The history of the Dirty Dozen

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The 2015 Dirty Dozen is on the 20 September 2015 in Warburton. In its fourth year this awesome event is sure to present some challenging climbing to those that take it on.

I talked with David Blom to get an insight into what makes it so special.

Image by Ewan Hilsdon

The Dirty Dozen was originally conceived in Pittsburg, Pennsylvania, USA in 1983.  Challening riders to climb hills so steep that they wouldn’t normally dare to ascend them.  On a wet day in May 2012.  The Climbing Cyclist, Matt de Neef and David Blom put together their own version of the Dirty Dozen based around Upwey in the Dandenong Ranges.

Image by Nigel Welch (Mast Gully Road)

Why we love the Dirty Dozen

The Dirty Dozen has done so much for the climbing community.  It has brought awareness to a number of climbs that most riders would never have known about.  Or dared to attempt.  The event has brought certain climbs such as Mast Gully Road, Terry’s Avenue & Invermay Road into almost mythical status.  They are now known as epic climbs in amongst the Dandenong Ranges.

Mast Gully Road

The vision that Matt and Dave have brought to cycling community has helped many riders believe that they can climb.  And has introduced them to a whole new playground of climbs.


I spoke with David Blom who told me; “For the first event, after watching footage of what they did in Pittsburgh, going up Canton Avenue.  Matt and I fired off numerous emails to each other, working out an initial course route.  We decided to give people 2-3 weeks notice of an event taking place. It was boom – people turned up and we knew the idea had legs as soon as we saw the crowd that had rocked up.”

The original Dirty Dozen was full of short, steep and nasty climbing.  With some of the steepest climbs around Upwey and Tecoma included.

Around 50 riders showed up to brave the conditions and ride the challenging 31 km course.  Which had them climb a whopping 1,306 metres.  Epic vertical in such a short distance… and even tougher in the wet.

The day was a success and the Dirty Dozen became legend.


The 2013 course was arguably one of the toughest. A little over 50% of riders were able to finish the full course.

Matt and Dave put together a truly nasty route, 66 km in length with 2,182 vertical metres to climb. The difficulty levels were compounded by very hot temperatures.

The course was largely my design and the heat made 2013 tough. The major desire was to get Invermay in. I also found Braeside on google maps. All the time we compare the stats to other Dirty Dozen’s to make sure the ride is tough and around 3.5 to 4 hours in length” — David Blom

Invermay Road

What also made the 2013 so memorable and tough was the fact that it was no longer 12 climbs, but a ‘bakers dozen’. A 13th climb was introduced and along the way there were numerous ‘bonus climbs’ added.


In 2014, Hells 500’s Andy Van Bergen got involved with the Dirty Dozen.  Vic Roads delayed granting permits for this edition and the ride was subsequently delayed.  But the wait was well worth it.

The 2014 was held in almost perfect conditions.  Large numbers turned out to pit themselves against some of the toughest climbs in the Dandenong’s.  Yet again the ride was a success.

The 2014 course had two new additions.  Alpine Crescent in The Patch and Talaskia Avenue in Upper Ferntree Gully.  Talaskia has been arguably one of the toughest climbs in a Dirty Dozen ride.  It has the steepest paved section in the Dandenong’s, peaking at 33% and averaging 19% overall.

It left riders needing to cyclocross their bikes up a steep stairwell at the top. Pure Hell.

Mast Gully Road: image by Nigel Welch

David has a sense of pride in helping to put an event like the Dirty Dozen together.  I asked him what his favourite moment of the Dirty Dozen had been, “Matt de Neefs first time up Invermay.  He yelled at the time and was priceless.”

Here is a link to the video of that moment:


Each year the boys have come up with new challenges. For 2015 the Dirty Dozen will be held in the township of Warburton.  We have spent some time climbing many of the back roads around the area and can guarantee that this year’s course will be brutal!

We asked David why Warburton, “I wanted Warburton last year and I finally convinced Matt of its merits so he test rode the course. The bike friendly and bike tourism centre that Warburton has become made it a no brainer“.

One thing will be for sure.  There will be a lot of hurting going on the 20th September 2015 up in Warby at this year’s edition of the Dirty Dozen.

Image by Ewan Hilsdon (Martyr Road)
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2 thoughts on “The history of the Dirty Dozen

    Belgrave; the Dandenong’s first town « dandenongranges said:
    February 21, 2016 at 11:48 pm

    […] toughest climbs, and Terry’s has been used as the Queen climb in the Climbing Cyclists Dirty Dozen series in the […]

    Priors Road (Monbulk) « dandenongranges said:
    March 26, 2016 at 6:03 am

    […] Priors Road has been a popular inclusion and usually follows Invermay in the Dirty Dozen series.  […]

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