A select group of 7 rusted on regulars was joined by new member Claude Olave on his first outing with the group for an autumn ride which proved surprisingly chilly. Steve Bailes offered to take the rear and other riders included Andrew Kennedy (still awaiting the final component to mount his heated grips), Colin Voss, Geoff, Carlo and Vince Green. We headed out the Western Highway then turned at Leakes Rd to take the back way to Bacchus Marsh through Exford and Parwan. Woolpack Rd, skirting the town and passing through market gardens, was under repair, but with dry conditions and hard packed gravel posed no great problem for the group.
Exiting the town to the south-east we took the old Western Highway up the hill and then Long Forest Rd through the conservation nature reserve, then past Merrimu Reservoir to Toolern Vale. We took the road to Gisborne but diverted at Couangalt Rd and crossed the Calder to take in the long sweeping bend on Mundy Rd heading toward Sunbury. We turned north to Riddell's Creek then up Hamilton Rd and Black Forest Drive to Woodend for a welcome morning tea. A number of riders commented on the bumpy ride over some sections of the route which reassured me that my suspension was not requiring adjustment as I had feared. We were diverted at the bakery by a group of older bikes including a Bimota and Katana.
Following the break we took a loop toward Trentham via Ashbourne Rd, but cut it short at James Lane out of deference to the cold and the route ahead, and returned to Woodend via Tylden. Crossing the main road we headed to Mt Macedon on what proved to be a very slippery ascent which tested Claude's Harley to the limit. The appreciation of glorious autumn colours on the descent was mitigated by the need for extreme caution due to the horde of tourists jostling for parking space on the narrow roadway. A sneaky turn at Brougham Rd took us past the palatial Macedon Lodge horse racing facility and hence to Wooling Hill, and then into Gisborne via Barringo Rd. There was a bumper pre Mother's Day market at Gisborne but we found some space to assemble on a corner patch of nature strip for a natter before heading home.
Welcome to Claude and we hope you can enjoy many of the varied activities offered by Melbourne Ulysses.