Plan B – Feb Ride 1 – This is only a test

Sunday, 11 February, 2018

Kilometres: 87.02 (54 miles)

Total Kilometres for 2018: 635 (395 miles)

It was about 2 months ago that I started feeling poorly. It was about 3.5 weeks ago that I finally stopped feeling like death. My muscles and joints still continued to hurt and I was still very tired, but I knew the worst was behind me.

Well, things still hurt and I still get tired easily, but I want to test my body to see how well it is recovering. We’ve been riding 20-30 kms almost every evening on mostly flat ground. Can we go further? Can we add some hills?

I am able to pry myself out of bed at 6.30am on Sunday morning, so that’s a good start. This is the first time that I can say I have done that on a weekend since I got sick.

We drive to Wangaratta 30 minutes away. The plan is to do a big loop today with about half chipseal and half gravel surfaces. We’ll spend the night in Wang, go see a movie, and then, if I’m feeling okay on Monday, we’ll do a shorter loop with a bunch of hills south of town.

In all of this, we’ll get to ride almost all new roads. We’ll also ride part of the one section of the Murray to Mountains Rail Trail I’ve never done. Plan B got a Plan A for this weekend.

It is still cool, and there are still wisps of fog lying low in some paddocks when I arrive in Wang. Fog is good to see… it’s been way too hot and dry for that for the past seven weeks.

I take off down the rail trail. We’ve done this bit many, many times. They’ve put down a newer layer of gravel since I last rode it though; consequently, the ride is slower and there is the constant sound of pings as my tires kick up tiny pieces of gravel that bounce off the frame.

We ride up through all the flat, brown pastures. There are remnant trees thrown in here and there. Occasional sections of the rail trail have regrowth along the rail reserve, and this provides welcome shade from the sun in my eyes. I meet 4 groups on bikes, 1 group of three walking and 1 ‘round-Australia touring cyclist loaded down with a heap of gear.

Heading up the Murray to Mountains Rail Trail near Tarrawingee.

We make good time across this placid, pastoral scenery. We find ourselves clicked down a couple gears to climb the gentle hill to Everton. Then we’re bombing back down the opposite side on a section of trail new to me. We cross the paddocks with medium-sized bald hills to the left. Soon we are to the section that parallels the main highway. Boring. Loud. Two highway patrol officers within a 5 km stretch. It is interesting to watch the fog lift and stretch and rise to form clouds, however.

There’s a gentle two-kilometre climb to the station site at Everton. It’s our first sustained climbing since Dec.
We’re watching that fog lift and form clouds across the landscape. That ridge separates us from the Ovens River.

Finally, we get up to Bowman and turn off on the road to Whorouly. New roads make the guys and me grin. It is a tree-lined ascent through a series of gullies as we climb over the ridge that separates us from the Ovens River valley. This road is quite pleasant and the little bit of climbing feels good.

As we descend to the river off of the rolling fields, I can see a whole bunch of bright green stuff growing on the floodplain. It looks like vines, but they’re not grapes? The answer is revealed as we roll across the river and past a large shed. Kiwifruit. There is more growing to the left.

If you’ve ever wondered what kiwifruit looks like as a crop… there you go.

We roll into Whorouly. At first, I think all there is to town besides a few homes is the pub. It looks cozy, but I’m after public toilets and a place to eat some fruit in the shade.

Whorouly Pub.

Once I turn left, I find the rest of town – a very well-kept sports oval, community building, playground, netball courts and picnic shelter. Back down the road is a preschool, old library-looking place and a church. There is also a café/newsagent. We have a break and assess the body. My right hip hurts. It always hurts now. I have the weird muscle pain/cramp stuff in my legs. But nothing is worse than when I’m not riding at all. In fact, it feels good to be moving! So at the halfway point of the ride (the easy half), we’re doing just fine. And we’ve already surpassed our longest post-sickness ride to date.

From Whorouly, we head across more flat paddocks toward an outlier ridge on the other side of the Snow Road. To get to the ridge, we ride up a very narrow gravel track named Cemetery Lane. I never see the cemetery, but there is a closed tip site at the top. I suppose it is similar – a dumping ground for things no longer in use.

Heading from Whorouly toward the Snow Road. We’ll be climbing over that ridge in about 15 minutes.

The flies are terrible through here, but I cannot complain, because it has been a relatively low annoyance year for them. I have no idea why. But we won’t say anymore, lest they rouse themselves for a grand finale in the final months of summer.

The road angles up. It’s a shame there was so much fog around this morning, because all the views of the mountains in the distance are obscured by haze and lifting cloud. So no good pics, but it’s okay. Fog means the fire danger isn’t too high – there’s at least some moisture about.

We start into the climb to Kneebones Gap. It’s a bit steep at times, but the gravel surface is pretty good, and I’m enjoying the twists and turns as we enter a cloak of hills. The gap is hidden, and it’s even more of a secret, winding descent along a gully that turns into a narrow valley on the other side. There are a few cars, but everyone is well-behaved.

In the climb to Kneebones Gap.

The climbing felt good. My cardiovascular fitness isn’t where it would be, but it’s not as bad as I feared it would be either. We are getting better! Confirmed.

Kneebones Gap. Too much rising fog to see the mountains in the distance. But here we are. Take that, you ridiculous virus! You can’t keep us down for long.

Eventually, we conclude our long descent through the cloister of bald hills and tree-lined road, and we pedal into the wind across more flat, brown paddocks. I am very fortunate to live in a beautiful place with so many options for riding and outdoor activities. But, gosh, it is definitely a very brown place in summer until the ‘autumn break’ and its rains come in April.

Back onto the flats and the flat pastures and tree-lined roads.

Pedal, pedal. I see several vehicles, but luckily, sometimes when I see a cloud of dust, it ceases before it gets to me. The drivers have turned off down another road or into a driveway, and I am spared some grit and dust. I enjoy the views of the distant hills though. And I love the tree-lined roads. I would have missed them terribly had I been able to stay in America.

Views from the flat bits. That’s Mt Emu to the left, Wabonga Plateau in the background and grape vines, turned-over crop and pasture in the foreground.
Time for a snack. I put some Nesquik in the pbutter jar – poor woman’s nutella. I also forgot to bring a spoon. So I snapped off part of a stick and used that. Don’t ask how I get weird viruses.
Longest we’ve ridden in 2 months, and we still feel good at Km 69.

Eventually we turn off and head toward Milawa. This road is a strip of chipseal down the middle, and the wind is a quartering tailwind, so we make good time. The drop from the seal to the hard-packed dirt is pretty smooth, so it’s not a problem to drop to the dirt when I meet a few other cars on that one-lane strip of smoothness.

They’ve put in a bike path from Wang so you can ride out to all the wineries and gourmet food purveyors in Oxley and Milawa. Many of the businesses have put in bike racks – this place even has a pump.

I stop for a Coke in Milawa. We’re going well. I’m so pleased with my body today. There are some other cyclists around, but I don’t see any on the bike path to the next little town of Oxley. I stop for the toilets here, then I ride over to the rest area on the King River, so the guys can have a float while I have my drink.

King River at Oxley. Pretty murky, but the guys are loving it. With the wind, they float back and forth a full 180 degrees at the end of the tether.
Please note Kermit is waving. Of course, Verne is always waving… with both hands.

Then it’s back into the wind on the bike path. It is gorgeous through the floodplain with all of the big, old red gums. Their leaves shudder in the wind, creating a little nature disco with the sun filtering through the flickering leaves onto the path.

Once over the river, it’s more vineyards and paddocks and wind before we turn onto the Wang-Whitfield Road and head back to town. Having the bike path through here is fantastic because these roads are too busy and shoulderless to really be safe for riding, otherwise.

The bike path diverges from the road and takes you on a long u-shaped detour through the King River floodway to get you under the freeway (southbound lanes visible here).

The bike path dumps us onto a frontage road in town and we weave along from frontage road to frontage road until we are forced back onto the main road. I navigate through the streets and shopping areas back to the car. I am tired at this point, and the wind has been a wearing force in the last 1/3 of the day, but I’m amazed at how good I feel. Oh yes, I hurt, but no more than I have since the virus took me down in December. I’m a bit stiff, but a few minutes off the bike packing everything in the car cures that. I am so happy with how things went today. Now, let’s just see what I feel like in the morning!


9 thoughts on “Plan B – Feb Ride 1 – This is only a test

  • That’s great Em – you’re throwing off the virus at last. Your ride reminded me of my time in Wang last year – I was pleased to find that trail from Milawa too, the traffic does start to get interesting on the road in.

    There is something about those NSW / Vic tree-lined roads – so colourful, established and, well, just so picturesque against a blue sky. Hawthorn hedges just don’t work the same but they do cut off the wind better!

    Looking forward to hear how you “pulled up” after this ride. Tony

  • Good to read your recovery is underway. The new blog looks great and I noted the mighty stack of stuff you had to transfer over (email ntifications 😉 ) Looking forward to reading your future adventures. Neil.

    • Thanks – and sorry about all those notifications. 500 posts in 4 weeks. I didn’t want to advertise the website until I had the old content copied over, but the timing didn’t work out that way. Going forward, you can expect 1-2 posts a week. And if you don’t see any, then you know I’m being lazy and falling further behind on my riding distance goal. Thanks again. Em

  • Yea……good to see you and the guys back on the road! so glad your feeling better. Loved the photo of them drifting in the pond…it light and the haze made it look magical.

    Look forward to more rides!

    • Thanks, Janet. I still have random bad days, but the trend is up, so that is good! It was too hot this weekend to want to do any long rides, but I got in 15 and 20-mile rides which is better than nothing!

  • Love looking at the Aussie bush pics, must be those gum tree’s, very soothing, and some farmer probably drives down these roads every day and has that beauty all too themselves, but you’re giving us a special glimpse of what they have.

    • Thanks, Daniel. I love riding those tree-lined roads and looking over maps on weeknights trying to figure out some new roads to ride the following weekend 🙂


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