2022-04-25 Social Touring Ride Ride Report
There are a lot of rides going on that we know are more difficult or are over nighters. Longer, harder, and faster is not always what we are looking for in a ride [Jonathan: That’s not what she said, but that’s what she wrote]. Some of us have other obligations in our lives like family, work, or we just are not that interested in camping. Some of us are newer, some of us are older, some of us have physical challenges we need to overcome to even get ourselves onto the bike in the morning [Gail: before anyone says it, no I don’t mean your partner]. Or some of us can only spare a morning, or an arvo but still wanna get out!
So, Jonathan and I thought, well, what can we actually do that everyone can attend? And thus the Social Touring Ride was born (and will happen again). It’s a BMW GS and latte in the morning, a T7 and burgers for lunch, a KLR and beers for arvo tea and a Chicken Chaser stopping at every servo in between for a drink.
We wondered if anyone else was up for a leisurely run on ANZAC day? I reckoned that a few people had not so much to do on Monday other than mowing the lawn or desperately need to escape the kids long weekend at the end of the school holidays that just seemed ONE DAY TOO LONG?
The idea was some light off-road (unsealed road / gravel), take in some nice views over the hills and the dam, stopping at every scenic point we can for a photo and a chin wag, and then have a nice lunch at 1pm somewhere. After that it could be tar home or take another scenic route back.
We started late, but that’s ok, that was exactly the chill kind of vibe we were going for. Some of the reasons included the chilly, extremely foggy morning. When Harold met us at our house to ride to the meeting point, he turned off his bike, but left the ignition on. His tiger has a lovely heated seat for those of us who like a bit more creature comfort in our adventure touring. So once we started off, this meant his battery was dead flat. 1 jump started bike later, we were on our way in the foggy morning.
We met everyone at the IGA and we spent a fair bit of time just talking to each other about…. Stuff. Bikes probably.
We bought coffee, we claimed a light post in the name of Madcat and we waited for 2 people who never showed. Jonathan did the safety talk and we were off by 10am…. Into the fog.
Over the clouds
The first part of the ride out of the Yarra Valley is up a rather spectacular hill on a clear day. In the fog, well, if we could have stopped we all would have. The valley was covered in fog and was just amazing to look back on. We pressed on and after about half an hour of riding, we pulled over in the gravel for our first photo op.
We all got off, chatted about technique, chatted about how to stand up on pegs, about who had never ridden off the tar before (Derek), and who finally got knobbies (Prad), and who was just happy to be there (everyone else). After about as much time talking and taking photos of us jumping as we had spent riding thus far, we got back on the bikes and cornermanned our way like total professionals along Flying-Mas’s route to Flowerdale that he has yet to complete.
We then made our way along a few classic roads stopping frequently to get off our bikes and take photos with Jonathan’s timer and tripod. The morning was chill and fun, our newer riders finding more and more confidence and the more experienced riders having a lovely chill time looking around and relaxing.
Eventually, Craig pointed out that he had the ability to take remote photos with his phone and watch combination, including seeing a preview on his watch to make sure everyone was lined up. This made Jonathan immeasurably happy, and there were MANY MANY MANY more photos taken using this exciting new piece of technology.
By about 1230 we made it to Whittlesea where we had a lunch table booked for us at Cafe 59. All day breakfast was an instant hit. So, of course, Jonathan ordered lasagne. However, it seems the lasagne was so popular that day that they had sold out and thus Jonathan swapped it for some scrambled eggs and bacon. After waiting some time, he was very much looking forward to his eggs as he was quite hungry. After waiting and waiting, all that came out for him was eggs benedict. It seems that Harold, in his starvation, had forgotten what he had ordered, and took Jonathan’s plate and had mostly finished it when he realised “Oh! Oh That was yours, I ate yours! Sorry brother! You can have mine.” and proceeded to keep eating Jonathan’s lunch. Jonathan shrugged and ate Harold’s lunch instead.
During lunch, we explained that this was the third or fourth attempt at Mas’z trip, and not once had he made it to Flowerdale. We, as a group, were DETERMINED to do it. It became our mantra for the trip. One of the main reasons we were going to do it, was because this was the first run without Mas on it. Chris had to leave at lunch time to get home, which was perfect for the trip and exactly what we were expecting.
The rest of us decided that we could have another crack at getting to Flowerdale, and continued on.
Flowerdale wins again
It was a beautiful easy ride all the way out along Humevale road, Yea road and right to the end of Mt Robertson Rd until Long Gully Rd, that was theoretically about 10 min away from Flowerdale. We almost made it, we thought. Long Gully Rd: that was goat track territory in comparison to the rest of the trip.
We were all unaware of the downhill coming up (or down really) which was the entirety of the hill, and we were doing some turn practice and how to lift your bike practice courtesy of Derek stopping only to find out that his bike needed a rest more than he did.
This is when Harold received a phone call from work that required his presence. He said his farewells and let Google Maps take him home along Long Gully Rd (before the rest of the group went there).
Somehow, he managed to pass the 2km long downhill littered with roots, sharp rocks, massive baby heads, even sharper rocks, holes and tracks left by 4×4, and mud holes that, as per Harold’s description, covered him in mud up to his knees.
Bear in mind, this was on a perfect weather day and lead up week as well.
After this out of breath, exhausted report was relayed back to the ride leader, a small committee formed and went to the hill to check out how badly Harold was exaggerating. They walked about 50m down, only to see another 100m down and yes, it was narrow, technical and with no space to stop and a small margin of error. Once you commit, it’s down and down you go. The small committee was asked what the course of action would be . The answer was a resourcing NOPE, and we all made very professional U-turns and went looking for alternatives.
We thumbed “Flowerdale” into google to see if it could come up with any alternative routes to the infamous town, and lo, one appeared. So, off we headed, taking a right turn not far back down the road.
This track (Gail: I call it a track, for a track it was) had a distinct 4×4 vibe to is, unlike the other roads we had taken thus far. There was debris on the ground, it was not as well maintained, there were tree roots and uppy bits and downy bits. Overall a 2+, but not too bad. Even the less experienced were getting along well enough, albeit much slower than they had in other parts of the ride.
Then we came across The Puddle. We put a stick into The Puddle, and it probably came up to under our knees at the deepest. The main issue with The Puddle, was that the water was muddy so we had no idea what was in it. And given the track was clay, not gravel, it was likely slippery as heck. Our intrepid leader found a safe way around, and everyone except Gail (who by this stage was too tired for fine motion control required in the hands to clutch through) made it through with some helping hands from the more experienced riders in the team. And we continued on.
Just around a corner the group came to an abrupt halt when we found 2 4wds in the middle of what was left of the track. Looking around them, it became single track at that point, and this was deemed “NOOOOPE” by the small committee again. We made more very professional u-turns and made our way back, this time much more confidently through The Puddle.
*shakes fist in the cloud grandpa simpson style* DAMN YOU FLOWERDALE!!!
In the end, we turned back along Mr Robertson road, and had a lovely ride back to the tar. We had all agreed that at that point we would get out the Google Maps and ask “Hey Google, Take me home” and it did. We all returned home happy and satisfied that the trip was a success.
But Flowerdale, we are coming for you. Next time Flowerdale, Next Time.
Words: Gail Miller, Jonathan Alvarez
Photos: Jonathan A, Craig S, Gail M, Derek H