aka the "Is Donna Is Good Snow Ride 2010".
It was SO much fun!
My legs will be hurting for a week. Anyway, a description of the day's events:
Yesterday I got up at 2:45am and left at 3:20am, riding from Parkdale to Warburton, 81km over 3.5 hours. As far as I'm concerned, THAT was the hardest part of the "day", not the ride there, not the ride up the mountain, but getting out of bed so ludicrously early! From Endeavour Hills onwards, it started raining. A lot. The ride to Emerald, and particularly along Macclesfield Rd between Emerald and Yellingbo (due to heavy mist in parts) was surreal: rainy, misty, and very very dark, as street lighting was almost non-existent. Having left ample time in case of unforeseen calamities which I won't taunt the p@ncture faery by mentioning explicitly
, I arrived in Warburton shortly after 7am. It was still raining, in fact had rained the entire distance from Endeavour Hills. I then spent the next hour or so slowly freezing to death
But it was OK once the ride started, I got warmed up enough then, plus the rain stopped before we all left Warburton.
In Warburton, myself and a like-minded group of lunatics(14 of us in total) rode along the O'Shannassy Aquaduct Trail above Warburton to Don Rd, then up this road to the Mt Donna Buang park entrance. From there, it was closed to car traffic and we had the road to ourselves. We reached the summit in about 3 hours 20 minutes from leaving Warburton and 3 hours from the park entrance. After a short break (short because the cold settled in the longer we stood around!), we rode down to Warburton again, trying not to go too fast because the wind-chill going down was vicious. After lunch at the bakery cafe at the corner of Warburton Highway and Thomas Rd, we went our separate ways. I had initially planned to be a complete hard-@rse and ride back to Parkdale, but I was knackered after Donna, so Martin / "cleatus" generously gave me a lift to Carlton and I rode home from there (another 27km), reaching home a bit before 6pm.
The hardest section of the ride, as far as I was concerned, was the unsealed section of Donna Buang Rd, as there was a section several km in length that had an average 8% to 9% gradient which, combined with the soft, muddy road, made riding exhausting. Check out the grade graph in the SportTracks elevation/distance graph below; the section from my 103km to 112km points was where it was consistently at or near 9%. The road didn't have any sustained hard-packed sections, instead giving way to soft, yielding mud at unpredictable intervals, so we were continually weaving across the road trying to find the firmest bits.
At one point along this road, I had a lead on the riders behind me, and the rider in front was km ahead, and I began to doubt whether I was still on the correct road, since I hadn't ridden this route before. Fortunately, a pedestrian
passed me walking back down the road, who confirmed that (a) he had seen the rider in front of me and (b) I was still on track to the summit road. Geez that guy must love his walking; that's a long walk he did that day.
The summit was easy enough to ride up to, as the snow was apparently lighter than usual, so we didn't slide around too much on the road. The main hazards were pedestrian tourists walking along the narrow (50cm wide, perhaps?) cleared paths along the road (one going up and one going down). Passing them wasn't an option, as the snow was a bit slippery, so we just had to wait until they decided to let us past. Several of the tourists started taking pictures of us; I guess the sight of 14 cyclists heading for the summit isn't something you'd see up there every day in the middle of Winter!
The descent was quite a trial in its own way: although I switched gloves shortly after descending (I had brought a 2nd pair in case the 1st pair got too wet), my hands almost lost all feeling riding the 17km down to Warburton.
I kept my speed down to at most 35km/h due to the vicious wind chill. Now I understand why one of the riders put on a pair of plastic kitchen gloves then his riding gloves on top of that; to keep the freezing wind out. My brake pads got a good workout going down to Warburton.
The weather forecast (see here at http://ski.com.au/reports/australia/vic/donnabuang/index.html
was pretty spot on I think: the maximum (probably around the time we reached the summit) felt like the 0° forecasted. Most of us (except a hardy few who wore short pants baring their calves
) had many, many layers of clothing on, to keep the cold at bay.
[edit, 12:33pm] Almost forgot: it was a bit of a running joke amongst some of the riders how dirty their clothes and bikes got, while myself and my bike remained in an almost pristine condition, thanks to the full mudguards.
[edit, 12:59pm] Changed degrees to percent in the grade figures.
Here's my SportTracks statistics.
My overall route from Parkdale to Warburton, up Donna, and back to Warburton:
...and just the Warburton / Mt Donna Buang part of the route:
Summary in SportTracks:
Elevation vs Distance profile in SportTracks. It certainly makes Emerald (at about the 42km point) look insignificant
Now for some pictures I took along the way.
To save BV forum bandwidth, I created thumbnails; click on these to view the full images.
At Thomas Ave, raring to go
Just left Thomas Ave (pic taken by Snuffy)
Riding the O'Shannassy Aquaduct Trail towards Don Rd
Getting lost in the mist along the part of Donna Buang Rd sealed to motor traffic, after entering the park gates
Taking a breather on the unsealed section of Donna Buang Rd, mainly because several km of 10% gradient and soft, muddy road are an exhausting combination
The forest lost in the mist at 1,000m elevation (at least my Garmin Edge 705 showed 996 at the time, and its altimeter performed reasonably well yesterday)
At the end of the section of Donna Buang Rd sealed to motor traffic, just before the intersection with the summit road, at the snowline, or a bit above (pic taken by Snuffy's camera on timer)
At the summit! Note how park management generously provided very easy-to-use bicycle racks (that look suspiciously like snow)
Cheated of the last 30m that would have made it an even 1,300m (according to my Garmin Edge 705, anyway)
Heaps of thanks to Snuffy: he organised the ride, and managed it very well on the day, ensuring we waited for the stragglers at regrouping points, so we all arrived at the summit together. These waits were no burden at all; given how tiring the ride is, I know I appreciated the excuse to just stand around for a few minutes here and there.
Thanks also to Martin / "cleatus" for giving me and my bike a ride back to Carlton, where I rode the final 27km home. Very generous of you, mate.
Last edited by victor on Sun 04 Jul 2010, 2:00 pm, edited 2 times in total.