Tuesday, 24 March 2020

The Tasman Peninsula - The End

We hope it won't be the end of the world, the end of our bike riding adventures or the end of our warm international relationships, but we are certain that Vicmania 2020 has come to an end.

The team preparing to leave Devonport
Pauline and Maureen joined us in Port Melbourne and off we sailed to Devonport. Arriving the next morning we trudged to the cafe where the plan was to have breakfast, disgorge the bikes and send the van on its way to Deviot, our first night in the Apple Isle. However, after a hearty brekkie, we emerged to find steady rain falling. What to do? Well, hire a maxi taxi of course to drive us to our first  night's destination, a girl guides camp. So that's what we did, playing cards on the verandah until Pauine's brilliant deduction as to what the key safe code might be: Sir Baden Powell's and his wife's birthdate. Sure enough, it worked. We felt like second world war code breakers. It kind of rained all day so we were very glad of a roof over our heads.

The next day we set off for Bridport, on the north coast. It was a lovely ride, Tasmanian flat riding all the way! Tasmanian flat for those who don't know is bloody hilly all the way. Maureen and Pauline excelled on their first day on the bike; we all arrived in our lovely camp right on the beach safe and sound; and Sally and Pauline cooked sausages and veg for dinner. Yum!

Bridport to Weldborough was LONG and comprised Tasmanian flats and HILLS. Pauline did a fabulous shuttle with the van three times, picking up all riders bar Garis who cruised into camp at the Weldborough Hotel grounds in the afternoon.

Happy cows at Pyengana.
From Weldborough there was a short uphill followed by much downhill as we made our way to St Helens. A morning tea stop at the Pyengana robotic dairy was a highlight, watching the cows self-manage their milking.

What turned out to be our last day's riding was from St Helen's to Coles Bay. We planned on two nights there so we could explore the Freycinet Peninsula, but the weather was somewhat against us. It was during close weather monitoring discussions that we decided to abandon the next three day's riding and head straight to White Beach. People were becoming increasingly concerned about their flights home which were being cancelled and rebooking was difficult; some of us were suffering with colds; and the rain was due to set in.

View over Pirate's Bay from the tesselated pavement

As it turned out, three days in White Beach was a true delight with walking, beach walking and boat tripping along the coastline. Everyone had a chance to breathe again, re-order travel plans and take in the beauty of the Peninsula.

Pirate's Bay

It's unlikely that we'll meet again in Europe this year for our ASAP ride. Maybe in 2021 on the Mississippi River? Or somewhere in New Zealand. The world has been turned upside down so it's home for everyone with the aim to use up all the goods in their pantries, read books, tend to gardens, sew, knit, maybe even write to friends. Whatever the future, our immediate six-week past has been gloriously good riding and a wonderful way for good friends to enjoy each other's company.

The following pics are of the forest coming down from Weldborough.

Monday, 16 March 2020

Concert Items

REMEDIAL CAMPER courtesy Maria Lacey
It’s many years since I’ve been camping
But I really don’t know why
The person who last borrowed my tent
Did not return the fly.

Lucky for me, Des has the knack
Of solving problems – he’s sharp –
Over the top of my naked tent
Des secured a tarp.

Soon I realised I’d left at home
My sleeping bag, cutlery and crockery,
My mattress refused to be inflated;
The start was looking quite rock…ery.

Karen helped out with the mattress
While Pauline covered the rest.
I slept all night and woke in the morning
To Ballarat covered in mist.

The ride began and we made our way
To Ballarat’s Skipton Rail Trail.
We pedalled away in single file’
Some at the head, some at the tail.

Off we headed along the trail
Until Linton where we all had a stop,
Then continued on to Skipton
Where we bought out the whole shop.

Our final stretch of Tuesday’s ride,
The Lismore road we took
Until we’d ridden 100 Ks
And landed at Lake Tooliorook.

Unsealed roads and strong headwinds
Rattled our bums and our bones.
Downhill we headed for the van and lunch
And Margit fell down on the stones.

Mortlake provided a welcome haven
At the end of a little lane.
Rising up in the morning
We started our ride in the rain.

Most of the riders evaded the traffic,
The cars and the trucks giving toots.
Lucky we three had a map reader
As we travelled an alternative route.

Tower Hill attracted some riders
Who saw emus, koalas and a snake,
While others ended the first section of the ride
Glad of the three day break.

Port Fairy has been a welcome stop
Despite some thunder and rain.
Now I thank and farewell all of you
While I head off to the train.

Concert Songs, courtesy of Janice

Des (Ohbahdeohblahdah)
Desmond has a bike that is black and blue
He rides it at a very steady pace
When he’s going downhill he smiles at you
But on the uphills there’s a grimace on his face

There’s nothing that can stop him having fun
A cold beer awaits him at the finish
He’s strong and he’s solid and he does the sums
Hires vans and sees to our provisions.

Paul (Puff the Magic Dragon)
Paul the magical rider
Lives by the sea
And often enough he rides off
Leaving Tim and the menagerie

Paul the magical rider
Studies maps and keys
He’s easy to spot with his panniers
Loaded with noodles and other debris

Paul the magical rider
He’s been everywhere
We love to have him ride with us
He’s warm, funny and rides with flair.

One day it will happen 
To Paul and all of us
Our bikes will stay out in the shed
And we’ll be on the bus.

But until that time comes
We’ll ride as if we’re Paul
Setting off in high spirits
Riding one and all.

Brenda (Love Me Tender)
Ride on Brenda
Ride on girl
You’ll reach our camp today
You’ll have ridden here and there
And we will watch you go.

Ride on Brenda
Ride on girl
You’ll reach our camp today
You’ll have ridden up and down
And we will watch you go.

Karen (Snoopy vs the Red Baron)
Out on her bike
In the left lane
Karen White Smith was her name
Many of us cried and a few of us tried
To catch her as she rode through the countryside.
Two, three, four and maybe many more
Tried to catch her to equal the score
But Karen White Smith was far too strong
And for us the road was always too long

Karen White Smith was her name
Riding a bike was her particular fame.

Sally (Mustang Sally)
Biker Sally
Guess who just rode their bike around
Biker Sally
Guess who’d better slow your bike right down
You been riding all over town now gal
Wow! Guess you better put your feet back on the ground.

All you wanna do is ride around Sally
Ride Sally ride

One of these early mornings
I’m gunna ride right along your side.

THE CREMATION OF LADY AL….  with due respect to Robert Service, courtesy Sally, Karen and Brenda
There are strange things done in the midday sun by the men who moiled for gold
Australia’s trails have their secret tales that would make your blood run cold.
The Southern lights have seen queer sights but the greatest they ever did say
Was that night in the stick shed Murtoa we cremated our lady AL.
Now Lady Al was from Idaho, known for ice and snow and potato.
Why she left that state to roam round the south, God only knows.
She liked the cold, but the land of gold seemed to hold her like a spell.
Though she’d often say, in her homesick way, ‘good grief, I’d sooner live in hell!’
Now Lady A. liked her Chardonnay, her beef, her chicken and ham,
But for dinner that night, there’d been olives and lamb.
She’d been complaining all day of stomach pain
 and her pallor was awful grey.
It was Valentine’s day, we were cycling our way over Victoria’s trails.
Talk of the heat! Through our jerseys it seeped.
If our mouths we’d open the flies we’d inhale,
It was hardest of all on our tough Lady Al.
And that very night as we lay packed tight in our tents at the caravan park,
The cyclists fed, and the stars how they sparked; 
She turned to Des and says “I’ll cash in this trip I guess,
And if I do, I’m asking that you don’t refuse my last request.
Well she seemed so low that we couldn’t say no, then she says with a sort of moan,
“It’s the cursed heat, that’s got me beat, I’m sweating clean through to the bone.
Yet ‘taint being dead - it’s my awful dread of the dusty grave that pains.
So I want you to swear that, foul or fair, you’ll cremate my last remains.”
A pals last need is a thing to heed so we swore we would not fail
And we started on at the streak of dawn, but God she looked a ghastly pale.
She crouched on the bike and she raved all day of her home in the USA
And before nightfall a corpse was all that was left of our Lady A.
There wasn’t a breath in that land of death, and we hurried horror driven
With a corpse half hid that we couldn’t get rid, because of a promise given
It was stashed in the van and it seemed to say “You may tax your brawn and brains,
But you promised true, and it’s up to you to cremate these last remains.
Now a promise made is a debt unpaid, and the trail has its own stern code.
In the days to come, though our lips were dumb, in our hearts how we cursed that load.
In the long long night, by the BBQ light, with the bikers round in a ring,
We howled out our woes to the homeless skies – O God! How we loathed the thing!

The Janice called “Halt! We must do a reroute! So we put it to the crew, to see what to do.
Said Michael to me “but this is how it must be” Then Garis piped in “She’s meat now, ain’t she?”
“This is true says Dale, but what do we do?” She’s not likely to fit in the Esky”
For more advice we looked around, but no one was to be found. Where the hell is Paul?

So every day that quiet clay seemed to heavy and heavier grow
And on we went, though our legs were spent and the grub was getting low;
The trail was bad and we felt half mad, but swore we would not give in.
And we’d often sing to the hateful thing and it hearkened with a grin.
Til we came to the town of Murtoa and a stick shed there did lay
It was made of dry wood and we saw in a trice, that it was even full of hay!
We looked at it and thought a bit and looked at our odorous chum!
Then “Here” said we, with heartfelt glee, “is our crematorium”.
Some poles we tore from the stick shed floor and we lit a roaring fire
Some coal we found that was lying around and we heaped the fuel higher
The flames just soared and like a furnace roared, such a blaze for our cycling pal
Then we burrowed a hole in the glowing coal, and stuffed in our Lady Al.
Then we rode our bikes, for we didn’t lie to hear her sizzle so
The heavens scowled, and the kookaburras howled and the wind began to blow.
It was bloody hot but we felt quite chilled, we really don’t know why;
Perhaps it was the grief we felt, that wouldn’t let us cry.

We do not know how long in the heat we wrestled with grisly fear.
But the stars came out and they danced about, ere again we ventured near.
We were sick with dread, but we bravely said, “we’ll just take a peep inside”
We guess she’s cooked and its time we looked…then the door we opened wide.

And there sat Al, looking cool and calm, in the heart of the fires roar,
She wore a smile you could see for a mile and she said “please close the door, 
In here it’s fine, please pass the wine, 
Since I left my home in the USA all I’ve been wanting is my Chardonnay!”

There are strange things done in the midday sun by the men who moiled for gold
Australia’s trails have their secret tales that would make your blood run cold.
The Southern nights have seen queer sights but the queerest they ever did say
Was that night in the stick shed Murtoa where we cremated our Lady Al!

A Dance - Venn Diagram of Riders

Solo Riders

Al – Odyssey
Paul – C2CP, SA, Europe, Australia
Michael – C2CP, SA, Europe, Himalayas
Karen – C2CP


OE 08


AR 10



COB 12



S2S 13








LAB Duck 18


Vicmania 20

Wednesday, 11 March 2020

The Last Victorian Leg - Metung to Cowes Shared With the Bogans on a Long Weekend

Packing Bruce's trailer with bikes to transport to Stratford.
We departed Metung on a coolish, windy and slightly damp morning. The plan was to car it into Stratford and ride to Lake Glenmaggie from there. Good plan indeed as although we had the benefit of a rail trail all the way to Heyfield, there was a strong headwind, so 60kms was a whole lot better than 100kms. 

Lake Glenmaggie
Lake Glenmaggie was a lovely place to camp, although by Friday afternoon it was filling wih large groups and even larger camping rigs as people flooded in for the long weekend. Everyone seemed to own a dog or two so we got in some gratuitous patting.

The following day we rode back into Heyfield then onto rail trails for some considerable distance en route to Lake Narracan. The scenery along the rail trail was spectacular - dams full to the brim, rolling green country, fat cattle, birds galore. What a treat that section of Gippsland is.
Lunch was at Toongabbie. Further along the trail we came across a huge winch that would have been used to lift goods onto and off trains.

And even further along, we arrived in Yallourn North. There had been some discussion about bogans between the group, a definition had to arrive at. We Australians all know a bogan when we see/hear one, and especially when they rev their stupid old Fords and Holdens, drive right up your arse and give out two finger signs to us bike riders. Really. What is this stupid mentality? A few old farts on bikes providing such a threat to the psyche of the bogan? Get over yourselves, grow up and stop being so stupid, I say, but despite shouting they of course do not hear as they roar off to some destination at least a kilometre away.
Yallourn North power station.

And so the traffic continued to roll on all weekend, large vehicles, SUVs, trucks, utes, boats, caravans, trailers....and all of them seemed to be in such a hurry to get wherever they were going.
Karen and Brenda survived riding through Moe and celbrated with coffee.

From somewhere up high in Gippsland
And another beautiful Gippsland view.
Lucky we had that coffee in Trafalgar, as the heights of Thorpdale rose before us, followed by the heights of Mirboo North. At some stage Sally, Des and I lost Karen and Brenda and headed off on dirt country roads going uphill and downhill seemingly endlessly. Well, it was kind of endless as we three arrived back in Mirboo North, and after 70kms and twice climbing into the place, we called Garis and he came and icked us up and drove us all the way to Meeniyan. Meeniyan was jumping: the pub was on the street and the horses had raced around the course earlier in the day. We dined on take-away pizzas and slept the sleep of the bike rider in a funny little old motel. Bliss.

A night at Kilcunda with speccy ocean views then a leaisurely ride into Cowes for a two-night stay prior to the Tasmanian ride. Everyone has circumnavigated Victoria, riding about 1200kms each, depending on driving days and so on. A grand effort and we have certainly seen all the various terrains and agriculture. Victoria has a most varied landscape. We've seen everything from flat farmland of wheat, vineyards, orchards, potatoes, rice, dairy cows, cattle and sheep; then steep mountain forests, some burned, some not; to rolling hills that reminded some of New Zealand or England as they are so green, unusualy for this time of the year; to a coastline ringed with surf, cliffs and gentle waves.

Al says the highlight for her is the fun and camaraderie. She is a demon on the card-playing front, though. Garis says his highlight was climbing Hotham in 3 hours 10 minutes, a six-month planning project that came to fruition. He added that it's an excellent way to become aware of Victoria, affording future plans for adventuring.

Des and Al spot a koala.
On the way into Cowes we stopped off at the koala conservation park and spotted koalas sleeping in trees. Our favourite was the chap below, stretched out in the sun, snoring away.

Tomorrow we transport ourselves and our gear to Melbourne where we board the Spirit of Tasmania. We also say farewell to Paul and hello to Maureen and Pauline. May we have fine clear days and lots more fun as we skitter down the east coast of Tasmania.


Friday 6 March - Stratford to Lake Glenmaggie. On the Gippsland Plains Trail for a total of 36km.
Saturday 7 March - Lake Glenmaggie to Lake Narracan. 66kms to arrive at a bogan-filled caravan park
Sunday 8 March - Lake Narracan to Meeniyan. Lost, 70kms and 1138 metres of climbing. Oh...
Tuesday 10 March - Kilcunda to Cowes. A bike path all the way which was really really good in most places.