Written by Jon
Firstly readers, I feel a feel an apology is due for the lengthy delay in posting this blog. Hopefully the “better late than never” adage will apply.
Way back in January, when most Adventure Gangers were plying their trade in far flung corners of the globe, the relatively small but perfectly formed ‘losers’ group with nothing much to do over Australia Day long weekend agreed that the 2015 challenge should be commenced. “Why not kick it off with a leisurely trail close to Melbourne?” we said, and so the plans were hatched for a Sunday ride along the Bellarine Peninsular. Unfortunately on Saturday night the numbers dropped like flies leaving only myself and Juilia to deliver. Of course we could not let the team down at this early stage and decided to push ahead.
The Bellarine Rail Trail is a 32.5km ride from South Geelong to Queenscliff (home of the legendary music festival), via Drysdale along the Bellarine Peninsula. The route is mostly fine gravel but now includes some ultra smooth sealed parts. The majority of the route is through open countryside with the occasional road or track crossing and picturesque views of Hobsons bay and wetlands to the North.
A relatively short train ride from the big smoke on Sunday morning saw us arrive in South Geelong at a little after 10am. After a quick pedal through the streets of Geelong we arrived at the official start of the Rail Trail. We managed to persuade a passing pedestrian to take a photo of the two of us in front of the sign detailing the route. When he asked what we were up to, we started to explain our quest to conquer all the rail trails (worth doing) in Victoria during the year. As we did so, I felt the 2015 challenge begin to truly take shape.
We set off…time passed, we picked up momentum, trees and fields whizzed by, we felt the wind rush through our helmeted hair, we sat up-right, free-wheeled and did the ‘Look no hands!’ thing. The fine gravel turned to sealed bike path (a recent ‘improvement’? to the trail). Before we knew it we were at Drysdale with time to stop for a snack at the opportune picnic tables/benches next to Drysdale station.
FACTOID: Unlike most stations and lines on our Rail Trail challenge which are now redundant, this one is still used on Sundays and for events such as the Queenscliff Music Festival and the Bellarine half-marathon when you can take a steam train between Drysdale and Queenscliff.
Sitting there snacking we commented on how easy the ride had been and couldn’t help but notice how the flags at the station were blowing very strongly in the direction we were heading. We suspected it would not be a ‘breeze’ heading back home. We jumped back on the trusty steeds and free-wheeled off towards Queenscliff again. If anything the 17km from Drysdale to Queenscliff is slightly downhill and with no mechanical issues to trouble us, we were there well before 1pm. This turned out to be good timing as there was a really cool open air market selling all kinds of stuff so we pottered around and sampled whatever was available. Even better was the excellent (if a little breezy) warm weather which gave Julia and I an excuse to try the tea garden out in one of the local cafes and some pretty tasty food, although its far too long ago for me to try to remember and is not really the point of this blog anyway but if I could remember what it was we had I would probably mention it now.
Strange though it may seem, after an hour or two sampling the delights that Queenscliff had to offer, your Adventurers felt more like snoozing than getting back on the bikes for the ride back to Geelong but, martyrs to the cause, we hit the trail once more. The ride back was a different story with the head-wind. I’m not going to exaggerate, as it isn’t anywhere near as tough as other trails on this year’s challenge trails and its a very pleasant ride even in more testing weather but there was definitely no free wheeling nor ‘Look no hands!’ on the way back. Occasional Tour de France-eque drafting took place (I was only doing that for a laugh though…really!).
Despite the head-wind all went excellently, save for the one mechanical moment of the trip about 5km before we reached South Geelong, when yours truly’s bike rack decided to part company with the bike. We momentarily ground to a halt to discover the mystery of the missing screw, but fortunately a spare bungee cord (ocky strap for our Australian readers) held things together sufficiently for us to continue.
We pulled in to South Geelong station late in the afternoon and settled down for our train ride home, happy with our not-too-exhilarating start to the 2015 challenge and looking forward to more of the same.
Bellarine Rail Trail
Total Ascending: 95m
Total Descending: 112m
Total Distance: 35km