The Dirty Dozen - Warburton 2015

On Sunday 20 September riders headed to Warburton to take on the Climbing Cyclist’s latest incarnation of the ‘Dirty Dozen’.  La Velocita was on hand to witness the mayhem.


Words - Brendan Edwards     Images – Mike Boudrie

The Dirty Dozen takes riders into the world of extreme climbing, having them tackle climbs that most cars would struggle to get up. In its fourth year the Dirty Dozen has built a cult status, now regarded as one of the most extreme cycling events in Melbourne. 

For 2015, the Climbing Cyclist, Matt de Neef together with David Blom designed a course around Warburton with 13 of the nastiest climbs possible.

We were excited to see riders of all abilities made the trip to Warburton to have a crack at the 2015 Dirty Dozen. Not everyone who starts an event like this finishes.  This is part of the allure, it’s not meant to be easy.  Just getting up one of the 13 climbs is an achievement and anything after that is a bonus. 

To make them believe they can climb

We love the way that the Dirty Dozen introduces riders to the most extreme climbs, gets them venture into unknown and encourages them to go well outside of their comfort zones. 

Riders were provided with a map of the course, leaving them to navigate and explore between climbs.  There were many that took a wrong turn or two, but that’s the fun thing with an event like this. With a start ‘window’ it’s clear that it’s not a race. It is all about the experience and challenging yourself.

Right out of the start area there was gravel climb with little traction, super steep gradient, a narrow road and challenging lines to follow, all the makings of a tough climb… this was just the entree to the 2015 Dirty Dozen.

It was a nerve-racking climb and the descent on gravel had people showing the whites of their eyes and testing the brakes! But once up and down safely there was a mixture of smiles and nervous faces as it dawned on some that this was just the first of 13!

 Climb number one. Perfect weather. Good focus.

Climb number one. Perfect weather. Good focus.

The day was full of tough climbs but none harder than Martyrs Road. Included as the final climb of the day and peaking at an almost ridiculous 27% with an average of close to 20% this climb could be considered one of the hardest climbs to be featured in any edition of a Dirty Dozen. 

 Martyrs. 27% of the best.

Martyrs. 27% of the best.

It tested the hardest of climbers.  Many, many riders walked its steep slope to make it to the finish of the 2015 Dirty Dozen.

SBS and cycling commentator Matthew Keenan came along for the ride.  It was great to see someone that is well respected support the local cycling community.

Throughout the ride he drifted from rider to rider chatting away about all things bike, from his days racing, to insights into the world of professional cycling.  Many a Kennanism was heard throughout the ride.  We loved seeing Matt throw himself at the climbs. On some climbs, he almost cruised up looking comfortable where others where on the verge of collapse!

It was great to see that the guys who designed this torturous course also rode it on the day. 

David Blom said, "My legs are absolutely smashed.  I’ve had a good time.  Everyone’s had a good time.  Great to see everyone more or less get through the course unscathed. There's been very considerate riding on the Warburton Trail, it's just so fantastic to see so many families out on bikes." 

We caught up with Matt de Neef who was pleased with how things turned out.

"Just a really satisfying day out, from a personal point of view being able to get up the climbs is greatly satisfying. Getting to the end, to see everyone hanging around, chatting and having something to eat while sharing their stories of the day is great. 

They’ve all been through this great challenge together and they’ve all got a favourite moment, a least favourite moment.  That’s the most satisfying thing that community spirit at the end of a ride. "

Matt has been instrumental in promoting women’s cycling. The 2015 Warburton Dirty Dozen was a reflection of this with a huge turnout of women riders.

"It’s great to see so many women here, and there were some very strong climbers as well putting the blokes in their place.  I think one of the things the event does is create a friendly environment. It’s not a smashfest or a blokey kind of event where you smash your mates.  It’s a friendly recreational challenge.  I think by making it that friendly environment it encourages a greater participation and hopefully we see more next year."

 Smartest rider of the day. With this ratio you'd almost be able to ride up a wall.

Smartest rider of the day. With this ratio you'd almost be able to ride up a wall.

The day was certainly a success.  With perfect weather, everyone we spoke to really enjoyed the ride.  Every single climb had its own personality. With no easy climbs in the 2015 Warburton Dirty Dozen we congratulate Matt and David for their great work in putting the event together.

Riders are already be anticipating the 2016 edition! 

We’d love to heat your stories of this year’s Dirty Dozen! Let us know in the Comments section below.