Victorian Rail Trails, Myrtleford - 7-14 March 2015

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Photos by Carol and Mike S

Bill's photos are on a separate page here.

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Still cool this early
With riding commencing on Sunday 8 March, some of us set off from home on Friday and stayed overnight on the way, like at Gundagai, where I stayed in my favorite motel. Others camped at various places in southern NSW. Arriving on Saturday, either early as I did, or late like the late-leavers, we all set up our camps in Arderns Caravan Park in Myrtleford. Richard and Pam were too late for a cabin, so stayed in another nearby park.
Camping for the first time for decades, I wasn't properly set up, so didn't have much of the stuff I needed, but lots of stuff I didn't need. Using Linda's 2-man tent which she kindly gave me, and her old air mattress, I erected what ostensibly was a comfy bed, with all my stuff either in the tent, in the Pajero, or on the ground nearby. Not that comfy at all, but good enough. I didn't do any washing of clothes for the whole trip, or make a meal. We went to bed when it got dark, 9.00pm, and woke up when the sun rose at 6.45am. Being a holiday weekend I had a big family of bogans next to me with kids throwing frisbees and massive cook-ups. Turns out they were quite well-behaved.

Rolf, Doug and John at Happy Hour
Twenty-eight bike club members arrived, making it a jolly affair, especially the Happy Hour, where we all tried to squeeze our chairs around a concrete apron and picnic table near Doug's camp. Richard and Pam, riding from the other c'van park, had to sit at the picnic table as they couldn't bring chairs on their bikes. By-the-way, there was no rain for the whole week, just warm sunny days and cool mornings.
On Saturday Myrtleford had a Parade and Fair (it was the Labor Day weekend in Victoria) with lots of interesting stalls and food. The parade consisted of the fire engines from all the surrounding towns, most of which I had never heard of, and I come from Victoria, Princesses and a Queen from the local beauty pageants, gorgeous! local sponsors and tradies, charity floats, beautiful cars, and a lone cyclist in a startling Lampre outfit on a new Giant bike (that was me), receiving a rousing reception from all our members watching the parade.

Doug and John at lunch somewhere
On Sunday we had our first ride for the week, heading over to Bright along the beautiful Rail Trails, which cover the whole region of North-East. Round trip was about 50km. When we got to Bright the town was jumping with another festival, shows of immaculate cars and motorbikes, food stalls (I had a kebab) - very spectacular and interesting! Toukley Club shirts were everywhere, so you could see how many of us were there. People were very interested in us and our origin. Some of us rode out 15km to a famous Maze to have a look, and missed the good stuff. It was $10 to get in, and I think $20 to get out. When we were leaving, Heinz had been talking to a couple of people, then jumped on his bike and headed off back to Myrtleford (MF), leaving his precious backpack on the wall. It contained his car keys, phone, wallet etc. The guys he was talking to realized it was his and took it with them as they searched for someone else with the same colourful club shirt. Twenty k's down the track Heinz realized he had left his pack behind, and scarpered back to Bright, very keen to be re-united with his stuff. Anyway, it all worked out alright and everyone was happy.

Linda, Carol, Danny, Margaret and Annie, at Beechworth Ravine
We saw a lot of fruit trees on the verge of the bike path and realized that over the decades of rail use, people had thrown their pips out onto the track, and now there are hundreds of apple and other trees all the way from MF to Bright. The girls, not ones to miss an opportunity, gathered fruit from the trees, and the nearby vineyards (thanks Margaret), brought them all home, and Carol made a superb apple crumble, which we had with custard. Tough life this camping out!

Anne D rolling down the avenue
We had a great wildlife holiday, with Boston Bill finding a platypus in the creek next to the campsite, while some of us saw an echidna crossing the bike track near Everton, and Mike S found a koala on the ground, which went up a tree about a metre, then stayed put while the audience took photos (see below) and patted it. Didn't see any macropods but, except a dead wallaby on the bike track, phew!!
On Monday we rode to Everton, a tiny community towards Wangaratta (Wang), consisting of a railway station (trains long gone), and a servo with nice café, where we had lunch. The trip was out to the station, uphill all the way, except for a downhill 5km bit in the middle, 20km all up. On the way back it was downhill mostly, except for the uphill bit. All hills on rail tracks are gentle, suitable for steam trains, but are long and relentless. We had a nice headwind, and a rough surface going back too, making it quite tiring and disappointing that we had to pedal downhill.

Marg, Lyn, Linda and Annie in Beechworth Ravine
Nigel had endless trouble with his bike, breaking 2 spokes, in separate wheels on the one trip. By the time he got back to camp he had 3 broken spokes. He finished up having to buy a new front wheel, and had his whole back wheel re-spoked, and all the spokes were dodgy. He also had a few punctures, as did a few of us, although there wasn't any glass on the paths.

Carol now in the picture. Look at all those leg muscles!
On Tuesday, Nigel had to borrow JD's Giant CRX1, while John rode his Bike Friday which he had brought for later use in Tasmania. We rode out to Lake Buffalo, about 25km south I think, generally flat with a few hills like Wilfred Barrett Drive. The dam is, for the technically-minded, an earth-filled rock wall with huge concrete spillway, quite interesting! Bill drove out and brought sausages and bread for lunch. As it was quite hot, 30°, a few well-prepared people swam and swam all over that dam, but changing was a bit fraught. Luckily no-one wants to see elderly gentlemen trying to drag underpants over a wet bum. On the way back we called in to see the famous Nug Nug Wah Camping Ground, about 1km off the road. Fascinating! I then continued my relentless pursuit of everyone, passing some people twice, back to MF, where I found Doug already there.

A re-group on the Wangaratta track
On Wednesday we headed for Wang, having driven to Everton, about halfway, first. We then rode out to El Dorado and visited the amazing Gold Dredge, a giant mining and processing machine, 100 metres long, which crawled its way along an alluvial river valley (Reedy Creek) for 18 years before stopping at its current resting place. More info here. Wangaratta is a lovely town, and we almost saw some of it as we went straight to lunch then left again. A team of non-riders drove there and we all met up. The ride back is long, hot and straight, and after whizzing around all day, I ran out of steam on the way back to Everton. Richard managed to catch up and pass me, and although I tried to stick with him, I succumbed to the conditions. Well done Richard!

Carol crosses the ricketty bridge near Everton
Another outstanding effort was by Heinz who excelled all weekend, not at driving, but at riding, eg he rode out to Wang with us, back at Everton he passed his car and rode into MF and then back to Everton for his car, 115km. I was always impressed at how fit Heinz is for a 75y-o, at one stage he said he had ridden 200km in 2 days, with all his extra trips. Turns out he used to be a professional footballer (soccer) when younger, and has an amazing capacity to recover from exertion. He leaves most of us for dead! Nigel also rode from MF to Wang and back! About 128km, a personal record.
  
Mike S's Koala, and Pedro at lunch at Everton
That night we all had dinner at a pizza/pasta shop just up the road, equipped with enough tables and chairs for us all. Some people were happy with their meal, like I was with my capricciosa pizza, but some pasta-eaters were less than enchanted. Two little Aussie girls did their best, while we all drank our BYO drinks of choice. Hans drove out to Mt Buffalo and rode around there on his bike.
Thursday - A trip to Beechworth (B/W), 40km nearly all uphill. Some of us, including me, took a bus up to B/W and rode down back to Everton and MF. Quite a few rode the full distance there and back, while some drove to Everton and rode back, with Richard for one riding all the way back for a 50km ride. At Beechworth Lyn, Linda, Carol, Annie D, Margaret and I rode around town for 10km, including 5km down a narrow road into a deep gorge and up the other side. Before we all set off back to MF we had a nice lunch at The Bakehouse, with most people scoffing these amazing pastries called Bee-stings, consisting of pastry, cream and custard. Disgusting!

Warwick and Bill lunching at Everton.
We then set off down the hill towards Everton then MF, with me behind Heinz who left early, then I was passed by Wayne then Nigel, so I hooked up with those two and we sat on about 40kmh all the way to the bottom, then a sharp left turn to MF (apparently a few years ago some guys doing the same ride failed to take the sharp left and rode to Wangaratta by mistake. You know who you are!). Along the flat to MF I flagged and Wayne and Nigel got away, but I soon came upon Heinz and Nige working on a puncture on Heinz's bike, while Wayne pushed on. I didn't catch him, nor did anyone catch me so I don't know what happened. Once back at camp I started packing up for an early departure as I needed to get home. I stayed at Gundagai again and finished the relaxing trip on Friday.

Bill and the girls are sitting on a nice couch at the bus stop
Although I missed Friday's ride, I have had some reports on the outing. They all drove to Wang where they rode various bike paths around Wang, including a trip to Millewa, a cheese factory, wineries etc. After the final supper happy hour most of them packed up for an early start for the 750km trip home.
I knew this would be a fantastic trip and I'm glad I made the effort. Thanks to everyone involved in the planning and execution of this trip. I hope to get some more photos soon.
Danny

Annie heading for the hills

Ralph "Rhymes With TAFE" in his quasi-police gear

Carol's pet echidna

Another re-group

Billy on the wall of Buffalo Lake dam

Bill kindly cooked lunch for us at Buffalo Lake

Robyn somewhere

Lyn and Linda

Carol and Linda

The club somewhere. Anyone?

Wayne, Danny and Viv

Viv and Danny

Kee

Warwick and Danny

John D
Bill's photos are on a separate page here.
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