On Saturday Erin & I went for a drive from our place in Brunswick to Sassafras, a small mountain village up in the Dandenong Ranges near Melbourne. Sassafras is a place I had ridden to before, back when I was living in Hawthorn. Back then it was a 75k round trip – not bad for the bike I was on at the time (bone-charring aluminium, for those in the know).
After spending the day in the hills I was reminded of how nice the area is up there, and also of the beautiful road conditions. They’re smooth, flowing, relatively low-traffic and, on the Mountain Highway side, really not very steep at all. Needless to say, this was enough to get me thinking about biking up there the following day. I knew it’d be close to 100km return but hey, if you don’t go, you’ll never know what you’re missing, right?
A good dinner and what seemed to be a pretty good sleep that night prepared me for the 7:30 a.m. start on Sunday morning. The conditions were like nothing I’ve seen in Melbourne before. It was pretty cold (around 8 degrees Celcius) and completely calm but man … the mist and fog? Nuts! Visibility at sea level was no more than about 50 metres at any time during the first 2 hours of the ride, making the use of my usual cycling glasses completely redundant. The fog and mist was so thick, in fact, that I just took my glasses off and rode without any until about 45 minutes before arriving home.
Riding up Mountain Highway from The Basin to Sassafras really was something else. It’s an easy climb by any standards despite its profile (see below) but the mist caused the sun to be heavily diffused and to cast those amazing shadowy rays that happen when bright sunlight is filtered through trees. Simply awesome and I found myself wishing I had a camera with me.
Re the ride itself? In all honesty I was half expecting to get some of the way back and hit the wall since 100km is a long ride for me right now. Maybe it was the decent rest but I felt pretty damn good throughout the whole thing. The route from my house to Sassafras is technically uphill the whole way but does roll a lot; that allows for some recovery during the ride. The climb was no problem and I found myself cranking through the middle section at a pretty easy pace.
I’ll definitely be doing this ride again very soon and plan to try and make it a regular weekend thing. If you’re in Melbourne and want to join me, fire me an email and I’ll be more than happy to ride with you. 🙂
NB: After posting this and having heard of a hill climb called the "1 in 20" near Melbourne, I realised that the road climb from The Basin shops to Sassafras is the "1 in 20" ride … lol. Next time I go out there I’ll have to try it under 20 mins – this time was around 21 mins through the ‘official’ timed section, I think.
Here’s the ride itself from Garmin Connect. The climb from The Basin to Sassafras is pretty obvious, huh? Cool.