This weekend is windy. Strong easterlies may deter fishermen, but not the fourteen intrepid cyclists who pedalled this morning’s easy ride. David J, Kelly, Ric, Allan, Sandra, Colleen, Roger, Rosemary, Wendy, Laura and Neil, John M and Richard were led around the circuit by Helen.
Allan Marshall instigated this popular ride in the early years of the club, and it’s still a great circuit. (Allan tells me that the original circuit takes in Boundary Road and Eastern Park.) Today the route was slightly shorter. From the Breakwater the route passes the Race Club and Show Grounds, before joining the waterfront at Garden Street.
As it was too early for The Boathouse to be open, the riders had coffee overlooking the bay at The Wharfshed Cafe. (Coffee is some of the most expensive on offer in Geelong – $4 for small and $5.50 for a large cup.)
The return route was along the waterfront to Rippleside, across the Margaret Street overpass to the start of the Cement Works Rail Trail in Douro Street. This path is one of the oldest rail trails around, and is alongside the railway that was used from 1926 until the at least the 1970s. The extensive lines within the old cement works included a 1.3km tunnel, used to transport limestone from the Fyansford quarry to the cement works. (Photos below.) Originally the trains were powered by steam, but by the 1970s cement was transported down the line to join the tracks at North Geelong by diesel locomotive. The path is mainly now used for recreation but was once a useful commuting trail for workers and school children. At least one family of Fyansford children rode single speed bikes up Hyland Street (12% gradient) then along the Cement Works Railway path to school at Bell Park High School. (There were no family taxis in those days!)
Today’s riders rode down Hyland Street, which has recently been upgraded (though the gradient stayed the same). Allan showed his former racing skills passing all at high speed on the smooth downhill. Roger left the ride at the bottom of this ascent, determined to ride back up. “I came down at 56kph. I’ll go back up at 6,” he quipped. With the upgrade a bike lane has been added to the ascent, making this much safer than in the past.
A leisurely ride along the river soon brought the riders back to the start. It was good to see so many regular Saturday riders enjoying a slightly longer Sunday ride. Keep your eyes open for more easy-medium Sunday rides.
Thanks to all riders for braving the elements, and to Rosemary and John for being our tail end Charlies.
Back at Balyang… The riders go their separate ways.
Neil and Richard (with Allan’s ATB jersey featuring)
Laura & Sandra (John in background)
Ric and Allan
Two photos showing the Fyansford Railway Tunnel.
Rail tunnel portal still visible in 2011. Photo: Rail Tourist Association
The rail tunnel still in use, just before line closure in 1966. Photo: Richard Warren