First short ride on the Murray to Mountains Rail Trail

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.

Ovens River 1

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.

Ovens River 7 small

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.

Ovens River 3

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.

Author: antc1946

Born in 1946 I learnt to cycle about 10 years later. On a bike with rods connecting brake levers to the brakes - anyone remember those? I emigrated to Australia (from the UK) in 1974 and moved to Tasmania in 1984. Bicycles were in my life for most of that time although sometimes they were replaced by motorised two wheels for a bit more excitement. On reaching 70 I decided to stick to pedal power but in 2019 an electric recumbent made an appearance. it's now 2023 and I have 3 bikes. 2 e-recumbents and the Brompton.

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