The 1 in 20

3rd category climb

Length: 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 traffic lights at the top end of the shops in The Basin. The start line is marked on the road.

Start of the 1 in 20

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.

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

1 in 20 profile

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 see how your best time compares with other members of the cycling community, head over to the Strava segment for this climb.

Flyover

90 Replies to “The 1 in 20”

  1. Hi there – wondering when is the best time to rid the 1 in 20 if wanting to avoid cars? I get really, really scared of riding near cars so try to avoid it as much as I can!

  2. Hi All,
    Is doing the 1 in 20 on a weekday at 5:30pm going to be too busy and a bad idea?
    I work in Boronia, and have gotten back into cycling after a bad accident 3 years a go. I’m just a bit cautious.
    Thanks.

  3. First time up the 1 in. 20 on Monday. 67yo rec rider and enjoyed the climb, coffee and the roll back down. However at one stage passed by a group of 4 who rode 3 abreast blocking traffic causing frustrated drivers and pissed off cyclists. Surely as cyclists we can do better than that and call this behaviour out.
    Great ride for everyone as long as there is respect for all road users.
    Wal

  4. Just completed my first 1:20 last weekend. What an enjoyable ride. Challenging but not painful. Combined with the 35K ride to get there made for an excellent day of riding. Ticking the disc brake option on my new bike proved awesome for the decent.

  5. Someone please arrange to close the road for motorists and leave it only for cyclists. Or close it for cyclists and leave it only for motorists. The current system is ridiculously clumsy. No separate path for cyclists and the rudeness shown by both cyclists and motorists towards each other is unbelievable. I’m never gonna drive/ride on that road again.

    1. I have been up and down it quite a lot, never seen any rudeness either way, so maybe you just struck a bad driver or rider. It’s also quite a quiet road, with little traffic. BUT…. that’s my experience cycling between 7:30 and 10:00 am on weekends. Maybe at a completely different time it is busy. Though I would be surprised if that is the case. Coming down the 1:20 is one of the best descents and roads in the Nongs. It flows really well, with little traffic and no intersections.

  6. Did the 1-20 today, it was my first recognised climb having been riding pretty regularly all year. I absolutely loved it and fitness-wise I found it reasonably comfortable overall. Any recommendations of which climb to take on next? Love the info on your site by the way!!

  7. Hi all,
    I had been wanting to do this ride forever and thought I would need lots of hill climb training but it wasn’t as bad as I thought, thanks to a great seat and constant peddling. Sadly though I am nowhere a master with the hill thing yet, so it took me just over 40 mins to get up the top, but reading all of the PBs inspires me to give it more and more cracks. I am sure I will improve knowing what to expect now. It too is a really lovely ride that offers peace and serenity apart from the ever annoying motorcyclist who thinks he is going to win the grand prix.
    Cheers, Lisa

  8. Hello there, can anyone give a rough idea of traffic loads on the main roads out to the dongs (Im coming from Reservoir) in particular Canterbury Rd and on the Mountain Highway (are there bike lanes?) and the actual climbs. I suppose earlier the better on the weekends to avoid more cars/trucks.

    Im from the Uk and haven’t headed out this way yet but very keen to go this w-end but like everyone lose the fun if the roads are manic!

    cheers, stu

  9. New to the road bike, new to climbing and new to this website but loving it all!
    Given that my age sits at a figure significantly higher than my average cruising speed (wind assisted on the flat) and shares its first two letters with my name, I think it’s fair to say I am a late adapter to the cycling arts. Last weekend was my first venture off the trails and into the hills with a jaunt up the One in Twenty. What a beautiful road! Steady, steady, up up up into the green with lungs infused with eucalyptus provides a heady distraction away from any grumblings emanating from the legs. Whilst admittedly my pace was leisurely (though didn’t feel like it), I am confident that my next time will approach a respectable figure now that I have walked the course and also understand that the implicit instruction of the decreasing 50 metre markers is to go flat out to the finish.
    As mentioned, I’m pretty new to all this but I do note it to be a bit of a blokey scene (which is fine). However, I had a thorough perusal of ‘the rules’ and should add that my innate lawlessness directs me to disregard most of them excepting Rule#5, which is a very useful mantra to scream at times to overcome screaming muscles. I would also endorse Rule #38, having just recently experienced this somewhat petty behaviour on Studley Park Road. Very tedious!
    Don’t be surprised to see a few more Lollies (ladies of lycra) up there in the hills as I spread the word. But if you do cruise past us on the ascent, that is perfectly fine though bear in mind we have probably cycled the thirty five odd kms from the inner city and may also be saving a bit of energy for the hills at the upper Mullum Mullum trail on the return home.
    Happy cycling everyone!

  10. I’m a different kind of rider who loves doing wheelies up hills. I Have nearly conquered Gaffney at coburg and love the idea of trying some of the Dandenong hills on one wheel. Different kind of pb I guess

  11. Had my first attempt at the Crucifix today. To be honest, it was not as bad as I had built it up in my mind to be. The 1:20 was a nice steady climb (bit rainy today) up to Sassafras. The descent to Ferntree Gully was awesome in places. Loved it and the ride back up was OK, but started to feel the pinches. Descent to Monbulk was next and again, that was such fun. Clipping apexes, powering out of hairpins and tucking with my chin on the bars put a big, broad grin on my face. The climb back up didn’t. There were stretches that really started to hurt. I was in my lowest gear (39×28) and struggling to keep my legs turning over at a reasonable cadence and then it pitch up steeper. I tried to dance like Contador, but failed. Instead it was a slow steady grind. The descent down Inverness Road needs some care. It goes from double lane to single a few times and cars coming up can be taking up much of the road. But it was some serious fun. Coming back up there was pretty challenging. Garmins do talk a bit of nonsense occasionally, but on the steepest pinches it was showing >20%. The steepest I saw was 22%: most of the climb was over 10%.
    All in all, a superb ride. So good to ride some different roads in a different area. Loved it.

  12. A bike rider was hit on Mountain Highway yesterday, in this instance it appears it was the motorists fault, however it still begs the question – do cyclists belong on the mountain?

    Firstly I would like to state that I am not against bike riders, I love to take the kids out for a ride on the weekends, but I am also weary that roads are dangerous places so with young children I stick to the bike paths.

    I also don’t have a problem with cyclists on the roads – I just want to emphasize the fact that they are roads – NOT racetracks. The stretch of Mountain Highway, known as the 1 in 20, twists its way from The Basin to Sassafras. It is narrow, windy and has a lot of residential properties on blind corners.

    I have been witness on multiple occasions to cyclists speeding down the mountain ignoring the reduced speed and concealed driveways signs. I have had riders come so close behind my car (which I have been informed helps reduce the wind flow for them) that if I was to break in an emergency situation they would most certainly hit the back of me and I have even seen bikes overtaking cars.

    On the way up the mountain there is a sign that states cyclists are to ride single file – this also falls on deaf ears with cyclists riding two or more abreast on many occasions. When cars are overtaking these riders they are having to merge so far on to the other side of the road that oncoming traffic down the hill are put at risk.

    Unfortunately yesterday’s accident was not a surprise to me, more something that I expected to happen at some stage. If both motorists and cyclists could just slow down, take care and follow the signs then hopefully we can avoid more incidents.

  13. Hi Matt. Been following this blog for a little while and tackled the 1:20 for the first time the other day, in a reasonable (?) time of 21:05 as one of my first major hill climbs. I was just wondering whether we could talk to the nice folks over at Strava about cleaning up the segments around the 1:20? There seems to be so many different versions, I can’t quite work out which time to use as my “official” 1:20?

  14. Visited the Dandenongs just before Christmas and kicked off with the 1 in 20. Lovely steady climb which took about 20 mins. Had a quick coffee in Sassafrass then headed down the Crescent to Monbulk and back up to Olinda via The Wall. Carried on up to the Observatory and then down to Montrose via Kalorama – sat on about 50km/h all the way – very nice road surfaces compared to WA!

  15. Visiting family in Melbourne this week, down from Brisbane. This website has been awesome in planning some rides while I’m down here.

    Did the 1:20 today, riding there and back from Surrey Hills. Plenty of lumps each way as well as the climb! No traffic as it’s New Years Day and more cyclists than cars in the Dandenongs. I turned right at Sassafras and went back down via the Mt Dandenong Tourist Rd back to Upper Ferntree Gully. What a beautiful climb from the Basin to Sassafras, then a good fun descent!

    As an ex-Melburnian (but only taken up cycling since moving to Bris Vegas) I’m glad I packed for Melbourne weather … there’s no way you’d wear armwarmers and a vest at this time of the year up north!

    Looking to hit up Mt Donna Buang in the coming days, again thanks to the great write-ups on this site. I may have to gather up the motivation to send through some info on good Brisbane climbs such as Mt Nebo and Mt Mee …

    Happy and safe riding in 2015 everyone 🙂

      1. Im giving the 1 in 20 a crack tomorrow. Just got back on the bike after a 2 year break. Thought i would challenge myself. What a good time to aim for??

  16. For those that have recently ridden the 1 in 20 since last Friday (3rd October), the kilometre marks have now been upgraded and are now painted yellow. My good friend Lou (aka The Persuader) has been repainting these markers for a number of years now (all at his own expense) and decided the markers needed to be upgraded again. He is a regular on the 1 in 20 and can be found riding up it on Saturday mornings around 7.30am.

  17. Love your website Matt – and great article here. The article itself and the comments below have inspired me to make this my first practice climb in my training for a cycling tour across Japan in March next year – very exciting!

    I’m looking to buy a touring bike pretty soon to replace the clunky old vintage racer I bought a while back on Gumtree, but have no idea where to start in terms of knowing what brand/features I should be going for. I went to St Kilda Cycles the other day, and they an Allegro T1 (a Melbourne brand) on special for just under $1k -that’s my starting point!

    Could you (or any of your readers) recommend any good bike shops in Melbourne for this sort of thing? I’m from the UK and have relatively limited knowledge of the area.

    Looking forward to working my way through the climbs on your site Matt, thanks again!

  18. As a concerned resident of the Dandenong Ranges and volunteer Fire Fghter, can I impolore that you follow a couple of important guide lines

    1. ALWAYS have lights on your bike and use them
    There are a number of “blind” driveways and street entrances that use mirrors to check for on coming traffic. When using these mirrors it is difficult enough to see cars and trucks without there lights on let alone a cyclist.
    Also remeber that it may be bright and sunny down the bottom of the hill BUT low cloud and mist does role in pretty quickly and without the lights on a cyclist is impossible to see

    2. Ride to the conditions. If the roads are wet, remeber to slow down!!

    3. In the summer know what the fire danger rating is. It is posted and the bottom of all rads leading up the hill and on the main roads in the hills. Avoid the area on days of Totol Fire Ban. Have a plan on what to do if you are caught in a bushfire situation. The local Fire Brigades will be happy to help

    4. Give way to emergency vehicles if their lights and sirens are on. This means if you have to pull over and stop then do so. Remember if the red and blues are on then the vehicle has right of away. Its the LAW.

    Thanks and enjoy your ride up there

  19. This morning I left my home in Windsor at 7:30 and got to The Basin at 10:45. I found it very hard with my heavy old bike to ride uphill already feeling stuffed from riding for hours (Its my excuse and I’m sticking to it!) so I walked it. The shame. I arrived at Sassafras at 12. Obviously the hills I ride when I go to Mornington or Box Hill are not enough to prepare my body for such a climb but I did want to try. It was lovely coming back down and I can recommend the sausage rolls at The Basin’s bakery!

  20. Hi fellow bike riding lovers! Tomorrow I’m planning on doing the 1:20 for the first time! I have a wonderful but heavy old peurgeot fold in half bike so I will be interested to see what difference this factor makes in the time compared to other people who I’m guessing have racing or mountain bikes! I will be riding from Windsor so I may freak out the tourists at Sassafras with my gasping heavy breathing but I will feel incredibly exhilerated!!!!! Here’s hoping to a sunnyish and wind free Thursday!

  21. 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

    1. 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.

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

  23. 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.

  24. 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.

  25. 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 😉

  26. 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!

  27. 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

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

  29. 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

  30. 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

  31. 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”?

    1. 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. 🙂

  32. 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)

  33. 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.

    1. 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).

  34. 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.

  35. 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!

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

  36. 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.

    1. 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.

  37. 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.

    1. 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. 🙂

  38. 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!

    1. 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.

    1. 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.

    1. 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!

  39. 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.

Leave a Reply to Steve Greene Cancel reply

Your email address will not be published.