I've done some rides in my time. Big one dayers, weekenders, and week longs and this puts them all in the shade.
This is the ride by which all other rides will be measured.
I'm here to tell you that the best ride you can do is only 2 hours from Melburn proper.
2 hours by car or train and you are in Traralgon. Our ride Captain, UpDave had selected Tyers as our start point. Tyers has a population of a handful and a single petrol station. UpDave had done all the pre-ride planning and training, booked accomodation in advance, and even posted supplies to our destination. Dan and I had drank several cups of coffee and cleaned our bikes in preparation.
Rather than post the ride data, this is the planned route.
For the data thirsty, my power meter indicated I put out 1.21 gigawatts over the course of the day.
The Road Less Travelled.
Since a boy, UpDave had always wanted to ride the Jamieson-Licola road to 'see what it was like'. To get there we had to ride to Jamieson and take another 'road'.
We rolled out of Tyers under a blanket of cloud. By the time we had reached the gorgeous town of Walhalla, 35km had ticked over and the skies were clearing. Leaving Walhalla the road goes straight up and is all dirt.
The map in the Walhalla Milk Bar didn't tell lies. We had a LONG road ahead.
Not only was the road long, but it was rough beyond belief and is comparable to singletrack in parts. Between the ruts, rocks, and general corrugations a golden trickle of water led the way.
Looking down at the 'road' ahead we looked at each other and reached a general consensus that this was (colourful expletive) amazing.
Smiles don't lie, but they do turn into a grimace after hours and hours of battering.
The road rose and fell, and did so again and again as it wound it's way around the Thomsom dam.
This sight became increasingly familiar and at this point the film crew turned around and headed home. They'd had enough.
Dan and I did the Woods Point ride on a singlespeed, and even Scooter would have rocks in his head trying to accomplish this route on one gear. Not to say it couldn't be done, but I was very happy to have more than one gear.
I'd like to say that having the route on the GPS like a dangling carrot helped, but it became apparent that the turn at Matlock was a lot further than we all thought. The climb seemed interminable, it was now hot and hella windy.
We trudged on along the Walhalla highway. We knew from Matlock it was all down hill to Woods Point were at least one cold beverage awaited. When we did make the turn for Matlock we'd covered 110km. Dan exclaimed 'that was the hardest 100km I've ever ridden'. From here we had the slippery descent, then back up to Frenchman's Gap before the final descent towards Jamieson. The wind gusts spiked. I went flat knacker for the pub, and arrived to some cold sandwiches and an even colder beer.
Dan walked in to the bar ghostly white. Not only had he descended with effectively no brakes thanks to his carbon rims, with a fist full of brake he hit a massive rut and the bars turned in his hands, nearly throwing him over. We ate, drank and did the maths. It was 5pm. We had to get to Jamieson by 8pm before the kitchen closed at the pub. Another 3 hours of riding ahead, and no slouching either. It was going to be close.
By the time we were at Frenchman's Gap the fun police had pulled me over and it was time to put the camera away. I was hurting everywhere. Hands, feet, shoulders, nether regions. Turns out we all were. The road from Walhalla to Aberfeldy and through to Matlock had taken the wind out of our sails. I knew the descent down to A1 mining settlement from walking it in the reverse direction. At the bottom the road flows with the river all the way to Jamieson. Not long after Gaffneys Creek even the BRYTON didn't have the endurance to finish. With a final beep it shut off and the road returned to a sealed finish which gave UpDave a second wind and the Smokey and Bandit games began.
As we rolled past the Kevington Hilton the locals screamed 'GO CADEL!'. For reasons I won't reveal here it was best I kept rolling and didn't show my face in the bar.
Sunday night is locals night at the Jamieson pub, and we quickly became the point of interest fielding the same old questions. Where have you come from?! On push bikes?!
A chicken parma, bowl of wedges, three lemon squashes, a pint and a magnum later I was ready to call it quits.
The Big 'O' came on the jukebox, and the publican donned his 'signing' hat, pulled out the mic and gave his best rendition as the locals were just getting warmed up.
Sing along too.
See you in the morning.