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Thursday, January 14, 2010

Bicycle Wonderland

For my family a Summer holiday wouldn't be complete without a trip to Bright, especially me, so last week we headed up there, to a cyclist it's Mecca, Mt. Hotham, Tawonga Gap, Falls Creek, the Rail trail and my favourite climb Mt. Buffalo.
On Wednesday I took off at a bit after 8am to reacquaint myself with this great climb.The Buffalo gates are about 13km from Bright so you get a nice warm up before you fire any shots in anger. Not knowing what my knee would think about the whole idea I took off at a fairly easy pace and enjoyed the climb from the set out. At about 2.5k's from the gate the gradient kicks up a little and it's from here to about the 8k mark that it's at it's steepest, I was still feeling pretty fresh through this section and was able to keep a good tempo, give or take a bit due to my lack of time on the bike lately, from the 8-9k point things ease off quite a lot and the views are fantastic, I was able to pick up the pace a bit here though I could feel my knee was tightening up and knew this was going to be sight seeing only-no complaints though as this was no surprise. Spotting a couple of guys not too far ahead I made an effort to catch up for a quick g'day, one of them had the Alpine Classic in his sights. I was now riding along the granite face which was already bouncing the morning sun back at me and after the recent heavy rain in the area lots of the little waterfalls were running and reminding me of why I like this climb so much..
At about 13k it gets a bit steeper but not too bad, it's really only significant because you have been climbing for a while now (the whole mountain is only about 4.8%).
I felt good as I went through the hairpins and made my way to the to the top and the plateau at about the 19k point, I decided to head to the Chalet and not to Dingo Dell as I love the old building and wanted to check it out again, I'm always dumbfounded as to why the chalet just sits there empty but at least it looks as though it's being maintained. I hung around the top for about half an hour and enjoyed the great morning before heading back down the fantastic descent to Porepunkah then Bright for a swim and a float down the river.
The next day, a family ride on the rail trail and the 50k return trip to Ovens. I'm usually one of the first to have a whinge about the way things could be done better when it comes to roads and cycling infrastructure but this trail is a great example of when they get things right.
Apart from the wonderful setting which sees the trail run through the flats at the foot of Buffalo, the often tree lined trail is sealed, giving me the opportunity to ride my road bike without having to stress about gravel, and mud, and pot holes and why there is only 700ml in a bottle of gin these days.
The trail just doesn't go from one town to the next, there are lots of opportunities to stop along the way for a drink or some ice cream and fresh berries or cherries from one of the farm shops along the way(we did all of the above), this makes it great for kids and keeps them interested in what lay ahead and importantly, keeps them pedalling.
We got back to our motel at about 2pm which gave us enough time for a swim and a rest(Zzzzz !)before heading out for another great meal.
Ohhh ! then there's the brewery...


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