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This is a strenuous ride for experienced or adventurous cyclists who appreciate a challenge. The ride is only about 57 km long but involves extended sections of continuous climbing at a gradient of 6 – 7%. The ride starts at the Launching Place Pub car park and heads up Don Rd towards Healesville. The first couple of kilometres is flat but it soon starts climbing steadily (and steeply) to Panton Gap. Soon after crossing the picturesque bridge the road turns to gravel and at about the 12 km mark you get a short flat section to help give you time to recover.
At Panton Gap you turn right and follow the road to Donna Buang. A short distance along this road you will pass a large boom gate. In the winter months the next section of road is closed to vehicular traffic so you can enjoy the rare privelege of having the road to yourself. If you do this ride during the closed season you will encounter a lot of debris (fallen trees, branches, etc) so mountain bikes or hybrids are required. The unsealed road climbs steeply through the forest and rewards the rider with great views through the trees, showing you just how high you have ridden.
At about the 20 km mark you are again rewarded with a flat section allowing you to make up some speed before the final climb to the summit. The sealed road starts a short distance before the second boom gate where the road joins the main tourist road to the summit. Here you can turn left and ride to the summit or turn right and roll all the way back down to Warburton. Make sure you have some warm (windproof) clothing and gloves for the long descent as it is usually FREEZING on the way down. After a coffee stop in Warburton you follow the rail trail back to Launching Place.
The Ghost Riders do this ride every Grand Final Day (last Saturday in September).
Total Distance: approx 57 km
Total Ascent: 1100 metres
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