warning; don’t try this climb.  There are some pretty impressive drops over the side of the road that you won’t want to test your tumbling skills on.

The Cobbles

This is one of those climbs which no matter how hard it seems at the start, you don’t start earning your coin till you hit the cobbles.  The cobbles will shake you to the core, and  will use some physical effort to absorb the shock its putting on your body.  You’re unlikely to see the impressive views  as you’re paying close attention to the road.  Trying to pick the least bumpiest route across the road.  a relatively smooth section and of course, to avoid plunging off the side of the mountain.  Check out the YouTube clip below for what to expect from the cobblestones.

Surviving to the top

Once over the top your legs will thank you.  This is one of those climbs you’ll wonder how you got up.  Since you’ve put in the hard yards you may as well enjoy yourself.  There is some great scenery nearby if you wanted to visit any of the three small lakes, or take a photo of your bike next to the monument to Adrien Guex, a Swiss pilot who crashed nearby in 1927.  There are some great restaurants & Cafe’s, or you can pay a visit to the Gotthard Museum.  Its a lovely spot to visit.

id0691 switzerland ticino val leventina st gotthard pass road alps mountain road switchbacks its way through the old saint gotthard mountain road pass in the scenic swiss alps
Image by Mark Goebel, courtesy of Flickr

The Tour de Suisse

The Tour de Suisse (Tour of Switzerland) is a UCI 9 day cycling stage race, which has been held since 1933 and is held two weeks before the Tour de France.  This stage race is used by Tour de France riders to get in form, and attracts some of the world’s best riders.  The St Gotthard Pass has been the most famous climb used in this event being used 39 times in the events history, more than any other climb.


The road over the pass is open between June and October each year, and closed daily 6:00pm – 8:00am.

St Gotthard Pass per0ni







Colle Delle Finestre (Italian Alps)

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Distance: 17.8km
Average Gradient: 9.4%
Maximum Gradient: 14%
Elevation Gain: 1,688 metres
Surface: 10km sealed/7.8km unsealed

Here is a link to the Strava segment here:

Colle delle Finestre is a mountain pass in the Cottian Alps, in the Italian region of Piemonte and links the Susa Valley to Val Chisone. The road was built around 1700 to gain access to the fortresses in the area. The Colle delle Finestre is long, steep, narrow & very, very windy road with close to 60 hairpins along the way. It is an incredibly challenging climb, which appealed to the organisers of the Giro d’Italia, and has been included in several of the recent grand tours. A high level of fitness is required to even attempt a climb like this.

Colle delle Finestre Klaus Nahr 2
Image taken by Klaus Nahr

The first 2km of this climb is quite brutal! This road offers a narrow, twisting series of switchbacks that climb through a forest out from the valley floor out from Susa, and is sealed over the first 10km of this climb. Even though this climb is very steep, it was built to military specification so that horses could drag cannons up. It is steep, but the gradient is consistent.

After you pass through Meana di Susa, there are stretches which are truly amazing. You pass through beautiful old Chestnut woods and from here there are an impressive number of hairpin bends for about three km’s. Whilst in the forest you reach the Colletto di Meana. This is where you’ll start to earn your money. This is definitely the most demanding part of the climb. You’ll find the unpaved section is steep, but like the lower part of the climb was built quite well and offers a consistent gradient. The road is gravelly but not rocky, however you will need to keep an eagle-eye on the road to pick the right line through the gravel.

Colle delle Finestre Will Cyclist
Image taken by Will Cyclist

Once you’re out of the forest, the top of the pass finally unveils itself. You will be able to see the valley below, and if you suffer from Vertigo, possibly give this one a miss. The sudden drops to the side of the road may feel a bit disconcerting.  The views just get better and better, and the road gets rougher and rougher. Despite the incredible views, much of your time will be spent looking at the road in front of you. Bouncing along rutted roads, and trying to pick the right line through the maze of gravel.

When you near the top of this climb. The hairpins gradually became scarcer and the road even starts to straighten out. It will be an feeling of pride and relief to get to the top of a climb like this.

Colle delle Finestre Klaus Nahr
Image taken by Klaus Nahr

The Colle delle Finestre will test the hardiest of climbers, and it’s the type of climb where you have to battle it as much in the mind as with the legs. The empty landscape in front of you may seem a far cry from the Giro d’Italia, and if ever you’re struggling, you can picture thousands upon thousands of fans standing to either side of the road screaming at the top of their lungs. Some would have camped here for days, many quite drunk. A flare suddenly exploding right next to you. You picture a fan running alongside you screaming in a foreign tongue. You fear for your safety, and then you realise that you’re day dreaming all alone and just delirious suffering in a cyclists familiar place.  “The pain cave”.   This is one heck of a hard climb!

Colle delle Finestre Klaus Nahr 1
Image taken by Klaus Nahr


The road is open for travel between the first of June to September 30

The climb starts from Susa which is easily accessible by autostrada (Freeways)and there’s a railway line too.

IMG_4970Forte del Colle delle Finestre

Along the climb you will pass a very old abandoned fort. The Forte del Colle delle Finestre was built in 1815 to control the pass connecting Val di Susa and Val Chisone. It is a 2 story building made of stone and overlooking the ravine. The fort housed up to 130 men and was fitted with 57mm cannons. It was manned during World War I, but abandoned as the front moved and decommissioned in 1928.

You will pass this fort on your way up. This late 19th century Italian fort was in use until 1928.


Mount Fuji (Japan)

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Distance: 11km
Average Gradient: 10%
Elevation Gained: 1,117 metres
Surface: Sealed

Here is a link to the Strava segment here:

Listed as a World Heritage site, Mount Fuji is easily one of the world’s most recognisable Mountains. Located on Island of Honshu, it is this is Japan’s highest and most sacred Mountain which has a beautiful cone shape peak rising to 3,776 metres above sea level. This is a climb for the mountain goats. There are four ascents to choose from. All are extremely hard!

This is a climb which will be part of the world Everest project.  Dave Edwards will be taking on 5 climbs in 5 countries over 2 weeks.  Dave will be taking on the eastern climb up the Azami Line ascent.  The climb begins from Subashiri.  This ascent is 11 km long, with an average gradient of 10%. If you’re wondering how hard this is.  The climb from the Gantry up Mount Baw Baw is considered one of Australia’s toughest climbs.  Mount Fuji is almost twice as long……….

Matthew Hine
Image taken by Matthew Hine, courtesy of Flickr

The Azami line is the shortest of the four ascents, but has the benefit of being the quietest of the four roads. There is not that much traffic, and most importantly does not attract the bigger vehicles such as busses that make the other ascents uncomfortable on the narrow roads.

Not only is this climb incredibly steep.  Its one of those nasty climbs that gets steeper and steeper the higher you go.  The ascent is up a fairly straight line directly up the east side of the Mountain.  The first half of the climb is a dead straight.  This type of climb is very challenging.  Without corners, all you will see is a road going up into the heavens with no respite in sight.  No matter the scenery, you will want to have a good “happy place” for your mind to go.  A climb like this you will face many demons, and your body will scream in agony as you grind your way up a climb which will seem to go on forever.

The climb gets steeper, halfway up the mountain and the second half of the climb consists of switchback after switchback, with some incredibly steep pinches heading upwards of 20% along the way.  The first part of the climb will seem like a picnic compared to this.  Your lungs will be screaming.  Your legs will be threatening to go on strike.  With switchbacks, at least you don’t have to see that far up the road.

Image taken by Skyseeker, courtesy of Flickr

Mount Fuji is a mystical place to the Japanese, and is a climb that you can’t take lightly.  Only the strongest will make it up to the top.  If you thought Mount Baw Baw was hard…….

Location:                                             100 km south-west of Tokyo between the prefectures of Shizuoka and Yumanashi

Best time of year to climb:          Late July to late August when the weather condtions are stable (Please note that between the 13th – 17th August Japan has the long holiday week (Bon holidays) and Mount Fuji becomes very busy during this time.

Temperature:                                    Expect cold conditions up top. Even in mid-summer, the average temperature at the summit is between 5 – 8 degrees. Don’t underestimate the difference in temperature from the base to the top, and bring suitable clothing for the   cold descent.

Mt Fuji

Mauna Kea (Hawaii)

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Distance: 68.6 km
Average Gradient: 6%
Elevation gained: 4,186 metres
Surface: Mainly sealed (part gravel)

Here is a link to the Strava segment here:

Mauna Kea is an active volcano which last erupted in 1984.  It is situated on Big Island of Hawaii and is technically the tallest mountain in the world (if you include it starts from 5,000 meters below sea level). This is one of the most extreme paved climbs that you can do in the world and not one to take lightly or to attempt without planning.  There are very few services available on the climb, and if you don’t have a support vehicle following you, be prepared to carry a large amount of food and water with you.

The climb starts from Hilo on the East coast and stretches over 68 kilometers and 4,200 meters of climbing to its peak on top of Mauna Kea. This is considered to be one of the world’s longest climbs, and can be extra challenging as there can be much different weather conditions at the top of this volcano than at the base in Hilo.

Mauna Kea Tony Fernandez
Image taken by Tony Fernandez

The first half of this climb out of Hilo takes you along Saddle Road, and has really long straight sections of road with a pretty consistent gradient of around 5%. You probably won’t see too much traffic, but drivers have been known to drive at excessive speeds along this road, and thankfully there is a shoulder that you can cycle in.

Once you reach the middle of the island, turn right into the Mauna Kea Access Road. From here there is a further 22km of undulating climbing with an average gradient of 10% to the peak (this includes 7km of gravel climbing). Most will probably avoid climbing the dirt section, although I’m always a firm believer that you haven’t truly climbed a mountain until you’ve gone as high as you possibly can.  This last section is truly brutal and expect to encounter some very nasty pinches up to 20% in gradient along the way.

Mauna Kea Hector Parayuelos
Image taken by: Hector Parayuelos

You will need to stop off at the Visitor Center, where you’re encouraged to stop for a minimum of 30 minutes in order to help acclimatize to the high altitude.  It is also the only place where you can get water on this climb.

If you plan on attempting this climb, there is a list of safety precautions at the Mauna Kea Visitor Website that you should read here:

Mauna Kea Big Dubya
Image taken by Big Dubya

Most choose to stop at the Visitor centre.  If you choose to continue riding, the road turns to gravel. The vegetation disappears and cinder cones rise from the earth to make everything appear to look like a moonscape. The next 7 km is very steep and unpaved and in bad shape. The surface consists of rocks mixed with volcanic ash, which offers little in the way of traction, and is a very bumpy ride as the road is rutted and you will experience hell getting to the top.

Mauna Kea Chris Murphy
Image taken by Chris Murphy

When you reach the top you are rewarded with a 360 degree view of the world. Mauna Kea offers some truly spectacular Mars-like scenery. On a clear day you should be able to see most of the Big Island below you, and see the Mauna Loa Volcano across from the south of the island, and Haleakelo on Maui to the north.

A ride like this isn’t about getting to the top as quickly as you can. It’s a journey and an adventure with the goal to get to the top in one piece. When you climb Mauna Kea, it is important that you ride within your abilities and take regular rests where necessary. Altitude sickness can be common for altitudes above 2,400 where the oxygen level is greatly reduced which can lead to shortness of breath and/or impaired judgement. Your body will need time to acclimatise.


Tips to survive:

  • A very high level of fitness would be required to even attempt a climb like this
  • Be prepared for the possibility of rapidly changing weather conditions (extreme heat, strong winds, rain and even snow). Check the observatory websites for wind and weather reports. (you can also call the visitors information station at 808-961-2180) before starting the ride to check summit weather conditions and to get information about possible road closures.
  • Have a support vehicle and bring plenty of food and water to survive the ride
  • Allow your body regular rests to help acclimatize to the thinner air


Lacy Street

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Distance: 400 metres
Gradient: 17%
Maximum Gradient: 34%
Surface: Gravel
Traffic: local residents only

Here is a link to the Strava segment here:

For the mountain goats, this is one of the Dandenong Ranges best kept secrets. Most likely you have passed this climb many times as its situated on one of the Dandenong Ranges main arterial roads; Belgrave-Gembrook Road and sits at the top of Selby’s most popular climb Selby Aura Road.


Lacy Street is a gravel road with gradients averaging close to 20% right from the start. The climb commences at the Charlotta Tye Memorial Church which is one of the Dandenong’s oldest churches.  At the top of the bend the road is paved, and you’ll wonder why they’ve paved only a fraction of the road & will work out pretty quickly that the road is so steep that cars wouldn’t be able to get up it if it was dirt.  Much of the sealed section the gradient peaks at and above 30% and you will have to dig deep getting up this one! Your lungs will be on fire and your legs will be screaming at you to get off and walk. Good luck!


My first impression of Lacy Street was that it would be impossible to climb. Whenever I would take a rider to climb Selby Aura Road for the first time, I point out the bonus climb at the top & have pretty much been told the same thing; “f@#k off I’m not climbing that thing!” It’s pretty damn hard and I wouldn’t put money on many getting to the top without walking.  Anyone who gives this one a go has my respect.



A narrow-gauge railway opened in in the area in 1900, and a station was erected in May 1904. The station required a name, and the name Selby was named after one of its landowners and councillors; George Selby. Selby’s close proximity to Belgrave ultimately attracted residential subdivisions, and a primary school was built in 1951 which helped with population growth.

The dirt track in the top right corner of this image is Lacy Street.  Image; State Library of Victoria

A Church was built from local stones in 1938 and was donated by Alan Tye to the All Saints Anglican Church as a memorial to his wife; Carlotta to whom the Church was named after.

On 13 January 1939 the Black Friday bushfires burned almost 20,000 km of land and destroyed several towns taking the lives of 71 people who perished in the fires. The Carlotta Tye Church offered sanctuary and was used as a refuge for women and children during the catastrophe.



Shut up legs!

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When you have pushed your body so hard, your mind gets blackened to the point that you can no longer hold a conscious thought.  You can’t really see straight and you aren’t able to talk with anyone that may be there.  Jens Voigt is a German former professional cyclist who was inspiration to many.  His tenacious riding style really inspired many to find the inner strength just to say f#*k it.  I’m nailing this sucker.

Shut up legs!

— Jens Voigt’s “trademark” catchphrase

Roxeanne King Flickr
Image taken by Roxeanne King; courtesy of Flickr

Jens is now retired and has a very decorated career including wearing the maillot juane at the Tour de France twice.  He won the Criterium International a record tying 5 times and won a number of stage races throughout his career. In 2014 he set a new hour record which was beaten by Matthias Brandle in October of the same year.  He was never afraid to get out there, and determined to get in a breakaway. His philosophy was; “if you go with a break, you can either win or not win.  If you don’t go for it, you definitely won’t win”.  Jens would continually put his body through the grinder and was never afraid to tell it as it is. Jens wasn’t the fastest rider around, but he was the one the was strongest where it counted.  In his mind.  He could really push himself through the pain barrier and let his legs do the talking.

“I get paid to hurt other people, how good is that?” – Jens Voight

Will Bakker 1 Flickr
Image taken by Will Bakker; courtesy of Flickr

Cycling has come through a dark era and really needs heroes. We need someone to get out there to inspire others to really push the limits.  The true heroes of cycling today are you guys.  The mothers and fathers who work a full-time week, take care of their kids and then get out on their bikes to ride hundreds of kilometers a week.  Riders like Jens have really helped to inspire a whole new generation of Jensies.

So get out on your bike, ride as hard as you can, and give it all you’ve got.  Be the best you can be.

Will Bakker Flickr
Image taken by Will Bakker; courtesy of Flickr

Even though you’re retired I still think you’re a legend Jensie!

Off the front, alone in the wind, suffering like there was no tomorrow. These were the moments when I said to myself a thousand times: “SHUT UP LEGS, please shut up and do what I tell you!” – Jens Voight


One Tree Hill Road (Ferny Creek)

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Distance:  600 metres
Average Gradient:  6%
Elevation gained:  38 metres
Surface:  Sealed
Traffic: Light
Terrain:  Residential

Here is a link to the Strava segment here:

When you’re heading down the Mount Dandenong Tourist Road heading towards the Devil’s Elbow, there’s a great little detour you can do up One Tree Hill Road and down Churchill Drive.  Whilst not a long or hard climb.  One Tree Hill gives you that little extra bit of climbing to your ride.  As a bonus you avoid the heavy traffic of the Mount Dandenong Tourist Road, and the descent down Churchill Drive (1km @ 10%) is fast, furious & fun.  This stretch of road is easily my favourite detour in the Nong’s.


The name “One Tree Hill” is a bit deceptive. You’ll notice straight away that there are in fact thousands of trees in the area.  Back in the 1860’s the forest around this region was cleared except one solitary tree which was left as a survey marker. One Tree Hill once supplied navigational assistance to boats sailing up to Port Philip Bay. The trees around One Tree Hill were cut down to make it possible to see Western Port and Port Phillip bays from its peak. This is where One Tree got its name.

One Tree Hill

The forest has since regrown and One Tree Hill is now part of the Ferntree Gully National Park which occupies almost 600 hactares of land.  The area experiences high rainfall and due to its geography its forests and fern gullies remains lush all year round making it one of the most scenic roads to ride in the Dandenong’s.




How epic was your first epic?

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I just love the word “epic”.  It just sounds very epic!  The great thing about epics are that each and every one of us would consider what is epic differently, and anyone can get out there to do one. An epic basically centers upon a hero who surpasses the usual or ordinary, particularly in scope or size.  An epic can be a series of great achievements or events are completed and are impressive in their quality. For some it may mean a 50km ride down a local bike track, for others an Everest.  Even though it was back in 2012 I remember my first epic quite vividly.  Sure I’d like to boast that I smashed out a double century around the Victorian Alps, or raced around the 3 Peaks.  The truth of the matter was that when I first started riding I was recovering from rupturing my Achilles tendon, and was definitely no hill climber.  My rides consisted of flat bike trails.  My first epic was nothing to cry home about, but we’ve all got to start somewhere.  The ride was 100km in length I did on a flat 100km return rail trail through Gippsland on the Great Southern Rail Trail.

helpGreat Southern Rail Trail bridge

I had taken an Annual Leave day late January 2012, and set the alarm for 6:30am.  For me back then this was a really early start, and I sucked it up and made the drive down to Leongatha on what was a perfect day for it. The Great Southern Rail Trail travels from Leongatha to Forster, and I had never ridden anywhere near such a long distance before.  I hoped that my trusty Mongoose would do the trick. The first 5km’s of the trail is a joy to ride through, passing through rolling farmland, and I was blown away with the scenery. From here the trail got quite boring with dead long straight sections, and with lots of shrubs & bushes to either side of the trail there wasn’t much to see for much of the ride.  I was riding really well and it was looking like I was going to breeze through it at one stage.  When I came out to the lookout which offers the most amazing views of Wilsons Prom that I’ve ever seen 2.5km climb out of Forster.  I stopped and sat there and no matter what else I was to experience.  I felt that the trip was worth it just to see that.

I stopped in at Foster and was quite stuffed.  I had only been to Wilsons Prom once in my life.  It seemed so far away and couldn’t believe that I was having lunch near the Prom on a bike ride. I had plenty of time to get back and headed off.  There was a 2.5km descent into Foster & hadn’t given any thought to how I was going to get back up it.  I struggled right from the outset, and had to get off and walk most of it. I can look back and laugh that an old guy on a bike flew past me & seemed really concerned that I was walking my bike up what I considered at the time to be a massive hill.  I recently looked it up, and its an easy 2.4km climb with an average gradient of 4.3%. I sucked!

downloadMy first 6 months were a struggle and I had to battle knee & Achilles problems, and I was soon to discover what pain really meant. My knee started flaring up, and every pedal stroke sent a severe wave of pain. I had over 40km’s to ride I felt like I was screwed. I needed to pull over regularly to catch my breath & hope to get through this ordeal.  The pain just progressively got worse.  There was no phone reception, and no hope of calling someone to pick me up, and I had no idea how I was going to get through with this without doing some serious injury to my knee.  I was starting to feel like this had been a stupid idea to do.

With about 25km’s to go I chanced upon an old guy riding a motorised bike. He seemed happy to slow down and ride with me & loved to chat.  I was so fortunate as this helped to distract me from the pain in my knee, and helped me to pace myself better. It turned out that he was a Jehovah witness, spreading the name of God. I was so thankful to have someone help me get through the ride I didn’t care what the conversation was. We rode about 15km together and he pulled off in Koonwarra, & mentioned to me that it could have been divine intervention that caused us to cross paths.  I kept silent at this news.  He offered to drive me back to my car in Leongatha, and luckily I had gotten through the worst of it & thanked him profusely and continued on. That return trip was such a blur, and although I was in so much pain I was ecstatic when I got back to Leongatha.  I was screaming in euphoria, and couldn’t believe that I had just ridden 100km’s.  The experience was hell and at the time honestly didn’t know if I could do it again…….

Alpha Flickr
Tarwon River bridge crossing. Image courtesy of Flickr; taken by Alpha

The drive home was a blur, & when I got home I plonked straight onto the couch & did not move for a very long time.  Every fibre of my body was hurting & I was awash with emotion.  The euphoria was amazing and you could not take the smile off my face.  Even though this hurt like a MF, I was hooked.  Epics were to become the new Golf for me.

I would love to hear what your first epic was.  Feel free to let us know in the comments section below