May. 8th, 2009

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Alright, my first DW post! Better make it about something good. And, by coincidence (ok, not quite) good things happened yesterday!

Backing up a bit, for the last couple of weeks i've been meaning to reconnnect with my home up here - not just Castlemaine, but the surrounding countryside and towns. So, one of the things i'm doing is riding my bicycle out to the furthest points in my home (Mt Alexander) shire... nice long rides, reaquainting myself with the hills, the rocks, the trees, and the joy of having enough space to breathe.

Yesterday, it was Maldon. I'd ridden that way before, but gotten myself horribly lost near the Red, White and Blue mine, and had to rejoin the Castlemaine-Maldon Rd. This time, my plan was to stick to the railway line and follow it nearly up to Porcupine Flats and then turn back toward Maldon. It worked well, although there were a couple of occasions where i had to amend my topo map where the tracks deviated from what was shown. Also, i ran over a hidden section of fallen barbed wire fence near the railway crossing, and had to hold my breath whilst i checked my tires for punctures! D: (I did have a spare tyre and puncture kit, but i've had a run of flat tyres lately and the last thing i wanted was another one) Something else to mark on the map.

Oh, and on the way out there, i saw a brown goshawk! It just flashed across the path about 50M in front of me, chasing another bird, i think. Hard to see, but no other bird that size that i know of behaves like that - charging through densely wooded areas with absolutely no regard for life or limb. The crazy cousin of the raptor family! XD

So i got to Maldon about 2pm, where i broke for lunch and spent a pleasant hour reading. On the way back i swung by the Maldon dredge line to see what the water line was like. Sadly, it was bone dry... still! We desperately need some late autumn rain. :( The dredge line has been a bit of an obsession with me over the years i've lived up here... the idea of a lake, slowly moving along the landscape, devouring the earth, drinking gold and spewing out the entrails - it's kind of like a sea monster that has to create it's own sea. The engineering facinates me as much as the igeniousness of man in pursuit of wealth appalls me. I often go out there when i have something to mull over in private, and i've done a few drawings out there too... but somehow the spirit of the rusted metal hulk still eludes me. *sigh* Another half-finished project...

After leaving the dredge line, i rode back through the Porcupine tourist villiage. This is actually quite a creepy place - there is never anyone there, and everything is slowly falling into decay. Think Soverign Hill @ Ballarat crossed with "28 Days Later"!

And so i turned towards home again. This time i stayed on the opposite side of the railway track all the way to the corner of the Maldon reserve, and then took a detour along the southern border of the reserve, heading towards Muckleford. This part of my map turned out to be much more unreliable. I wonder how they decide what is a track and what is an erosion line, or a quartz seam or something? Trying to look for local features that could pass for the tracks that simply weren't there amused me for a while. Needless to say, the correction pen came out a far bit again!

Eventually i came out again at a farm track - and another mystery! In this dry as dust landscape, the track was all churned with wet mud! It was riven with the tracks of heavy equipment, which made it rough going on the bike. Somehow i slipped and slid (without incident, although it was a near thing once or twice!) the couple of km's before i came to a roadworks sign and the vehicular culprits. God, the amount of water on that track... it was enough to make me cry. I hope it was recycled water or something.

This was the view from the waterlogged track. It was about 4.30pm by then, and oh god, the light! I love that time of day. :)

Once i was back on the ashphalt, i had about 11km to put in before i reached home and afternoon tea. Not that i wasn't enjoying myself still, but after tearing along rough donkey tracks and sliding down muddy laneways, it all seemed a bit tame. Plus, there were cars. Lots of cars, cause it was in shift changeover time at the Castlemaine bacon factory. Urgh - i have to time this better next time.

So yeah - home at 5.15pm, 41.1 kms completed. Afternoon tea never tasted so good. :) I've been planning more longish rides for the next few weeks, i figure about one a week? Next one is to Malmsbury i think - along Sugarbag Tx and the the Old Taradale-Drummond road, which is a twisting, turning, *corker* of a ride - i've done it on the big (motor) bike and i was a little scared in places - going to be fun to rip through it on the little bike! :D


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