Monday, 15 December 2014

SPECIAL: Great Victorian Bike Ride 2014 - 29 November- 07 December.

As a number of the Tramps and a couple of Sadsac'rs were on this ride, including myself, I feel that I need to give my take on the event.
Despite the claim that the ride started on the 29th of November, the first day was allocated to get the riders to the start point at Albury. So this meant that the 9 day ride was really an eight day event. Considering that a rest day was included, the overall result was seven days of riding. As the distance was a bit shorter than the last couple of years the daily mileage was about the same.
As this was only the second time on the ride and by definition the second time that I had taken any notice of the weather at this time of the year, it was not too surprising that the weather is quite unpredictable. Even so the forecast that I found on the Thursday prior to the event had forecast thunderstorms for the Monday and they arrived as advertised. For most of the ride, though, conditions were warm to hot.
The makeup of this ride is namely three groups. There is a sizable number of school groups, mainly high school, that are on the ride for the first and possibly last time. I found them to be generally well behaved despite their enthusiasm. The largest of the three groups are the social riders. These tend to be regular attendees that are for the most part in the older age bracket, although the family groups fall into here as well. I generally sensed that this group treated the event as it was intended to be. The final group that I encountered were the serious riders. These tended to be in small groups that did not seem to have the time for idle conversation while enroute. Their main aim seemed to be to cover the daily distance in the shortest time. Their impatience, and bunch riding, did cause the odd problem.
As far as the actual overall riding group was concerned some quick calculations had the length of the ride column, if they were in single file, to cover around 10 km. As the riders departed over a 2 hour time period the actual span was more like 40. To those drivers unaware of the event the bicycle riders would have appeared to go on forever.
On the road there appeared to be a number of accidents and flat tyres. Obviously the bad accident just prior to the rest day had a major impact. Despite the organisers main concern of a serious accident on one of the major descents, this one occurred on the flat just a few kilometres from the end of the day. While it may be in bad taste to speculate as to the cause of the tragedy, I do note that the the group would have arrived at the finish for the day by around 11 am. This was at the end of an 88 km distance on one of the 'mountain' stages. This could have been a factor in the rider error.
On the following ride day the group with ultimate responsibility for the separation of riders and other road users, the police, noted that some riders had not been effected by the fatality and chose to ride as if it was the Tour de France. The end result was all riders being put onto the rail trail, which upset me as I was already on the rail trail and these people were getting in my way.
As a general observation I noted that very few riders seemed to have rear vision mirrors, at best guess around 20%. Over the last few years I have come to rely more and more on my mirror. On this ride you are constantly coming up to slower riders, sometimes riding two abreast. It is difficult, at times, to remain on the left hand side of the road during the overtake. To then have a group of six or eight riders, in a bunch, overtaking yourself and it is obvious that all the road is required. With the mirror at least I could hold off until after the bunch went through. Perhaps this is why Janet leaves at 6, although I wanted to have the feeling of being in a big ride.
This thing has been going for over 30 years and seems to be filling a need for a number of riders. I do not pretend to understand it after only two appearances. For a large number it is an annual event. To others it is more like something to cross off your list. I am still making up my mind.
Moyhu 6am/Michelle centre/big day ahead
Powers Hill Lookout/one of about 30 to go
Tolmie road closure/drama down the road
We're going to Bonnie Doon
Great Victorian Rail Trail
Riding the Black Spur

Tuesday, 25 November 2014

SADSAC: Maffra - Briagalong 30 November

Well from verbal reports conditions in the Maffra/Stratford area were similar to those that I encountered in the Albury area, they being rather hot and uncomfortable. Even so those that made the effort had a good time on the bikes. The first half of the day went pretty much to plan with the riders following the route though the back of Boisdale, through Valencia Creek and Bushy Park on their way to the lunch stop at Briagalong. Over the lunch conversations it was decided that the run up Bill's Hill and the Stockdale corner was a bit too much in the heat so a plan B was formulated. The end result was a shortcut along Crooked Lane before the Weirs Crossing/ Nordens Lane return to Maffra.
Despite the less than ideal weather conditions it seems that those attending had a good ride.

No pictures available.

Monday, 17 November 2014

TRAMPS: Boolarra - Dumbalk 23 November

Our Chief Statistician managed to calculate using his simulated HP15 application, on his new smart phone, that we had 19 riders at Boolarra. It was good to see so many riders, as the day was ideal and the route in top shape.
The threat of showers was quite hollow and we spent the day in full sunshine, My face reminded me of that all night, despite the sunscreen. The actual route was the same as previous and started with the gentle climb up Limonite Road. Once over the ridge it was the major descent of the day to Mirboo. Yours truly was keen to test the velcro fastening of my pod mounted solar panel. With an indicated maximum of 64 kph it passed easily. Once out of town we paused to take in the countryside before pressing on to the lunch stop at Dumbalk. Despite missing out on the main shelter shed, we can not always have these places to ourselves, we managed to find a shady spot to enjoy our lunch with friends. We were also treated to a pictorial account of Leah's big adventure on the Alp d'Huez.
Once all the resting and refreshing was over it was back on the bikes for the second half. The run from the Tarwin River (East Branch) to the Mardan Road was always going to be the main test for the legs. Even with a break half way, the climb was a challenge. Once most had recovered at the peacocks it was off onto the undulations that are the Mardan Road. The final pinch into Mirboo North has not reduced in gradient over the years, in fact it appears to be the opposite. By the time the corner marshals had joined the main group in the park there appeared to be a complete lack of movement. Eventually the group stirred and we headed off for the final leg to Boolarra. Not far into the descent phase one of our group managed his second puncture for the day, the first being on the way to the start. It was not the best day for Richard. Once people had assisted with his repair back at the cars, it was off to the local coffee shop for a well earned coffee and fried food. I know that I am rather biased when it comes to this area, but this was a top day on the bikes.
Early on the Limonite
This girl displaying altitude
Just checking those rider numbers
More paperwork
It was a joke about the Danish
Don't get too comfortable

Monday, 10 November 2014

SADSAC: Cathie's Mystery Ride 16 November

You would have to say that the main mystery for this year's ride was, where are the bikes?
As it turned out we had 17 riders (loose term) arrive at the port, some ready to ride, others not at all. Had the ride started a few hours later we may have actually made it onto the bikes but the system that had dumped over an inch on the district overnight still had the odd shower to deliver.
But our trusty ride leader was not to be beaten and had come up with a plan to visit the venues by alternative transport. So we all organised ourselves into groups for a motorcade around Sale. As the new arrangements meant that the transit times were significantly reduced we had time for a coffee and birthday celebration before we headed off. As I mentioned in my previous post the mystery ride is similar in length to the rally. It turned out that the route was almost the same as well. I suspect though, that this was not obvious to most of the participants from two weeks ago.
On arrival at our first point of interest, Wondela Homestead, we were taken by the image of an historic building being slowly surrounded by the suburban sprawl of the City of Sale. Luckily the owners had managed to provide a reasonable buffer to this sea of roofs. The house itself was most impressive. The period building, with its truckloads of history, had been transformed in recent times to a rather modern building on the inside. Despite some areas being the latest, others still had the air of the original construct.
From here it was only a short run to the Grassdale Homestead. I must say that this building looked far more historic. Cathy had organised for the family owners to join us for lunch to provide some of the history of this building, and also the one we had just visited. There was plenty of room on the old verandah for the group. The eastern one even had a view. The McLaughlin history was really something with narrator, Allan, furnishing the information in what could be called a relaxed style.
Back in the buses and it was off onto the final leg to the port. On arrival it appeared that South America had discovered Sale, even if only for a short leg stretch. The group managed to lure some of our number to join them with the offer of music and dance. I suspect that they would have been released when their bus driver broke up the party to continue their journey. Being my final ride with the club I had to say that it was certainly different. Thank you Cathie for your efforts.
Birthday Girl  (queue Beatles music)
Where are your bikes?
At the Hobbit house
Plenty of photo ops.
Three lovely girls
Scary tales from the lighthouse

SPECIAL: CGHS Bike Relay 8/9 November

According to the organisers around eighty riders registered for this year's CGHS Relay.
The route for the two days was pretty much as it had been for the last two years except for a small detour on the Sunday.
The first day was always going to be the most challenging and not just because of the length. The forecast temperature of 35 degrees seemed hours away as we headed off from Sale just after eight.
I usually get a lift to Maffra with some stronger riders but they appeared to be on a go slow as it took them around 17 km to catch me. I only rode with them for a short distance before handing over to my buddy. By the time the main group was out past Fernbank the northwesterly and the temperature had kicked in. By Bairnsdale the temperature was in the mid thirties. After lunch I am sure everyone was suffering to some extent. After a run on the rail trail my co-rider was spent. I continued on to the Bluff but this forced my retirement. Had we been able to continue we would have been late for dinner as some stronger teams found. The temperature though at Lake Tyers was much more pleasant as we all enjoyed the evening meal together.
Day two was always forecast to be the better for riding. The run to Nowa Nowa and up to the Knob was great stuff. Spirits were running high for the next leg to Bruthen. The final run to lunch over the lumpy ground would have been keenly fought over.
After lunch the southeasterly had developed providing a cooling crosswind for the run home along the Bengworden Road. As I had found in the past the other riders seemed to be on another route for this leg. We felt we had the road to ourselves. Back at the hospital a well received afternoon tea capped off a great weekend.
Many thanks to the Mowat and Pickering teams for their efforts organising a top event.
This group caught me
Linden near Boisdale
Team Darrell round Boisdale corner
Later I caught this group
Ready to depart Day 2
Ann alone on Bengworden Road

Monday, 3 November 2014

TRAMPS: Tyers - Rawson 09 November

The day began with 16 riders who steamed up the Tyers hill to rest at the lookout and read that the town was named after Charles James Tyers, a government surveyor, slightly before my time, I think.
The weather was perfect, which was wonderful considering the hot day yesterday.
The route climbs slightly all the way but it's generally not difficult.
Every time I lost concentration Maree would catch up and I found it becoming difficult to get away from her.
Colin rested us appropriately and after the last stop at the Walhalla turn-off, the short climb to Rawson was steep but food was at the top. We had our lunch at the recreation reserve, not far from the toilets in the shopping center.
The cruise back was a dream, with roller coaster hills; down one side and up the next, well sort of.
At one rest before the final drop, Bill, walking around amongst us, complained that he hadn't had his 5 minute rest. For a very short time I was very concerned, then remembered that Bill was driving the support vehicle.
The total drop is about 450 m and there is a point at which it's realized that there's no more pedaling for the last 6 km of the ride.
The scenery and the tall trees were magnificent and it's a privilege to be able to ride through it.
As we had some hot water left over, the end-of-the-day coffee was had at the Tyers car park.
Mate, we're in it together
Nancy and Dave
Jodie, happy with what she's done, so far
Most are still with us
We make do with what turns up
Oh Maurice, you didn't

Monday, 27 October 2014

SADSAC : Bike Rally - Sale 02 November

The day for the rally was somewhat threatening, weather wise. Even so we ended up with eight riders prepared to take on the elements and the complex task ahead. Ray had managed to out do himself this year. Memories of three way ties had encouraged him to up the level of difficulty. Those who were doing their first rally were in for a challenging day. For the others, past events should have made them wise to Ray's tricks.
The teams ended up being the ladies (Linden and Katie), the Stratford Seniors( Denis and Alister), the G's ( Geoff and George) and team Mirrambeek (Ann and I).
I have to admit to a home town advantage. With over 30 years experience of Sale I had noticed the odd thing or two. We had not gone past the lakes before I had most likely picked up a few points on the competition. As previously mentioned Ray had upped the number of out of sequence questions to test the contestants. Careful reading of the question sheet was vital to reduce the backtracking otherwise required. As it turned out, despite leaving last, we did not see many other teams during the two and a half hours the event took to complete. Expecting to be last we ended up being the first ones back. Some had traveled considerably more than the 21/22 km that the route instructions provided.
In the end everyone was a winner with Ray skillfully providing enough prizes for all comers.
It was a bit disappointing that more members did not share in the day as the effort that Ray had gone to was considerable. As it turned out Ray did not have to endure the long wait for the confused observers alone as he had our president, Colin, to help pass the time.  Hopefully Ray will be kind enough to continue his fine work into the future. 
Ray and George reflect on event
These two happy to find the port
Official overseer
Out of towners surprise winnings
Betty was 'ere
Winners are grinners