A guide to Melbourne’s best rides – No 1 : Mount Pleasant

Crossing Nicholson Street, outside VeloCycles into the sunrise

Crossing Nicholson Street, outside VeloCycles

Over the next little while our resident roadie at Velo, Ed, will be putting up blog posts sporadically about where the best riding is to be had in and about our lovely world’s-most-liveable city. Road bikes not compulsory!

Direction for all rides will start and finish at Velo / Green Park , and for those of us not directionally brilliant a GPX. file is available to upload to your GPS device here.

First Cab of the rank is the well known Mount Pleasant loop, which is a rather hilly affair, around Eltham looping around for a total of 55 kilometers or so depending on which route you decide to take out. This is personally my favourite ride to do in Melbourne as it’s #notbeachroad, takes in some lovely vistas and gives you a nice workout, without being too long. I would recommend being of reasonable level of fitness to tackle this ride as it can be quite steep in places.

(Trying to catch the sunrise is the best time to ride)

To start off meet your friends at Green Park Dining for a coffee and/or Velo for some last minute supplies. Once you’re all set to head off, head east along the capital city trail until you reach the turnoff to cross Merri Creek ( If you pass Rushall Station you’ve gone too far). Once you’ve crossed the bridge over the creek you’ll meet an intersection in the path , turn right and continue on until you reach a traffic crossing, cross here and jump onto Westgarth street. Follow Westgarth street until its end, which intersects Heidelberg Road. Turn left and make your way along Heidelberg Road for quite some time – this is the busiest and most unpleasant part of the ride, but its absolutely worth it.

From here there are a number of ways you can take to reach the next section, which begins along Burgundy St and snakes through Banksia Park in Heidelberg.

1. The way which I regularly take, turning left onto Upper Heidelberg road, through Ivanhoe shopping precinct, then right onto studley road which snakes up past the Austin Hospital, then right again onto Burgundy St, and once you past Lower Heidelberg road, you’re at the start!

2. Follow Lower Heidelberg road the whole way to Burgundy St

3. Go right once you cross the Yarra and snake your way through suburbia before re-joining lower Heidelberg road at the last possible moment.


Nearing the crest of the hill

Once you reach Banksia Park the fun begins, enjoy the ride through the parkland, until it heads north again up a steep rise – the first real test! After you’ve summitted, follow along until you come to Banyule Road. Turn right here. Speed down the hill over the roundabout, and follow the road past some lovely silos and then you’re climbing again!

Once you reach the top, you’ll see a roundabout, which you again go over and continue down the hill. To your left is a lovely view of a paddock and further afield a golf course. Fly down the hill on the fresh tarmac, until you reach a bottleneck. (CAUTION THERE IS A ONE LANE BRIDGE BE CAREFUL OF ONCOMING CARS.) Once you’ve avoided disaster continue on, and make your way through suburbia. There tends to be many riders around so as always give a wave and say hello.

Next up is a real leg-breaker, turn left along Bonds road, which then pitches up very roughly up to 10% in gradient. Grind your way to the top and take a well earned drinks brake. This is where we will rejoin the ride on the way home, so make note of your surroundings. From here we turn right and fly down another descent, taking care of the speedbumps which can give you a fierce knock, then the road goes right down a very very steep hill which stops a set of lights. At the lights turn right and follow Main Road over a bridge and take the first right.

This next little section is where the real rolling hills begin. Simply follow the main looking road, the only deviation being left onto Hillcreast Road then right onto Mount Pleasant road. Now you’ve made it, follow this lovely section of road over many little climbs descents through a mix of suburbia and country lots. Once you go up the last climb the road ends and you are placed on the Research-Warrandyte Road. If you were to turn right you would be riding out in the direction of Kinglake or St. Andrews, but that’s a challenge for another week.
(where you should end up on Research-Warrandyte Road)

So, turn left, and follow road back into Eltham, until you see Bridge St. turn right, then quickly left once you pass the McDonalds and then quickly a right again along Grand Blvd. From here this road if you continue straight should lead you past a school, up a hill over the main road again the back to top of the first serious hill you climbed! Follow the same route back for a well earned rest coffee where you started.

Summary, a cracking loop stretching 54km which will test your legs over nearly 1,000 meters of climbing.