I finally got the opportunity on the weekend to ride two roads I’ve heard so much about and had on my ‘bucket list’ for some time – Reefton Spur and the Acheron Way, both located near Warburton in Victoria’s Yarra Rangers National Park.
A good cycling friend had invited a few of us up to a mate’s well-appointed sprawling farm property in Gruyere in the Yarra Valley for a weekend of food, wine, cycling and supposedly mid-February sunshine. Having spent Friday night chatting over a bottle of Coldstream Hills Pinot Noir and after a busy work-week, we were off to a slow start, happy to enjoy a relaxed breakfast of freshly rolled oats in Pip’s Schnitzer grain-mill and freshly brewed coffee overlooking the rolling green hills of the Yarra Ranges.
It was 10am by the time we saddled up and set off from Warburton, rolling east along Woods Point Rd towards McMahons Creek and the Reefton Spur. Gentle undulations surrounded by towering gums, the sound of our tyres on the road and the hum of relaxed conversation only rarely interrupted by a passing vehicle we could enjoy the pleasure of the bike and the scenery. The ride up to Reefton is gradual climb for around 25kms, mostly around 4% incline with only a few very short pinches at 8%. A very comfortable gradient to roll along and enjoy the conversation and the scenery, without ever feeling too far out of the comfort zone or running out of gears.
It was a chilly 8 deg celcius as we reached the top of the spur, meeting a few other cyclists along the way. We opted not to take the turn off to Lake Mountain (an additional 10km climb that we'll save for another day) but descended steeply to Marysville to refuel and warm up in the bakery at the 60km mark.
A short sharp climb and descent took us out of Marysville and we turned on to the stunning Acharon Way just before Narbethong. Hard to believe the cycling could get even better, the trees taller, the road narrower and quieter - an almost other-worldly experience, gently rolling uphill flanked by towering gums beside the Acheron river. The road turns to dirt approximately 20km after the turn-off. Good conditions of well compressed gravel/mud without too many loose rocks meant the riding was relatively easy and non-technical with no problem at all on our standard 25mm road tyres.
After 90km, the climbing was done, breaks in the trees opened up views with glimpses of the valley below. A short section of the descent is on dirt before we joined the Mt Donna Buang Road for a fast sweeping descent back to Warburton and excellent pizzas and beers at Little Joes in Warby. 105km and just under 2000m of vertical - a near perfect loop!
Thanks Pip, Em, Leesh and Pepe for the ride - it's one to remember!