This time Justin and I decided to tackle part of the new rail trail from Tallarook east to Alexandra and then head south to Marysville and Warvurton, incorporating our all=time favourite ride, the Acheron Way....
I left home just after 9am to ride by Justin's place to the city. Taking the 10:31 from SCS we arrived at Tallarook about 11:45am and, after p-faffing about for a little while, we set off along the GVHCRT towards Yea. The trail is new and the surface has yet to bed down properly. Rain over winter has left hard ruts in places and a few minor washouts here and there but it's OK if you're careful. 32/35 tyres are probably best although Justin managed quite well on his 28s.
|The 'Kerrisdale solution'....|
This being just a short tour we travelled light. I used a backpack and Justin had a small rack and a 'dry bag' lashed with bungee straps. Justin is still refining his light-touring setup and he had some minor issues with the rack/bag early on but these were eventually fixed with some changes to the way the straps were used. We called this 'the Kerrisdale solution' as it took 20kms to get it right !
|Old Yea Station|
We eventually trundled into Yea (on a much better surfaced trail for the last several kms..) for a late lunch, We both had the most enormous and filling meat pies and I washed mine down with a milkshake - still recovering !! We briefly paused at the old Yea station for some water before heading onwards towards Alexandra.
A major feature of the trail is the 201 m long brick-lined Cheviot Tunnel south east of Yea. Opened on 12th November 1889, it formed a crucial link in the rail line to Mansfield and opened up the area for the extraction of timber from the forests east of McLoughlin's Gap in the Black Range and the transport of passenger and goods to and from the Upper Goulburn River valley.
..at Cheviot Tunnel
|Click /enlarge for info on the Cheviot Tunnel|
After the descent down to Molesworth from the tunnel we left the Rail Trail and took the quiet and scenic Whanregarwan rd which follows the Goulburn River up towards Alexandra for the night. We stayed at the simple clean and comfy Alexandra Motel and had dinner and a few drinks at The Shamrock Hotel.
Day 2: Wednesday 14 November - Alexandra to Warburton (95 kms)
For breakfast we hunted down a decent coffee for Justin in Alexandra and I scrounged a bowl of muesli as well - the cafes here have yet to appreciate the food and fad requirements of the touring cyclists that are bringing a welcome boost to the local economy. But they'll adapt soon enough when they see the numbers stack up and the $$ flow to the ones that provide what the market wants.
We left Alexandra to the south up Grant St and Mt Pleasant Rd, rather than the highway, and soon had a nice view back across the valley to the town. On the other side of the hill we took a short diversion down the gravel to the Goulburn Valley Hwy towards Eildon (!) before back tracking to Hoban's Rd/Breakaway Rd and the Maroondah Hwy towards Taggerty.
|Looking back to Alexandra|
|Goulburn Valley, Mt Pleasant Rd|
|Cathedral Range from Hobans Rd,|
|Beside the Little River at Taggerty|
We trundled south on the highway through Taggerty and Buxton then headed up the Steavonson River valley to Marysville for lunch. We stopped at the bakery as usual but I avoided enormous pies this time and went for a ham/salad sandwich, a coke (the cyclists friend) and a powerade for the bidon. Energy for the climb over Acheron Gap to Warburton !!
As has become our habit, we relished the peaceful traffic free ride up the Acheron Way and paused by the stream below the final gravel climb to the ridge. It almost feels like a homecoming now as we descend into Warburton via Cement Ck, we have have done it several times in the last 2 years. But today we stayed the night in Warburton as we had clocked 95kms in a long a pleasant day's riding. For dinner we found the Wild Thyme Cafe open and enjoyed dinner and a couple of drinks before wandering back to the pub for a quick rum&coke before crashing after a biggish day.
|On the ridgeline ...|
Day 3: Thursday 15th November: Warburton - Home (70 kms)
Morning sun greeted us as we left the Alpine Retreat Hotel and had breaky at Good Food Cafe which, pleasingly, had decent food and 'good' coffee for Justin.... so much so he had two !!
I have decided that Justin shall be henceforth known as 'Two Coffees' as he gets a real kick for the mornings ride if he gets the right fuel on board early! We made solid time down the trail to Mt Evelyn and took the roads to Ringwood North where we joined the Mullum/Koonung Trail for the run home.
All in all a short but solid 3 day ride that was a good combination of challenge and touring. These are the kind of short tours I am really getting to like. With plenty of daylight and perfect weather there was never any hurry and the countryside was at its best.
We saw lizards, dead snakes, tame kookaburras, ducks with ducklings, deer, alpacas and ostriches, blue fairy wrens, and even sheep on the Warby Trail !!