Cycling Holiday - Day 4. Beechworth to Albury

Burn out is what I have come to call it.

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I have had mini-episodes of ‘life fatigue’ and had short breaks to rejuvenate, but oh so quickly because there was always the next metaphorical mountain to conquer.

Norm and I achieved so much in the past 15 years. It was culminating in this little reset holiday of ours.  We have strived, been goal orientated, evolved, invested, and believed we could do it.  

Essentially, we took a path less travelled by many and chose insecurity and hard work to propel through these years.
Developing business ideas, growing them, and just working bloody hard day in day out.

All the while saying YES to every opportunity, travelling nationally to make this happen, and expanding our businesses into other states with the support of brands and good people who believed in us and what we were doing.
Now that was just the mountain biking concepts.

Norm also concurrently built websites, hosted them, worked for developers, gained new business and managed this on a 24/7 basis.

Our side gig, which supported all the other businesses through reputation, was for me to race as much as possible on my bike and gave it my best shot to win if there was prize money that was a bonus, as it would cover a small portion of our investment.

Throughout this time, we both suffered and survived multiple bouts of depression, which now I can reflect on and see that eventually, I would pay the price of ‘burnout’. 

Don’t get me wrong; I can also look back and see how amazing we made our lives, the people we met, the places we visited, the experiences we immersed ourselves in, the lessons we learned. 
We refer to it as our MASTERS in Life.

Back in 2015, we started to make significant changes in our lives. 
We moved from Forrest to Geelong, selling or finishing up many of our businesses.
Norm started an actual paid full-time position in a large Geelong company.  I worked solely on my coaching business. 
Early on in the changes, I remember that we both didn’t know what to do with ourselves on weekends, we had too much free time. 

It took me a long time to stop worrying that I had forgotten to do something and checking on my diary to make sure.

Habits die hard, and I ended up filling the void with other things, racing more and more on my road bike, but also dabbling in adventure racing, trail running and even triathlon.  Then we became grandparents, which has been unexpectedly life-changing.

Life was busy, but it was fun and rewarding and seriously comfortable.

Then in 2020, COVID-19 hit the world, and we were in a significant lockdown phase. 
Initially, Norm and I thrived, but then, probably like many others, we had trouble returning to normal afterwards. 
I had fallen out of love with racing, with training to be a better athlete, I discontinued my university studies (again), got 40,000 words into writing my autobiography, and worried that I would become insignificant as a coach and lose all my clients due to the changes in the world.

In December 2020, as we were all dipping our toes back into life, I was still keen to stay huddled under my doona, and I couldn’t work out why.

So I kept doing life, riding my bike for fun, and I didn’t lose any clients. In fact, I got busier. 

Then I experienced the most challenging day of my life to date, which would prove to force me out of this funk.

I had agreed to organise a training ride on a route that I had done before for the upcoming Peaks Challenge in Falls Creek.  I was a volunteer lead rider for the event, which was just one of the things that volunteers did.  

It was essential to have a clear outline of expectations for the group to understand the day and have confidence in me, leading them.

The group was well behaved, and I had many of my clients riding who were doing Peaks.  

Happy to be out there today, leading a very social and supportive group.

Then the thing happened that any cyclist fears.
A rider in the group veered onto the other side of the road and into the path of an oncoming car. 
They died. 

The noise was horrific. The aftermath was traumatic.  The experience was life-changing.

I wanted to pretend I didn’t know what happened and keep riding to Lorne and relinquish all responsibility.  But instead, I faced up to it, and as a group, we all got to work and did our bit.

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I am now blessed and cursed with first-hand knowledge of what happens when a car and a cyclist altercate.  It changed my view on everything.

The healing is happening, but for the first time in my life, I am taking a PAUSE on responsibility as I have known it and having a bit of extended service leave, let’s call it.

I can’t help but feel the weight of this incident in my heart. Through adversity comes growth.

I turned 48 this year, and it is exciting to think I have started a new chapter in my life and a whole new book.


Here is our YouTube video of the day: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=uAiYcusqZf0

Day 4 - Beechworth to Albury

107 km

Temp: 16 degrees. Partly cloudy.

25% gravel/dirt roads, 15% bitumen/sealed roads, 60% mixed-surface bike path/rail trail

911 VM gain.

Moving time & Speed: 5 hrs and 19 mins / 20 kmph

Total Time: 7 hrs 5 mins.

Best Part: Climbing out of Beechworth and watching the views unfold, then into the back of the logging areas, dropping down to the back of Yackandandah on gravel roads with more majestic views.  A soul-enriching way to start the day.

Worst Part: Being a little too vocal on the way down to Yack, saying hello to some chickens and have a couple of Mareema’s guarding the flock chase me down the road.

Most Memorable part: Leaving Yackandandah, we loved the 7km Beechworth to Yackandandah rail trail that winded along the Yackandandah Creek.  

 

My STRAVA record of ride: https://www.strava.com/activities/5282321980/overview

Norm’s Ride With GPS link to the ride: https://ridewithgps.com/trips/67076669

 

Coffee in Beechworth $10

Breakfast pies in Yackandandah $30

Lunch at Tallangatta $40

Accommodation in Albury $120

Snacks bought at Supermarket $20

Dinner at Hapi (YUM!!) $70

_____________________________________________

Total for Day 4  $290


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I was looking forward to this day.

Long enough, but not too long.  New trails, roads that I was excited to ride and the promise of zero rain.  Plus, the elevation loss would be greater than our gain, as we were coming down from Beechworth, losing around 500mts.

We were keen for a morning coffee and found TINY, a very hipster cool cafe.  The coffee was smooth and great chats with the owner.  
We left our stomachs empty, choosing to get started and have some food in Yackandandah instead, only 19 km away.

Our senses were greeted with a tunnel of morning light flashing through trees laden with big red Autumn leaves at the beginning of this leg.  Simply beautiful.

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And then we went up. Instantly my mind started wondering which property I would like to live in with views over and beyond the range. Before long, we had reached Twist Creek Road and into the pine plantation.  The road was made of large aggregate rock with gravel and dirt to sustain the logging trucks, made for a bit slower progress to look after our tyres and choose the smoothest lines.  It took us up and over the contours before finally heading down to meander along Twist Creek, filled with countryside vistas, dropping us right into Yackandandah.

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Ready for breakfast, we opted for the Penang Pumpkin Curry pies at Gum Tree Pies. Yummo.

The next leg was unexpected, the extension of what will eventually be the rest of the Beechworth to Yackandandah Rail Trail. More winding up and down and around the Yack Creek for around 7km, dropping us out at Osbornes Flat.

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We enjoyed this little stint of the trail, it felt like we were exploring, and each corner brought another gorgeous view of nature for not too much effort.

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Norm had routed us onto some mixed terrain undulating country roads to reach Tangambalanga and then up to our final climb of the day, on the Huon Kiewa Road, before dropping down to where the Mitta Mitta and the Murray River to form the Hume Dam.  We turned left towards Tallangatta, away from our destination of Albury.  I wanted to add on the extra km to visit and ride an area that we may likely not return to for some time.

https://www.ridehighcountry.com.au/rail-trails/high-country-rail-trail/

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There is a massive pedestrian bridge that crosses the Sandy Creek inlet. It’s a blessing to have this infrastructure in place by people who made it happen. Thank you.

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When we turned around to head to Albury, we found ourselves with a bit of a tailwind for the next 40 km.  I enjoyed the views and the undulating nature of the rail trail. It was equally as enjoyable following the bike path through Wodonga and across the Murray to Albury.  The joy of using cycling infrastructure and doing it well is rewarding.

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We arrived in Albury around 3:00 pm, heaps of time to shower, rest for a bit and then head out for an early dinner.  We decided on a place called Hapi. OMG, the best Asian fusion style share plate concept with heaps of vegan options.

An early night as we had a 6:35 am train to catch to Melbourne the next day.


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We wouldn’t change anything about today. It was fun to experience new and varied bike paths and mix them in with country roads.  I have always wanted to explore more up this end of the Victoria/NSW border and hope to come back to do so.

Again, Autumn has been a magical time of year to ride this region, and apart from the rain into Bright, perfect riding temperature.

Tomorrow will be tough, 4 hours sitting on a train before we start riding.

I would rather be riding, but I will get to that part shortly.





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