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Shit i have been lazy. I did this ride way back in November and I have only just now sat down to add it to the pages of this little blog. Anyway, the story went something like this. A few weeks before my mate had asked me to come on a road trip to Canberra with him and some mates to pick up a vintage trail bike he bought. Surprise surprise that a few days before we were meant to leave the others bailed. i guess they looked up ‘Canberra’ and rightly thought fuck to that. So to make this entertaining for me as well I conned Andy into dropping me off in Jindabyne on the way through, and then swinging by to pick me up. It was only a small detour of a  few hours so he obliged.

It was about 10 am when he dropped me off, and we estimated that I would have about 4 hours to get up and back. plenty of time. We parted ways and i began my ride up to the highest paved road in australia.

my begging and end point. On the shores of lake Jindabyne

my beginning and end point. On the shores of lake Jindabyne

pretty much all uphill.

pretty much all uphill.

This is fairly indicative of the view for the first part. Yellow lines, nice roads and gumtrees.

This is fairly indicative of the view for the first part. Yellow lines, nice roads and gumtrees.

The climb itself while long was not actually all that difficult. It is a fairly constant and manageable gradient for the first half and allows you to settle into a rhythm and knock off the k’s. it is a gorgeous part of the country though, so it is by no means boring. As you get to about 23 k’s in, the road flattens off a bit. In fact it flattens so much it goes downhill. From here on thats how it is, all the little gains made in altitude are mostly lost again by a downhill section soon after.

By the time I made it this far i was also pretty much out of water. If you are going to do this ride, the only place to really get a refill it at the tollbooth. I found no accessible water at any of the ski villages on the way up. Luckily for me though there was an event on the same day I was there, it was called sea to summit or something like that. Basically compeditors start in Eden on the coast, 250odd k’s away and race their way all the way to the top of Kosiosko, then back to Thredbo village. This all sounds like a suitably epic ride, and kinda a sweet challenge. Except these idiots were running it. All of it. When i told people i was only riding from Jindy they looked at me as if i was the laziest person on the road. It was good for me though, the support crew supplied me with a few bottles of water on the way up. Cheers lads!

yep, thats the road snaking it's way off into the distance.

yep, thats the road snaking it’s way off into the distance.

sometimes i rode on the wrong side of the road. YOLO

sometimes i rode on the wrong side of the road. YOLO

Thredbo village. No water.

Thredbo village. No water.

Holy shit it's snow in November!

Holy shit it’s snow in November!

Eventually you get to Charlotte Pass ski resort, the highest in Australia. From there it’s just a short few k’s to the end of the road. And it’s pretty fucking awesome.

An Italian bike at a ski resort seems fitting.

An Italian bike at a ski resort seems fitting.

The view from the top. There is a path off to the the left that leads to the summit of Mt. Kosiosko, but I was under time constraints and in road shoes. Kosiosko can be seen on the left near the tree.

The view from the top. There is a path off to the the left that leads to the summit of Mt. Kosiosko, but I was under time constraints and in road shoes. Kosiosko can be seen on the left behind the tree.

When you give your phone to someone to take your picture while riding, find a frail elderly person. you might still be able to catch them after you take your shoes off.

When you give your phone to someone to take your picture while riding, find a frail elderly person. you might still be able to catch them after you take your shoes off.

If you're a really good snowboarder this stretch of road would excite you. It is known as the Charlotte Pass road gap. Yep, from the rock on the left over the road. It is unbelievably massive in real life.

If you’re a really good snowboarder this stretch of road would excite you. It is known as the Charlotte Pass road gap. Yep, from the rock in the trees on the left over the road. It is unbelievably massive in real life.

The descent into Jindy is awesome and is a great reward after all that climbing. spectacular views of the lake too.

The descent into Jindy is awesome and is a great reward after all that climbing. spectacular views of the lake too.

After I took the obligatory pics at the top carpark i made my way back. Once you get past the top plateau the descent is great. The road is in top condition and is wide with an awesome shoulder. Just tuck it and enjoy the payback. Pulling into the meeting point back in town, Andy opened the door of the car when I was about 20 metres away. He had just pulled up, the timing could not have been more perfect. After a celebratory beer we commenced the drive home. what a day.

The bike even starts. (After some Aerostart)

The bike even starts. (After some Aerostart)

I first mapped out this ride about 2 or 3 months ago, knowing full well that it would making a ride that would be quite challenging. 110k’s with 2400m elevation can be a decent ride at the best of times, but when 80 or so of those k’s are on dirt, things could get difficult very quickly. Here is a link to what it looks like.

We met at Launching Place at 8am and got quickly on our way. We headed down Gembrook rd until we hit The Pack Track, along the way experiencing what would be the first of many flats along the way.

Gareth helped to set the theme early for the ride.

As soon as you turn onto The Pack Track it turns to gravel. It also begins to climb in altitude, with some parts getting pretty steep but never lasted for a long distance so didn’t pose too much of a problem. We ended up slowly snaking our way through the dense forest, taking in the awesome surroundings and even saw (and heard) a koala not far from the road while we waited to repair another flat. I have never heard a koala in the wild before, and for a second I was actually shitting myself.

We were lied to. This was not the correct way.

After about an hour or so we cleared the treeline and came to a junction in the road. The paths all appeared to be inaccessable or access roads for power companies and we were about to turn around and head back down the way we came until we heard the familiar sound of dirt bikes. Four of them emerged from one of the paths heading up and over the ridge line, so we decided to ask them if they thought the way they had come would be suitable for road bikes. “Yeah, you should be fine, but it’s a bit hilly.” We knew it was intended as a warning, but that was presisely why we were here. We said thanks and headed up the hill, glad we didn’t have to do any backtracking. It was a nice ride along the top of the ridge-line from then on, up until we had to descend. That descent was definately one of the hardest we have done, with the constant 8-9% gradients, loose surface, pot holes, ruts and corrigations keeping us on our toes the whole way down. I had a massive grin the whole time. Be warned though, the bottom brings an intersection with Yarra Junction-Noojee rd, and is a great test of your brakes. (I certainly appreciated my ‘new’ 7410 dual pivot Dura Ace ones!)

The road coming up from the left leads to a sweet ridge with great views. The one leading off up the hill leads to one of the best descents ever.

We now had done about 50k’s, 1500m and had no water left so we turned left at Yarra Junction-Noojee rd and went in search. Three lessons were learnt while on our water mission:

1. Horses are awesome.

2. People in the country like to put non-functioning taps in their front yards.

3. DO NOT jump front fences to fill water bottles unless you like being sworn at by country people.

Horses are indeed awesome. He loved a good upper lip tickle, but who doesn’t?

We found some water at the Gladysdale tennis courts and headed back to Black Sands rd. Black sands is a well maintained gravel rd that winds its way upward through the forest just below Warburton. The climbing starts immediately, and is steady for 7.5k’s. It averages 6.6%, but we decided that as it is on dirt it deserves another 2%. I know I sure found it a tough slog as the unrelenting nature of the climb made it hard to get your breath. Really, there is only one small flat of a few hundred metres halfway up and that’s it. I did get to enjoy some pretty awesome scenery though, the mix of huge green ferns and tall Mountain Ash made the journey quite bearable. It also allowed me to stop and ‘take photos’.

The beginning of Black Sands rd. It was actually a great surface to ride on, very manageable on 23c’s

There were some great hairpins toward the top.

waiting at the top, Gareth found this guy trying to climb up his rim. This is definitive proof that leeches love campy.

After the main climb the road meanders along the ridge line and eventually, at the roads highest point, you are rewarded with a waterfall. We decided to risk it and filled our bottles again. No-one got sick so I guess it was ok. As the ride turns northward and heads toward Warburton we headed through some logging areas, which is always kind of a downer to come across after riding through so much untouched wilderness.

At the waterfall Scott and Gareth decided to stage an impromptu Rapha model shoot.

I was just thirsty. According to Shark Expert*, The Australian Army takes red cordial on its missions to add to water to make it safe for drinking. Something to do with the sugar apparently (Please note: Fact may not be an actual fact.)

The descent. God, the descent. Scott thought the earlier one was bad, but Gareth and I disagreed. This downhill section was truly dangerous, littered with debris, deep ruts cut into it from running water and large exposed rocks. Or pot holes. And it got bloody steep. I ended up getting a flat on the rear and was in the process of changing it when Scott noticed that my from tire had not one but two cuts in the sidewall with inner tube poking cheekily out the side. Great. Luckily it was at this moment that a genuine stand up gentleman, Bruce (name has been altered due to the fact I forgot) arrived on the scene in a Patrol. I seized my opportunity and bought a lift down to Warburton. I won’t bore you with the details of my awesome adventures there, but suffice to say Scott saved the day and we ate doughnuts in the end to make up for it.

The boys put on their leg warmers for the descent. I just enjoyed the scenery. If you can think of a better way to make paper, I don’t want to know about it.

This was one of the better sections of the descent. Otherwise known as Warburton Pave.

Doughnuts fix everything.

This is definitely a ride recommended. There are a few other options through the northern end that may make the descent less hair-raising, but either way it can still be done safely if you take it easy. But I just got 25c tires the other day, so maybe this way out isn’t such a bad idea…

Until next time. Pinchy

*When Scott dispenses his pearls of wisdom, he is known as Shark Expert.

Sunday was looking like being a great day for a ride in Melbourne, one of the best in what has been a cold winter. Gareth and I planned to do a loop around everyone’s favourite reservoir, Sugarloaf. Because of this fact and Gareth was so excited he went out and purchased a heap of new kit. So to celebrate his new understated yet epic gear, we present you with the Rapha edition.

I was awoken at the not overly early (for a cyclist) hour of 8am with a phone call letting me know to open the door. Bad start, probably due to the 7-8 whiskies consumed at a going away party the night before. We got slowly underway and eventually made it out to Warrandyte where we planned to start. Essentially our ride went something like this:

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Riding up from Warrandyte we turned right at Pigeon Bank Rd and continued up to Menzies and finally onto Skyline. The pinches along here were short and sharp, but a whole lot of fun. Be warned though, if you want to do this ride large sections of it are gravel, albeit well maintained and vey rideable. The scenery is great too, with views on both sides overlooking the valley down to the Yarra on one side and everyone’s favourite reservoir, Sugarloaf, on the other.

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Gareth even managed to urinate epically thanks to the new jersey.

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It only tool about 10k’s for us to agree that it was our new favourite ride.

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…until I suffered through a flat. This was a low point. Both in elevation and mood.

There must have been a community meeting at some stage to agree to have ample taps in front yards but have none connected to running water. We seriously tried three taps and none worked. With everyone’s favourite reservoir, Sugarloaf, just to our left it was cruel punishment for my forgetfulness indeed.

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From the junction of Skyline Rd. and Eltham Rd. you can descend into Yarra Glen and then climb back up. It is apparently a good climb and Gareth seemed to enjoy it, but I decided to try and find water (fail) and take this photo:

Getting a bit stalker-ish on this one…

From here we turned around and headed down Ridge Rd. and stopped in at a bbq/ picnic area that had water. It said it was untreated rainwater and not for consumption, but at this stage we were willing to run the risk.

The ride back down Menzies Rd. was heaps of fun with some fast, smooth rolling descents, but we knew what was coming: Pigeon Bank Lane. We had come down it so we knew it would be hard, but not that hard. It was like hitting a wall, a 30% wall of bullshit steep road. I couldn’t do it, I had to walk it, even the mountain goat himself was in the up-til-then unused 29 tooth cog and was delivering mail to both sides of the street.

Menzies Rd. down is a whole lot of fun

It was so steep that it even looked steep in a photo

All up we only rode 50k’s, but climbed about 1300m. It is a ride that could be easily done in a few hours and would still be a good ride. I know we will be doing this one a few more times over the upcoming warmer months. Well, after I fit that compact crankset…

Pinchy.

The hills around South Gippsland are an area we have ridden before and while they might not be impressively high in altitude, they sure are picturesque.  So with this in mind Gareth and I drew up a ride that took us over Mt Worth, out to Mirboo North for a play lunch stop and pretty much down to Leongatha before turning up back into the hills to ride a dirt road Ron and I scouted the previous week called Wild Dog Valley rd.  Well there were no dogs, but it sure got wild.

this is basically what out route looked like. Actually it is exactly what our route looked like. Note last open tab displaying new skill learned.

We met up at the Ellinbank Primary School at about 7.  Schools are a great place to start a ride as there’s always water available.

It didn’t take long for the climbing to begin in earnest with the climb up Mt. Worth coming up in the first few kays.  It’s a nice climb and one highly recommended if you are ever in the area.  Not too steep at a fairly consistent 5% and 7.5km’s long, so enough to get the legs warmed up.  On reaching the summit you are greeted to the majestic sight of a local industry – logging.  Beautiful native forests make way to felled trees and forestry machinery.  It was actually pretty cool and eye opening thats for sure.

After passing six dead wombats (one of which scott bunny hopped) and a descent down a gravel road, the scenery opened out into farmland and rolling hillsides that categorise the region.

After passing so many of these guys it got quite depressing. Five dead wombats is funny, six is over the line. (despite much pleading, Scott decided not to ‘wombat’ hop this one)

Just off to the right was the most majestic Wedge-Tailed Eagle. You should have seen it.

Just over the fence was the most majestic dead wombat. You should have been there.

After a stop in at Mirboo North for food and water, we headed south and into what was going to be a characterising feature of the rest of the day – wind.  It was incredibly gusty and made for pretty slow going at times.  Despite the wind, we eventually made it to the start of the most difficult part of the day, Wild Dog Valley.

The first part of the climbing starts as soon as you turn onto Mt Eccles Rd from Wild Dog Valley rd.  It’s a steep, bitch of a climb that soon sorted the men from the boys, with me being the boy.  I was glad it was a road less travelled as I was forced to use up the whole road to reduce the hill’s severity.  It was soon all over though, enabling us to stop to collect our thoughts whilst we all finished off the last of our water and for Ron to admire a dead lamb.  At least the toughest bit was done…

“Dude there’s a dead lamb just over there”

…And then we climbed the next bit.  Just as steep, longer and on gravel.  This, coupled with the fact that the wind was stepping into the ‘this is fucked’ category made going tough.  So tough in fact, that in one extremely strong gust that blew me off course by about a foot, I turned around to see Scott had nearly been blown off the road.  This was definitely one of the toughest times I have spent on the saddle of a bike.

Scott takes some time out to adjust his rear derailluer and admire a local villa.

It was a tough one and I can’t wait to go back.

The return journey was rather uneventful, apart from a fallen tree or two.  The ride was completed just in time, as no sooner had we said our respective goodbyes, the heavens opened up and it bucketed down.

Well that’s it for this post, but we have some pretty cool rides planned (more snow riding hopefully) and we are always open to suggestions, so feel free to suggest any rides that contain climbs/ gravel/ sweet photo opportunities/ dead animals.

Until next time. Pinchy

Sometimes a great photo can be hours of waiting, monitoring light and a host of other varying details. Other times it can be a quick snap and it is nothing more than luck that gives the captured image something special. Luckily we now have Instagram, so all that bullshit is in the past. All you have to do is stop on the side of the road (in the middle if you are Ron) and snap away. Select the best filter and bam! You have yourself a sweet photo. I am going on the record as saying this is a good thing. It means most of our photos will now look sweet, and this one here is case in point. Thanks for the awesome day by the way gippsland. Xo Pinchy