Yes, it's back again and despite being a (relatively) fat, unfit slob this year, the snow calls and the ride must go on. For those who are new to the forums, this is our annual snow ride up Mount Donna Buang, via the aqueduct trail and Don Road.
This is one of the toughest rides I do every year primarily because of the weather. Riding in the cold eats into your energy stores like nothing else. Be prepared, make sure your bike is in good condition and bring lots of food. That said, last year, we had excellent weather - minimal precipitation and very little snow on the roads, so it made for a relatively easy ride. Still, we're in a semi-alpine region with few bail out options and basically zero facilities until the summit.
2010 - Snuffy, Harng Goh, sidewaysandfallover, victor, Doujsa, MattyP, cleatus, vwong, smc, Errol, Ro(w?h?)an, Andrew, RodC, weg
The biggest year yet, but also one of the easiest rides. Now I don't purposely do this ride so I can suffer, but this ride was quite possibly a bit too easy this year. Relatively mild temperatures, a very high snow line, minimal precipitation and no snow on the roads.
2009 - Snuffy, smc
It was absolutely bucketing down at the start of the ride. Being quite late in the season, we had to contend with a few 4WDs, but they helped to clear the snow and give us some road to ride on. smc may chipped a tooth on a frozen Cadel bar. In the end, the snow won out and we had to walk the final distance to make it back to the main road. Possibly the toughest snow ride I've ever done.
2008 - Group #1 - Snuffy, Harng Goh, sidewaysandfallover, Sandy - Group #2 - Whstlr, Gearfreak, Kim
A damp start, but not too bad overall. sidewaysandfallover decided to wear a rain jacket and shorts, while Sandy and myself had backpacks full of snow gear. Near the top, we discovered an igloo that someone had built in the middle of the road.
Saturday 2 July
Meeting on the grassy banks of the Yarra (marked as Thomas Avenue) in Warburton.
Due to the numbers this year, there will be TWO groups rolling out of Warburton, with the goal of meeting during the climb and regrouping at the top.
First group - 8:00am - The Snow Ploughs
I'll be leading out the first group. This group will take it nice and easy for the warm-up along the aqueduct trail. I suspect this will be the larger group and we will be stopping until we pick up the tail marker at each of the official regroup points.
Second group - 8:30am - Snow Bunnies
The second group will be faster and probably smaller. I'm hoping that they'll catch the Snow Ploughs somewhere after we've turned off Don Road and have hit the climb proper. Given that this will probably be the faster, more experienced group, I'll leave this bunch to look after themselves regarding regroups. If you want to pick up a map of the route, I'd suggest that you arrive in Warburton early enough to get one off me before the first group rolls off.
This ride is likely to go ahead irrespective of weather. Harden up chumps.
Last year's ride was roughly 5 hours and 15 minutes ELAPSED time. Given that we have larger numbers this year, I'd expect that the total elapsed time might be a little bit longer, however I'm trying to reduce the number of regroup stops that we have to keep things moving along.
Stage 1 - Warburton to Don Road via O'Shannassy aqueduct
From the carpark, we will head to the Mount Donna Buang road climb and ascend Donna Buang Road to join on to the aqueduct trail. Expect to go straight into the red zone as we hit the first kicker before you've even warmed up. But that's okay, because there's plenty of time to recover along the aqueduct trail - flat and a good opportunity to catch a draft off one of the stronger riders. Trail is fairly smooth however leaf litter and the occasional puddle will keep things interesting. Watch out for the descent at the end of the trail down to Don Road - it's quite steep and can be slippery.
Leaving the aqueduct trail, turn right up Don Road. We find ourselves narrow country bitumen roads. As there will be cars in this section of the ride, LIGHTS ARE NEEDED. The group will break up here as the road kicks up. Look out for the signs pointing towards Mount Donna Buang.
Minor - Brief stop at the top of the climb as we get on to the aqueduct trail.
Major - Regroup at the intersection of Don Road and Mount Donna Buang Road. This is an intersection of a main road, so DO NOT STAND ON THE ROAD.
Stage 2 - Mount Donna Buang road, up to the gates of the national park
A relatively short stage - turn right up Donna Buang Road and we start the climb proper. Some of the parts here can be quite steep, so it's a good taste of what the rest of the climb will be like. Not likely to be many cars after this point, since this road ends up ahead with locked gates. It's unlikely to be a clear day, so the lookouts will probably just be fogged over. Last chance to bail on roads open to cars. Once we go past the gate, there's no opportunity for a pick up.
Minor - Brief stop when we hit the gates of the park to give people the chance to bail if they need to.
Stage 3 - Donna Buang Road behind the gates
This is where the riding gets tough - muddy, slippery and rought and eventually you enter the snowline. The bitumen turns to smooth dirt, which can at some parts get a bit more bumpy. The climb continues quite solidly through here. The best part is that with the gates closed for winter, there will be no cars in this section. The worst part is that with the gates closed for winter, no 4WDs will go through clearing the snow for you. There won't be much chance to regroup along this section, since people will be trying their best to keep warm. When you hit the bitumen again, you know it's not far until you're back on public roads and eventually you'll find the other gate, where we will regroup.
Stop when you feel like you need to stop
Major - Regroup BEHIND the gates before we get back on to the main road up from Warburton to the summit. This is where we will TRY to take a group photo.
Stage 4 - Homeward bound...almost
Before we go homeward bound, turn left and head up the hill to the carparks and hot food van. This final climb sucks after all the climbing you've just done. And after coming this far, you really need to complete the final ascent to the summit after the closed gates. After this, it's on with as many layers of clothes as possible for the descent. Smooth bitumen the whole way back to town.
There will be a special marker that the last rider in each group must display. This will ensure that we know who the last rider on the road is and we don't leave anyone behind.
MAKE SURE YOU PASS THIS ON IF YOU PASS SOMEONE.
Traditionally, we've always done this ride on mountain bikes. The terrain is not very technical, so leave your long travel dually at home and bring your hardtail or rigid. Of course since CX is the new fixed, there are more and more CX bikes out there. Last year, we saw that this ride is quite doable on CX bikes and tourers (which I never doubted).
That said, last year, we were all beaten on the climb by Andrew who was riding a dually.
The key to enjoying this ride is staying dry. All of your waterproof and windproof gear will help on this ride. A change of key items such as socks and gloves can make all the difference, especially for the descent. Items you could need are
- Food - eat lots because the cold will sap your energy
- Lights - You will NEED these for the public roads.
- Food - Very important to note that anything which is "hard" (eg Winners bars) in normal weather will be rock solid in the snow
- Fenders - Because you don't want to look like this.
- All of your usual spares - Be self sufficient! *looks at Harng Goh* There are no cycle angels or convenient bike shops to pick up spares.
- Extra waterpoofing - Getting wet sucks. This is one ride where you want to pull out all of the plastic bag, gaffa tape and dishwashing gloves tricks to stay dry.
- Wind proofing - The descent will be cold. Very cold. Stick a copy of L'equipe up your jersey if you're a true pro. For the rest of us, windproofing helps a LOT.
- Money - It's very likely that the hot food van at the summit will be operating if you need to refuel, but there will be a cafe run afterwards too.
Alpine region @ The BoM
Mt Donna Buang @ ski.com.au
14 day forecast @ ski.com.au
Given that I haven't got a date yet, I'm just taking expressions of interest at this point.
Who's in? (and please specify which weekends in July you prefer)