250km – 4,200m of climbing – 3 climbs – VERY HARD
One of the most spectacular and challenging loop rides in Australia. Test your stamina against Mount Hotham and the Back of Falls before returning from Falls Creek via Mount Beauty, over Tawonga Gap, and back into Bright.
There are no qualifying requirements but be aware that this is an extreme ride in remote areas which requires high levels of fitness and stamina.
You can also ride this route as a 2-day supported tour in the 250km Alpine Raid.
The 4:00am start commences before dawn and you MUST have both front and rear lights. You will be climbing (and possibly descending) on dark alpine roads without street lighting and may well be separated from other riders, so you will need good headlights in particular. You are reminded that it is a condition of entry that your bike is road legal.
We’ll do our best to keep you safe on the day with food and water on-course, mobile moto marshals, and comprehensive medical and emergency coverage, but you must be well prepared for this ride if you expect to complete it successfully.
This is a very long ride with a huge amount of climbing and you will need to be extremely fit and carry sufficient water and food with you on the day. Remember that conditions in the Victorian Alps can be extreme and very changeable, and that for significant portions of the ride you will be out of mobile phone range.
Even though this ride is held at the height of summer, it is not uncommon for conditions on Mount Hotham, on the High Plains and at Falls Creek to be freezing, with rain, hail or even snow, when the heat is stifling in the valleys.
4:00am or 6:20am
A 4:00am start from Howitt Park in Bright allows you to enjoy the splendor of a sunrise over Mount Hotham and hit the Back of Falls as early as possible, but a 6.20am start is available if you only want to ride in daylight hours.
It’s a 25km false flat from Bright to Harrietville, great for warming up the legs before the start of the 28km climb up to Mount Hotham. The first 10km are very tough (as are the final km’s after the Entrance Station portables), but the smell of the forest is beautiful at this time of day. The first official water point is at Chain Bay 4, Star Extended Spur, approximately 17km up from Harrietville. It’s starting to get light, and the birds are waking up. At this point you are still fresh, but are aware that you need to save your legs for later in the day, so don’t push too hard as you begin the final testing kms to Mount Hotham.
After a ghost like ride through Hotham Village, the rolling 13km push to Dinner Plain is majestic, with the sun coming up and sweeping views across the High Plains.
Hobbit’s breakfast is at the Dinner Plain checkpoint and is followed by 22km of rolling descent to Cobungra Station. There could be livestock anywhere along this section of road, so be vigilant. There is a bit of a climb past Cobungra, before the very steep windy descent to Omeo for the second checkpoint – (at the Footy Ground – at the top of the hill, before you leave town). Even if you aren’t hungry after the stop at Dinner Plain, you should collect food here to get you through the long and very hard climb to Falls Creek.
From Omeo, you follow the river valley on the Omeo Valley Highway, a truly gorgeous section of road to Anglers Rest, a hidden gem and your only place to buy anything before Falls Creek. Along this stretch, there are a couple of bike eating bridges, so take care and be prepared to get off and walk for maximum safety!
The turnoff to the Bogong High Plains Road is a little over 10km beyond Anglers Rest – the dreaded Back of Falls! – It’s steep, it’s hot and you have 150km in your legs already. Fill up with water at Shannon Vale near the bottom and grind the 21km up to the High Plains!
Another water stop at the Raspberry Hill campground, on the LHS near the top, means the hardest climbs of the course are behind you. Ahead an undulating ride over the spectacular high plains (with a very good chance of a head wind), across the dam wall and into Falls Creek.
Refresh and replenish at the Falls Creek checkpoint then set off on the descent to Mount Beauty. Before you know it, you’re in Mount Beauty and Tawonga Gap is looming. The last water stop is a couple of kilometres up the hill and provides an excuse for a welcome rest if needed.
Tawonga Gap has been elevated to the status of a Peak by some, but is a pimple in comparison to what has already been climbed. However the descent on the Bright side can be deceptive and has the highest incidence of cycle accidents in the Alpine area. A number of events including the Tour of Bright, have had major accidents on it! Tightening bends, uneven road surfaces, adverse cambers and rock faces have all seen the undoing of a large number of riders. Being fatigued on this descent will likely require greater concentration and care and maybe a bit less speed to compensate for diminished reaction times. The advisory speed signs on bends for motorised vehicles can provide good advice for cyclists too.
Finish where you started in Howitt Park and catch up with family and friends to replenish those depleted carbo stores!
Enjoy – congratulations!
Bright (start and finish – closes 8:30pm)
Dinner Plain (closes 1:00pm)
Omeo (closes 3:00pm)
Falls Creek (closes 6:00pm)
There are several unsupported points on the route where water is available.