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Thread: Great Dividing Trail - Daylesford to Castlemaine

  1. #31
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    Just wanted to give an update.

    I did this ride yesterday with three others, on the stretch from the Chocolate Mill to Castlemaine (approx 40-45km). It took us close to 5 hours, including a 30 min lunch stop in Vaughn and 3 longish stops to fix technical issues with our bikes at various points.

    1) its extremely well signposted now and much of the signage appears to be recent. No other form additional navigational advice is necessary, including to discern between the alternative route for cyclists and walkers (at least on the section I did). Things have obviously moved on from when this thread was started in this respect.

    2) I found this ride quite difficult as a recent convert to mountain biking - I would not class it as beginner-friendly. There were probably 10 sections which were too steep to ride (the advanced rider in our party rode up every one of them, mind you). The issue is not the gradient in most cases, but the ability to pick out the best line and maintain traction on the very rocky, loose surfaces. Generally, the rocks were the main things making this trail difficult - on the downward slopes, the large navel-orange-size rocks were a little off-putting, but didn't actually stop us at all. Technical skills, rather than fitness, is required for these rocky up and down sections.

    3) the trail seemed to handle this week's incessant rains pretty well. There were a few puddles here and there, but nothing too serious - drainage appears to be a plus point on this route.

    The trail is flowing and swift in parts, and although I don't have a lot of MTB experience, these sections were the most enjoyable mountain biking I've done so far. The scenery is very pretty too, and the last aquaduct section into Castlemaine is pretty fun. There are very few "technical" parts to the trail in terms of drops etc - the bits that are rideable are generally flat (albeit often rocky).

    In all, its a great trail, and if you don't mind hiking your bike up some very steep rocky slopes its a great day out.

    E

  2. #32
    Senior Member ADD's Avatar
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    Thanks for the update Espresso. I was wondering if this trail would be 'dad friendly'. My dad wants to do this ride with me and I'm seriously a lot fitter than him. 5.5hrs sounds alright. He's had 2 minor heart attacks but is almost off all of his meds so he's getting there.

  3. #33
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    Quote Originally Posted by ADD View Post
    I was wondering if this trail would be 'dad friendly'. My dad wants to do this ride with me and I'm seriously a lot fitter than him. 5.5hrs sounds alright. He's had 2 minor heart attacks but is almost off all of his meds so he's getting there.
    While it is great to hear that your dad is almost off his meds post minor heart attacks take care as this trail is a considerable undertaking. We did it as part of a 3 day GDT ride from Ballarat to Bendigo and there are long periods where you are a considerable distance from help if stuff happens. Phone coverage is sporadic. I would recommend going with at least 3 people just in case.

    Take lots of water as there isn't any on the trail, and also spare parts.

    Yes there lots of trail markers but if you miss one - as we did on several occasions because they were hidden in the undergrowth - a map and GPS can help you get back on track.

    Great Trail and the Daylsford to Castlemaine section is the best.

  4. #34
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    Quote Originally Posted by djslow View Post
    While it is great to hear that your dad is almost off his meds post minor heart attacks take care as this trail is a considerable undertaking. We did it as part of a 3 day GDT ride from Ballarat to Bendigo and there are long periods where you are a considerable distance from help if stuff happens. Phone coverage is sporadic. I would recommend going with at least 3 people just in case.

    Take lots of water as there isn't any on the trail, and also spare parts.

    Yes there lots of trail markers but if you miss one - as we did on several occasions because they were hidden in the undergrowth - a map and GPS can help you get back on track.

    Great Trail and the Daylsford to Castlemaine section is the best.
    Mmmm - I agree. I wouldn't take your dad on this if it were me.

    Although on navigation, I find it hard to see how you can get lost. The signs on the trail appear new, and they're pretty good.

    Maybe I was moving so slowly that it was harder for me to miss the signs :-)

    E

  5. #35
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    If you go from Hepburn Springs rather than Daylesford, you miss some boring bits. It is still 50ks to Castlemain, we did it with 3 hours riding time. Your Dad will be fine, as you can take it at any speed. There are only a couple of steep bits, but they are easy to walk, as the surface is predictable.

    Don't expect a flowing forrest single track, as the majority is fire access road, and some bitumen. This is probably where people get lost, as they are expecting a bike track, not a road in some situations. The single track that is there is great, but most of the ride is the social aspect of riding two abreast and talking about bikes, beer and broads.

    A good start to an MTB career, as there is nothing that will scare you, and the ride is long enough to make you feel it.

    Take care when getting changed at Hepburn Springs for the ride, as the ladies that bat for the other side are a little angry about men.

  6. #36
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    Well put Old C. There are certainly some beautiful pieces of singletrack but definitely lots of fire trail, "normal" tracks and bitumen. But the highlight is riding two abreast talking rubbish for three days. One of the best things I've ever done with regards to biking.

  7. #37
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    Default Ballarat to daylesford

    Thinking about doing ballarat to daylesford this weekend. Can anyone give me an estimate of ride time?

  8. #38
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    Quote Originally Posted by Kingshill View Post
    Thinking about doing ballarat to daylesford this weekend. Can anyone give me an estimate of ride time?
    It is about 80km. There is a bit of fire rd, single track, quite a bit of up and down and some navigation. Add in a lunch stop and few snack breaks and travel time becomes an elastic concept. If you have a mechanical... We took a fairly relaxed pace, took several breaks, had no mechanicals and were carrying packs (we were going all the way to Bendigo). Ballarat - Daylesford took about 8 hours.

    Could easily be done in less, could easily take longer.

  9. #39
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    Thumbs up

    Thanks for that. Obviously takes a lot more planning than I anticipated. Fortunately, didn't attempt it that weekend but will plan for it in the future.

  10. #40
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    Hi all,

    First post as I've come across this site whilst researching the Dry Diggings track and there is some great information here.

    I'm doing the ride soon from Daylesford to Castlemaine and was curious as to how the tracks compare to Lysterfield Park?

    I did 30kms today at Lysterfield (Commonwealth games, hug, blair witch, redgum, etc) and am pretty exhausted.

    Is the ride significantly easier than the tracks at Lysterfield?

    Thanks.

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