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In 1935, aged 10 years of age. Geoffrey Heintz became the youngest ever rider to ride from Sydney to Melbourne. Completing this epic journey in 4 days 9 hours and 50 minutes. Geoffrey had been inspired by emulating Billie Samuel’s record breaking ride which she did in 1934.
Geoffrey rode daily in and around the Strzelecki Ranges near his hometown of Korromburra in Victoria. He had amazing strength and stamina for someone so young, and asked his parents if he could ride from Sydney to Melbourne. He was inspired to do this ride to emulate a hero of his. “Billie Samuel”. Who in 1934 set the record for the fastest time by a women to ride from Sydney to Melbourne.
The family approached an ex-professional rider; R.W “Fatty” Lamb. Who was one of the few Australian’s at that stage to have ridden in the Tour de France. Fatty was a mentor and coach to Geoff and put together the schedule and the plan for making this ride a successful one. Fatty was instrumental in getting sponsorship for the ride. He turned to Bruce Small. The owner of Malvern Star bicycles, who’s contribution to Australian cycling at the time was immense. Malvern Star sponsored a number of riders who went onto international fame. Bruce Small would have been highly dubious that a 10 year old boy could make such an epic journey. If one could he wanted to be part of it and put the money forward to make this ride possible. Sponsoring young Geoffery Heintz.
Geoffrey Heintz set out from Sydney at 8:20 am on January 1, 1935 (New Years Day). His parents accompanying him in a motor car.
The first leg of his journey he was accompanied by Arthur Gray. An ex-professional cyclist who rode with him out to Goulburn. Riding was tough with a number of dusty roads to contend with. Geoffrey wanted to continue riding, but was told to rest. ”Dad says I must stop here for the night. If I wasn’t so sleepy I wouldn’t be tired at all” – GH
Between Goulburn to Gundagain, Geoffrey rode on little sleep. Copped a fair amount of rain, and did it tough. Least of all having to ride through a swarm of grasshoppers at one point. “The grasshoppers were thick yesterday. Some children said they do not sting but they do. They hurt when they hit you on the face when you are riding hard. One made my eye sore so I put on my goggles. But they still stung my legs” – GH.
Geoffrey didn’t mind. He just wanted to visit the place where the dog sat on the tucker box.
The mini celebrity
Geoffrey Heintz was treated like a mini-celebrity in Albury, greeted by the deputy mayor (Alderman W Colley). Geoffrey was rapt that a number of boys and girls came out to ride with him and presented him with a silver cup.
“That is my first cup. If I show mum and dad I can ride like I do at Korumburra they promised I could be a racer and try to win other cups”. – GH
After leaving Albury Geoffrey was overcome by a violent storm which he bravely rode through. All of his clothes were soaked to the skin. Nearing Seymour he was forced to pull off the road. Shaking like a leaf, his family needed to light a fire to dry his clothes and restore some form of circulation.
“When I started I thought if a girl like Billie Samuel did not get tired, I wouldn’t.” – GH
Leaving Seymour Geoffrey set into a strong head wind. At times he could only manage 10 km/h. So fierce was the wind that on one occasion it blew him off his bicycle. Taking skin off his knees and elbows.
Malvern Star arranged for Australia’s number#1 cyclist Hubert Opperman and Billie Samuel to ride out and meet Geoffrey. They met him eight kilometres out of the city. They led the boy wonder into the heart of Melbourne.
Geoffrey Heintz arrived at the Elizabeth street Post Office at 6.10 pm on Saturday. One of his knee’s stiff from the cold, and most likely hurting from his crash near Seymour.
In 1935 this was an unbelievable feat. Geoffrey went from being a country boy, who was the son of a farmer to a hero. Geoffrey touched the hearts of those that met him throughout his travels. “I wonder if the people who wave to me know how far I am going. I mustn’t stop to tell everyone”. – GH
What did success taste like to Geoffrey?
“I had some Ice cream and cakes and tea from a flask. That’s why I like riding so well. Gee, no wonder Fatty and Oppy. Like breaking records. It’s great being fed on fruit, ice cream, chocolates, and all that other boys don’t get when they’re not breaking records”. – GH
“Yesterday I saw a swagman and he asked me where I thought I was going. I said to him I was riding to Melbourne. He said I was mad to think I could ride there. I told him I have more chance than he had. I bet he will still be walking when ‘Fatty’ meets me in Melbourne”. – GH
- The Western Argus, January 22 1935
- The Argus, Saturday January 5 1935
- The Sydney Morning Herald, Monday January 7 1935
- The Sydney Morning Herald, Monday January 7 1935
- Western Argus (Kalgoorlie, WA) January 22 1935
- Kalgoori Miner, January 15 1935
I was able to discover about this amazing ride from newspaper cuttings, and a diary. Which thankfully Geoffrey kept to document his epic ride. This is where I found the quotes for this piece.
Height Gain: 1322m
Average Gradient: 4.2%
Maximum gradient: 18%
Here is a link to the Strava segment here:
Mount Hotham is one of Australia’s most epic climbs and is known for its unforgettable moon-like summit. The climb provides spectacular views of Mount Buffalo, Mount Feathertop as well as the high plains. Mount Hotham is a climb which essentially is broken up into 3 distinct sections. The opening 11 km are steep followed by a 9 km false-flat. The last 10 km from the Buckland Gate has made many grown men cry. It is a roller-coaster of super steep uphill & downhill. The super steep pinches on Mount Hotham are so formidable they have their own names! “The Meg” and “CRB Hill” which will be indelibly etched into your memory forever. Many have succumbed and walked these beasts.
Start: Harrietville General Store, Great Alpine Road.
This challenging ride commences in the gateway town of Harrietville. The first part of this climb is flanked by a tall forest, which was effected by bush fires in 2013. Fires raged uncontrollably around the Alpine National Park which destroyed much of the vegetation around the area. On the lower slopes of Mount Hotham, there has been much regrowth. The higher you climb. You will see more extensive damage. Hopefully one day this area can return to its former beauty.
After 5.6 km of tough climbing. You will come upon a corner with a road sign letting you know that you have reached the Meg. Whenever you take on any Mountain ascent, you may find that it seems to have a life of its own. There are sections which will be etched into cyclists memories forever. As a rule of thumb. If you come upon a section of a Mountain ascent which has its own name. It will hurt!
No matter how much climbing experience you have, rounding that bend to the Meg is a cyclists worst nightmare. Whilst the Meg is only 300 meters long, the road goes skywards. With an average gradient of 11.8% and peaking at 14%. If you have to get off and walk your bike up this pinch we won’t think any less of you. The Meg is truly brutal.
The Buckland Gate
With 9 km of false flat ahead of you. This is time to sit back and do whatever necessary to pace yourself to get to the top. When you reach the Buckland gate, this is where your climb to the summit of Mount Hotham begins. The closer you get to the summit, the more the road opens up. The climb offers amazing views to both sides of the road. The scenery is simply stunning! You will be tempted to pull over a number of times to take photos. If you look over your shoulder, you can see much of the climb below. You’ll be amazed at how far you’ve come. When you turn around you can also see how far you’ve still got to go. Ouch!
After you crest the first of the steep climbs, you will come across the first of the steep downhills. Gear yourself up as they are all followed by big kickers.
If you were hitting CRB on fresh legs it would be hard. Hitting it with 23 km of climbing in your legs is pure evil. CRB Hill is a 700 metre stretch with gradients in excess of 10%. What does CRB stand for? Climbing is ridiculous brutal. Climbing is really brutal. You may think up a few variations of your own as you attempt to ascend this beast. Maybe it should be renamed to CBF’d hill
Over the top you will be thankful of a brief respite down a fast technical descent. Save something in reserve as there’s still one last pinch to get up, and it is guaranteed to hurt.
Finish: Hotham Corral Day Car park, Great Alpine Road, Hotham (next to Hotham RMB building, opposite Hotham Central).
Heading under the bridge you’re now going downhill into the Hotham Heights village. No matter your fitness level, you will feel a sense of accomplishment making the ascent up to Mount Hotham.
Mount Hotham starts steep and it finishes steep, and is quite a formidable climb. Here are some tips on how to survive:
- There are three distinct sections to this climb. Focus on breaking your climb into these three sections
- Mount Hotham can be exposed to the elements. There can be considerably different conditions from the base to the summit. Check weather conditions and plan your ride appropriately
- Avoid climbing Mount Hotham on a really windy day. The descents can be quite dangerous
- During the summer months, there may not be anything open at the top. Bring adequate supplies to get you through your ride
Start/end: Tallarook to Mansfield (extension to Alexandra)
Surface: Fine gravel
Suitable for: Hybrids, touring bikes and mountain bikes
Maps: Great Victorian Rail Trail
The Great Victorian Rail Trail officially opened in June 2012 and is the longest rail trail in Australia. It stretches 121 km from Mansfield, and along the Great Dividing Range past Yea to Tallarook. The trail follows the route of the former railway line, and includes a 13 km extension into Alexandra.
Escape to the great outdoors and explore central Victoria in the best possible fashion. The trail offer a safe and enjoyable way to experience the great outdoors and can be ridden by riders of all abilities. Its a journey which will not only take you back to nature. But will take you to a world where you will remember the simple pleasure of riding your bike. Away from the hustle & bustle from traffic, it is a pleasure to go cycling acriss the quiet open stretches of rail trail.
If you want to do the rail trail on a day trip, you will have to choose a small stretch of this trail. If you want to do the whole trail you will most likely have to stay overnight. At one of the many towns along the trail. It will most likely take several days to make the return journey from Mansfield to Tallarook (or even vice versa). This trail has been an important boost to tourism to the area, and its refreshing to travel to distant towns that welcome cyclists with open arms.
The original railway line which was used to transport passengers and cargo between 1882 to the 1970’s.
Apart from the Bonnie-Doon bridge. Which opened in 2000, the first major stage of the rail trail opened in August 2010. The entire trail was opened by Autumn 2012. In January 2014, branding as the Great Victorian Rail Trail was completed.
The Great Victorian Rail Trail (at a glance)
- Australia’s longest rail trail
- Features the only tunnel on a rail trail in Victoria
- The long bridge crossing across Lake Eildon is a truly amazing experience
- There are several crossings of major rural highways (take extreme caution)
- The surface is either a bitumised granite, and compacted gravel
- Public transport options via V-Line stops at Tallarook Station.
Major access points are:
- Bonnie Doon
- Mansfield – Visitor Information Centre
- Alexandra – Old railway station
Please note that this rail trail was previously known as the Goulburn River High Country Rail Trail.
Distance: 200 metres
Average Gradient: 13%
Maximum Gradient: 37%
Here is a link to the Strava segment here:
If you have a bucket list to take on some of the world’s steepest climbs. Then Canton Avenue should be right up the list. Located in Pittsburgh, USA Canton Avenue is considered the steepest street in the United States. With a maximum gradient of 37 %. Not only is it super steep, but it is paved with cobblestones. It’s only a short climb, but merciless and will spit out the weak and the stupid. Without a doubt it is a bitch of a climb under the best of circumstances.
Canton Avenue climb
Canton Avenue is most famous for being featured in Pittsburgh’s annual Dirty Dozen bike race. Which was started by brothers Danny and Tom Chew back in 1983. Each year climbing enthusiasts take on the 80 km ride through a city not known for being particularly flat. This event challenges cyclists to take on thirteen of Pittsburgh’s steepest and nastiest hills.
Take caution as this is a residential street and Canton Avenue simply defeats most. On a bad day this road can be a death trap. Due to its steep gradient. This road is not be well maintained as it is difficult for service vehicles to make the ascent. Over the winter time when it snows. It’s impossible to plow and residents may be forced to park at the base of the road. Then walk up to their homes.
If you’re willing to give this one a go be warned that this climb has made many grown men cry.
After losing most of 2016 to injury and sickness. The last thing I needed was a hack rider coming around the wrong side of a blind corner to collide head on into me. My injury was far worse than originally anticipated.
It has been 68 days plus since I’ve been injured.
Since my injury all I’ve felt is pain. I have an invisible dagger stuck in my shoulder which has impacted everything. Until the past week the pain has been unbearable.
I haven’t given up hope. In 2005 I ruptured my Achilles tendon. My leg was in plaster most of that year and I was on crutches for a total of 9 months. Not being ale to walk properly until 2 years later. Those years were hell, and being injured isn’t fun. At the time I felt that my life was over. I didn’t feel like I was ever going to play sport again. One of my work colleagues suggested I ride a bike and I’ve never looked back.
I rediscovered cycling and went from being an invalid to all that I have done over the years.
I’m down and will be so for some time.
But when I’m back I will be hearing the Rocky theme song playing in my head. I’ve got a lot of riding to catch up on.
Hopefully it will be soon. I’ve got to lose all of this weight I’ve put on during these months of inactivity.
Average Gradient: 6.2%
Elevation Gain: 147 metres
Surface: Gravel (rough)
Traffic: Very light
Click here for link to Strava segment:
The Horn is the most prominent peak in the Mount Buffalo National Park. At an elevation of 1,723 meters above sea level. Was the creation of an Earth fart. It was formed from molten rock that just couldn’t break through the Earth’s surface. A bubble cooled below its surface. Over time, the surface above eroded which exposed the granite and gave the Horn its imposing shape. Its striking boulders, rock formations and alpine vegetation.
The Horn climb
Start of the climb: shortly after the road turns to gravel
As soon as you enter the climb, the most dominating feature is the Horn up the road. This is your end game.
The road surface is quite poor, and is littered with lots of loose gravel. Depending on the time of year, it can be quite dusty on a hot summers day. The key to successfully getting to the peak in one piece is picking the right riding line. It is quite steep in parts and if you get trapped and have to ride over gravel. You may loose valuable time and energy. Or worse still have a puncture or two!
This climb is at a very high altitude and the vegetation is quite thin. This add to the dramatic scenery. This climb is made much easier by having a number of switchbacks & sweeping bends. You’ll find it quite easy to break the climb up section by section. There are some very steep sections but overall there is a fairly steady gradient.
As climbs go, this one of the best lookouts you are likely to see on a bike. The panoramic views from the south of the Horn are simply incredible.
End of the climb: the Horn carpark
The Horn is a striking granite peak, which is not unlike a horn of a Buffalo. This was the name it was given by the first European explorers at Mount Buffalo; Hume & Hovell. If you’ve got the time. There is a short, but steep walk up to the peak of the Horn. Up the top is a lookout which offers impressive 360 degree views. Allow up to 1.5 hours return to do this walk. Which involves some steep climbing up rock steps and over boulders. The experience you get from the views up top are indescribable.
Takaka Hill lies in the North-West corner of the South Island of New Zealand. There is only the one road to get in and out of Takaka. With one mighty hill in-between. Takaka Hill is New Zealand’s longest road climb. Which takes you through a very steep and windy road which rises to 791 meters above sea level. This is a road which has been recognised as one of New Zealand’s most popular touring roads. Offering truly amazing reward at the top. With superb views over Tasman Bay to Nelson Bay and beyond.
Takaka Hill climb
Immediately after the summit lies Harwood’s lookout. This offers views of the Takaka valley below. The mountain peaks of the Kahurangi National Park and in the far distance Farewell Spit. This is a truly remarkable place to visit. Its spectacular scenery was used to shoot a location in Peter Jackson’s Lord of the Rings films. Takaka Hill represents the forest near the fictional Bree (Chelwood Forest).
Takaka Hill is also renowned for its numerous sink holes. Cave systems and underground rivers. With a tourist cave that you can visit at the Ngarua Caves,with its brilliant Stalagmites & Stalactites and offers caving tours. This is a hill which you have to experience climbing both sides of Takaka Hill.
Either climb would be considered amongst New Zealand’s greatest road climbs. Its a climb that you will want to put onto your bucket list if you’re planning on visiting New Zealand by bike.
Distance: 14.8 km
Elevation: 766 metes
Here is a link to the Strava segment here:
Distance: 9.1 km
Elevation: 685 metes
Here is a link to the Strava segment here:
The Jayco Herald Sun Tour is Australia’s oldest stage race celebrating its 64th year. If you want a chance to get up close with the professionals. The prologue stage in the heart of Melbourne is the perfect opportunity. This is a 2.1 km individual time trial through the heart of Melbourne, covering a variety of surfaces including cobbled paths, footpaths and roads. The prologue starts from Federation Square. Before a flat and fast finish along Southbank promenade. The time trial finishes at Queens Bride on the Southbank promenade.
The course is quite narrow and cornering is incredibly challenging as well as dangerous. The riders have very little room to maneuver. With the technical nature of the course a number of riders will take it easier into the corners in order to stay safe for the stages ahead. Unlike normal time trials or prologues. The riders are not allowed to use a proper time trial bike. And have to use a normal road bike.
The Jayco Herald Sun tour prologue
The Jayco Herald Sun Tour attracts some of the world’s best riders, two of the world’s best world Tour teams. Orica-Scott and Team Sky, who were last year’s winners. Chris Froome who won the 2016 edition, is also a three time winner of the Tour de France. Having Chirs Froome race at the Jayco Herald Sun tour has helped greatly to bring international attention to this race.
Wednesday February 1st 2017
Start: 6:15 pm at Federation Square, Melbourne
Finish: 7:30 pm at Queensbridge Square, Melbourne
If you want to use public transport to get to the event. Head to Public Transport Victoria for timetables to get to the event www.ptv.vic.gov.au
Where to watch the race:
- Federation Square – watch as the riders start on the Federation Square stage. Where they will fly past Flinders Street Station and across the Yarra River. You can also watch the race unfold on the big screen at Federation Square
- Alexandra Gardens – situated on the Yarra River. This is the relaxed way to watch the race as it travels along Boathouse Drive
- Southbank – you can enjoy the race from the many bars and restaurants along Southbank. Whilst enjoying the views of the Yarra River
- Queensbridge Square – watch from the finish line. Enjoy the excitement of the crowd as they cheer the riders over the line. There is also a big screen to watch the action as the race unfolds. Live commentary and post-race presentations will be held here
Why you should go
We all love our cycling. The Jayco Herald Sun tour prologue is held in the heart of Melbourne and offers a great excuse to go into one of Melbourne’s most iconic locations. It’s the right price (free) and you get a chance to be part of the excitement, and support Australian cycling. Getting a chance to see the skills and speed of all of the riders up close and personal may help to inspire you to get out and ride. All reasons to go and see the prologue at the Jayco Herald Sun Tour.
Chris Froome will be racing again this year. The opportunity to see a three time Tour de France winner should not be passed up.
In 2013 was doing an epic with two mates. As we were approaching the base of Mount Buffalo. After 80km of riding we had been smashing it. Averaging close to 35kmph. Approaching the toll booth, I through my pain filled haze I noticed a large group of cyclists. My mates flew off on me. I tried to match their pace for a whole millisecond before the lights went out. It was a horrible feeling. My body went into shock, and I struggled to breath. It was hot and I struggled to regulate my temperature and had no power. I found myself in a position where I had to grind my way painfully up the slopes of Mount Buffalo. Every pedal stroke was an effort. Much of the climb would be spent staring down at my front wheel. Completely dejected.
I do have a talent for bonking. Then being able to ride through the bonk, and then out of it. Not today. 1km became 10km & the further I climbed the worse I felt. Turning around or walking are never options for me and I kept at it. With about 5km left to climb a couple of riders that we passed at the toll booth passed me. I was really grateful as they were offering me some sympathetic encouragement. This really helped to lift my spirits. I still had a long way to climb, but as long as I kept the wheels turning I would make it.
About 17km into the climb. A third rider passed me. I was hoping for some more of that positive encouragement to fuel me to the top. The guy said “g’day”. Then told me my positioning was poor. He told me that I could climb better if I changed my technique. He then went on to offer me suggestions on how I could improve my climbing technique.
That really hurt!
The first thought that came to mind was “f*k off!”. Thankfully I stopped myself and told myself to say the third thing that came to mind. “I know how to climb, I’ve just bonked!”. He went “oh”. I could tell that he realized that he had probably said the wrong thing and rode off on me. There was fire in my belly and I wanted to strike back. I wanted to fly on by him. After two pedal strokes my body told me to get stuffed. I had that Whitney Houston song singing in my head “I have, nothing, nothing, nothing if I don’t….”. I had no hope of catching him. To add insult to my misery I watched him fly around the corner and off into the distance.
So much went through my mind. Every pedal stroke I was dying more and more and completely dejected. I rounded the corner and the master climber was a couple of hundred meters up the road. It was depressing as I had to watch sail off into the distance. I had to endure seeing the master climber for an eternity before I realized that he was matching my pace. WTF. I was still riding at a snail’s pace and guess the master climber must have cracked himself.
The climbing lesson
I mustered what little reserve I had left to lift my pace. It was probably only a fraction of a km faster. It was enough to keep him in my sights. Over the next 3 km I slowly reeled him in. Before I knew it we were at the end of the climb. There was only 300 meters of climbing to which ramps up to over 7%. I dug deep, and to this day don’t know where I got the strength. When I passed him, I was doing over 30 kmph up a 7% pinch. It was one of the greatest feelings I had ever felt on a bike to pass the master climber. I crested the hill and there was a descent to the turn-off and I cranking out 55 kmph down this section and absolutely flying.
I met my mates at the junction and given the speed I was travelling at their jaws were dropped. My mate pointed at my headphones, and asked me what I was listening to? The master climber was approaching and I pointed to him and yelled. “This guy tried to give me a climbing lesson, so I just gave him one instead…….”
Here is a link to my Strava segment here
Distance: 11.7 km
Average Gradient: 6%
Elevation Gained: 741 metres elevation
Here is a link to the Strava segment here:
Heaven-linking Avenue is considered one of the most amazing roads to travel across the world. The Tianmen Mountains are a sacred place to the Chinese. Much care and pride was put into constructing this road which took 5 years to build. The road was designed to show off much of the areas naturally beauty to reach the summit. The one thing that sets this climb apart from any other climb in the world is its switchbacks. The Chinese are fascinated with the number 9. This is a very symbolic number to the Chinese culture. Tianmen Mountain Road was built with Ninety-nine hairpins over its 12 km distance. This is a must do climb!
Tianmen Mountain Road climb
Due to the high elevation of the mountain. You can expect a drop of about 10 degrees from Zhangiajie City. Going up won’t be a problem, but on the descent you will feel it. You’d be advised to bring appropriate clothing for the descent. Either going up or down, be prepared to see some of the best views you are likely to see by bike. Take care on the descent. There looks to be quite a few corners overlooking serious drop-off’s, and the video below will show how crazy this climb can be.
Location: Tianmen Mountains are located 10 kilometers south to Zhangjiajie City in Hunan Province of China.
Best Season to travel to Tianmen Mountains: From May to October.
There are plenty of reasons to travel to the Tianmen Mountains. They are rich in Chinese culture. It’s most famous attraction is the Tianmen Cave. The door like cave was created after the cliff collapsed in ancient times. Tianmen Cave is on the precipice and is over 1260 meters above sea level. The cave itself is over 131 meters in height and about 50 meters wide. Its name means ‘the Heaven’s Gate” and is said to be the door to heaven. To get to the cave, one first has to climb 999 steps. The number ‘9’ is significant in Chinese culture and 999 means an eternal life. There are some truly amazing mystic views of fog and cloud from the cave, and a truly amazing place to visit.
The best way to see the climb
You can take the Tianmenshan Mountain Cableway, to the summit of the peak. This Cableway is the longest mountain cable way in the world, at 7455 meters in length. The Cable way starts from the city center of Zhangjiajie and rises up to the ‘Hanging Garden’ on the peak. The views along the way are simply stunning.
The Bonsai Garden (Hanging Garden) is a National Park. On the east peak of Tianmen Mountains. The whole area looks like a natural Bonsai and an amazing place to visit.
There is a waterfall named ‘turning water’. The water comes from the right side of the cliff even though there’s no water resources to be found on the cliff. This is considered a very holy place.
The Tianmen mountain glass walkway is not a path for the fait0-hearted. On a sheer rock face. There is a 21 meter pathway which has been constructed with 2.5 inches of glass under foot. This offers terrifying views of the 1,200 meter drop below. The path is little under a meter wide, and if you have any fear of heights………..
There is also many temples to visit. The Ghost Valley Plank Road & Yuhu Peak (means Jade Pot Peak in Chinese).