Visiting : Mt Dandenong, Silvan Dam
Distance : ~70km
When : Sunday 19th December, 10am @ Fed Square
Where : Click here for route map
A nice cruisy one to finish off the year. If you've been wanting to check out these rides but were turned off by the distance and/or early start time, this one's for you. It's relatively short, it starts at a reasonable hour and it still hits some awesome terrain.
We'll head out east on Canterbury Road and then hit Basin-Olinda Road for the first (dirt) climb of the day. Then it's past the amazing Woolrich Lookout before bombing down through the national park to Silvan Dam. We'll take Olinda Creek Road back up to Kalorama and then cut across the front face of the mountain before closing the loop at the Basin roundabout.
Depending on who turns up and how everyone's feeling we can bail out on the train at Boronia or keep riding back to the city. Cruisy fun to farewell another year of TWBD.
A strange sight
turnout for this one - 12 of us rolled out of Fed Square at 10:15am and
hit the boring part out to the suburbs. Weather was fine and the pace
was a little higher than usual as we rolled two abreast and chatted our
way out east.
good spread of bikes this time - roadie, MTB, CX (both geared and SS),
tourer, street fixed, 50's era fat-tired 650b "le mad max" cyclotouriste
- we must have looked like a pretty weird peleton but, to paraphrase
the great uni-balled one, it really isn't about the bike - we were out
to ride, not make sense.
got to the Basin roundabout in reasonable time and hit the shops for
fuel. The old dunny block has been bulldozed but there's a fancy new one
just up the road - "Oo-la-la, don't forget to wash your hands
First dirt climb of the day
up, we hit the Basin-Olinda Road climb. Nice hard-packed dirt road -
enough moisture in it to keep it tacky but not enough to make it slick
and sucky. Excellent. We strung out on the climb and each went our own
pace, forming little groups and chatting on the way up. Such a beautiful
part of the world.
regrouped at the top and hung out in the park waiting for the
back-markers. A young couple were at the other picnic table while their
dogs were running around all over the place chasing a ball. The little
staffy was playing keepings-off the kelpie and then I grabbed the ball
and threw it for them and the kelpie kept bringing it right back to me.
Hehe, good pups.
everyone had had a good rest we pushed on up the hill to Olinda proper,
got through the tourist trap main street and pretty soon we were
fanging down a dirt road to Woolrich Lookout.
Lookout is awesome. It looks out across the back of Mt Dandenong
towards Mt Donna Buang etc. to the north and east. There's a big car
park, benches and a rotunda that looks down and out across the RJ Hamer
Arboretum (tree garden) and down across the national park towards Silvan
Dam, though you can't actually see the dam from there. We stopped and
took in the view, which wasn't much because it was pretty cloudy. We
hadn't been rained on yet but it had been overcast all morning. A few of
us took photos and I think one or two put on rain jackets at this point
because there was a chill in the air and we were at the top of Silvan
Road ready for the fast descent down to the dam.
north across the back of Mt Dandenong there was plenty of low cloud in
the trees and also the unmistakable dark vertical streaks of a big slab
of rain coming down not far away. I noted that it was moving on a
collision course with us and saw a faint rainbow in its depths - awww
pretty. And so we rolled out, bone dry and in good spirits, looking
forward to the long dirt road descent we'd worked so hard for.
Express elevator to hell
it was fast and pretty dry, I let the bike go faster and faster, just a
few nervous touches of the brakes when approaching the corners. I was
happy to let it roll as fast as it wanted to as long as I could see a
clear, car-less runout on the corners. My only real concern was
pinch-flatting on the corrugations - I was running 35mm knobbies at
35/40psi which is great for smoothing out gravel-sized stuff but when
you hit a long section of deep, hard corrugations at high speed you just
have to hang on and hope that you don't bash the rims too hard. Yow!
flying down the hill, scanning for loose patches, trying to pick lines
through corrugated corners and then... spot, spot, spot, there's that
rain! Everything started getting darker the further down into the
national park we went and pretty soon we were flying headlong into the
storm that we'd seen up from the lookout.
One minute it was relatively dry, the next we were soaked to the skin,
dodging puddles and watching out for slick clay on the corners. There
was lightning in the trees. And then we hit the hail. And then the hail
hit us! Yow! I was in shorts and short sleeves and it was stinging like a
bastard. There was nothing to do but laugh out loud and keep bombing
down, down to the bottom. We rolled on until the descent petered out and
stopped to regroup. The hail gave way to heavy rain and, one by one,
the rest of the group came sloshing down the hill, absolutely soaked.
Finally we were all accounted for and we took off to find shelter at Silvan Dam and work out what to do next.
one descent had turned us into a miserable looking bunch. All huddled
together in the doorway of the public toilets shivering and dripping
water everywhere, half of us in short sleeves, shaking with the cold but
still joking. Spirits were still high but I'm sure people were
thinking, "This is not what I signed up for!" One minute we were on top
of the world, the next we were in damage control mode and when the
option of a bailout to Lilydale station was floated, there wasn't much
in the way of resistance.
the plan was to take the aqueduct trail, join up with Warby trail and
take that straight to Lilydale station. Allegedly, the aqueduct trail
was "all flat" but, as we discovered, it's not. It was still pissing
down heavily and we were bashing through the sodden trails, slipping
around all over the place, a few hill walk-downs and and walk-ups and
some navigational discussions and we pushed on and on through the bush,
completely soaked, thoroughly covered in mud and loving every minute of
Well, I was anyway.
Though it was bloody cold.
strung out a bit here and lost touch with each other. Some of us were
hanging at the back of the group to make sure everyone was accounted for
and confusion occurred and we (the back-markers) ended up overtaking
everyone and getting to Lilydale first. A few phone calls and we
discovered the rest of the group had stopped at Cog Cafe in Mt Evelyn
and was sitting around drinking coffee - bastardos!
eventually we all regrouped at Lilydale station and packed our filthy
bikes and selves onto the train. The whole back half of the rear
carriage was just mud and bikes and wet dog smell and laughs all the way
back to the city.
in a nice outer-eastern suburbs moment that topped off the day nicely
for me, a drunk old coot gets on at one of the stations, squeezes past
our heap of muddy, filthy bikes and says in a bleary-eyed ocker drawl, "Where have you lot been? There's shit all over your bikes and now there's f**kin' shit all over me!"
everyone who turned up, I hope you all had fun despite the weather. I
guess for a "Come and try" ride it really was a good introduction to
TWBD - I always put a lot of planning into these rides but somehow they
never quite go exactly to plan and that's what makes them fun, I think.
Oh well, beats Beach Road any day.