Preview of a Rail Trail


Yesterday (Sunday 12h Oct) I was able to take part in a ‘not-quite-rail-trail’ ride. The reason it was ‘not-quite-rail-trail’ was because it followed as closely as possible where a planned rail trail would go, but was not on the exact route of the trail. The ride was planned by the Albury Wodonga Pedal Power group, a group of ‘lycra is optional’ cyclists who main aim is to enjoy the pleasures of cycling, having fun, excersizing and socializing ( website ).

The ride was to promote the idea of converting the disused Culcairn – Corowa railway line into a rail trail. These trails have become quite common in all areas of Australia, except NSW! Although it looks like that is soon to change.

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Landscape near Orielda Siding

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Various shots of riders on the ride

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Near Orielda Siding

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Probably the highest point on the ride, this was about 6km from Brockelsby, and a good place to have a rest before the final downhills into Brocklesby.

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Old timber railway bridge near Brocklesby

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Near Orielda Siding

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Burrumbuttock Silos and Station

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You can tell we are in the country

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Various types of bikes – Lloyd’s recumbent cycle. Other types of bikes on the ride included single-speed BMX, fold-up, road and mountain bikes.

The plan was that when we reached Brocklesby we would attend the dedication of a tourism site commemorating a mid-air collision of two Arvo Anson aircraft near the town in World War II.

BrocklesbyHotel_with_2_ArvoAnsons_0589Then we packed the bikes into the support bus’s trailer, found seats in the bus and got to enjoy the return trip to Walla Walla in motorised comfort, eating orange cake and discussing the ride and riding in general, and the future rail trail. And something happened that rarely happens for me – I had a kind-of post-ride ‘buzz’, a sense of contentment and almost extreme happiness that I don’t remember ever experiencing after a bike ride. Maybe that is because I got to spent time riding with other cyclists (a rarity for me) in the beautiful countryside and a very pleasant spring day.

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Bike trailer and packed at Brocklesby

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Some of the group.

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2014 Cycling Review


It’s been a year of ups and downs as far as my cycling activities this year. Here are some quick stats, courtesy of Strava

Distance 5,033.9 km
Time 246h 17m
Elev Gain 19,203 m
Rides 149

That works out at :

  • Average ride length for 2014: 33km.
  • Average elevation gain per ride: 128 metres.
  • Longest ride: 104km.

Compare that with the cumulative total of all rides I have logged in Strava so far:

Distance 7,957.1 km
Rides 248
  • Average ride length for total time on Strava: 32km.

So the average ride length has gone up by a whole 1km per ride this year compared with the total cumulative distance average ride length! But that doesn’t give the true picture of what happened during this year. The graph below gives a more in depth look at my bicycle ride patterns.

Cycling Stats Graph for 2014

Cycling Stats Graph for 2014

The year started well, with a fairly intense few weeks of riding in January and a new personal distance record on a single ride of 76km up to that time. That ride also was beyonf mobile phone range for about 40km which gave me an increased sense of adventure! In the months that followed I did a number of 100+ km rides, and the longest of them, at 104km, is still my personal distance record. For the 1st half of the year things seemed to be going quite well, with my highest kms in a week ever occuring in March, but then after July the wheels seemed to come off my cycling efforts (excuse the pun). This was because of a number of things occuring around me and as a result me getting to the point where I had trouble finding the time and losing my motivation almost totally by September. That motivation came back for a few weeks in October, then the motivation went south again. And only really returned after the long weekend I spent in the Kosciosko National Park a couple of weeks ago.

Eastlink visual features

Eastlink trail visual features

But I still made it to over 5000km for the year which is still a pretty good effort.

The highlight of the year would have to be the cycling holiday I did in March which included:

  • Various trails around Melbourne (Victoria).
  • The Goulburn Valley High Country Rail Trail (also called the Great Victorian Rail Trail) between Alexandra and Cathkin.
  • The Foster – Meeniyan section of the Great Southern Rail Trail.
  • The full length of the Warby Trail between Lilydale and Warburton.
Warburton Station

Warburton Station on the Warby Rail Trail, Victoria

Who knows what 2015 will bring. I had planned to do the 25000 Spins Great Ocean Road ride in February but I think it’s unlikely that I will be fit enough to do that ride now – it’s going to be hard to get to 125km and decent elevation gain in a single ride (as has been suggested I try to get to). It’s also unlikely that my minimum fundraising target will be met.

Shelter near highest point on the ride

Shelter near highest point on the Alexandra – Cathkin ride

I have a vague plan to try another multi-day bike ride maybe after the snow season in 2015, but that plan might also come to nought like my plan to be involved in the Great Ocean Road ride. Only time will tell. So the New Year approaches, and we tick over to the New Year. What will 2015 bring?

Looking Forward


While I sit at home, battling a bronchial cough, and wistfully looking forward to getting back on the bicycle again, I have been considering how my cycling efforts might be of help to more than just me. There are obvious health benefits (not just physical but mental and spiritual as well) from cycling for the individual cyclist and I have been the grateful recipient of those benefits over the 5 or so years. But up till about a month ago my cycling has not been any real benefit to wider society.

Cutting near Alexnadra on Great Victorian trail

Cutting near Alexandra on Great Victorian trail

 

Rail Trails

Corowa turntable on what would be the Culcairn - Corowa trail

Corowa turntable on what would be the Culcairn – Corowa trail

About a month or so ago, I offered some photos to a rail-trail advocacy website. The result of that was that I was approached by the co-ordinator for Rail Trails for New South Wales ( http://www.railtrailsnsw.com.au/ ) and have been working as part of a team working on a proposal to turn the local disused railway line near where we live into a rail-trail. For those who don’t know what a rail-trail is, they “are shared-use paths recycled from abandoned railway corridors. They can be used for walking, cycling and horse riding” ( http://www.railtrails.org.au/what-are-rail-trails/introduction ). Over the last year or so I have personally experienced the benefits of rail-trails, having ridden a number of them so far:

  • The Murray to Mountains trail between Wahgunyah and Rutherglen, and between Wangaratta, Beechworth and Bright.
  • The High Country trail between Wodonga and Old Tallangatta.
  • The Bass Coast Trail between Wonthaggi and Anderson.
  • The Great Southern trail between Toora and Koonwarra.
  • The Warby trail between Lilydale and Warburton
  • The Great Victorian trail between Tallarook, Alexandra and Mansfield.
  • Belgrave – Ringwood trail.
Yarra Junction Goods Shed on Warby trail

Yarra Junction Goods Shed on Warby trail

And I plan to ride more as time goes on. I live in the state of New South Wales (Australia), but there are relatively few rail trails in this state. All the trails I just mentioned are in Victoria, which has developed the concept of rail trails to what I would describe as a ‘fine art’ – there are rail trails everywhere, and there are a number in various stages of development across the state as well. But New South Wales up till now has only a few trails scattered throughout its bigger-than-Victoria area! Hopefully that will soon change, and it’s nice to think I might had something to do with that.

Sandy Creek bridge on High Country trail

Sandy Creek bridge on High Country trail

Ocean view from Bass Coast trail near Kilcunda

Ocean view from Bass Coast trail near Kilcunda

 

25000 Spins Great Ocean Road 2015

Over the last year or so there have been a number of ways that my cycling could have been used as a fund raiser for charities helping those less fortunate. A cycling friend of mind suggested some time ago that I go on the 25000 Spins Great Ocean Road ride, and since the start of the year I have had that goal in mind. Well, yesterday I signed up for the February 2015 ride, and gave a sizeable personal donation towards the fundraising goal I have set. The goal I have set is $5000, and I have till late January to achieve it. But there is more than just a monetary goal – I have to be able to ride 300km in 3 days. So far I haven’t been able to achieve that, although I have managed to ride 200km in 2 days. Another milestone I will need to achieve before I will be physically ready for the ride is to do at least one 120km ride – so far 104km has been my longest. So there is a bit of work ahead before I am ready to embark on Great Ocean Road experience, but it gives me two goals to work towards and they will help keep me focused.

My personal fund raising page for the 25000 Spins Great Ocean Road 2015 ride is located at: http://greatoceanrd25000spins2015.gofundraise.com.au/page/JamesStanford if you feel inspired to donate.

So while I sit here coughing and spluttering and recovering, I look forward to the 25000 Spinsaventure in February, and getting back into cycling again and meeting the challenge.

2014 Cycling Holiday Plans


Last September I had the opportunity to do some bicycle touring around various Rail Trails in Victoria (Australia). One of the biggest bug-bears of that holiday was the swooping of countless magpies, which is s common occurance for cyclists between August and October in many places in Australia. So this year I decided that my cycling holiday would be about as far from September as it can be – March / April! So in just under a week, it’s time for another cycling holiday.

This one will be quite different to the last one, in which I stayed a different town each night. The plan for the March holiday is to stay at my parents house for most of the holiday (they currently have a spare bedroom) and do a number of day trips along various cycling paths – some will be rail trails, and others urban shared paths. Here is the plan:

  • Sunday 2nd: Travelling from home to Cathkin, where I will ride the Cathkin – Alexandra rail trail (the only part of the Goulburn Valley Rail Trail I didn’t ride last September), then travel to my parents house on the outskirts of the Melbourne ‘burbs.
  • Monday 3rd: Ride the Warby Rail Trail between Lilydale and Warburton.
  • Tuesday 4th: Ride various bike trails starting at Belgrave, and finishing at Melbourne CBD. Then probably get the train back to my parents house.
  • Wednesday 5th: Travel by Car to Foster in southern Victoria, via Wonthaggi. Ride the Wonthaggi – Woolamai / Anderson Rail Trail near Phillip Island.
  • Thursday 6th: Ride as much as I can of the Great Southern Rail Trail (Leongatha – Yarram).
  • Friday 7th: Travel by car from Foster to Mirboo North and ride the Mirboo North Rail Trail. Then continue by car to my parents house.
  • Sabbath 8th: Day of rest!
  • Sunday 9th: Travel by train into Melbourne CBD, then ride to Frankston on various cycling trails. Then by train back to parents house.
  • Monday 10th: Travel to Ballarat (or somewhere near there) by car, and ride as much as possible of the Ballarat – Skipton rail trail. Alternatively, travel by train to Geelong and ride the Geelong – Queenscliff Rail Trail.
  • Tuesday 11th: Attempt to ride up Mt Donna Buang (near Warburton, 1000 metre elevation gain), or maybe Mt Dandenong (around 600 metres elevation gain).
  • Wednesday 12th: Ride from parents house to Gembrook and catch Puffing Billy back to Belgrave (or ride back if train trip not possible).
  • Thursday 13th: Travel by car back home.

A number of the rides above are longer than 60km in length, the longest possible one will be about 100km (the Ballarat – Skipton rail trail). And even some of the rail trails will have some fairly relentless elevation gains. So it will prove interesting to see how I manage with the various rides, especially the longer ones.

Of course this is only a vague plan of the things I would like do over my holiday. It will most probably change. The weather may yet be the biggest influence for change of the above itinerary, followed closely by my level of fatigue as the holiday progresses!