Unscripted – 2nd Half Week 12 – Dart River to Nunniong Road

10-13 January 2023

204 kms 

Total Part 2 kms:368 

Total Trip kms: 3616

10 January 2023 – Dart River to Bullocky Creek – Jaitmatang Country – 74 kms

4.45am. My alarm goes off. The kookaburras haven’t even started yet, and there is more light from the almost full moon than there is from the sun. It’s not yet first light. So I snooze for a bit longer. 

There’s heavy dew again, but it’s not that cool. It will get hot today, hence the early start. 

Yesterday there were clouds that gathered around 5pm. The humidity went up and the flies got very sticky. The mozzies came out early. There were a few raindrops around 6pm, then rain showers for about 30 minutes from 6.15pm. There may have even been a rumble of thunder. But it is clear now, and that early warmth says ‘get going before it gets too hot’!

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Unscripted – 1st Half Week 12 – Jindera to Dart River

6-9 January 2023

164 kms

Total Part 2 kms: 164

Total Trip kms: 3442

The plan is to stay with Nigel for about a week over Christmas – just long enough to order a new rear tyre, revise gear and have a short rest while the roads are very busy with Christmas Holiday traffic. But the tyre takes a while to arrive, then there’s a heatwave for a few days (which feels especially hot since we haven’t yet had spring temps to acclimate), and then there’s a big front that comes through. Three months away means poor Nige is pretty lonely and wants me to stick around longer, too. Now that is a labour of love!  So after two weeks of rest and losing way more muscle and fitness than I would have at a younger age, we finally set off for Part 2 of the trip on 6 Jan.

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Unscripted – Part 2 – The final days of freedom

There is a moderately strong northeasterly trying to impede our progress. The waves on Lake Hume have whitecaps. They crash to shore with such force that I cannot give the guys a float. They’d just get tipped over. 

But it is sunny, and the day promises to be warm, as we round the southern shores on the rail trail. I know this rail trail very, very well now. I’ve ridden it a zillion times since it gives good access to several mountain valleys. It is convenient and scenic, but it does lack the thrill of riding somewhere new. 

Yes, it feels like a weekend ride. It’s just another ride where we know all the hills and valleys and how all the roads connect. There’s the possibility of some new roads to ride, but they will linked with roads we’ve ridden many times before.

There is good weather for the next five or six days. Cold, damp nights laden with dew and/or fog and warm, sunny days. I have about four different rides in my head that I could do by peeling off from the rail trail at various points. We’ve got four days to play with over Fri, Sat, Sun and Monday.

But it’s been a big couple weeks and the next couple weeks could be kinda stressful, too. So I pass by all the turn-offs to the more ambitious rides in my head and just have a lazy day climbing up the gentle grade on the rail trail.

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Unscripted – Part 2 – The Final Teaser

The old guy is driving an early 2000s 4WD Landcruiser. There are extra water jerry cans, recovery boards and a shovel on the roof rack. He stops beside me at the intersection of a logging road and the Princes Highway. I’m refolding my map after a long morning riding up and down the gravel roads in the hills. It’s been a morning of burnt and logged trees as far as the eye can see. 

The man asks me which tracks I’ve been on, their condition, and if the tracks seem like they’d get impassable after rain. I tell him what I know. He’s off to bushwalk up two of the peaks over the coming days, but he doesn’t want to get stuck if the coming rains are heavy.

I wish him luck on climbing those peaks, as I don’t think he’ll have any track to follow, even if there once was one. The fire regrowth is so thick that I’ve been stymied from riding some of the tracks I’d hoped. Some roads are still closed, and other roads that are open are so thick with vegetation that they are impassable.

Poor Verne, Kermit and I have been whacked by young vegetation on the road edge for kms upon kms the past six days. So I can’t imagine any bushwalk is going to be anything but a cross-country bushwhack and navigational nightmare. 

He’s not too fussed – it’s really just about getting out and going somewhere new. When he asks where I’ve been before the last few tracks, I name off a few roads and locales.

He replies, “Well, THAT is a very big undertaking. Good on you. You must be a very hardy soul, with a durable bum and a reliable bike.”

I laugh and say, “Well, I guess you could say that.”

And then we both head on our respective ways, trying to get somewhere else before the rain comes.

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Unscripted – Part 2 – 25th Anniversary

Twenty-five years ago, in the second week of March, I was on a collision course with Nigel. We would meet on my birthday on the Great Ocean Road, after I boarded his bus in Lorne. I didn’t know that the course of my life was about to change forever.

Now, 25 years on, I’ve lived half of my whole life in Oz and almost all of my adult life.

So, in the back of my mind, I was hoping that I would be able to camp at Jacobs River somewhere in the week before or after my birthday. It’s a very special place for Nigel and me – our favourite camping spot and a place of many good memories from long ago. I wanted to spend a day there reflecting on the past 25 years – the highs, the lows, the tragedies and triumphs.

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Unscripted – Part 2 – February Teaser

Crumple up a piece of paper tightly. Wad it up in your fist. Then flatten it back out. Now take a marker and draw a line along the crumpled ridges. Where one ridge ends, drop your marker down into a valley of the crumpled paper and then draw a line up to the next ridge. Repeat again and again on that crumpled mess of highs and lows.

And that is what riding the Eastern Uplands of Victoria is like. That’s been our life on the forested roads the past two months.

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Unscripted – Part 2 – January Teaser

Here is a teaser summary of life on the forest roads for January. I’ll write up the trip properly when the weather turns and I wrap up this part of the tour.

I’m currently in Bairnsdale where the super-knowledgeable and helpful staff at Bairnsdale Bikes are hooking me up with a new chain, spare tubes and a few other bits and pieces of maintenance. The vibe there is awesome and they even have a coffee bar if you need a caffeine fix. So give them a visit if you are in that town and need some bike love.

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Unscripted – Part 1 Review – Bike and gear

The rain did its thing. So did the wind. And the cold. And through all of that, we tried to do our thing. The conditions this spring really were extraordinary. The temps and precipitation made it more of a winter ride than anything I thought I would ever see for a sustained period in October, November or December. 

I thought I might reflect on the ride, the route, the bike, the gear etc. in case it is helpful for planning future tours or for anyone reading this.

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