This morning’s interview with presenter Matt Dowling regarding my work on tracks and trails promotion in the Strathbogie region. Commences at 43.30minutes.
Hub & Spoke Route Name: Ruffy - Red Gate Lane Loop Mode: Gravel Grinder Start / Finish locations: Corner of Longwood – Ruffy Rd & Nolans Rd., Ruffy 3666 Difficulty: Intermediate Distance: 14.5km Elevation: 394 – 547m Topography: Undulating with some steep inclines Surfaces: Longwood – Ruffy Rd is sealed Nolans and Red Gate Lane are gravel Description and Features: Depart the Ruffy main street for rolling green hills of pasture, sweeping views and treed roadsides Rocky outcrops Riding conditions: Little traffic, road conditions are generally good, can be very hot in summer and cold in winter Options: Clockwise or anti clockwise Amenities (Ruffy): Ruffy Store open intermittent hours or by booking Car parking Seating Parkland Playground Accommodation Historic features Sports Reserves Directional road signs Information signs Cautions: Steep climbs Soft shoulders Uneven ground No potable water Slippery surfaces Subject to flooding Road surfaces vary Snakes may be active Beware of vehicle traffic Mobile reception may be unreliable Be mindful to keep within the Reserve Carry food, water, First Aid, be SunSmart Be equipped for self-reliant riding Anticlockwise Cues: Start corner of Longwood – Ruffy & Nolans Rd Straight Nolans Rd (west) Right Red Gate Lane Right Longwood – Ruffy Rd Finish corner of Longwood – Ruffy & Nolans Rd
Sub title: Central Victoria, the Centre for eBikes.
As I have aged (now approaching my mid 60s), I have progressed from road bikes to mountain bikes to hybrids and now, ebikes.
My message to everyone out there who rides or is contemplating riding is “Get on your bike!” If you are fit and able enough to provide your own power, find the bike that best suits your journeying and ride. If you think you are past it, reconsider. From 8 to 80 years old, anyone with balance who can get astride a bike frame now has bicycle touring at their feet!
With the advent of ebikes for all modes of cycling, the Central Victoria region is perfect for you and your bike. There are many kilometres of un-trafficked rural roads and tracks traversing diversely beautiful landscapes. You will be amazed at where an ebike can take you, from sealed flat stretches across the plains, amongst rustic rolling foothills, to tall treed dirt tracks through mountain forests.
Many people have asked me about the different modes of cycling I refer to in the cycling route descriptors I publish. Most often, about Gravel Grinders. Gravel Grinders as a specialty appeared somewhere in amongst my cycling experience. I missed their rise until alerted by a mad keen cycling cousin.
This alert coincided with the commencement of my mapping and publishing of walks and cycling routes in and around the beautiful Strathbogie region. A good port of call for those interested is the Gravel Grinders Melbourne fb page. The article linked below may be American, but is brief and indicative of gravel bike features for the uninitiated, as well as being fodder for dreamers. It is worth noting that one of the bikes listed is an ebike.
The cycling routes I have been recording will be found here on seanmathews.blog/cycling and the Connecting the Goulburn Broken Catchment Facebook Group https://www.facebook.com/groups/591666734808645 .
Hub & Spoke Cycling Route Route Name: Longwood: Pranjip Rd Loop Mode: Road / Hybrid / eBike Start / Finish locations: White Hart Hotel, Longwood Map (satellite):
Difficulty: Easy Distance: 29km Elevation: 136 – 179m Topography: Flat terrain plains country Surfaces: Bitumen, some ridging from tree roots in places Description and Features: The township is well worth exploring before or after. The wide un-trafficked streets lend themselves to pleasant cruising around. This route takes you into sheep grazing country, occasional swampy areas, past a few creeks, along wooded roadsides and through open pasture Þ Roadside and patches of Grey Box and Casuarina woodland Þ Bridged creek crossings Þ Return alongside Pranjip Creek Options: Clockwise or anti clockwise Amenities (Longwood): Car parking Shop and Hotel Seating Parkland Playground Picnic tables Public toilets Accommodation Historic features Sports Reserves Cautions: Soft shoulders Limbs may fall No potable water Road surfaces vary Snakes may be active Be mindful of vehicle traffic Roads may be subject to flooding Mobile reception may be unreliable Carry food, water, First Aid, be SunSmart Be equipped for self-reliant riding Anticlockwise Cues: Start: car park opposite White Hart Hotel North Longwood-Pranjip Rd Left Pranjip Rd Left Longwood-Shepparton Rd Left Grimwade Rd Right Longwood-Pranjip Rd Finish White Hart Hotel
Hub & Spoke / Bump & Grind Cycling Route
Start / Finish locations: Euroa Railway Station Railway St., Euroa 3666
Mode: Gravel Grinder, MTB, Hybrid, eBike (fats)
Map: GPS -36.749080001925385, 145.56809969105484
Elevation: 158 – 199m
Surfaces: Good condition bitumen Gravel varies, but overall pretty good. A bit rougher on the minor road end of Balmattum Siding Rd. Old Euroa Rd has a significant camber in places, take care on the gravel when moving laterally for traffic.
Description and Features: Flat with its own form of beauty, you have to be in it to appreciate it. Arrive at the Railway Station by train, car or bike. Euroa is an historic and pretty rural township with amenities aplenty. Appreciate it as you head through town to the fast straightaway of Balmattum North Rd. This smooth sealed bitumen parallels the Hume Freeway, but the traffic there isn’t too intrusive. There are more small waterways than expected and the countryside is quite appealing with the Strathbogie foothills to your right. There is a roadside stop at the only rise. When you hit the gravel you will find tree tunnels and enjoy vast plains vistas. Balmattum Grassland Nature Conservation Reserve is a great stopover for refreshment. Watch out for the playful Grey-crowned babblers. Return to Euroa alongside more waterways, swampy wetlands and lovely wooded roadside.
Riding conditions: It is flat, so exposed to the elements in some locations. Well wooded roadsides provide some shelter in others. Not much traffic.
Options: Access Balmattum Grassland via Wilbrahams Rd. However, the kink in Balmattum Siding Rd makes it a more interesting approach. Anti or clockwise
Anticlockwise Cues: Start Euroa Railway Station car park Railway St Head north east Right Kirkland Ave Left Tarcombe St Left Saxon St Right Balmattum North Rd Left Balmattum Siding Rd Right Old Euroa Rd Right Balmattum Grassland entry South east Old Euroa Rd Straight Riggs Creek Rd Bear left Moglonemby Rd (south) Left Boundary Rd North Straight Melbourne to Sydney Railway underpass Right Railway St back to the Station
Amenities: Car parking BBQ Fuel Shops Seating Parkland Waterways Playground Picnic tables Public toilets Potable water Trail head sign Walking tracks Accommodation Historic features Sports Reserves Swimming Pool Railway station Directional signs Information signs Alternative routes Flora and fauna habitat
Cautions: Open water Limbs may fall Embankments Uneven ground No potable water outside Euroa Slippery surfaces Subject to flooding Road surfaces vary Snakes may be active Beware of vehicle traffic Mobile reception may be unreliable Carry food, water, First Aid, be SunSmart Be equipped for self-reliant riding
Restrictions: Take rubbish with you Native flora and fauna are protected Riders must use formed roads only
Hub & Spoke / Bump & Grind Cycling Route Route Name / Address: Nagambie – Tahbilk Loop Nagambie Railway Station Nash St., Nagambie 3608 Mode: Gravel Grinder, MTB, Hybrid, eBike Start / Finish locations: Nagambie Railway Station Map (satellite): GPS -36.785485, 145.160476
Difficulty: Easy. Thick gravel can add an extra push requirement Distance: 27km, 2hrs Elevation: 128 – 144m Topography: Flat with slight rises. Surfaces: Good condition bitumen Variable gravel. Mulberry Drive is smooth, but has drifts of quartz pebbles and blue metal stones. Mullens Rd is due to be sealed Nook Rd and Terrara Lane both suffer water sheeting and mud in winter Description and Features: Excellent services, wide roads and service lanes in Nagambie itself. Prime horse stud and wine country. Lots of vast grain fields, pasture and vineyards. The Goulburn River bends and billabongs at Tahbilk Winery are gorgeous. The winery itself is an historic gem. Riding conditions: Little traffic on the mapped route. If you opt to use O’Dwyer Rd there is steady traffic, but the shoulders are bitumen and wide. Options: Use O’Dwyer Rd instead of Habel Rd if you want to reduce the distance. Avoid what seems an obvious route along Vickers Rd. It has no shoulder is a narrow two way and heavily trafficked. Clockwise or anti Anticlockwise Cues: Start Nagambie Railway Station Left Nash St Right Prentice St Left High St Right Nook Rd Right Mulberry Drive Straight Oneils Rd Left Mullers Rd Right Terrara Lane Straight Nagambie – Locklsley Rd Left Habel Rd Left Ballantynes Rd Right Murray St Straight Nash St Stop Nagambie Railway Station Amenities: Car parking Fuel Shops Fishing Winery Seating Parkland Swimming Playground Picnic tables Public toilets Potable water Walking tracks Accommodation Historic features Sports Reserves Railway station Directional signs Information signs Waterways & lake Alternative routes Flora and fauna habitat Cautions: Open water Soft shoulders Limbs may fall Embankments Uneven ground No potable water while riding Slippery surfaces Subject to flooding Road surfaces vary Snakes may be active Beware of vehicle traffic Mobile reception may be unreliable Carry food, water, First Aid, be SunSmart Be equipped for self-reliant riding Restrictions: Take rubbish with you Historic relics are protected Native flora and fauna are protected Riders must use formed roads only Closed on days of total fire ban
Bump & Grind
Mode: Gravel Grinder
Start / Finish location: Jubilee Park, Avenel
Elevation: 150 – 480m
Topography: Flats through to steep gradients
Surfaces: 25km bitumen / 14km gravel
Description & Features: Quiet roads. Beautiful scenery. Vistas to grazing pasture, rolling hills, cherry orchards, vineyards, forested waterways and granite outcrops. • A steady gravel climb to views across to Mt Wombat from Upton Hill • A winding bitumen return downhill • Avenel Maze is passed on the return leg
Riding conditions: It can be very cold in winter and very hot in summer. Check local weather conditions before leaving.
Options: Choose clockwise or anti clockwise, the 14km of gravel is at the eastern end of Tarcombe Rd
Amenities (Avenel): Car parking BBQ Fuel Shops Seating Parkland Playground Picnic tables Public toilets Potable water Accommodation Historic features Sports Reserves Swimming Pool Railway station
Cautions: Steep climbs Soft shoulders Slippery surfaces Subject to flooding Road surfaces vary Snakes may be active Mobile reception may be unreliable Carry food, water, First Aid, be SunSmart Be equipped for self-reliant riding
Anticlockwise Cues: Start Jubilee Park car park Right Ewings Rd Right Livingstone St Left Mitchell St Right Jones St Cross Hume Fwy Straight on Tarcome Rd Left Upton Rd Right Tarcombe Rd Cross Hume Fwy Straight Jones St Left Mitchell St Right Anderson St Left Ewings Rd
While walking along the Goulburn River a couple of days ago, I realised I was getting a bit short of breath going up hills. I haven’t been doing much strenuous exercise in recent months and I think it is telling. So, I got on the bike for a 10k tester to see where I was at. I need to get the cardiovascular system pumping again! The legs felt heavy and I was puffing away on inclines that have never bothered me before. My conclusion is that walking is a wonderful form of exercise for keeping you active, the joints mobile and getting some fresh air into your lungs, but you most certainly need to get the heart rate up on a regular basis as well.
Getting back on the bike mid-winter around here is something of a challenge though. Even on this sunny afternoon, the chill factor on the downhill cruise was quite uncomfortable across my chest. I will need to pick my times and use the resistance trainer in between. Still, these are good options and I think I am in the right frame of mind for regular cycling again.
I also started a Quigong class a couple of months ago. This is an ancient form of Chinese martial art practiced in a fluid, slow motion, somewhat like Tai Chi. It is excellent for coordination, balance, mind / muscle control and range of motion. I am yet to remember the 64 sequential movements necessary to take myself to the most basic level of fluidity, but that will come in time.
There have been quite a few visitors lately. The most recent, a lovely visit from Lyn, an old school friend. This weekend brother Keir and nephew Caleb are arriving for some riding and bushwalking. It has been wonderful to see so many friends and family make the effort to come here. We really value and appreciate their stays. Interestingly, I don’t always know the people that come. Recently we had a visit from Mitch (who used to work for Mary) and his wife Jacqui. In their mid 20s, I had only briefly met them at their engagement party a while ago. What a delight to have such vital, intelligent, young visitors in the mix. They were great company and I really hope to see them again.
I love it when we have people of all ages come. Mary’s Melbourne book group is a case in point. 10 of them, half in their late 20s / early 30s, half in their 60s, are a highly entertaining bunch. I am lucky to be able to sit in when they meet at our place. Their birthday book club lunch meeting celebrating Darren’s 30th and Mary’s 60th was a real hoot. There was lots of laughter, perceptive book talk and conversations all over the place. I was sorry to see them go.
It is also great to see people arrive with their baggage and begin to leave some cares behind as they settle into the groove of just being here, no pressure to do anything, time to talk and walk, to look around, become part of the landscape and change down a cog, to begin to match the pace of the place. At least, this is the way I see it and I hope this is the way they find it to be.