Similar to riding the Bellarine Peninsula, a visit to Geelong for a cyclist, must include a visit to the You Yangs.
The You Yangs are an iconic feature of the Geelong skyline, visible from most parts of the city.
The name You Yang comes from the Aboriginal words ‘Wurdi Youang’ which designates, ‘big mountain’, ‘bald’ or ‘large hill’. It is a large granite outcrop rising from the surrounding flat plain.
The You Yang’s form a very special part of my childhood. I have very fond memories visiting the You Yang’s with my family for picnics. We always had lunch, and generally explored the area. I’ve brought my own family here many times, and walked the trail to Flinders Peak (named after the European explorer Matthew Flinders, whose men climbed this peak in the 1800’s to survey the area) innumerable times.
There are not many large cycling climbs in the local Geelong area (you really need to go to the Otways for that), but the You Yang’s are one that you can easily reach in a short trip, and whilst not difficult, do provide good views.
The ride I take to the You Yang’s generally goes through the industrial area of Geelong Nth, following the bay, past St Helens and Geelong Grammer through to a side road to the Highway to Lara. Lara is a small township outside of Geelong, that is rapidly growing, but quiet enough to pass through on a bike without much bother of traffic.
The road from Lara to the You Yang’s themselves are pretty flat, to ever so slightly uphill, and have no assistance from the prevailing wind as it is generally south/north. The roads in this area are coarse and dead. Once you reach the base of the You Yang’s, undoubtedly you will see many other cyclists of the mountain bike kind bombing the circuits around the base, as this is the home of the Geelong Mountain Bike Club.
The ride from the entry to the You Yangs to the carpark is probably only 2 km in length with a gradient of at most 5% of just shy of 100m in elevation difference, so is not at all strenuous. Once you reach the car park, turning right, you do get a great view of Melbourne and back to Geelong, which is well worth the effort. Of course, you can get off your bike and climb to Flinders peak if you want (around a 45 min round trip by foot) for an even better view (but is not that easy if you have cycling shoes).
The great thing about this climb and descent, is that the roads are all one way, and I’ve thought many times, it would be a great place for an Everesting attempt…perhaps another time.
For me, the round trip from my home to the You Yang’s and back is about 70 km. Apart from the modest climb to the carpark, it is pretty flat. Most times, I ride to the top (the carpark that is, not the very top of the mountain, as that is not reachable for a road cyclist), but continue on for a longer ride around the back of the park, to really fill out the ride.
If you need a water re-fill, there are rest spots at the base of the climb, behind the visitors center.
The ride to the You Yangs and the climb are a pleasant local cycling trip that is not too taxing, and provides the opportunity to get your bearings on the area. If you want, a few loops of the climb can be done, and each is around 3.1 km from bottom to top, and back to bottom again. The full climb, from the entrance to the top is about 2.2 km in length.
In all, for me, the ride from home, to the Youies, and back is about 70 km, and 2.5 hours in length, once I get past all the traffic. Again, something that is a must do in this area.