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?

Great Southern Rail Trail ride


In my previous post I stated that I was going to try and ride as much as I could of the Great Southern Rail Trail yesterday and today. Today I fulfilled that statement. I rode the Foster – Toora section, and the Buffalo – Koonwarra section. This means the only section of the GSRT that I didn’t ride was the Leongatha – Koonwarra section.

GSRT: Foster – Toora

This section of the GSRT can be described as flat(ish) and straight(ish). Most of the time the trail has trees along side it, and the views were somewhat limited as a result. I knew that Wilsons Promontory lurked over to the south, and that there were hills to the north, but most of the time I could only catch glimpses through the trees. Not that I am complaining! I have ridden all kinds of trails that have varying amounts of trees in hot weather and trees along the side of trails make a huge difference to the comfort level when riding them.

I started the ride fairly early, partly because I wanted to ride to Toora before I had to vacate the tent site at the caravan park, and partly because I was already awake and had breakfast so why not. It was a fairly crisp morning, around 14 degrees C or maybe less, when I started and I felt the coolness of the air for the whole ride to Toora and back. Toora is a small town with an interesting history. In the past it has had a tin mine, timber mills, a 700 feet long jetty, cheese factory, and dairy farming. Today dairy farming seems to be the main industry.

Kangaroo

Kangaroo

Wind turbines above Toora

Wind turbines above Toora

Factory at Toora

Factory at Toora

Toora station

Toora station

Toora main street

Toora main street

View from trail

View from trail

GSRT: Buffalo – Koonwarra (almost)

This section of the GSRT has been described as ‘undulating’, and it certainly was. It didn’t have the long steep climbs like the Foster – Buffalo section, but it still had some fairly long grades, but not as steep. Generally a much easier ride, although by the time I was within 5km of Buffalo on the way back to the car my legs were starting to feel fatigued. Maybe it wasn’t so much today’s rides as the accumulation of fatigue since Monday!

The biggest town on this section of the trail is Meeniyan. But the real highlight was the bridges that cross the Tarwin River between Meeniyan and Koonwarra. The old railway trestle bridge is looking a bit dilapidated, but there is a new trail bridge which is very well engineered.

Trail bridge across Tarwin River

Trail bridge across Tarwin River between Meeniyan and Koonwarra

Old trestle bridge over Tarwin River

Old trestle bridge over Tarwin River

Old trestle bridge over Tarwin River

Old trestle bridge over Tarwin River

Between the Tarwin River bridges and the end of the trail there was a rather large clearing which I am guessing was probably the site of a station at some point in the past as it had that look about it, and even some remnants of what looked like station platform, but I couldn’t be entirely sure. I couldn’t work out whether the clearing would have been the Koonwarra station (it seemed a bit far away to be the station for that location) or not. It could have been a station or platform and freight loading area not connected to a town. Between Stoney Creek and Buffalo there is such a platform, which is really out in the middle of no-where not even any houses nearby and seemingly no road or track to get to it. At least the one between Tarwin River and Koonwarra has really good access – it was not far from the main highway.

Platform remains in the middle of no-where

Platform remains in the middle of no-where a few kms from Stoney Creek

And then, 3km from Koonwarra, the trail abruptly ends. And trail users are directed up to the highway for the last 3km into Koonwarra. From Meeniyan to the end of the trail at this location I could hear the constant movement of traffic, and I really didn’t like the idea of venturing out on the South Gippsland Highway. So I turned around and headed back towards Buffalo and the car. Here are some pics of the ride.

Old buffer, Meeniyan

Old buffer, Meeniyan

Freight platform, Meeniyan

Freight platform, Meeniyan

End of trail near Koonwarra

End of trail near Koonwarra

Wombat hole beside trail near Buffalo

Wombat hole beside trail near Buffalo

Along the GSRT over the last 2 days I have seen a variety of animals: a number of foxes, a cat which nearly jumped out of it’s skin when it realised I was behind it, some black cockatoos (the ones with white tips on the underside of the wings), white cockatoos, king parrots, some yellow green and purple parrots (not sure what they are called), a bird of prey hovering over it’s breakfast, kangaroos and wallabies, and evidence of wombats. The weather has been drizzly rain, strong winds, some sunny patches and blue skies, cold mornings, warm afternoons – a very mixed bag. Which has all made for a very interesting couple of days. For now, that’s all folks!

For GPS data for todays rides, try these:

The Bass Coast


By sunrise I was well on the way to the Bass Coast region in south east Victoria. The plan was to ride the Bass Coast Rail Trail (BCRT) and as much as I could of the Great Southern Rail Trail (GSRT). On the way I saw a flag flapping frantically in the wind indicating that the wind was a strong westerly / southwesterly, and so I decided that I would start the BCRT ride at Wonthaggi and ride into the wind to Anderson, then in theory I should have a tail wind all the way back to the car. I arrived at Wonthaggi and quickly prepared the bike, and started riding. It was fairly tough riding into the strong wind, but at least until Kilcunda it was fairly flat.

Wind Turbines near Wonthaggi

Wind Turbines near Wonthaggi

Powlett River bridge

Powlett River bridge

A threatening sky

A threatening sky

View from rail trail near Kilcunda

View from rail trail near Kilcunda

From Kilcunda it was a fairly steady climb to Anderson. The information I had read said that the Wonthaggi to Anderson ride was 13km, but the signage and my GPS tracker both indicated it was more like 17km. So instead of doing a 26km ride, it was more like 34km. But those are the breaks. I was able to ride it ok.

Bridge near Kilcunda

Bridge near Kilcunda

View west across Kilcunda

View west across Kilcunda

From Wonthaggi I drove to Foster and set up camp in the caravan park there, and then after some lunch I rode the Foster – Buffalo section of the GSRT. The two trails I rode today were a real contrast – the BCRT was mostly flat and there were plenty of views across the farmland to the hills to the north and sand dunes to the south; the GSRT section I rode today was mostly like riding in various types of forests with very little views of the surrounding scenery and was constantly going up or down hill. Not that I minded the contrast. The GSRT was as wide or wider than a single lane road in some places, and I enjoyed the challenge of getting up and over the next hill (of which there were plenty). I took a break at Buffalo and purchased a fruit juice, after flagging down a passer by to ask them where the shopkeeper was and him arriving at the shop a few minutes later. Friendly bloke he was. But obviously engaged in other pursuits as well as running the shop.

Buffalo is a very small settlement with a general store and a few other buildings. Fish Creek is the average small Australian village, with a number of small shops in the main street, a railway station with no rails (the station platform was being used for a vegetable garden – a novel idea), a church, and I am sure I spotted a ‘pub’ somewhere too. Apart from Foster they were the only other towns I encountered on the GSRT today.

Interesting seat at Fish Creek

Interesting seat at Fish Creek

Fish Creek main street

Fish Creek main street

Fish Creek main street

Fish Creek main street

Fish Creek station

Fish Creek station

Fish Creek station vegetable garden

Fish Creek station vegetable garden

As I am writing this on limited internet and Netbook battery, I will leave it at that for today.

For GPS data for this ride, try these: