Mt. Buller

Route: Merrijig to Mt. Buller return
Distance: 61.1km
Duration: 2 hours 51 minutes

As promised in the last instalment, Brendan and I spent the weekend training at Mt. Buller. Well, when I say “the weekend” I mean one ascent of Buller before it got ridiculously hot.
We drove out to the town of Merrijig and got riding at around 7:30am  in order to miss the worst of the 40 degree heat. Even at that hour the sun still had a fair bit of bite to it.

The 12km warm-up from Merrijig to Mirimbah was largely uneventful as we prepared ourselves for the climb ahead. After a brief stop at Mirimbah to make some quick adjustments to our bikes we began the climb. Even though the sun was starting to beat down it was very pleasant in the shade that covered most of the climb. I had only climbed Buller once before this attempt and I had forgotten how stunning a climb it is. The amazing mix of eucalyptus gums and ferny undergrowth makes this one of the most gorgeous climbs in the state.

The start of the Mt. Buller climb always seems quite challenging but after a couple kilometres we had both found a rhythm and were starting to feel good. As we ate the kilometres up, passing through the false-flat at White Bridge, we saved something in the tank for the final few kilometres to the summit. Around 2.0km from Mt. Buller Alpine Village the road starts to get significantly steeper than the previous 14 kilometres. Hell Corner is probably aptly named with about 1.5km to go – a sharp and very steep left-hand hairpin that forced us both out of the saddle, gasping for air.

While the blue distance markers on the side of the road end at the entrance to the Village, I was determined to push on to the end of the bitumen road at the Arlberg Hotel. According to Cycle2Max, the end of the bitumen marks the end of the climb. Unfortunately, the kilometre or so from the entrance to the Alpine Village to the Arlberg Hotel is the steepest of the climb. At over 10% it’s a challenging end to the climb but it comes close enough to the end that it’s not enough to stop you from getting there.

Despite our lack of training over the last few weeks we both completed the climb with very little trouble. After my effort at Kinglake last week I was a little apprehensive, and with only one ride in six weeks I think Brendan was in the same boat. We got there in the end though and, as it turns out, we completed the climb seven minutes faster than my first attempt. For those that are interested our time was 1 hour 20 minutes – Simon Gerrans, look out.

The descent and run back in to Merrijig was fantastic. We didn’t realise it until the way back but the run from Mirimbah to Merrijig is mainly downhill. This meant average speeds of around 35km/h back to the car in an attempt to get out of the ever-increasing temperatures.

While Brendan headed home that night and I didn’t get to do any more riding this weekend, I did get to see some fantastic cycling country. The Mansfield Whitfield Road is one of the most stunning bits of road that I’ve seen in Victoria and it includes several amazing climbs. There is a stunning 5km ascent between Mansfield and Tolmie that ends at Spring Creek Road and looks quite stunning. At the other end of the road, the climb out of Whitfield back up toward Mansfield is around 11km or 14km long, depending on where you judge the end of the climb to be, and it features some stunning views, tight windy roads and amazing scenery.

While I didn’t get to ride these climbs or get the necessary details to write them up as climbs for the site I was able to do so for Mt. Buller. Look out for a full write up of the 16km ascent in the coming week or so.

56 days to go…

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