I’ve always been convinced that there are some underrated roads to be found out West. This Saturday it was only Ron and I, so I convinced him into taking me out that way. We headed out to Bacchus Marsh at an ungodly hour and rolled out North to Mount Macedon, with the intention of tackling the Gisborne side (the hard one…I’d heard), and the other side if we felt so inclined.
I made the assumption that the Bacchus Marsh-Gisborne road, which hugs edge of the Lerderderg State Park, would be nice ride, but we soon found that the traffic was too much, the shoulder non-existent and initially the scenery wasn’t even good. Luckily, when we started to get closer to the park we found ourselves on a pretty nice ridge. The road itself was no more hospitable, but now we had something to look at, on both sides. Lerderderg State Park looks like a lot of fun to explore if you had some knobbier tyres.
The rain that had started as soon as we stepped out of the car only got progressively worse as the morning went on. Maybe that’s why we didn’t waste much time getting to the hill, until we succeeded in getting lost in the foothills of Macedon, which frankly, was quite pleasant. I’m certain I’ll waste more time getting lost around that area in the future.
The beginning of the climb is unceremonious. One thing you know you’re ogling huge country mansions (Ron is planning on retiring there ASAP), the next thing you’re passing a ‘12% Next 2km’ sign. I wouldn’t say the 12% is very accurate, but it does put the fear into you. Since I was being flippant and putting the fear into Ron, he told me to piss off and we went our separate ways.
Note: Ron was running a 39×23; I would want my alone time with that ratio too. He most certainly deserves a pat on the back for making it up alive.
As the first ramp ended I found myself in a little township (“Have I even bloody started this climb!”), and then there was another, and another. For the most part the percentage is in the low teens on these steep bits, and the flatter bits are quite short. I was thinking of Ron as I mashed away in my 26t, making a show of solidarity by not going into my 29. My 23t cog is somewhere in the middle of my cassette, if I even have one. There was no way I was going to be THAT sympathetic.
It was a tough one, but before I knew it I was turning into Cameron Drive for the second part of the climb, which I was familiar with and knew it was nothing but mere undulations. I relaxed and took some photos, until my phone momentarily stopped working. It came out of my pocked at 75km/h the other day. If you’re going to put your phone in your back jacket pocket, zip it up before you bomb a descent.
Up top it was thick with fog, and my feet were completely numb. Even though I was dressed pretty appropriately for the day, I was wet, and knew the descent was going to be an unpleasant one. Unfortunately for Ron he was not so appropriately dressed. Plans to the head down to Woodend and come back up the other side soon became waterlogged. After high fives, hot chocolates and some snacks at the restaurant up top we headed back down the way we came.
Descending in the wet can be sketchy at the best of times, but the addition of shivering induced speed wobbles and given the steepness of the Gisborne side of Macedon meant we were taking it pretty easy. Memories of wearing my brakes out on Donna Buang after my snow misadventure was also in the back of my mind. We made it down in one piece though and wasted no time legging it back to Bacchus Marsh.
I’d been thinking for a long time that it would be a good idea if we got some practice rolling turns (is it generous calling it that with only two riders?), but we’ve never managed to organise any. After some false starts and some yelling though rain we managed to get in a good rhythm all the way back through some of the worst weather I’ve ever ridden in. It was heaps of fun though.
Then we ate jerky and listened to country music all the way back to Melbourne. Good times.