Visiting : Wildwood Road, Mt Macedon, Woodend
Distance : ~182km
When : Sunday 21st February 2010, 6am @ Fed Square

Lots of dirt, lots of climbing, lots of fun. Mt Macedon is big on size and big on scenery. This ride sums up what “There Will Be Dirt” is all about.

This is the first “unfinished business” ride. The first campaign on Mt Macedon was a corker but I ran out of daylight while still on the mountain and had to call for the sag wagon. For this second attempt I’ve trimmed some of the fat and added a more interesting final descent. Result: All killer, no filler.

Just me on this one. Lots of drunks still staggering around at 6am at Fed Square, including one genius who came running at my bike and made to grab the handlebars as I sat on the steps beside it. I jumped up and started swearing and he took off, “Only joking mate!” His girlfriend then stopped and apologised and said they were from Ballarat so he wouldn’t really have grabbed my bike but she could understand that I would think he might because we were in Melbourne, not Ballarat and she was really sorry.

Okaaay.

Back paddock action

Uneventful ride up to the airport. Had a bit of a goof around “the back paddock” area (adjacent to Gellibrand Hill Park) which I thought might be a good venue for some CX action. Looks like it’s frequented by motorbikes and 4wds. Some nice steep little hills – there’s a big quarry/landfill and a dam. It’s all wide open red clay tracks torn up by erosion and dirt bikes. If you want to scramble up some boggy runups, slide out of control down some slippery slopes and get your bike and yourself very very muddy, go here in winter.

Said hi to the roos on the way through Gellibrand Hill Park and then onto Wildwood Rd. The promised northerly hadn’t kicked in yet so it was easy riding. Wildwood is one of the popular roadie routes of the west and there were plenty of little bunches getting some miles in.

Over the bars

After Wildwood there’s Websters Rd past the airfield. It’s gravel – reasonable surface. It dipped down a little and I was fanging it before I saw the fresh dump of deep stuff on top. Gah! Started sliding around, shat myself and went over the bars. Hehehe, tucked and rolled so no skin lost. In hindsight I’m sure I could have ridden it out if I’d just hung on and not panicked. Maybe next time.

Got some food at Riddells Creek and then started the first climb up Sandy Creek Road.

Hiking is rad!

Ugh. I’d forgotten how much of that climb is unridable (for me). I hiked up until it levelled out a bit. The road surface has suffered since I was last there – the nice smooth sandy-ness had washed away and exposed the rocky, corrugated-ness beneath. It was a real boneshaker for a while – no way to absorb the bumps except with arms and legs and trying to find a good line. It was getting beautiful though. Last time I was there I was in thick cloud – visibility about 50-100 metres. Now I could catch glimpses of far off paddocks and even into the valleys below.

A short and fast descent down the other side got the heart rate going and then it was back onto blacktop all the way to Woodend.

Rocked up to the Holgate pub looking to have a commemorative ale in memory of the ill-fated Brewery Ride 2.0 but the bastard wasn’t open yet. Gah! Oh well, got fed and had a sit down under a tree for a while to prepare for the big climb.

Up up

Straws Lane goes from Hanging Rock straight up Mt Macedon. Allegedly if you go to a certain spot on it and put your car in neutral YOUR CAR WILL ROLL UPHILL! What a magical and mysterious place! What a load of shite! It’s just an optical illusion but there were car-loads of tourists stationary in the middle of the road, taking photos of each other, hanging out the windows, reversing down the hill, laughing and screaming at each other and having a grand old time. Meanwhile I’m mashing up the 10% gradient on either side of the stupid mysterious false flat and gasping for breath while trying to avoid running into their photo-taking arses.

Once you get to Mt Macedon Road it’s all ridable to the top. There’s a “10% gradient” sign on Straws Lane and one on Mt Macedon Road – I’m convinced one of them is wrong. Straws Lane is not ridable (by me) but Mt Macedon Road is a-ok. So I mashed it up to the War Memorial turnoff and then on, on. They’ve just resurfaced the road up there – the machines are still parked on the side of the road – so the surface is beautifully smooth. Nice.

Last time I was riding up that section it was blowing a gale, the mountain was completely shrouded in cloud and the light was fading. This time it was blue skies and the sun still high in the sky. What a difference a shorter route makes! (i knocked 40km off the original ride).

Walked the bike out to the Memorial Cross (respect – my grandfather died in ww2) and took in the fantastic view. And the cross is actually bright yellow! The light was so bad last time I remembered it as grey.

I sat under a tree for a while, bought some fuel from the tea-house and felt pretty pleased with myself that the rest of the ride was all downhill.

Down down

Down, down to Mt Macedon Road and then straight off onto Barringo Road – a dirt track with a “no through road” sign on it. I knew that meant only cars – it turned into a walking track and was going to take me straight to New Gisborne. Or so I thought.

I followed it down, down and was very careful to stay on track and then I came to a fork – one way went back uphill – one way had a big gate saying “Water catchment – Management vehicles only”. In my experience, water catchments and reservoirs tend to be guarded like prisons – big serious fences with wire on top – they don’t want dickheads like me riding their bikes through them. So I thought, “Well this can’t be Barringo Road – I guess Barringo Road is the other way – it probably only goes uphill a little before heading down again.”

Wrong.

Hiking is wicked!

The water catchment way was Barringo Road – the stupid uphill way I, for some reason, chose to take was actually “Hell’s Hole Track”.

It was unridable so I pushed up that. Then I was lost, of course, so I just found the first track which went down again and took that. Turns out that was the uninspiringly named “Link Track 2”. Yay. Too steep to ride down – think Breakneck Road but more gnarly and about five times as long.

I should have brought hiking boots not tap-dancing shoes.

Upside is I saw some beautiful things. This is prime bush-walking territory – no vehicles been down there in ages – awesome views down into the valley – wildlife scurrying into the undergrowth and flying through the trees everywhere. Got some very nice photos. Just not a great place to go riding push-bikes is all.

Having said that, Barringo Road was all ridable and I’d be willing to get back up there to see if that “water catchment” sign really does end in impassable fences or if it continues all the way down to civilisation like it seems to on the map.

Anyways, I reached blacktop again and sniffed my way over to Mt Macedon Road, the southern side this time, and then fanged it roadways until I hit the Calder Fwy.

The northerly had picked up and I was feeling like a knob for getting lost in the bush so I thought “Screw it, let’s ride”, and I jumped on the Calder and span out with the wind all the way to Calder Park.

Calder Freeway

Refuelled at the servo just opposite Calder Park and heard the godawful racket of drag racing and saw the clouds of burnt rubber smoke come billowing over the road. Place is like something out of Mad Max. Red dirt, boiling sun, burning rubber and too much anger.

Actually, that’s a bit too harsh – I’d been riding around all day and, recently, down a major freeway into the western suburbs and I hadn’t been called a “fag” once. Bogans gotta lift their game.

So, not much more to report – got a flat just before the Calder ran out, courtesy of a staple. First time I’ve used my Topeak Micro Rocket and it worked like a charm. Don’t believe the whinging reviews about how long it takes to get up to pressure. It’s tiny – it fits in my saddle bag – it weighs nothing – it works a treat.

I got off the Calder at Keilor and sniffed my way back to Mt Alexander Road. Oh, and I hit a little girl’s puppy on the bike track but only a little tap on the bum at about 5km/h. Little scamp ran right in front of me then stopped dead. And then it chased me as I rode off!

Job done

Rolled back in to Fed Square about 6:30. Worked out the actual distance when I got home and it was spot on 180km. Not far off the original estimate. So, I’m calling this one done. I’d go up and see the rest of Barringo Road but I’d choose a more ridable way up there.

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