Colin and I decided to ride to Deloraine. His grandkids were to have a go at Dragon boating on the Meander River on the Sunday. I decided to ride there on Saturday and ride back on Sunday leaving Colin there for second night after boating with the littlies. Here’s how it went.
As I began to ride Wilmore’s Road the air was full of rain spits. It was also windy but a tailwind.
I was using the Arkel recumbent-specific panniers for the first time on a tour. As you can see, they have rain covers. The panniers each have a tube bag which velcros to the back – one small and one large. The large tube was able to hold my 1 person tent so, yes, it’s a good size. I mounted the rain covers and soon found they are sized to suit the tubes – this was a surprise as just looking at them I thought they were going to be hard to fit. No, they weren’t once I understood what went where. The panniers hold a lot of stuff and I only used the rack bag because I was taking my larger sleeping bag – which no longer squashes down to a tiny bundle. Well, it was purchased back in 1984!!
I find you have to take a good part of your camping gear just for an overnighter, so there’s only a bit extra to add for a more extended trip. I can see the two Arkels plus rack bag will do the job nicely, replacing the Oertliebs and Vaudes from previous years.
I was expecting some rain on this overnighter so all would be tested. And it was.
As you can see, the bags plus tubes take some of the weight further back compared to the old system. The nett result is an ironing out of road bumps and, surprisingly, better steering! Usually cycling “hands off” induces shaking of the steering. With this load distribution – no shaking. Wow. There was a creak though and I didn’t locate the source.
Colin and I were in touch and I knew the route he was taking. He had set off earlier as he hadn’t done much riding recently and was expecting to take a long time to get to the camp site. As I rode up Wilmore’s I got an SMS with his position – ah, he’s well into the ride.
At the top of the road the rain petered out but there was plenty of cloud around. Wind remaining a tailwind, I had the unusual experience of being helped to Bishopsbourne. The prevailing wind is nearly always doing the opposite. Traffic was light. Rain stayed away. Low levels of power being used. What a great ride so far.
On down to Pitts Lane, turn right onto Oaks Road and then left onto Black Hills Road. Colin had updated his position and was now almost on Cluan Road. I was gaining on him so we should be meeting somewhere around the junction with Osmaston Road near Exton. Maybe.
I am afraid there aren’t many still pictures of this journey as I was using the OSMO while I rode and didn’t want to stop to pull out the still camera from inside the pannier under the rain cover – I hope you understand.
Anyway, here is Part 1 of the video :
Continuing on, the section of Cluan Road we had to ride is a switchback style road. There are 4 main climbs and at the peak of each you cannot see what is coming the other way. Two are labelled “Crest” as a warning. Drivers of vehicles often ignore this and rely on some sort of 6th sense to let them know the road is clear – so they can overtake us and not to waste their valuable time.
Today I had no-one overtaking on the crests so no-one endangered the oncoming traffic, the trike rider or themselves. It was a relief to get over the last hilltop and be heading to the junction with Osmaston Road.
The weather remained dry but the ominous clouds kept forming.
As we cruised down to the junction, wind behind, power off, I spotted flags. Yes, it was Colin roaming about at the junction, taking pictures.
We rode on together for a while, chatting and catching up and trying not to block the road. With the tailwind Colin was barrelling along pretty well even though his legs were, reportedly, tired. The hills along Osmaston Rd did slow us slightly but everything was going rather nicely thank you.
Just past the junction with Bogan Road, the climb up “Heartbreak Hill” begins. A stiff climb and it was obvious we would not be climbing together. Being power-assisted I went ahead to book the camp site. Bluey and I went into “let’s climb this bloody hill” mode and slowly made our way to the top. Climb speed was just about 4kph even with a level 4 power assist. Sometimes I am glad of the motor!!
Once on top it was a quick run down past the golf course (very busy this Saturday), up a few more rises and then the sharp downhill to the Meander River at Deloraine. In need of relief, I took the walkway alongside the river and crossed the suspension bridge to the Amenities block at the Train Park.
Then it was back onto the riverside shared path to the camp grounds and I booked us in. The lady explained where we were to camp and I grabbed a nice, cleared flat spot close to the river. Colin arrived and we began erecting the tents. A phone call – “I can see you. You are on a powered site so in the wrong spot!!”. We de-tented, moved to the less pleasant spot which was allocated to us and re-tented. A chap called Pete was in the van close to where we were advised to go and he came over, venting a bit about the lady in the office. An interesting character, Pete has a handcart on the roof of his van. He told us he has walked many places in Australia with his gear in the handcart. The van he was living in has “had the sword” so he is planning his next round of adventures – and was quite interested in the trikes.
It rained a bit and we found shelter under the large “Christmas Tree” as ‘her in the office’ or HITO called it. Showers continued on and off for the evening and, after a look around, a brew and supper we turned in.
About 10pm I decided to visit the amenities for the last time and then cleared the 1-person space for sleeping. Settled down – what’s this? The inner tent was curving around into my face. A light bulb moment – I had set up the sleeping bag the wrong way round – my face should be up the other end and this end was for feet, that’s why it was lower.
Now, as one moves around on the airbed, they make farting noises. So, if anyone wonders what was going on in the orange tent – I was rearranging the bedding. I did not have a bad attack of internal wind. It took far longer than I thought mainly because it was raining and I didn’t want to be outside. All modifications were made within the narrow confines of the tent inner and it took a while – and made quite a bit of noise. Sorry. Won’t make that mistake again.
Video – Part 2
Next morning I awoke to the sound of two Native Hens reaffirming their bonding by squarking their vows just outside the tent. Loud it was. Opening an eye I located the phone and asked Siri what the weather was. “Cloudy and 1°C” she said. I thought it had been cold overnight. I had ended up over my head inside the mummy shaped sleeping bag to keep warm, sometimes finding it hard to breathe. Unfortunately the confined space provided by the mummy shape is not good for my shoulders so I was a bit achy now. That’s why I prefer sleeping quilts these days.
I rose to face the day to find it had stopped raining for the moment. Colin had been up for an hour or two as he had been cold overnight. The weather report wasn’t the best. Rain, thunderstorms, hail and snow down to 300 metres (up a bit from the 200forecast yesterday). The sky looked ominous.
I gradually packed up while having morning coffee and breakfast (muesli). Colin also started to pack up having decided not to stay the extra day. Eventually I was packed, including the still wet tent and was ready to go. Colin wasn’t good to go at that point and we were planning different routes home – so I left. Everything except the OSMO camera was in (hopefully) watertight panniers under rain covers so there would be no still photos this day.
I left Longford with two batteries and hadn’t yet swapped them over. A good place to do this would be the Bogan Road junction to Exton if battery number 1 lasted for the climb out of Deloraine. It did. Bluey and I climbed up to the Golf Course and then a bit further to the top of Heartbreak Hill. Not touching the brakes on the descent we managed 67kph, according to Ride with GPS. The on-board Bafang display once more reverted to 20something kph after passing 56. A good descent with no traffic. You just have not to think about what could happen if something breaks, a tyre bursts or a wallaby hops out from the side! So I didn’t.
The wind had changed direction overnight and so it was another tailwind today. This blew me along the road between Exton and Cluan Road and I was able to pedal for good distances at 20+ kph with power assist on 0 (zero). It continued to help along Cluan Road and along Glenore Road too.
By the time I reached Pitts Lane it was obvious that there were some large black clouds filling the sky behind and the wind strength was increasing – talk about scudding along ahead of the storm.
Passing Bishopsbourne I thought about waiting out the rain in the sports ground shelter but decided “No. We’re going well Bluey and I – let’s give it a go to get home” and we upped the power some more to keep the speed up in the 20s. I found I could pedal OK up to around then 23kph mark but after that everything is moving at too high a cadence. So I balanced speed with power level and ended up seeing previously unseen levels on the display. I had plenty of battery capacity left thanks to the earlier tailwinds which hadn’t died away yet.
About at Toiberry, some 12-13 kilometers from home the storm caught up with me. I had a decent rain jacket on but had been internally debating about stopping and searching for the waterproof trousers. Now there was no need – with the immediate initial soaking there was no point. High assist levels to the fore (7,8 or 9 (top)) depending on hills, we splashed out way through the lanes swimming with surface water while copping the spray heavily from passing cars. It was great fun!!
All too soon we arrived back in Longford. I pushed the trike into the shed then staggered to the back door to shed all the wet clothes, get dry and find some warmer ones.
Coffee machine on, it was another 40 minutes before we could coffee. Seemed like hours !!
Here’s the last video of the series :
Later in the day I heard from Colin. He had got so soaked so far from home he had stopped and organised a change of clothes. Also, the sun canopy had suffered severe damage from a strong gust of wind snapping aluminium poles. It was quite a storm even though it doesn’t really look it in the above video.
The next day.
I did some basic tidying up work yesterday, pulling out the wet tent, flysheets etc and hanging them in the shed. This morning I carefully checked the panniers and rack bag for leaks and found – none. Result!!
I also checked the batteries and electrics generally and there was no evidence of water getting in anywhere and they had certainly behaved beyond the normal call of duty during the storm. Another Result !!
I’ll rest up for a bit now before examining the left wheel – why is it making noise?
’til next time. ……………….