One of the cycling “routes” to do around Melbourne is the Crucifix in the Dandenong Ranges. What is deemed as the Crucifx? Many people follow different routes and the order at which the climbs are to be taken but pretty much you complete the 4 “climbs” around that area forming almost like a cross and riding all 4 climbs (not repeats). Variances of the climb may or may not include Sky High, both (of the Devil’s) elbows and Inverness Road. There is no official route but the gist is that you do the following:
1) 1 in 20 (West)
2) The Wall (East)
3) Inverness Road (North) – although some people choose not to do this climb but use the main road instead.
4) Devil’s Elbow (South) – variations of this is the One Tree Hill detour for the 2nd elbow.
I have never done “The Wall” side of the crucifix nor have I ridden up the infamous Inverness Road at which others say to ride as much as you can before attempting Mt Baw Baw. I had the opportunity to try and complete the crufix during my work holidays but due to the extreme weather conditions before both Christmas and New Years, I report that I didn’t complete the Crucifix and only did 3 out of the 4 climbs…and the below is the report.
On the 28th December, the day after my Bday, I decided it would be a good time to take myself out to attempt The Crucifix. I wanted to ride Inverness Road and the Wall as my main priority for the day. I had researched on the different variations of this climb and stuck with the one which I knew would include them both. I didn’t include Sky High in these climbs as I was also short on time.
I started from The Basin and that was my first climb – up the 1-in-20. A climb on (not warmed up) legs was not ideal but I didn’t really dwell on it too much, I had a long day ahead. Once I reached the top, I turned left and headed towards Montrose. I have never done Inverness Road before and it is a road which is branched off the main Mt Dandenong Tourist Road but I missed the turn so I ended up riding down to the end and then turned right on Canterbury and then right along York Road and then started my climb up Inverness.
Because I hadn’t done this climb before and was told that it does feel like death, I took it slow and steady. I tried not to look up as much as I could as the gradients just seemed to be ridiculous! The hardest part of the climb was by far the last few hundred meters – it was so steep, I practically held my breath and grasped for air when I reached the top!
I had a small rest at the intersection, composed myself and then continued the climb of the 2nd part of the crucifix. Once I reached the top at Olinda, it was a left turn along Olinda-Monbulk Road which is the 3rd part of the crucifix know for “The Wall”. To be honest, I didn’t find this too hard to do. I think having just tackled Inverness Road and having done 6 out of the 7 Peaks and the Donna Buang, The Wall was just another “climb”. I found the difficult part of these climbs were the descents especially with cars using these roads alongside cyclists.
Once I finished this climb, I had hit the 3 hour mark for the day and I was getting tired. I decided to not finish the 4th climb (having done it before) and just decided to descend the 1-in-20 to head home. It was a warm day and hovering around 35 degrees when I finished.
The entire crucifix is something which I want to complete in its entirety before I hit 3 peaks. Maybe I can program it in somehow in between the Alpine Classic (on 24th Jan), several weddings, supporting commitments (friends racing their first half Ironman triathlons), squeezing in my 7th Peak (Mt Baw Baw), heading back to the mountains to ride the back of Falls Creek (the 3rd Peak of the 3 Peaks Challenge) and the most time consuming thing of all – MOVING HOUSE!! Yeah, we have to be out of our current house in 3 weeks.
I can’t really add any concluding words into this report as I didn’t quite finish the Crucifix. It took me nearly 3:30 to do 3 out of the 4 climbs. I also didn’t include any Sky High climbs either. Maybe as part of the training, I will include the Sky High climb. I didn't do any photos for that day, so here is a snap shot of my Strava.