Bright to Yea

Day Eight – Monday September 10 – 102km – Bright to Whitfield
I rode back to Myrtleford from Bright and, determined to have some mountain riding, cut across to Cheshunt on the Rose River Road which is a metal back road through forest country. It was a lovely ride, but now having cooked tea around 6:15 I'm absolutely dead from this rotten head-cold, and into bed.


I'm not entirely sure what this old tractor was adapted for, but it looks like something my Uncle Trevor would have constructed— with influences from Hieronymus Bosch.

On the way I found a small lorikeet sitting on the road looking rather puzzled about life in general. It let me pick it up, and sat in my hand for a while, and then alongside the bike for a bit, and finally flew off.  It was a delightful little episode in what was a lovely day. I had full gloves on, and just could not get the phone to work one handed for a shot while it sat in my hand.


08-ararat That's Mt Ararat in the background.


Lake Buffalo


08-roseriverroad Rose River Road

I crossed numbers of mountain streams flowing down from Mount Buffalo and other ranges; all fast, shallow, and clean; saw big wombat holes bored into the embankments on the side of the road; heard deer scrabbling around in the bush, and generally enjoyed myself.

Tonight I am in Whitfield, and I've paid for a caravan, which saves a lot of time and effort in putting up the tent; I've simply rolled out my sleeping bag on their bed. Today was 102km.  


The Large Map

Day Nine – Tuesday September 11— 186km – Whitfield to Mansfield, and on to Yea
Whitfield to Yea: the misfire. I left Whitfield and began a pleasant slow climb up through the King Valley. The idea of this route was to take advantage of a shortcut over the range on the way to Mansfield.

09-telstraTelstra's best and finest.

But when I arrived to the shortcut, Christopher's Road, the sign said: No Through Road. I managed to find a local farmer who said that there definitely was a road there, but that it was only a fire track once you went three or four kilometres in past the open country. He said there was no way that I would ride the bike up the slope, but that at 1.8 kilometres, the shortcut was definitely worth a try pushing it over.

So I carefully picked my way in on the track, which got muddier as I went, but was no problem to ride over.

09-muddybutaroad Muddy, but still a road.

The fire track was a different matter, and an intimidating sight. The first 100 metres or so was clearly around 30% slope; that is, you go 100 metres horizontally and climb 30 metres at the same time. It is not a slope to ride up with a trailer; even on bitumen, that slope would be a very hard pinch for a light carbon bike.

09-firetrack The photo really doesn't do justice to how steep this is when you stand at the bottom.

But if you know what you're doing, such a slope is actually not too much of a problem after a deep breath or too. You simply find a foothold on a rock, heave the bike up about half a metre,  lock the brakes, find the next rock to push off, and repeat. I've had a lot of practice on fire trails in the Adelaide Hills.

So in well less than 10 minutes I'd done that first 100 metres to a bend in the track, where, as they say, the trouble began. There was no more rock; it was pure clay. I gave it a try— I'd guess the next section was only about 25%, and got about another 75 yards up the hill to a bank built across the road by the dozer, as a kind of drainage arrangement. That bank was really very steep over five or six metres. I could barely walk over it. I tried getting across; I pushed the bike up and, at the same time slide back down past it.

At this point I decided it was better to quit while I still could, rather than to have to work out how to quit once I was well stuck, or had broken something on the bike, or myself! So I did a very careful 50 metres backing of the trailer down this steep slope—the  best trailer backing I've ever done, until I could finally turn the rig around on a little tiny level patch on the bend. I could then slide back down to the gate. This meant that I had to ride about 25 km all the way back to Whitfield and begin the day again on the main road to Mansfield.


Picking my way back out

The Mansfield ride was a lovely ride, albeit steep. It was basically climbing up to Belair from Mitcham, about 6 times. Three  of those times were at New Belair Road slopes, and three were more like the Old Belair Road! That covered about the first 25 km.

09-mansfiledonwayup Part way up the ridge to Mansfield

The road then proceeded along the ridge with fine views of Mt Buller and other snow-capped peaks, undulating up and down about 100 metres at a time. With a granny-gear and patience, it's a really nice ride.

09-mtbullerMt Buller, or thereabouts

The last 25 km plunged down into Mansfield. I had some tea at Mansfield and then set off for Yea. I had the route plotted in my GPS, courtesy of RideWithGPS, and at Maindample it took me off the bitumen onto the Mansfield - Tallarook Rail Trail.

09-bonniedoon The bridge at Bonnie Doon is a couple of hundred metres across, and spectacular in the dark. I had the feeling on much of the bike path that if I went over the edge, I'd sink into swamp and never be found!

I came back onto the road near Merton, with now virtually no traffic, (Maroonda Highway) and  spent the rest of the time on the bitumen. This included a last steep climb up the hill towards Yea just before midnight, over a ridge called Cotton's Pinch. I belted down the other side of this, and found the caravan park where I was staying, and had arranged to roll out my bivvie under one of their shelters.

In the shelter I rolled the bike up against the wall, and was just a little bit too far out to lean it comfortably. So I began to back the trailer up in order to come in a bit closer. It refused to move. On inspection, I found that one of the trailer arms had almost snapped completely off; it was bent like cheese, with the tubing torn open. This means that it was beginning to fall apart as I was coming off Cotton's Pinch, and I can only imagine the disaster it would have been if it had broken while I was coming down the hill at about 40 to 45 km an hour.

There was nothing for it but to roll out the bivvie and go to bed, so I did.


The large map

Next: Yea to Creswick

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