That’s one less item on the bucket list. The 7 Peaks rides are set-your-own pace climbs to the top of Victoria’s seven alpine resorts over the warmer months. They’re a great reason to get out of the city for a day or long weekend to breathe some country air and see a bit more of regional Victoria. And of course great exercise. Plus they’ve fired my enthusiasm for the next physical challenge – The Peaks Challenge.
Lake Mountain – I think this was the easiest ride. Starts at Marysville. Only about two hours drive from Melbourne. Starts off steeply out of town but not for too far. Then a steady climb through regenerating forest with open views across to adjacent hills. At the top is a shelter with a café. Nice views. The road isn’t too twisty which means heading back down you can build up some great speed. Lots of fun.
Mt Buller – This is the nicest ride I reckon. Starts at the mountain entry gates at the base, near a very nice café. Pretty river alongside. Steady climb through forest, past streams and small waterfalls until just before the summit where there’s a sharp, steep pinch that gets you out of the saddle. On the way up keep an eye out for the gnomes’ tree house. Very cute. Typical ski resort at the top. Couple of cafes. Nice views from the main visitor centre and at the end of the road near the top of the resort.
Falls Creek – Bit of an undulating ride to begin with, starting from Mt Beauty. Fantastic views to Mt Bogong, Victoria’s highest mountain. Road initially follows a valley with hydroelectric transmission lines overhead. Then seems to get a bit steeper on approaching the resort. Not much in the way of cafes open when I was there, other than a mountain biker café in a converted shipping container in a car park. Nice views.
Mt Hotham – Long, mostly pleasant ride from Harrietville. Steady climb to start with views to the resort, which seems to be an impossibly long way away on the other side of a wide valley. Near the top are a couple of steep downhills which have to be climbed back up on the other side. Bit disheartening. Amazing views though as you’re above the tree line. No café open at the top. The nearest was another couple of kilometres down the road. Descent back to Harrietville was brilliant, with the road not too twisting. It was raining when I came back down though so was careful with my speed.
Mt Buffalo – Very pleasant, steady climb through beautiful forest with occasional views of smooth granite cliffs and rocks that are a feature of the mountain. Started at the base, at a creek, near Bright. Finished at the old Mt Buffalo Chalet, which is not open. No café at the top. Fantastic views though. I didn’t attempt the descent as I was a bit worried about my brakes. Drove back down with my support crew. Washing off in the cold, clear creek back at the bottom was a highlight.
Mt Baw Baw – Hard hard hard! Lung buster. I parked the car and started at Tanjil Bren. Nice downhill and then some steady uphill until you reach the official start point where it’s steep steep steep until the top. Nice forest to pedal through but you won’t be looking at much of it because all you’ll be thinking about is your breathing and looking down at the road. Near the top it levels out a bit and then you roll into the main car park. The relief at reaching the top is amazing. Some views but not spectacular. Nice café at the top. The steep descent is a bit scary.
Dinner Plain – The longest of the rides, starting at Omeo, a 4-5 hour drive from Melbourne. The road out of town was steeper than I was expecting. Then a long fast descent to the Cobungra Station plains. Nice undulating riding, although made a bit harder by a headwind. The ascent to Dinner Plain was steady and not too taxing, which was a nice surprise. Nice riding through eucalypt forest and then snow gums. The village is nice. Didn’t think much of the pub but the Blizzard craft brewery was fun. Nice stout too. I didn’t get to the top until late arvo and was losing the light so I drove back down to Omeo with my support crew.
All in all the 7 Peaks is a great challenge. Bit of an effort to get to the alpine regions in northern Victoria from Melbourne so I’d recommend having four or five days off to do those ones. Baw Baw and Lake Mountain are only a couple of hours drive from Melbourne so can be done easily in a day. Buller can be done in a day, but it’s a long one.