2017 Disjointed – The best time for gravel

Monday, 9 Oct, 26 miles (42 km)

I caught up with a friend on Saturday. It showered off and on all day Sunday (thank goodness, it hadn’t precipitated in over three weeks). It rained this morning. But then the southwest sweeper of a cold front brought gusty winds and pushed out the clouds.

It is the perfect time to go ride some gravel. Not long after a rain, the dust is down and the loose stuff isn’t quite so loose. I have a lot of little unridden roads to ride, so off we go on a short ride to tick off a few on our list. (Actually, a few roads on my map, I don’t have a list.)

We are fortunate in that the winds shift as we go, so that we never have that really gusty stuff directly in our faces. It is a strong crosswind or quartering headwind as we head south, then east, then north, then west. It’s shifting from a westerly to a southwesterly as we go.

The Rivergum magpie (he is there every year) is being particularly vicious today. He swoops me eight or nine times almost all the way to the bridge. He contacts my helmet half of those times. Thank goodness they haven’t figured out that they should shit on you as they go by – that would redirect my routing more than helmet contact! Last week, when I rode this section, there was a guy walking a dog, and a cyclist going the other way, so I only got two half-hearted swoops before he went after the others.

We then head over the river, and then down the rail trail a little ways. Then we turn off on our new road – Jacks Road. It’s tree-lined to start with a good to mostly acceptable surface for our entire southward run. We pass by several wineries, lots of sheep, and canola starting to lose its yellow luster.

Jacks Road – we are on this all the way south. Our first new road of the day and looks good to start!

The wind creates a whole lot of white noise and the sound of many leaves rippling. My tires create more white noise, and the handlebar bag zippers clink and jingle, depending on the size of the rock or corrugation we ride over.

The leaves are starting to come out on the grape vines!
When I saw these stretched trellis wires, all I could see in my head was some funny Bugs Bunny cartoon where those wires get plucked and lead to all sorts of carnage involving Daffy. Yep, simple minds….

Eventually we turn east on the Lilliput-Noorong Road. We rode this further east last week. I don’t have a definite route planned today – just head down Jacks Road and then points south and east for about 1.5 hours, then start heading home, trying to catch new roads as much as possible.

A bunch of sheepies and the last few straggler clouds. A strong southwesterly is ‘sweeping the clouds away’ (think Sesame St).
Lilliput-Noorong Road. We haven’t seen a car in an over an hour. Ah, life is very good.

I choose the roads by the colour and size of their gravel. If it is reddish in colour, it will be good. If it is grey, blue-ish or other dark colour – it will likely be crap. If it is white-ish, it will often be thick, loose and soft. I’ve learned that much over my years of riding in Northeast Victoria.

I have the pleasure of riding Chandlers Road on the way back north. I have video of this that I can’t get to upload correctly, so I will try again and add later. You would love to ride this one with me – it’s just a two-track with long grass on either side, rolling along between the reserve trees with long views over fields either side. It doesn’t get better than that road out in the flat agricultural areas.

If you saw this, and you’d not ridden it before, could you pass it up? Nup, I couldn’t. Further in, Chandlers Road becomes a gorgeous two-track with tall grass in between and on both sides of each track.

I turn off on an unmarked (Indigo Shire is quite shite about road signs) road that is on my map. It weaves up between hills and then reaches the lifestyle properties on the edge of Rutherglen. Anytime you start seeing very nice horses, Patterson’s Curse and Capeweed, you know you are into the area of hobby farmers. Just in from them are the big homes with no eaves on 1 or 2 acre blocks, and then into town proper. I am always amazed at those lifestyle homes. How much money is that? How do you afford that? Well, the truth is, many Aussies are in debt up to their eyeballs. Oz has one of the highest household debt ratios in the world (189 percent of income), and most of that debt is tied up in property. My dream is to enter the market one day once it crashes. Because it will. I just hope the timing of it is good for me 🙂 Heehehehehehe.

This is how you know you’ve left the ‘real’ farmer properties behind and have entered the hobby farmer properties close in to town: WEEDS. The purple is Patterson’s Curse and the yellow is Capeweed – both are exotics and ‘real’ farmers would be embarrassed to have this much on their properties.
Some sheared sheepies and some topographical relief.

I skirt the edges of Rutherglen on two more new roads, roll down Grants Lane, head back up Jacks Lane for a bit, then turn off on ODonoghues Lane. This family is still around – its the surname of one of the ladies that works at the Service NSW office in town.

ODonoghues Lane (also unmarked) is very pot-holed and puddle-ridden. It’s a bit of a muddy obstacle course in a few places. While I’m concentrating on my line, I don’t see my first snake of the season until I’m quite close to him. His head is up, trying to figure out what the hell I am. I ride past a ways, then turn back to get a photo. He’s an Eastern Brown, and pretty big for this time of year. These are deadly if you don’t get anti-venom within a few or so hours. It’s such a shame they are deadly, because they really are beautiful. Of course, I’m sure there are some human males that have discovered the same thing about beautiful human females over the course of time, too. Luckily, I’ve always been ugly and nerdy, so never much of a threat to the opposite sex.

First snake of the season – pretty big for this time of year. It’s an Eastern Brown – our most common kind in this area and extremely poisonous.

Further up ODonoghues Lane, I see another brown snake. Sheesh. I will think of this road as the snakepit in the future. The second one isn’t as big and is on a high-paced slither as I ride by.

ODonoghues Road. Those guys are best buddies and I wouldn’t know what to do without them in my handlebar bag.

This road spits us out on Distillery Road. We head past another winery (Cofields and the Pickled Sisters Cafe – okay food but pricey) and then into Wahgunyah. Then it’s over that old 1800s bridge, past my workplace (see ya tomorrow), up the hill out of the floodplain and home.

It’s been a very nice ride. Except for crossing or riding on major roads and highways, I’ve seen a total of TWO, yes TWO, cars in 3 hours. How good is that?

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