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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Unscripted – Week 11 – Strathbogie State Forest to Jindera

17 – 21 December 2022

315 kms (196 miles)

Total trip kms: 3248 kms (2018 miles)

The first real love of my bike life was my Columbia Blue Angel. I looked at the bike every time we went to Ayr-way and dreamed of riding it. I’d only known hand-me-down bikes up til then. My parents eventually bought me that banana seat bike that was blue with images of clouds and sea gulls on the banana seat. I was seven. Oh, I loved that bike and spent heaps of time on it. 

After I outgrew that bike, I had a nondescript red Huffy girl’s ten speed. The coolest thing about that bike was that it had an odometer with white numbers that clicked over and a rudimentary speedometer with a little needle to point toward the speed. 

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Unscripted – Week 10 – Castlemaine to Strathbogie State Forest

10 – 16 December 2022

289 kms (180 miles)

Total trip kms: 2933 kms (1822 miles)

It is in the silence of the forest, when I can hear my heart beating and the quiet rasp of my lungs breathing, that I feel most complete. It is where I feel tiny but whole, finite but completely connected. It is among the trees that my thoughts branch out like an old growth eucalypt, scarred and knobby from time and experience but with fresh growth reaching for new heights. The consumerist world recedes and life becomes focused on the immediate here and now. The world expands to show me my tiny place within it but also recedes to the basics of movement, food, water and shelter. This is where I want to be. Always.

And so we’re heading east today, out of the built-up areas and agriculture to end our last couple weeks of Part 1 with a fair amount of time in the forest. 

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Unscripted – Week 9 – Glenalbyn State Forest to Castlemaine

3 – 9 December 2022

255 kms (158 miles)

Total trip kms: 2644 kms (1643 miles)

The Christmas chocolates are on sale. There are carols on the overhead speakers at the supermarket. But it doesn’t feel like we are approaching Christmas – a North American one or an Australian one. Most days still feel like late Australian winter, so it seems so incongrous to see people buying tinsel when it’s 15 degrees.

However, the past couple days have been warm. Today will crack 30 – something that would normally occur back in October. And the forecast for tomorrow is 34. That’s hot. And Christmas-y. It’s a bit odd to have two days where I’m considering heat instead of rain in my riding plans.

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Unscripted – Week 8 – Avoca to Glenalbyn State Forest

26 November – 2 December 2022

440 kms (274 miles) 

Total trip kms: 2389 (1484 miles)

There’s a somewhat famous quote at the end of the movie “Back to the Future” where Doc says, “Roads, where we are going, we don’t need roads”!  Doc says this in response to Marty’s concern that they didn’t have enough road to get the Delorean up to 88 mph to launch into time travel. As the movie ends, the Delorean lifts its wheels and flies away.

Well, I’ve been thinking of this scene when I think about what makes a great tour for me – just being out on forest roads amongst the trees and hills. So when I get stuck in towns (taking pics of buildings)… well, that’s not a whole lot of fun for me. I enjoy looking at buildings when I’m in town to resupply, but if I’m just riding from town to town, well… that’s pretty boring for me.

So when I’ve been thinking of what makes a good ride, my head says, “where we’re going, there are no buildings”!

So it is only appropriate that I mentioned the Back to the Future quote in my reply to Greg’s comment on a previous post the other day. Little did I know that in a couple days I would end up riding for a while without buildings OR roads….

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Unscripted – Week 7 – Beaufort to Wedderburn

19 – 25 November 2022

225 kms (140 miles)

Total trip kms: 1949 kms (1211 miles)

Days 43-45 – Beaufort – Waddawarrung Country

I decamp early on Saturday morning, pay my $15 for the night and then go hang out in the Agricultural Society machinery shed for the morning and early afternoon. It’s where they would hold exhibitions and animals and such during their annual show (like a county fair in America).  

I share the space with a large rat that scurries along the walls but is thankfully not friendly enough to come say hello. The rain starts around 10am, is heaviest between 11.30 and 1pm, and then breaks to showers for the rest of the day. The wind clangs the metal doors continuously and there are gusts to 70 kph.

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Unscripted – Week 6 – Cavendish to Beaufort

12-18 November 2022

239 kms (149 miles)

Total trip kms: 1724 (1071 miles)

Sometimes you need some easy days on tour – the ones with no worries, no big mountains to climb, no nasty traffic to negotiate. Sometimes you just need a good place to hang. And thankfully, Cavendish gives me that. It does not give me good weather, but that was not expected. I’m here to sit out more rain, wind and storms. And those come, but not nearly as bad as other places, so for once, we got the best of the bad.

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Unscripted – Week 5 – Mt Gambier to Cavendish

5-11 November 2022

385 kms (239 miles)

Total trip kms: 1485 (923 miles)

It’s the golden hour. The orange glow of the sun bathes the landscape in that low, soft Midas light. The slopes of the volcano ahead of us look like a jagged saucer set down in flat limestone plains and old stranded sand dunes. Ah, sun!

This morning, as I packed up in the pre-dawn dew, I couldn’t believe how bright the moon shone. Wow – how much progress has it made since I last saw it! After 13 straight days of rain, including mist, drizzle, pelting rain, cloud, cloud and more cloud, this is the first time I’ve seen the moon in almost half a month. It’s almost full – and we missed most of the waxing. What a strange trip this has been.

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Unscripted – Rest of week 4 – Millicent to Mt Gambier

2-4 November 2022

75 kms (47 miles)

Total trip kms: 1100 (684 miles)

Day 26 – Millicent to Mt Gambier – Boandik Country – 75 kms

It’s raining at 5.30am. It’s raining at 6.30am. But at 7am, there is a break in the showers and I am rolling up toward the Mt Burr Range on wet pavement that’s been wet enough long enough that there is no steam to rise from the chipseal. 

It’s cold instead. It’s only 6 degrees, and there is a pretty strong wind already. We continue our ‘late winter’ tour, even though we never have had a desire to tour in winter.  I am not sure if I have had a single day on this trip where we hit the average high temp. And we’re 26 days in. Have we ever hit 20? The temps have all been pretty down low for some time.

But right now we are going up. The climb up the range is a little steeper from this side. But luckily, the traffic is lighter this morning than when we came into town, so it’s not stressful. And the wind is helping for now.

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