[TWBD] Mt Massacre (Sun 19th July)

Here are the details for this month’s “There Will Be Dirt” ride :

There Will Be Dirt #4

Visiting : Woodlands, Hanging Rock, Kyneton, Mt Macedon
Distance: ~220km
When : Sunday 19th July, 6am @ Fed Square
Where : http://www.bikely.com/maps/bike-path/TWBD4-Mt-Massacre
More details : http://therewillbedirt.blogspot.com/

This month’s ride is pretty simple on the face of it - ride out to Kyneton then ride back to the city - but there are two fun-inducing factors that will come into play. First is the distance - 220km. I’m no racer and I’ll be running old faithful 70 inches so I’ll be happy if I make it back to Fed Square before dark. Second fun factor is Mt Macedon - a nice little climb to get the heart pumping and the legs burning. Supposedly there’s an awesome view from the top so I hope it’s a clear day.

The third fun factor is that I’ve never been out that way before so I have no idea what to expect. Could be dirt roads, maybe sketchy descents, probably speeding utes, who knows? All I know is, whatever’s out there I’m going to see it, ride it, get covered in the stink of it and return a little older, possibly wiser and most likely with a powerful thirst for beer.

See ya there!


What’s all this then?

This is essentially a series of road rides where “road” may include smooth bitumen, bike track, potholed country roads, gravel/dirt roads and possibly some singletrack. There may be significant climbs and the distance will probably be over 100km.

The emphasis is on getting out into the countryside, into less bike-friendly places and testing yourself, not racing. I’ll be riding a fixed-gear but all bikes are welcome. Don’t ride something you’re afraid to get dirty. Rides continue rain/hail/shine.

I’ll run one of these a month through winter. Feel free to join me or try the rides at your leisure. Or just sit back and heckle.

Hey mate, I can’t make it but I grew up in Woodend and know the area like the back of my hand. I regularly ride back there from the city so if you need any help or want to know the best route hit me up.

Sounds like a great theme for rides.
220km is pretty hardcore- I’m not even sure I’d make it on a road bike, let alone a fixie/single speed.

Any future rides going to be in the 100-150km region?

Thanks man, I’ll keep that in mind if I think of anything between now and then.

Well, the first three rides were in that region but I’m purposely ramping up the difficulty from now on building up to something special for the final ride in November. You shoulda got in early.

Planning to visit the Humevale/Kinglake/Yea/Yarra Glen area in September/October - maybe come along for part of those rides? There’s no penalty for only doing part of the route :slight_smile:

Just updated the route to take in the War Memorial Cross on the second crossing of Mt Macedon. Should be nice views, food/water stop, and I’ll also spare a thought for me old grandad who died in WW2. The quickest way down from there appears to be a back road which looks to be around 10%. Might get interesting if it’s unsealed.

Getting pretty psyched about this ride. I’ve been reading a lot about the history of cycling in Victoria recently, like, 1880’s era when bikes were still a strange new thing. The riders back then were hard as fuck. Obviously gears weren’t invented back then and there were no paved roads either. In fact, there were no cars too - the first car arrived in Melbourne around 1897. A guy called George Thorne did some epic rides in the 1880’s and wrote a bunch about them. For instance :

This was about 1886 so he would have been about 27 when he wrote that. This was just after he did a two week ride from Melbourne, down through Southern Gippsland out to Sale and back inland to Melbourne again - about 614km all up. All gnarly dirt roads and cattle tracks and tiny towns that had never even seen a bike before. He continues :

It took me a while to work out what he meant by “fifty-four inch bicycle”. I was thinking, “Does he mean 54cm? 54 inch would be huge!” Then I realised he did that whole 614km, on what we would probably consider mountain-bike-only terrain, on a goddam penny farthing!

1880’s! Hard as fuck!


Forecast is cool and cloudy with a shower or two - nice riding weather. Should be a great day out on the road.

Fed Sq 6am. Don’t sleep in.

Pics here

Fark, that was a hell of a ride. Straight out to Mt Macedon and up over the side of it. Then on out to Kyneton. Then turn around and head back over Mt Macedon again, hitting the War Memorial at the top. Then down, down, down to eventually hit the Federation Trail and roll back into the city. Well that was the plan…

Out to Mt Macedon

Rolled out of Fed Square about 6:30 and made a beeline for Gellibrand Hill Park for the first dirt of the day. Plenty of roos sighted - no numbats. I hit Wildwood Road from start to finish for the first time - beautiful countryside, no cars to speak of, only one other cyclist. Had a horse gallop along beside me on the other side of the fence for a while. The forecast was for a 30-40km/hr northerly and it felt like that was pretty accurate - it was head down into the wind all the way.

Kept a reasonable pace out to Lancefield Road and then it was dirt all the way to Riddells Creek where I grabbed a pastie and had a break before the first climb of the day. Pastie scoffed, I hit the dirt again and pretty soon I was mashing up into the trees and the houses were getting fewer and farther between and then it was time for the first lesson of the day. When a sign says “No road” it doesn’t mean “No through road” like I initially thought it did. “No road” actually means “You’ll be right mate, just don’t send granny up here in the Corolla.” I kept seeing fresh 4wd tracks and I could see glimpses of the odd shed and house further up so I ignored the sign and pushed on. Literally. It was way too steep and gravelly to ride so I hiked it.

First time up the hill

The morning was mostly clear - nice blue skies - but as I approached the mountain I could never see the top of it - it always had a big bank of cloud sitting on top of it. Well, now I was climbing up into that cloud - the more I mashed up the hill, the cloudier and hazier it got. The temperature dropped but I actually felt warmer because a). I was climbing and b). I was completely sheltered from that northerly so there was no wind to speak of. It made for a pretty tranquil scene, towering gum trees disappearing up into the cloud, tiny little birds scratching around in the ferny rainforest undergrowth and everything mossy and dripping wet with cloud.

Walked a couple of steep clay sections that were too greasy and chopped up to ride and then found myself on the descent down the other side. Fortunately the road was made - nice and gritty if a little wet - so I came down at a decent pace. Fark, I really noticed the wind though - I was on the northern side of the mountain now so that northerly was howling in my face again. Paused at the base of the mountain and took a few minutes to scrape some of the clay off my shoes and pedals - it was caked on thick but a bit of scraping and I was good to go. I run double-sided SPDs and MTB shoes - they seem to manage ok in most cases - dunno if there’s a better setup I could be using?

Back roads and paddocks

Now it was all flat backroads until Kyneton. I don’t know how but I always manage to screw up my trail notes - in this section I’d put “L” instead of “R” a couple of times and ended up adding a bunch of extra distance. I only realised my mistake when I turned up at a crossroads that I’d passed about half an hour earlier. Faaark! To make matters worse, there were a few google maps errors in this section too. One road was clearly marked on google maps but when I got there all I found was a big gate with a grassy paddock behind it. All part of the fun I guess and just goes to show the internet doesn’t know everything.

Rolled into Kyneton hungry and looking for food. Sat down in a little park to eat and I found a little monument thing with a plaque saying “Unveiled by Hon. H. Opperman, Minister of Immigration” No way! Oppy! That spiked my tone up a bit so I saddled up and hit the road with a purpose. It was about 3pm already and I’d only travelled about 100km - I figured I wouldn’t make it home before dark and started thinking of possible bailout points. I figured I just had to get up and over Mt Macedon again and then it was all downhill with that northerly at my tail so I’d just spin it as fast I could and see how far I got. With this plan in mind I pushed on through Woodend and onto Hanging Rock and Straws Lane, the start of the climb.

Second time up the hill

So, in the morning I was picturing myself sitting at the bar at Keatings Hotel in Woodend sucking down Holgates and watching the world go by for a while. Instead I bolted through Woodend and hit the first 10% gradient sign while shoving lollies down my neck in an attempt to give myself a turbo boost for the climb. Ugh. So began the slow mash up to the top. Slow, slow, concentrating on keeping a smooth rhythm and keeping the heart rate down. The top of the mountain was still completely shrouded in cloud and it wasn’t long before I was climbing up into it. Again, the world turned hazy grey and everything was dripping wet and mossy. There were cars this time as well because I was on the main road. Not too many cars though because, surprise surprise, the weather was getting pretty shit up there and it was also getting pretty late in the afternoon.

The higher I climbed, the darker and windier it got. There was a steady stream of cars coming down the mountain all with their headlights on and lots of surprised and blank stares coming from their windows. I began wondering if the place would still be open when I got to the top - I didn’t want to get all the way up there only to find a locked gate. I was definitely getting the feeling I should be going in the other direction but I was damned if I was going to get this close and not reach the top. So, on on and finally I pulled into the carpark. There were only a couple of cars left in it and one or two couples shuffling along all huddled together and rugged up in their jackets.

Head in the clouds

So I walked out to the Memorial Cross and touched it and took a couple photos. There was no view at all - the air was thick with impenetrable cloud, it was blowing a freaking gale and it was getting dark very fast. I’d planned to come down the mountain on some tracks/backroads but, given my previous record with navigational mishaps, I decided it would be a bad idea to leave the main road and walk out into the bush in the rapidly closing dark and with the weather getting angrier by the minute. But then, I didn’t fancy a high-speed descent on the main road either, not with tourists coming down the road behind me on wet, winding, steep road with bugger all visibility due to the cloud. Track or road? I decided road - at least if I came to grief there’d be a better chance of being found sooner on the road than down some gully off a little track.

I started rolling down carefully and squinting into the darkness - my blinky is fine for being seen but it’s pretty piss poor at lighting the way. Heavy on the brakes, wet roads, big strips of bark and crap all over the place. Ugh. When I hit the first 15% downhill gradient sign I just laughed and thought, yeah, there’s a very real chance I’ll come off if I keep riding. It was pitch black by now, no streetlights, wet winding road covered in debris, cloudy as hell, windy as fuck, and a 15% gradient with only front brakes.

I got off and walked.

Coming down

I jogged the bike down the steeper, gnarlier sections, clicking and scraping along in my cleats. Jogging and sliding down past the big expensive houses up there I could see people lounging on couches and watching telly. Hehe, those fuckers! I managed to ride and jog down though Mt Macedon township and as I was walking down a steep section a car zoomed past and then stopped down below. It chucked a U-y and came back and pulled up alongside and the guy asked if I wanted a lift down the bottom. Ha! I thanked him but didn’t take up his offer. I’d already put a call in to the sag wagon for immediate evac and I didn’t want to pass wifey on the road going the other way. Very decent of him to offer though.

So, the road became ridable soon enough and I enjoyed a bit of the downhill and tailwind I’d been looking forward to all day. Didn’t enjoy the alternating pitch darkness and blinding light of oncoming cars with their high beams on. Half the bastards didn’t even dip their lights for me! Surprisingly, I still had something in the legs and was really hoofing it despite the visibility. I’d made it to just before Gisborne when I saw wifey’s Camry and then the ride ended on four wheels rather than two.

Lessons learnt

Jogging my bike down Mt Macedon Road in the dark like a freaking tool I was laughing out loud at myself and thinking, “This ride = EPIC FAIL.” I was way off making the full 225km. But then I thought about it some more and realised that I’d just spent 13 hours riding my bike and it was fucking awesome! From before dawn to after dusk, every single daylight minute of the day, I was out riding somewhere I’d never been before. I can’t think of a much better way to spend a day.

I’d much rather bite off too much and then choke on it than bite off too little and go to bed still hungry.

Next ride in about two weeks (August is busy!) Less dirt and more climbing. See ya there.

Man this is EPIC +1!

So I gather no one else was crazy enough to come along with you?

Decending Mt Macedon is crazy- done it on a road bike and you really have to trust your stoppers…

Always enjoy you’re engaging reviews angry. :slight_smile:

Wow! Awesome ride report and amazing photos.

You could be the new hardman.

Thanks guys.

Nah, it was just me again this time. Next one’s more roadie-friendly so maybe it might tempt a few more punters.

lol don’t think so :slight_smile: