Cycling Holiday - Day 1. Tallarook to Mansfield

Day 1.7 

It is not just about the bike, but riding bikes has always been my first true love.

The feeling I remember when I learnt how to ride a bike was one of adventure and discovery.
Even as I grew older, every bike ride, even if it was to the shops or to school, always had an element of,” I wonder where that lane or path or trail goes?” 
This story has most likely been told, but let me indulge again. 

When I was 14, back in 1987, I was diagnosed with Hodgkin’s Lymphoma. 
As a result of this, the chance opportunity to attend Camp Quality on numerous occasions ensued. 
At the Hume Weir Resort, near Albury, Victorian campers met with all the crew from NSW over the school holidays on one such camp.  

I connected with some like-minded teenagers from Sydney, and I was eager to become penpals and work out a way to meet back up with them at a future date.
After the camp, I worked out ways to do this, do I catch a train, a bus, or do I ride my bike? 
I did all the research with maps, train timetables, costs and distances, etc. I figured that the most fun way would be riding to Sydney and catching a train home.  I had a casual job, a bike, panniers and sleeping gear and a tent.  I certainly had a tonne of naivety, for I didn’t know what I did not know!

I still wonder to this day, if I had permission to go, would it have been a success?

What ended up happening was this.

My mum said no; she was more worried about me riding with cars on the Hume and the dangers of this and camping out alone, but she directed my eagerness in a direction that I had never imagined.

She told me about a family friend, George, and how he had done the Great Victorian Bike Ride the year before and was going back this year and that I needed to talk to him.

George was unwilling to be my guardian but suggested that I talk to a teacher at the school and get a group going, and that’s what I did.
Thanks to you, Mr Grant, we got a handful of girls and a couple of teachers and did the Great Victorian Bike Ride.

From that moment forward, the joy of cycling became even more possible.

I could ride my bike across the countryside and find new places, this was the most enjoyable thing I had ever done.
It became a dream of mine to travel to Europe and cycle tour for three months with no plan, by the time I was 40. 
I was 15 when I made this promise to myself. 
There was a secret caveat in all of this as well, that the person I would have alongside me as my life partner had to be interested in this goal as well, for I wanted to share that journey with them. 

day 1.1

Since this magical time of my life, I have conquered cancer, married, had a child, become a world champion, become a grandparent and whilst I have been overseas and been on cycle tours, my 40th birthday came and went.

It also seemed that my life partner had fallen out of love with the bike, but I never gave up.

And this is where my past meets the present.  

I feel super happy with our little 6-day cycling holiday and so thrilled that Norm has found his sweet spot on the bike.  It is a lifelong dream.

Our holiday was born out of our love for the high country.  An opportunity to link some of the longest rail trails on our bikes. Long days of riding to enjoy Autumn. Being tourists for breakfast or dinner and support if we needed a bike shop for mechanicals we couldn’t manage.

Day 1.9

The plan was to carry the bare minimum to get us out of trouble, only doubling up on chain links and tubes.
Our strategy was to ride at a social pace and to not take risks with body or bike, slow down or get off and walk if things got hectic (which they did!).
Enjoy the scenery, take photos, talk or be quiet, ride at an average pace of 20kmph for the whole time and do our best not to be held to a time-bound schedule.

Day 1 - Tallarook To Mansfield

  • 125.2km
  • Temp: 15 degrees Celsius, cloudy.
  • 100% Rail Trail.
  • Hard packed gravel surface
  • 647 mt of VM gain
  • Moving Time & Speed: 5hr 35min / 22kmph 
  • Total Time: 6:39
  • Best Part: 20km climb from Alexandra turn off to the top of the highest point. 1.1% ave gradient

My STRAVA record of ride:

Norm’s Ride With GPS link to ride:

Daily Costs

  • Train to Southern Cross x 2 $20 approx
  • Train to Tallarook x 2 $40 approx
  • Coffee in Melbs x 2 $10 approx
  • Lunch in Yea $30 approx
  • Snacks at Merton $13 approx
  • Accommodation Mansfield $130 approx
  • Dinner $60 approx
  • Snacks bought at supermarket $30 approx


Total for day 1 $333.00 

Since finishing our trip, we have both said that if we could do anything differently, it would be to reconsider the worth of the train commutes. They are a bit boring and make for an early start and lazy brains and legs for the first hour of riding.  We would train it to Southern Cross and ride to Tallarook next time and maybe not go all the way to Mansfield.

Booking the train to Tallarook is a silly task.
From Southern Cross to Seymour, the trip is within the Myki useability limits, so the info is contradictory on the PT plan my trip &/or Vline bookings. 
The service we used was ongoing to Shepparton and had all the codes that suggested you must Reserve/book your seat, so when you go to do this, choose Tallarook, and it won’t allow you to because it’s in the Myki zone. So we chose Nagambie, which is two stops onwards (Seymour is also Myki zone), knowing we just wanted to book the freaking tickets and get a seat, even though we would get off at Tallarook. 
But wait, you then need to go and pick the silly paper tickets up at the station, which I guess you could do on the morning of your trip, but we didn’t want to leave this to chance. Thankfully we got a helpful person at the Waurn Ponds station who realised the stupidity of it all, booked us to Tallarook, and we got some money back and our treasured paper tickets. 
We chose First Class, why not?

Day 1.5

Sunday morning, we were up early, already fully loaded and packed, all we needed to do was have our coffees, eat breakfast, feed the pets (we had a housesitter coming later in the day for the whole week) and gave ourselves 30 mins to ride 5 km to Marshall train station.

This felt so good, 5km, loaded bikes, nothing more to do, just get to the start and then ride.

Weekend Geelong to Melbourne trains stop at all stations, a long drawn out train ride into the big smoke. 

We got to Southern Cross and checked out where our train would be leaving from as we had 30 mins to kill.  Off to Starbucks for another soy latte and then our 1.5hr train ride to Tallarook.


Norm was so excited when we arrived as he had street viewed precisely how he would start the journey and was living out the hours of mapping the routes in real-time.  I was just stoked to start riding my bike.  Any travel is my nemesis. I have zero energy for the first hour always, so let Norm ramp it up as we left.  

Our official start time from Tallarook was 10:50 am.

The terrain is up and down and crosses the road quite a few times early on, but the Goulburn River’s views and surrounding farmland are stunning, especially in Autumn.

In no rush, just riding along, we approached riding groups with horses, other cyclists coming back the other way and photo opportunities to enjoy for the future.
Arriving in Yea, we ate lunch, grabbing salad sandwiches and a veggie pastie to share, topping up water and a toilet stop.  
The next bit was what we were both looking forward to, the Cheviot Railway tunnel.  The tunnel was pitch black in the middle and a stunning piece of history to admire.

Norm and I loved the simple task of riding to move forward. To get to Mansfield and finish day one. 

On this day, I loved the fact that we were riding bikes on a rail trail. No cars to worry about; we could just ride.
I made a note to eat, drink, listen to music, go to the toilet, get off the bike, take photos and savour every kilometre.  

My favourite part was the 20km climb, gaining around 220 mts of elevation its a very enjoyable gradual ascent, and the views get better as you climb. I made sure I stopped a few times to look back behind me to enjoy this.  

Day 1.3

We arrived in Mansfield at sunset and had our lights on in the final stretch to our motel. 
We did not use our lights on the rail trail.

Checking into our accommodation at Mansfield Motel, we had a spot for our bikes that would be locked overnight, so we offloaded all our gear and put this in our room first.

The process started to look a little like this:

  1. Put the gear in the room, take rear bag, bottles, lights etc. off bike.
  2. Empty bag, get charging gear, charge all devices.
  3. Prepare toiletries for shower, brush teeth.
  4. Strip off, wash clothes that needed it under shower and then squeeze dry with towel after shower, hang somewhere to dry, turn heater up full bore.
  5. Go out to dinner.
  6. Prepare some of what is needed tomorrow, drink bottles, snacks etc.
  7. Chill out watching TV in bed.
  8. Sleep. 


I rode in my Velocio FLYfree women's luxe bib shorts (

With my Rapha Randonee shorts over the top

I started our with layers, mostly a Helly Hanson day breaker fleece jacket

And underneath this was a long sleeve top which became the Go-To single layer most rides.

On my feet, I wore Shimano XC501 Women's SPD Gravel/MTB Shoes Navy

I mostly went gloveless, but I always wore my “The North Face” ETip Gloves in the mornings for the first hour. Super warm and comfy without making hands sweaty.

Day 1.4

We ate out at the Indian restaurant about 50 meters away from our accommodation. 

The next day we had our longest day to prepare for, 140km and around 1500 meters of climbing. 
Starting with breakfast with a good friend Wally in Mansfield, then a bloody long climb up Old Tolmie Rd.

Little did I know that was going to be the easy bit!

Day 1 - YouTube clip

day 1.2 

The Gear List

  • Tubes x 2
  • Lube 30ml
  • Puncture repair kit (glue and self ad.)
  • Dart tyre repair things
  • Multi-tool with chain breaker
  • Chain links x 2 for 11 spd
  • Cable ties
  • Electrical tape
  • Tyre levers & Pump & Co2s & Blaster
  • Leatherman style tool
  • First aid kit
  • Sealant in small bottles x 2
  • Socks x2
  • Gloves x2
  • Chamois cream & Sunscreen
  • Toothbrush and toothpaste / Deodorant
  • Brush
  • Lip balm/earplugs for sleeping
  • Arm warmers
  • RainJacket
  • Underwear & Bra
  • Shoes for after riding
  • Rapha shorts x 2 (1 riding, 1 spare for after riding wear)
  • Polar fleece jumper
  • Undergarment
  • Leg warmers & shoe covers
  • Buff x 2
  • Sunglasses
  • Sis electrolytes tablets in tube 
  • Panadol 
  • Neurofen 
  • Water bottles x 2
  • 9lt Saddlebag
  • Feedbag x 1 
  • Front handlebar bag
  • 2 x sea to summit drybags for outside use on saddlebag(shoes) and front bag (easy access jacket)
  • Powerboard with USB ports
  • USB chargers
  • Wahoo bolt
  • Front lights x 2
  • Rear lights x 2
  • Phone and charger
  • Power bank
  • Money cash
  • Cards
  • Myki 
  • Licence 

Day 1.13Day 1.13Day 1.13