2015 Rides – July Ride 1 – Day 1

Jindera to Holbrook via Morven and Coorkardinia

Sunday July 12, 2015, 43 miles (69 km) – Total so far: 43 miles (69 km)

The cycling planets have finally aligned. I’ve settled into my job and found a routine. The bike is back together and running well after installing new cables, new handlebar tape, new chain and a new rear rim. The weather has also decided to cooperate. Winter came early this year and has been quite chilly and wet, much more so than a normal winter (which is usually my favourite time of year to ride in my region of Australia). Nature has struggled to string two good days together that match with my days off. But finally, finally, it’s all come together, and we are getting the gear together for an overnight ride.

After 6 months off the bike, and then 2 months of just day rides, Verne is so excited about an overnight ride, he spends the night before our departure sleeping among the pieces of gear.

Crisp, clear blue skies and a quartering tailwind send us happy pedalling north along the Yambla Range. Our route today follows the old coach route from the 1800s. Australia suffered with English coaches that were not suited to Australian conditions for many years until some Americans introduced western American style coaches with springs and suspension. Cobb and Co. absolutely cleaned up in those early years, and their routes stretched all over Victoria, New South Wales and Queensland. I enjoy imagining the coaches travelling this same ground 125 years ago.

Yambla Range from the Walla-Gerogery Road. We’ll be coming home down the opposite side of the range tomorrow.
See the white stuff in the distance. That’s not a cloud – that’s snow on top of the mountains.
10 kilometres outside of Gerogery on the old Coach Road.
This was the route used by the Cobb and Co. coach company in the 1800s. The weather is pretty perfect for mid-winter. We don’t get very many nice days this winter, so it’s good we’ve taken advantage of this nice weekend!
I just discovered the slippery new camera is usable while moving (originally afraid I’d drop it). Plus, the temp is perfect, the wind is diminishing, the amt and diversity of bird call through here is phenomenal and the frog chorus deafening. Pure joy.

The road is a mix of paved and gravel sections. The gravel is mostly hard-packed clay and is in pretty good condition throughout. Temps are in the upper 50sF and the landscape gently rolls away from the main Yambla Range.

The grasses are green with all of the winter rain. The birds screech and squawk as they flutter and cruise from tree to tree. Australian birds are not polite and melodious creatures – the decibels can reach aircraft take-off levels when they open those big beaks (I’m not kidding). Against the cacophony of bird call, the frogs call out from the puddles and ponds. There are few cars on the road as we curve north and east; it’s a joy to be alive today.

Woo-hoo! We get to turn right instead of left. If it were day ride, we’d probably turn left to head home at this point. But no, we get to keep going today!
Perfect day to be a cow. Or just about any other living thing, including a chick on a bike. North of Morven.
Billabong Creek at Morven – I believe I read somewhere that this is the longest creek in Australia. Don’t know who has done all the measuring.
The hills to the left are called the Cookabynes. As I ride, I have this great image of kookaburra concubines hanging out in the trees.
Fixer-upper outside of Coorkardinia on the old Cobb and Co. coach route.

The road continues to undulate through patches of forest and swaths of pasture. Winter creates a vibrancy in the landscape that will wilt away with the summer heat and dryness later in the year. We amble on over Billabong Creek and through the hills to Coorkardinia. It’s a crossroads but has nothing left but a Memorial Hall, cemetery and building ruins from the days of the coach road.

Not exactly a thriving metropolis, even though it’s a crossroads sort of place.
The Squatters Arms Inn – at the Henty, Morven, Wagga Wagga and Holbrook road intersection. Built in 1848, served its last drinks in 1925 and was used in the 1976 Dennis Hopper film “Mad Dog Morgan”.

We turn onto the Wagga-Holbrook Road and run into a bit more traffic. Most of it is going the other way, but we’ve got to keep our eye on the mirror more through this bit. There’s no shoulder and no edge lines at times. Most, but definitely not all, drivers give me space, though. Aussie drivers tend to be close passers, generally, though not usually in a sinister way.

It’s more pasture, cropland and bits of bush alongside the road. Because it’s winter, the sun is already getting low in the sky when we roll into Holbrook around 4pm. Now that the freeway has bypassed the town, it’s pretty dead. And I’m feeling pretty dead, too. I’m not used to riding with any weight over any distance, so my body is a bit fatigued. Because I’m wimpy and because the forecast low for tonight is below freezing, I opt for a motel. I grab a takeaway burger to refuel. It has been a wonderful day. Thanks, Mother Nature, for a nice day that coincided with the weekend!

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