A Slight Wait

Hello all you dear readers out there in Cyberland, Professor Martin here again to lead you onto the true path of delays and obfuscation.

Delays because I have nought to write about for the next two weeks, but after that you will once again be entertained by Linda and my travels to the island state of Van Diemen’s Land, otherwise known as Tasmania.

We will be leaving Melbourne Sunday week, 18th of September, on the Bass Strait ferry to Devonport  on the north coast of Tasmania and taking out trusty camper with us. We will also be taking our bicycles, and if the weather is fair (meaning not raining) will will do some serious riding in the remote and rugged West Coast of the island.

Thus. I will remain ‘off-air’ until we reach Tasmania, when I will once again inform, amuse,  and regale you dear readers  about our adventures in the island state.

Re the Giro de Victoria: I will leave it on the website for a few more weeks when it will be deleated.

Giro de Victoria. Final Stage

STAGE 11. GEHI FLAT TO CORRYONG

Saturday 23rd April 2016

To Corryong

Linda and I left home at 9.30 heading directly over to the Hume Highway at Broadford via Daylesford and Kyneton. The weather as we passed by Hanging Rock was wet and cold, but improved dramatically north of Seymour. The Hume was easy to drive for once with surprisingly light traffic all the way to Wodonga.

We stopped just before Seymour at a Services for lunch where Linda took over driving to just south of Wodonga. We had intended to get fuel at the Glenrowan Services, but that was closed for renovations, so we continued on to the Logic Services where re refueled and changed drivers.

From there we took the Wodonga by-pass and then got onto the Murray Valley Highway heading for Corryong. It was an easy and surprisingly fast drive along despite the twists and turns of the highway to Corryong due to the lack of traffic. We called briefly into Tallangatta to buy some bread before heading off on the last 80 kilometres to Corryong. Beautiful drive through the hills and valleys to our destination

Keith and Jean had driven up to Wangaratta yesterday to visit a friend of theirs who lives there and spent the night. Today they left early from Wangaratta and took a slow trip to Corryong stopping at Tallangatta for lunch. From there they continued on to Corryong arriving around 3.30, and after booking in to the motel went for a walk around the town.

We finally arrived at Corryong at 4.45 and booked into our motel. Keith and Jean turned up a few minutes later, as they had been in the pub up the road and saw us pass by in the ute. We all then sat down together for some biscuits, cheese, and wine on a table outside our rooms that overlooked the valley and mountains to the west as we watched a spectacular sun-set. Sun having set it was time for dinner at the pub just up the road; the same pub we stayed at when we started the Giro de Victoria in 2010 for dinner. Returned to the motel about 8pm, and virtually straight to bed.

Cheese & Biscuits on Arrival
Cheese & Biscuits on Arrival

The motel bed: The mattress was cast and rolled at BHP Port Kembla.

 

Sunday 24th April 2016

Gehi Flat to Corryong

We were all ready to leave our motel at Corryong around 9am having loaded the bikes and supplies for today’s journey, the final leg of the Giro de Victoria; Gehi Flat to Corryong. It was a nice pleasant drive to Khancoban with only two steep hills to conquer on the journey back. Between the first and second hills we crossed the Murray River into New South Wales before passing through Khancoban then the beginning a long steep ascent of about 15 kilometres before the descent to Gehi Flat.

About 5Km out of Khancoban we stopped at a lookout that looks over the Murray No 1 power station, one of the last stations built on the Snowy Mountains Hydro Electric scheme in the mid 1960’s. I had actually visited the power station whilst under construction in 1965, so it was interesting to see it in its finished state. Continuing on we reached the summit of the high ridge between Khancoban and Gehi before descending to the Gehi Flat camping area on the Gehi River. This was the starting point of our ride back to Corryong.

Murray No 1 Power Station
Murray No 1 Power Station

It is important that I briefly diverge from the Giro de Victoria and note an historical finding of the mid 20th century that has great relevance to our ride. In 1947 a Bedouin shepherd was searching for a lost sheep in some caves near the Dead Sea and came upon a heap of earthenware pots. Thinking they may hold some form of treasure, the shepherd broke open some of the pots only to find some ancient, partially intact papyrus scrolls. These scrolls turned out to be extremely significant, as they were some of the earliest Hebrew texts making direct reference to what is the writings of the Christian New Testament and adjuncts thereof.

But there were also some fragments of papyrus that scholars have deciphered as adjuncts to the New Testament book of Revelations. As with most of the writings in Revelations, their true meaning is hidden in allegorical tales and must be studied by those who have prior knowledge of their hidden meaning. The following is an extract from the previously unknown 23rd chapter of Revelations:-

REVELATIONS

Ch: 23

1. And it came to pass in this time of great turmoil that the disciples of the Lord devised a chariot of wondrous design.

2. In front no shafts, but the head of a ram and two giant iron wheels thusly spoked thereto and with many toothed wheels and chains roundabout.

3. And this chariot of goodliness was known as Hippocycle.

4. And Hippocycle was worshipped by the followers of swiftness such that the antelope and the tiger were put to shame by the charioteers.

5. And God looked down with kindness on these charioteers as it kept them on the path of truth and righteousness in these times of great trouble.

6. Great hosts in adoration witnessed the charioteers on their Hippocycles, and cheered and beheld them as they raced the antelope and the tiger for the honour of the golden robe.

7. But Satan, the Lord of darkness was jealous of Hippocycle and the charioteers.

8. And to Satan came thoughts of great malice to the Lord.

9. “Shouldst these bemuscled charioteers reach for the heavens, God will be displeased, and me most certainly otherwise.”

10. With thus malicious thoughts Satan looked upon two of the elders of the charioteers of Hippocycle.

11. Keithius of the Blackbeard and Ramondus of the Whitebeard were two saintly elders of the cult of the Hyppocycle and faithfully followed the edicts of the Lord.

12. “Heed only the flat-lands”, commanded God to Blackbeard and Whitebeard. “And thou willt have the swiftness of the antelope and tiger.”

13. “But tryeth thy might upon the hills of the land and thou shalt be assaulting my Kingdom.”

14. “For this is sinful and the fires of hell shall engulf thee if thou tryest.”

15. But Satan sayeth to Blackbeard and Whitebeard. “Reach for the heavens and thou shalt be rewarded with the speed of the eagle stooping for its prey and the golden robe shall be thyne.”

16. And these charioteers were enticed by the sweet words of Satan.

17. To stoop with the swiftness of the eagle was wont to divert the thoughts of Blackbeard and Whitebeard together.

18. “Let us assault the mountain with our Hippocycles,” tempted Whitebeard. “For surely goodness and fame will descend upon us.”

19. And Blackbeard agreed.

We had morning tea at Gehi Flat before Keith and I set off for the 56 Km ride back to Corryong. Unfortunately, as soon as you depart Gehi Flat, you immediately begin the first long steep hill for the day. As we had not had a chance to warm up before attempting the hill, we found it very difficult to ride. So difficult in fact that we dismounted about 500 metres out of Gehi Flat and walked for about a kilometre. The road then became a little less steep, and soon a long down hill run to a small intervening valley. All the time, up and down, the road is narrow, twisting and turning, and steep. Also by this time the traffic had built up for the day, so there were lots of cars, and huge numbers of motor bikes. Luckily because of the twists and turns of the road, traffic was quite slow (just like us). It was an 11 kilometre climb from Ghi Flat to the Scammel Gap summit before decent to Khancoban.

Up the Hills Out of Gehi Flat
Up the Hills Out of Gehi Flat

REVELATIONS

Ch 24

The Revelation of the great Khan Coban

1. And thus did Blackbeard and Whitebead defy the commandment of the Lord.

2. And started upon their Hippocycles to assault the mountain of the Almighty.

3. And God was greatly displeased.

4. Five times did the thighs and muscles of Blackbeard and Whitebeard suffer immersion in the fiery pits of hell.

5. Five times did their breaths turn to fire and consume their lungs.

6. Five times did they try again to mount their Hippocycles and assault the Kingdom of God, only to fail.

7. But Satan in his trickery did whisper in the ear of Blackbeard. “Do not dismount, but sneaketh thee behind Whitebeard as would a snail. For soon he will fail and the Mount of heaven shall be thyne alone.

8. And sneakily did Blackbeard follow on behind Whitebeard.

9. But the Lord saw all. And was

wont to render both charioteers to permanent fire of the thighs and lungs as punishment for their transgressions.

10. But the Lord being more cleaver than Satan saw that an ascent to the Pass of Scammel would bring Blackbeard and Whitebeard closer to Him.

11. Thus the Lord parted the darkness of ignorance and let the blinding light of Knowledge descend upon the two elders.

12. “Guideth thy Hippocycles at the pace of a snail and the tortures of ascent shall leave thee,” sayeth the Lord.

13. And thus it came to pass that Blackbeard and Whitebeard conquered the heights of Heaven and passed through the Pass of Scammel to the swift descent to the place of the Khan of Coban.

14. Three thousand leagues did it take for this knowledge.

15. “Blackbeard and Whitebeard are a bit thick,” thought the Lord.

Keith at the Pass of Scammel
Keith at the Pass of Scammel

From the summit it was a very fast descent down to Khancoban. I reached a maximum speed according to Strava of 75 Kph; scary but fun. Average descent speed was around 40 Kph. We did stop again at the Murray No 1 lookout to photograph the bikes set against the background of the power station building. At Khancoban we pulled into a rest area on the edge of the town for a light lunch. Whilst having lunch I phoned Linda to see where she was, only to find out she was about to leave Corryong on her bike to meet us along the way.

A nice easy ride out of Khancoban along the river flats before the first of the two steep hills between there and Corryong, this time though, the climb was easy following our newly found knowledge. Down the other side of this hill we spotted Linda in the distance coming towards us. As we drew near her she changed direction and joined us for the return journey. At the Murray River crossing we stopped for photos of us passing back into Victoria before continuing on to Corryong.

Crossing the Murray River near Kahncoban
Crossing the Murray River
near Khancoban

One final steep long hill of about 5Km, but again following the new rule, an easy ride for all three of us before the final fast decent into the Corryong valley. A kilometre out of Corryong, Keith and I stopped at the town entrance sign and had Linda take photos of us completing the Giro de Victoria. We actually had to ride about 200 metres past our motel to the pub where we had stayed in 2010 and started the Giro.

The Circle Completed Arrival at Corryong
The Circle Completed
Arrival at Corryong
    1. Km in 3:42 Hrs. Average speed of 15.91 Kph.

The Giro de Victoria

Thus, finally after 3510 kilometres and 6 years, Keith and I have completed the Giro de Victoria. Naturally with the help of our wives Jean and Linda.

The Giro de Victoria, Stage 9

Including the Annual Bass Coast Challenge Charity Ride.

Thursday 13 November 2014

To Inverloch

We spent the morning packing the ute and finally left home at mid-day for an easy drive to Inverloch stopping only at Mackas on the Ring Rd., for a coffee and cake before heading off again. There was a slight hold up where the Ring Rd., joins the Geelong Rd., due to a serious accident down at Laverton, otherwise it was a good drive. We pulled into Dan Murphy’s at Wonthaggi to get some beer and wine before finally arriving at Keith and Jean’s around 5pm.

Friday 14th November

Inverloch

At 9.30 am, Linda, Keith and I headed out on a 20+ kilometre ride to Koonwarra where we were to meet up with Jean for coffee and cakes. A pleasant undulating ride with a strong tail wind, so the ride was done in good time. A nice morning tea at the Koonwarra Store before heading back to Inverloch via a slightly different route than that out. This ride back was into the quite stiff head wind, but still not too arduous.

Sat around for a while not really doing much. Later in the afternoon we walked down to the beach so Keith could show me the wind farm down along Anderson’s inlet and then to a cafe for a coffee. Having had our coffee we went over to the Bass Coast Challenge registration centre and collected our RFID number plates for the ride tomorrow before returning to Keith and Jean’s for dinner. On the way, Jean’s brother Neil turned up; he too is riding tomorrow.

Ride: 49.87 Km in 2:22 Hrs, Ave Speed: 21.1Kph Linda: 49.51 Km in 2:29 Hrs, Ave: 19.94 Kph

Saturday 15th November

Inverloch:- The Bass Coast Challenge

We were out of bed by 6.30am for breakfast and ready to ride down to the start of the ride at 7.45. Lots of people at the start gate in Inverloch’s Main Street ready to leave at 8am. We finally departed through the RFID gate at around 8.10 due to them sending people off in waves; we were in the 3rd wave.

It was an easy and fast ride out of Inverloch heading along the Korumburra Rd. At one point I found myself the leader of a small peloton and sitting at around 30 Kph. Soon though we turned off to begin the infamous ride up Mt., Misery; a steep climb of around 5 Km. It was a difficult climb, it is supposed to be the hardest climb of the whole day, but Keith, Neil and I made it quite easily, though not fast. No doubt Neil could have done it a lot faster, but he stayed with us less fit riders.

From then on the ride was up and down the hills between Inverloch and Korumburra with again quite a few steep and slow climbs, rewarded by some fast descents. Keith and I must be reasonably fit as we managed to pass quite a few riders on the flats, the climbs, and the descents.

Our last rest stop for the day was at Archie’s Creek after a fast downhill descent, but then relatively flat for the remaining 40 Km through Wonthaggi and back to Inverloch. Despite it being a quite arduous ride, we managed to maintain averages on the flats of around 30 Kph. Between Wonthaggi and Cape Patterson we picked up another peloton of about 10 riders and led them to the finish line at Inverloch. We arrived back at Inverloch around 2.15pm to be greeted by Jean; Linda had gone back to Jean’s after her ride. Linda did her 54 Km ride in around 2.1/2 hrs.

Ride Stats: 121.71 Km in 5:26 Hrs, Ave speed: 22.4 Kph Linda: 54 Km in 2:30 Hrs, Ave speed: 21.6 Kph

Sunday 16th November

Inverloch to Marlo

It took a while, but were were packed and initially departing right on 10am. Initially, because we were stopped from immediately leaving, not by Keith wanting a wee, but by a bloke from an asphalting company about to start some serious road works in the area and wanting to record houses in the works area to avoid litigation later when the job was finished. Didn’t take too long, and we finally left at 10.10 heading towards Mirboo North.

We stopped at Mirboo North for morning tea at a local cafe. We continued on from Mirboo North to Morwell where we joined the Princes Freeway eastward through Traralgon and Sale to Stratford (on Avon) where we stopped for lunch at around 1pm. We had an enjoyable lunch and Keith was intending to take over the driving, but unfortunately he was getting a serious hay-fever attack, which was rendering him unfit to drive safely, so I continued driving on through Bairnsdale, Bruthen, Nowa Nowa to Orbost and then finally Marlo.

Keith was particularly worried about rain effecting the bikes, as it had rained quite hard last night, and looking at the weather radar before leaving Inverloch there was heavy rain over East Gippsland, and it looked as though we would be motoring into this heavy rain. But it turned out to be quite fine and dry as far as Nowa Nowa, when we ran into light rain that continued until Orbost. By Marlo it was quite clear though overcast. We found the holiday park where we were staying and booked into our previously reserved motel rooms.

For dinner we retired to the Marlo Hotel where we were to meet up with Neil McLennon and his wife Jenny.

Monday 17th November

Marlo to Cann River

It was a beautiful fine and warm morning with a gentle westerly wind as Keith and I said goodbye to Linda and Jean and headed off along the Cape Conran road. Virtually no traffic along the flat road following the coast to Cape Conran and only a few minor hills to climb; an undulatingly flat road as Keith described it. Coastal bush to our left of stunted eucalypts, coastal banksia, and tea tree. To our right low scrub covered sand dunes leading down to the ocean.

At Cape Conran we turned left heading inland towards Cabbage Tree on the Princes Highway. About 200 metres onward from this turn we stopped for a drink and some food before continuing northward. About a kilometre further inland we came to our first steep hill for the day, probably the steepest for the day, but luckily only about half a kilometre long. From then on we continued on a steady climb until the highway, passing a few isolated farms, but mainly passing through Crown Land eucalypt forests. 

About half way between Cape Conran and Cabbage Tree, Linda and Jean passed us in the ute, they were going to meet us at the highway junction for morning tea. Thus about half an hour later we came across the ladies parked just short of the highway junction awaiting our arrival for morning tea.

We spent about 20 minutes over morning tea before joining the highway eastward towards Cann River. Now the road until now had been flat from Marlo to Cape Conran, and except for the small steep climb mentioned above, was a gentle rise to the highway. From now on the main highway the road was a roller coaster ride; long slow climbs then fast descents into river valleys, all the time though passing through dense forests with pretty tree fern filled gullies in the valleys. At one point we passed the only habitation between the Cape Conran road and Cann River at Bell Bird, which consists solely of the Bell Bird Hotel. So we stopped to take a photo of the quaint pub before continuing onward.

Whilst having morning tea we had arranged with Linda and Jean to find a spot around 20Km short of Cann River for lunch. Thus on decent into a valley we saw a sign indicating a rest area 5Km further on where we guessed rightly that we would find Linda and Jean. But…, said rest stop was at the top of a very long 5 Km steep hill, so it was a long hard slog up to the lunch stop. About half a kilometre before the lunch stop area and at the top of the climb, Keith and I were stopped at some roadworks before finally seeing the ute in the parking area.

Lunch Stop before Cann River
Lunch Stop before Cann River

We had an enjoyable gourmet lunch over about 3/4 of an hour, (smoked salmon and cream cheese) before heading off for the last 20 Km into Cann River. Our long lunch stop reinforced the fact that when cycling, if you stop for a long rest, you loose all your fitness gained before you stopped. What was an easy ride, despite its roller coaster nature, before lunch, became a hard slow and difficult slog for about 7 K m before the cycling fitness returned and the ride once again became most enjoyable.

At around 1.45 pm we finally came to the river flats leading into Cann River, and a few minutes later the town itself. We passed slowly through the town and found our motel and Linda and Jean, a little past the Monaro Highway junction where we are to head tomorrow. As it turned out, Linda and Jean had only beaten us to the motel by about 10 minutes.

Cann River
Cann River

Rested and showered before walking out to explore the town, took a whole 15 minutes. But we did stop at a coffee shop for refreshments and something extra to eat before continuing our exploration of Cann River. Jean found a small open air market that had piles of Mills & Boon books for sale; Jean is a keen reader of high quality literature, so she bought 8 books for $7. Returned to the motel for a rest before going to the local hotel for dinner. I did an impromptu public, and highly dramatised reading of one of the more salacious parts of the ‘red’ classified M & B’s, and much appreciated by the public bystanders.

Surprisingly, the Princess Highway was a good ride despite the considerable traffic; lots of courteous trucks, and lots of caravaners.

Statistics for the day: 77.38 Km in 3:32 Hrs Average speed: 21.9 Kph.

Tuesday 18th November

Cann River to Bombala

We all had a light breakfast from our own stores before finally leaving Cann River at around 9.10 am heading for Bombala in New South Wales. According to our maps we had about 20 Km riding along river flats along the Monaro Highway before starting the climb up to the Snowy River plains where Bombala is to be found. It turned out that the climbing began about 10 Km up the highway. Despite this, it was a pleasant ride; little traffic and a slight tail wind taking us first through farmlands on the Cann River flats, then as we climbed, through dense eucalypt forests well into New South Wales.

Despite beginning the climb up to Bombala 10 Km earlier than anticipated, it was a pleasant steady climb, with us managing to maintain a steady 22 Kph up the road. About an hour out of Cann River Linda and Jean passed us. About half an hour further on we found them parked in a clearing beside the road at Chandlers Creek, a location only. Just after stopping, Linda mentioned that they had passed another cyclist on the road, and about 5 minutes later, said cyclist came upon us, so we called to him to join us for a cup of coffee, which he great fully accepted, including some fruit cake as well. He was a young bloke, Luke Yates, from Warwick in the UK who had cycled from Perth, having nearly done 5000 Km by the time we stopped him for morning tea. We introduced ourselves and invited him to cycle with us to Bombala, as this too was where he was heading.

Morning Tea with Luke Yates
Morning Tea with Luke Yates

Thus having finished morning tea, Luke joined us for the remainder of the day as we headed off once again towards Bombala. At Luke’s 5000 Km mark we stopped for him to photograph his odometer, and for me to photograph him. Luke had crossed the Nullarbor Plain in South Australia, cycled the Clare Valley region, the Great Ocean Road, the Princess Highway to Cann River, and was now heading for Canberra, Sydney, Brisbane, and from there to New Zealand, then California, up to Vancouver in Canada, and then across Canada before heading back to the UK. Since Luke also was intending to stay at Bombala then Cooma, we invited him to accompany us tomorrow as well, to which he readily agreed; he said he would enjoy the company of other cyclists for a few days.

Just after Luke’s 5000 Km Mark, Neil and Jenny passed us on their way to Canberra as we had expected, so we stopped to chat to them for a few minutes before they continued on to meet up with Linda and Jean. Before departing, Neil informed us that the best (worst) was to come as far as hill climbing was concerned, see below. Thus again the three of us continued on up the gentle slopes past the NSW border, stopping for a photograph, then onward to find Linda and Jean for lunch.

A little while after the border the road flattened out to gentle undulating farmlands, and we thought that the difficult part of the day was over; it wasn’t. On a hill top showing only 30 Km to go to Bombala, we saw a steep descent in front, and a steep short rise ahead. Thus a speedy ride down to the valley and then the beginning of a not short, but long 10 Km steep rise back to the Snowy Mountains plains. Half way up this rise we came upon Linda and Jean stopped in a short side road preparing lunch. Thus we three stopped for lunch for about half an hour before continuing up the steep ascent. The rise from the valley to the 10 Km summit took the three of us 1 Hr and 5 Min of hard slow riding. Luckily it was an excellent road with wide verges.

Finally, 20 Km short of Bombala we reach the plateau where the riding for the rest of the day was a pleasant and fast ride to Bombala. We spotted Linda beside the road in Bombala so we found our motel for the night easily enough. We arranged with Luke to phone him at around 6 pm for a counter dinner at a local pub.

As were were tired from the ride and needed some refreshments, we sat down outside our motel rooms for a glass of white wine and a beer for Keith. After a shower and a rest we walked through the Main Street of Bombala to find a pub/restaurant for dinner. We happened to meet Luke whilst out walking so the decision was made to go to one of the local pubs for dinner, meeting there at 6 pm. Thus at 6 pm we duly met at the selected pub and had an enjoyable dinner. The publican was from Leeds in the UK and was quite an amusing bloke during dinner and after, as there were few dining in that night. Finished our meal around 8 pm and retired for the night back to our motel and arranging to collect Luke outside the Bombala Caravan Park at around 9 am.

Statistics for the day: 86 Km in 4:20 Hrs Average speed: 19.85 Kph.

Wednesday 19th November

Bombala to Cooma

By my calculations, which turned out to be absolutely and totally wrong, the ride from Bombala to Cooma was undulatingly flat. It is lots of steep long climbs with some short downhills in between. Admittedly it was a lot better after Nimmitabel, more undulating, but a strong northerly had arisen and at some points we actually had to pedal downhill. But back to the ride itself.

Keith and I left our motel a few minutes before 9 am and rode around to the Bombala caravan park to collect Luke, then it was out onto the road and the supposedly easy ride to Cooma. The first serious hill was about 5 Km out of town, they then flowed continuously from then on, a nice long down followed by a hard long up, often many kilometres long. The worst one for the moment was a straight steep climb directly up a hill of around 2 Km, but very steep. 

After one long curving climb we found Linda and Jean waiting in a lay-by with morning tea. It was getting quite hot now, so it was cold cordial and cake for morning tea rather than coffee. Luke certainly appreciated the cold drink considering that he was hauling 40 Kg of luggage, whilst Keith and I were only carrying snacks and water bottles. Whilst stopped we could see snow covered mountains to the west in the far distance.

In the Snowey Mountains Near Bombala
In the Snowy Mountains
Near Bombala

Continued onward with more short downhills and long hard up hills. Finally we came to the junction of the Snowy Mountains Highway that makes its way from Bega to Cooma. Here the traffic became quite heavy particularly with laden logging trucks headed for Cooma. At one point about 10 Km short of Nimmitabel we proceeded down a long steep descent at high speed, 50 Kph+, but were harassed by a large timber truck taking up the whole road; rather scary when he is doing 100 and we were doing 50 and trying to stay safely on the road. More of this truck later.

Another long, but not so steep climb finally brought us to Nimmitabel where we found Linda and Jean parked in a pic-nic area beside the road where we stopped for an enjoyable lunch.

Lunch at Nimitabel
Lunch at Nimmitabel

We had been informed by Neil McLennon that the road from now on to Cooma was more ‘undulatingly flat’, and it was, but that strong northerly had built up which generally slowed our progress. About 4 Km north of Nimmitabel we were waved to a stop by a highway patrol officer who had a pleasant discussion with us about our ride, but warned us that a truck driver had complained about us occupying the road, thus a gentle warning to us to keep closer to the verge than perhaps we had been doing. We chatted to him about our rides and particularly that of Luke, before taking a photo of him and Luke together for Luke’s web-page.

From then on the undulations and the wind continued all the way to Cooma with the wind getting stronger all the time. But despite the wind, we had a pleasant ride to Cooma, finally arriving there just after 3 pm where we found Linda and Jean waiting for us at our motel on the Canberra road. Luke joined us at the motel for cool drinks before heading off to his prearranged accommodation. Luke was most appreciative of allowing him to ride with is for two days, and we certainly enjoyed his company. Luke, by training is a geologist, but is using this road trip as a portfolio for entry to a Masters degree in travel journalism back in the UK.

The three of us agreed that today’s ride was the hardest day any of us had done yet. But despite the difficulty we did the 80+ Km in good time.After a rest and a shower we all, excluding Luke, walked into Cooma proper for a coffee and then dinner at the RSL.

Statistics for the day: 89 Km in 4:43 Hrs Average speed: 18.82 Kph.

Thursday 20th November

Cooma to Jindabyne

This is the ‘big hills’ section of the Giro de Victoria. Immediately on leaving Cooma we struck a long steep hill of about 5 Km. But to add insult to injury, there was a strong north-westerly wind that slowed us down and made riding hard until about 15 Km out of Jindabyne. Once over the Cooma hill we were basically on undulating plains, but the wind made riding very difficult. On short downhill section we had to actually pedal to maintain speed.

Just before the Cooma airport, about 15 Km out, Linda and Jean passed us. A few kilometres further on we came upon them stopped by the side of the road; Linda had removed the tarpaulin from the tray as it was flapping in the strong cross winds. Continued on towards Berridale where we were to have morning tea, again the wind slowing our progress. We spent about half an hour over morning tea in Berridale as there was only 30 Km to go to Jindabyne and we didn’t really want to hurry into the ferocious head winds.

On leaving Berridale we face a very long steep climb of about 6 Km out of the valley before descending, with pedaling, into an interesting glacial valley with huge rounded boulders spread around over about 10 Km across valley. Finally I spied a large tower on a hill perhaps 5 Km ahead as we began a long downhill run and commented to Keith that it was probably a TV transmission tower for the area, and as it turned out, the opposite side of the hill faced directly into Jindabyne.

The downhill run turned out to be long and steep, and finally gave us relief from the strong winds. It descended for about 10 Km to Jindabyne East on the shores of the lake. We knew we were near the end of our journey as half way down the long descent, Lake Jindabyne came into view. At last the descent was fast to East Jindabyne, with us reaching speeds in the high 60’s and was most enjoyable and refreshing as there were three long ascents as we rounded the headlands of the lake. At one point we descended at high speed to cross the dam wall holding back the lake. Water was being released into the Snowy River as we crossed the dam which provided us with a good show.

After a few more slow but short climbs, and fast descents, we entered the town of Jindabyne and easily located our motel on the highway. At the motel, really a fairly fancy hotel, we saw Linda and Jean sitting on the hotel balcony enjoying a drink, so we stopped and joined them for a couple of most refreshing glasses of beer. They were awaiting us on the hotel balcony as our room was not quite ready, but after about half an hour, our rooms were ready and we retired there for a lunch of rolls and then a shower. Actually a shower for me, Keith had a soaking bath.

Lake Jindabyne from our Hotel Balcony
Lake Jindabyne from our Hotel Balcony

We had intended to spent the afternoon riding up to Mt., Kosciusko, but not with the winds of today, maybe a weekend in the future. After showering and cleaning up we went for a walk around the town, typical ski town, and then settled in for a rather huge dinner in the hotel restaurant, then bed for the night.

Statistics for the day: 62.5 Km in 3:27 Hrs Average speed: 18.12 Kph

Friday 21st November

Jindabyne to Corryong

Again a day of total miscalculation; though a mountainous ride, it was meant to be mostly down hill, it wasn’t, in fact only about 18 Km was really down hill, the rest was serious up hill, so serious in fact that this section of the Giro was truncated by 55 Km. 135 Km as intended was very, very optimistic.

We departed Jindabyne about 9.10 am heading towards Threadbo ski village where we were to meet up with Linda and Jean for morning tea around 11 am. The first of the many serious climbs for the day began immediately at Jindabyne with quite a few more occurring between there and Threadbo. On one very steep climb I was stopped twice (gave a good breather) by phone calls from my bus passengers from the Seniors club back home. A few fast down hills before Threadbo, but for every down hill, there was a longer and steeper up.

At morning tea we looked at the map and decide that Gehi Flat would be the place for lunch, about 20 Km further on than Tom Groggin, the closest place and hence lowest, to the Murray River. We left Linda and Jean, who soon passed us in the ute, and continued some serious climbing past Threadbo Village heading for the summit at Dead Horse Pass before a steep and long descent to Tom Groggin. After Threadbo the road became narrow as well as very steep, and just before Dead Horse Pass we had to ascend a very steep but short section. But once there we could see north back down the Crackenback Creek to Threadbo in the distance, and to the south into Victoria.

Crackenback Valley from Dead Horse Gap
Crackenback Valley from
Dead Horse Gap

We began the winding descent knowing that it could be very fast and dangerous, thus there was a lot of braking to keep our speed under control. So much braking that we had to stop twice for 10 minutes to allow the bike rims to cool from the braking energy. After about 18 Km of descent we reached Tom Groggin and immediately turned north and began climbing again. We had dropped from 1150m to 300m on the Murray at Tom Groggin in that 18 Km.

From Tom Groggin onward our climbing troubles began, it was basically upward for around 20 Km back to about 800m ASL as we cycled towards our rendezvous for Lunch with Linda and Jean. Again as with climbing to Threadbo, long ups and short downs. Finally, about half an hour after the agreed meeting time for lunch, we finally rolled into Gehi Flat to cool drinks and lunch.

Gehi Flat Pic-nic Ground
Gehi Flat Pic-nic Ground

We were totally done in at lunch and considered giving up riding there and then, but Keith suggested we try for Khancoban, 30 Km further on, so we set off once again. But, the climb out of Gehi Flat began a climb of over 10 Km to a summit then running down into Khancoban. Keith continued on for 10 Km, but I was done in and gave up. Thus my bike was loaded onto the ute and we accompanied Keith to the summit, stopping now and then and waiting for him to see how he was going. At the summit Keith finally chucked it in also, there was still 20 Km to Khancoban, and then a further undulating 25 Km to Corryong.

Thus in the ute, we finally arrived at our motel in Corryong at 5.30 pm. Though not fully completed by bike, we did celebrate the near completion of the Giro de Victoria before showers, and then up to the pub for dinner. We will come back one day in the future to actually ride the last 55 Km of the Giro.

Corryong Valley
Corryong Valley

Statistics for the day: 85.25 in 5:27 Hrs Average speed: 15.7 Kph

Statistics for Stage 9: 400.13 Km in 19:29 Hrs Average speed: 20.54 Kph

Saturday 22nd November

Corryong to Inverloch

We left Corryong just after 8am heading for Inverloch. I drove as far as the Wangaratta services where we had morning tea and Keith took over driving as far as a services near Kilmore where we stopped for lunch and I again took over driving. Just north of Melbourne we joined the (partial) ring road and headed for Greensborough. At Greensborough Keith gave direction for getting to the Eastern Freeway at Doncaster, but managed to get us slightly bamboozled in Greensborough proper as the roads had changed slightly since he had been this way some years ago.

Finally found our way onto the Eastern Freeway and then onto the Monash. Keith showed us a new way down to the South Gippsland Highway which could be useful. Finally arrived at Inverloch at 4pm, unloaded and had a cup of tea before heading to my sister’s home on Phillip Island, arriving there at 5.30 pm.

Julie was going out for dinner, so we were left to our own devices; pizza and a bottle of red wine.

Giro de Victoria; Stage 8

Stage 8: Inverloch to Marlo

Creswick to Inverloch

Friends from Yarrawonga had come yesterday afternoon and stayed the night, and most welcome they had been. This morning they went off to the Annual Pony Club Presentation in Buninyong whilst Linda and I loaded and packed the camper for the continuation of the Giro de Victoria. We left home at 12.30pm heading down to Inverloch. It was a good run all the way, slightly slow through the Burnley Tunnel, but nothing to really slow us down. At Pakenham we stopped for a coffee and ice cream at a highway service centre before turning off for Koo-Wee-Rup and eventually Inverloch. We took the South Gippsland Highway from Lang Lang rather than the Bass, due to it being more lightly trafficked. At Leongatha we turned south to Inverloch arriving there right on 4pm.

Tuesday 12th March 2013

Inverloch to Tidal River

Now a strange occurrence with Keith is that having had his morning cup of coffee he knows he will require two wee stops early in any ride. So we expected to stop a few kilometres out of Inverloch, and perhaps a further 20 Km on for the second. Must have been extra special coffee, as we had just mounted our trusty steeds and Keith had to dismount for his first stop; a few more further on as expected.

10 seconds before the 1st wee.
10 seconds before the 1st wee.

We finally departed Inverloch about 7.30 whilst the day was still relatively cool, it was expected to get to the mid 30’s quite early in the day. Interestingly it was cool along the flats, but we only had to rise up perhaps 50 ft on the hills and the temperature rose at least 100. Once past the Tarwin Lower turnoff we began to gently rise, temperature included, as we made our way firstly to Buffalo and thence on to Fish Creek where we had arranged to wait for Linda and Jean for a refreshment stop. I phoned Linda to find out how close they were only to find they had just left Inverloch.

Keith and I thus decided to ride on towards Wilsons Promontory and meet up with our wives for morning tea, somewhere along the road. About 10 Km past Fish Creek Keith and I found a nice shady road junction with ample parking for the ute, and thought we would wait there for Linda and Jean whom we expected to arrive fairly soon. As it turned out, they arrived about 2 minutes later; well timed. We stopped for about 15 minutes for morning tea, as it was now around 10am, before continuing onward. Interesting road out of Fish Creek as it passes through a mini-rain forest and is festooned with tree ferns.

Morning Tea South of Fish Creek
Morning Tea South of Fish Creek

We had arranged to meet up again with Linda and Jean at the entrance to the Wilsons Promontory National Park, about 30 kilometres further on than our morning tea stop, so a few minutes after leaving the MT stop, Linda and Jean passed us in the ute heading towards our lunch rendezvous. Some lovely views out over the isthmus connecting the mainland with the Prom’ as we pedaled along, so I stopped for a few photos. Continuing onward the hilly ride out of Fish Creek and down to the isthmus changed to undulating farmlands before finally arriving at the National Park Ranger Station about 11am. He we met up with Linda and Jean and stopped ostensibly for lunch, but as it was still quite early, and with only 35 kilometres to Tidal River, we decided to ride about 20 Km into the NP and find a shady spot for lunch before the final 15 Km into Tidal River.

The Road to Wilsons Promontory National Park
The Road to Wilsons Promontory National Park

Now I fully understand that one can sometime exaggerate circumstances, but Keith has a habit of under exaggeration. The ride from the Ranger Station for the first 20 Km was pleasantly undulating with some nice flat and hence fast sections despite the now quite intense heat of the day, and as Linda and Jean had not found a suitable shady lunch stop within the suggested 20 Km, we consulted for a stopping point. Keith, under exaggeratingly, suggested a shady spot at the Derby Saddle, a hard, but short hill of about 3 Km from where we were. 7 Km, and bloody hard work in a ferocious sun, we reached Derby Saddle. Linda was most obliging with our spray water bottle in cooling us both down before lunch.

At Derby Saddle, Wilsons Prom'
At Derby Saddle, Wilsons Prom’

From Derby Saddle it was a fairly easy 8 Km ride into Tidal River with spectacular views out over Bass Strait and the off-shore islands off the coast of Wilsons Promontory. Being a now very hot cloudless day the ocean was a spectacular view.

Now once again referring to Keith’s riding prowess, and of course me being the author of these diaries, I can do that and remain totally free of embarrassing incidents. Keith has a habit of attracting punctures; some of us attract flies and mosquitoes, I attract beautiful women ( just have a look at my wife ); Keith attracts punctures. Thus only 2 Km short of Tidal River Keith gets a puncture, luckily only one as I expected more. So 10 minutes replacing his rear tube and then a final 5 minute ride into Tidal River where we located Linda and Jean parked in a shady spot near the Information Centre. PS: Keith swears he only gets punctures when I ride with him.

After cooling down and stowing our bikes, we changed into our bathers and drove down to the actual river for a very refreshing swim. Very pleasant indeed. Having cooled off in the river we walked to Norman Beach, a surf beach where the river enters the sea, and paddled in the raging surf. Raging? Well perhaps breakers of 30 cm at the most. A very shallow and safe beach for children. Despite the ocean being Bass Strait, the water was quite warm and a pleasant and cooling walk out in it. Wilsons Promontory is a very beautiful place and it is easy to see why people ballot for camping spots in the NP in the holiday seasons.

Tidal River River
Tidal River River

As it was now around 3.30pm it was time to leave and make the 95 kilometre drive back to Keith and Jeans home at Inverloch. Tomorrow we will drive to the Fish Creek – Wilsons Promontory road junction where we will commence our 2nd day’s ride to Yarram.

Ride Statistics: 94.3 Km in 4:31 Hrs @ 21.5 Km/Hr

Wednesday the 13th of March 2013

Foster to Yarram, 1st try

What began as simple day’s ride to Yarram, ended as a car ride. As we departed Keith and Jean’s to our start point south of Foster I felt a slight hesitation in the ute’s engine. Not thinking too much of it I drove on down the Venus Bay road for about one kilometre before the engine stopped and I pulled off to the side of the road. Trying to start the engine, nothing happened, perhaps a simple fault, so checked under the bonnet and in the engine bay. No obvious fault, but who can tell in the circuitous plumbing of a modern engine bay. Tried priming the fuel rail, finding a lack of back pressure and fuel spilling out somewhere onto the road indicated a fuel failure of some kind. Thus a call to the RACV for assistance.

Assistance was quite a while coming, firstly being held on the phone for 10 minutes, then an hour’s wait until the RACV ex Wonthaggi turned up. Helpful bloke gave a good indication of the trouble, a leak from the fuel filter. But despite the simplicity of a fix, the ute required a tow into Wonthaggi to the local Ford dealer for repair. As it as going to be half an hour before the tow arrived, Keith and I rode our bikes the one kilometre back to their place so as not to carry the bikes on a towed vehicle, then Jean drove me back to Linda waiting at the ute.

But now the problems began, not with the mechanics of the car, but with the RACV service; in reality a lack thereof. The RACV bloke had phoned for a tow vehicle which was promised within one half an hour. Two and a half hours later, and two rather terse phone calls to the RACV, a tow truck turned up from Wonthaggi and in defence of the RACV, they had arranged an immediate tow from another tow company, not the one from the local RACV contractor.

Once the ute was in Wonthaggi the repair to the fuel filter took exactly twenty minutes to fix whilst Linda and I had lunch. Finally arrived back at Keith and Jean’s place around 2.30pm where we immediately repacked the ute and set out once again for Yarram. An uneventful but scenic drive to Yarram along the coast arriving there about 4pm. We found our CV park easily enough and checked into two cabins for the night.

Later we walked into the town proper for dinner, intending to have dinner at the hotel Keith and Jean had spent the first night of their honeymoon back in 1989. Unfortunately it was booked out for a DNRE function, so we had to contend with the hotel across the road. Irrespective, we had a nice dinner with wine and beer as usual.

Since we have now not ridden the Foster – Yarram section of the Giro, we will do it as some suitable day any time during the year, hopefully before the intended Marlo to Corryong section.

Ride Statistics: 1.4 Km in 5 minutes @16.8 Km/Hr

Wednesday 20th November

Inverloch to Foster to Yarram and return.

(The missing day)

This day was meant to be done sometime over the weekend of 8th and 9th of June 2013, and had been seriously planned to be so, but all was not to be. On Wednesday the 9th of May, whilst out mountain bike riding with my son, I broke my left leg. This put me out of action for 3 months. And so the missing stage 8 link had to be postponed to now.

On the morning of this day we were slightly worried about the weather as it was predicted to rain, but as it turned out, it was a beautiful riding day; high cloud, no rain, about 170, and only a very light though adverse wind.

Thus we departed Keith and Jean’s in the ute with the bikes on the back around 9am and headed toward Foster for the beginning of this missing Giro section. Actually we began the ride about 14 Km south of Foster on the Wilson’s Promontory road, as this is where we had ridden to in March on our diversion of the Giro to Tidal River. Thus having arrived at the Foster – Wilsons Prom’ road junction from Fish Creek, Keith and I mounted our trusty steeds and headed the undulating but pleasant 14 Km into Foster. We were stopped at a road works area for about 10 minutes, but negotiated the gravel road under repair without incident.

At Foster we spied the ute parked in the Main Street so reasoned that Linda and Jean were nearby, and most probably in a cafe enjoying a morning tea. They were, I located them in a cafe across the road from the ute. Keith and I never intended having a morning tea so soon after beginning the ride, but got the keys to the ute so we could leave our extraneous clothing therein because of the good weather. Having divested ourselves of the clothing we set out for Toora about 12 Km further on where we did intend to stop for our morning tea.

It was a pleasant and reasonably fast ride to Toora through undulating countryside at the foot of the Strzelecki Ranges and overlooking Wilsons Prom and Corner Inlet, the light headwind not really effecting the ride. At Toora we spied Linda and Jean parked beside the highway, they having passed us some kilometres back. So we stopped and decided to find a cafe in Toora proper for our morning tea; Toora proper is off on a side road about half a kilometre to the south. Nothing open in Toora, but there was a cafe on the highway where we had turned into the town so we returned to there and had our morning tea.

From Toora the land flattens somewhat as the ranges to our north fell away, so once again the ride was reasonably fast despite the headwind. Now the highway into Yarram turns northward about 20 Km before the town, so we expected to have a side wind only on the run up to Yarram, and increase accordingly our average speed. Unfortunately by the time of the turn northward, and despite the now flat ride, the wind had swung around to the north-east and increased considerably Thus our ride from around Welshpool to Yarram, was decidedly slower than we had anticipated because of a strong headwind component.

We finally arrived at Yarram just on 1 pm, but had to stop at the public toilets for Keith to rid himself of his Toora coffee burden. Met up with Linda and Jean about 200 metres further on, they had parked outside the Yarram Hotel where we intended to have lunch. So without any hesitation we secured the bikes on the ute and entered the hotel for an enjoyable counter lunch.

Having finished lunch we headed back to Inverloch via the main highway and Meeniyan as this is the shortest way back. Took a slight diversion to Tarwin Lower to check the river level there because Keith was interested in the flood situation there as there had been a lot of rain down this way over the last week. Finally arrived back at Keith and Jean’s around 3.30pm.

Statistics: 66.1 Km in 2 Hrs 54 Min at 22.8 Km/Hr average speed.

Thursday the 14th of March 2013

Yarram to Stratford

As the day was going to be pleasantly cool we decided to leave somewhere between 8.30 and 9am. We departed the CV park then at 8.40 and began a leisurely ride through the town heading north. There was very little wind, and what there was, was from the west, thus at the northern edge of Yarram we turned north-east heading for Sale with a gentle assisting breeze. The ride was quit flat with only small undulations all the way to Sale, so we made good time out of town sitting on 25 to 27 Km/Hr with the odd down slope, hardly hills, doing 30 to 35 Km/Hr.

A fair part of the journey was though pleasant forested state parks, so it as an enjoyable ride. At about 25 Km I phoned Jean to see where they were as we had basically agreed to meet for morning tea after about 30 Km. As they were just leaving Yarram we decided to push onto about the 40 Km mark where they could pick a spot for morning tea. Linda and Jean passed us at about 35 Km and would have been looking out for a nice spot beside the road for our morning tea stop. At around 38 Km we spotted them parked on a forestry track about 20 metres off the road.

On the Road to Sale
On the Road to Sale

We spent about 20 minutes enjoying our break before once again heading off towards Sale, about 35 Km further on. As we were pedaling along. Keith got a message on his mobile phone. He reached into his jersey and pulled out a chocolate bar which he proceeded to answer. “Oh! It hasn’t got a screen” exclaimed Keith and it only has one bar reception. Chocolate bars don’t work very well as phones. We had arranged to meet for lunch at the old Sale Swing Bridge just out of of Longford and about 5 Km south of Sale proper. It was a pity we had to stop in a way as we had got into the swing of riding and were perhaps sitting around 30 Km/Hr without much trouble. Nevertheless we found Linda and Jean on the old highway at the Swing Bridge pic-nic ground where we had our lunch of salad rolls.

The Granger Swing Bridge, Sale
The Granger Swing Bridge, Sale

The swing bridge is very interesting; erected in 1880 and designed by Percy Granger’s (famous Australian composer) father who was a Civil Engineer with the then Roads Board. It has been restored to operation but not to carry traffic except for pedestrians and cyclists. We spent about an hour over lunch before heading into Sale along the river causeway where we were halted by a couple of sets of traffic lights before reaching the northern edge of the town and the highway to Stratford.

By now the wind had come around to the north-west, but still being only a gentle breeze, it only slowed us slightly from the pre lunch speeds down to 23 to 25 Km/Hr. It’s a dead flat road to Stratford, so despite the slight headwind we made good time arriving at Stratford and our CV park, we have a double cabin for the night, where we found Linda and Jean awaiting our arrival. After a refreshing cup of tea and a shower for Keith and I, we set off for the local supermarket to purchase items for dinner as we intend eating in. Our cabin has a pleasant view over the Avon River. Since we are at Stratford on Avon naturally our cabin has a Shakespearean name: Othello, the Moor of Venice.

Ride Statistics: 90.1 Km in 3 Hrs 41 min. @ 24.46 Km/Hr

Friday the 15th of March 2013

Stratford to Lakes Entrance

We left Stratford around 9.45am and headed out of town for about 2 Km to the road to Bengwarden. We had decided to go via Bengwarden rather than directly along the Princess Highway as there would be far less traffic, which turned out to be quite true, so it was a lot more pleasant ride. The road was undulating with quite long flat sections through broad acre farming country, thus we were able to make good time all the way to Bairnsdale, luckily too, the wind though slight, was basically behind us.

About 30 Km along the road Keith commented that our wives should pass us soon to find a nice spot for morning tea. As it happened they passed us about one minute later and pulled into a side road for morning tea about one kilometre further on. We had a quick rest break before continuing on. About 5 Km further on we turned north east towards Bairnsdale; to now we had been travelling basically due east. Again the slight wind was assisting our travels and by Bairnsdale we were averaging 24.5 Km/Hr. As we were pleasantly riding along I noticed a strange ball like structure moving in the verge on the left hand side of the road; it was an Echidna taking a stroll. It balled itself up as we got close, but continued its unconcerned walk once we had passed.

About 15 Km out of Bairnsdale we turned due north and soon joined the main highway for the last 5 Km into Bairnsdale. Bairnsdale is a long thin town so it took quite a few minutes to pass through, mainly also due to traffic lights, to the east side of the town where we met up with Linda and Jean at a park. Here we stopped for about an hour for lunch.

We now had only 35 Km to ride to Lakes Entrance, but it was the most difficult part of the day as there were quite a few hills to climb especially just before the decent into Lakes Entrance, and to make matters slower, the wind had come round to a quite strong easterly. We left Bairnsdale at 1pm and headed into this last arduous section taking about 1 Hr and 50 minutes for only 35 Km. The worst part of the ride was a very long hill, probably about 3 Km continuous steep climb to Nungurna before the decent into Lakes Entrance. At the top of the hill Keith and I stopped at a lookout over the lakes and I took a couple of photos with the iPhone.

The Entrance, Lakes Entrance
The Entrance, Lakes Entrance

A quick decent for about 2 Km into the town then a ride through along the foreshore to the east end of the town where we found our accommodation, the Pomora B&B, run by Keith and Jean’s daughter Helen’s in-laws. Leslie and Tony McKenzie. We arrived about 2.45pm. Keith and I had showers before we four walked into the town centre for a little look around and a drink at the Lakes Entrance Club. Tonight we are eating in once again, dinner at the B&B.

Ride Statistics: 104.3 Km in 4Hrs 31 Min. Average speed of 23.1 Km/Hr

Saturday the 16th of March 2013

Lakes Entrance to Marlo

It was a late departure morning from Lakes Entrance, 9.15am, because of the full B&B breakfast we spent time over. Our initial ride out of Lakes Entrance was quite hard as it was our first long and steep hill of many for the day, and as we had no chance to warm up, it was hard work. The ride was quite undulating for quite a while with steep descents to river crossings and then steep climbs back up to the plateau for some reasonably flat runs. Most of the time we were passing through State Forests, so despite the hard climbs, the scenery was pretty and interesting. Lots of traffic, mainly locals and tourists in caravans and motor homes, with a few trucks now and then. Because of the hilly nature of the road our average speed was quite slow despite some fast down hills to the river crossings.

Lakes Entrance B&B
Lakes Entrance B&B

At Nowa Nowa we came across Linda and Jean stopped at the General Store, they had passed us some distance previously, and as it was now around 10.30 we decided on morning there rather than Tostaree a few kilometres further on as we had planned. On leaving Nowa Nowa Keith’s under-estimation luckily came into good (really over-estimation in this case) as he had warned of a long steep climb out of Nowa Nowa of around 7 Km. It turned out to be about 2 Km, and not that difficult. From then on it was basically an undulating plateau as far as Newmerella, about 5Km short of Orbost where we had planned to stop for lunch.

At Newmerella I phoned Jean to tell her where we were as Linda and Jean were going to a local bakery to buy pies for lunch. It was a fast drop down to the Snowy River flood plain and into Orbost crossing the flood plane on a long causeway. We found Linda and Jean waiting for us with our hot pie lunches in a park on the edge of town where we spent about an hour before continuing on. Whilst having lunch a couple of about our ages passed by and looked at Keith and I and asked; “Didn’t we just see you in Nowa Nowa?” They were quite amazed that we had got from Nowa Nowa to Orbost in such a short time for cyclists. They were even more impressed when Jean informed them that a 40 Km ride was just a morning’s stroll for us.

It was now only a 15 Km drive along the river flats to Marlo, so Keith and I took it easy for that ride enjoying the river and farm scenery we passed through. A stiff climb for about half a kilometre onto Marlo where we easily found our motel with our adoring wives awaiting our arrival. So ends, except for the short missing section, the Inverloch to Marlo section of the Giro de Victoria.

Tonight we are meeting Jean’s brother and sister-in-law Neal and Jen, at the Marlo Hotel for dinner. But between then and now we are taking a drive to Cape Conran to see the start of the next section of the Giro. Whilst at Cape Conran we took an old coast road for about 15 Km along the coast then returned to Marlo.

Ride Statistics: 73.8 Km in 3 Hrs 35 Min @ 20.55 Km/Hr

Sunday the 17th of March 2013

Marlo to Inverloch and Creswick

We departed Marlo around 9am heading the fast way home via the Lakes Entrance cut-off via Bruthen and thence along the highway to Morwell and from there down to Inverloch.

It rained all the way to Bairnsdale where we stopped briefly at Mackas for morning tea before heading on to Morwell on the Princess Highway. At Rosedale we stopped for a rest (Keith had been on the coffee again) before continuing on to Morwell where we turned south towards Leongatha and Inverloch.

At Mirboo North we stopped for lunch, and seeing we were quite early in our travels as it was only 1pm when we finished lunch, Linda and I decided we would continue on home after dropping Keith and Jean at Inverloch. We dropped Keith and Jean at their place, and after a short time unpacking their stuff we headed home, finally arriving there at 6pm to an enthusiastic welcome from our dog Buster.

Thus ends section 8 of the Giro de Victoria. Only one final section to complete, Marlo to Corryong to complete our circumnavigation of Victoria (and part of South Australia).

Giro de Victoria; Stage 7

Melbourne to Inverloch

(First ever section)

Tuesday 17th November 2009

This physical section, section 7, of the Giro de Victoria, and the actual inspiration for the Giro, was conceived by Keith as a ride initially by himself from home in Burwood, Melbourne, to his holiday home at Inverloch. On hearing of this intention I agreed to join him in the ride. This was agreed some months prior to the ride, so it gave us both time to train up for the 140 kilometres to Inverloch. It should be remembered also that at the time neither of us had our new road bikes, and that we were both basically road un-fit. So our training regime was to try and get us to an average speed of 20 Km/Hr, thus giving us a 7 hour ride. Initial training on my part on my trusty 14 year old MTB, saw the average speeds climbing from c15 Km/Hr to c 22 Km/Hr nearer the ride. We were also during our training, keeping a weather eye on the prevailing winds, trying to judge the ride date for westerly or north-westerly winds. November seemed the most appropriate time.

Thus, on Monday the 16th of November, Linda and I drove down to Keith and Jean’s at Burwood and enjoyed dinner and a limited number of beers (as we were unaware of our fitness requirements) before heading to bed for the night with the intention of an early rise and set-off for Inverloch.

We were out of bed and ready to depart by 7am. So after a few photographs, of considerably younger gentlemen, we set off via the back streets of Burwood and then Huntingdale Rd., to Dandenong Rd. The ride along Dandenong Rd., to Dandenong was uneventful except for the continuous stream of traffic lights slowing our progress. For safety we stuck where possible to the service road. The pass through Dandenong proper was uneventful and out along the old Princess Highway to the the South Gippsland Highway turn-off. Here the complications of the contorted intersection caused some concern and delay as we negotiated the roads and the traffic.

Obout to Leave Burwood. The Start of a Long and Enjoyable Journey
About to Leave Burwood.
The Start of a Long and Enjoyable Journey

The South Gippsland Highway at Dandenong is a lot different than the road I was used to some 20 years past; it was single lane then and through farmlands. Now it is multi-laned with service roads and through light industry estates. Again we stuck to the service roads where possible. Past Greens Road the service lanes basically ceased despite the string of industries beside the road, and we took to the main highway. Luckily the traffic was not too bad, and being a basically flat, we made good time.

Still lots of annoying traffic lights all the way to Cranbourne, but once past there they ceased until Grantville, and we were finally out into rural areas. At Tooradin we stopped for a ‘P’ break and a little rest before continuing on. As we passed the Koo-Wee-Rup turnoff I phoned Linda who was driving Jean, to find out where they were; they had begun to catch up to us, as they reported back from a bakery/cafe’ in Koo-Wee-Rup. Thus as time was approaching lunch-time, it was c11am, Keith and I ordered meat pies for lunch to be had at some suitable spot along the way.

It was a little further on that I felt like another relief stop, so at Caldermede Farm we stopped for such. There is not many bushes beside the highway for a ‘P’, so I chose to go behind the Caldermede milk dock whilst there was no passing cars. Unfortunately numerous cars appeared during the relief time, much to the amusement of Keith and (un)fortuitously, Linda and Jean passing by in the ute.

On the Road
On the Road

Continued on at a rather good pace, and for the time of the Giro, at an average speed to date of around 22 Km/Hr, so we were making good time, and certainly will be in Inverloch long before our 7 hour time allowance. Just before Grantville we spied Linda and Jean stopped on a side road, and as we passed numerous photos of the athletes were taken (that’s us, Keith and me). Finally at Bass we contacted Linda and Jean by phone and agreed to have lunch in the park there as it was now c 1pm and we were running out of fuel.

Lunch at Bass
Lunch at Bass

Enjoyed our Koo-Wee-Rup bakery pies in the park at Bass before once again heading off for the last 40 kilometres to Inverloch. The Anderson hill was a bit of a challenge, especially to me on the heavy MTB, whereas Keith had his older and lighter road bike which allowed him to surge ahead and wait for me at the Anderson roundabout. A slightly undulating ride then on to Kilcunda where we decided to take to the rail-trail as the road from Kilcunda to Wonthaggi is rather narrow and undulating, whereas the rail-trail is relatively flat.

It was a pleasant ride along the rail-trail and we were beginning to slow down, it was the first time either of us had ridden further than about 40 Km, and we had now done around 120 kilometres by Kilcunda, hence another reason for the rail-trail decision. At Wonthaggi we diverted along the old railway right-of-way to the Inverloch road; it was now only 10 kilometres to go. Just out of Wonthaggi we came to some road works which were holding up the traffic. So in our now usual way, we ignored the roadworks and pedaled on unconcerned finally arriving at Inverloch and Keith and Jean’s place around 2.30pm. Here we were greeted by Linda and Jean who presented us with a celebratory stubby.

Arrival at Inverloch
Arrival at Inverloch

Ride Statistics: 140 Km in 6 Hrs, @ 23.3 Km/Hr. A better than expected average. We are now rather enthused about long distance riding.

Postscript: Now that we had successfully completed our first long distance ride, the idea began to form in my head, that maybe we could do something more venturesome. Perhaps the length of the Murray River; Mildura to Corryong. No! Corryong to Mildura, because that is downhill all the way. Little did I realise that this was not the way to go due to prevailing westerlies. Thus was borne the Tour de Murray, which metamorphosed into the Giro de Victoria over a 3 year period.

Giro de Victoria. Stage 6.5

Note: As with the previous section, there are no photographs.

Stage 6.5: Creswick to Burwood

Friday 12th March 2010

Once again this is a small disjointed part of the Giro de Victoria, part of this ride makes the connection between Melbourne city and Burwood that I will call Section 6.5 due to it’s very short contribution to the Giro, namely about 28 Km only despite the whole ride being of 148 Km.

Keith and Jean arrived Thursday by train at Ballarat, Keith bringing his old road bike therein. Consequently Linda drove into Ballarat with me and my new flat-bar road bike to collect them from Ballarat Station. From there Keith and I planned to ride back to Creswick. It was an easy ride with little wind, the only challenge being Sulky hill, but once over this it was a fast ride down through the town. As we sped past the centre of town I happened to glance to the left and saw Jean frantically waving us down outside Smokeytown Cafe’. As Keith was a length or two in front, it took me until the Bridge St., to catch him and for us to return to the Smokeytown; Linda and Jean had decided to stop there for lunch in which we now joined.

The following day we departed Creswick around 8am heading out the Melbourne Rd., and the continuous climb up to the freeway at Springbank. It is not a steep climb except for a few short sections, but it is continuous and difficult, taking us about an hour to reach the freeway. From thereon it was a nice easy ride with more downhill than up. At Anthony’s Cutting out of the Bacchus Marsh valley I managed to beat Keith to the top due to my new bike being considerably lighter than his old road bike. Once at the top onto and past Melton, the road is basically flat all the way to Melbourne and was thus an easy ride.

Between Melton and Rockbank as Keith and I were calmly riding along the wide highway verge solving the problems of the world, I happened to glance to my right and noticed to my considerable concern, a car passing us at speed; backwards. The car then proceeded to spin out of control onto the luckily, wide, grassed area between the east and west lanes of the highway where it continued to spin, but now slowly to a stop and narrowly missing some large trees. Keith and I naturally dismounted and crossed on foot to the centre strip to see if there was any injuries to the driver. Luckily there wasn’t, just a very frightened young woman. When questioned as to how her spin-out occurred the said she was trying to avoid us. Absolute rubbish of course as we were safely riding in the 2 metre wide road verge. An offer to assist her with perhaps a friend to collected her and her car was rejected. She then drove off continuing her drive Melbournewise. Her car had some slight panel damage from some small trees she had flattened and she had lost a number plate.

Thus we continued on towards Caroline Springs where we had to leave the freeway and take to a bike path that followed it from then on. A suggestion that we stop at Caroline Springs for some food was rejected by Keith as he felt we could get all the way to Burwood on our remaining energy bars. It was a silly thing to do as Keith realised about an hour later when he felt thoroughly done in, long before we reached Burwood. Keith was never to make the same foodless mistake again during the Giro de Victoria.

It was whilst on the bike path just past Caroline Springs that we heard the familiar sound of the ute’s horn as Linda and Jean sped past on the freeway. So we continued on, taking diversions here and there around the industrial west of Melbourne and the inner western suburbs and onto the Docklands Highway bypassing the city. Keith had ridden this part of the route many times before and so led the way, though feeling very tired. We continued through Southbank and out onto the Yarra River bike path to Burwood, finally arriving at Keith and Jean’s Burwood home at around 3pm after a ride of 148 Km.

After a few recuperative beers and showers it was time for dinner, and seeing it was Jean’s birthday we went to a local Italian restaurant for dinner.

Ride statistics: 148 Km in 6 Hrs 32 min. Average speed : 22.6 Km/Hr

Giro de Victoria contribution: 28 Km in (app) 1 Hr 14 min at 22.6 Km/Hr

Giro de Victoria; Stage 6

There are no photographs of this short section of the Giro de Victoria as it was part of an organised cycling event and there was no opportunity to take photos; besides, I didn’t have a camera with me at the time.

Stage 6: Point Lonsdale (Geelong) to Melbourne

(Around the Bay in a Day)

Sunday 16th October 2011

Another time displaced section of the Giro de Victoria. This section, section 6, of the Giro was done as part of the BUPA Around the Bay in a Day charity bicycle ride. Keith and I had decided to do the shorter section of the ATBIAD from Geelong to Melbourne of 135 Km in an anti-clockwise direction due to the prevailing westerly winds of this time of year. The ride began with Linda and I driving to Melbourne and staying with our daughter and son-in-law overnight for 2 days before the ride. On Saturday 16th Keith and Jean collected me and my bike from our daughter’s place in Melbourne and we drove to Geelong, staying in a motel overnight before the 6am start of the ATBIAD. We were to meet up again with Linda and Jean after the ride in Melbourne.

It was still dark when Keith and I left the motel for the starting gate of the ATBIAD about 2 Km north of the city centre; we had to have lights on our bikes as it was still dark and there were lots of police around. We were issued with RFID tags some time before the ride, and with these mounted on our bikes we passed through the electronic starting gate and began our run down to Queenscliff. By the time we reached Point Lonsdale it was light, and it was at this point Keith had his first puncture for the day. Very inconvenient, not just the puncture, but to meet the schedule for the ferry across Port Phillip Bay to Sorrento.

Keith fixed the puncture and we continued on the 3 kilometres to Queenscliff ferry terminal where we once again passed through an electronic gate before boarding. Hundreds of cyclists on board so the lounge area was totally crowded and so nearly impossible to buy a coffee from the ferry cafe’. So crowded in fact that Keith and I sat out on deck for the crossing of ‘the rip’ to Sorrento. It was raining during the crossing but we were in a sheltered spot on deck so could enjoy the views out onto the ocean through the rip, and the two peninsulas. Half an hour after leaving Queenscliff we docked at Sorrento and left the ferry, once more through an electronic gate for timing purposes.

By now, luckily, the rain had cleared, and remained clear for the remainder of the day. As we had predicted, the winds stayed to the south west, and so the ride up the bay back to Melbourne was not too difficult. Most of the time we followed the old Point Nepean highway with a few minor roads thrown in here and there. At Rosebud disaster once again struck Keith with his second puncture. Crossed my fingers, no punctures yet for me. A nice fast ride down Olivers Hill into Frankston and then on up the old Beach Road to Mordialloc where we stopped for an hour for lunch. We arrived at Mordialloc at around 1pm. Lunch was part of the entrance fee for the ride.

Now only about 30 Km to go, but the wind had come around to the north-west, so despite the ride being quite flat, it was hard going for the remainder of the ride along Beach Road to Port Melbourne. Here we turned inland and followed police directions to South Bank and then the Alexandra Gardens there for the finish. The final run was up City Road, under St., Kilda Road, along Alexandra Avenue, and a sharp left hand turn into Boathouse Boulevard and the finish line. As we peddled swiftly, our last burst of speed had us cross the electronic finish gate together to loud announcements of our names as we crossed the line. There was also a cheering crowd.

We dismounted and began our walk of triumph past our adoring fans, well…, we like to think so. A phone call located Linda and Jean who were only a few minutes away. We said good bye to Keith and Jean as we were returning to our daughter’s place, and they were heading directly home. We though of a few drinks together later that evening, but we decided we were a bit too tired.

Ride Statistics: 138 Km in exactly 6 Hrs. Average speed of 23.25 Km/Hr

Giro de Victoria; Stage 5

Port Fairy to Queenscliff

Thursday 17th of May 2012

To Pt Fairy


We left home around 9am headed south towards Geelong and Point Lonsdale where we were to meet with Keith and Jean. It took about an hour to reach the western outskirts of Geelong and about half an hour to pass through and onto the road to Point Lonsdale. Another half hour found us arriving at our friend's; Jim and Katherine, where we had arranged to leave Keith's car. On arriving we found Keith and Jean already there; they had arrive about 5 minutes before.

 As we pulled up, Jim was walking out to greet us, and Katherine a few minutes later. Jim had arranged with an absent neighbour for Keith to leave his car at their place, very nice of them. After transferring stuff from the Winduss car to our ute, we went in for a cup of tea with Jim and Katherine.

 We left Point Lonsdale around 1.30 and headed back into Geelong as this was the quickest way to get onto the Princes Highway westward. It was a pleasant drive all the way to Warnambool with the weather fine and warm. We stopped at Colac for a snack as Linda and I had not had lunch before heading onward through Camperdown and Terang.

 We reached Warnambool about 4 30pm but didn't stop except to call into a drive in beer shop for Keith's supplies for the next few days. Just on 5pm we arrived at our booked CV park in Pt Fairy. Linda and I thought Jean had booked us into the Gardens CV park on the edge of town near the beach, but it turned out to be the other 'Big 4' park on the highway. Never mind, it is a neat CV park with serviced cabins like a motel, which is what we wanted.

 Unpacked the car and then walked into town proper to the Star Hotel for dinner. Returned to the CV park for an early night. Tomorrow the trek begins.


Friday the 18th of May 2012

Port Fairy to Port Campbell.


 We were up and having breakfast by 7am in preparation for leaving Pt Fairy by 8.30, as it was we departed at 8.40. The weather for the day looked slightly dubious to begin, but it cleared up as we cycled, and by the end of the ride it was a lovely and warm, clear, autumn day. It was a hard slog out of Pt Fairy as the wind was in the north and that was the direction we were heading. The hard slog lasted for about 10 Km until Tower Hill, where we stopped for some photos before continuing on. From Tower Hill it was easy and fast going for the remainder of the day as the wind was mostly behind us.Tower Hill Volcanic Crater Warnambool

Tower Hill Volcanic Crater
Warnambool

We took a back route through Warnambool with the intention of taking minor lightly trafficked roads to Allansford where we were to join the Great Ocean Road. At the Hopkins River on the edge of Warnambool we came to the first, and really only, hard hill for the day. Once up the hill it was an easy, and fast ride to Allansford where we intended to have morning tea with Linda and Jean. Surprisingly we got to Allansford before the ladies, as we found out when they arrived about half an hour later, they had been shopping in Warnambool.

When Linda and Jean arrived we spent about half an hour over morning tea before heading onward to the Great Ocean Road and later, Port Campbell, our destination for the day. The ride from then on was easy and fast. Again we took back roads to avoid the quite high traffic on the GOR, including a 3Km section of gravel road which was unexpected as we had consulted Google Maps which indicated made roads for all our journey.
On the GOR
On the GOR
It was around 12.30 and Keith and I were rolling comfortably on the GOR at around 32 Km/Hr discussing and solving the problems of the world, when a demented woman jumped out in front of us waving her hands and yelling; it was Linda. We were so engrossed in solving the world's problems, that we had not noticed the camper parked on the side of the road. So we stopped for an hour for a nice lunch.

It wasn't far to our destination, around 27 Km, so having had lunch we continued on. We were now following closely the coastline, very pretty and lots of sites to see. We called into the Bay of Islands car park and took some photos before continuing on to Peterborough. We could have stopped at many beauty spots on the way, but we resolved to use tomorrow; our day off because of the GOR being closed for the GOR Marathon, to see the sites.
The Bay of Islands Bass Strait
The Bay of Islands
Bass Strait
A pleasant and again fast ride to Peterborough and then the final 12 Km from there into Port Campbell. A last final fast downhill run from the cliff tops into Port Campbell, actually exceeding the stipulated 40Km/Hr downhill limit by 17Km/Hr. We had to wait at some bridgeworks into the town before finally finding our motel for the next two nights where Linda and Jean we're awaiting our arrival.

Nice motel; we have a two bedroom suite; built in the 1960's but renovated to 21st century standards. After showers for Keith and I we walked into the town proper, about 400 metres, for a look around and a drink at a fancy, but nice, bar. So nice in fact, that we booked a table for dinner.
 
Port Campbell is very pretty, situated on an ocean inlet, but now of course, quite touristy. As we sat in the bar enjoying a drink (or two), crowds of Japanese tourists disembarked from a coach to occupy the town.
Port Campbell
Port Campbell
Ride statistics: Distance 98.8 Km, in 4 Hrs 4 Min, Average speed: 24.3 Km/Hr, which is really good.


Saturday 19th May 2012

Port Campbell to Lavers Hill


Last night Linda suggested that if today promised to be a good cycling day, then perhaps Sunday's planned Port Campbell to Apollo Bay, could be divided into two; ie: Port Campbell to Lavers Hill today, and Lavers Hill to Apollo Bay tomorrow. So we decided to do this; departing our motel at 9am heading to Lavers Hill. We nearly gave up 5 minutes into the ride as we had to ride a steep hill from the motel to the GOR, and we were stuffed by the time we reached the highway. Luckily the ride from Port Campbell to Princetown was gently undulating along the cliff tops above the ocean. At about the 5 Km mark out of town our ride was observed by a wayside kangaroo that only loped off when we were within about 20 metres of him/her. We could also see one of the off-shore oil platforms way out on the horizon.

At Princetown, the road turns inland for the climb up the Otway Ranges up to Lavers Hill. A steep pinch just out of Princetown, then a steady uphill, but not too arduous climb for about 7 Km, before a long and fast downhill run to the Gellibrand River bridge. From the bridge it was a long and winding road through tall eucalypt forests to the first summit of the Otways; there are two summits. It was a pleasant ride of around 10Km continuous, winding, but not too steep. Traffic was light and considerate, so it was a safe ascending ride. At one point, with Keith slightly ahead, I called out a loud "STOP". Poor Keith thought something was wrong, but it was only me stopping to observe some Shaggy Ink Cap mushrooms. Since we were stopped, we had our morning tea, we had to do our own, as the service vehicle was still back at Port Campbell.
The Road up to Lavers Hill
The Road up to Lavers Hill
We continued our slog up the hill and finally came to a long downhill run, which means of course, that we will have an even harder up hill before we reached Lavers Hill, and we did. It was a doozie of a hill, long and steep, with both of us in 1/1. But after about 15 minutes of very hard peddling we reached the top where we stopped for a short recovery break. On heading onward, about 10Km now to Lavers Hill, we had fine views of the coastline, and an undulating pleasant ride. 

At one point, we heard a car slowing behind us and recognised it as Linda and Jean. Soon we came to the outskirts of Lavers Hill just on mid-day, the ride had taken just on 3 hours including rest stops. At the road junction down to Apollo Bay we found Linda and Jean parked at a bakery awaiting us for lunch.

A pleasant lunch of the local gourmet meat pies before we headed back to Port Campbell where Keith and I had a shower and changed into normal clothes before heading off west of Port Campbell towards Peterborough. Along the way were the various beauty spots of the GOR such as London Bridge and other places. We passed through Peterborough and went as far as the Martyrs Bay and the Bay of Islands before turning around and heading for Timboon, a few kilometres inland. We stopped for a quick look around Peterborough before arriving at Timboon, and its whiskey distillery and cheese shop around 3.30. Reasonable single malt whiskey, need more maturity to take away the harsh edges, and a bit too pricey; $120 for 500 ml.
Port Campbell NP Coastline
Port Campbell NP
Coastline
From Timboon it was straight back to Port Campbell for the end of a busy and interesting day. Tonight we will find another restaurant for dinner. Probably an early night again as we are all rather tired, especially Keith and I, as the ride to Lavers Hill was quite hard. Weather for the day was again nice and fine, though not as warm as yesterday.

Statistics: 49.5 Km in 2Hrs 52Min, Average speed: 17.2 Km/Hr.



Sunday 20th of May 2012

Lavers Hill to Apollo Bay

One of the best ideas Linda has had regarding the Giro de Victoria was to divide the Port Campbell to Apollo Bay Section into two, we would never have made the part from Lavers Hill to Apollo Bay on the same day as the Port Campbell to Lavers Hill section. Leaving Lavers Hill was easy, it was the later section crossing the Otway ridge that was really hard work.
As we were only riding today's section in the afternoon, we spent the morning doing the tourist part again. From Port Campbell we drove about 10 Km to the Loch Ard Gorge to see the site of the famous 19th century ship wreck. Loch Ard gorge and the surrounding ocean gorges are spectacular, with shear sandstone cliffs falling vertically into the ocean. Of the nearby gorges, the Loch Ard is the only one with a beach, and difficult access. Had the disaster been 100 metres further east or west, there would have been no survivors, as it was there were only 2 out of 55.
Loch Ard Gorge
Loch Ard Gorge
The surrounding sandstone cliffs, and a little further on the Apostles, are continually being eroded by the ocean, and stress cracks can be seen in the cliff faces where huge block of sandstone will break away very soon. Lots of fenced off areas to prevent the public getting too close to the unstable edges.

Having spent about an hour at the Loch Ard Gorge, we continued on about another 3 Km to the 12  Apostles viewing area. There is an information centre here and a tunnel under the road to the viewing area. Again as for the Loch Ard Gorge, there are fenced off areas to keep people away from the unstable cliff faces. The few remaining Apostles, 8 in all, are to the west from whence we had just come; off shore columns at the Loch Ard Gorge are Apostles. Interestingly to the east about 2 Km further on, a geological fault at Princetown changes the shoreline from shear cliffs to gentle slopes into the sea.
The Twelve Apostles (Well, a couple maybe)
The Twelve Apostles
(Well, a couple maybe)
We drove on through Princetown then over a ridge and down to the Gellibrand River where we pulled into a side road for lunch. Keith and I took the chance to change into our cycling gear before driving on to Lavers Hill where we unload the bikes and began the day's supposedly easy cycling. Little did we know!!!!

The start of the ride was a lovely long, fast, downhill run, with one major up, of about 15 Km to Glenaire in the Aire Valley; average speed to Glenaire was 28 Km/Hr. Along the Aire Valley we were on a river flat for about 10 Km with us maintaining a nice 25 Km/Hr. But...., at the end of the valley we came to the first climb up to the top of the Otway Ridge, a long, slow, and very hard slog of about 5 Km to the junction of the road with the Otway Light road. Here we met up again with Linda and Jean.

It was about 2pm when we met up with the intention of going down to the Otway Lighthouse for lunch and perhaps a look at the lighthouse. As it was 12 Km to the light, and return, we put the bikes on the car and drove down to the light where we spent around an hour having lunch. It was a mistake to waste both the travel and lunch time, as we lost our immediate fitness as we discovered when we left. We did intend to see the light, but it was $18 to enter, and we really didn't have the time, so having finished lunch we drove back two the junction with the GOR to continue the ride to Apollo Bay.

That lost time cost us dearly when we set off again from the road junction, it was again a hard slog to the summit of the Otway Ridge, but from there we were rewarded with a long downhill run, with the odd uphill pinch, down to Marengo and Apollo Bay. A leisurely run through the town centre to our motel, arriving there around 4.30pm.

After a rest and a shower, for Keith and I, we walked the main street looking for a suitable place for dinner, finally settling on the Apollo Bay Hotel. It was a nice dinner, but very crowded as many of the Apollo Bay Marathon, held earlier in the day, participants had stayed on for dinner.

Statistics: 48.5 Km in 2 Hrs 7 Min. Average speed 22.9 Km/Hr, which is not bad considering the intervening Otway Ridge.


Monday the 21st of May 2012.

Apollo Bay to Aireys Inlet.


We awoke to a magnificent day, not a cloud in the sky, the warm sun shining brightly, and very little wind; a perfect day for cycling to Aireys Inlet.

Keith and I departed around 9.30am, late, but we were only going around 60 Km along the GOR with few big hills and lots of easy riding. The traffic on the road was fair, a lot of tourists no doubt. The views of the ocean and shoreline along the GOR were really spectacular, the clear air out to sea and a gentle swell on the ocean providing perfect postcard waves onto the many beaches. Hmm...., how come there were lots of surfers out there, don't they work?

It was only 27 Km to the scheduled morning tea stop at Wye River where Linda was told some time ago, that the shop there of many years past, is now a fancy restaurant as well, so it was a decided place for morning tea. Keith and I arrived there about 10.30 and ordered coffee and cakes with Linda and Jean.
Morning Tea Stop at Wye River
Morning Tea Stop
at Wye River
At morning tea we discussed a possible lunch stop, Lorne? But that was only 18 Km further on, so we agreed to meet Linda and Jean there and then make a decision. Thus Keith and I once again set off around the classical curving and panoramic part of the GOR arriving at Lorne about 3/4 of an hour later where we again met up with Linda and Jean. Too early for lunch so we rode on the further 16 Km towards Aireys Inlet. To this point the ride had been relatively easy with the undulating GOR maintaining a rather close association with the ocean. But about 8Km past Lorne we came to a long and difficult hill that slowed us down considerably. Compensation though was the fast downhill run to sea level once again.

From then on it was an easy flat ride at sea level into Aireys Inlet arriving there around 2.30pm. Our motel was on the main road and located opposite the Aireys Inlet Hotel. This was very convenient for dinner later that night.

After a shower and street clothes, we all took a walk to the Split Point Lighthouse for which Aireys Inlet was established in the 19th century. Beautiful views to  both the east and west along the coastline. To the east you could see as far as Point Addis past Anglesea and to the west, Cape Otway. It has been a magnificent day, more like a cool summer's day rather than a near winter's. Dinner was a walk across the road to the hotel, which was a very laid-back place and included a log fire in the lounge area; not that it was really cold.
Split Point Lighthouse Aireys Inlet
Split Point Lighthouse
Aireys Inlet
Statistics: 65 Km in 3 Hrs 11 Min. Average speed: 20.4 Km/Hr, slowish but very enjoyable.


Tuesday the 22nd of May 2012.

Aireys Inlet to Point Lonsdale.


We awoke this morning to misty rain which didn't bode well for the day, so when Keith and I departed the motel at Aireys Inlet we departed wearing full warm gear and spray jackets. But luckily, after about an hour, the day cleared up and improved greatly by the time we reached Point Lonsdale at the end of the ride.

The ride out of Aireys Inlet was uphill, so it was hard work as we had not had enough time to develop the day's fitness, this took until after Anglesea. It was undulating countryside for the 9 Km to Anglesea where we had a nice downhill run into the town, but it was then a long hard climb up to the plateau that runs all the way to Geelong. This was not the way we were going, so it was to be a harder ride. At the top of the climb out of Anglesea we came to the entrance to the Eumerella Scout Camp, where both Keith and I had spend some time at Scout camp in the late 1950's. Anglesea has been highly developed since then so Keith and I were betting the developers are lusting over the Eumerella land.

Up on the plateau we drove on in clearing weather to the Bells Beach road down which we turned towards the famous surfing beach. It was a long fast downhill run to Bells where we stopped for a few minutes to watch the 'shark bait' catching their waves. We continued on on what we thought would be an easy ride to Torquay only to find the route had three steep drops then climbs, shades of Lavers Hill, before heading into Torquay where we found Linda and Jean waiting for us on a foreshore reserve for morning tea.

From then on, it was basically built up areas all the way to Point Lonsdale with a few short rural areas intervening. We found a new paved bike trail for a few kilometres between Torquay and Barwon Heads that cut off a few kilometres of our intended route. The route from Torquay to Barwon Heads, and on to Point Lonsdale was along flat ground, so we were able to maintain good speeds when the wind was favourable. In Barwon Heads we once again met up with Linda and Jean at the famous bridge across the Barwon River before the final 10 Km run through Ocean Grove to Point Lonsdale.

We finally arrived at our destination at Jim and Katherine's place at 1pm, where after unpacking Keith and Jean's stuff from the ute, we joined Jim and Katherine for lunch. Finally departed Keith and Jean and Jim and Katherine at 2pm and headed back home.

So ends section 5 of the Giro de Victoria.

Statistics: 68.5 Km in 3 Hrs 15 Min. Average speed 21.1 Km/Hr

Statistics for the 4 days of riding: 330.3 Km in 15 Hrs 29 Min. Average speed: 21.3 Km/Hr

Giro de Victoria, Stage 4

Stage 4: Murray Bridge to Port Fairy

Saturday the 12th November 2011

Travels to Murray Bridge

We finalised the packing about 8am, and texted Keith; they were just departing Melbourne’s Southern Cross railway station on the Overland train. We then headed westward on the long drive to Murray Bridge along the Western and Dukes Highways.

At Great Western we received a text from Keith and Jean, they had just passed through North Geelong, so were about 150 Km behind us. At Horsham we stopped for morning tea and to get some money from the Bankomat before once again heading westward. Whilst enjoying a coffee and cake I gain texted Keith re their progress, they had now reached Ararat, by Nhill, the train was at Stawell, still about 150 Km behind.

We had changed drivers at Horsham and drove on to Keith in SA for lunch and once again headed onward. No more communication with the train until we got to Murray Bridge, arriving there about 3pm. Once again I texted Keith, this time to ascertain their expected ETA at Murray Bridge; scheduled for 4.15 but now actually 4.30.

We had an hour and a half to wait, so we walked into town, the motel is about half a kilometre out of the town centre proper to have a look around and see the new fancy shopping centre. Ulterior motive here, it was 35 degrees outside and the new shopping centre was fully air-conditioned. By the time we had wandered around town and back to the motel it was time to go meet the train.

The train was pulling into the Murray Bridge station just as I was parking the ute, so little time was wasted collecting the Keith and Jean and Keith’s bike and returning to the motel. By the time they had set themselves up for the night, it was time to once again all walk into town and find a place for dinner. The local pub over looking the Murray was selected, and we spent about two hour enjoying a few drinks and a nice meal before heading back to the motel to sit around outside our rooms in the pleasant warm evening air enjoying a drink.

Sunday the 13th of November 2011

Murray Bridge to Somewhere (and Meningie)

We were out of bed around 6.30am. Enjoyed a cup of tea before Linda set up the camping stove on the rear tray of the ute and cooked her and me eggs and bacon for breakfast. Keith and Jean were happy with cereal and toast. Thus Keith and I were ready to head of, ostensibly for Policemans Point, around 8am. The day was overcast with the possibility of showers, and a predicted temperature of around 32 deg. Thus the overcast made riding pleasant in the warmness of the day. Virtually no rain for the whole day except for some minor spots now and then.

The Ute (and Linda) Murray Bridge
The Ute (and Linda)
Murray Bridge

The ride out of Murray Bridge was along the river flats towards Wellington with the winds slightly behind, so we made quick time down to Wellington via Jervoise through fine market garden and dairying country. At Wellington we had to await the ferry to cross the Murray and thence onto the Princes Highway south. Whilst awaiting the ferry I phoned Linda to see where they were; they were nearly at Tailem Bend, so we anticipated meeting up with them fairly soon after leaving Wellington. We had proceeded perhaps 5Km along the Princes Highway when we heard the friendly toot of the ute’s horn, and Linda and Jean passed us as anticipated.

River Murray Ferry at Wellington
River Murray Ferry
at Wellington

The ride along the highway was basically flat cattle and wheat country with the wind again partially behind us, so we made good time initially, but later on the wind came around to the east and we hit some minor hills, sand dunes actually, through which the highway passed. The ride now became more difficult.

Crossing a Salt Lake near Meningie
Crossing a Salt Lake
near Meningie

At around 11.30am, we finally arrived at Meningie, where we were to meet Linda and Jean for lunch and to book into our motel for the night. Although we we’re heading towards Policemans Point, some 30 Km further on (so we thought), as there is no accommodation at Policemans Point the plan was to be collected there and return to Meningie for the night.

We spent an hour over lunch on the waterfront at Meningie, it is on the shores of Lake Albert, part of the Murray River system, before once again heading off for Policemans Point. This is where the supposal (Doing the William Shakespeare act and just invented that word) came to an end. On leaving the town, a sign said ‘Policemans Point 50Km’. Would we make it? The decision was made to push on for at least the 30 supposed kilometres, and then take it as it came towards PP.

Again the ride was basically along flat roads with the odd small rise over the sand dunes of the Coorong, but we were tired and the wind was now quite strong head-on, so progress was slow and difficult. At the 30Km mark we stopped to phone Jean to find out how far along to collect us they had come as had been arranged at lunch. As I turned around to ask Keith of Jean’s reply they pulled up. They must have only been a kilometre or two behind us when we decided to stop and phone.

Loaded the bikes onto the ute and headed back to Meningie and our motel for the night. A nice little motel on the shores of the lake with our rooms looking directly out over the lake. The lake looked very inviting, and as the clouds had gone, the sun was shining, and the temperature was about 32deg, I went for a swim. Most enjoyable indeed, before having a shower and a little nap. Tonight we will walk into Meningie for dinner.

Ride Statistics: 110.65 Km @ 21.75 Km/Hr in 5 Hrs, 5 Min


Monday the 14
th of November 2011

Somewhere to Kingston SE

We finished breakfast at our waterfront motel, and very pleasant if small, and drove the 30 Km to the non Policemans Point where we mounted the trusty steeds and headed south towards Kingston. We had the wind behind us and we made good speed and time, running at over 30 Km/Hr at many spots. Our average speed up to lunch was ~27 Km/Hr.

The Coorong
The Coorong

The scenery was pleasant as we followed the western shore of the Coorong, with lots of bird life, mainly Pelicans and a weird chook like bird we have yet to identify. Policemans Point consisted of a roadside diner and the closed motel, our once intended destination. Further on we came to the lower end of the Coorong at Salt Creek. This was an interesting spot, as it was the site of Australia’s first oil find c1860, with a reconstructed wooden drill head at the site of the find beside the highway. Some signage gave the history of oil exploration in Australia and the methods used to drill for oil in the past.

Australia's first Oil Well
Australia’s first
Oil Well

About 5Km past Salt Creek, Linda and Jean caught up to us for morning tea. We still had a following wind, so the ride was easy and fast, easily maintaining our average of 27Km\Hr. Because of the favorable winds, but with the forecast of them coming around to the south west later in the day we decided to ride on for a further 50 Km before lunch and the probable wind change.

At around 1pm, we found Linda and Jean waiting for us at a side road for lunch. We stopped for about one hour before continuing on with only 30 Km to go to Kingston. Unfortunately the wind had come around to the south east and was quite strong, so with a headwind for the last part of the days trip, we struggled into Kingston. There was still some time available before dinner, so we walked into the town proper and had a little look around before returning to the pub next door for a pre dinner drink.

Ride Statistics:115.6 Km @ 24.5 Km/Hr in 4Hrs 43 Min

 

Tuesday the 15th of November 2011

Kingston SE to Millicent


The wind forecast for today was very favorable with north westerlies to northerlies all day, and this proved to be so. We departed our motel about 8am heading along the beach-front for about two kilometres before heading inland slightly to the Robe road. Once on the road we were easily able to maintain speeds of between 29 to 35 Km/Hr.

On the Road
On the Road

The road was basically flat all the way to Robe except for a short section that was undulating, but still, with the prevailing wind behind us we found we could sit on 30 Km/Hr uphill. Close to Robe, Linda and Jean passed us then slowed to take some photos. On resuming their drive behind us, Linda slowed with the emergency lights flashing and sat behind us for a few meters. This was in response to passing two SOGIL cyclists yesterday who had an escort car. Why shouldn’t we have an escort car. (SOGIL:- Sprightly Older Gentlemen In Lycra. More like Silly Old Goats In Lycra?)

Arrived in Robe c10am in time for morning tea at a local cafe’. Proceeded on towards Beachport still at a good rate with the intention of spending the night there and extending tomorrow’s ride to Mt Gambier. The wind at Beachport was strong and head on into the town, but that was only for a short distance till we found Linda and Jean awaiting us beside the road with lunch. Beachport is very similar to Pt Fairy in the was it sits around a bay.

Waterfront at Robe
Waterfront at Robe

Unfortunately there was no accommodation available in Beachport, so the decision was taken to proceed on to our originally intended destination for the day at Millicent. Again favorable winds had us speeding to Millicent, but now with the weather deteriorating to rain, though it only began to rain after we had arrived at our motel in Millicent. Took a little to find our motel as it was on the far side of the town on the road to Mt Gambier.

Beachport Bay
Beachport Bay

Dinner tonight at a local hotel.

Ride Statistics: 129 Km @ 26.1 Km/Hr in 4 Hrs 57 Min

Wednesday the 16th of November 2011

Millicent to Mt Gambier

Since we only had to travel 54 Km today we had a late morning and slept in until 7.30am. Keith and I were ready just after 9 and so departed Millicent at 9.30 heading to Mt Gambier. Unfortunately the wind was directly head on today and the ride was a bit of a struggle, especially the nearer we got to Mt Gambier as the town is somewhat above sea level and it was rising undulating country to there.

About 15 Km out of Millicent, Keith discover that his odometer had failed, flat battery, so we will have to calculate today’s journey statistics from the totals on mine. In a way it was fortunate that we stopped to check the fault of Keith’s odometer where we did; at the road junction to Tantanoola, as going via there cut about 5 Km of our journey. Thus we continued our ride to Mt Gambier via Tantanoola. The closer we got to Mt Gambier, the more obvious the limestone nature of the country became, with sink holes everywhere and the odd entrance to underground caverns.

We finally arrived at Mt Gambier just on mid day and rode through it’s outskirts looking for the meeting place with Linda and Jean, a park with Mackas on the corner. We found them easy enough, and so decided on a ‘health food’ lunch at Mackas. Having finished lunch, it was now around 1.30pm so we rode onto our motel accommodation for the night about 3 Km further on on the Portland road.

Spent some time at the motel having a shower and general set up of our room before heading back, in the ute, into town to see the centre. About 200 metres on from the motel we stopped at a roadside park where there is a large sink hole, large enough to have an expansive garden in it’s base which can be accessed via walkways and stairs. Very interesting and very pretty. A little shopping by Keith in the town centre then out to the Lakes area to view the various volcanic lakes of the area, especially the famous Blue Lake; and it is blue, a very deep blue, and very pretty. From a lookout at the lake we could see the coast line to the south though haze hid the ocean. Tomorrow we head back to the coast at Nelson, and then onto Portland for the night.

The Blue Lake Mt Gambier
The Blue Lake
Mt Gambier

Ride Statistics: 54.4 Km @ 20.9 Km/Hr in 2 Hrs 36 Min


Thursday the 17
th of November 2011

Mt Gambier to Portland

The weather forecast was for southerlies to easterlies all day, all adverse winds, so we departed Mt Gambier about 8am heading to Nelson in Victoria for morning tea around 10am. The ride out of Mt Gambier was through undulating country with a few stiff hills, and with the adverse wind it was hard going with us averaging only about 20 Km/Hr. There was a lot of heavy truck traffic on the road for the whole journey to Portland, wood chips, but as usual the truck drivers were extremely courteous to us riders.

At the Victorian/SA border we stopped for about 10 minutes to read some interesting information regarding the determination of the border explaining why the SA/NSW border on the Murray is misaligned with the SA/Vic border by 3.6 Km; inter-colonial rivalry and lack of accuracy in the 1840’s. Continued on the 3.6 Km into Nelson; Nelson was meant to be on the border, where we met up with Linda and Jean in a park beside the highway for morning tea. Whilst enjoying the break, a bloke perhaps a little younger than us, joined us for a chat; he was cycle touring westward.

The Border
The Border

Finished morning tea about 11am and departed following an undulating route through extensive pine forests heading eastward. Again the wind was in our faces and tended to slow us down, but some down hill sections enabled us to regain some lost average speed. Luckily about 50 Km before Portland and before we met up with Linda and Jean for lunch, the road flattened out and the wind had come around to the west, so we were able to maintain averages around 25 – 30 Km/Hr for the remainder of the day.

The Southern Ocean near Portland
The Southern Ocean
near Portland

Finally found Linda and Jean in a picnic spot beside the road about 30 Km short of Portland were we enjoyed a restful lunch break. It takes a while to get back into the rhythm of the ride after a longish break, but after about 5 Km we had regained our higher average speed through undulating country all the way to Portland.

At Portland we did a sharp right hand turn onto the main shopping street where our motel was located, not noticing that the motel was on the corner where we made the turn, so Keith and I enjoyed a ride through and back through town trying to locate our motel. Only a phone call to Linda set us right. It appears that Jean spotted us riding past for the second time but was not quick enough to gain our attention.
Ride Statistics: 108.5Km @ 22.3 Km/Hr in 4 Hrs 52 Min

Total: 518.15 Km @ 23.23 Km/Hr in 22 Hrs 13 Min

Friday the 18th of November 2011

Portland to Pt Fairy

As today’s journey was only around 75 Km, we had a lie-in before departing around 9am. We took the coastal tourist road which followed along the bay for about 10 Km before turning inland to the main highway. We had an adverse wind to start but was basically side on for the remainder of the ride to morning tea and then became thankfully a following wind. The weather for the day was quite warm and humid and was more pleasant when we had cloud cover. There was the threat of rain, but it was only to be the odd drop now and then.

Portland Alcoa Smelter
Portland
Alcoa Smelter

We stopped just short of Narrawong for morning tea at about 10am then headed on towards Yambuck where we intended to have lunch before the final 20 Km into Port Fairy. The road as far as Yambuck was basically flat with small undulations and we were able to maintain a good speed when the wind was behind us. At Codrington we passed the large wind farm that is visible from the air when flying at Pt Fairy, there are around 50 wind turbines there. One disturbing aspect of the Codrington wind farm is the huge numbers of Orange Bellied Parrots slaughtered by the rotating blades; so many in fact that the local council has a continuous clean up program removing the bodies.

At Yambuck we stopped for about half an hour for lunch before continuing the final 20 Km into Pt Fairy. From Yambuck onward the road became undulating through the sand dune country surrounding Pt Fairy, so progress was slower, but overall we managed to maintain around 22.7 Km/Hr average speed for the day. We finally arrived at the motel in town at around 1.30pm; the end of this section of the Giro de Victoria, and the first section of the Tour du Mer.

After a welcome cooling shower, the four of us did a walking tour of Pt Fairy including the port area along the River Moyne. Stopped at a gifty/foody shop (the old Post Office) and bought some chocolates before calling in for a coffee at a local coffee shop. Tonight we will dine at a local restaurant or pub, whatever takes our fancy.

Note: We managed to do the whole trip WITHOUT A PUNCTURE.

Ride Statistics: 73.4 Km @ 22.67 Km/Hr in 3 Hrs 14 Min

Totals for the tour:-  591.6 Km @ 23.24 Km/Hr in 25 Hrs 27 Min

Saturday the 19th of November 2011

Pt Fairy and Home

It was a coldish and overcast morning when we finally set out from Port Fairy after a breakfast at a local cafe’. I decided to give Keith and Jean a little look around Pt Fairy, so we first drove to the North Beach to see the wild ocean and Lady Julia Percy Island, then over to East Beach to see the view of the bay and the port from near the Life Saving Club. We drove out along the Golf Club road and past the very familiar aerodrome and onto the highway heading to Warnambool.

I did a slight diversion at Tower Hill to drive around the crater rim to see how full the crater was with water, quite full, then continued into Warnambool and the railway station there. At the station we helped Keith and Jean with their luggage and bid them good-bye. From there we proceeded home.

The Giro de Victoria

Stage 3: Echuca to Mildura

Monday 21st of March 2011

Mildura to Werrimull

The alarm sounded at 6am for us all to arise as we intended departing between 7 and 8am. Managed to give Buster a short walk before we finally departed at 7.30. The weather was threatening most of the way north, and at Birchip it rained quite heavily for a short time but cleared as we headed north after morning tea. By Ouyen the weather looked promising with blue sky and fluffy clouds. Unfortunately a little north of Ouyen we ran into thick fog which stayed with us until just short of Red Cliffs. Whilst in the fog we had ominous thoughts of curtailing or seriously shortening today’s ride. But luckily at Red Cliffs, the weather cleared to a warm fine day.

We continued onto Mildura as Keith insisted we begin the ride near where we finished the 2nd leg of the Tour de Murray; I was quite happy to begin at Red Cliffs. At Mildura we had lunch at the Chaffey Plaza before changing into our sexy Lycra in the plaza car park, luckily we weren’t arrested, and heading back to Red Cliffs and the road to Werrimull.

Luckily there was very little wind for most of the journey and we were able to maintain an average of around 22+ Km/Hr for the 70 Km ride to Werrimull. Near Werrimull, the headwind increased slightly and the road became undulating with many sharp short climbs. Both Keith and I were starting to feel sore and tired by the time we were about 10 Km east of Werrimull, but a last effort saw us enter the (small) town at a fast clip, greeted by Jean outside the Werrimull pub.

Werrimul Pub
Werrimull Pub

Welcome drinks at the pub with Linda and Jean, and the publican and his wife, Leigh and Sue. After the drinks, a shower for Keith and I before dinner with the publican and his family. (The Werrimull pub is officially closed on Mondays, but Sue and Leigh were most gracious in opening for us and inviting us to join them for dinner.)

Ride Statistics: 70.7 Km, in 3 Hrs 9 min. An average speed of 22.4 Km/Hr

Tuesday 22nd of March 2011

Werrimull to Renmark

It was not Keith’s day. 800 metres out of town a strange clicking sound to his bike alerted me to have a close look at the machine; sure enough, Keith had a puncture. Later in the day he had a serous discussion with some armco railing. But back to the ride.

Having enjoyed a cooked breakfast, we departed Werrimull about 8.45am, and despite the flat tyre, we headed west into a strong head wind that lasted all day. The country is undulating most of the way to South Australia, so the 25 Km to Meringur was slowish and hard work. We had been informed by last night’s hosts that there was a good ‘Pioneer Park’ at Meringur and well worth a visit. So we stopped there for morning tea at the Pioneer Park. It was quite good, with some interesting displays of the early 20th century pioneers in the district.

From Meringur we head north to the main Sturt Highway to Renmark. The 13 Km ride to the highway was very pleasant and fast as the wind was behind us all the way. Unfortunately we once again turned westward at the highway and had a strong headwind from then on to South Australia. After about 20 Km of heavy going we finally came upon Linda and Jean at a parking bay at the top of the highest hill in the area; here we stopped for lunch.

Out in the Scrub Country West of Mildura
Out in the Scrub Country
West of Mildura

Having enjoyed a pleasant, though bush fly infested, lunch, we set off towards Renmark. From the high(ish) lunch stop, we managed to increase our average speed somewhat, as the road was now heading downward towards the Murray river flats and the wind had dropped a little. At about 2.45pm Victorian time, we reached the fruit quarantine station at Yamba in SA, where we once again met up with Linda and Jean and stopped for an ice cream. We now only had a 17 Km downward ride into Renmark. Because of this, and the reduced wind, we managed to get our speed up to around 27 Km/Hr.

At Paringa we crossed the Murray River into Renmark. Whilst cycling over the Murray we received a text from Linda giving our motel location for the night. Having crossed the river, we were cycling along the Paringa causeway, me leading, Keith slightly behind, at perhaps 25 Km/Hr when my ears were assaulted by the sound of metal colliding with metal and some swearing from Keith; whilst trying to adjust his helmet, he had lost control of his bike and collided with the armco railing at the side of the road. Luckily there was little damage to both Keith and his bike; some grazing and a cut finger for Keith, and a slightly bent handlebar for his bike.

Dignity restored, we headed the final kilometre into Renmark and turned left as instructed by Linda towards our motel. Unfortunately we both missed the motel, and only on reaching the western edge of the town, did we realise our mistake. A phone call to Linda, then a short ride back into Renmark proper brought us to our motel.

Ride Statistics: 102 Km, in 4 Hrs 59 Min. Average speed of 20.5 Km/Hr

Wednesday 23rd of March 2011

Renmark to Waikerie

Probably the most difficult day of the whole Tour de Murray so far. The day started fine; little wind and broken cloud, so the ride from Renmark to Berri was fast and easy. At Berri we stopped for a toilet break at a service station, then proceeded on. But here the day began to deteriorate; a westerly wind had arisen, but we were not as yet greatly concerned. 16 Km further on we stopped at Barmera for morning tea with Linda and Jean. But he wind had risen considerably by the time we departed, and the ride was becoming an effort.

Linda and Jean went shopping at Barmera for some meat for a BBQ lunch, as we had arranged to meet them at some suitable spot between Barmera and Waikerie. The westerly headwind had by now become quite ferocious at a constant 25 Kts with gusts to 35. (45 to 63 Km/Hr), cycling had become quite a chore, but there was no way we could, or would, give up.

Just after departing Barmera, we crossed a very long causeway over the river flood plains; an interesting ride (despite the wind) as the flood plains were alive with bird life. A few kilometres further on we crossed the Murray over a rising, but narrow bridge. It was a dangerous passage due to the narrowness of the bridge and the high truck traffic on the road, there was also an extremely strong cross wind that nearly pushed me over the bridge railings; but we negotiated the bridge without incident and continued our ride.

A few kilometres after the bridge we passed a sign indicating a wayside stop about one kilometre ahead, a few minutes later Linda and Jean passed us in the ute, so we indicated they should pull into the wayside stop for lunch. But arriving at the stop, the ute was no where to be seen, a phone call told us that the ladies had continued on hoping to find a stop closer to Waikerie. Keith and I were tired and sore from the challenge of the strong headwind, so we asked Linda and Jean to return to us for lunch.

We waited, and waited, and waited. Where were Linda and Jean? Another phone call elucidated the information that they were back at the bridge over the Murray. They had totally missed us on return, but a further wait brought them to us, and our BBQ lunch. The one hour lunch break had revived Keith and I sufficiently to continue the greatly wind opposed 25 Km to Waikerie.

Out on the Highway, Wakerie
Out on the Highway, Wakerie

Finally at around 3.30pm, Waikerie came in sight, and glad of that we were. It had been a very tough day cycling due to the high winds opposing us all the way from Berri. A few kilometres east of Waikerie we had received a text message indicating our abode for the night being at the local pub, so a small search around the town found the hotel and our waiting wives. A celebratory stubby for Keith and I to celebrate the end of the hardest cycling day yet on the great Tour de Murray.

PS: The dinners at the pub were the most generous servings we have seen for quite a while. Neither Linda nor I could finish our meal.

Ride Statistics: 80.7 Km in 4 Hrs 44 Min. Average speed 17 Km/Hr. Not bad for the hellish headwind.

Thursday 24th of March 2011

Waikerie to Swan Reach

The day began as yesterday, no wind and a little sunnier, so the decision was made to extend the ride via Morgan. The advantage of this was that any predicted wind would be from the south west and so directly in our face if we traveled directly to Blanchetown. Going via Morgan would only give us a direct side wind to there and hence of little effect to our riding speed. This proved to be true and we averaged around 20 Km/Hr to Morgan.

At Cadell, about 10 Km short of Morgan we found out, from a road sign, that the Morgan Ferry was closed for repairs, so we would have to curtail the intended morning tea stop there. When we found out about the closed ferry I immediately phoned Linda to tell her such as if she took the alternate route to Morgan, she would have to take a rather large detour to get back to our intended route from (just short of) Morgan to Blanchetown. Backtracking slightly, Linda and Jean passed us just on from Cadell and continued on to Morgan to find a spot for morning tea.

Found Linda and Jean and enjoyed morning tea before heading due south towards Blanchetown and Swan Reach. Heading due south put the wind on our starboard quarter which, although giving some slight headwind component, made the ride a lot easier.

Basically dead flat land south to Blanchetown with views west to the southern Flinders Ranges. It was a good road with very few undulations and areas of shelter from the wind; the ride was thus pleasant, being not as difficult as yesterday despite the wind. On joining the Sturt Highway just out of Blanchetown saw us heading, for a short time, directly SW and directly into a very difficult headwind, but luckily for only about 5 Km before turning south once again towards Swan Reach.

Above the Murray River past Morgan
Above the Murray River past Morgan

About 2 Km south of Blanchetown we came upon Linda and Jean parked on the cliffs above the Murray River with lunch prepared for us. We spent about 3/4 Hr over lunch before heading south once again along an excellent road to Swan Reach. Again, as from Morgan, we had a starboard quarter wind that made the ride difficult, but not as much as yesterday. An hour and a half after departing lunch we arrived on the escarpment above Swan Reach and descended the steep road into the town to be greeted by Linda and Jean walking up the entrance road to greet us.

Found the hotel easily enough and after a shower and general clean-up, we all assembled in the hotel bar for a few pre-dinner drinks. On old hotel, with old style accommodation, small rooms and communal toilet/showers, but clean and quite adequate.

Ride Statistics: 96 Km at 19 Km/Hr

Friday 25th March 2011.

Swan Reach to Murray Bridge.

Another day of high winds probably comparable to Wednesday difficulty, except for our intermediate section which was quite pleasant.

Our route from Swan Reach was due south along the ridge line above the river. Initially the headwind, for it had now come totally round to the south, was fairly light and this promised to be a good day. But unfortunately the inevitable occurred; the wind became stronger, but some off-south tracks on the road made some of the ride a little more pleasant. We stopped at two lookout places en route for fine views of the River Murray and it’s surrounding cliffs.

At about 11am we arrived at the turnoff to Walkers Flat where Linda and Jean were awaiting us at the junction and directed us to a picnic spot overlooking the township where we enjoyed morning tea. At this juncture we had to make a decision as to which route we would take to Mannum that would save time and give us least wind resistance. We chose the overland rather than the river route, it was shorter and mostly cross wind.

Murray River Ferry, Walker Flat
Murray River Ferry,
Walker Flat

The route chosen required us to cross the Murray at Walker Flat by the vehicular ferry, which was an interesting crossing experience; there are 11 free ferries crossing the river in South Australia and are cheaper to operate and construct than bridges ( info ex the ferry driver ). The first 5 Km on the western side of the river was pleasant as we were in the river valley and hence little wind. But after a long hill climb out of the river valley we were once again on the high plains above the Murray River. luckily though, were were diagonal to the wind and were, for most of the journey, sheltered by malley scrub, hence the majority of this section of the day’s ride, was quite fast and pleasant.

Around 1pm we descended once again into the river valley and followed very closely along the banks of the river to Mannum where we met up with Linda and Jean for a pleasant lunch on the banks of the river. Having finished lunch we cycled slowly through the very picturesque town of Mannum and once again up onto the planes for the ride to Murray Bridge. Here though, the headwinds became as strong as on Wednesday, and mostly direct on, so the ride of only 28 Km to Murray Bridge was very difficult, especially a long steep climb for about 5 Km directly into the wind.

Now, when we departed Mannum, we expected the support team to spend some time in the town before departing for Murray Bridge. It was a wrong assumption, they passed without us noticing, about 1 Km out of Mannum. Thus we expected to see them pass us much later on the journey. By about 12 Km short of Murray Bridge, and having not sighted Linda and Jean yet, we were worried as to their whereabouts. A quick phone call corrected our mistaken belief on their location. They were in Murray Bridge and had secured our accommodation for the night.

An hour later we arrived in Murray bridge, and another phone call got directions to our accommodation; interestingly this time, a small house in the town belonging to the motel and entirely at our disposal. Since we have a house for the night, Linda and Jean went shopping in town for tonight’s dinner to be cooked in-house ( ha! ha! ha! )

Ride Statistics: 95 Km in 5 Hrs 25 Min. Average speed: 17.5 Km/Hr

 

Saturday 26th of March 2011

Murray Bridge to Goolwa

As with all previous days, it was cloudy and still, but past experience dictated that the day would become windy later on; and it did. We had intended to have scrambled eggs and bacon for breakfast, but a bad egg ruined that idea, bacon and toast instead.

Keith and I departed our ‘house’ around 9.15 and headed out the old Princes Highway heading for Callington, about 20 Km west. Although the wind had risen as expected, it wasn’t that bad, and being a south-easterly, it was mainly cross wind to Callington. The road had little traffic and a few nice downhill runs, particularly the last into Callington, thus we made a good average speed for this part of the journey.

At Callington we turned south towards Strathalbyn where we were to meet up with Linda and Jean for lunch. Here the wind did effect us, but nowhere as bad as the previous days, hence the ride to Strathalbyn was quite easy, though undulating. About half way between Callington and Strathalbyn Keith and I stopped for some refreshments just as Linda and Jean came by. They too stopped for a few minutes to discuss our meeting for lunch.

Just out of Strathalbyn is an operating decline zinc mine, so Keith and I stopped briefly to have a quick look from a viewing area before proceeding the last few kilometres into Strathalbyn for lunch with Linda and Jean. Lunch was in the car park of the local railway station which is now a tourist information centre as well as a station for the local tourist, ex SAR, railway. Lunch over we proceeded on through undulating country towards Goolwa.

Despite the sometimes adverse winds, Keith and I made good time to Goolwa, arriving around 2.30pm. Whilst out on the road, a phone call from Linda informed us of our accommodation for the night; a cabin at the Goolwa Caravan and Camping park. Being a weekend, no motel accommodation was available so the CV park was the best alternative. Nice cabin at the park, but unfortunately the CV park is about one kilometre out of town, so driving is required into Goolwa for dinner.

Having showered and changed, we all proceeded into the town proper for a little look around, mainly to find a nice restaurant for dinner and buy some bread. From town we drove over to Hindmarsh Island and out to the mouth of the Murray River. We had done it (despite the last 11 Km by car), we had now ridden our bike from near the source of the Murray River to it’s mouth.

Murray River Barage, Goolwa (Mouth of the Murray)
Murray River Barage,
Goolwa (Mouth of the Murray)

Returned to Goolwa proper and booked a restaurant on the waterfront, then over to a nearby boutique brewery for a taste of their wares. Returned to our cabin, then later back to town for dinner.

That’s it folks, we have done it. It took 14 days in three blocks over a year, but it was fun. Keith’s job now is to set the route for a sequel for the end of this year or next: Murray Bridge to Corryong via the Victorian coast and Mt. Kosciusko.
Ride Statistics: 80.7 Km in 4 Hrs 14 Min. Average speed: 19.1 Km/Hr

Statistics for whole trip: 530.3 Km in 27 Hrs 22 Min. Average speed: 19.3 Km/Hr