While Mount Beauty was heaving with riders spinning their legs in anticipation of the 2020 Peaks Challenge, Ray and I took the road less travelled up and over Big Hill. Heading out from the mtb car park we put our morning coffee to good use on the Big Easy climb to the Pole Track and on to Big Hill Road.
With the valley sparkling on our right we settled in for a relaxed steady climb over 10km. The classic high country forest still shows the scars of fire and hazard reduction over the past few years.
After a quick stop at the Big Hill Lookout we pushed on to the most enjoyable part of the ride. It's 5km of a slight false flat on a packed smooth surface - admittedly with the occasional stop to get around and through some downed trees. After a crushingly hot and dry summer, the valley had been inundated with up to 150mm of rain in the past week. Everything seemed cool, clean and clear in the early autumn sun.
Eventually the road hits the upper reaches of the West Kiewa River and the road drops in and out of steep gullies with rushing creeks. Noise from the rapids makes it's way up the valley walls and on the other side of the valley, Mount Feathertop looms.
It was a rookie error not to bring coffee so after an honest discussion about how long to our next cup we dropped some air out of the tyres and headed back for the descent through the Kiewa Valley and into Mount Beauty.