It just had to be done. I have been wondering if I am fit enough to ride to Ross for a while now – sod it, let’s find out.
The plan. To use the Macquarie Road backroad and then a gravel shortcut through to the Midland Highway coming out close to the Ross turnoff. This will be the longest fully equiped ride I have done – if I get there! Around the 70k mark.
Starting at a reasonable time of 9am, Cressy Road was in full swing with a number of log trucks, flat trucks/trailers laden sky high with huge bales of hay, white tradie Utes, other Utes with yellow flashing lights and steel boxes, milk trucks etc. The traffic was well spaced so each vehicle could crack along at the 100kph speed limit. With no hard shoulder to speak of it was pleasing that, most times when one came up behind, nobody was hurtling towards us. This allowed the driver behind to pull out and give me my 1.5 metres. The blast of air coming off some of the trucks made things even more interesting.
The entrance to Cressy – it’s a new sign!
Once through Cressy the traffic eased a bit and I coasted down the hill out of the town heading out into the Norfolk Plains proper. Cycling was easy. Didn’t think there was any wind in Longford but here there was definitely a breeze blowing us along. Helpful!
Poatina Road turn off. Lots of State election boards on display along the route. They were all Blue around here advertising the Liberal Party. There will be lots of politics on TV/Radio until election day – 3rd March.
The traffic eased even more once past Poatina Road. It is the road to the highlands and the trout fishing lakes. The Utes towing boats now disappear from “my” road.
A shed full of the gigantic hay bales. They must be about 10 times the size of a small bale. Trucks and their trailers are loaded with them to a considerable height and the wind coming off the front is like an invisible huge bull bar to a cyclist.
A bit further along this pivot was irrigating a “crop circle”. (Thinks to self – I will have to find out how they work)
With the helpful wind I soon reached the small settlement of Lake River. The new bridge over Lake River was much easier to cross than the old wooden plank affair – no risk of dropping a wheel in the gaps.
By now though one item had me concerned. A gravel truck plus trailer had overtaken me at what could be termed a “silly spot”. It didn’t slow down when passing and had to cut in shortly after because oncoming traffic forced the issue. I suspect the truck didn’t get as close as it felt but the noise, wind, dust and gravel coming off it added to the unpleasant experience.
One of the rather exciting Gravel Trucks along the route.
I decided to keep a look out for more as it would be safer to pull over as they passed – in either direction. Sure enough, a few minutes later a second truck appeared in the mirror and I found pulling over was by far the best option. I worked out later that the two trucks were visiting a quarry almost at the Ross turnoff and carting material towards Cressy. This meant they were a “feature” of the ride, passing me several times and always being driven fast – the drivers must be on piece-work.
Crossing the Isis River – luckily not a terrorist to be seen.
The next settlement on the road is named Isis. Why I don’t know. Once it had a police station, the Barton Community Hall, a blacksmiths and a church. Today it has a Country Fire Brigade shed and a number of tombstones that seem to have been rounded up for storage behind a fence.
The Isis graveyard
That’s Isis – not much here so pedalling on we travel with a bit more than a breeze assisting. The kilometers are passing quickly as the terrain is a bit undulating but not too much and (did I mention it?) the breeze. Soon I arrived at the turn to Ross. Here a gravel road would take us down to the Midland Highway. I recalled the road was not gravel all the way but don’t know exactly how far it is until chip seal is reached.
The turn off (on the right). 17 kilometers to go.
The gravel road was OK in places and speed would build up to 20kph plus. Then a series of corrugations would happen and the front wheel made some interesting spoke stress noises while the panniers sounded like they were abandoning ship. The panniers on the front gave the impression they were intent on smashing up everything inside and I did check that they were not leaving a trail of crumbs, bits of metal and other debris behind. I had confidence all was well but sometimes that confidence was given a shake.
All OK – let’s continue with this interesting leg of the journey.
After stuffing about checking all was OK and trying to get a selfie using time-delay, the bike and I continued to bounce along. Until, what’s that? Tarmac. You Beauty!!
Back on the black – time for a sip of tepid water smelling of plastic. Yum!
The next several kilometers were a delight. By now a strong wind was pushing in my back and the road really flattened out. Cruising in the high 20s and every now and again hitting the 30s the road flew by and soon we popped out on the Midlands Highway.
Now to beware. Lots of traffic and a kilometre or so to travel along it before finding the Ross turnoff. The hard shoulder gets a bit narrow too. Speed limit 110kph and normally most are exceeding it slightly. Except me.
A Dork pointing at a sign! We are just outside Ross and the Bakery is just down the road. Happy Dork.
Who could ask for more? A good ride, pepper steak pie, latte and the caravan park just across the road. Luckily the Asian holidaymakers in the bakery understood taking selfie including food.
After filling up on pie, I cycled across the road, booked a tent site, pinched the only table, erected tent and settled in with a cup of tea all by 3pm. The only fly in the ointment – tomorrow that tailing wind will become a headwind. Bugger. BUT perhaps the wind direction will change ??