How to Flashpack - Wodonga to Bright
How to flashpack / have fun on bikes.
Once known as 'credit card' touring, the lightweight version of bikepacking that saves you carrying stoves, tents and sleeping gear is known as 'flashpacking'. That bulk you cast away means you can ride a bike that still rides 'like a bike' and not a tank. You can ride further, faster.
I've bikehacked in the UK, Europe, South America, and had a reasonable amount of experience, punctuated by memorable stories of when things don't to plan - like when Dave had to convert his bike to a singlespeed in the middle of the Dargo High Plains bog to avoid walking 50km to the Hotham Heights sealed road. That incident MADE that ride.
Fun Pt I
Dave (@updave) loves to plan, deep dive and nerd out. Two wiggly GPX routes were emailed to me (which I dumped into strava), a train ticket booked, and a night in Mitta Mitta pub secured. All I had to do was pack my gear and roll to Broadmeadows station by 7.30am.
A minor hiccup presented itself alone the Darebin Creek trail when Dave messaged me.
Coach was on time, and though it involved putting our bikes under the bus and praying - they came out unscathed when we pulled them out at Wodonga Station.
Dave forgot his gloves so we headed straight for the best bike shop in Wodonga - Washington Cyclisme, which is also on the Rail Trail to Tallangatta.
Once on the rail trail is was blue skies, slight tailwinds and no cars.
I was coming off a serious base training regime of a single 30km ride in preparation for this trip so I figured it was a lack of fire power in the legs when it felt like my brakes were on. Bike check - nope.
More pedalling, must be the drag of the dynamo front hub. Nope.
Then finally it happened to Dave's 'legs'. It was the actual trail. Sections of the course bitumen had the consistency of clag, and at intermittent points they'd wash off speed. I was relieved it wasn't my legs - and Tallangatta was a welcome lunch stop.
Hit up the Bakery in town - the pies and coffee are great, the passionfruit centered Yo-Yo was next level.
It was in Tallangatta that I realised I haven't got what it takes to be an Ultra-Endurance Cycler. Once I hit the supermarket with eyes bigger than my stomach I wasted 20 minutes wandering the aisles, putting a 6 pack of Kombucha, a dozen muesli bars, bag of candy and can of beans for tomorrows breakfast into my shopping basket. Realising the candy was pure sugar that would only spike my energy, I bought a bag of frozen fruit which on this hot day was perfect.
We continued along Lake Hume until Yabba road, where we headed south along the Mitta Mitta river.
What to take
The art of cycle-touring is learning what NOT to take. The more you carry, the less enjoyable the ride is, until things go wrong and you wished you brought a chainsaw.
Two wheels is the basic requirement. Here's our rigs.
Food / Drink
If I've learned anything from longer rides, it's that energy and hydration management is more than half the battle, especially if you don't want to cramp mid ride, or mid sleep later that night. I throw an electrolyte tab in my bidon, and try and drink 2 every 100km depending on the terrain and weather. Everyone is different and you'll only discover what works for you by getting out there and practicing.
I prefer eating 'real' food and could never stomach gels. I've got a bag of mini Haribo Goldbears stashed for absolute emergencies but find that spike of energy is accompanied by a bigger slump shortly after.
Tools (multi-tool, chainbreaker, tyre levers, chain lube)
Change of clothes, spare socks
Lightweight water/windproof jacket
Battery bank to charge devices
The beauty of flashpacking is not needing to carry a sleeping bag, tent, cooking hardware.
How to plan your route
Dave trawled some Facebook groups for feedback on some possible routes, perhaps due to scarring from previous adventures like Camp Creek Rd, or Cobbler Lake Track - a seemingly endless series of unclimbable / descendable lumps to Abbeyard which has an appropriately named segment.
What was exciting was using the Rail Trail all the way from Wodonga to Tallangatta. No cars makes for a stress free ride.
A little sprinkling of unknown took the form of Bullhead road, off Yabba road and it was the highlight of the day. A late shower on the sealed section into Mitta Mitta was a delight.
The stretch along Lake Hume to Sandy Creek.
The epic Sandy Creek Bridge - Bicycles only! What a treat.
Start of Bullhead Road.
The saddle. Epic descent from here to the sealed road.
The plan to swim and soak in the waters of the Mitta Mitta was quickly dashed when I saw it was a raging torrent behind the pub due to the incredible storms the week before.
Glorious weather greeted us for the second day on our way to Bright.
Stopped in Mt Beauty at Take Out Cafe for an awesome mid-ride refuel.
From Beauty it was the dusty way over Tawonga via Simmonds Creek rd / Pyramid Hill and Dungey Tracks. Once the final lump was done it was a joyous roll on the fully sealed trail the connects Harrietville to Bright.
Thanks for stopping by and hope it inspires you to plan your own adventure.