Ok, I did this ride today and was told to give a ride report so here it is.
I left home at 5:50 with the sun just about to come out. If was a rather chilly 6 degrees (We are in the middle of summer are we not?)
Before long I was at Cockatoo and then the ride to Worri Yallock was very cold. I had longer fingered gloves on and my fingers were hurting from the cold.
Made it to Warburton, filled up the bottles and made my way out east. Stopped at the Reefton pub to fill up the bottles one last time before the 40km to Marysville.
I navigated in a car rally earlier this year and we came down the Reefton Spur in this event and I could remember that the bottom bit was a quite bit steeper than the top, which proved to be the case on the bike as well. Not much traffic on this road at all. Would have seen around 5 or 6 cars the entire way up to Cumberland Junction, lots of motor bikes, but you can hear them coming and they always give me enough room. Eventually made it to Cumberland and then enjoyed the flat bit to Camberville. Then the painfull final climb starts. I was in the lowest gear and had just run out of drink. I knew I would get to the top eventually and was a happy chappy when I saw the sign on the side saying that I was at the top. The descent down into Maysville is a ripper. A 15 minute stop to have a bite to eat, fill up the bottles and and I was on my way at 12pm.
The road to Narbethong has two good hills on it before you turn off onto the Acheron Way. Many years ago most of this road was gravel and used to be part of the Australian Rally Championship. I've done numerous officialing duties on the road, but never ridden on it. In the car it seems quite flat (Dont they all in a car!) but on the bike with a head wind I can assure you its not. There is a corner where it is a tight corner with armco around both the inside and outside of the corner. There is a road off to the side that I've always wondered where it went. I now know its got a big gate on it. I saw lots of side roads that I thought would be interesting to ride on the mountain bike. Not long after the tight corner you are at the saddle, but you are not quite done with the climbing. A few KM later the descent starts. The Acheron way is around 28km long. I saw 5 cars and 1 motorbike. The road is in good condition and is an awesome gravel road to ride.
After reaching the end of Acheron Way, the next section I had not been on before was the O'Shannesy Aquaduct trail. This is an interesting trail. It follows the side of the mountain and does not drop any elevation. Over 10km I had dropped 6m, so its a nice respite from the hills, although a bit bumpy in spots and the rocks on the path had me thinking I might get a pinch flat, but I didn't. The drop down to Don Road is a bit steep and if you were going the other way, you would be walking, well I would be.
Then onto familiar territory, Warburton Lilydale Rail Trail up to Mt Evelyn and then back home.
All up around 220km and it took just under 11 hours all up. I'd wanted to do a lot of these roads/tracks before so it was good to cross off a lot of these from the list. The problem with doing a ride like this is that you see other roads/tracks that you then add to the list.
Definately want to do all of O'Shannesy Aquaduct Trail all the way to the end and then go up the track that takes me to Acheron Way.
What did suprise me was the lack of cyclists. I thought I would see some on the Reefton Spur, its a great climb!, but I saw none.
I didnt even see any when I was going down to Marysville.
If you are thinking of doing this ride but the gravel road put you off, dont let it. I was running 700X30 tyres with a light weight casing and got no punctures. Take it easy on the gravel, pick your lines and you should be fine.
Next time I want to the Warburton, Reefton, Marysville, Acheron Way, Warburton loop when there is light snow on the top. Anyone interested?