Cycling Tour of the Victorian Winter - Day 3, Skipton to Daylesford

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Cycling Tour of the Victorian Winter - Day 3, Skipton to Daylesford

We had been riding two days, and already we had made minor changes to the route each day to shave off time or distance to get to our destination before dark.

Being early July, the winter solstice had been and gone, but still, there was only around ten usable hours of daylight, and even though we were up at 6:00 am, we dawdled and took our time in packing up. 

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The mornings were just so cold.

It was now Monday 12th July, an average working week for most, so today felt like we were finally on holiday. 
It gave us hope that the Skipton BP roadhouse would well and truly be open early as we dreamt up what we would order before heading off on the rail trail.

Our favourite brekky to order at these places is an English muffin, toasted, with a hashbrown, lettuce and tomato with a hashbrown on the side for good measure.  And that’s what we got.  

Do vehicle drivers chat about what fuel they digested for breakfast and get excited about the prospect of what they will find for lunch? Eating is the most fun thing to talk and think about whilst you ride along from a to b.

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The Ballarat to Skipton rail trail started slow, with slight headwinds and soggy for the first few kilometres. 
The morning light seeping through the creases of the landscape brought hope for a beautiful day. 
Norm and I started with many layers on, unwilling to take them off until we had warmed up; thankfully, the terrain offered us an early opportunity to take off our jackets and buffs, and we were excited at this prospect even at 2 degrees celsius.

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In the first moments, we realised that we were pushing into a cross headwind, increasing over the day, so grateful for the railway cuttings and tree coverage scattered along the route.

But it’s a rail trail, and I had to remind Norm, chill the pacing, mate, let’s just enjoy.
We will get there when we do.

Rail trails are always a blessing to enjoy riding bikes; the scenery is sometimes beautiful, sometimes not, but there are no cars, and everyone is on it to enjoy the offering. 
Today we found stunning green lumps folding over into an even more lush landscape and then total quiet as we pedalled through the cuttings. 

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Despite only gaining 170 mt of vert over 60km to Ballarat, the climbing felt more, and as we started to track north in the second half, the fierce headwinds slowed us down.

The highlight for me was crossing Nimmins Bridge, a wooden trestle bridge built in the mid-1800s for trains in the Goldrush. 
The bridge is over 100 metres long and around 18 meters high. 
It is beautiful to experience first-hand as it connects the imposing valley seamlessly. 

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We approached it from a long way back, and it was exciting to see the trail unfold, knowing we would ride this magnificent piece of history. 

Ballarat seemed to take forever to arrive, and Norm and I were discussing our refuel options without wasting time going off route. 
The best idea of the century was on our path, Hungry Jacks Wendouree, for Vegan whoppers, chips and coke. 
I am glad we got some good energy in, as the next part of our route was brutal.

Over lunch, I offered to Norm that we needed to reconsider using the Great Divide Trail to get us to Daylesford, or we would need more time and more daylight, which we didn’t have. 

Norm agreed, and yes, we were both disappointed, but this was the third day of shifting our goalposts, and we decided to use bitumen roads and knock off some of our expectations tomorrow as well. 
Winter daylight hours, along with our motivation to enjoy our day, not having to be time-bound so harshly meant our minds were quickly changed, promising to come back in warmer months to ride them.

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Our climbing began again almost immediately after lunch; with only around 13 km to get to Clarkes Hill, we gained 225 mt of elevation straight into the face of a 30 kmph headwind. 

The only mentality we had now was ticking off the distance to get to Daylesford before dark, interspersed with moments of rest to regroup only to go again a few minutes later. 

40 km seemed to take a long time, and with an average of 16kmph. 
I dreamed of all the what-ifs, like ‘what if’ we were riding in the other direction? 
The final climb into Daylesford was the toughest of the day, and finally, the wind was gone.

It was 4:30 pm, perfect timing.  

Tonight was motel time; we chose this one based on the description of “low key accommodation” and a 3-star rating, and it was perfect; our bikes got their own 3-star queen room for the night, free of cost.

The first thing I did was turn on my electric blanket so I could hop in a warm bed, oh the luxury.  We then sorted out our gear, worked out what needed washing, got takeaway, did the grocery shopping, and had showers when we got back.

We finally watched the news and realised that Sydney was in the shit with COVID outbreaks; little did we know what would transpire the next day in Victoria.

Today was a tough day, thank goodness for a bed and a hot shower.



STATS:

  • Skipton to Daylesford 106.8km
  • Moving time: 6:43
  • Elevation: 1027 mt
  • Ave Speed: 15.9kmph
  • Temperature: 7 degrees
  • Wind: NNE 30kmph headwinds
  • Sleep 9/10
  • Food 9/10
  • Song on repeat: I’m on my way. The Proclaimers. My grandsons fave song from Shrek, actually, but a good riding song for today as well. Uplifting lyrics

EXPENSES:

  • Skipton BP Brekky $20
  • Linton Potato cakes $10
  • Hungry Jacks B’rat $20
  • Daylesford Motel $120
  • Laundromat $10
  • Chinese t/way $40
  • Supermarket shop $60
  • TOTAL $280

HIGHLIGHTS: 

  • Hashbrown and potato cakes
  • Hungry Jacks
  • Nimmins Bridge on the rail trail
  • Getting to the top of Clarkes Hill
  • Agreeing on a re-route over lunch - reducing our expectations
  • Washing our clothes
  • Electric Blanket

THINGS WE WOULD CHANGE:

  • The direction of our trip, but then you can’t control the weather. 

 

My Strava link to today’s ride: https://www.strava.com/activities/5614175693/overview

 

Norm’s YouTube video of the day: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=6qZwVhe-QG0&t=35s

 

Jess’s YouTube video diary of the trip: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=pxZLl6MuPoA

 

Ballarat to Skipton Rail Trail:

https://www.railtrails.org.au/trail?view=trail&id=145

 

Great Diving Trail Proposed route that we re-routed to Daylesford & also to Bendigo (we will go back later in the year)
https://www.gdt.org.au/






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