UJ1 has (apparently) wanted to ride to ...Woods Point
for a long time. Not quite sure why ... but what-the-heck, sounded like a plan.
Anyway he talked me into it as well so we took the train to Wang on Wednesday (it left 1hr50m late BTW ) and rode down to Whitfield first night. I guess any old trainspotters can reel off the names of the old stops on the Whitfield line? I recall being diverted down that way once upon a childhood drive...
We stayed at the Whitfield pub which used to have old railway memora ...memorabil ...nick-nacks
from the early days but has been tarted up by Pizzini's in recent times and no trace remains. Still 'twas a pleasant stopover with a nice bar and decent priced good food. Breakfast next morning at the WhittyCafe was great and so we headed off towards Mansfield on full stomachs.
Day two we had a pleasant if unremarkable ride from Whitfield via Harry Powers lookout and the classic Tolmie tavern, and on to Mansfield. Some great views along the climb to Tolmie and from the lookout. UJ1, slightly overloaded as is his habit, produced a thermos for hot tea which was a great little pick me up at Harry Powers Lookout. There's lots of Kelly history here in the hills including the road to Stringybark Creek, which may be a route for a future trip perhaps. It was a relaxing roll downhill and across the Broken River plain to our stop at Traveller's Lodge in Mansfield.
Day three was pretty epic - a simple 37kms to Jamieson for a morning tea stop then all the way on to Woods Point with the final climb and descent of Frenchman's Gap a 'highlight' of the day. The road follows the Goulburn River to Knockwood, Gaffney's Creek to ...Gaffney's Creek, and then Raspberry Creek to Frenchmans Gap. It then drops back into the headwaters of the Goulburn River near Woods Point.
This was a tough day no doubt, with 45 kms of gravel (the seal ends just past Kevington) and the climb to finish off. The steaks at the Commercial Hotel at Woods Point are huge, and needed to be !! An evening in a place like this amongst the 4WD-ers and deer hunters, not to mention the hosts Box and Tanya and the local bar-room philosophers, is great fun. Mind you we hit the sack around 9pm.
Day four was even more epic (if possible) - Woods Point to Marysville via Matlock and .... well there's only one way to go !! A staggering initial climb on dead legs out of Woods Point to the turn at Matlock and then several more dot-on-the-map locations for 63 kms before the seal returns near Cumberland Junction - notwithstanding a 7.5km section in the middle of nowhere, apparently a result of provision for workers camps when the Thomson Dam was built. From Cumberland Junction it's a short 20kms to Marysville, albeit over the main range again. This was a looong day in the saddle, not so hard after the first 25km or so but you start to think the gravel will never end. The road is very rough in patches and I suffered 2 pinch flats for my troubles.
Day five we had a relatively benign 84 kms via the Acheron Way and the Warby Rail Trail back to Lilydale and a train ride home from there. After the previous 2 days we cruised easily up the Acheron climb and rolled comfortably down the gravel to Cement Creek. We copped our first showers at Warby and along the trail but it was only a small inconvenience at the end of a substantially greater trip.
For me, fatter tyres, another few low gears (there was a bit of walking up Frenchman's Gap and out of Woods Point to Matlock) and perhaps less load would have helped but at all other times the CX bike held up pretty well, considering. UJ1 might have some pertinent views on appropriate bike/load for such a trip.
Would I do it again? Probably not, but once to Woods Point by bike is certainly something to be satisfied about. I definitely feel better about it today than say 3pm Saturday after the second puncture stop !!
5days/400+kms/6000+m ascent and 2 punctures. I was pretty knackered and glad to get home late Sunday afternoon.