Friday 29th April, 2022
121.4 km +1558m
Moving 5:46, Elapsed 9:21
Max 59.6 kph , Avg 21 kph
We tippy-toed around in the dark preparing to leave. James got up to see us off, and we at least remembered to get a photo with him before we left – we forgot last night!
We said our farewells and profuse thankyous and rolled down their driveway at 6.25.
It was pretty nice riding (thankfully no more Warburton Highway – we had headed south at said ‘Junction’ and were on the Yarra Junction-Noojee Rd. A good time to do it – as opposed to on the Easter weekend! We had a good run to Noojee, mostly through farmland at first. One nearly 3km long hill out of Powelltown, but the forest scenery made up for it – and we enjoyed forest scenery nearly all of the way to Noojee.
We rolled into Noojee at about 9am. 41km. Again I was thankful that we had ridden that section in the early morning and not late afternoon yesterday.
As we came to the intersection in the middle of this little town and turned left, focused on stopping at the cafe, there was a guy on the corner with some serious camera gear. Pointed at us. And clicking away. Like paparazzi. This pseudo-celebrity status we had achieved through attempting this ride was getting a bit surreal. Anyway, it was dotwatcher, Gavin, and he joined us while we had breakfast and shouted our coffees. We chatted for about an hour. Not your average Indipac riders, us, with these lengthy cafe stops. (I was still going to make the most of the cafes where we could get them! I knew we still had some long sections of ‘nothing’ ahead of us!)
Gavin papped us again as we rode out of Noojee, with stills AND video. It is nice, though, to get some records of us in action that we can’t take for ourselves!
Something I have realised that we missed in Noojee was the Noojee Trestle Bridge, on the eastern side of town. It was only 400m off the main road! There’s also a short (3km) rail trail out to it from just the other side of Noojee. It’s definitely something worth checking out if you ever go through there at a more leisurely pace. Yes, on the spectrum of pace, we still weren’t in the ‘leisurely’ zone! (Some websites say that the site is closed for maintenance at the moment, but it would be worth checking out.)
Not too far out of Noojee, we had another climb. About 4km long, and not so nice – avg gradient 7.8%, max 11%. Around Noojee the road name (at least according to Google maps) had changed to Mt Baw Baw Rd – it is indeed the way to Mt Baw Baw, which looks like it should be on everyone’s bucket list to visit sometime (stunning view, skiing in winter, hiking, MTB trails, etc the rest of year), but also another reason why it was a good thing we were riding this section on a weekday.
We turned off south, though, only 10 km from Noojee, onto Willow Grove Rd, which turned out to be one of the best sections of the whole ride.
We had had another shorter, more mild climb just before that fantastic view in the slides above, and then pretty much a downhill run to Willow Grove – the next place with any services. By then it was 12.15 and we were at 71km. About time for some lunch-type food. We stopped at the General Store, only to find they were temporarily closed for some reason. Eep! Thankfully there was a pub next door – an Irish Pub no less (‘The Irish at Willow Grove’). They served lunch, so we ordered the soup of the day and chatted with the publican, Michele, who was an absolutely lovely Irish woman. She was blown away by our ride, came out to see the tandem, and told us to call if we ran into any issues down the road and needed help at all.
Another hour saw us into Yallourn North. We’d left the Baw Baw foothills and were now skirting around the northern edge of the Latrobe Valley – known as the centre of Victoria’s (brown coal) energy industry (mining and power stations.)
We bought a drink and snack in Foodworks and sat outside with it. An old guy shuffled by and chatted with us – mainly about how he’d lived around there all his life, worked in the mines, and so on.
100km done, just 20k to Glengarry.
We merged onto a busier road, so it wasn’t the greatest riding, but at least it was pretty flat. We had just ridden through Tyers and were passed by a ute that then pulled into a farm driveway. The driver didn’t open the gate though – he got out and stood there, ready to wave. Dotwatcher? We pulled up, and yes. It was Brett, with Barclay (Barkly?), who had tracked us and driven out to cheer us on. Brett was great, and doggie pats always boost your spirits.
Only 7k to go. Brett told us that Glengarry Pub on a Friday night would be busy, and he wasn’t wrong. Our cabin was out the back of the pub. They weren’t bad rooms (albeit with dampish feeling towels), but of course, we got the one close to the pub and the beer garden with the Friday night entertainment going off. It was the end-of-season presentation night for a local sports club, so we were an unwilling audience (audio-wise) to every award announced over the microphone, with accompanying claps, cheers and hoots. It wasn’t conducive to getting an early night, but hey. It was a bed (and we didn’t have to walk far for dinner.) You win some, you lose some, with accommodation.
This afternoon Derek, Scotty and Greta finished their Indipac ride at the Opera House, after riding pretty much together from Wollongong yesterday. In Wollongong, Derek had stayed with friends of ours, Liz and Dave. Us doing Indipac had turned them into dotwatchers, and they belatedly realised that they lived only about a block from the route.
Well, then. We were now the last Indipac riders still out there on the course. Notably, this morning, not far out of Yarra Junction we had passed the official 4000km mark. Only 1,470 to go!