Ride leader Allan welcomed 9 riders on this quite challenging circuit. The Riders were Allan, Kelly, Karen, Dirk and Barbara and Helen from the north, Dave from Leopold and Doug and Neville from the south. They dealt with heat, fog, drizzle, hills and traffic, but luckily not often all at the same time.
The group set off from Corio Leisuretime Centre in muggy conditions. The route took us under the ring road and onto Bluestone Bridge Road. It’s all uphill from there! The first (and steepest) of many hills accomplished, the reward was a misty view over Geelong’s northern suburbs, the You Yangs and Corio Bay, before the turn off towards Steiglitz. Conditions closed it until the mist enclosed the group, followed by light drizzle – we were literally in the clouds. However, it was warm(ish) and still, and there was minimal traffic, and the misty conditions lent an eerie beauty to the ride.
After a brief stop at Bunjil’s Lookout – a picnic stop in Maude whose amazing views over the Moorabool Valley were only hinted at due to the mist – the group continued towards Sheoaks. The road climbs a spur into the Brisbane Ranges. Doug called a halt and delighted everyone with his dramatic recitation of Mulga Bill’s Bicycle. (One imagined Bill careening down the steep slope towards the Moorabool River (AKA Dead Man’s Creek).)
The top of the spur attained, a turn and steep decline (not much fun on the wet road) led the group over the Moorabool River at Sharps Crossing and through bushland up the second last climb for the day, with bird calls the only interruption. Dave and Doug just couldn’t contain their enjoyment and surged into the mist – to be rejoined later sheepishly waiting at the Midland Highway.
The quiet was over! Although traffic on the Midland Highway was only moderate, it was fast and noisy. The sealed shoulder is narrow and very rough in places, potholed, broken and sometimes covered in stones. The rail overpass at Gheringhap is particularly dangerous, but the new roundabout at Gheringhap – Fyansford Road intersection improves cyclists’ safety immensely. Care was needed and it was good to regain the quiet on the short ride into Bannockburn Station where refreshments under a massive oak tree were most welcome.
The last hill was the ascent from Batesford. Ride leader Allan led the group up the highway – with its disappearing road shoulder. Several riders took the steeper but much quieter and safer option up the Old Ballarat Road to Pennsylvania Avenue and back onto the Midland Highway. Once again the riders regrouped at the top for the final few kilometres back to the Leisuretime Centre, this time descending Bluestone Bridge Road – a much more enjoyable option.
Thanks Allan for a most enjoyable ride.