If you have dropped in to Velo, you’ll know we’re keen on adventure bikes. Steel, hyper capable, wide tire clearance, all road, all day machines such as the Jamis Renegade Escapade and the Soma Wolverine. One of the delights of these bikes is that they’re ready to take to any challenge you deliberately, or in the following case, unknowingly throw at them.
One of our staff, Ollie (on an Escapade) took his partner (on his custom Wolverine) on a 3 day mini tour in Bunyip State Park. Whether out of a roughshod sense of adventure, or naivety, he accepted Google’s directions.
It started as all good tours do, 3 hours late. The afternoon sun was glorious as we hit the first dirt roads rolling through hilly farmland but faded fast into winter night.
We turned onto the last climb to the edge of the park. A ‘No Through Road’ sign flashing out of the night in LED lit brilliance was our first chance to bail out, a 7km detour was hastily dismissed and we pushed on. Half way up with a moment of doubt we asked a passing farmer whether the road went through. “Yeaaaah…” He offered.
“It’s definitely a track though”. He didn’t sound confident in our choice. However, we were, and buoyed by knowing the path existed we pushed past our second chance.
The Yarra Bubba track started with no promises, it was rutted, steep and muddy. Slow, tough grind. Gums loomed eerily out of the dark, the track harshly illuminated in 600 Lumen LEDs. Sandy Pit Ridge track joined ours as the gradient tended up. Had I read that name when mapping the ride I’d have been ready for the sandy bogs every 20 meters as we climbed.
Two fallen trees and a gruelling climb later we hit the peak. I promised myself and Jess that it was all downhill from here.
The first 100 meters felt great, sandy bogs cascaded outwards as we hit them with speed. Then the earth went red. Sand gave way to clay. Red earth clods flung from our ballooning wheels clung to bike and rider. Brakes began to feel meaningless as the choice was roll or slide. But we persevered, slowly picking our way down the slopes.
Most importantly the bikes stood to the challenge and in the absurdity of the adventure, we chose amusement.
So at 9pm after covering 7km in an hour and a half, we arrived at a gorgeous camp, exhausted and filthy but smiling.