Thought I'd come back with a brief ride report.
2 weeks ago I took a week off work to do some riding in melbourne and surrounds, and ended up doing Mebourne to Warburton + Mt Donna Buang and return (to Lilydale Station).
Left on a Friday 'morning' at about 11am.
The paths from my place in northcote are great. Koonung trail and then the Mullum Mullum trail from Ringwood to Ringwood Nth are a dream. Got a little lost reconnecting onto the Mullum Mullum but soon figured it out.
Once the Mullum Mullum dumped me at Oban Rd, I took Oban and Oxford until it joined Mt Dandenong Rd. Unfortunately it was about 1pm by this stage, Mt Dandenong Rd was a nightmare. Very fast moving traffic. Tried to find some back streets and found Hull Rd, which headed Nth East, which was a local rd but also pretty busy. Eventually found my way to Cambridge Rd. Stopped at a milk bar for an iced coffee and gathered my thoughts on a wide footpath until the rd narrowed to a forest rd with no shoulder until I hit Canterbury Rd, which again was a very fast rd with not much shoulder. Stayed on that til I went to York Rd which was a narrow busy rd with no shoulder. Turned right as soon as I could into a local rd, South Rd, and then wiggled my way across hilly local streets and unsealed sections until I got the Lilydale-Warburton trail at Mt Eveylyn. Stopped at a great bakery at Mt Evelyn and recharged with a Croque Monsieur.
I think I chose a pretty poor time to traverse this section, but I was disappointed at how challenging and bike unfriendly the stretch is between Ringwood Nth and Mt Evelyn. It seems that most of the suburban streets around this area radiate from very wide fast major arterial roads and highways, so there is very little provision for cyclists on these major carriageways. And there aren't quieter alternatives than run alongside the main roads. The motorists don't seem particularly mindful or considerate of cyclists. Partly to do with individual impatience, but also partly to do with highway/road design that sets up a bicycle on these roads as an obstacle, as not everyone was intentionally trying to crowd me off the road. Never seen so many modern v8 utes in those dazzling emerald or purple paint jobs!
Decided I wouldn't make the return trip along this section and would instead return on the train via lilydale.
So started on the track and got to warburton about 3.30pm. Beautiful weather for the ride. Decided on the way that since I wouldn't be repeating the Mt Evelyn - Ringwood segment I'd have a few spare hours and try and go up Donna Buang.
About 1 hour and 40 mins later, after an almost slow motion ascent, reached the summit of Donna Buang. One of the hardest climbs I've ever done. Partly as I'd already been cycling for about 4 hours and had about 80 (easy) kms in my legs, but also because I was riding solo and had to maintain focus to keep on going. I think I was passed by about 3 cars on the climb which was great as I could concentrate on my rhythm and just getting my tired legs up there. I've never not finished a climb, but I'm also pretty casual about how long it takes to get there. At certain pinches I was going at about 5kmh.
Then the descent. I quite enjoy descending but this descent was so cold, with quite a bit of debris on the road, that its the first time I felt nervous. I had a wind proof jacket on but it still took me about twenty minutes to get warm again after the descent. Made sure I didn't go over 60kmh as I didn't feel too comfortable and my canti brakes don't actually brake that well! Still, got down a lot quicker than it took to climb up, but still took a long time!
Would like to do the climb one day on my proper road bike, instead of my comfy surly cross check.
Got back to Warburton at about 6pm, had a delicious pie at the cafe in town furthest from the Mountain, then cycled quickly back to Lilydale (and got attacked by the same magpie around Launching Place that got me on the way up) to get to Lilydale and the train at around 8pm.
Pretty exhausting ride for me. 152km in total with 2.3km of climbing, with another 9kms from Hawthorn Station to home. Bonked on the way home from the station! but luckily administered an energy gel and made it home ok.
The lilydale trail followed by the Mt Donna Buang is a great combo. Highly recommend it. I just wish there were a trail link between the Mullum Mullum Creek trail and Mt Evelyn for riders such as myself who are incapable of waking early!
Wow misterhorsey! - Glad to hear you 'enjoyed' the ride !
I guess traffic conditions are a matter of perception and I know York Rd is less than ideal, especially going uphill. I believe there are some trails between Swansea Rd(CanterburyRd) and Mt Evelyn though I've never ridden them. I've never had a problem on the roads up that way though of course you do need to keep your wits about you !
For what it's worth re: your choice of bike, I ride my CAADX CX bike everywhere on roads and trails including up and down both sides of DonnaBuang, though it might be a bit lighter than a Surly CrossCheck, and my canti brakes do ok on the descents.
Sent from my iPhinger ...
Sounds fun! If you don't mind a little extra climbing, you could take the Dandenong ck trail to the Basin. Then up to Olinda and down the back to the rail trail.
I had my second crack at Blackburn to Warburton on Sunday. It was easier than last time but still challenging. Blackburn, Sassy, Kallista, Belgrave, Emerald, Gembrook, Launching Place, Warburton (along the hwy but it's not too bad that far along). Can definitely recommend it. On the other hand, it's going to be a while before my riding buddy forgives me for dragging him down the gravel on the other side of Donna
That's the fun way to go.
Thanks Cyclotaur. I'm indebted to you for marking out a possible route, even tho it wasn't to my liking in the end. I totally agree with you that traffic conditions being a subjective matter. I think a bit of traffic isn't too much of a concern if you have a bit of familiarity with the road. However, heavyish traffic while not really knowing what's coming around the next corner, and being tired, didn't make for the best riding experience for. With a bit of familiarity, or in a group, at a different time, I probably wouldn't have problems. So just drop me a line when you want to lead a ride!!!
I'm finding the surly cross check great fun as it can go anywhere. Do a bit of trails with no probs then jump on the road. I was running 25s conti gator skins for the entire ride which weren't a problem anywhere, tho I might be limited from doing too much gravel on those tyres. My cantis are terrible as they're not properly adjusted and I've not bothered to readjust them! I'm not very mechanical.
And I'd like do the donna on my CAAD10 roadie just to see how fast I can do it!
Hey kb. Sounds intriuging. Could I ask a favour and get you to map it out for me so I understand the route? I can't see the trails on google maps. Melbourne - Sassafras- Warburton - Donna? Rather epic!
The monday before the friday that I did my Northcote to Donna ride, I did a Northcote to Sassafras ride via the Koonung, Eastlink and Mountain Highway up to Sassafras via the 1 in 20. Great ride.
Although again, I tried to get to the basin on the Mountain Highway as I didn't know the Dandenong trail existed until I decided to give up and try and find my way back to eastlink, only to stumble on the trail and see a guy on a roadie powering along to get to the basin. At which point I changed my mind and followed him up to sassafras. Doh!
btw, I'm finding the trails a great micro-interval type training ride.
At first I was a bit annoyed at how stop start and up and down they can be, and how slow you tend to go on them. Or how long it can take to get somewhere.
However, I've found that if you do them for hours they are fantastic for building up strength and endurance compared with, say, cruising at 40kmh behind someone else's backside on beach rd flatness. And this is at going at nice respectable speeds rather than hooning around them.
The trails are great during the week. I have several regular loops ranging from 35-60+kms that I ride. Also, from home to say Skyhigh (Mt Dandenong) and return is 90+kms via the trails for me. Rides can range from 2-4+hours depending on where I go.
I too find the trails good for building strength and endurance. I save most road riding for the weekend, although once you get out of the suburbs it's not so bad, and the base I have from weekday trail riding equips me pretty well.
You can see a few of my rides on here, plus a link to my Strava there as well.
Well, the north wind definitely hurt for some of it, in fact I haven't quite recovered .
I usually just ride the roads from Blackburn these days but here's an old ride from the city. The only slightly confusing bit is the turn off from the Eastlink trail to Dandenong trail.
Here's Warburton via Gembrook - Launching Place
You can also try the cycling layer of openstreetmap or open cyclemap http://www.opencyclemap.org. More detail than Google maps although sometimes still a little confusing linking the pieces together.
I did Mt Donna Buang yesterday. Parked at Yarra Junction and it was a pretty easy 10.5km ride to the start of the climb. Roads were ok, bit of gravel here and there but traffic was light and tended to be patient and give me room. Maybe I was lucky considering the pseudo holiday down here on Monday. Not sure I would start any further west though.
The climb was fantastic. Been a long time since I've done and sort of climbing so it was difficult but enjoyable. Fairly consistent gradient but the ~15% section just before the hair pin around the 7km mark was challenging. It was fairly cool and the roads were wet but it was the descent that was challenging. First half was good roads, damp so took it easy, but the second half wasn't too good. The roads are pretty ordinary and the surface quite rough which makes for challenging cornering when the bike is bouncing around doing 40km/h. On purpose I ride my disc brake roadie because I wanted the extra control and pleased i did.
On thing was that I froze on the way down. Had arm and leg warmers and wind vest but I underestimated how cold the descent would be. By the time I'd got to the bottom my legs had seized up a bit and it took a fair bit to get warmed up again. The ride back to yarra junction was tougher.
Can't wait to get back out and give it another crack though. Certainly makes a welcome change of scenery to Beach Rd, especially with the 3 Peaks to train for.
One question, what's the road like from the summit to Healesville? Is it similar to the descent down to Warburton? Anyone ridden that before?
Norco VFR1 Disc, Merida 903, Mofo Single Speed, Giant MTB, soon to be vintage Gazelle fixie
Not as steep. From the right hand turn off just below the summit its sealed bitumen for a little bit and then part bush track gravel road and bumpy, people do ride it but I guess its up to the individual. I had a similar thought around this time last year so drove it to check it out and decided against riding it. It's only for maybe 2k's or less and then its back to sealed bitumen road. I have no doubt people will tell you its fine to ride (Hells 500 and friends always ride it) and I generally don't have an issue with riding on dirt roads but IMO this is not a typical country gravel road.
It's a good training ride from say Mt Evelyn or even Lilydale if you're training for a long ride like 3 Peaks.
It's also a great loop from Yarra Junction or Launching Place up either approach and down the other. The road down 'the back way to Don Rd can be a bit variable depending on the season and is best done on something a bit more solid than standard road tyres, although it's probably climbable on regular 25s in summer. Just take it steady and you will enjoy it.
Did a great ride the other weekend with the Melbourne Bicycle Touring Club from Warburton. Over the Reefton Spur into Marysville, then up the Acheron Way (dirt like the Healesville back road) then that descent of Donna Buang. About 110km, little traffic, lots of climbing, brilliant scenery.
Well actually it is a lovely ride. Not as steep but very little traffic (boom gates may still be locked) and the surface is generally good on the gravel (about 8kms of it actually). It is very much a typical bush gravel road - not at all like MTB single track or forest 4WD track. Amazing how looking out of a car windscreen severely skews the view
30 years ago with two mates we did the run from the summit to Healesville in 50 mins. to catch the train - the rail-motor was still running in its last few months of service. A flying descent including one puncture repair.
Last edited by il padrone on Thu Nov 07, 2013 10:54 pm, edited 1 time in total.
Riding bikes in traffic - what seems dangerous is usually safe; what seems safe is often more dangerous.
You need to carry windproofs. I use a rainjacket, overpants and full-length gloves*, plus a shower-cap for the helmet and waterproof overbooties for the feet. We did the descent in August and I was comfortable with this gear with plenty of layers underneath. Once we hit the main road at the bottom we had to stop to disrobe.... felt positively tropical! In November I'd still be using the jacket, overpants and gloves as a minimum.
* Actually last August I used dual gloves on the descent - thermal gloves underneath some XC skiing gloves that I have. Nice warm fingers
Riding bikes in traffic - what seems dangerous is usually safe; what seems safe is often more dangerous.
Hey KB, thanks for sharing your rides. Inspiring stuff!
Love your strava portrait as well!!!
Sorry for late response - I got floored by the 'flu a few weeks ago and am only just getting back to normal. Its amazing how much strength and energy gets stripped from you after 5 days in bed. Urgh.
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