There are two roads that lead to the summit of Mount Donna Buang, and Brendan Edwards recently headed out to the Yarra Valley to climb the lesser known of the two roads through the stunning Don Valley.
Words and Images - Brendan Edwards
It was little over 4 degrees outside and I was riding with a mate Stryder. We took the Lilydale Warburton trail out to Launching Place and then turned off onto Don Road.
Ahead of us lay just under 26km of climbing at an average of 4.5% to the summit of Mount Donna Buang. The first 7km is sealed, a pleasant ride through the picturesque Don Valley and with a low hanging mist we were treated to some amazing winter conditions.
The road soon turned to gravel and the real adventure began. The gradient never really gets too steep, but being gravel we had to work that little bit harder than we would on the tarmac and really needed to pace ourselves. We soon came upon this wooden bridge crossing which looked amazing.
After 11km of climbing we took a right hand turn at a T-intersection. It was a welcome relief that the next section is sealed, and it was a good chance to catch our breath. There was a gate closed up ahead. During the winter months this gate is shut and there 13km of closed road to enjoy. We squeezed our bikes through the gate and the next section was easily my favourite part of the ride. This section of road isn’t maintained during winter and there was debris everywhere.
It’s relaxing riding on a road that you know you won’t see a car. It was so quiet, and I loved when we would hear the call of a bird, or pass by a small waterfall and hear the trickle of water. We’d have to bunny hop the odd tree here or there. I’m an oversized child and was loving every single minute of it.
The closer we got to the top the colder it became, and I had been wearing shorts & t-shirts for most of the climb, but once it got under 3 degrees I decided to cover myself up a bit more.
There was an amazing lookout that we stopped at briefly before heading toward the summit. With 1.5km to the peak we saw snow to either side of the road, and we were like kids in a candy store. There is just something special about riding your bike at the snow. I looked at my thermometer and wasn’t surprised that the mercury had dipped under 2 degrees. I was glad that I had brought the right kit and felt warm.
I was worried that the last km to the summit would be a struggle, as it’s quite steep. I was lucky that I was spending so much time gazing at the snow to notice the pain in my legs. If anything, I just wished that I could keep riding forever.
It took us well over 2 hours to complete the climb and both of us were quite exhausted at the top. The peak was filled with families trying to make the most of what little snow lay around the peak and we got stopped by several people to ask us about our ride. The people we spoke with seemed amazed that anyone would be able to climb up in these conditions.
This climb is relatively unknown, and doesn’t have an official name yet. At almost 26km in length, this is one of the longest HC Mountain climbs in Victoria. Half of this climb is over gravel, and we know this isn’t everyone’s cup of tea. For those that enjoy riding gravel, this climb should make any adventurers bucket list.