Saturday 30th April, 2022
135.6 km +848m
Moving 5:50, Elapsed 8:42
Max 60.5 kph, Avg 23.2 kph
We must have faffed around a bit this morning, as we didn’t get away till 7.30. Actually, I think it must have been because our first breakfast option was at Toongabbie, 10km along, and the General Store there didn’t open until 8am on Saturdays. (Waiting for the 7.30 opening of the cafe at Glengarry would have had us on the road even later.) Probably we should have just headed the 34 km to Heyfield, but we all know by now that I’m the wuss with the morning eating/nausea/hunger/hangry issues. We also all know by now that we weren’t racing, but (even now) it’s still hard to shake the feeling that we weren’t doing it ‘the right way’ – as in the more ‘gung-ho’ way.
Coffee/tea and some kind of food got us through to a proper breakfast at Heyfield at 9am. We had stayed at Heyfield on our Sydney-Melbourne ride in 2018, and Bairnsdale as well, but this time we were taking an entirely different route between them.
In 2018 we had ridden the Gippsland Plains Rail Trail between Stratford and Heyfield, but the Bairnsdale-Stratford stretch through Bengworden had been horrible, traffic-wise. The rail trail actually continues through Heyfield to Traralgon, passing through Toongabbie and Glengarry, but the backroads that we took (north/east bound) on this Indipac route were actually pretty quiet (and thus a lot faster than a rail trail.)
We had a nice breakfast at Cafe 3858 in Heyfield – and it was here that we realised that the low battery warning light was flashing on the Spot. We had carried spare batteries the whole way, so no problem. The original ones had lasted over 4,100km, and 36 days of riding. Not bad.
Right. Onwards. Our next stop (other than a side-of-the-road stretch) was Briagalong, which had a general store. 69km. It was 11.30, so we had a drink and snack, and bought rolls to eat for lunch a bit further along.
That ‘bit further along’ opportunity came on a quiet, forested backroad between Stockdale and Fernbank, but was quickly aborted because we were being devoured by mosquitoes. Quickest lunch I’ve ever eaten – in fact, I don’t think I managed to eat all of mine. We stopped briefly several kilometres further along where I finished my roll, sans-mozzies.
The next township was Lindenow. 116km down. 2.40pm. There was a cafe only just still open – we were still able to get drinks and cake. Phew. We needed something at that point.
Just 20km to Bairnsdale. We negotiated a couple of hills, but the road was still pretty quiet, so overall we rated it as the clear winner versus our 2018 route.
We came into Bairnsdale from the north, and the last few kilometres weren’t so great with impatient cars. That’s big towns for you – well, cities, really. Bairnsdale is classified as a city.
We got into the motel at 4.20. I was able to put some washing on – their machine was in an odd little lean-to at the back of the motel, but I got it done and hung up in our usual in-room fashion.
We had another rendezvous here, with a friend/former colleague of Marc’s. Ben now lives in Sale, and in 2018 he came over to Heyfield to have dinner with us there. This time he had organised to come to see us in Bairnsdale! That was an 80km each-way trip! Blown away. Marc even asked him to bring his laptop so that Marc could log in to the Touch Footy admin site to sort out some issues his admin replacement had been having.
Touch footy dramas sorted, we then piled into Ben’s car and drove downtown for dinner. Woah! Sitting in a car after 37 days on a bike felt all sorts of weird.
Unfortunately, the meals (at the pub that we randomly chose) weren’t that good, but at least we had great company.
We tasked Ben with another favour – disposing of the old Spot batteries responsibly for us! A few months later he sent through a photo of him doing just that.
Marc’s comment on TwoUp for the day: Great riding through Gippsland today. We’ve made our share of comments about the route to this point but today, full marks from me.
Tomorrow marked the point where we would start heading north, and up. We had the two BIG climbs of the whole ride looming – with the first, ‘BOF – or ‘Back of Falls’ – the first (and highest point) to be tackled within just a few days from now. (Yep, feeling the nerves a bit.)
This is the elevation of the full Indipac route:
Marc had had his eye on the long-term weather forecast, and we were timing our run to get over Falls Creek within a good weather window. We weren’t going to risk anything by trying to ride through alpine country, at over 1700m, in bad weather.
We were trying to strategically plan our best options for accommodation so as to get the best start for the BOF climb (without having smashed ourselves in the couple of days beforehand.) We also kind of knew this area a bit from our adventures in the late 80s/early 90s and Marc (with his much better memory for places) was familiar with the road through Omeo.
So tomorrow we would stay at the Little River Inn in Ensay, 80km from Bairnsdale. Our perfect scenario would have been to stay the next night at the Blue Duck Inn at Anglers Rest – only 11km before the big climb started, but they were closed on Monday nights! Damn! So we were going to have to make Monday a short day to Omeo, with the longer day going up over Falls. No other choice.
Anyway… one day at a time.