Late in 2017 an email was sent out from Audax Australia calling for new ride proposals for 2018. Specifically they asked for rides that would showcase the various regions of Victoria, and were looking for rides including dirt and gravel.
Not one to shy away from epic rides, Martin Grannas took Audax up on their offer and proposed a 100km gravel brevet. His description: Quiet fire roads, rail trail and farm roads through and beside the Wombat State Forest. Hilly first 60 km, last 45 km flatter and more downhill. Unsupported. 15 km sealed out of 105 km total. Unsupported but checkpoints at Blackwood, Lyonville and Trentham, all of which have shops, water, toilets. Starts 20 min after 1st Vline train from Melbourne. CX or MTB recommended.
A few riders went out with Marty in September 2017 to recon the ride but unfortunately I was out of state and couldn’t join them. Marty set up another recon so that I could join in. Here’s the story in pictures.
Note: picture credit also to Gareth Evens: the Melbourne Randonneur.
Part 1: The hilly first 60
The first 60km was exactly as Marty had said it would be: hilly. By this point we had been on the go for over 4 hours and had covered the majority of the climbing (around 1500m). The roads were incredibly dusty, and while I was super happy I’d brought the MTB during the descending sections, I was getting very very tired of lugging this beast up all the climbs. I was starting to feel, well, done. Soft sandy ascents due to recent gradings and pebbly descents made for hard work. Gorgeous scenery yes. Great company yes. But I was cooked.
Part 2: The flatter 45km
Rolling around the corner from the 60km mark we hit the rail trail from Lyonville to Trentham, and between the descent into Lyonville, the scenic rail trail, and Red Beard Bakery in Trentham we all perked up again.
After being saved by coffee and baked goodness we headed out of Trentham for a few more climbs (shorter) and fire trail (less dusty now) towards Gisborne.
With one more long windy road and a little tarmac to finish, the Wonderful Wombat 100 was complete!
The official ride will take place Friday September 28th, 2018, the holiday before the AFL Grand Final. Bookings can be made via the Audax website. Cost: $6 for Audax members, $16 for non-members. See: https://www.audax.org.au/portal/rides/calendar. Would suggest a CX as the ideal bike (rather than the MTB) as long as you can handle the bone jarring descents.
Six riders completed the entire 100 circuit:
- Martin Grannas (ride organiser)
- Garath Evans (Melbourne Randonneur)
- Jon Thornton
- Matthew Turner
- D’Wayne Saunders
- and me
The other four riders did the same distance but varied the route based on their start locations:
- Mark Rigby (did the official route: we skipped out and did Gibbs Access and Chambers Rd instead, which won’t be possible in September as it’ll likely be underwater)
- David Mast (started in Kyneton so headed North after Trentham)
- Blair Calvert (same as Masty)
- Steve Baxter (left after 40km for more single track before heading home)
- 102.7km with 1800m elevation
- Gravel versus tarmac: 87km versus 15km
- Moving time: 5 hours 34 minutes
- Elapsed time: 7 hours 3 minutes
- Nice buns consumed: 2