Could this little adventure get any better than yesterdays 250km epic from Mt Beauty to Bairnsdale? That all depends on your definition of ‘better’.
If the definition includes harder, wetter, windier, dirtier and boggier – then yes it can. Welcome to Day 5 of the Great(est) Victorian Bike Ride.
For the data crunchers, add another ~30km from Bairnsdale to where I dropped my GPS.
THE PAINTED LINE.
I had breakfast at McDonalds this morning. That tells you all you need to know about Bairnsdale. I was short on options. Food is fuel, and I was prepared to burn anything that would take a spark.
The start of today’s ride was dead boring and dead flat. A short way into the day’s ride the mount for my GPS cracked and the unit went flying down the road.
This day in January was a fortnight before I heard the tale of Carla Swart. During my time on the road as a bike courier I have dropped a thing or three in transit, including semi-precious items like two-way radio’s, phones, and the odd parcel. One thing I have learned from my time on the road is everything can be replaced, except people. When I saw my GPS skittling along the freeway, I hoped nothing was coming from behind to crush it but I wasn’t going to panic and become a human shield for it.
Eventually the GPS came to a halt, on the painted line, right about here.
I waited for the traffic to clear and plucked it off the road and threw it in my pack.
Great start to the day.
The section between Bairnsdale and Sale is 70km of dead boring. Yesterday’s soggy day in the saddle made me realise I’d neglected to pack a critical item which had made itself apparent this morning. The same item that I should have taken to Woods Point - Lubricant.
Riding on a chain without lube is noisy, gritty and will only wear things out faster, including one’s mental concentration. Some noises can be eliminated by turning up the volume if you are listening to your portable musak device, but an oily chain passes the sensation right through your foot, no matter how loud the headphones pump. I rolled into Sale and three bikes shops later, I found one that had chain lube in stock. ‘Push ‘n’ Pedal’
Other than lube they had a restored Haro BMX on display, and told me how to get to the Sale Velodrome.
By the time I’d reached the banks of the outdoor track the sky had turned black in the direction I was headed. Another inevitable soggy day in the saddle was just up the road.
As the road veered south the heavens opened and within minutes I was drenched.
If you want a bag that is truly waterproof, that doubles as a flotation device it’s that airtight – get an ortlieb COR13. This bag made the trip. It’s basic in structure and very light but not once did I worry about getting my camera wet once it was inside the bag. I bought it on the internet.
Well and truly pruned by the time I got to Woodside, it was time for lunch.
I slung the pub door opened and approached the bar to order – KITCHEN CLOSED. The publican said I could get something to eat from the petrol station across the road. My heart sank. I didn’t envy a lunch at a petrol station.
Inside the petrol station was a full menu. I was still very dubious. I ordered a hamburger with the lot and minimum chips – while I waited I ordered some lollies and a drink. I waited outside as the rain continued to fall and fall.
The lady came out and let me know my order was ready. After the first bite I I knew where Andrew’s of Albert Park got their recipe. THE best damn burger I have ever had. While I know you are thinking it was only good because I was wet, cold and tired this is only partially true. The chips were golden, doubly crispy shell and soft insides. Each one was a golden chunk of potato. I savoured this strangely gourmet experience in the middle of nowhere. Before leaving I told the cook that was the best burger I’ve ever had and if you are ever with 100km range of the Woodside Petrol Station I insist you detour your journey and indulge.
The road rolled like a velvet roller coaster to the foot of the Tarra Bulga National Park. I had the journey pre-mapped on my GPS but winged it from here and quickly made a wrong turn. This wrong turn added 11km of soggy dirt trucking roads to the trip and was the best mistake I’d made all week. The sandy road saw no traffic and it crawled up and up and it felt light the rear brake was stuck on. The road was shroud in thick mist and distance markers lined the road at intervals of 500m. This didn’t help as they were counting up, not down.
An intersection finally drew near and I was back on the planned route. The Grand Ridge Rd, which was also unsealed.
Grand Ridge takes you through a rainforest of green and purple ferns, massive gums and fresh scents. When you finally make it out you are atop the ridge at Mt Tassie over looking the valley below. The winds were howling and a wedgetail was hovering in the distance. It was all downhill from here, a furious and twisty descent all the wat to the scenic hotspot of Loy Yang.
I was just about home and hosed. Once last climb through the cutting at Hazelwood and flat chat to find a place to stay in Morwell. The weather had other ideas about my plan. It opened up again, absolutely pelting down. No big deal. What’s a little water.
Then my rear wheel felt like it was a little soft. I bounced on the saddle watching the rear wheel and sure enough – slow leak. Shaking my fist at the sky and rather than stopping to change the leak, I put it in the 53:12, leaned over the front of the bike and muscled my way Museeuw style to magnificent Morwell. The rear wheel wavered like a fish through water, but mostly went forward until I reached the city limits.
I stumbled around the streets until I found a motel with a Chinese restaurant located next door.
I got a room, ordered my nights cuisine and took to washing my kit for the day that lay ahead. My phone sprung back to life after 2 days of nothing and I got a call from Mrs. Hanley who had offered to put me up at their farm for the night in Yarragon. She was worried about me getting wet. Bless. At this point of the day I wasn’t even going outside again but I thanked her all the same.
With another lazy 210km in the legs, I scoffed far too much Chinese in the space of 10 minutes and lay back on the bed to the scratchy signal on the TV. Surely it couldn’t get any better than today.
More images with captions in the gallery at the top.