Brooke and I rode this climb together once, and I also rode it again solo because I couldn’t get enough. The Mt. Buffalo climb is my favourite climb. Not just my favourite climb of the day or the week or in Victoria… Just flat out my favourite climb. It is almost perfect and if you had a check list of everything you want out of a climb, this would tick every box.
The climb starts at the Eurobin Creek Picnic Area (Mt. Buffalo entrance) and finishes at Dingo Dell Carpark. All together it totals 23km, rising 1,119m. The gradient is a constant 5% with sections maxing out at 11%. Unlike some of the other climbs in the area, this climb is 100% up. Many other climbs have some descending or false flats, but this is all vertical, just one of the many reasons I love it. Having a relatively steady ascension allows you to approach the climb anyway you like. You can take it easy and enjoy the views, ride a steady tempo or you can go full gas and completely empty yourself. For those of you out there with power meters, you will love this. You will be able to dial in a wattage and watch the kilometres tick by.
It seems as though Cycling Australia agree with me because while we were up there the Junior Mountain Climbing Championships were held on the mountain. Juniors aged 12-18 were competing on various sections and distances on the mountain, and although they wouldn’t have been enjoying the views as much as we did, they certainly would have appreciated the setting.
Brooke has ridden this climb many many times over and takes us through Mt. Buffalo’s three very distinct sections.
The first third takes you through the lower valley and the lines on the road are painted white. This might seem unremarkable, but they soon change to yellow, which initially I thought was something to do with the gradient (i.e. yellow signifying ‘this is going to hurt!’), but it is actually on all of the mountains to help skiers see the lines when there is snow – that was my fun fact for the day.
Sheer rocky walls and a plethora of switchbacks signify you are on the second third of the climb, at this point the road becomes much more exposed, which is worth taking note of if you plan on riding in the area in the summer on hot days.
The final part of the climb is at its best in spring and summer as the local flora take over and create a colourful backdrop to distract you from the lead building up in your legs.
Once you are almost at the top you can veer left and head to a brilliant lookout that is opposite the chalet. You can see into the deep valleys below and if you go up early enough in the morning, there’s a strong chance you will still see the fog that has settled on the valley floor, waiting to be burnt off by the morning sun.
Once you are at the top of the mountain there’s not much in the way of food so be prepared. In summer time there is often a mobile fan that sells ice creams, lollies, drinks etc at the chalet carpark and further up there is the Dingo Dell café, but best to check opening hours to make sure you are not disappointed.
After you have taken in the spectacular vistas, it’s time for the descent. The descent is really fun, and there is lots on offer for every style of rider. If you want to push the descent, there are technical sections which will test your bike handling skills and some longer straights where you can get up some serious speed. It’s worth noting that there are no barriers on much of the side of the roads, so for those not so keen on risking life and limb, the relatively gentle gradient allows you to control your journey down the mountain and take in the views. It is however a very long road, so if you have gloves or a gilet put it on at the top as there is really nowhere to stop and the last thing you want is the cold ruining an otherwise pleasant journey home.
A beautiful climb for so many reasons, and certainly the number one option for people new to cycling in the area.