Cycle Melbourne, Mountain Bike Ride, The Red Hot Rim Run
We have rides checked before publishing. Our reviewer said to his wife after this ride “there is nothing we could do together tonight that would come close to the high I got today.” The real buzz happens on the 984m descent over 12km on a firm wide non-technical track. There are many other contrasting features including a technical singletrack section through magnificent mountain ash forest, stunning scenery and a long mountain climb that gives a real sense of achievement.
Mount St Leonard is a prominent peak in the ranges 65km north east of Melbourne, towering above the town of Healesville where we start the ride. For some years it was the location for mountain running championships and when I ran a mountain bike company we used the same trail for non-competitive downhill rides. The event was called ‘red hot rim run’ because in the days before disc brakes wheel rims would become too hot to touch after the descent. Because of the popularity of the event I have been often asked to include the course in this book and have planned it so the ride to the summit follows the easiest route. If you want a tough uphill ride start at Donnelly’s Weir and ride to the summit. Before going to France to compete in road events through the Alps I would do a couple of laps this way in a day.
The first part of the ride uses a bike path that passes the RACV country club and the quaint horse racing course. After that you get a good view of the mountain summit as you commence a gradual climb past rural properties. Further on the dirt road becomes quite narrow then you turn onto quite a rough dirt track to the potato research facility. Take care here in the wet as this first part of track gets very slippery.
A gravel road then takes you to the next and steeper part of the climb on Monda Track. Keep a lookout for the track ‘11’ sign further on as this is where you turn on your descent. It is very easy to overshoot if you have some speed. At the top of the climb you pass the entrance to a short track up to the lookout that is also on your return trip.
The ride changes dramatically as you turn onto Tanglefoot Track. There is quite a lot of tree litter and some slippery sections. It is a good practice to spend a few minutes clearing some of the obstacles to help improve the trail for others. You brush past some of the tallest mountain ash trees in Victoria which are truly magnificent. A couple of interpretive signs give interesting facts about the forest and if you want a break there is a seat which is an opportunity to have something to eat and drink as you contemplate the beauty around you.
The return trip begins as you turn onto Quarry Road which is more open than Tanglefoot Track and climbs gently back up to Monda Track and a little more climbing to the entrance to the lookout track. This is a 1.4km climb and well worth the effort as the views from the top are fantastic.
The first part of the downhill ride is on Monda Track and it is much steeper and faster than it looks. Keep good control as you can meet traffic coming the other way. After turning onto track 11 the trail is closed to vehicles and you have very good vision ahead but please be prepared for the possibility of meeting a walker or horse. If you have the skills you can hit very high speeds. There is one small climb on the downhill which challenges the legs after the long descent. Donnelly’s Weir is a very beautiful spot that is now almost fully recovered after some damage in the 2009 fires. It is a great spot to return to for a picnic. After the weir there is one more adventure before heading back to town, crossing the ford! Generally the water level is not deep and it is easy to ride straight through.
Take Maroondah Highway to Healesville, around 55km northeast of Melbourne. The start is Melway 270 C12.
Food and Drink
Plenty of options close to the start in Healesville. Drinking water, toilets and picnic facilities available at Donnelly’s Weir on the return ride.
It is well worth staying the weekend and visiting Healesville sanctuary, the many high quality wineries nearby, or sight-seeing many local attractions such as Maroondah reservoir or the beautiful Donnelly’s Weir featured in this ride.
42.798 km / 26.593 mi
1,462 m / 4,798 ft
1,026 m / 3,367 ft