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Wednesday, April 9, 2014

Murray 1200

Start of the Murray 1200

Howard Dove and Bec Morton

Pete Carr, Sarah and Cows on the road near Deliliquin

Near Denniliquin after dinner
Sunrise West of Rochester. Video Link

Near Mitiamo

Sarah and Phillip near Mittiamo Video Link

Warracknabeal Cafe

Civic Sculpture in Birchip

Fires in the Paddock near Hopetoun Video Link

Phillip and Peter in Hopetoun
The Murray 1200 Audax ride was the brainchild of Mr. Simon Watt from Geelong.  He has been a long time organiser of Audax rides around Hopetoun in Western Victoria and wanted to run a 1200k ride in the area. "As flat as you can get".  And so the ride came about.  It seemed like the sort of 1200k Audax I could cope with, I was in friendly hands, nothing to stop me training or at least schlepping around Melbourne a bit more than I needed to on a variety of recumbents. And so go, and I did!

Day 1, Robinvale - Jerilderie, 366k
After the trip up from Melbourne, I met Pete, Simon and Dave at the Caravan Park in Robinvale and set up my tent.  Dinner was at the pub and the fish and chip shop as I was starting the long distance cyclist's eating mantra, certified as correct by Peter Heal: "Eat as much as you can without being sick.  If you can't finish it, take it with you." On this occasion the Pizza Pamigiana went uneaten and was used the next day.

Early Saturday and we are off.  I am well prepared and at the start point well before time.  80k to Balranald is ridden in reasonable size packs and passes quite quickly.  I was thinking about people I knew in the area and some tiny brain cell inside my head remembered that Matt Boddinnar came from Balranald.  When I pulled into the town, I crossed to the right hand side of the road thinking that was where the cafe was.  And I started chatting to a guy opening up the hardware store (Boddinnar's Mitre 10) and I asked him and he happenned to be Matt Bodinnar.  Anyway, we had a chat, he asked me where I was off to (oh, ridiculous bike ride, y'know), I declined a cup of tea, mentioned a few old mates I was still in contact with and then I was off.

Bit of a hard pull into Kyalite.  I was on my own and riding into the wind and not keeping up much speed. Hard work.  On the run into Moulamien (1st checkpoint, 175k) a friendly group including Sarah, Bec, Peter and Howard overtook me.  I tagged along behind them into Moulamine and was able to rest a little bit.  Bec grew up in the area and her Mum and Dad had provided all the checkpoint food in exchange for a donation to the primary school.

On to Deniliquin, tough headwind riding again but at least I was with a few others.  Its all pretty barren land and at one point, cows were crossing the road.  Filled up with food at a Deniliquin cafe / Service station.  The toilet rating was 1/2 flush only (very poor)  The food was ok though but almost too much and too much variety and my stomach wasn't totally broken in for Audax riding. So I felt like throwing up for a minute or 2 but was ok.  On to Jerilderie! A lazy 80k or so accomplished nicely in a fairly big pack.

Jerilderie Motel overnight, a good night's sleep much needed, and I'm in the room with Phillip Jang and Peter Carr, ride companions for the next day.  Everything good!

Day2, Jerilderie - Rochester, 336k
Up early the next day and I'm leaving with Sarah and Bec.  Fairly uneventful up till Urana, which is a very nice town.  Urana starts a hard slog into the wind to Corowa where we refuel with food at a Main St. Cafe.  We have cross winds to Yarrawonga and pass Peter Donnan on the way.  I'm fairly shickered when we reach Yarrawonga, but we have a tailwind for the next pull into Katamatite, we have a large group working well together and can go at 30kph at times.  (This section of the ride is familiar to me having done the 2013 Oppy ride on much the same route, Yarrawaonga to Rochester.) This group continues to Shepparton, we stop for noodles and to gather strength for the last 80k into Rochester.  At Shepparton I manage to contact my brother Richard who is visiting Victoria from the UK.  It had been a bit hard to be in touch and it was good to speak to him on the phone.

Pete Carr has us in good formation riding all the way in the dark through Kyabram, where we stop to (ahem) use the facilities.  Most of us are fairly spent but plod on for the 40 odd k's to Rochester.  Near Rochester town I need to stop for a pee and so fall off the back of the pack and am left chasing a dancing array of flashing taillights about a kilometre ahead for a while.  In Rochester a factory worker gives me directions to the Motel, Simon and a few others greet me and I'm home for the night.

Day 3, Rochester - Warracknabeal, 261k

Up early again on Monday and I'm heading west with Phil, Sarah and Bec.  The start had a nice tailwind and this continued on and off all day.  There were occasional hard bits when we headed north into the wind. The dawn was spectacular west of Rochester and there was very nice "golden hour" light just after sunrise heading into Mitiamo and I managed to get a few photos.  We stopped at Boort for breakfast, Wycheproof ("World's Smallest Mountain" rising all of 30m above the vast flat plain)  for lunch and Birchip  (home of a well endowed and often vandalised bull sculpture) for afternoon tea.  The night's destination was Warracknabeal and we zoomed in under full tailwind.  After sorting out my room I spoke to Phil and he said we were to leave at 1:30 in the morning with Peter Donnan.  Well - ok!

Day 4, Warracknabeal - Rochester, 237k

Up early and off with Peter and Phil.  By Beulah we worked out a formation that kept us all together and riding a Peter's metronomic 20kph.  That is, Peter out front with one of me or Phil beside him, and the other in "the cheap seat" getting some wind assistance behind.  We stuck with that till after the Sea Lake turn off and we separated a bit after that.  Phil caught up with us at Woomelang (toilets off the track a bit but very clean and new and rate 4 1/2 flushes) and told us Phil had had a puncture.  Peter and I pushed on into Sea Lake for breakfast and only about 110k to go.  After Sea Lake there were still headwinds, and we stuggled into Manangatang.  Needed lots to drink at Manangatang and the locals were very curious about our bikes and the ride as a whole.  We had our photos taken and might even make the Manangatang news (Big Time!) in a week or two.  Managed to pick up some speed coming into Rochester, but I was dog tired and crying hopelessly with pent up relief and vindication that some of my bike ideas are working.  Peter Donnan and I crossed the finish line at the same time and Phil came in a few minutes later.  Pete Heal made my finisher's medal on the spot and I crashed out after that, not to surface (much) until the next morning, because I couldn't walk. (much)


  1. Good on ya Steve. A Big statement mate. A pleasure to see you bombing along with the group and at the finish. ;

  2. Steve, didn't see your blog until now - great achievement and entertaining write up. Good on yer mate!

  3. Thanks for the comments and all your volunteer work guys. It was quite an achievement for me and when I started really didn't think I had much hope of finishing it. Great fun out on the road and an experience not to be missed!

    Steve N