The 1 in 20

3rd category climbLength: 6.8km
Average gradient: 4.0%
Elevation gain: 274m

1in20 - Copy

Introduction

The 1 in 20 is Melbourne’s most popular cycling climb. Winding its way up Mountain Highway from The Basin to Sassafras this gentle climb provides a fantastic way for cyclists of all abilities to test themselves.

The climb gets its name from the average gradient with which it climbs up into the Dandenong Ranges National Park. Like so many of the roads running through the Dandenongs, this section of Mountain Highway is truly breathtaking with its wide variety of native flora and fauna.

The start

The 1 in 20 climb begins at the 60km/h signs at the top end of the shops in the Basin. The start line is marked on the road in yellow paint.

The finish

The climb finishes at the 50km/h speed signs just before the township of Sassafras. The finish is also marked on the road in white paint.

1in20fin

At a glance

  • A gentle, picturesque climb with a generous false-flat section.
  • The first 3.3km of the climb are gentle with only a few slight changes in gradient.
  • The false-flat begins roughly 3.3km from the start of the climb and is about 1.1km long.
  • The climbing  in the final 2.4km is gentle with few changes of gradient.

Climb details

Due to its reasonably gentle gradient, the 1 in 20 isn’t an overly challenging climb if you are just trying to reach the top. The real challenge here lies in posting a new best time.

From the get-go at the 60km/h signs the road tilts gently upward and maintains a fairly steady gradient of around 4-5% for the entirety of it’s 6.8km length. Distance markers have been painted on the road every kilometre, giving you an indication of how much further you have to climb.

Roughly 3.3km from the start of the climb (500m after the 4km-to-go marker) the road settles into a false-flat for roughly 1.1km. If you are looking to set a new PB up here you can’t afford to sit up and rest on this flat section and speeds in the realm of 40km/h are set along here by A-grade riders.

After tilting upwards again for the last couple kilometres, the road emerges from the Dandenong Ranges National Park before one last left turn into the finish.

A time of under 14 minutes up here will put you among the very best to have ridden this climb, but any time under 20 minutes is also respectable.

Profile

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Location

The 1 in 20 climb starts in the suburb of The Basin, around 30km east of Melbourne’s CBD. The climb is best accessed by following Mountain Highway from Bayswater.

Times

To post details about your best climb up the 1 in 20, or to see how your best time compares with other members of Melbourne’s cycling community, head over to Cycle2Max. A Strava segment for this climb can be found here.

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48 Comments

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  1. Colin / Jan 24 2014

    Many years ago I went up the 1-20 with some friends and also Nathan O ‘Niell multiple time australian TT Champion I don’t know what time he did. But. He told me he AV 34 kph so maybe some one can work his time out as for Cadel doing 10 mins I’ve never heard that & don’t think it’s possible

    • Ben / Mar 19 2014

      34 km/h average speed should see it done in 12 minutes. To do it in 10 minutes would require an average of nearly 41 km/h! That would hurt.

  2. blake / Jan 20 2014

    a very scenic ride, so glad to finally tick it off… first attempt however 20m 05sec so needless to say i will be back!!

  3. Kevin / Jul 12 2013

    Hi all, I’m an older cyclist who had a heart attack 12 months ago and decided 6 months ago to try my hand at cycling. I did the 1 in 20 a couple of weeks ago in 27 mins and loved it. Next I’m going for the Mt Macedon climb from Woodend. I never thought climbing a hill on a bike could be so painful and rewarding at the same time. Mount Baw Baw after that,dream on me.

  4. Richard / Jun 21 2013

    The 1 in 20 on a beautiful sunny winters day. Nothing could be better than this. 35Km ride to get there and I hauled this 55 year old body up in 22.13. Pretty happy with that, but it was seriously cold descending via Ferny Creek.

  5. Russ / May 4 2013

    Did the ride today for the first time – awesome fun. I’m definitely not built for climbing (yet) but happy with a 26m time. Gives me a baseline for improvement. Was also pleasantly surprised how courteous the cars were on the road, no idiots tried to take us out and many sat behind until we waved them through.

    Made the mistake of riding from Blackburn along Boronia Rd to get there – was half knackered by the bottom. Mountain Hwy is a way better option!

    Now to replace the 10-25 with a 11-28….and shed a few more kilos….me, not the bike ;-)

  6. george / Apr 20 2013

    love your website matt- you are a bit of an inspiration (i’m following you on strava!). did my first ascent of 1:20 about 3 months ago after reading your website. it was my first real climb on the bike. i did it in 26.20 from memory. went back yesterday after a lot of flatlands training, losing some weight and riding a new (light!) bike: took 3min 30 off for a time of 22.40 which i was very pleased with. Even had my own little lance “look” moment as i went past someone as if they were stationary! awesome hill so addictive. great website!

  7. jhnb / Mar 11 2013

    this is truly one of the most beautiful bits of road in reach of Melbourne’s suburbs.
    i have ridden it a lot over the years on a very wide varity of bikes. recumbents, singlespeeds and some heavily customised folding bikes but im not so young and im not particularily built for speed so fast times are not my goal.
    like a lot of riders i ride up to gain altitude so i can come speeding down. that is where the fun is.
    its the closest thing to flying without wings.
    i will happily push BIG gears up so i take advantage on the way down.

    maybe there should be another reveiw to each hill showing the highlights and dangers of going down for the descenders among us. could be called “Gravity Assist” and have some HD footage of some fast downhill runs

  8. bon / Feb 25 2013

    first ride up there today in 23 mins, pretty happy with that for my first real hill climb :)
    followed on to olinda, awesome ride.

    • Matt / Feb 25 2013

      Well done Bon, great effort. Best of luck with future climbing! Try The Wall next. :)

  9. Jane / Feb 18 2013

    Well boys. I note no women speaking here. This is of course is my favourite piece of bitument. At just a hairs breadth from 50 I think 22.8 mins is pretty decent. May never make it under 20mins

  10. Dave / Jan 12 2013

    Went on my first ever hill ride on a proper road bike the other week from Mt. Beauty to Falls creek and did that in 1hr 49 minutes and did the 1/20 for the first time yesterday in 19.10. Loving the feeling of riding out on the road, it’s brilliant! If it weren’t for footy I’d train the bike everyday and see how far I could take it!

    Great website too

  11. O2ClimbLikeCav / Dec 3 2012

    Hi Matt,
    love the site and blog. Tried the 1:20 for the first time on Sunday-what a great ride!!! First real visit to the Dandenongs on a bike (great scenery) and will be back when I can. My 28:47 won’t break any records but not knowing the route was holding back a little. I am really keen to try a few more. Obviously a larger rider and not a great climber, steep grades seem to be more of a problem than length. Can you suggest a short list of the “easier” climbs? Of the 7 peak domestique series rides, which are most achievable for those of us in “the bus”?

    • Matt / Dec 4 2012

      Thanks for the kind words! In terms of the easiest 7 Peaks climb, I’d probably say Falls Creek. It’s relatively long, but it’s not really steep at any point so it’s manageable.

      In terms of other, less-steep climbs in the Dandenongs, try the climb from Montrose up to Olinda via the Tourist Road. Nice and gentle. :)

  12. elijah rowlands / Nov 28 2012

    New favorite ride. rode it for the first time today and was impressed, not overly challenging but still enough to push myself. Finished in just over 20 minutes (think it was 20.28) which i think is decent for a first attempt at my age (im 15)

    • Matt / Nov 28 2012

      Great effort Elijah!

  13. Lee M / Nov 11 2012

    Mapmyride has it as a Cat 2 climb with an elevation of 332metres…hmmm

  14. James / Oct 7 2012

    Did this climb for the first time on friday morning. Really good climb and can’t wait to do it again. My time was 24.3 so I’ve got a lot of room for improvement.

    • BillyJoe / Nov 9 2012

      Likewise.
      I did my first climb on a road bike last Sunday in 24.55
      Before purchasing the road bike, I used a mountain bike (fitted with road tyres) and my best was 26:55
      I got the road bike for the Around The Bay ride which I did non-stop (except for the lunch break) in 8:41:14 (inluding the 20 minute lunch break).

  15. Ray / Jun 18 2012

    Actually, the one-in-twenty is Old Coach Road. Mountain Highway is a different road. Also, please ride single file. It is a major car/truck route, especially when one of the other roads up the mountain are closed.

  16. Brenton Kaitler / Feb 11 2012

    Hardest climb in the Nongs in a way – take Perrins for example you can really ‘hustle’ and grab your bike by the scruff of the neck. This is hard coz you have to find the right rhythm. It hurts setting a properly good time!

    • BillyJoe / Nov 9 2012

      Try the ascent from the bottom of “The Thousand Steps” to Sassafrass.
      Granted it gets gradually easier as you ascend.

  17. modcon / Nov 27 2011

    What is your time Matt?

    • Matt / Nov 27 2011

      My best is 19m30s. Reckon I could go up there faster now and will give it a crack sometime soon. You’re around the high 15s right?

      • Matt / May 15 2012

        To update this: my best is now 18m30s. I reckon I might be a chance of taking a bit off that as well …

  18. Alan / Aug 26 2011

    The name 1 in 20 is false. The gradient is 4% which actually makes it a 1 in 25 climb, but this doesn’t sound as cool. Also, the gradient chart isn’t accurate, as there are no downhill sections along this climb. I think the Category 3 rating is a bit much. It has a good distance but at only 4% average, deserves nothing higher than a Category 4 rating.

    • Vincent / Mar 27 2012

      I agree with Alan when he suggest that it should be a Cat4 climb. There’s not a great deal of effort involved with just simply riding it (unless you are really pushing it along for the sake of PB’s). In my mind, the false-flat half way up is the clincher that should set it as a Cat4.

  19. Madmike / Aug 17 2011

    Love the 1/20 and its great to see so many cyclists out here most days of the week night and day! Great photos too Matt its just a bit of a shame the council has decided to industrialise this beautiful climb with ugly barriers most of the way now.

  20. Zach / Jul 13 2011

    Does anyone know what category this climb would be? if it is one…

    • Matt / Jul 13 2011

      Probably 3rd I would think Zach … but I could be wrong. It’s actually something I want to look into: classifying all of the climbs on the site. :)

  21. Zach / Jul 11 2011

    Did this for the first time on the weekend with my little brother, so good to finally say i have done it. Great scenery and you can just never rest on this!

  22. mountain bikes melbourne / May 18 2011

    Many thanks for the geographical location in Google maps. What is the meaning of 1 in 20? Can you please explain it to me?

    • Matt / May 18 2011

      As mentioned in the article, “1 in 20″ refers to the approximate gradient of the climb. i.e. for every 20 metres that you ride, you climb approximately 1 metre.

  23. chrisfit2009 / Feb 19 2011

    can you explain the name 1 in 20?

    • Matt / Feb 20 2011

      It’s a reference to the gradient Chris. For every 20 metres that you ride, you climb 1 metre, giving an average gradient of 5%. It’s not quite 5% (a bit less) but it’s close enough.

  24. Steve Raleigh / Feb 8 2011

    I heard that Cadel Evans did it a couple of years ago in 10 minutes.

    • Matt / Feb 8 2011

      If that’s true, it would be awesome. I wonder if we could get sort of official comment from Cadel about it?

    • Matt / May 15 2012

      After this comment came through last year, I sent Cadel a tweet to see if the 10-minute rumour was true. He said he’d climbed the 1 in 20 before, but he hadn’t timed himself. Shame!

  25. Dave Owen / Feb 5 2011

    It’s a Melbourne institution, if your even half serious about riding and you live in Melbourne you have to have a PB up the one-in-twenty.

    • Matt / Feb 5 2011

      Too true Dave, too true. :)

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