LaBaw Baw Day 200KM×

Cycling is an odd sport. For those who don't ride, the idea of catching a regional train at 7am on a public holiday then riding 200km over some of the countries hardest terrain seems slightly crazy.  However, for those who understand the joys of cycling, nothing could sound sweeter!  

A friend Tom, who wasn’t entirely sure that all the terrain was suitable, derived the idea for this ride. A challenge nonetheless, which was to include one of the hardest climbs in Australia, Mt Baw Baw.  A Facebook event was started, many were invited and eight mad-legends turned up. Even numbers, Awesome.

Meeting at Caulfield station early on Labour Day public holiday, we waited anxiously for our V-Line service to Moe. Luxurious? Not really. Spacious and clean? Yes. An hour and a half later the train dropped us behind beautiful Moe. First item on the agenda, find coffee!

Being a public holiday didn't provide much of a (any) choice. The Moe Hot Bread shop was open and coffee orders were placed.  Our lovely elderly barista worked her magic with the instant coffee machine. Obviously she knew how to press the right buttons as it produced a surprisingly better than expect coffee and the quality would be on par with a Starbucks which Americans' seem to love.

Time to ride! Heading due north, leaving around 9am we set off. Leaving the shops and passing by the Jadyn Memorial (Dan Strauss made us) behind we approached the rolling hills and green farmland. We were extremely lucky with the weather as the sun came out and the gentle pace allowed us to get to one another a little better. A relatively mixed level of ages, the group had a few Baw Baw virgins as well as Tim McGrath (the Wizard), who has ridden it no less than 11 times!

Green hills

Before we knew it we reached the surrounds of Icy Creek, the roads became narrower proving to be a spectacular riding landscape.  Snaking our way through this terrain was breathtaking, however the occasional log truck charging towards us reminded us that we weren't completely alone. Finally reaching Tanjil Bren the seriousness of this ride began to settle in. For anyone who hasn't ridden Mt Baw Baw before there are no words that can describe how hard this incline is. There is no easy way around it, the road kicks up with an average of 7.8% for 12.5km of pain.  

Fergus claimed line honours for the KOM, however due to a problem with his Garmin no official time was recorded.  He obviously found the climb too tough and hitchhiked to the top.

Finally snibbling to the top, it provided a quick opportunity to take in the view, down a can of Coke, question the state of mind of the kiosk lady and then bomb down the hill.  An extremely fast decent, this isn't one for the faint hearted.  Reaching speeds over 85km/hr the decent lasts as long as Eddie Murphy's latest movie in cinemas. However if you are happy to replace your brake pads after each ride, it is possible to descend with caution.

Perfect conditions

Heading towards Noojee for lunch, the group split.  Chris who ambitiously tackled Baw Baw with a 23-cog lost touch on the undulating terrain and Carson blew a tire on a crater like pothole.  We decided to meet up at the Michelin-Star 'Red Parrot Cafe'.  This gem provided us with a degustation menu of "Sandwich à poulet grillé avec du fromage" and many "double café express".  Food can make you feel amazing.  Especially after 130km and 3000 metres of climbing!

The downhill roll into Yarra Junction was reached with an average speed of 34km/hour.  With Lillydale on the radar, the speed increased.  A few were dropped and we eventually made it to our destination in one piece.  Whilst the Warburton Highway isn't the best way to finish off 7+hours in the saddle, it got the group back in one piece!

Rides like this don't happen often.  Looking back and initially hesitating, I was uncertain what it had in store.  Thankfully I was apart of this ride.  I made it to the top of Mt Baw Baw. I ate shit-loads of food but I loved every minute of it.  Admittedly this ride may not be everyone’s cup of tea but there was no way I was ever going to stay in Moe for longer than 15 minutes!

A few stats!