Dirt Road Tour: November 2014

Monday 10 November – Saturday 15 November
(Total of roughly 300kms.)
Leader – Alan Capell
Other riders – Sue, Murray, Grace, Paul (1), Clive, Paul (2), Robyn, and Ann

Report:  Ann Ireland
Photos: Paul Davill    (Click here for more of Paul’s photos)

Day 1
On a pleasant Monday morning we all met at Alan’s house to meet and greet, before setting off, with full panniers, to start our 6 day tour in the Barossa Valley area. There were 3 newcomers to Alan’s famous tours, namely Robyn, Paul and Ann. However they were not new to pannier touring, so it looked like it would be an experienced and congenial group.

It didn’t take long for us to be slogging up our first hill of the trip, but at least it was easier going on the bitumen surface. From then on we were on dirt roads and quite challenging at that! By the time morning tea break came, we were all happy to stop for delicious muffins and coffee.

PB110521aAll of us riding through The Gap

More hill and dirt work was ahead before we later stopped for lunch along the way. A note from the newcomers to remember to bring a small stool to sit on, as there is not often a comfortable place to rest ones’ weary posterior!
We made good time after lunch and reached Mt pleasant at about 3.00pm. This gave us plenty time for a shower etc. before going out to dinner at one of the local pubs.

Day 2
We were all up early and ready to go, even if Alan had stated we did not have to leave until 9.30am. However after a stop for coffee before leaving Mt. Pleasant, we were pretty much on target time wise.

PB110533
The one and only puncture

It was not long before we started to feel the heat, which in fact, lasted until Thursday. Not only did we have to contend with the heat, but the flies and even more unpleasant, the March flies were out in force. We had to move our lunch spot to get away from those biting insects! However we were rewarded at the end of the day with an almost perfect camp site at Purnong. Some riders quickly stripped off and went straight into the cool water. Very refreshing. There was green, tempting grass to pitch our tents on and later, a slightly cool breeze to let us relax in peace. We all cooked our own meals and sat around discussing whose meal smelt the best!

PB110540
A peloton of pelicans viewed from campsite at Purnong

Day 3
Up early again to be ‘rewarded’ with a steep, but luckily short hill, to start the day!! Already it was very hot as we slowly made our way, on dirt roads, to Shell Hill for a morning tea stop. All a bit tempting to stay there in the shade, but there was a long way to go before we could stop peddling that day.

We had hoped to reach Cambrai for lunch but a small group decided to rest in the shade about 6kms away. The others were more than happy to make a beeline to the small shop at Cambrai and rehydrate in cool surroundings. No-one was looking forward to the last 10kms to Sedan, but in fact, it was an easy ride along the bitumen, with the wind behind us at last.

We camped in the hotel grounds. Most decided not to pitch their tents, but they were sorry later than night, as hosts of mossies almost ate them alive! We had a really good meal at the hotel and everyone made us most welcome.

Day 4
As the weather forecast was for a VERY hot day, it was decided to start our ride at 6.30am. That was such a good idea as we managed to finish by lunch time before the real heat set in. The challenge for the day was Sedan Hill, all 5km of it. Quite a slog, but once up, the rest of the ride was mainly downhill and all on bitumen. We stopped at Angaston for very welcome refreshments.

PB130555a Outside Sedan Hotel at 6:30am, early to beat the heat

The rest of the day was not without incident. We were making our way along a rail trail when the call went up that a snake was on the path. We all stopped quickly but unfortunately Murray bumped into the rider in front and fell. Luckily his pride was hurt more than him!

It was wonderful to reach our camp site at Tanunda early. The rest of the day was spent trying to stay cool. Some swan, while others found a cool spot at the local library. That evening we went out for dinner.

Day 5
There was not the same need to rush today as we did not have so far to go and it was cooler. We had time to enjoy a coffee at an interesting café in Tanunda, before setting off for our last camp site at Mt. Crawford. However we still had a bit of a challenge, which was to ride up Mengler’s Hill! As we were in no hurry, we stopped half way up to look at Sculpture Park and the magnificent view across the valley. That was well worth the break.

PB120545

From there we were soon onto dirt roads once more. Not super hilly, but enough to make us puff and pant a bit on some of the inclines. Morning tea and lunch were both beside the road, before arriving at the Mt. Crawford Forest headquarters. From there, we found a pleasant place to pitch our tents, but the ground was extremely hard. A few tent pegs were bent, before all the tents were finally up!

We again cooked our own dinner before another early night.

Day 6
The last day was again an all bitumen ride. We were assured of all downhill, and although not strictly true, it was pretty easy going. An early morning tea was at the Big Rocking Horse, just outside Gumeracha. Not long after, due to lots of downhill, we were at the Cuddly Creek café for more refreshments. From then on the group started to split up, as some found their own way home from there. The rest had only one hill to climb, Mt Torrens, which we all walked up, thankfully!! It was very steep. We arrive back at Alan’s by 12.30pm.

A very big thank you Alan
We were all very lucky to have such a confident and well organized leader. It was a wonderful trip, and am sure we all look forward to many more.

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