This week we bring you the first in a series of rides in Melbourne's Dandenong Ranges. An epic playground for all cyclists just an hour from Melbourne.
This ride in Melbourne's awesome Dandenong Ranges is bang on 60km with 1,590m of climbing and takes in some great climbs, descents. The ride starts and finishes at the Basin, just to the east of where the hills start, providing you with the option to drive and ride or ride from home to the start point.
It's a ride you can get through in a couple of hours if you're fit and fast. Allow 3 hours plus if you want a bit of a cruise and to stop for some coffee on the way.
The Basin marks the start point of the 1 in 20, a 6.5km climb that takes you to Sassafras. This climb is used as a yardstick by many road riders to gauge their fitness and where they sit compared to other cyclists. The 1 in 20 winds it way through some amazing forest with views back to Melbourne. There's a false flat at roughly the mid-point to either give the legs a rest or to drop a few gears and pick up the pace.
At Sassafras we take a right hand turn onto the Tourist Road and continue to climb for a few kilometres before starting to drop towards Ferny Creek, taking a left at Sherbrooke Road. This road drops down few a few kilometres (hang on tight as the road surface is pretty terrible, the worst on this ride) but only lasts for a short distance before improving.
While on Sherbrooke Road look out for the Piggery, the new Shannon Bennet restaurant and probably one of the better coffee and food stops you can make on this ride.
We head down hill from the Piggery through some awesome sweeping bends and fern lined roads to Kallista. It's cold, so we quickly are out of the saddle, climbing and descending again and again before almost getting to Emerald. Here, you've got the option of taking a right onto School road, a couple of kilometres before Emerald. School road makes a small loop off the main ride and contains two cracking, short, steep, pinch climbs. Do this add on as many times as your legs can take! The two climbs have an over gradient of 7%, but be warned, this includes a flat and downhill section.
The back section of the ride takes in Emerald and then works its way to Monbulk before, what we think is the best part of this ride. The Wall. This nice test of stamina and climbing ability takes you up to Olinda and has 4 main 'sections' with moments of respite between each. Breath deeply. Put your head down and don't stop!
Once at Olinda it's down hill all the way back to Basin with options for coffee at Sassafras. We recommend Cafe Beaumarchais on the left, just pas the Basin turn off.
This is a great ride for the seasoned roadie, not wanting to spend all day in the saddle but still get a ride that's going to work the body. It also will lsuit newer riders that want to get in the hills and mix it up and test out their ability without overdoing it.
There are loads of extensions to this loop and you can quite easily turn it a 100km plus epic.
Ride – Dandenong Ranges Basin loop (60km).
Terrain – Rolling hills with two bigger climbs and a couple of pinches to keep you honest.
Roads – Good roads, go early to avoid weekend tourist traffic.
Distance – 60km loop with options to extend.
Hydrate – Cafe de Beaumarchais Sassafras / The Piggery, Ferny Creek
Tips – It's always a bit cooler in the Dandenongs so make sure you have a wind jacket and gloves in Winter and Spring.