I've been out of riding for a year or two now owing to two new additions to the family and during that time we've also moved to the hills. I'm looking to get back into riding but frankly the roads around here look bl**dy dangerous. Does anyone have any experience of riding in the Gembrook, Emerald, Pakenham (north in the hills) areas and if so can you advise on your experiences?
I'll be curious to hear what people say on this... I'm about to start venturing up that way
Sent from my Galaxy far far away....
Road Bike - 2013 Merida Ride Lite 93
MTB - Boardman Team Pro 2013
Well, there are impatient drivers everywhere but I've found the hills pretty good with the right balance of assertiveness and courtesy. On the other hand, I've ridden along beach road maybe a dozen times and seen 3 doorings involving ambulances. Some of the approaches to the mountains aren't quite as pleasant and riding along Warburton Hwy wasn't entirely comfortable the time I tried it.
It's safe enough . Last year was a good riding year for me, and I rode up Mt Dandenong about 40 times, with only a handful of minor incidents, certainly no more than I would expect anywhere else in Melbourne. As for riding to Warburton, the Lilydale-Warburton Rail Trail is an excellent way to get there and back (or at least 40km each way; the rest, or most of it, would probably require riding on roads). On most of my Mt Dandenong rides, I rode along the Dandenong Creek Trail there and back (I live in Ringwood North), and that's a good alternative to the roads. But as I said, the roads aren't really more dangerous than those in the rest of Melbourne.
Just remember that the amount of risk you're exposed to on the roads depends to some extent on your riding style. Be assertive, claim lanes when needed, make eye contact with motorists, etc.
I agree with what kb said about Beach Rd. The motorists down that way have problems sharing the road with cyclists. I know this from 1st hand experience, as I lived in Parkdale for a few years not so long ago, so Beach Rd was part of my daily commute. On the other hand, on weekends there are so many cyclists on Beach Rd that the "safety in numbers" factor starts to assert itself. Of course, this still doesn't mean you shouldn't be alert for motorists doing silly things, e.g. pulling into or out of the many beach-side carparks without looking.
I ride in that area nearly every weekend and I have not had an issues. I do tend to ride alone and stick to the left so I dont tend to annoy any drivers. Having said that I avoid the major roads (like the tourist rd) after about 10:30 if I can as you start to get the tourists up and about then. Most drivers I find give you a wide berth and the only time I have seen aggression is when a group is riding 2 to 3 abreast and while 2 abreast is legal on some of the narrow roads I find it safer to drop down to single file when I am riding in a group.
Overall I have had more issues down on the flats surrounding the hills than I have up in the hills and you probably have to be more mindful of damp roads and leaves and bark than you do of cars
2011 Felt F75
2012 Fuji Nevada 2.0
I've lived in Pakenham for about 30 years and never had any problems with riding up through the hills. It used to be a bit tight on the hill between Emerald and Cockatoo but there's widening works on that section that will make a big difference. Apart from that riding in the hills is fine any time. You get the odd moron who drives too close but it's no worse than anywhere else. Regularly do loops Pakenham -> Gembrook -> Cockatoo -> Emerald -> Upper Beac -> Pakenham, or riding out through Selby/Monbulk/Kallista etc and it's all fine. The earlier you can get on the road the better, but I'm not worried about an afternoon ride.
I live in the Dandenongs and ride there every week. In my experience the roads are very safe for bikes. Locals expect to see cyclists on the roads at weekends and are generally accommodating of them. It's a great area to cycle in if you like climbing, there's no flats in the Dandenongs! I'd avoid the main roads north of Pakenham though as the speed limit is 100 along stretches there I think.
Two things not to do on the twisty narrow roads though: don't ride 2 abreast when the roads are hard for cars to overtake on, that really winds up motorists, and don't sit in the centre of the road when there is traffic backed up behind you. If you want to avoid confrontation with vehicles, try and accomodate them and move over and let them past.
There's no way I'd ride along the Warburton Hwy. Jump on the Warburton Trail (runs parallel to the Hwy) and you can ride all the way from Lilydale to Warburton without any traffic (apart from horses and people walking dogs!). The trail is hard packed gravel and is no problem on a road bike. Lilydale to Warburton and back is about 80km and it's very easy going as it used to be a rail track so the slopes had to be gentle for the trains.
Yeah, will do that next time. It had rained all day and was after dark so I didn't really want to take my chances on an unknown surface. On the plus side the hills had overtaking lanes but there's not much shoulder and it vanished frequently. Also a high speed differential - so I'm counting it as this year's stupidity/luck used up
When you consider the risks you take just when you wake up in the morning, its safe enough.
I ride up there frequently, never an incident.
If you are courteous and give drivers a quick wave they tend to look after you.
That said while most drivers in the area are used to cyclists, there is always the odd clown who thinks he's Brocky's brother. You can't help these tools, just do your best to avoid them.
Your attitude towards risk will determine how safe it is.
as mentioned - in the 'Nongs, try and stay away from the Tourist Road, i.e. stick to the range of B roads which branch off it. motorists are resigned to the Mountain Hwy being taken over by bikes
I've had as many (or more) issues with motorists on Mountain Hwy, compared to the Tourist Rd. But as I mentioned previously, these issues are pretty rare.
It's worth it for Silky Selby too. If only more road was like that.
Thanks for all the responses, looks like I'll be dusting off the bike and seeing if the lycra still fits
Only problem now is I live on top of a hill so all directions go down, just have to make sure that I don't go too far to start with as getting back will be a bitch.
Roads that are often narrow aside, that's a terrific place for cycling.
I like Tecoma-Kallista-Monbulk-Wandin East-Yelingbo-Emerald-Tecoma on my roadie.
Belgrave out to Cardinia reservoir is great, too.
On a MTB the Gembrook-Tonimbuk loop is good value (and of course you can nick into the Bunyip State Forest while you're there).
Gonna try the 1 in 20 in Mt Dandenongs on the weekend for the first time...
Enjoy - if you are interested - timing starts at the 60 sign at the end of the Basin shops and finishes at the 50 sign just before Sassafras. Km markers counting down the distance to go are painted on the road will be a good or bad thing depending on how you are going...
Yippee! Good for you!
It will be the start of your new romance with climbing.
Now unless you have either photos or a time (preferably both), it never happened. Haha
So with that in mind, time to start a poll.
Not knowing you, or your fitness levels I'm going to guess - 26mins 15sec for a 1st up effort.
Best of luck, and enjoy.
Sunday afternoons up the 1 in 20 and on the main ridge of the Dandenongs is not very nice - way too crowded for pleasant cycling. Emerald can also get a bit busy at the same time. Other parts of the Dandenongs and out to Gembrook, Monbulk and surrounds are much nicer. Do yur ride on a Saturday or anytime in the earlier morning and you'll have a great time.
A key advantage of riding in the hills - the winding roads generally slow drivers to a maximum of about 60-70kmh, so passing traffic is much less of a threat.
It can definitely be addictive. My first 1:20 (or any climb) was September last year at around 22mins. Down to 19:55 and hoping for 18:00 by the year's end. Last several weeks I've also climbed Baw Baw and 3 x Donna Buang plus the trip back to Blackburn. Also gone from not wanting to go down again to enjoying most descents. Wouldn't have imagined it a year ago. Partly it's because climbing repays effort very obviously and you get positive reinforcement, but mostly because mountains are gorgeous .
Interesting to see peoples differing opinions. I ride in the Dandenongs at all times and never find it an issue...
there are a lot of sections in which overtaking is unsafe. when it gets busy, such as on sunday afternoons, you can build quite a following of cars. i'm amazed to hear that they are all so patient with you. i wouldn't say it was dangerous, but some of the locals have 'had enough' with cyclists.
Just did my first ride.. from Glen Waverley, up 1 in 20 and back. Not very fast, 29 mins lol. Hope to improve it over time.
It wasn't too bad traffic wise, and there were a lot of cyclists about, but it was cold and windy.
Coming up the wall into Olinda today a driver yelled out, "why don't you find a bike track?" I yelled back, "I have!" , but not sure if he got it. 7 hours of riding with one comment (but still safe driving) and one too close pass by an articulated truck coming into Emerald from Belgrave. (That one was just nasty, he could easily have left more room). The rest was split into normal driving and people going out of their way to be friendly.
By "not very nice" I did not mean noticably dangerous, just a somewhat unpleasant ride. Less than desirable. Speaking as someone who enjoys riding the quietest country lanes and forest roads by preference.
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