Time flies and Christmas is here! Here at La Velocita, we love Christmas and it may sound a little cliché but what better way to celebrate than to get out and ride Christmas Hills just before Christmas.
Words and images - Brendan Edwards
We heard of a small bush community 35km north-east of Melbourne called Christmas Hills.
Spread across the hills and valleys between the southern tip of The Kinglake National Park and The Bend of Islands lies Christmas Hills. Sorry to break the illusion that Christmas Hills is named after our patron saint and favorite holiday. In fact it is named after a convict and shepherd; David Christmas, who became lost on a 640 Acre property in the area in 1842. He was found after several days on a rise which became known as Christmas Hill, and the name was then given to the district.
For many years I’ve wanted to do this ride and finally was able to set a date. During the week the forecast kept rising until they could finally settle on 41 degrees, but that wasn’t going to stop me. I left pretty early to try and beat the heat... this proved futile as it was well into the mid 20’s by 5:00am.
My loop took me through the Bend of Islands and across Skyline Road. This is a gravel road that is 8.3km long and is a pure rollercoaster of short sharp and nasty pinches. Expect nothing less than a 12% average. Several peak at close to 20% and I had to work hard to try and avoid wheel spin on the gravel.
Skyline Road has some truly amazing views. Overlooking Yarra Glen, you can see both the Dandenong’s and Yarra Ranges National Park and it makes the grind to the top well and truly worth it.
After a brief brunch in Yarra Glen I headed up the challenging climb out of Yarra Glen and onto Christmas Hills. The weather was pushing 38 degrees and I was thankful that it was mainly downhill from here. I took a detour up to the Sugarloaf Reservoir Park which is an amazing area to ride around. Throughout my ride I was bombarded by flies and on the climb up to the Reservoir I swallowed a fly... it tasted truly disgusting.
It was hot and I was thirsty and was down to only 300ml of water with close to 15km of riding to get to the next drink stop at Kangaroo Ground.... I started to dream of water. I went into my happy place and ticked down the k’s, taking sparing sips of my water that was hot enough to make a cup of coffee.
It was bloody hot!
I came upon a sign saying “Antique Store and Café Watsons Creek 200 metres”. I really got my hopes up that I could get some water there. Of course this just wasn’t my day as the store was closed and like a mirage in the desert the illusion of water disappeared.
Eventually I made it to the general store and ended up drinking close to 2 Litres of fluid, making me feel alive again. I saw three other riders there that said what I was thinking “geez we’re crazy riding out in this heat”.
I had a tail wind to finish off my Christmas Hills ride and the trip down Kangaroo Ground – Warrandyte Road was fast and furious. 5.3km of undulating descending with an average speed of close to 46kmph.
We would highly recommend doing the Christmas Hills... even if the name has nothing to do with Father Christmas. This ride provides adventure and takes you through some magnificent riding in the Green Wedge area of Melbourne.
Although we rode this ride in temperatures that peaked at 41 degrees. We would advocate for riders not to ride in these sorts of conditions, especially in Fire prone areas.