Omara Cycles is one of the most trusted and repeatable cycling shops. Located in Black Rock on Beach Road. They’re putting together a series of gravel rides over the coming months. I was keen to come along for the first ride. How could I resist when they advertise:
“come along, get dirty, wet, cold and be happy!”.
My kinda scene! And we were lucky to get a tonne of rain during the week which guaranteed a lot of mud. Gravel grindings all about getting back to nature. You couldn’t care less whether the road is hilly or flat. It’s all about the dirt. It’s the middle ground between Road and Mountain Bike riding and can be enjoyed by everyone. Whether you’re a climber or a sprinter.
Today was the Federal election day. We couldn’t care less about the election. All we wanted to do was:
A dozen riders were expected. It was amazing to see that 50 showed up to brave the elements to experience what was a memorable ride. We met at the base of the 1 in 20 and headed up Basin Olinda Road. This is the Dandenong Ranges most popular dirt climbs. At 6 km in length with an average gradient of 6%. The road winds its way up through one of the most scenic roads the Dandenong’s has to offer, albeit muddy.
The ride attracted some of Melbourne’s best climbers. Pretty early the field split up as the mountain goats flew up the road. I’ve had history with this road. I’ve learned painfully to respect it as can dish out a whole lot of pain on a good day, and was happy to pace myself up it.
A ride through the Dandenong Ranges National Park
There was a fair bit of moisture in the road. It was hard going but at this point in the ride I was able to ride strongly. We went through Olinda Creek Road which is just a joy to visit. To either side of the road is the Dandenong Ranges National Park. Which has some incredible hiking and Mountain biking.
We turned off and headed towards the Silvan Reservoir. I was determined to get a PB up the 1 km climb towards the main road. Cruising and then the lights went out. I had a rough week at work and felt fatigued all week. Hoping to shake it by today, but alas not. I kept the wheels turning albeit slowly as everything became a blur. We weren’t even half way into a 65 km ride and I had bonked. Not a promising sign.
I was still enjoying myself. It was amazed to discover that people had come from all over Melbourne to do this ride. Some travelling from places like the Western suburbs and one from Mount Martha in the Mornington Peninsula. The great thing about a ride like this is that it introduces rides to whole new areas.
Past Silvan the roads were paved, but an area that is always a pleasure to ride. It’s all rolling farmland and like most of the ride we were lucky to see very few cars. My bonking continued. I would hit rises pushing out some good watts, and then the lights would go out. It was a horrible feeling, and was dropping further and further back in the field.
We headed down Victoria Road in Seville and hit the dirt. Easily one of my favorite parts of the ride. Part of the group got lost and as we were descending this mad little climb they were flying up from the other way. “hey, how you doin?”. There was some truly remarkable scenery as we wound our way back down the Lilydale Warburton Trail. With a brief rest at the old Cog Café. Martin English mentioned to me; “hey Bman, how come you’re not covered in mud”. I looked over my bike which was coated in mud. The front of my top which was spotless. “guess must have better pedalling technique” I quipped.
We soon hit the steepest part of our ride. We took some back streets up to Inverness Road which is 2.7 km @ over 9% average. Ahead of us lay one of the Dandenong’s hardest climb and 5 km of climbing lay ahead. I was spent and dropped down into my granny gear & soft pedaled. I was running 28 mm slicks on the bike and riding the dirt had really worn me down. Looking down at my Garmin. I was just counting down the k’s back to the Basin.
All that lay ahead was Silvan Road, and one mega tough climb. 5.5 km in length with an average gradient of 6%. Whilst the road appears perfect to cycle up. It’s deceptively hard and I was struggling the whole way. I ploughed up it with my mate Geert, and was very relieved when I reached the top. We cruised down the 1 in 20 and caught up for a Coffee and a chat after.
Everyone I spoke with had a smile on their face and had a great ride. We were all coated in mud & there was going to be a heck of a lot of washing to do later on. Riders of all abilities came along to experience some of the Dandenong’s finest dirt road. The roads were wet & muddy and it wasn’t always easy. A ride like this is all about the experience. A chance to get out and discover new roads, and to meet new friends.
Many thanks to Chad Mills and to Omara cycles for hosting such a great ride.
If you want to keep up to date for any future rides then click on this link and sign up to their Facebook Group