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Great Ocean Road loop

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After losing three and a half months of riding, I’ve treated every ride I’ve done since as epic.  Riding is special and I have endeavored to find rides which I haven’t done before.  One’s which test me that little harder each time.

There was a climb that I found in Geelong which I’ve wanted to climb for years.  Challambra Crescent was made famous when it was used in the UCI World championships in 2010.  Local boy Cadel Evans has taken a liking to the climb and included it in his annual Cadel Evans Great Ocean Road race.  With an average gradient of 10% over1 km, I had to try.

Great Ocean Road loop
Gary & Philip

It wasn’t hard to work out a course around this climb, heading down to the Great Ocean Road.  I mentioned this to my mate Gary Beazley who then invited Philip Natividad.

We parked at Eastern Beach, and being the organizer of the ride it was a little embarrassing how lost I got us.  Every 5 minutes I was pulling out Google Maps, trying to work out which way to go.  Eventually I was able to find Challambra, which follows the Barwon River.  I was optimistic of getting up in one piece and went well for a whole 100 meters before going into the red.  The gradient was on the wrong side of 8%, and continually changed through out the climb.  Peaking at close to 20%.  A climb like this is my bread and butter, and even though it wasn’t that warm it was like a Sauna and I was dripping with sweat.  Gary and Philip were just cruising up ahead, casually chatting as they enjoyed the climb.

I fought tooth and nail to get to the top.

This sucka hurt me, and my pain continued from there.  The climb out of Geelong was almost 2 km in length, averaging over 5%.  That hurt, and I was looking forward to some flat country side on the other side.

I wasn’t expecting a roller coaster of really steep medium range 1 – 2 km climbs, which were quite steep.  After not doing any proper climbing over the past five months I was not prepared to do so much climbing.  I was hurting and desperately trying to hang on for dear life.  It wasn’t until 35 km into the ride that the road flattened out and I was doing everything I could to try calm my beating heart that was racing at a million miles an hour.

You can see in the photo bellow.  Gary to the left cruising having a Sunday stroll.  I’m hunched over and fighting the bike.  The story of my ride.

Great Ocean Road loop
Image by Philip Natividad

When we hit Forest Road the skies opened up on us.  Strangely enough, this is when my fortunes turned.  I’m one of those freaks who enjoys riding in the rain.  I went into the zone, and my legs came back, and finally recovered somewhat.

The skies opened up on us for over 30 minutes on us all the way into Anglesea, where we enjoyed brunch.

The break wasn’t good for me though.  Afterwards I could feel a massive build-up of lactic acid & my legs felt like lead.  My injured shoulder flared up, and with 40 km to return to Geelong I was questioning how I could pull this off.

A miracle happened.

We didn’t realise on the way down we were riding into a head wind.  There didn’t seem much of it, but as soon as we headed east there was this wonderful invisible hand pushing us along.

The pace jumped up and we were flying.  I was riding on my limit, but the k’s were flying and I knew from experience that it was better to suck it up and keep the pace high, otherwise the legs would go on me.

Gary and Philip were riding brilliantly and I was pushing to keep their wheels.

Before we knew it we were in Torquay and heading north to Geelong with only 22 km to go.  The tailwind here was extra nice and the pace lifted even more.  At times we were sitting on 45 km/h on the straights and I was in the red.  On the limit, but I kept going.  “I can rest once we get back”, I kept telling myself.

After crossing the Barwon River there was a long pinch ahead of us.  I dry heaved and my body told me to get f#*d, and I dropped well off the pace.  Guess I was glad to make it this far I suppose.  The ride back to the car was a complete blur.

Great Ocean Road loop
Eastern Park

Since returning from injury I have averaged over 80 km per ride.  I have explored areas of the state that I’ve never ridden before, and caught up with some great mates.  Whilst each ride has had its own challenges.  I’ve been having the time of my life.  I’ve still got a long way to go until I’m healthy, but at least I’m starting to get on track.

A big thank you to Gary and Philip who carried me through this ride.

To be continued.

Here is the link to my Strava Activity.

Ride stats:

Distance:                             100 km
Elevation gained:             1,200 vetical
Moving time:                     3:50

Emerald Lake Park

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Length: 1.3 km
Height gain: 74 metres
Average gradient: 5.3%
Surface: Sealed
Terrain: Residential
Traffic: Light

Here is a link to the Strava segment here:

There is a great little 1.3km climb out from the Emerald Lake.  Which offers stunning views of Lake Treganowan along the way.  The Emerald Lake Park is a beautiful place to visit and quite a popular tourist destinations and is home to one of the true icons of the Dandenong Ranges; “Puffing Billy”.  The town of Emerald is quite popular with cyclists.  Given the volume of bikes always parked out the front of the Emerald bakery.  It’s a theory that cyclists mainly visit Emerald to satisfy a sweet tooth at the Emerald Bakery…….

One of the best Bakeries in all of Melbourne I might add.

Emerald Lake Park

Emerald Lake Road is quite narrow, but is fairly straight and its easy for vehicles to see past you to overtake safely.  The climb begins just after you pass the Duck sign  (see picture below).  The first part is quite a steep pinch and has a couple of speed humps to throw your chi out before making it to the toll booth.

Emerald Lake Park
Start of the climb

The gradient flattens out to around 6%, until you’re about 500 metres into the climb.  The road dips slightly for about 100 metres.  You can really put the foot down and hammer it through this section.  Hold something in reserve as the final pinch out to the main road is quite nasty.  Peaking at close to 14% & a lot harder than it looks.  It’s one of those pinches where you’re lungs and legs will be on fire.

This isn’t a long or an overly difficult climb, but one that I would highly recommend to make a short detour to visit the Emerald Lake Park.  It’s an amazing place to visit, and well worth the visit.

Emerald Lake Park

History

The Emerald Lake Park was originally part of the historic Nobelius Nursery.  Which came into operation in the 1890’s. Fruit & ornamental trees were planted.  In 1941 the Lake was opened as a public park, and today is one of the most popular parks in the Dandenong’s. Set within the hillside and native bushlands, discover all Emerald Lake Park has to offer.  There’s a number of activities which cater for the whole family.  Paddle boat rides, model railway display, a Café, free B.B.Q facilities, Puffing Billy, hiking tracks, a seasonal wading pool or bring along the fishing rod as there is an abundance of Rainbow Trout within its waters.

Capture

 

Emerald Lake Park

A ride on the Great Victorian Rail Trail

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With a shoulder injury which has plagued me for the past four and a bit months. I am limited to riding flat roads at the moment.  My passion is climbing and I find flat roads quite boring, but see this as a golden opportunity to do some of those rides that have been sitting on my to do list for years.

I decided on riding part of the Great Victorian Rail trail.  This is Australia’s longest continuous rail trail, spanning a total of 134 kilometres from Tallarook to Mansfield, with a section linking Cathkin and Alexandra.    This trail boasts Victoria’s longest rail trail tunnel at Cheviot, which I just had to do.

A ride on the Great Victorian Rail Trail

Brad Lyell joined me for the ride and I picked up Brad on the way up & headed up to Yea.  There was 10 km of climbing right from the onset, and the loose gravel made moving tougher than we expected.

One of the highlights of the trail is the historic Cheviot Tunnel (pictured above).  The tunnel was built in 1899 to cut through McLoughlin’s Gap.  The tunnel is over 200 metres long, and the tunnel was built from handmade bricks, and an estimated 675,000 bricks were sourced locally.

When we approaching the tunnel I was thinking “this doesn’t look that long”.  Looks are deceiving as the tunnel was huge.  Once you were in the tunnel it was pitch black.  All you could see in front was a small pinprick of light at the end of the tunnel that seemed to take forever to reach.   It was quite an eerie sensation riding through, but truly remarkable.

We loved it, but if you’re claustrophobic I would suggest you give this one a miss.

A ride on the Great Victorian Rail Trail

It was a nice gentle downhill descent to the small town of Molesworth.  Apparently the section of line from Molesworth to Cathkin was quite challenging for the railway to build. The train had to cross the Goulburn River flood plain.  Requiring a number of bridges.

All of the original timber bridges were destroyed and had to be replaced with modern steel and concrete bridges which now make for good riding.

There was a fair bit of climbing as we made our way up to Bonnie Doon.  Stopping in at Yarck on the way up.  Hate to admit it, but wanted to get a photo to make fun of the name but wasn’t necessary.  They make fun of their own name.

A ride on the Great Victorian Rail Trail

There wasn’t much water in the lake at Bonnie Doon, but it’s always beautiful.  This year marks the 20th anniversary of the classic film “The Castle”, which centered around the Kerrigan’s.  A simple family who’s simple joy was to stay up in their dream holiday house up in Bonnie Doon.   Everyone will remember Darryl Kerrigan’s immortal line “tell him he’s dreaming”.

The ride across the big bridge across Bonnie Doon is always an amazing experience, and we stopped off at the general store for some lunch.

A ride on the Great Victorian Rail Trail
Bonnie Doon bridge

Darryl Kerrigan: How’s the serenity? So much serenity

A ride on the Great Victorian Rail Trail

The return trip was a bit of an ordeal.  On the ride up it was quite still, but the wind decided to pick up on the way back.  We were unlucky to cop really strong cross winds which we battled tooth and nail.  To make matters worse we were running late and nothing gets you faster than the fear of the wife.  Leave passes are a precious commodity that you never take for granted.

I was hurting.  My shoulder was screaming in pain.  I had saddle soreness (wouldn’t recommend to take 4 months off the bike) and I went into TT mode and shut out everything and pushed as hard as I could all the way back to the car.

Brad had a great ride.  “Cheviot tunnel was the best part of the trail. I enjoyed riding to Bonnie Doon and the bridge was awesome but the ride back was a hard slog into a strong head wind most of the way so not so enjoyable.

A ride on the Great Victorian Rail Trail
Brad pushing hard

The Great Victorian Rail Trail

The Great Victorian Rail Trail offers an amazing adventure.  The surface is well-compacted gravel, gradients that don’t go over 4%  incredible scenery; villages along the way which offer their own unique experiences, such as historic landmarks, museums, food and wine, shopping and markets.  Along the trail are a range of places to stay and eat.

The Great Victorian Rail Trail is great to explore on foot, bike or horse. For further information on the Great Victorian Rail Trail click here.

 If you haven’t ridden this great trail before I’ll pass on this advice from the Castle.

Bad luck….ya dickhead!

Ride stats

Distance ridden:   130 km
Overall time:          7 hours 30 minutes
Elevation gained:  800 metres

Click here for link to my Strava Activity.

Cycling around Colac

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This was going to be my first ever family since I had my baby late 2015.  There were a number of towns thrown around, and we eventually we decided upon staying in Colac.  Colac is located approximately 150 km south-west of Melbourne on the south shore of Lake Colac.  The majority of riding around Colac is fairly flattish open farmland which suited me.  I am still recovering from a serious shoulder injury, and need to ride within my limits.

Sadly hills will not be a part of my diet for quite some time.

I found the Colac Cycling Club on Facebook and sent them a message to see if they do a group ride.

Hey mate there is a bunch at leaves from the back of McDonald’s at 730 Saturday morning. Usually around 50ks at 28kph

Perfect.

Cycling around Colac
Lake Colac

It was a glorious morning and I took a spin down to Lake Colac first, which is just amazing to ride around.

There was a group of 5 riders who gave me a guided tour of their back yard.  It didn’t take me too long to lose all sense of direction.  The group was rotating turns up the front and I had a chance to chat with most of the riders.  One major difference between riding out in an area like Colac to the city is the lack of Strava segments.  Yesterday I had gone for a 40 km meander in and around town.  I was surprised that I only managed to trigger one solitary Strava segment during that time.  With the cycling around Colac, there is no machoism, no pissing contests.  These guys ride for the pleasure of riding, and the pace we were going at was neither hard nor easy.

Of course they have a vice.  Racing.  Something which they do with a passion.

The riding around Colac can be challenging.  Most of the area around there is open farmland, and you can get killed by the winds.  The roads themselves were also challenging.  Never flat, you were either pushing up or down a false flat, with the odd undulating rise.  Not easy on roads which could be a bit rough.

Great training grounds mind you.

We stopped for a Café brunch at a Lebanese Café where I was treated to an amazing Mediterranean brunch.  I had a fantastic ride, and over the three days I’ve been down here was able to sneak in 120 km of riding.  With so many great roads to explore I hope that one day I can return.

Cycling around Colac

Plan a ride around Colac

You should consider a holiday in Colac.  It’s a fantastic place to base yourself for a cycling trip.  The area in and around Colac is predominately flat, with long straight stretches of roads.  Colac is surrounded by a number of Victoria’s biggest lakes, and Colac has a strong agriculture center.  Many of the roads are surrounded by wide open farmland, which can expose cyclists to the elements, especially the winds.

This is an area which is ideal for the sprinters.

Colac is ideally located to ride out to the Great Ocean Road, via Deans Marsh Road, or Skeenes Creek Road.  For the Mountain Bike enthusiast, one of the State’s best Mountain Bike parks; Forrest is only around 30 km south-east.

 

About Colac

Colac is a small city with a population of around 11,000 people.  It is approximately 150 kilometers south-west of Melbourne and is surrounded by many large lakes and volcanic craters.  The plains around Colac are the third largest volcanic plain in the word.

Colac itself is located on the southern shore of Lake Colac, which is the largest natural freshwater lake in Victoria.   The name Colac is thought to be derived from the Aboriginal word meaning sand or fresh water, which was a reference to the lake.

History of Colac

Colac was settled in 1837, when Hugh Murray and several other pastoralists took up residence.  Construction of the Plaid bush inn commenced in 1844, which saw the beginning of the Colac township.  Within six years there was a general store, a police station, a Presbyterian Chapel, a post office and a school.

Colac is great to explore as it has a number of significant historical buildings, including the Memorial Square.  This was built, dedicated to those who served in the First World War which features a striking stone memorial, fountain, rotunda, playground and BBQ facilities.

The local lakes are popular with swimmers and boating enthusiasts, and offers a number of foreshore walking trails, jetties and boat ramps.

Cycling around Colac
Image courtesy of State Library of Victoria

There is a bird reserve in the wetlands off the Esplanade which attracts a diverse range of bird life to the lake.

The Colac Botanical Gardens are situated on a 12 hectare sight overlooking the lake, and were established in 1910.  The gardens itself are quite beautiful, containing many historical trees and offer scenic views across Lake Colac.  The gardens are ideal for a picnic, and offer a playground for the kids, and a Café for the bigger kids.

A ride to Red Rock

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I was staying at a Caravan Park in Colac West.  A short ride to the north was the Red Rock Reserve.  This site has seen many violent volcanic eruptions.  These have resulted in the craters and lakes found in the area.  Around 40 ‘eruption centres’ have been identified in and around the township of Alvie, near Colac.  Some of these eruptions helped to form some of the biggest lakes in the area such as Lake Purdiguluc, Lake Werowrap and Lake Coragulac.

It was easy to convince my wife to go up to Red Rock Reserve to watch the sunset.

Meeting the family up there on the bike took a little longer.

A ride to Red Rock

Open farmland lay ahead of me as I was racing the setting sun.  My shoulder had that familiar ache which has been part of my life since the end of lat year.  There was a slight headwind to make things interesting.

It was just over 11 km to get to the base of the climb which whilst only short, turned out to be a good climb.  I am still struggling with climbing due to my injured shoulder which was a bit of a shame to have to crawl up a climb which would normally be my bread and butter.  It was a great feeling to make it to the top and the views were simply incredible.  Red Rock overlook Lake Corangamite and you could see the whole horizon in front of you.

My wife gave me a few minutes head start and with a nice tailwind pushing me home I opened the throttle.  I lasted 9 km before being overtaken.  Maybe if I were in shape…..

A ride to Red Rock

The greatest feeling I get whilst riding is getting out there and exploring the unknown.  I will be spending three days around Colac and are hoping to extensively explore the area.

To be continued……

Click here for a link to my Strava Activity.

Joyce Barry

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Joyce Barry is a female cyclist.  Who was very athletic and excelled at a number of sports including foot running, walking, rifle shooting, dancing and skating.  She is most acclaimed for her cycling during the 1930’s, and set a large number of record breaking times and distance records.  Joyce was introduced to cycling at an early age.  She was diagnosed with Pneumonia at age 15.  The doctor suggested cycling as a way to nurse her back to health.

Joyce Barry
Image courtesy of State library of NSW, advertising for Milk Board

Joyce Barry

Born in 1919 Joyce grew up tall, standing 5 feet, 10 inches.  Joyce was very focused on a healthy lifestyle and a balanced diet., and her natural athleticism was suited for the bike.  Joyce came to the notice of Malvern Star bicycles which was run by Bruce Small who offered her a sponsorship. During pre-War Australia, endurance and long distance journeys were very popular.  Malvern Star was very much involved in promoting Australian cycling.  At the time were sponsoring one of Australia’s greatest cycling legends; Hubert Opperman.

To help develop their latest star.  Hubert took Joyce under his wing and offered training and guidance to the up and coming star.  Joyce was given the same 3 speed geared Marlvern Star bicycle that Hubert Opperman rode, and at times was referred to as “Missy Oppy”.

Cycling on my ‘Malvern Star’ in the fresh open air keeps me slim and ensures that delightful bloom which no cosmetic could impart” – Joyce Barry

Bruce Small wanted his brand name to be associated with long distance records and with speed.  Joyce was more than happy to deliver.  She set a large number of Australian distance records including the fastest time between Sydney to Melbourne.  She was quoted as saying after “I almost feel that I could turn round and ride straight back to Sydney”.  On this occasion Joyce wore a yellow pullover and black shorts, and the press nicknamed her “The Flying Wasp”.

Joyce Barry
Image, Geneology society of Victoria

Joyce Barry’s records included:

Winning 11 open handicap and scratch races in succession during the 1936 N.S.W track season.

Establishing records between:

  1. Sydney to Wollongong
  2.  Orange to Sydney; 270 km (10 hours, 19 minutes)
  3. Newcastle to Sydney; 168 km (6 hours 24 minutes)
  4. Bathurst to Sydney
  5. Stranthorpe to Brisbane ; 298 km (11 hours 46 minutes)
  6. Brisbane to Rockhampton; 777 km (79 hours 25 minutes)
  7. Sydney to Melbourne; 914 km (2 days 2 hours 47 minutes – total 3 hours sleep).  Beating Billie Samuel’s previous record attempt by a massive 22 hours 38 minutes.
  8. Launceston-Hobart-Launceston; 394 km on 19 May 1938 Joyce broke the existing record of the women’s’ record by 2hr 53 mins
  9. October 1938 Joyce broke two State women’s un-paced road records in Western Australia from Bunbury to Perth

The accident

In November 1938.  On the eve of attempting a record from Kalgoorlie to Perth.  Joyce was riding with Hubert Opperman at a track.  They were riding at fast speed when a child crossed the track.  Opperman swerved out of the way, and into Joyce’s path.  She collided with the rear wheel of Oppermans and suffered abrasions, shock and some concussion and was hospitalized.  These injuries kept her off the bike for several months.

Post accident

In September 1939 Joyce set out to establish a women’s seven day cycling record.  This had not been officially done at this time.  She rode a circular route around Sydney and its suburbs and ended up riding 1,782 km in total.  Joyce may have gone on to be considered one of Australia’s greatest cyclists if it wasn’t for World War II which like many athletes spelled the end of their careers.

Joyce Barry
Image courtesy of State library of NSW, advertising for Milk Board

Joyce Barry passed away on November 23 1999 on her 80th birthday.

Sources:

 

2017 Ms Melbourne Cycle

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I love doing the odd bicycle event, especially when its for a good cause to help support multiple sclerosis.  After coming off three months of a serious shoulder injury, I certainly needed all the inspiration I could to get back on the bike.

2017 Ms Melbourne Cycle
Waving the flag for MS

2017 MS Melbourne Cycle

Due to the fact I live in the outer suburbs and rarely get a chance to get into the city.  I was quite excited about the prospect of exploring new roads whilst seeing the sights of Melbourne, whilst making a difference to the lives of people living with multiple sclerosis.

I have only been back riding 8 days before this event & nowhere near enough preparation.

BTW I am very much out of shape.

2017 Ms Melbourne Cycle
Melbourne Star

The ride starts and finishes at Flemington Raceway, which which has been used for horse racing since way back in 1840.  Flemington hosts many of Australia’s top races, including the Melbourne Cup, but you can’t beat the hores power that a cyclist can put out.

The ride

Waiting for the sun to rise, I joined hundred of riders at the start line.  Waiting in eager anticipation.  The MS Melbourn Cycle is a very family orientated ride, and it was amazing to see riders of all abilities, and so many children riding alongside their parents.  My son is now seventeen months old, and too little to ride, but it was easy to picture myself, one day riding alongside him in an event like this.

We were sent off in waves, and it was a nice chillaxed pace.  Working our way along the Maribyrnong River.  I’m not too familiar with this side of town, and not ashamed to say right from the out set, I was majorly lost.  Thankfully it was easy to navigate around the course with great signage and friendly volunteers to point out the way.  We meandered through Williamstown, then Port Melbourne and the Docklands.  Generally the riding was pretty flat, but there was the odd bridge crossing here and there to make it interesting.

Up ahead was a doozy of a climb up the West Gate Bridge.

This was the major reason why I signed up for this event.  The West Gate Bridge is usually closed to cyclists, and you can only climb it on an event like this.  This was my 4th time climbing the West Gate Bridge and I love to give it every ounce of strength to sprint up its steep slopes.  Its a climb which you have to give respect, and it’s a lot harder than it looks.

Up until the base of the bridge, I was quite happy with how I was riding.  Climbing is my bread and butter & I’ve this uncanny ability to know what to throw at a climb.  I would have loved so much to open the throttle, but straight away my legs were singing a tune;

I have nothing, nothing, so if you want to push hard, you can go and get stuffed!

2017 Ms Melbourne Cycle
Image taken up the West Gate Bridge by Steve Burns

Yep I cruised up this one.  Sitting at a sedate 21 km/h.  Even though I was taking it easy I managed to cook myself.  I could still sit on a decent pace, but my legs were getting heavier and heavier.  Any time I got some respite at a traffic light I was huffing and puffing, trying to catch my breath.  Desperately trying to get life back into my tired body.

My eyes were firmly on my Garmin counting down the k’s.  Boy could I feel the lactic acid weighing down my legs.  My body was hurting but I’ve survived too many epic rides to fail now.  I wasn’t giving up and pushed as hard as I could.

And loving every minute of it.

 2017 Ms Melbourne Cycle

I was relieved to get back to Flemington Raceway where I made a dash down to the finish line.  Fist pumping the air in triumph.  I somehow managed to average 29 km/h, and according to Strava was one of the fastest times for the ride.

There was a real festive atmosphere at the finish line.  Many you couldn’t get the grins off their faces, and you could tell that this ride really meant a lot to them.  Major Kudos to the organizers for putting together such a successful mass participation event.

The past three & a half months have been incredibly challenging for me with injury and illness.  I really needed a ride like this, and to exceed expectations has made me a very happy camper.  The 2017 MS Melbourne Cycle certainly has a thumbs up, not only from me but a number of its riders.

I will be back.

MS Melbourne Cycle

About multiple sclerosis

Multiple sclerosis is a disease which effects the central nervous system.  It affects more young adult Australians than any other neurological condition.

Researchers are still looking for a cure, and sadly at the moment, multiple sclerosis is a lifelong disease.  MS Australia helps people who are living with multiple sclerosis to access services, support.  Treatments, and provide information they need to live full and happy lives.

Symptoms of multiple sclerosis vary from person to person, but can include:

  • Fatigue
  • Pain and numbness
  • Pins and needles
  • Cognitive difficulties
  • Intolerance to heat
  • Loss of balance and coordination
  • Continence problems
  • Blurred vision
  • Tremors
  • In severe cases, paralysis
  • Click here to Learn more about Multiple Sclerosis.
2017 Ms Melbourne Cycle
2017 Ms Melbourne Cycle

The Crescent (Sassafras)

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Length: 3.3 km
Height gain: 167 metres
Average gradient: 5%
Surface: Rough
Terrain: Forest/Residential
Traffic: Light

Here is a link to the Strava segment here:

The Crescent has always been one of my favourite climbs in the Dandenong’s.  There’s something special about this climb that makes it such a pleasure to climb.  Its a climb that can easily lull you into a false sense of security.  The first 2.6 km offers a fairly easy climb through some of the Dandenong Ranges National most stunning Rain forest.  This climb has a nice surprise with the last 700 meters ramping up, and one final pinch which is quite nasty!

The Crescent (Sassafras)

The climb begins at the intersection of Perrins Creek Road, and this climb which has two parts.  The first section of the climb is 2.6 km in length with an average gradient of 5%.  The road surface is quite course.  Even though the average gradient is quite an easy gradient to climb, you have to work for it.  It’s easy to be caught up in the serenity and tranquility that this climb has to offer.

Be mindful that part two has a real bite to it!

The Crescent (Sassafras)
What I like most about this climb is the finish.  The last 1.4 km just gets steeper & steeper.  With 700 meters to go the road seriously ramps up as you enter the residential part of the Crescent.  This is where the road gets skyward until it hits you in the face with the final 200 meters of the climb averaging well in excess of 10%.  After 3 km of climbing your legs might not like you at this point.  You will need your granny gear to get up this one and if you’ve cooked yourself before you’ve hit this one, good luck!

The Crescent (Sassafras)
The final pinch

History of Sassafras

Sassafras was originally called Sassafras Gully.  After the damp, hilly terrain and trees that grew in the area.  Sassafras Gully was open for small scale farming in 1893 where 500 ten-acre farms were put up for sale.  Little in the way of a township was established.  With only a Post Office (established in 1894), store, school (open in 1894) and a Mechanics hall.  In the early 1900’s tourism began to grow which helped the town to develop.  Around 1918 thirteen guest houses were built attracting a number of weekenders.  This made Sassafras one of the leading resorts in the Dandenong Ranges.  Around this time two churches & additional shops were built around the township.

The Crescent (Sassafras)
Image courtesy of State Library Victoria

Today Sassafras is one of the Dandenong’s oldest and most popular towns.  Featuring a diverse collection of Cafes, Antique and craft shops.  It is very popular amongst cyclists who may stop to catch their breath after climbing one of the Dandenong’s most iconic climbs the 1 in 20.

The Crescent (Sassafras)
The Crescent (Sassafras)

Return from injury

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After riding for five hours, baking in the hot sun it was no surprise that I was very much out of shape.  I hadn’t ridden in over three months.  My legs had given up on me over 40 km ago, and I was riding just on fumes.  The return trip hadn’t gone so well, and I tried to work out how many bonks I had gone through.  Or was it just one continuous bonk?  It was slow going but I managed to get home in one piece.  It has been 104 days since I had a head on collision on the Eatlink trail.  Months of pain & frustration which have taken their toll.

Return from injury
Dandenong Creek Trail

I rode 104 km’s.  One kilometer for every day that I lost as a result of injury.

I caught up with Brad Lyell recently and mentioned to him that I had this crazy idea of a 100 km recovery ride.  You can pretty much guess what his reply was, but he said that he would come along.  I committed to riding in the MS Melbourne cycle ride next weekend, and my only hope to get in shape would be to do a ride like this.

Return from injury
The giant gnome

I’m still in rehab trying to rebuild the strength in my shoulder.  It’s only at about 80% strength.  Thankfully it seems ok to ride on flats without too much discomfort.

There was a big question mark over how I could get through this ride.  Pacing myself isn’t one of my strong points and I needed someone to keep me in check.  Brad was great and said “you can turn around at any time and head home.  It’s far better to get home feeling good than absolutely knackered!

It was great to get back on the bike.  Over the past three months I have been unable to train.  I haven’t been able to use my shoulder and the worst part of this injury was the fact I couldn’t even lift my son.  Kids grow up so fast and that’s time that I have lost forever

Return from injury
Brad Lyell

The ride

We headed down the Dandenong Creek Trail, and then down to the Peninsula Trail to Mount Eliza.  The ride was going really well until we hit Two Bays Road.  In hindsight I shouldn’t have tried to climb.  It’s not a big climb at 2 km @ 5%, but hard enough to destroy me.

Shortly after we started to head back I bonked, and went a bit fuzzy.  I distracted myself and remembered all of the well wishes that I received over the past three months.  It meant a lot to get so much encouragement to get back on the bike.

I recovered for a brief moment then bonked and bonked and bonked.  Eventually my body told me to get stuffed and the pace really slowed down on the last stretch.

Return from injury

The good Samaritans

On Patterson Lakes we came across a mountain biker rider who had a puncture and didn’t carry any spare tubes.  Our spare tubes wouldn’t fit his bike, and Brad used a puncture repair kit to get him going again.  I found it a good excuse for a 20 minute break, however the day was heating up, and we got baked, sapping what little energy I had left.

I managed to get home in one piece.  Majorly exhausted mind you, but hopeful that I will pull up ok tomorrow.

Doing such a long ride after three months off may not be the smartest course of action.  I just had bottled up so much frustration, and anger, but tried to remain as positive as I could given the situation.

Things have not been good, but at least I’m back on the bike.  That’s the real important thing.

Here is a link to my Strava segment here.

Yowamushi Pedal review

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Yowamushi Pedal translates to “weakling pedal“, and is an Anime series about road racing.

The series centres around Sakamichi Onoda.  He’s pretty much the stereotypical nerd (pictured below).  A student at Otaku at Sōhoku High School who is obsessed with Anime and games.  Since his parents bought him a “mummy bike” in grade 4.  He would ride his bicycle to and from Tokyo’s Akihabara shopping district.  This is a 90 kilometer round trip over some super steep slopes.  Onoda didn’t ride for fitness.  He rode just to get his precious Anime.  Somehow along the way became learned to ride.

Yowamushi Pedal review

Yowamushi Pedal review

The series Yowamushi Pedal, is a family show which has a variety of characters.  Who contrast with each other in terms of personality and their approach to competitive cycling.  Not only can you can relate with the excitement and passion that these characters have for cycling.  It’s quite refreshing to watch a t.v series about characters who are obsessed with cycling.  Sound familiar?

The characters in this show a ultra competitive.  Instead of portraying bitter rivalries like in real life.  Yowamushi Pedal is all about bringing out your best.  Your competitor isn’t someone who is necessarily standing in your way. Your competitor is someone who sets high.  And is a driving force for where you want to be.  Your fiercest rival can also become your best friend.  You both want the same after all.

This series is directed more for the teenage market, breaking down the simplicity of cycling to the bare basics.  Even so, the drama and excitement about the bike  will appeal to a seasoned rider.

Language: Japanese (subtitled in English); cycling is universal and it is easy to follow and enjoy this show.

Stream the season 1 & 2 for free at Animelabs

  • Season 1, 38 episodes
  • Season 2, 24 episodes
  • Yowamushi Pedal the Movie; 1 hour 30 minutes
  • Season 3; 2017 release

This series wouldn’t be everyone’s cup of tea.  But you never know unless you give it a go.