From Tuesday to Thursday this week we (minus one – Zoe was away visiting friends in western Victoria) headed to the town of Mansfield in north east Victoria, Australia. Our purpose was 3-fold: 1) Go to the Mansfield Zoo because Eliana wanted to go to a zoo and it was the closest one to our home; 2) provide an opportunity for Jesse and I to do some cycling together in preparation for a long-ish rail trail ride in May; 3) spend some time away from familiar surroundings. On all 3 purposes we successed, although I had spent a lot of time in and around Mansfield over the years.
Tuesday, late in the morning, Bec dropped Jesse and I and our bikes off at Tolmie, a location some 25km from Mansfield in the mountains between Whitfield and Mansfield. The plan was that we would ride from Tolmie via Barwite to Mansfield. The road looked nice and straight on Google Maps, and I figured that the ride would be pretty much all down hill as Tolmie is considerably higher in altitude than Mansfield. That assumption was certainly not based on any actual knowledge of the roads we would be riding along. We started off on Old Tolmie Road, and after a few kilometres we encountered was a rather long steep hill – going up! I had climbed steeper and longer hills before on the bike so I didn’t find it too hard going although I did stop a few times to catch my breath on the ascent. Poor Jesse ended up walking his bike up most of the ascent and was clearly tired by the time he got to the top. The next part of the ride was a great relief – 7km of down hill and we didn’t need to peddle at all until we crossed a bridge at the bottom of the descent. Most of the descent we were travelling at over 30kph. But after the bridge there were some more hills. Not as steep as the ones before the descent but quite long and tiring nonetheless. Eventually we arrived in Mansfield and met up with Bec and Eliana who had purchased us a ‘gourmet’ lunch of beans from a can and corn chips from a packet as well as some Yoghurt in a tub. The GPS Map for the ride is located at http://www.strava.com/activities/130382830 .
After we checked into our cabin in the caravan park Bec, Eliana and myself went and had a game of Mini-Gockey while Jesse had a nap – the ride must have been tougher than I thought. What, I hear you ask, is ‘Mini-Gockey’? Well, it’s like mini-golf, with some of the ‘moves’ of hockey. I’ll let you imagine that rather than try and explain further. We had decided we would eat at a Pub that night, and so we chose the Delatite and had a great tea which included way too many hot chips! We decided not to have any dessert on account of the size of the meals we had and how much the meal had already cost us – eating out for 4 people is expensive at the best of times!
The next day I was hoping to do another bike ride with Jesse along the Great Victorian Rail Trail from Mansfield towards Bonnie Doon or Merton. But Jesse said that his muscles were still sore from the previous day’s ride so I decided instead that I would go a solo 40 plus km ride around the area instead. I was only familiar with one section of road outside the town of Mansfield on the planned ride – a short (couple of kms at most) stretch of the Mansfield – Woods Point road. All the rest of the roads I travelled outside of Mansfield were totally new to me. It’s strange how the perception of how well one if doing on a ride sometimes doesn’t match the ride statistics. I felt that my muscles really lacked energy on the ride, but when I uploaded the ride GPS data to Strava my average energy output over the whole ride was higher than my usual. One thing I noticed on the ride was the tendency of cars on the roads to not give much space for me. Whether that is because they were in a rush to get to work, or lack of consideration to cyclists in general, or some other reason I don’t know, but it was a very different experience to riding on the roads around where I live. The GPS Map for the ride is located at http://www.strava.com/activities/130683805 .
After I got back to the caravan park and had a shower we headed out to the Mansfield Zoo. Here are some photos of the zoo’s animals…
The Zoo had some white lions, various monkeys, some bison and a various types of Australian native wildlife. It was interesting to speak with the Zoo owner, and watch the lions get fed. After the Zoo visit we had another game of Mini-Gockey. And then it was back to the cabin for some relax time before we attacked dinner.
On Thursday, we packed the car and cleaned the cabin early. Then we started travelling back home. The plan was that Bec would do some shopping on the way as we needed some groceries to keep us going over the Easter weekend. I decided that I would ride the bike from Albury, where Bec was going to do the shopping, and would attempt to get all the way home. I had ridden the route I took on a number of occasions, but have only ever ridden it towards Albury / Wodonga not away from it. So while it was familiar territory it was a very different ride – the scenery was the same obviously, but the experience of riding in the reverse direction was quite different. I didn’t carry any water with me on the ride, but carried some money to buy a drink if I felt I needed it and I also knew where I could get water on the ride. Today I rode a total of 70 km, and arrived home around 3 hours after I started the ride.