Thursday 28th April, 2022
103 km , +1405m
Moving 5:34, Elapsed 10:41 *
Max 58.7 kph, Avg 18.5 kph
* including 1.5 hours just hanging in Yarra Junction before riding the 1.2km to our DW hosts at 5pm.
We got going in the dark – 6.10am. Sunrise wasn’t until about 7am. It was a good time to get out of the CBD, and over the river on St Kilda Rd. All 800m of it before leaving the road, riding on a path through Alexandra Gardens to join the Yarra Trail at the river. Other than a 5km section of road (Yarra Boulevard) in one part, we were on the Yarra Trail for about 22km, crossing a couple of times.
At 22k we said goodbye to the Yarra (and eponymous trail) and joined the Koonung Creek Trail so as to keep heading east.
I had researched to death the breakfast options, and had earmarked a couple of cafes just off the route in Balwyn North. Only 24km down, but that had taken an hour and a half. While it was great to be using cycle trails (no traffic!), it was pretty slow going. Coffee, food. Yum.
We rejoined the Koonung Creek trail as it ran alongside the Eastern Freeway (as well as Koonung Creek, obviously!). At 32k we suddenly hit a trail closure. Damn – we’d been getting along at a slightly faster pace by then. I’m not sure if this had been mentioned in the FB group or not, but if it had, we’d missed it. Have to say, Adelaide did a better job than Melbourne with signing detours when they have to close cycle paths.
So the Koonung Creek Trail ran on both sides of the freeway, with occasional underpasses or overpasses. We backtracked to the last one we’d seen, and then rode on that side for a few kilometres (on gravel for some of it I think). We stopped at a possible crossover/overpass option, and while I walked up a track to check it out, Marc got chatting to a couple of women who passed walking a dog. You wouldn’t think you’d randomly run into someone who had heard of Indipac (and had followed it other years?) while on a detour from the route, but there you go!
We resumed riding on-route again on the Koonung Creek Trail, which turned into the Eastlink Trail. We followed this over and under the freeway and some main roads – crossing twice at the lights at one major intersection.
At 44k we crossed a creek and joined the Dandenong Creek Trail. All these trails!
Loo stop at a sportsground/park (Bayswater Park) at 49k. 3.5hours in.
At 53k we left that trail and followed the route on a path alongside a couple of main roads until we reached The Basin. 55k and almost 4 hours.
We had a rendezvous with Jess at a cafe here. (10.15. Second breakfast/brunch – Food! Coffee!) Jess and I have been online friends for about 12 years, with a shared interest in cycling, and she was already an Indipac dot watcher. It was great to catch up with her in person, and for Marc to meet her too, and really awesome of her to come out to meet us!
We spent an hour with her there before setting off up one of her favourite local climbs, into the Dandenong Ranges. ‘The 1-in-20’. We enjoyed the 1 in 20. It was a nice, easy gradient, there wasn’t much traffic, and it was foresty (did I just make up a word there?!)
We kept riding through Sassafras (which is where the local cyclists usually turn around) and then kept climbing another 3km to the top at Olinda, where we stopped for a break. That was about 10k of up, but we rated it a thumbs up. Wish all the climbs on this ride were like that!
6k of pretty much all downhill saw us into Monbulk. 71k so far. It was 12.45, so lunch time.
The name ‘Monbulk’ to us is synonymous with jam. Is this where it was made? Google time: Indeed it is, or rather was. This National Museum of Australia article is interesting reading. I hadn’t really clocked that it was no longer on the supermarket shelves, but it hasn’t been since the 90’s.
At some point during the morning we’d finally made contact with the staff at the Toolshed at Noojee, and it turned out that ‘Dad, the owner’ was incorrect about the price. $200 (or was it $220) a night. $180 was already well and truly pushing our limit; $200 was ridiculous. We said ‘no thanks then’, and Marc messaged James to gratefully accept the legendary ‘Casa de Carmichael’ offer. He wouldn’t be home till about 5pm, so we had plenty of time to cover the last 30k into Yarra Junction. It would have been another 40k to Noojee. 100k would do me for the day.
More messaging had been happening during today as well. Luke, aka Beetlejuice – and his moustache! – who had finished Indipac two and half weeks ago, was already back home in Melbourne. He had read my FB update about only having found one Camelbak bite valve, so he just got hold of one, and drove goodness knows how many kilometres from where he lives to find us on the road just so I could have one. We were 8km on from Monbulk when he found us. Just blown away by how awesome Indipac people are.
We quite enjoyed the quiet country road between Monbulk and Yellingbo – where we grabbed a drink and snack at the General Store.
We had a few more cars on the next 5k to Woori Yallock, but it was still pretty ok. (On the Healesville-Koo Wee Rup Rd … I’m just giving these details so I can write those place names!).
Marc’s summary on TwoUp: ‘Scenery and landscapes today, just awesome.‘
Unfortunately from Woori Yallock we had to ride 8.5km on the Warburton Highway to Yarra Junction, and that was not fun at all. The shoulder came and went, and often what shoulder there was sucked. We were relieved to come into Yarra Junction. It was about 3.30pm, which of course was the after-school peak period. We found a seat outside the shops, picked up some stuff at Woollies, went on a hike to find a loo out the back of the shopping centre, and chilled until we heard from James.
We got to their place just before 5.00.
James and Anna were amazing, opening their house to have us stay. We had showers, and they threw our riding kit in for a wash with their washing, and, as it was pretty cool, got the fire going and got the washing all hung out to dry.. .Anna whipped up a lasagna and we had dinner – all while wrangling a spirited 18 month old toddler.
They filled us in on the fact that Carmichael was in fact a pseudonym from (???) as James is a teacher, so as to maintain some anonymity on social media. And they regaled us with stories of previous riders who crashed there – some who arrived around midnight and then left again before dawn – fueled by the home-made apple pie that Anna had left out for them ! (They had to put up with us for a bit longer!).
We called it a pretty early night, again overwhelmed with the generosity and passion of Indipac dotwatchers. We had a longer day tomorrow – we’d booked a room out the back of Glengarry Pub. 120km to look forward to, so better get started early.