Exploring Victoria on two wheels is best done whilst bombing downhill at high speed, trying to avoid colliding with tree boughs and rock faces, right? If you’re keen to find out more about Victoria’s mountain biking hot-spots that are within day-trip driving distance of Melbourne, read on for our top picks, as well as tips for where to grab a cheeky pint post-ride. Go on, you’ve earned it.
#1: You Yangs
Do you love downhill thrills as much as you love the challenge of an uphill climb, or a cruise along a dirt track? Head west and you’ll find You Yangs, a custom-designed mountain bike park that really does have something for everyone. From dusty tracks to rocky challenges, tree-dodging to gap-jumping, this is one of the best mountain biking areas for riders who want to challenge themselves. Hey, you’re not pushing yourself until you’ve face-planted into a stoney bank, right?
Post-cycle pub: Ummm...
There isn’t actually much around the You Yangs, but if you’re heading back towards the city, you’ll find a handful of traditional pubs in Werribee and Hoppers Crossing. If you’re looking for a pitstop before you reach Melbourne proper, the Gypsy Road Tapas Bar serves some mean tacos and paella.
#2: Lysterfield Park
If you’re looking for a mountain biking trail that has serious sporting clout, Lysterfield Park is where it’s at. With 20km of trails designed for all abilities, the trail itself includes the 2006 Commonwealth Games cross-country course, which is a total blast if you love jumps and wet-weather biking. An absolute must for any and all two-wheeled daredevils.
Post-cycle pub: Oscar’s Alehouse
Oscar's Alehouse keeps a fantastic variety of craft ales, has an outdoor deck (so you can gaze lovingly at your mud-spattered wheels as you drink) and serves some delicious food, making it a great pick for a post-cycle brew.
The clue’s in the name when it comes to Forrest’s mountain biking trails, which range from leisurely rides through stunning nature patches to so-unfit-I’m-crying uphill stretches (seriously, I actually cried trying to climb a path here once). You’re pretty much guaranteed to see incredible wildlife in this spot too: keep your eyes peeled for kangaroos and birdlife that’ll blow your mind, but also dent your spokes. You’ve been warned…
Post-cycle pub: Forrest Brewing Company
Coffee cured salmon + red ale = good times at Forrest Brewing Company.
#4: Woodend Loop, Mount Macedon
Close enough to the city to be reached by train in around an hour, Wood End is situated right next to Mount Macedon, which has a cracking mountain bike trail running through it. The loop itself is around 24km, but there are heaps of single trails cutting through the trees that are worth a detour. Hands down, one of the most fun trails to hit with a group.
Post-cycle pub: Holgate Brewhouse
Holgate Brewhouse is where you’ll find the latest and greatest of Holgate’s award-winning beers, as well as some tasty fare. Top tip: the brewhouse isn’t only home to the oldest independent brewery in Australia, it’s also home to a guest house, which makes for the perfect overnight cycling trip.
#5: Erica & Mount Baw Baw
If you’re keen to take a drive out of the city, Erica and Mount Baw Baw, two hours to the east of Melbourne, both have incredible trails that are definitely worth the journey. The surrounds are some of the greenest you’ll find in Victoria, and with trails that snake through moss-covered forestry, you’ll feel like you’re in another world. If you’re up for a leisurely ride, head to Baw Baw for shorter scenic trails—but if you’re more of a speed freak, make tracks for Erica, where you’ll find over 30km of adrenaline-pumping trails, including 13km designed for single track action.
Post-cycle pub: 1914 Café and Bar
The 1914 Café and Bar in Erica is a curious mix of high tea and crafty pints, but if it’s a post-ride feed of sugar and alcohol you’re craving, this British-themed teahouse will sort you out.
Image credit: Visit Victoria