What can I say?
For two years running we had a combination of extreme heat and some rain. Hang on, that sounds typical of a Victorian summer day come to think of it.
For two years running we also experienced the ride leader misplacing the ride group! Last year it was at Bonnie Doon and this year I lost them in Yarra Glen!
Picture me wondering around Yarra Glen muttering;
"Hello, have you seen a bunch of disgraceful mature bikers? I am their leader and they are lost!" Or words to that effect - Oh Dear.
I thought I did a clever job of leading us out of Lilydale avoiding both heavy traffic and traffic lights. That went well until the second roundabout at Yarra Glen where I went straight ahead towards Healesville and most went left towards Yea, which they knew was the first rest stop. Oh well, we all met up there eventually after missing some of the route I had planned. I was struck by vistas of our "Wide Brown Land" and the lack of Green Green Grass at home during that ride though and what could be more appropriate on Australia Day?
As planned we met up with more Ulysseans, who had ridden across from the north and west, at a very busy Yea. After exchanging greetings and some refreshment we rode back towards Seymour briefly, then up through the highlands before rejoining the Maroondah Highway just before Merton. The scenery and roads were much more interesting, we avoided the speed limits in Molesworth and Yarck plus heavy traffic so I think I got a few brownie points back after my earlier embarrassment. It was then a "transport" run to Mansfield which was very busy. The bakery was very efficient and those who needed it topped up with fuel. By this stage the heat was starting to build up quite a bit after a pleasant start.
Then it was off via Tolmie (cooler again) and Whitfield (very busy with bikes) and on to Milawa for a refreshment break. Then off via Everton, another break at Yackandandah where the heat was rising significantly, so after a short break we took off and rode to Tallangatta and were greeted by Alf who had ridden up independently. We unpacked, got into shorts and started partaking of cooling refreshment. I think that is what happened anyway - hopefully some of it was disgraceful in true Ulyssean tradition. It was damn hot after quite a few days of over 40! Plans were made and changed as the night wore on.
On Sunday morning, on advice from Cheryl the publican, we delayed departure and had breakfast at the Tallangatta Bakery which provided a great quality and value egg and bacon roll with coffee combo. It was much cooler and we had the odd shower of rain too.
I'm kind of reticent to share too much route information as we had a great day's riding on Sunday with minimal traffic. We went over the Granya Gap (Shush! - it is simply great) where our "man of many bikes" (he blames his son) had a puncture (courtesy of a very large roofing screw) on the Hayabusa he purchased on Friday! He and that day's TEC (Greg) sorted it and I got messages by the time I arrived at the river.
The rest of us turned left and visited the Wymah Ferry and enjoyed a chat with the Ferryman. No one paid him by the way. Mick went across on the ferry and rode back to Albury to catch up with people. We rode back east and really enjoyed the Murray River Road (Shush yet again) with minimal traffic and views over the low river with people camped along the banks. A brief crossing into NSW over a steel girder bridge had us visit the pub at Jingellic which has free camping directly behind it on the banks of the Murray. We paid a short visit to Walwa and rode back to Granya along the same road. There were alternatives, but we just enjoyed the road so much we did it twice. Half way up the gap we caught up with Greg and Greg and who were waiting for the RACV who had been called after tyre plugs initially failed. The RACV trailer arrived, discussions were had and we rode on again and thoroughly enjoyed the ride up to Mitta Mitta where the pub was extremely busy.
We enjoyed break, a drink (some ate) and the view over the weir and swimming hole virtually in the back yard of the pub. Have I ever mentioned how fortunate I feel we are living where we do? The culture, people roads scenery - what is not to love? I mentioned that I wanted to potter around Old Tallangatta and take some photos and most decided to join me. Again I enjoyed the variety and scenery despite the dryness. Then it was back to Tallangatta, bikes fuelled and stored before another disgraceful night of banter and lies. In the mean time the Hayabusa had been successfully repaired and the two Gregs went for a hundred plus kilometre test ride which also involved Mitta Mitta and Lockharts Gap before coming back to join us.
After breakfast, we got away in pleasant riding conditions, rode back to Beechworth and took a diversion visiting Beechworth Gorge. We then rode towards Wangaratta, did a "transport run" down the Hume Highway in light traffic to Violet Town and visited a local café. We then crossed the freeway and rode into Strathbogie through some quite different countryside. I actually found the road via Polly McQuinns just a bit too rough and was concerned about those on less compliant bikes behind me. We all made it through safely and I loved the ride back over the Merton Gap.
The traffic, when we joined the Maroondah looked horrendous, so we got off after 5 kilometres, took to the hills and came into Yea the back way. Considering it was the long weekend we did quite well avoiding traffic. After Yea, we all went our separate ways and headed home in smaller groups. I did get to enjoy the climb (a great series of sweepers if traffic free) out of Yea on the Whittlesea Road and then cut back to the Melba via Break O Day. Then it was a transport run home and at times I was glad I was on a bike and not in a tin top. In complete contrast to Saturday, the closer to Melbourne we got, the hotter it got!
We had a variety of tail riders over the weekend, plans changed constantly to suit weather and circumstances. I simply had a great time. Many thanks to all who came along and made it a great weekend.
Photo albums have been created and links are below