Tuesday, December 30, 2008

Looping Circuits: 65km Eastern Suburbs Creek Loop

I'm introducing a new type of blog post called "Looping Circuits". I will post up a review of a cycling circuit I have completed and commenting on it's pros and cons to give riders some ideas for some good trail circuits to complete if they are wanting something different in terms of riding environments.

This first circuit uses the EastLink Trail, a Jells Park un-named path, Scotchmans Creek Trail, Gardiners Creek Trail, Main Yarra Trail, Koonung Creek Trail and the Mullum Mullum Creek Trail (short section). All up it is very roughly 65km long. I managed to complete it about 4 hours 30 minutes, but that time includes strong winds, the use of a MTB, a on-road detour as a large section of the Gardiners Creek Trail was closed due to the M1 Upgrade and a rest at Dights Falls.

One fact to note is that I have never been on the Gardiners Creek Trail or the Scotchmans Creek Trail west of Blackburn Road. This ride was primarily a way of riding these trails for the first time. I also wanted to ride the trail around East Malvern before January 12, as that is when the bridge over the Monash Freeway (M1) will be demolished and a new cycle/pedestrian bridge will be built.

Here is a map of my route, with the base map coming from the brilliant OpenCycleMap, which is based off the OpenStreetMap site:
Positives:
Mostly off-road (excluding temporary Gardiners Creek Trail detour).
Many underpasses and bridges. There are not too many intersections to deal with and most are either local roads or traffic lights.
Mostly runs along creeks and through linear parks.
Virtually all sealed.
Links to many other trails along the way.
Negatives:
The on-road sections of the Scotchmans Creek Trail, but there is nothing that can really be done about this, unless you pay the residents to hand over a small slice of their land (2-4 metres from their back fence) to create room to run a shared path through it. If this unlikely concept went ahead, a shared path from Jells Park to the Watsons Road / Whites Lane roundabout is possible, which bypasses all the local roads through Wheelers Hill. On-road lanes would be applied to the rest of the on-road sections.
Gardiners Creek Trail detour (although it is temporary, it is still a negative, but at least a higher quality path will be built).
Not many directional signs. There are very good fingerboard signs to direct you along the on-road sections of the Scotchmans Creek Trail, but directional signage was lacking on the Gardiners Creek and Main Yarra Trails.
A few steep hills, mainly around Wheelers Hill and the Eastern Freeway area.
The Gipps Street and Chandler Highway steps. Both of these annoy me so damn much!
Some narrow sections which require you to take extra care and SLOW DOWN!!! I'm talking about the pipe bridge near the Fairfield Boathouse which needs the remaining pipeline removed and that side converted to a path as well.
The section of the Main Yarra Trail between the underpass to the Outer Circle Rail Trail and Bellford Road is quite dangerous as the path is narrow, unnecessarily windy and plainly quite dangerous considering it is on a quite steep slope. Tight almost right angle turns do not help.

Interesting:
The extremely long pedestrian underpass under the Monash Freeway in Mount Waverley. This was awesome to ride through and has to be Melbourne's longest shared path tunnel. A measurement on Google Earth told me it is an astounding 150 metres long!
The different types of surfaces and varying qualities of the trail, simply because there was so much variety. Some good, some bad. The section of the Gardiners Creek Trail where the pedestrians and cyclists are given their own space was very interesting. I wouldn't mind seeing this form of path in more places where there are a large amount of pedestrians using a shared path, such as in places like Jells Park and along the Capital City Trail where space permits.
The suspended footbridge under the Monash Freeway between the Main Yarra / Capital City Trail and Glenferrie Road was a totally different cycling experience. The unique red surface made it seem I was going quite fast up hill!
There is a short divided section of the Main Yarra / Capital City Trail next to the Yarra Boulevard which was quite different, all to save one large tree!

On a scale of 10, I give this looping circuit a 7. It loses points for lack of signage, poor standard of some sections of the trail and the two flights of steps.

1 comment:

Owen said...

Great psot Lakey boy.

I am quite familiar with the majority of this circuit, particularly the Koonung Creek Trail. I think I will definetley do this loop at some stage.
And how about those stairs... Those little grooves on the side are quite funny though.

I really think the signage should improve though (throughout Melbourne). Cycling is becoming more and more a necessity with the state of events today.

I'm liking this blog quite a lot, keep it up.

Cheers, Owen