The Mt Donna Buang Snowhere To Be Seen Ride.
For all the lack of snow (although there was no shortage of frost, and Snuffy swore he saw a tiny bit of snow in a ditch somewhere
), the ride was very enjoyable for all of us, I think, although I suspect some of us went home feeling sorer than others, as there was a wide range of fitness levels represented by the 15 of us.
For once, I didn't have the heaviest bike
, Snuffy's definitely got me beat there, with the touring bike he brought. I noticed this while hoisting his bike over the gate at the top of the unsealed part of Donna Buang Rd, where it meets the other part. I reckon it's not the frame, but all that Brooks equipment weighing you down, mate!
He had the saddle, saddle pack, cork handlebar plugs, etc., all Brooks. I was still in the minority for using mudguards, although I seem to recall Heather was using them also.
I chose to ride to and from Warburton for this ride, and clocked up a nice km and climbing total for the day:
Below, the flattish, squiggly bit just before the main ascent is the O'Shannassy Aqueduct Trail, which stays more or less on 300m elevation between Yuonga Rd and Don Rd, so it's a nice little warm-up before the main climb.
The route I followed to get to Warburton was straight down the highway from Ringwood North to Lilydale (hardly any traffic at that hour on a Sunday), then along the Lilydale-Warburton Rail Trail to Warburton. I got up at 4:20am, which is about the time I normally get up for work, anyway, except this time substituting Monday for Sunday. I left at 5:20 and arrived at COG 2 Cafe in Warburton around 8:10.
Zoomed in to the mountain part of the route.(I've made the images a bit larger than on previous ride reports (1280 x 960 this time), so click on the thumbnails to view the larger images)
The first few hours of the ride were in darkness, as sunrise wasn't until about 7:15. I hadn't ridden the Warby trail at night before, so this was a nice change
. I was using my dynamo front light, reasonably bright just by itself (it's a Schmidt Edelux), plus 1 of the 2 Moon X-Power 500 USB-rechargeable lights I brought with me. These are great, very bright at full power, and just what I needed to light up the trail, which for long stretches is sheltered from any nearby street lighting and totally unlit. Its battery charge lasted until it started getting light, and after that just the dynamo light was sufficient. The other one of the USB lights I used during the descent, just for extra visibility. I guess I still wasn't as loaded down as fattima, though, with his beer cache
Start of Warby Trail:
COG Cafe at Mt Evelyn:
It was a chilly morning, about 2-3°C in Ringwood, but Coldstream reported about a -4°C minimum, so not surprisingly the trail was frosty, misty and bloody cold
My hands were completely numb by the time I got to Warburton; when I tried to take a photo a few km out of Warburton, I failed, because my hands just didn't have the coordination needed to hold the camera and press the shutter button
I should have used the plastic gloves I took with me for the mountain descent. Even though I had short knicks on, my legs were fine, since they were doing all the hard work. My upper half had on a jersey and 2 waterproof cycling jackets. Part of the way to Warburton, I took a sip from 1 of the 2 Powerades, only to find it had started freezing and was now all slushy
Cold & frosty:
Lake by the trail, somewhere (I think) around Seville East or Woori Yallock:
I arrived in Warburton around 8:15, then tried to stay warm until the others arrived. It's hard keeping an attack of the shivers at bay when you're not cycling and the temperature is not much above zero, but fortunately the carpark was well-lit by the morning sun:
Near the 9am start time, we were missing a few riders, so Snuffy rode down to the Thomas Rd carpark to see if the others had gone there instead (as it was the start point for previous Snow Rides), and sure enough there they were, so we rode down to meet them, then a few minutes later headed off on the ride:
^^^ No, I wasn't riding with my head tilted to the right the entire day
, it looks like my helmet-camera mount straps need adjusting. So you can tell the digital camera shots from the helmet-camera video snapshots easily enough, even if the lack of date/time stamps on the latter didn't give it away
Heading up the slightly steep Yuonga Rd towards the O'Shannassy Aqueduct Trail entrance:
While riding the trail, we encountered a pedestrian, who no doubt has seen it all before (yep, another bloody group of lycra-clad hill-climbing fanatics
We even saw 1 cyclist coming the other way, but none after that; too cold for most, I guess.
The scenery on the trail was breathtaking, although we couldn't pay too much attention to it, as the trail contained numerous large stones and small (and not so small) tree branches, so we had to be careful, lest we lose spokes to them
Chatting with Snuffy:
The trail ends. At this point, there's a very steep descent down to Don Rd. In 2010, this wasn't yet sealed and was muddy and treacherous. This time, it had a fairly hard-packed layer of gravel laid down, but even so, I almost lost it heading down
We regrouped again at the bottom of the hill at the trail's end, then rode up Don Rd to regroup again at the gate at the western end of Donna Buang Rd, closed to traffic (motor traffic
) at this time of year. While riding up Don Rd with Tony & Brian, I noticed that my Garmin Edge 705 had spontaneously turned itself off
, but a check at home showed that it was only off for about 650m of the trip. It only happens once or twice a year (I've had this Garmin for over 3.5 years, now), but it's annoying when it does happen.
Start of Donna Buang Rd, looking beyond the closed gate:
Regrouping at the Donna Buang Rd closed gate:
We then started the slog up the unsealed part of Donna Buang Rd, which was in excellent condition this year. On the 2010 Snow Ride, it was a lot wetter, muddy and softer, but it was hard-packed this year, almost like a sealed road. The view was spectacular, also:
There was still plenty of water around, in the form of (sometimes frozen) puddles filling the potholes (see Snuffy's photos), and also waterfalls:
Part of the way up the unsealed Donna Buang Rd, one of the riders got a puncture (sorry, can't recall the guy's name
), so we all pretended we were stopping to give him moral support, and tried to act nonchalant and keep the heavy breathing to a minimum
. While he was repairing the puncture, I couldn't resist giving a short (but loud) toot on my AirZound horn, and muttering something about "damn cyclists, always blocking the road, holding up traffic, etc.
. Any excuse to use it, really.
Mossy trees at the puncture-repair spot:
The local authorities generously provided us with an optional quick way down, in case we were in a hurry to get back to hot coffee & muffins
The view from that spot was pretty good, so no surprise that it's a hang-gliding take-off point:
By the time we got to the closed gate at the top of the western part of Donna Buang Rd, we were separated by a fair distance from the slower riders, so unfortunately no group photos of all 15 of us at the gate. I take part responsibility for that, as I was one of the ones who rode on ahead to the summit then headed back down to Warburton, due to time constraints.
Up at the top (taken by Brian; thanks, mate
After having a quick cuppa (warm soup generously shared by Brian, although it must have made his ride up there a lot harder), I donned cloth gloves, with plastic kitchen gloves underneath, and Brian & I headed back down. Note: the combination of plastic kitchen gloves under cloth riding gloves is definitely recommended for Mt Donna Buang descents this time of year; the wind-chill cannot be underestimated!
My edited video of the descent (see link at bottom of this post) shows some of the other riders heading up as we headed down. Just below Cement Creek, I misjudged my lane position and speed going around a right-hand bend (see approx. 4:25 onwards in the video), and almost ended up going down the mountain the quick way
. Luckily, the rough, muddy ground next to the bitumen slowed me down enough so I regained control. I'll definitely be more careful next time, as that section below Cement Creek is well-known as being a bit treacherous. In the video snapshot below, I was still moving at about 20km/h.Ooops
Brian & I got back to Warburton, and after he generously offered to give me a lift home, but I was determined not to be a marshmallow this time, so I bid him farewell, and got stuck into some coffee, cake and pie at Crundish, my favourite Warburton Cafe. I definitely recommend this place; the rear sundeck is great on warm, sunny days, and the interior is quite nice, too.
I left Warburton at about 2:30pm, and rode at a fairly relaxed pace, partly enforced by the large numbers of family groups pootling along the path. The bike bell got a bit of a workout (no, I wasn't mean enough to use the AirZound on them
). It's good to see large numbers cycling on these paths on weekends, although there's a big difference between this and sharing roads with cars; that's a leap that some people choose never to make, and I can't blame them, really
. During the first 30 minutes or so of the ride home along the trail, I had to make a conscious effort to relax my neck and shoulder muscles, as they were tensed up and hurting, caused by the cold of the day's riding. The pain wore off soon enough, though, and the rest of the ride along the trail was relaxing and a fair bit warmer than earlier
(although probably still only about 15°C
The lake again, this time warmed up a bit:
After getting to Lilydale, the hill-climbing began again (shut up legs
). The trickiest bit of the ride from Lilydale to Ringwood is just west of the Maroondah Hwy / Croydon Rd intersection, where the road (a) gets an 8% grade, (b) 80km/h speed limit, and (c) does a left-hand bend with a steep hill right next to the edge of the left lane. Definitely not my favourite spot for cycling, but there's really no practical alternative that I can see, as the access roads are not continuous; if they were, they would just become de-facto highway lanes, and their purpose would be defeated.
I got home at about 5:10pm, 11 hours and 50 minutes after leaving, and just about on sunset as planned
To finish off: here's the video showing 10 minutes of highlights from our ride along the O'Shannassy Aqueduct Trail, which took us 1 hour 15 minutes to traverse: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=uCOPW070-DU
, and the 6 minute video showing part of Brian's and my descent down to Warburton. As I mentioned, this shows some of the other "Snow Riders" heading up: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=yPXQxn-EmnI