Just keep pedalling. That’s the main thing on my mind as I tackle what’s billed as one of the toughest bike climbs in Australia – Mt Baw Baw.
From the signposted start of the serious climbing – called The Gantry – to the Baw Baw village, it’s a steep, leg burning, lung busting six kilometre slog up a lightly trafficked road through magnificent tall gum tree forest.
There are helpful (some may say unhelpful) signs along the way counting down the distance to the top – and the gradient of the road.
It’s mostly in the teens. But there’s one section where it hits over 20 degrees. At that point my legs are almost too tired to get out of the saddle. At that point I just put my head down, breathed hard, and my toddler’s favourite song, The Wheels on The Bus, came into my head. It got me through.
This was the second time I’ve done this ride. A mate came along this time and I’m not sure he’s forgiven me yet.
But the relief at reaching the top makes all the pain worthwhile. Plus the café with its coffee and muffins to refuel and the big glass windows with the view down into Victoria’s Gippsland region.
The ride down is a challenge too. You’re hard on the brakes all the way as the bike feels like it wants to surge away and throw you off.
This climb is one of Victoria’s annual Seven Peaks cycling challenge. It’s something I’m very keen on tackling next year.
With the recent birth of my wonderful, adorable daughter – our first child – there hasn’t been much time or opportunity for adventurous pursuits outside the city.
While neighbourhood pram walks have replaced hikes through the bush, I’ve discovered the planning for those short walks can be just as intense as organising a multi-day walk. Do we have spare nappies, changes of clothes, wipes? Does our route pass shops, toilets, parks? Are there shortcuts to get home in case of emergencies? What’s the weather going to do?
Anyway, every now and then my wonderful wife gives me a day off from parenting duty to indulge in some outdoorsy stuff with friends. I’ve been using that time to explore Melbourne’s extensive network of bike paths. And I’ve been wonderfully surprised with what I’ve found.
Long trails that twist and turn, up and down through bush-lined creeks and watercourses, snake through parks and past sports ovals and change from concrete to gravel to single track. The paths are long and can be linked up to create long circuit rides that take you to far flung parts of the city you may never normally see.
Below is a quick video of a big ride a friend and I did recently. Headed out on the Scotchman’s Creek trail to Jells Park and Eastlink, along the Dandenong Creek trail, out to Paterson Lakes, then back via Beach Road – 83km on mountain bikes. Good times.
Where we went.