Spread across the hills and valleys between the southern tip of The Kinglake National Park and The Bend of Islands lies Christmas Hills. Sorry to break the illusion that Christmas Hills is named after our patron saint & favorite holiday. In fact it is named after a convict and shepherd; David Christmas. David became lost on a 640 Acre property in the area in 1842. He was found after several days on a rise which became known as Christmas Hills. This was later given to the district.
For many years I’ve wanted to do this ride & finally was able to set a date. During the week the forecast kept rising until they could finally settle on 41 degrees. This wasn’t going to stop me. I left pretty early to try & beat the heat which proved pretty futile as it was well into the mid 20’s by 5:00 am.
My loop took me through the Bend of Islands and across Skyline Road. This is a gravel road which is 8.3 km long and is a pure roller coaster of short sharp & nasty pinches. Expect nothing less than a 12% average. Several peak at close to 20% and I had to work hard to try and avoid wheel spin on a loose gravel surface. It was hot & there were flies aplenty. Its frustrating when you’re climbing a ridiculously steep climb. Sweat pouring off like a shower and flies landing all over my face. I was unable to swat them away.
What Skyline Road is renown for is its truly amazing views. There is a section which overlooks Yarra Glen. From ere you can see both the Dandenong’s & the Yarra Ranges National Park from afar. This view makes the grind to the top well and truly worth it.
After a brief brunch in Yarra Glen I headed up the challenging climb out of Yarra Glen & then onto Christmas Hills. The weather was pushing 38 degrees & I was quite thankful that it was mainly downhill from here. I took a detour up to the Sugarloaf Reservoir Park which I love riding around. Throughout my ride I was bombarded by flies and on the climb up to the Reservoir I swallowed a fly which tasted truly disgusting.
It was hot and I was thirsty and was down to only 300 ml of water. With close to 15 km of riding to get to the next closest drink stop at Kangaroo Ground. I started to dream of water, and went into my happy place & ticked down the k’s. Taking sparing sips of my water which you was hot enough to make a cup of Coffee.
It was bloody hot!
I came upon a sign saying “Antique Store & Cafe Wattle Creek 200 meters”. I really got my hopes up that I could get some water there. Of course this just wasn’t my day. Store closed.
Eventually I made it to the general store to collapse. I ended up drinking close to 2 Liters of fluid which made me feel alive again. There were three other riders there that said what I was thinking “geez we’re crazy riding out in this heat”.
I had a tail wind to finish off my Christmas Hills ride & the trip down Kangaroo Ground – Warrandyte Road. This was fast and furious. 5.3 km of undulating descending with an average speed of close to 46 km/h.
Back in Warrandyte I was able to top up my fluids. It was now over 40 degrees & I was able to coast from here doing a scenic trip around Warrandyte. It was a tough ride but after years of wanting to do the Christmas Hills ride at Christmas I was very happy.
Here is a link to my Strava Activity here: