Hill Climb for #HorseRide – Mt. Donna Buang

Last Tuesday was Melbourne Cup Day – a public holiday in Melbourne – and as I have no interest in horse racing, I thought it would be good to get out for a bike ride.

I posed the question to a few ppl on Twitter (“who’s riding on Melb Cup Day ?”) – with the potentially confusing tag of "#HorseRide”.  

NO, we’re not going for a Horse ride, but a Bike ride !

This tag was stolen from @mattunderground and @scootabug_au talking about their up-coming Boxing Day MTB ride as a “#TurkeyRide” – LOL !

I had a reply from @jentopia, who said that she and a bunch of people were meeting in Warburton – and planning to do the Mt. Donna Buang ride. 

Another Melbourne cycling dude (@sfortuyn) was keen to come along too – he’d recently completed the Southern Exposure ride – 180km of MTB’ing – in 12 hours.  Amazing to read his blog post about the day.

I’d done a few rides to Mt. Dandenong – and the recent 100km’er ride from Sorrento – so I thought I’d tag along – how hard could it be, right ?  

And, get to meet-up with a few Twitter people – for an added bonus.


I started chatting to a few people about the ride – and was a little nervous about how I’d go – have a read of this – and you’ll see why…!  

Excited AND nervous – a good ride awaited me.

The start – heading off

We all met in Warburton about 8.30am on Tuesday morning – and said hello’s, chatted a bit, and checked tyres, etc.


* We’re heading somewhere up “there” – in the background (@sfortyun getting ready)

There was NINE of us in total, we all rolled out as a group, and onto the main road heading out of town. 

After only 5 mins riding, there is the turn off to Mt. Donna Buang – and then the ‘uphill’ began !

Mt. Donna Buang start

Admittedly, I was one of the least experienced cyclists of the bunch, but even *I* was surprised at how quickly everyone steamed away ahead.

After a few corners, I couldn’t see ANY of the bunch, and so it was down to a solo grind – up some fairly tough & winding uphill corners.

I had to stop every few KM’s – I was starting to think that this was a bad idea, and I was biting off more than I could chew – but caught my breath, and pushed on.

There wasn’t much traffic, which was great – and some great tree ferns, and thick, rich, cold air – lots of oxygen !   

As I passed by the sign for ‘Cement Creek’, I had a chuckle to myself – and thought “HTFU” – LOL !

The ‘middle’ section of the ride is a little of a blur for me, as I was in the grind mode, and just plugging along – stopping every 10 minutes or so – to cool off a bit, and to take some photos (!)


* Turnoff to Healesville / Mt. Donna Buang…


* Had ridden from left of screen – around the hairpin – and winding upward…

The road started get very foggy, and fairly wet on the surface.


* Looking UP the road ahead


* Same spot – looking back DOWN the road

I started meeting some of the group on the way back DOWN the hill – so I was hoping/figuring that it wouldn’t be too much further to the top of the hill.

I’d covered about 12km in total thus far – and saw a sign that it was only 3km to go – and a massive car park – but only 1-2 cars – instead of 400-500…


* Summit – 3 km to go (met @jentopia here – as she was heading DOWN)

Finally, I got to a sign that said only 1km to go – and the end was in sight.

The trouble is, it actually gets steeper right at the end – yep !


* Mt Donna Buang Summit – 1 km

By now, I was into the ‘determined’ mode of riding – I’d come this far, not going to give up – not this close to the top.

I’d been riding in the the lower gear for well over an hour-and-a-half by now – with some breaks, and standing up to stretch/pedal – to ease the muscles a little.

And then, appearing out-of-the-fog – was a sign saying “Welcome to Mt. Donna Buang” – wahoo !


Still not at the very top of the summit yet – so I pushed onwards a little more.


And – then I saw “FINISH” written on the road – and the observation tower – not that there was much of a view, with all the fog !



Got to the top – time to turn around (heading down)

Nothing much to do at the top – so I turned around and headed DOWN.   Some of the people coming down had warned to ‘be careful’ – as the road was fairly wet/greasy.

Also – it was damn cold…!

Without pedalling to keep warm – and cooling/drying sweat – and the wind+speed of racing down the hill – I got fairly cold and chilly almost instantly.

I remember my teeth actually chattering, and fingers/arms feeling a little numb – as I was holding tight on the brakes.   I actually had to stop at one point – and shake my arms and hands – to warm them up again !

And – I was surprised at how long it took to ride down – ie. how much I’d actually ridden *UP* !   

I heard a voice say “faarcken hell !” – and it was me !   Yep – I’d said it out loud.  

Over a dozen times, I thought to myself – “jeez, did I ride UP this whole way !”

When I finally got to the bottom, I stopped at the turn off – a lot warmer now, no fog, and “I’d done it”…    A surreal feeling – a little dazed & exhausted – but feeling pretty OK.

My phone beeped just before I got back into town – ppl letting me know where the cafe was – with everyone getting into some food/coffee.

Lots of great chit-chat over big plates of bacon and eggs – and a few coffees.    It hadn’t exactly been a “social ride” – after the first 5 minutes or so – but was certainly great to hang out and talk with everyone.

Thanks to @jentopia for extending the invitation to come along – and for everyone else for making me feel so welcome – and not too much of a newbie – LOL !

The data never lies

Checking the data and stats via STRAVA shows that I had taken 1hr 50min to get to the summit – I’m sure my time will drop if/when I do the ride again.  

Certainly, if I try to keep riding without stopping – and take LESS photos – ha ha !

Here’s a link to the ride/map – Mt. Donna Buang – Tuesday, 01/11/2011

“The numbers” show that there were 1227m of climbing – in less than 40km of riding.

By comparison – I’d ridden 1088m when I went to the Dandenongs last time – in 60km of riding.  

Mt.Donna Buang was 10% MORE climbing – in 2/3 the distance.


And – while it took me 1hr 50min to get to the top – it only took 45min to get down again (!)

The other folk on the ride had completed the climb in ~1hr 06min – and had actually ridden up – and down again – and were actually back at the cafe BEFORE I’d gotten to the top (!)

Final thoughts

In hindsight, part of me thinks that this was an overly ambitious hill climb ride to attempt “so soon” – but a challenge that I completed – and can be proud of.

I think I’d expected it to be more of a social ride – like recent MTB group rides at Lysterfield – as opposed to doing 95% of the time ‘on my own’.

But – was certainly great to have the ‘group’ awaiting at the coffee shop – I certainly wouldn’t have attempted riding Mt. Donna Buang on my own – or without a group of people to join up with.

Next time (?) – I’ll be more prepared – and now have an appreciation of what to expect !

Same time next year ?



4 thoughts on “Hill Climb for #HorseRide – Mt. Donna Buang

  1. Ben Sartori (@Bender6amer) November 5, 2011 / 6:18 pm

    Tremendous effort mate. Yes, hill climbing is rarely a social event as its hard to speak when you’re in the hurt box. But you have the right attitude which is to just keep going – it’s always going to have an end

  2. Matt de Neef November 7, 2011 / 9:47 am

    Great stuff! Which climb are you going to attempt next? 😛

  3. jaffa November 7, 2011 / 12:12 pm

    Great effort. Try King lake next time.. A longer ride, but a nice climb. Not as long as Donna…

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