Cycling Holiday Photos. 1st installment.


This is the first installment of photof from the cycling holiday mentioned in the previous 2 posts. Enjoy!

Swanpool

Hume and Hovell Monument

One of the many, many Hume and Hovell Monuments dotted throughout the region

Painted Fence

Painted Fence

Bike Art

Bike Art opposite the Swanpool General Store

James Reserve / Lima East environs

Eddie the Golden Retriever

Eddie the Golden Retriever – the pooch belonging to campers next to us, not a particularly obedient dog, and loved putting his dirty paws anywhere clean but very likable

Flipping pancakes without a spatula

Flipping pancakes without a spatula

How to dry a hat

How to dry a hat

Climbing a slippery slope

Eliana and the daughters of the campers next to us climbing a slippery slope and getting very dirty in the process

James Reserve

James Reserve, nestled in the valley along the Moonie Moonie Creek about 15km from Swanpool

Flowers at James Reserve

Flowers at James Reserve

Meal time discussions

Meal time discussions

Eliana on a big-ish rock at James Reserve

Eliana on a big-ish rock at James Reserve

Split rock at James Reserve

Split rock at James Reserve

Native or not?

Native or not? I suspect not.

Our James Reserve Campsite

Our James Reserve Campsite

Mountains around James Reserve

Mountains around James Reserve

Lima East area near James Reserve (previously filename: james-reserve-environs0674.jpg)

Rocks near James Reserve

Rocks near James Reserve

Sabbath Breakfast at James Reserve

Sabbath Breakfast at James Reserve – pancakes, pears and custard

Lima Falls

Rebecca, Eliana and I

Rebecca, Eliana and I – between the rain at Lima Falls.

Lima Falls

Lima Falls

Lima Falls

Lima Falls

Lima Falls

Lima Falls

The girls at the base of the falls

The girls at the base of the falls

Great Victoria Rail Trail

Selfie with Wim and Ron

Selfie with Wim and Ron at Cathkin

Yea station

Yea station

Yea Goods Shed

Yea Goods Shed

Alexandra Railway Crane

Alexandra Railway Crane

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And that was it, for now


Note: photos will be added in a  later post…

Last Friday I left home early in the morning and found the James Reserve near Swanpool in Victoria where Rebecca, Eliana and I would be camping for the weekend, got camp set up, put a new mountain bike tyre on the back rim of my bike, took it for a test ride, then waited for the girls to arrive, which eventually they did.

Sabbath morning we went for a bit of a walk after breakfast and I tried to explain to Eliana what it meant to have a sense of ‘wow’. Later we went for a drive around the area and were greeted with rain, rain, and more rain. Wow! But it was good to have a Sabbath out in nature without any artificial stimuli. After the rain stopped Eliana decided that it would be fun to climb up and down the earth embankment on the other side of the creek with the girls camped next to us. If the level of mud she collected on her clothes was any indication then she really enjoyed herself.

Sunday we woke early, had breakfast, packed up the girl’s camping equipment, and while they headed home I headed to Yea to ride to Alexandra with 2 Strava friends on the Great Victorian Railtrail. By 8am we had started the ride, and we passed through the Cheviot tunnel, then down to Molesworth. From there to Cathkin proved interesting as the recent rains had made the trail somewhat boggy. From Cathkin the trail was better, AND uphill to within a few km of Alexandra.

We stopped there for a while, had some sustenance, and then started to head towards Yea. For the first few kms back I went ok. But then I seemed to run out of energy which didn’t matter too much until the climb out of Molesworth. But by then the lack of energy really took it’s toll as I ever so slowly slowly pedalled up the 10km or so to the Cheviot tunnel. By the tunnel I was exhausted, thankfully there was some downhill most of the way to Yea from there.

At Yea we discussed the ride, and it was suggested that I might have been dehydrated or not properly fuelled for the ride, both of which I had the opportunity to test later on my holiday.

From Yea I travelled back to camp and made myself some soup / noodle / veggie concoction which tasted great. The next day I packed up camp and travelled to Mountain Creek Campground near Mount Beauty and set up camp.

From there the 4×4 track beckoned so I took the bike for a spin towards the Eskdale Spur. As there were a number of creek crossings I chose to use the bridges on the parallel walking track for the creek crossings where they existed. Even still, I had to traverse at least one creek where there was no walking bridge. About 5km into the ride I decided enough was enough – those hills just seemed to be getting steeper! And so turned and headed towards camp. At one point a stick jammed itself into the rear derailer which caused a failure of one of the many vital components. Not to worry, it was mostly downhill back to camp.

The next day, Tuesday, my plan was to ride along the Trappers Gap Road from the campsite until it stopped going up hill, which was about 8km, and then return back to camp. But first I had to make the vital component that failed the previous day not-so-vital.

Wednesday, and this was to be a real challenge. The plan: ride the ascent of Mt Buffalo. I decided to have a high protein breakfast to start the day – 2 x Nutolene sandwiches, an Up-n-Go, and a banana. And before the ride I had 600ml of water. So dosed up on carbs, protein and water I started the ride from Eurobin Creek Picnic Area. This ride should have been harder than the railtrail ride, but overall my energy levels were better than the railtrail ride and more consistent over the 20+ kms of climbing probably helped by the more regular sips of water along the ascent and the banana and Up-n-Go I had at the Mt Buffalo Chalet. And I guess the promise of 20km of downhill roll on the way back spurred me on somewhat too. I suspect I need to pack some low-GI snacks and plenty of water on long or hard rides in future and not be reluctant to actually partake of them enroute.

After completing the Mt Buffalo ride, I headed back to camp and as I had heard that there was going to be rain I decided that it would be better to break camp while everything was still dry, and so packed up and travelled to my parents-in-laws for a few days to see if there was likely to be any more fine days before the weekend.

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?

Training on the steep bit of the High Country Rail Trail


Because of an upcoming 300km charity adventure bike ride I will be part of in February 2015 called the 25000spins Great Ocean Road Adventure, I decided to try the toughest section of the High Country Rail Trail today as part of the training for that event. The High Country Rail Trail follows the formation of the old Wodonga – Cudgewa broad gauge railway line and traverses a mountain range which has (or had) the highest railway station in Victoria – Shelley railway station.

Trestle bridge between Shelley and Koetong.

Having not ridden any of that section of the trail before, I really didn’t know what to expect, although I had seen a Victoria Railways Gradient Chart which showed some long and steep (1:30 or 3%) grades. I also read about about the Tall Trestle Treadlie, an annual event which rides down from Shelley to Darbyshire, and then some of the flatter sections of the trail from Old Tallangatta to the Sandy Creek bridge. And that ride is downhill from Shelley. But as I didn’t know where to access the rail trail except at Shelley I decided to start at Shelley, and go down through Darbyshire and then ride back up to Shelley, a distance of about 43km in total.

View near Darbyshire station site

I figured that as it was going to be a warm to hot day I would leave as early as possible (around 6:30am), so I could start the ride and hopefully finish it before the heat set in. I also figured that as the section I was going to ride was higher altitude than where I normally ride it would be cooler than elsewhere, which it was but only by about 4 degrees. There was also the added benefit of the body having to work harder (but not that much harder) in the higher altitude.

View of Koetong fromn Rail Trail

Although I wasn’t specifically riding the trail for sight-seeing, I was glad I took my camera as there was some awesome vistas along the way, and some trestle bridges I had never seen before. The rail trail is not a road bike friendly surface, but is ok for hybrid bikes, and well suited to mountain bikes. My bike is a foldable bike with mountain bike rims and tyres so I didn’t think there would be any problems with the bike travelling along the trail.

Long trestle bridge south of Darbyshire. The views from trains travelling over this bridge when the railway was open would have been amazing!

Hint of the view from the long bridge south of Darbyshire. The railway formation on both sides of this bridge has almost vertical drops at the side, and this bridge was very hight offering unobstructed views to the mountains over in the distance.

The whole ride took about 3 hours, including stops for taking pictures (more than I thought I would), and exploring some of the surrounds of the trestle bridges I encountered along the way. The whole ride had total ascents of 600 metres (1800 feet), 400 metres of that being on the return journey back UP to Shelley. So I am now looking for some other mountain climbs to try to help me get ready for the ride in February. The ascents in the 7peaks challenge offers some interesting possibilities for some pretty hard ascents up Victorian mountains, as does a mountain road between Tawonga and Mitta Mitta which gets near the highest mountain in Victoria.