Whether you are new to Victoria, visiting with your bike or a long-time resident, here are seven cycling destinations that you have to add to, and tick off your bucket list.
Once upon a time Bright was the best keep secret in cycling, but those days are well and truly over. Nowadays riders flock to Bright for training camps and a number of big events that are now annual attractions.
There are so many climbs in the area to choose from and they are as varied as they are spectacular. Buffalo, Falls Creek (front and back), Tawonga Gap, Hotham, Mt. Feathertop... you can pick and choose depending on your fitness level or allocated time. Given the close proximity of all of these climbs, you can tick off two or three in the one ride.
There are long climbs, short climbs, steep or steady climbs and everything in between. The roads are generally quiet and due to the popularity of cycling in the area motorists are very accepting and courteous.
Bright is the Mecca of cycling in Victoria.
99.9% of people who have ever ridden a bike in Victoria would have found themselves along Beach Rd at least once. Literally thousands upon thousands of cyclists from beginners to serious racers are out in force every Saturday and Sunday morning. The road is very close to the city and on weekends from 6 am - 10 am a whole lane is dedicated to cyclists. Beach Rd is known for its big bunches and fast pace, take one look at the Strava leader board after your ride and you'll know what I mean.
There's not much in the way of inclines so if hills are your thing, maybe look elsewhere. Unless of course there is a hallowing north-west wind blowing, in which case it will feel like you are climbing up a 15% gradient on your return trip.
Great Ocean Road (GOR)
The Great Ocean Road is one of the most scenic roads in the world. It stretches for 243km, hugging the coast virtually the entire way providing priceless vistas. The road is undulating which keeps things interesting. If you fancy some vert-hurt there are opportunities to turn inland and climb up some spectacular roads, Skenes Creek and Benwerrin being two of the most popular.
The best thing about the GOR is one minute you'll be riding along the beach and the next you'll be surrounded by trees and feel like you could be in the middle of the forest.
In the warmer months and school holiday period, the road can get very busy with tourists so either plan your ride for very early in the morning, or perhaps enjoy the many beaches and save the ride for the quieter months.
The Dandenongs are a mini Bright but without the three-four hour drive to get there. The climbs are shorter but very similar in profile. A few climbs have a steady 4-5% gradient while others sit at 8-9% with some much steeper pitches.
The Dandenongs are an hour ride out of the city depending on which way you decide to go and once you are there the options are endless. The 1 in 20 has to be one of the most famous climbs in Australia with weekend warriors using it as a testing ground and badge on honour. If you can tick under the 20-minute barrier you are doing ok. Brendan Canty just clocked a sub 13-minute effort up there... (insert stunned face!)
You can also climb The Wall, Tourist Rd, Devil's Elbow, Perrins Creek Rd, Inverness Rd, Invermay Rd, One Tree Hill... see what I mean about options?!
Metro Melbourne cyclists will normally either choose from the Dandenongs or Kinglake as their hill training option. They are both a similar distance from the city and offer some great riding. The trip out to Kinglake is very undulating which will add to your rides vertical gain and suitably warm up your legs for the actual climb.
The climb itself is just over 7km and averages just under 5% gradient, almost identical to the 1 in 20.
Once you are at the summit there are some great food options, one cafe equipped with a fireplace which is heavenly on a winters day when combined with a strong latte.
Mt. Buller is a hike from Melbourne but well worth it. Being a snowfield, the climb is only accessible in the warmer months. It is almost 17km in length and averages almost 6% gradient. The climb can take upwards of any hour so make sure you have done sufficient training and that you are prepared to keep the power down for long periods of time.
To make the most of the journey up there, the best option is to start at Mansfield and ride out to the climb. This loop offers approximately 100km of total riding and means you aren't going into the climb cold.
Mt. Donna Buang
This is another one that is worth either a day trip or possibly a training weekend. Warburton is a two-hour drive from Melbourne and upon arrival you will be rewarded with a challenging and peaceful climb. Mt. Donna Buang is 16.8km in length at 6.5% gradient and the remote location means there is very little traffic.
Looking at the riding locations above, Donna is one of the more difficult climbs given its length and gradient, so perhaps get some conditioning under your belt before attempting this one.
If Donna isn't enough, Lake Mountain is nearby and just as worthy of a day trip. Lake Mountain is longer at 21 km's but has an average gradient of 4.3%. The opening kilometres of the climb are tough (8% average gradient tough), but the road flattens out after that and you can enjoy a more gentle gradient to the top.
Thanks Rapid Ascent for the great image