All the pieces left behind – Day 5

56 kms (35 miles)

Can I squeeze another day out of my food? Can I stay a day longer? What if I ride over to Whitfield and pick up some food there? How can I figure out a way to not go home yet? I don’t have to be home today. I just need to be home by Saturday night. It’s only Thursday.

But the heat wave impacting much of Australia will be kicking in today with a high of 36 and a predicted high of 39 Friday and 42 Saturday. If we do ride over to Whitfield, where do we find some place to stay cool? We could stay at the caravan park on the river, but I’ve really been enjoying the lack of people and don’t feel like hanging around campfire smoke and noisy groups. Then we would have to ride home tomorrow in higher heat.

So I decide to head home today – as much as I would like to extend the trip in the bush. This will give me a couple days to sleep and write up the journal before I head up to Bathurst.

So we pack up slowly and head on down the creek.

The bottom of the valley is lush and there are good views up to the surrounding ridges on occasion. The road sometimes traverses the creek bottoms and sometimes climbs up on the valley wall. The road is in decent condition, but is certainly worse than the road they were grading.

We then ride into a no-man’s land where no one appears to be maintaining the road. There is private property up on the higher slopes, so I assume this is council property. Regardless, it is a very rough ride in places where the road has become the watercourse. It’s just a few kms but it lasts long enough to be annoying.

The road comes good at the bridge over the creek where all of the occupied homes end. This is certainly a beautiful long valley. We roll along, looking at the 2007 fire scars on the opposite side of the valley and all of the fields of hops. These are interspersed with vacant fields of grass which most likely were used to grow tobacco back in the day.

On occasion we get splashed by the sprinklers spraying the hops fields and that feels quite nice. There are lots of hops fields all the way along. The Ellerslie Hops Plantation through here is the largest independent hops producer in Australia. They had a fire in their warehouse/factory a couple years ago that destroyed all of their machinery and about 80 percent of their crop. When we ride by today, though, the new buildings are all constructed and in use. The rebuild cost $10.5 million and supposedly has all new hi-tech machines and safety – which is good because they had a worker lose an arm in 2016 when the woman got caught up in a rotating shaft.

The valley opens up toward the bottom and curves off to the west. There is a really nice recreation reserve not long before the road ends. Flush toilets and water available here. There are also a couple BBQs but I’m not sure if they were “on”. Still it would be a nice spot to camp for the night if ever down this way at the end of a day.

The Hops Plantation has one huge dam there!

We crawl up and over the hill that separates the two valleys and then drop into the Boggy Creek valley as we pass by the small school. How they can keep all these little schools with 8-12 pupils going is beyond me, but I’m sure it’s a unique experience compared to going to a school with several hundred people like most of us did.

Small white school building and an equipment shed (blue building).
Dropping into the Boggy Creek valley.
The road over to Whitfield climbs up and over to the right of that hill mid-frame and to the left of the forested plateau on the right. We’ve done that road a couple times and it is always corrugated. They have plans to chip-seal it to increase tourism (though it needs to be done just for the amount of local traffic on it!).

The valley narrows down and is a mix of tree-lined road and open pasture. It’s still fairly green, so it is a really pleasant viewscape all the way down the valley today. I have a bit of a headwind and it is warming up quickly, but I wet down my shirt at Myrrhee, so that is keeping me cool enough.

There was a plane that flew into that bald area of the ridge back in the 1950s with a couple of people killed.
As we get lower in the valley, the hills are smaller and have greater areas of being cleared.

We finally pop out at the end of the valley at Moyhu where the land opens up to the flat lower valley of the King River. It’s plenty warm by now. I stop at the general store to get a chocolate milk. The café here in Moyhu is really good, though, if you are looking for a bit more sustenance.

I take the milk down to the little park to drink. I also text Nigel to tell him I’m okay since this is the first phone reception I’ve had since the pine plantation. I disregard all the email notifications, check the forecast and also see the news that the state has now gone 27 days without a virus case. That lockdown was long and laborious, but certainly easy to justify now with the elimination of community transmission.

I ride on toward home across all of the flat pasture. I’ve ridden all of these roads before a few times, so it’s more about just getting home and getting a shower at this point. I’ve got a bit of a headwind and there is a bit of traffic about (all Melbourne people on holiday – you can tell by the type of cars and the fact that they don’t slow down when they approach you on gravel to keep the dust down like the majority of country people do – hotted-up utes excepted).

I roll into the drive at 11am. A shower will be appreciated. There are some nice things about being home or in the grips of society – easy hygiene, food procurement and showers are the main ones!  

I’m sad that I couldn’t have made this trip longer and that it wasn’t the type of ride I really like to do: long, challenging days with lots of climbing. However, I am sure that this is what my body really needed, and I really do feel a lot better after all of that sleep.  So I’m sorry if this was the least exciting and interesting tour you’ve ever read and that I only rode 3 of the 5 days and never even broke 60kms in a day.

But my ridings journal have been an important way for me to keep track of my health progress, or lack thereof, and it’s been very valuable to be able to go back and see how I was feeling on different rides after trying different treatments/supplements/amount of physical activity.

A recent doctor visit has given me some hope again that I should be able to regain a fair bit more capacity in the medium-term future if I cut back my work hours and take it easy for awhile longer. I apparently need to just unload my immune system and then it will be able to fight the bartonella. It is always important to have hope.

I’ll write up a conclusion to this journal after I’ve had some time to reflect and have gone to Bathurst to watch my beloved petrolhead live out a dream. Now, it’s off to go get clean!

4 thoughts on “All the pieces left behind – Day 5

  • I think this was a fabulous ride. I particularly enjoyed the afternoon napping and then going to sleep at 6pm. The day will come when all us will be able to ride with you (I can hear you now – aaaaaaaaaaaaarrrrrrrrrrgggggggghhhhhh! nightmare!!).

    • Thanks, Kathleen. There was certainly a lot of unconsciousness on this ride but was certainly what my body needed. I would love to ride with all of my cycling friends… but, the masses, no, you can keep everyone on lockdown forever, lol. Stay at home was actually a really quiet time here which suited me very well. All the noise of everyone heading back to the pub, recreation, etc has been tough to get used to again! Stay safe up there – hope you are out pedaling again in spring and can sneak in some safe rides before then.

  • I’m glad you got a chance to get away and I really loved reading about your trip! You are a great photographer and writer. I’m glad to hear you are going to cut back your hours.

    • Thank you Rachael. I will cut back to 3 days a week at the end of Jan – hopefully the rest of Dec and Jan will be quiet with people on vacation. I hope you find a safe spot to ride out the virus! Stay safe up there!

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