Latest Event Updates

Cycling around Lysterfield Lake

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Lysterfield Park is situated approximately 30 kilometres south-east of Melbourne.  The park has over 20 km of Mountain Bike single trails, as well as a network of fire trails. Its popularity has stemmed from the 2006 Commonwealth Games, and a network of single-tracks were created specifically for this event.  These bike trails cater to riders of all ages and skill levels.

The great thing about riding around Lysterfield Lake is that you can choose your own adventure.  You can easily mix up your rides. Choose a ride that winds its way through rock gullies.  Bushes, boardwalks and flowing descents, or take on one of the parks many climbs.  I have profiled a number of the most challenging & popular climbs in the park.   Due to rough surfaces all of these climbs are much harder than the length or average gradient would suggest and would recommend for you to climb them on a CX or MTB.

Click on the links below to be directed to the climb write-ups:

Cycling around Lysterfield Lake

 

Link to climb write-up Distance Gradient %
Lysterfield Lake Preview
Glen Track 600 metres 4
Granite Track 800 metres 5
Trig Point (Lysterfield side) 3.2 km 4
Trig Point (Churchill side) 1 km 10
Woodlands Walk 1 km 10

Details

  • Toilets available at main car park
  • Fire trails are shared paths and riders need to be courteous to walkers
  • Trails are all two-way traffic.  You will need to keep an eye out for riders coming the other way. There is no rule over who has to give right of way. Heads up that there will be aggressive riders who will expect you to move out of their way, and will ride through you if you don’t.  As a rule of thumb if you’re not in a hurry just pull over. Its much safer.
  • Parking available at a number of spots around the park
  • Lysterfield Lake is open 24 hours a day

The Gippsland Gold

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The Gippsland Gold is an Audax event set in amongst the Strzelecki Ranges.  It’s 200km’s long with 3,250 metres of climbing and offer to take you along the paths less travelled.  Along this adventure you ride through 120 km’s of unsealed roads.  Hills & rolling valleys which Gippsland is famous for.  You pass through the townships of Yarragon, Mirboo, Foster, BooLarra & Thorpdale.  Be prepared to see some of the most amazing sights that you are likely to see on a bike.  The event was hosted by Gareth Evans, and this was the third edition of this incredible ride.

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The Gippsland GoldA fair bit of luck is required to get through a ride like this in one piece.  You hope to avoid punctures or mechanical’s.  This event attracts the type of rider who is as tough as nails.  Not afraid to go out and try something adventurous.  Each participant is given a map, and being able to orientate is essential for survival.  Some would like to sit back in the group and allow others to lead the way.  Bear in mind that if the rider ahead of you picks the wrong road, then it becomes the blind leading the blind.
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You show up for a ride like this and see a bunch of strangers.  Those strangers are likely going to become your best friend. You all have a common goal in purpose.  To survive the Gippsland Gold.  You will likely experience many emotions from joy to pain along the way.  Riding on dirt is unpredictable.  Road conditions can change depending on weather conditions, and no one knows what they’re truly in for.
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The Gippsland Gold
Leongatha-Yarragon Road

The Gippsland Gold

It was a little over 3 degrees, when the ride commenced.  The day was forecast to get warm, and most chose to rug up.  The ride took us straight into a Category 3 climb up Yarragon South Road.  This helped to warm everyone up pretty quickly.  It was the most amazing of sunrises, and the valley was enshrouded in mist and fog.  The first part was paved for over 2.2km’s, which averaged 5%.  Thankfully gradient was pretty steady and it was easy to get into a rhythm.  It was easy to enjoy the ride as every corner you came to offered you some fantastic new view. 
There were amazing views of the valley below to either side of the road.  When the road turned to gravel, the Gippsland Gold begun in earnest.  With a fairly decent racing line to either side of the road it was easy to maintain a rhythm.  Over the next 2.7km’s the climb continued to average 5%.  You could tell everyone was getting into it, and enjoying the stunning views that just got better the higher you climbed.  
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The Gippsland Gold
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The Gippsland Gold
 Over the climb
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It was a relief to finally get to the top of the climb, and get some respite on the descent.  The Gippsland Gold took us through rolling open countryside, and there was nothing flat.  We were either climbing or descending, and there were some steep pinches along the way.  
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The Gippsland Gold
View from the top of the Yarragon South climb
 Ten Mile Road
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The Gippsland Gold

Ten Mile Road was the second big challenge for the day. With close to 5km’s of undulating climbing, it was a relief to reach the cross road at the Stzreleki Highway.  Across the highway, the road turned to crap.  The road condition through here was very poor, and there was loose rock everywhere.  If you were going to puncture, this was the place.  With no riding line, lots of loose rock and gradients heading up to 12% this section was insane.  There was a nasty little 600 metre climb which you hat to battle the bike & the elements the whole way.  

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The Gippsland Gold
Ten Mile Road (start of hell)
After reaching the top of the climb there was an incredible view of the pine forested valley below.  You know that you’re no longer in Kansas any more!  The terrain through here varied considerably, and offered some stunning scenery.  Our first check point was at Boolarra.  Gareth & Helen were on hand to welcome everyone with open arms.  There was a great selection of food to help get all of the riders through to the next checkpoint in Foster.  The next few km’s were paved.  A rare flat section to ride on which offers a relief after the difficulties faced over the first 40km’s of this ride.  
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The Gippsland Gold
 
The Gippsland GoldThe Gippsland Gold

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The Queen stage

We were in the Queen stage of this ride. With only a small amount of sealed roads there was around 65km’s of gravel, including some of the toughest & roughest sections of gravel.
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The Gippsland Gold
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The Gippsland Gold
Morwell River Road kicked off a 45km’s section of gravel which includes the hardest climb of the day.  This section took us down Morwell River Road.  The road follows the Morwell River, and offered amazing views throughout.  Over the next 18km’s there was a false flat with an average gradient of 1%.  This road had not dried from recent rains, and was wet in parts.  There were quite a few corners that were corrugated.  Lots of bumping and jolting, and was a fair bit harder than the average gradient suggests.
Coming upon the crossroads at Livingston Road, and come to the Queen climb.  This rides all about pleasure and pain.  No matter how much you love your climbing, this one’s going to hurt.  The only way to get up some sections of this climb are by battling the bike over loose rocks.  There are long stretches where there simply are no racing lines and you will be hanging on for dear life.  At times it is really challenging to get traction and into a rhythm.  The average gradient is 5.1km’s @ 5%.  There’s a short descent after 3km’s into the climb and the average gradient is highly deceptive.  You will be glad when you’re over the top of this one.
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The Gippsland Gold
Grand Ridge Road

Stzerlecki Ranges State Forest

 This was one of the best sections of this ride.  Grand Ridge Road.  Winding its way through the Stzerlecki Ranges State Forest, you will get to experience some amazing rainforests.    Every now and again there will be a break in the trees & you can see the whole Valley below.  Grand Ridge Road is one of those roads that I couldn’t recommend highly enough.  Well worth fitting a ride around.
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The Gippsland Gold
 
You turn off onto Boolara Foster Road (see photo below), and the surface turns to loose gravel.  Large sections of this road have impressive views to the right, as you work your way towards Foster.
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The Gippsland Gold
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The Gippsland Gold
View from Boolara Foster Road

Foster

The second checkpoint is at Foster, and we were greeted by the hospitality of Mal & Lynn.  Who offered a delicious selection of rolls, fruit and baked goods from one of the many amazing local bakeries.  Most riders found a bit of ground to lay on wondering how they had survived the Gippsland Gold this far.  Wondering how they would get through the rest of this ride.  With 120km’s completed it was a relief to reach this point.  As we had gotten closer to the bay, the wind picked up.  Thankfully most of the trip into Foster had been downhill so we weren’t wasting energy battling the winds.  It was a nice thought that the wind would be pushing us home.
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The Gippsland Gold
Lance Cupido & Sarah Hammond leaving Foster

The return home

There were only four main climbs remaining for the ride.  Heading out from Foster, you head straight up Amey’s Track climb, which is 3.2 km’s @ 3%.  You can be forgiven for thinking that the scenery couldn’t improve from what we saw on the firs half of the ride.  The climb was paved, and it hurt, but you knew you were heading home.  Looking over your should you could see an amazing view of Wilsons Prom from this climb.  You had to pinch yourself that this ride couldn’t get any better.
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The Gippsland Gold
Photograph by Stephaan De Smet
We travelled through Ridge Road, which is yet another pearler with 17km’s of dirt to look forward to.  This section is quite undulating and this road follows the eastward ridge of the Tarwin Valley.  With some stunning scenery throughout this section.
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The Gippsland Gold
Photograph by Stephaan De Smet

Mirboo North

The next big climb headed into Mirboo North is 2.6km’s averaging 6%.  It’s a shame that this one wasn’t gravel.  Still an incredible challenge at this stage of the ride.  With tired legs, any vertical hurts after riding over 160km’s over mixed terrain.   

It’s quite undulating to Mirboo, and a major relief to make it to the very last checkpoint of the day.  And to top up those lost fuel stores.  The volunteers Ronnie & Meredith were a lovely older couple.  Meredith had prepared self-made Anzac biscuits and fruit cake and they had cold coke which is a favorite of mine  Rice pudding, fruits, and a nice chat about just anything.

The Gippsland Gold
Photograph by Stephaan De Smet

After Mirboo we hit the last section of gravel, and returned to get another great section of Grand Ridge Road.  This was another quality section of gravel, and you travel past the Tarwin River.  Of course there was one last nasty surprise to survive, with one last Category 3 climb.  Mirboo-Yarragon Road 5.3km’s in length with an average gradient of 5%.  If you had any life in your legs before this climb.  Well just keep telling yourself there’s a Beer waiting at the end for you at the end of the ride.

The Gippsland Gold
Photograph by Stephaan De Smet

The Gippsland Gold

The Gippsland GoldAnd with the final climb over and done with there was a sense of achievement.  It was all downhill from there, and with the remainder of the roads sealed it was a far cry from all the craziness of the gravel.  With a 6.5km descent to finish on the end was hard & fast.  Rolling back into the Uniting Church in Yarragon you were greeted with a smile from Gareth & Helen.  And most importantly a Beer from the Grand Ridge Brewery.  You finally truly get to taste true Gippsland Gold.  Everyone came out from this ride with different experiences.  What everyone had in common was the great words they had about the organizers, and I offer a big thank you.  The great dinner & desert provided definitely hit the spot after a long day in the saddle, and made me yearn for more of these types of events.
A ride like this is a far cry from riding Beach Road.  You could argue that a ride like this is almost, if not tougher than riding Three Peaks.  Plus you’ve got to be willing to put your bike through the grinder to survive the Gippsland Gold.  All that finished should wear the label “tough as nails!” with pride.  No other ride could you see so many great sites and truly appreciate the nature around you.  This was a truly epic day, and hopefully one day you can try it as well.

I will be back

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The Gippsland Gold
Dave & Jane on hand to lend a hand & to get some great photos

If I was asked to say what my favorite part of the ride was, it would be difficult to say.  You just see far too many amazing sights, you ride half the day and don’t see a single car, and tackle some incredibly challenging climbs. To top it off there are two insane descents into Foster & Yarragon that will leave you with a smile on your face well after you finish.  What’s not to like about the Gippsland Gold!

Many thanks for my mate Stephaan for helping me to finish this piece.  I was forced to abandon the event at Foster due to some bad luck through the ride.  Stephaan was able to share his experience with me to help me finish this piece.  Thanks to Mal & Lynn for giving me a lift back from Foster to Yarragon, and again wish to extend my thanks to the organizers and volunteers that made this such a special day. 

The Gippsland Gold
Stuart Fuller & Brian Stent
The Gippsland Gold
View from McDonald’s track
The Gippsland Gold
Matt Brough
The Gippsland Gold
Mwa

Old Beaconsfied Road (Emerald)

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Distance:1.5km
Average Gradient: 7%
Elevation gain: 109 metres
Category: 4
Traffic:Light traffic
Terrain:Residential
Road Surface: Very good

Old Beaconsfield Road
A great climb through the suburban wilderness

Click here for link to the Strava segment.

Old Beaconsfield Road climb

There are a number of great hidden Categorised residential climbs to the south of Emerald.  Most riders wouldn’t have heard about them as they end in dead ends roads.  With good tough climbs.  Great scenery you can basque in the beauty and the tranquillity of this magnificent area which is relatively untouched by the cycling world.

The climb starts at the intersection of Jamina Way & Old Beaconsfield Road.

Od Beaconsfield Road climb

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The climb starts on a 7% gradient for the first 200 metres before winding its way to your right.  Be mindful of traffic as there are no lines painted onto the road.

Old Beaconsfield Road

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The climb ramps over the next 300 metres and peaks at just over 11%. 
Shortly after you pass Outlook Road you will receive some respite.  From here the gradient averages 4 – 6% over the next couple hundred metres.

 Old Beaconsfield Road

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The next 500 metres to the intersection are very steap and peak at 15%.  There are some lovely houses to either side of the road which can help to distract you from the pain in your legs.

Turn right at the intersection of Old Beaconsfield Road and Kilvington Drive.

Old Beaconsfield Road
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The last 300 metres of the climb is fairly steady at 4 – 6% gradient.
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 Old Beaconsfield Road

 The climb finishes just before the roundabout at Benson Drive.

Right near by is another great climb that you can combine with this one:

Click here for link to the Strava segment.

 

Old Beaconsfield Road
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Old Beaconsfield Road
You’ll notice this great statue right next to the start of the climb    
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How do you know if you’re a hill junkie

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We shouldn’t stereotype but a cyclist tends to either like the hills or the flats.  There are riders that like both, but you will always tend to favor one over the other.

How do you know if you’re a hill junkie?

There is no such thing as an easy climb and you’re usually relieved when you reach the peak of a very difficult climb. There is a certain magic to climbing, which can be difficult to explain to others as climbing does involve a fair bit of pain and suffering.   True that some of the best views you can see by bike are at the top of a climb.  In reality most climbs only offer a view of your pain cave.

So How do you know if you’re a hill junkie? If you want to put yourself to the test, then ask yourself the following questions.  If you can truthfully answer yes to the majority of the following, it’s safe to assume that you are a hill junkie:

  • You view your rides in terms of vertical rather than the distance traveled
  • No matter how short your rides are, your legs will always be hurting
  • You enjoy climbing up a hill more than bombing down the other side
  • The steeper the better
  • You enjoy the challenge of getting up a really tough climb
  • Flat rides don’t interest you
Image taken on Jean Avenue, Upper Ferntree Gully (peaks at 27%)
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Are you a hill junkie?

Selby Aura Road (Selby)

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Distance: 3.4 kilometres

Average Gradient: 3%
Elevation gain: 94 metres
Traffic: Light traffic
Terrain: Residential/forest
Road Surface: First part course/ second part excellent
Click here for Strava segment
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This is one of the Dandenong’s best kept secrets.  It has numerous free flowing corners that are a pleasure to cruise up, and more of a pleasure to push your limits through.  At 3%, it is one of the Dandenong’s easiest climbs, but what sets this apart is the beautiful scenery, and the serenity that this pocket of the Dandenong’s offers.  This climb winds its way from the Aura Lake up into the township of Selby, passing the Puffing Billy train line.
Selby Aura climb
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The climb commences opposite the Aura Vale Lake Park (opposite Old Menzies Creek Road).  The Park covers 67 Hectares and has become a popular venue for boating activities including sailboarding and canoeing and for other small no-powered boats.
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Selby Aura Road
Aura Vale Lake
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The climb starts at the intersection of Aura Vale Road & Old Menzies Creek Road.
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Selby Aura Road
Start of the climb
The first 200 metres of this climb pushes 6 – 7% and winds its way to your right.
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Selby Aura Road
Old Menzies Creek Road
There is climbing over the first 400 metres before the road flattens out.  You’ll find the surface very course for the first 1.4km’s of this climb.  The road surface is made up of crushed rock, which adds a little challenge to this climb.
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The road straightens out, and you enter the residential part of this climb.  This is one of those dream roads that we would all love to live on (see below).
Selby Aura Road
Seriously, this is the residential part of the climb
The road flattens out over the next 800 metres and its quite easy to get into a tempo in this section.  When you reach the intersection of Selby Aura Road the climb begins in earnest.  This road was paved several years ago, and was nicknamed “Silky Selby”.  And this section is 2.3km’s @ 2%.
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Selby Aura Road
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The whole of this section you ride through a magnificent forest of lush trees & ferns.
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The gradient remains consistent throughout.

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The road snakes its way up the valley, and its easy to break this climb up corner by corner.
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Selby Aura Road
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The road is narrow, and there are no line markings, but thankfully its usually a quiet road.
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Selby Aura Road
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This is one of those rare climbs where you get to really appreciate the nature around you.
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Selby Aura Road
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Just before Batesleigh Road which featured in the 2013 Dirty Dozen course the road dips, before you come to a rail sign.
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Selby Aura Road
Puffing Bill
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You will be riding alongside the tracks for Puffing Billy and if you’re riding on a weekend you may get lucky and see the ole Steam train come along.  All good things come to an end, and when you see Belgrave-Gembrook Road your climb you may be disappointed that the climb doesn’t keep on going on.
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The overall segment is called Ghost in the Machine.  Unfortunately I’m to blame for that title.  When I created this segment, I honestly was running low on ideas for segment titles.  I’ve always wanted to change it, but spoke with several riders who said, keep it.  They said that it sounds kinda cool.  Its the name of a popular Japanese Anime series.
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This climb is a true joy to climb, and here are more images from the climb:
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Selby Aura Road
Aura Vale Lake
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Selby Aura Road
It can feel like you’re going back to prehistoric times in parts on this climb
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Selby Aura Road

All Saints Church at the very top of the climb
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Thewlis Road South (gravel) Officer

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Distance: 1.2 km
Average Gradient: 8%
Elevation gain: 108 metres
Traffic:Light traffic
Terrain: Gravel
Category: 4
Road Surface: Poor

Here is a link to the Strava segment here:

Thewlis Road is one for the gravel grinders, and for the riders who enjoy a good challenge.  The climb takes you past the Cardinia Aqueduct Trail which is one of Cardinia’s most enjoyable hikes.  Treat yourselves to incredible views of the Toomuc Valley.  Over the peak of the climb, as you descend down the far side to visit a region steeped in history.

One of Cardinia’s most enjoyable regions to ride.


The climb starts near the corner of Browns Road & Thewlis Road.  The climb starts in earnest as you pass the bridge in front of the Cardinia Aqueduct Trail sign.  This is one truly brutal climb.  It just get steeper and steeper and steeper until the climb peaks at nearly 20%.  This is a granny gear climb and can guarantee that it will hurt.


The road is littered with a lot of loose gravel and a CX or Mountain Bike is advised.

At the top of Thewlis turn left into Bathe Road for another 200 metres of climbing up a short, sharp brutal pinch.

The History of the Toomuc Valley

Between Pakenham, Upper Beaconsfield and Upper Pakenham lies a beautiful little valley called the Toomuc Valley. This valley is rich in history and was once home to the largest Apple orchard in the Southern Hemisphere. The name Toomuc means “swamp” or “sluggishly flowing water”, and was named as the land to the south of the Toomuc creek was swampland.

What to expect

  • Short brutal climb peaking at nearly 20%
  • A very rough surface. Expect corrugations, loose gravel and during summer a fair amount of dust
  • Mountain bike or CX only
  • Very minimal traffic
  • Stunning views over the peak of the climb of the Toomuc Valley
  • Passes the Cardinia Aqueduct Trail

How to get there

Thewlis Road is located approximately 60 km south-east of Melbourne, and accessed of Brown Road.

Olivebank (Ferntree Gully)

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Olivebank Road

Distance:1.2km
Average Gradient: 6%
Elevation gain: 76 metres
Category: 5
Traffic: Light traffic (this ends on a dead end road)
Terrain: Residential
Road Surface: Good

Olivebank Road

Click here for link to the Strava segment.

Have you ever wondered what mysteries some back streets hold?  When you ride down Forest Road on your way to the 1 in 20.  All along this road have side streets that go skyward.  Have you ever wondered wonder that hidden climb holds?  Olivebank is short and sharp, and offers enough of a challenge to easily justify a detour.

Start of the climb is at the corner of Forest Road & Olivebank Road.

Olivebank Road

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Olivebank Road climb

The first part of Olivebank is a straight 850 metre climb, and starts at around 6% gradient.

Olivebank Road

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It is easy to find a rhythm even though the road slowly rises.

Olivebank Road
Where it gets steep

At the intersection of Joan Avenue, the climb spikes.  Gradually increasing in gradient until you reach the peak at 13%.

Olivebank Road

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As soon as you see this corner.  Respite is in sight, and you only have around 40 metres to climb before the road flattens out.

Olivebank Road

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The first 600 metres averages 9.3%.

Click here for the Strava segment.

Olivebank Road

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The road flattens out for the next 150 metres.  After climbing such a steep gradient, its easy for your legs to go to sleep.  The next pinch peaks at 12%, and only lasts about 50 metres before the road flattens out again.  The last 400 metres goes up and down, and every single rise peaks at over 12%.  You’re legs will be screaming at you to stop torturing them.

Olivebank Road

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This climb really messes with you.  Offering a lot of challenges over the last 450 metres of this climb.  With gradients bouncing up and down from 2% to 13%.

Olivebank Road
View near the top

The climb finishes at the corner of Arbor Avenue.

Olivebank Road
End of the climb

If you wish to add an extra 500 metres to this climb, try it from further down Forest Road:

Click here for link to the Strava segment.

If you enjoy hiking, there is a walking track at the top of this climb (Himilayas Track).  Which takes you to the back of the 1,000 steps (One Tree Hill).  Just a heads up that these are very steep tracks.

Olivebank Road

Mount Franklin (Daylesford)

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Mount Franklin is an extinct Volcano about 10 km North of Daylesford.  This mountain was created by a volcanic eruption about 470,000 years ago.  This climb is short, with only 1.5 km’s of climbing with an average gradient of 5%.

Here is a link to the Strava segment here:

 

Mount Franklin (Daylesford) climb

The climb starts at the turnoff of the Midland Highway & Mount Franklin Road.  The first 200 metres of the climb is steep at an average 7 – 8%, before the road flattens out for the next 400 metres.  As soon as you hit the base of the Volcano the road goes skyward and peaks at over 11%.  You’ll find that the gradient fluctuates between 5 – 11% until the end of the climb.  As the road spirals around the outside slopes of Mount Franklin.  To your left is a thick forest of Pine Cones, and to your right there are stunning views of the valley below.

Mount Franklin (Daylesford)

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The climb finishes at the Mount Franklin Campsite.

There is a further 1.3 km’s of climbing past this point, however the road turns to gravel and a suitable bike would be required to climb to the top:

Daylesford has a goldmine of climbs, with climbs peaking at up to a 20% gradient around the town.  It is a climbers paradise, and well worth a visit. There is also an excellent climb up to the Jacksons Lookout which is just under 2 km’s @ 7% that I would highly recommend.

Cycling the Brisbane Ranges

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Glenmore Road

The Brisbane Ranges

Brisbane Ranges National Park is located approximately 80 kilometres west of Melbourne near the town of Meredith.  The Ranges boast two great climbs with Glenmore Road, which has been used in the Jayco Herald Sun Tour.

And there’s a great little 4 km climb out of Anakie (click here for link to segment).

I’ve ridden through this region several times, and it’s a hidden gem for cyclists.  The southern section around Steiglitz in particular has a roller coaster selection of hills.  This area has a number of pinches going above 12% to challenge you.  The scenery is breath taking, and with little traffic you will be in heaven.  Be prepared to bring adequate supplies as the only shop in the area is a General store in Anakie.  If you come out here, you could park at Anakie and work your way around the Ranges.  Alternatively you could start from either Bacchus Marsh or Geelong for a longer ride. 

At a glance:

  • Toilet facilities in Anakie, Meredith and Upper Stony Creek Reservoir
  • Food available at Anakie General store
  • Parking available in Anakie, and there are a number of state parks where you can park within the Ranges

Here are two suggested routes to take around the Brisbane Ranges leaving from either Bacchus Marsh or from Geelong:

Option 1:

Click here for Strava route:

Option 2:

Click here for Strava route:

Click here for the Brisbane Range Park PDF