Ella CyclingTips has cooked up a ride with a hint of Strade Bianche, a whiff of Everesting heroics, a measure of climbing and a heavy dose of spectacular scenery for The Women’s Ride, a mass riding event in Victoria celebrating women’s cycling.
Female cyclists across the state will be spoilt for choice on April 12 as The Women’s Ride is a one-day event with more than 50 rides, skills sessions and workshops. The rides range across cycling disciplines and include short jaunts with a focus on food sampling stops, a skills session with Australian cyclocross champion Lisa Jacobs, rides through the hills north of Melbourne and of course Ella Cycling Tip’s spectacular loop over Mt Donna Buang.
“The event really is to draw attention to women’s cycling in its many different forms and to increase participation,” said Mark Drehlich, development manager at Cycling Victoria, which initiated The Women’s Ride. “Even though the event is on for one day we are hoping that enough women see it, and they see all the contacts, all the opportunities and all the passion out there around women’s cycling and they also want to be involved.”
If you are in Victoria on April 12, joining a ride is simple. Just go to The Women’s Ride site, pick a ride and register. If you’re looking for a challenging ride with a sense of adventure and fun we would love for you to join Ella CyclingTips for our 57km loop.
Sarah Hammond, a fixture at riding group Hells 500 and three-time Everester, will lead the Ella ride and give us a manageable taste of a riding style she has grown to love. The plan is to deviate from the well-worn track up one of Victoria’s favourite climbs, Mt Donna Buang, and head up the back road where the mountain ash and tree ferns of the Yarra Ranges national park dominate the landscape.
“The back of Donna is stunning. There is something beautiful about the back road where it is quieter, you are not engaged with as much traffic … it creates a completely different atmosphere,” said Hammond, who has lost count of the times she has ridden the mountain.
The no drop ride starts at the Cog Bike Café in Warburton, winding out on the gentle gradients of a rail trail to warm up the legs before the climbing begins. At about 12km into the ride, we reach Don Valley, and the uphill starts. It’s a good thing the views are spectacular because with 25km of climbing, we may need the occasional distraction. There are some patches of gravel and dirt on the climb, mostly small, but there is one six kilometre stretch which will give riders a good taste of what it is like to take a road bike off a smooth surface.
Hammond said some may be a little nervous about venturing on to rougher roads but it is well worth giving it a go, firstly because of the immense satisfaction of going out and achieving something different and secondly because it opens up the opportunity to explore many more spectacular places.
If, like me, if will be your first time taking your road bike off the bitumen we have a great bunch of hints and tips from two-time Australian road champion Gracie Elvin, who was also the U23 Australian mountain bike champion.
Once we get through the dirt and climb to the top of Mt Donna Buang (1245m), we head down the sealed road that last month hosted a mass Everesting by 20 hardy female cyclists, including Hammond. The difference is that when we get to the bottom we will not be turning around and riding up it again eight times. Instead it will be time to round out the ride with coffee and chat at the Cog Café.
You don’t need a special bike to join us as it can be done on a road bikes with 23mm to 25mm tyres in good condition. We will have a Lanterne Rouge to make sure no rider is left behind.