Wangaratta. The name is derived from the Bpangerang people’s words of “Wanga” meaning long neck and “ratta” the Cormorant. Who put them together, I know not.
Tuesday 10th July dawned frosty but with a clear sky and the sun warming things up. Not for Wangaratta the fogs and frosts of Longford it seems.
I wanted a health check now the cold was going – how are the battered old lungs hanging in there. So a short ride to check Me and B was needed. Once the air warmed up a bit we set off and immediately stopped to don a windproof jacket. The air just went straight through my jumper so it wasn’t really very warm yet. After a bit of stuffing around remembering the way, I set off up the first part of the Wangaratta to Bright rail trail to Bowser. Bowser was the first “stop” on the rail after Wang and today houses a trail users’ shelter plus toilet. Back in the 1930’s there was an airstrip across from today’s shelter which was used as an emergency landing space for aircraft flying Sydney / Melbourne. On June 15 1930 the airstrip became internationally famous when Amy Johnson landed there for her first landing in Victoria. 17,000 people and the Mayor turned out to see her and I understand she was well chuffed.
Today it was a lovely ride with the low winter sun forming shadows with the trees and water provided by a spur from the Ovens River.
The ride was also used to get to know what the mountain drive (MD) has done to the gearing. The MD is a Schlumpf Mountain Drive designed in Switzerland and manufactured in Germany. It replaces the original crank and crank arms to provide 2 gears similar in result to having 2 chain rings on the crank (double-clanger). Operationally though it is quite different with the gearing fitted within the crank and the ratios selected by heel-kicking buttons set on each side of the crank. Why was it fitted 1 – the fold of the B doesn’t allow for multiple chain rings. Why was it fitted 2 – I need a lower gear or two with advancing age and feeblism.
Typical view along this part of the trail
The MD included a chainring that was larger than the original on the bike. I have to become comfortable with the new gearing and how best to use it. There are 12 gears to choose from rather than the original 6 but a couple overlap so there are probably 9 or 10 usably different gears. The main issue is how best to quickly access the gears I want at the point of the overlapping gear ratios – especially when faced with a sudden uphill or a sudden stop. Not quite second nature yet and I usually miss the left hand button when trying to nudge it with my heel. More practice required!
Final thoughts . The MD did not squeak today and nor did I. The ride’s 15k begins the week’s total.
There will be a couple more rides to document this week but then we will be driving some distance over a few days to get ourselves north of Sydney before our next longer stay at Port Stephens.