‘It’s extremely difficult to pick a single favourite route in Melbourne and its surrounds, or even a few favourite routes! One thing’s for sure: Melbourne and Victoria in general can offer up just about any challenge, terrain or scenery that you might ask for. If you’re a visiting cyclist, take the chance to get on two wheels and explore. — Robert Milohanic
With the pristine bay, lush countryside, and great climbs all within riding distance, Melbourne has proven to be a cycling paradise. On any given Saturday, thousands of riders can be seen cruising down Beach Road or testing themselves in the Dandenongs before grabbing coffee with mates at one of the many trendy local cafes. Whether you’re looking for a scenic ride or a total smash fest, Melbourne has it all. And with plenty of shop rides, pubs, and cafes to choose from, the Victorian capital leaves little to be desired.
With help from our local Strava athletes, we’ve compiled a list of seven routes to help you navigate one of the world’s most beautiful cities. Below you’ll find everything from a quick inner city course to an all-day adventure around the bay.
1. Portsea Return
Distance: 185km Elevation: 1,800m Route: Portsea Return
Melbourne to Portsea is 185km of pure riding bliss. Cruising along the coast and over the rolling hills around Mt Martha Esplanade is simply incredible. With heaps of cafes to stop at along the way, this route makes for an amazing day. No doubt you’ll be craving a pot from the Portsea Pub by the time you reach the halfway point. And if you’re feeling fit, why not throw in a rep of the Arthurs Seat climb, made famous by the Herald Sun Tour.
With its tree covered roads, stunning views and beachside mansions, this coastal town is a must! — Dan Wilkins
2. The Dandenongs (1/20 + The Wall)
Distance: 85km Elevation: 1,900m Route: The Dandenongs
This route includes the two most popular climbs in the Dandenong Ranges. The benchmark climb for Melbourne cyclists, many riders know their PRs on The 1 in 20 by heart. An absolutely beautiful ascent that twists and turns up through the ‘Dandies’, the KOM and QOM spots are highly coveted. Reward yourself for a good time on the segment with a pastry at the top and get mentally prepared for the next climb; The Wall. Beginning in Monbulk and heading straight up to Olinda, this climb is a true test of climbing prowess. Long, with two particularly steep sections averaging 10%, The Wall is seemingly neverending. Surrounded by altitudinous pines and bright flowers, you’ll know you’ve reached the finish once you come across the Olinda swimming pool.
The climb has a false flat in the middle, which you have to hit hard to get a good time. Most Melbourne cyclists know their 1:20 time and love a bit of friendly competition. — Pippa Savage
3. Yarra Glen
Distance: 96km Elevation: 1,700m Route: Yarra Glen
A favourite region of Victoria, known for its vast wineries, Yarra Glen is a wonderful area to explore on two wheels, taking riders out of the city and into the country backroads. By no means an easy ride, you should be prepared for lots of punchy climbs throughout this route, complemented by the picturesque 5km Clintons Road ascent. Feeling hundreds of kilometres away from the city, you are guaranteed to feel at peace while taking in the smooth pavement, light traffic, and spectacular views.
Clinton’s Road is a great segment just outside of Melbourne in the small town of Smiths Gully. I love this climb for its secluded quiet surroundings, and deceptive pitches it throws at you in the early stages. — Jules Fleurus
Distance: 104km Elevation: 1,800m Route: Kinglake
City cyclists love heading out to the tiny town of Kinglake on long weekend rides to tackle the famous 7km Kinglake segment. A smooth road with a steady incline, riders enjoy powering up this climb to the summit, which has fantastic views on a clear day. Although one ascent is challenging, many pros venture out to do multiple hill repeats up this iconic hill. Devastated by the Black Saturday bushfires in 2009, the Kinglake landscape is incredibly unique while the rolling countryside on the way back to Melbourne makes this climb part of an all-around sensational ride.
The Kinglake climb is popular, as many well known pros have set times up there that we all hope to beat one day! — Miranda Griffiths
5. Mornington + Two Bays
Distance: 108km Elevation: 1,300m Route: Mornington + Two Bays
An iconic route along the bay, taking in much of Beach Road, it’s hard to beat a ride to Mornington on a sunny Melbourne day. Riding alongside the ocean you’ll encounter fantastic views and the opportunity to hit TT speeds on this relatively flat route. Two Bays, however, is anything but flat. A fun and spectacular climb, riders will often sprint up this hill before taking down a pizza and coffee at DOC in Mornington.
Two Bays itself is just long enough with sufficient gradient and variation to hurt (says something about us cyclists) at speed. A great test of relative fitness all through the year! — Grant Henry
6. Beach Road
Distance: 45km Elevation: 600m Route: Beach Road
Beach Road is the mecca of Melbourne cycling. Whether it’s a fast-paced hit out or a leisurely shop ride you’re looking for, riders of all abilities are guaranteed to enjoy this flat, smooth road that winds alongside Port Phillip Bay. There are plenty of fantastic cafe options along the route and you can choose to turn around at Black Rock, Mordialloc, or continue on to the beachside town of Portsea.
Beach Road is without a doubt the most popular road in Melbourne for cyclists. Many different group rides happen all during the week and it’s home to the most Strava segments. — Tom Leeper
7. Yarra Boulevard
Distance: 39km Elevation: 600m Route: Yarra Boulevard
One of the wonderful things about Melbourne is that there are plenty of great options for riding within the city. With multiple roads and bike paths to choose from, one can enjoy kilometres of uninterrupted riding close to home. Yarra Blvd is a favourite amongst local riders looking to fit in a quick ride before or after work. A lengthy and undulating road without much traffic, Yarra Blvd can be ridden multiple times at TT or recovery pace. Set in the parklands, you’d be hard pressed to find a more convenient route in any other city. Looking for an extra challenge? Try sprinting up Yarra Street, where the gradient reaches 17%.
A favorite of hill-lovers and masochists, Yarra Street might only be a couple hundred metres long but at well above 10%, you’ll be wishing it was even shorter. — Matt de Neef
We know there are far more than seven sweet routes in Melbourne. Share your local knowledge by telling us what your secret solo loop is or where you stop off for a cuppa. Add your comments below; we’d love to hear them!