Corowa to Glenrowan via Wangaratta
Sunday September 20, 2015, 47 miles (76 km) – Total so far: 139 miles (224 km)
Two months have gone by since the last overnight ride. In that time, I’ve had a cold, gone to Sydney for work training, moved house for the summer or until Nigel gets his head back together, and gone down with the flu in a big way. After two weeks of feeling like death from the flu, I’ve only been allowed to do day rides of about 15-20 miles or less for the past month. This ride will be the first weekend I’ve been cleared to resume more strenuous activities. Flu viruses and asthma can be a horrible combination and very, very tough on the lungs.
Our route out of Corowa takes us over the old 1800s bridge over the Murray River and through Wahgunyah to Rutherglen. You could take the rail trail between the latter two towns, but there is a very aggressive, attacking magpie on the rail trail at the moment, so I just take the highway. Because this area is a famous wine region, and they encourage people to cycle from winery to winery, the highway has pretty decent shoulders.
We head out of town on High Street past the high school on the Sheridan Bridges Road. It climbs and falls past hobby farmer blocks before a final descent on decent pavement to the flats below.
We ride down the narrow, paved and tree-lined road. Bright yellow canola blooms in fields on both sides of the road. Eventually, we lose the pavement and the gravel is pretty good. In some places, it is a bit rough and down to the larger rocks of the road base. In other places, the top layer of gravel is quite thick and hard to find a line. We splay through it with a bit of fishtailing. The road is definitely in better condition in the Indigo Shire boundaries than the Wangaratta boundaries.
I see a vehicle about every 10-15 minutes, which is more than I’d been hoping for since there are two paved roads which parallel this one on either side about a mile away. Whatever you do, don’t use the Federation Highway. It is the busiest, has the most trucks, and no shoulder most of the way.
Some of the cars slow down for me when they pass, so they don’t shower me with too much dust. Some do not. I have to move over and stop for all of them. The edge is just too dicey to continue rolling.
Once the road ends at the freeway, we cross over to pavement and proceed to get dive-bombed by magpie after magpie. I haven’t been swooped at all yet today, and now, all of a sudden, I get swooped by at least seven of them in about three kilometres. It is almost a continuous attack, just by different birds.
I turn right at the Byawatha Road and follow this pleasant, tree-lined road to the rail trail. I hop on the rail trail and take this all the way into town. I find another aggressive magpie at the Bowser oval. This one whacks into the front of my helmet and visor repeatedly. Two patrons walking into The Vine hotel/pub watch with looks of horror on their faces as the magpie repeatedly thumps my head. I also pass a local ‘bogan’ on a hotted up, petrol-powered bike who goes screaming past in the opposite direction. I glare at him as best I can from behind my sunglasses.
Wangaratta has done a lot of work in the past few years to make a ‘river precinct’. There are several events going on in the region this weekend, and it’s the start of two weeks of school holidays, so the town is absolutely nutso. I pedal through, stop to get a Subway sandwich, then get the heck out. I’ve been here many times before, so no need to have a look around.
Shanley Street heads west off of the main road just before it becomes a single lane road. There is a Chemist Warehouse on that corner. We head gently uphill as the Warby Range grows taller as we ride closer. A left turn down Warby Range Road undulates through farmland and newer, rural residential developments. Traffic is fairly light and the final miles are mostly downhill. The wind has been giving me some assistance today, so the miles have gone down pretty easy. I’m so happy to be back on the bike after another two months mostly off the bike due to weather, illness and the general craziness that is life. I love being on the bike, however, because it reduces everything down to such simplicity.