churchill national park

Why let mountain bikers have all of the fun

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Located just 38 km east of Melbourne is Lysterfield Lake.  This is one of Melbourne’s most popular mountain bike parks which was really put on the map when it hosted the 2006 Commonwealth Games.  Some of the tracks that were specially built for the games still remain today, and are just as hard.

With a rise of popularity in gravel grinding.  It’s a wonder that many road bike riders haven’t realised that many places such as Lysterfield Lake and the You Yangs.  Places which are traditionally seen as mountain bikes only parks, actually have some great fire trails which you can easily ride a road bike on.

Today Geert and Brad came out with me to explore some of the wonders that this park holds.
Why let mountain bikers have all of the fun
Trig Point

We were treated to yet another beautiful crisp winter’s morning.  The sun was yet to rise and we hit the trails with our lights lighting up the path in front of us.  The park his home to quite a large population of Kangaroos, and for much of the ride we were dancing in and around them.  It was unpredictable which direction they would choose to hop off onto.

We were lucky see some of the mothers with their joey’s poking their little heads out of their pouch.

We made our way up to Trig Point.  The highest point at Lysterfield Lake, and the 3.2 km climb is quite a challenging one.  This climb has a nasty bite towards the top with the gradient going upward of 18% on very loose gravel.  And very little traction.  I’ve climbed it enough times to know all you can do is suck it up and pretend there’s no pain.

We were treated to magnificent views up top, and of course more Kangaroos.

From here we descended down to the Churchill National Park.  I prefer riding around here as the climbing is very steep, and usually you get the place to yourself.  We made our way around the only flat part of the park.  My intention was to take them up Bellbird track.  Which is quite challenging, but felt they could do it.  Next to this climb is the “Link Track”.  This is a climb that I’ve always avoided like the plague as it’s just too hard to climb (see image below).  I’ve only been up there once in the 50 odd times I’ve ridden around this park.

Why let mountain bikers have all of the fun

One of the guys pointed out the crazy track that goes up the side of the hill, and could hear WTF!  I couldn’t help it, and made a change in plan.  At the last second I swung my arm out and turned up this insanely steep path that’s quite corrugated and littered with loose gravel.

I won’t repeat what was said behind me.  Suffice to say they left a nice tip in the swear jar.

 

This climb scares me and I was only expecting to get halfway before jumping off to walk.  The boys, were sitting on my wheel and guess I figured if they could do it then I had to keep climbing.  Halfway up I was feeling ok, and looked over my shoulder and had dropped them somewhat.  I kept gliding and suddenly I had a feeling that I was going to do it.  I chucked a quick glance over my shoulder, and noticed that Geert & Brad had gotten off to walk.  Can imagine that they weren’t liking me at the moment.

The peak couldn’t come quick enough, and a major relief to crest the climb.

With limited time we only had time to do one more climb, so being me.  I picked the hardest one I could think of.  The Powerlines climb is over 1 km in distance averaging over 11%.  Given a third of the climb only averages around 5%, you can imagine how steep this sucka is.  Given that the path is quite rutted in places, and a tonne of loose rocks which offer nothing in the way of traction.

This climb has hurt me every single time I’ve climbed it.

Why let mountain bikers have all of the fun
Powerlines climb

Long story short, Geert & Brad got off to walk and I got cursed more.

Why let mountain bikers have all of the fun

Maybe it wasn’t the best of experiences, but I’m sure they’ll be back for more!

 

It was a shame that I had to get home to head off to work.  But even a short ride is a good ride.

Both Lysterfield Lake & the Churchill National park have some amazing fire trails which are really enjoyable to ride.  Just keep an eye out for those Kangaroos.  We ended up seeing over 100 on our ride.

Why let mountain bikers have all of the fun

If you want to plan around Lysterfield Lake or Churchill National Park I have put together a number of pieces on all of the best climbs.  Please click on the links below:

Click here for link to my Strava Activity.

Why let mountain bikers have all of the fun
Why let mountain bikers have all of the fun

North Boundary Track (Powerlines climb)

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Distance: 1 km
Average Gradient: 11%
Elevation gain: 110 metres
Terrain: Rough
Category: 3

Here is a link to the Strava segment here:

This climb is also known as “the Powerlines climb”.

The North Boundary Track is one of the most popular climbs in the Churchill National Park. It is quite difficult with some very, very, very steep pinches.  What makes this really challenging is the rough & course surface which is often rutted.  You will find it difficult finding traction. The views from the top are worth it, with some impressive views of the Churchill National Park as well as the Dandenong Police Paddocks to the south west of the Park.

North Boundary Track Churchill National Park
Official start to the climb

North Boundary Track climb

You can start the climb at one of two points:

  • The traditional start to the climb is at the cross section of North Boundary Track (see image above)
  • Personally I think all riders that start it from here are soft.  If you drop down to the fence & do the climb right from the base (pictured below).  You’ve got guts!
North Boundary Track Churchill National Park
Heads up. This will hurt!

The secret to getting up the climb in one piece is really pacing yourself. If you go too hard you risk wheel spin, and you need to tap out a consistant rhythmn.  Don’t be surprised if you cook yourself early on into this climb.

North Boundary Track
Expect a rough surface

The first part of the climb is truly brutal, and there aren’t many climbs that will compare to this one.

North Boundary Track Churchill National Park

If you reach the Link track which is just next to the powerlines.  The path flattens out briefly.  Its worth stopping here to take in some very impressive views.

North Boundary Track Churchill National Park

The second part of the climb undulates and has some steep pinches.  This section is not all that steep, but you will find the first part of the climb will always do a number on your legs.  This second section can really hurt & be a grind getting to the top.  If you’re lucky you may see a Kangaroo or Wallaby along the way.

North Boundary Track Churchill National Park

The finish line is a much welcome relief on this climb (see below).

North Boundary Track Churchill National Park
Top of the climb

Details:

  • Entry via Churchill Park Drive, Bergins Road and Lysterfield Lake
  • 24 hour parking available on Curchill Park Drive
  • Parking is available within the park (observe gate closing times)
  • Picnic & B.B.Q facilities (next to main car park)
  • Toileting facilities (next to main car park)
  • No dogs allowed (National Park regulations)
  • There are a large number of placid Kangaroos & Wallabies throughout the park. Take care to keep an eye out for them on the descents
  • If you’re using a CX bike, it is recommended to run at least a 32 mm tire
  • Joins onto Lysterfield Lake

Click on this link for a map of the Churchill National Park from Parks Victoria.

Just a heads up that if you take on a climb of this difficulty there’s always the possibility that you may need to get off and walk.

North Boundary Track Churchill National Park
North Boundary Track Churchill National Park