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Archive for May 2010

wonoka creek to rawnsley park

Posted on Monday, May 31, 2010 at 9:46 PM by helen

kai cleaning the bikes  

the morning after the mud bath was spent discovering our bikes again. dyon managed to get our drive trains going with no water, lots of sticks and some lube for the chain.

the day before had been a long day in the saddle without many kilometres completed, but today was a long day in the saddle with some good kilometres completed. we had a lovely tail wind as we set off up the highway and did the first 26km quite quickly (averaging 19km/h). the next section was along the moralana scenic drive which was unfortunately into a head wind (as we back tracked south slightly) with some mud patches and undulating hills (more up than down it felt). it felt a bit like a hard slog for 28km but with stunning scenery all around. we were definitely in the flinders ranges!

having lunch on the moralana scenic drive  

then it was up the hawker-wilpena highway to rawnsley park. we were all feeling pretty tired after two hard days so we pushed ourselves along with the thought of a cold beer at the end. we passed some people doing a supported section of the mawson trail and they were surprised to see us carrying heavy loads overtaking them. we wanted that beer! so once at the caravan park we all enjoyed a cool coopers with chips.

dyon and i decided to have a rest day at rawnsley park and so did rob and pete so we all hung around relaxing for the day.

hawker to wonoka creek (oh mud, how I love thee)

Posted on Sunday, May 30, 2010 at 9:43 PM by helen

we met up with rob and pete again at the sightseers cafe at 9:30 for a quick and early start to the day. after we all had coffees, cake and pies, i think we were on the road by 10am.

we headed off along the mawson trail hoping that the track had dried out and luckily it mostly felt ok bar a few squishy creek (silty/mud) crossings. we hit the highway and decided to keep pressing on with the trail. we cruised along hard gravel tracks feeling confident and happy. then we climbed a little ridge next to mern merna hill and onto the valley of hell! we managed to get stuck in another mud patch.

initially it wasn't too bad so we kept pressing on, but as we kept going it got worse and worse. pete ended up carting his panniers by pairs then carrying his bike, dyon and rob went on ahead pressing through the mud together helping each other, and i spent time digging mud from between my tyres and mudguards. in the end it was easier for me to get into granny gear trying to ride through the thick mud. my mud biking skills have improved immensely! the worst was trying to clip in with pedals and shoes full of mud.

kai looking very happy in the muddy trailer  

after taking 4 hours to complete 4-5km, we had a rocky descent into another plain which was slippery and slidy but at least we could ride. we finally came back on to a dirt road and decided to head to the highway as quickly as possible. we got to the highway as dusk hit so we bush camped by the wonoka creek which was thankfully running as dyon and i hadn't brought any spare water.

buckaringa to hawker

Posted on Friday, May 28, 2010 at 9:38 PM by helen

the plan was to spend two days riding to hawker along the mawson trail as the trail meandered its way to hawker.

we started early from buckaringa getting some good kilometres under our belts. riding through simmonston (a town never developed, but land was sold) and over the wilochra plan was quite boring with not much to see and the threat of rain, we just rode as quickly as we could.

dyon and kai looking across the wilochra plain

the mawson trail hit the main road about 35km south of hawker and followed it for 1.5km. then back on to the dirt. this is when the heavy rain hit us. we struggled on and passed over the main highway again this time to head towards craddock and away from the main road. we stopped for a quick bite to eat in the driving rain and to decide what to do. and as the road we were to take towards craddock filled with rain and looked sodden, we decided that the only way forward was on the highway. so we ditched all the extra water we were carrying for our night bush camping and headed back to the highway. and just in time as dyon was having trouble with the road surface, slipping his way a hundred metres back to the main road.

while we were eating lunch pete and rob  (who we had met in melrose and are heading to alice springs via the mawson trail) rode past along the highway. dyon thought we could catch them so with our heads down we rode as fast we could. it was a touch slog of 28km to hawker. it was all slightly up hill with a terrible headwind. my legs were burning and i felt that i just couldn't keep going sometimes. when we managed to get out of the wind we could ride up to 18km/h but into the headwind we somtimes slowed down to 9km/h.

finally we got into hawker with chattering teeth and soaked to the bone. we never managed to catch pete and rob, there were always ahead of us. however, we did get a cabin in the flinders ranges caravan park in hawker for two nights so we had a rest day in hawker as well. we caught up with rob and pete over a few beers and a pub dinner, much better than in the saoking wet.

our rest day was spent huddled in the cabin as fierce winds blew outside and scattered showers so we were glad that we had warmth and shelter.

warren gorge to buckaringa north campsite

Posted on Thursday, May 27, 2010 at 9:37 PM by helen

a very short ride to the heysen trail campsite at buckaringa area. we had lovely hard gravel roads and a strong tail wind so we felt like we were going fast for the first time, soon enough we had arrived.

we pitched the tent in the only non-rocky area (thanks to previous heysen trail users) and kai started setting up a fire.

kai building our fire

buckaringa campsite was a lovely sheltered area with the whole campsite to ourselves. we took a short jaunt up the heysen trail and then up the hill next to the campsite. fortunately there was a great view, lots of rocks to climb and perfect mobile reception so we were able to check our email and do other daily business. unfortunately we also found out that the rain predicted for the following day was still coming: 10-20mm! it was going to be a hard day in the saddle.

we enjoyed a lovely evening by the fire while dyon and i learnt how to play cribbage.

quorn to warren gorge

Posted on Wednesday, May 26, 2010 at 9:36 PM by helen

we took a short ride past paddocks of sheep, cows and crops (into a headwind with a slight climb which was slightly depressing) into some of the hills of the southern flinders ranges. we had a short climb through a pass and then a short descent on to the plain towards warren gorge.

we arrived into warren gorge to be greeted by a bunch of caravaners telling us to camp elsewhere which we were quite happy about as we didn't want to be near them anyway. we stopped up the road unsure where the camping actually was situated but really needing some lunch. after lunch we pressed on a little further and found a lovely camping area under the shadow of the gorge.

yellow footed wallabies bounced around the campsite in the late afternoon much to kai's delight. seeing them jumping up the side of the rocky hills was amazing and kept kai searching for them for hours. we took a short walk along the gorge where kai discovered how to build cairns

.helen and kai building cairns

melrose to quorn (and yes we did eat corn in quorn)

Posted on Tuesday, May 25, 2010 at 8:15 PM by helen

eagerly getting on our bikes this morning for a fun filled day of riding in the rain and wind, we managed to set off from melrose a little after 9:30. dyon did take some convincing to actually leave, believing that we should spend another day in the safe, warm sanctuary of 'A' cabin in the caravan park.

we rode down the main road then onto the dirt in high spirits aided by a tailwind and a false flat down, and the roads appeared to be fine after all the rain. well, that is until we turned onto spring creek road; it was a red clay mud bath. from there, riding turned into pushing the bikes and then the pushing turned into stopping every 50 metres to clear the gunk out so our wheels could still turn. it was hard to see when it would end...

luckily for us a lovely farmer saw our plight and rescued us in a 'red oot' (ute). kai was delighted to get a ride in an oot. and we were delighted by his warmth and helpfulness. he pulled out his high pressure hose so our bikes were clean in no time. luckily for us everything seems to be running smoothly still.

after spending the whole morning to cover 15ish km we decided to only go as far as wilmington (30km from melrose), but when we got there we didn't feel ready to stop. so we bought a pie, a pastie and a chocolate milk from the (un)friendly grocer (she was very narky about my muddy shoes which i voluntarily took off outside!) and headed on out of town.

luckily the roads north out of wilmington on the mawson trail were great, not a patch of mud in sight. and the tailwind was still helping us along. after another 11km we stopped for 2nd lunch only to find that someone had forgotten to pack the lunch (and dinner) ingredients!! they were still sitting in the fridge in melrose. :( so a brief and boring 2nd lunch stop was had.

there was a conservation park about 15km further along the road which we had in mind for a bush camp night. however, the road to the CP proved correct when it said "dry weather road only'. so we turned off the mawson trail (once again) and headed down to the highway. unfortunately there weren't any nice camping spots on the back roads to the highway so we ended up just riding into quorn. a long day for all of us as we didn't get here until a quarter past five.

the highlights of the day were:

  • mud, mud, mud
  • a friendly farmer
  • ride in a red oot
  • an unfriendly grocer (and a closed cafe that promised home made pasties! :( )
  • observing dry weather signs
  • fast highway riding
  • riding the furthest so far on this trip (72km)
  • corn in quorn (with yummy chicken schnitzels at the pub)

melrose the mountain biking town

Posted on Monday, May 24, 2010 at 8:09 PM by dyon

it was so lovely to be in melrose: surrounded by bikes, people that are enthusiastic about bikes and locals that are getting into bikes.

we have ended up spending 3 full days in melrose due to the rain. luckily the first day was beautiful and sunny so dyon went off for a 3 hour mtb shop ride while kai and i found the kindergarten play ground. kai had a ball in the playground doing some really good imaginative play and discovering how to climb through toddler sized obstacle courses. the rainy days we spent in our cabin (at the caravan park) and wandering around when it wasn't too wet. and we also enjoyed some delicious scones with hot chocolates to warm us up.

tomorrow we plan to head out somewhere between wilmington and quorn. hopefully the roads/tracks are not too wet!

Edited on: Tuesday, May 25, 2010 8:59 PM

laura to melrose

Posted on Friday, May 21, 2010 at 12:46 PM by dyon

after close inspection of the weather report and the map we decided to ride the 60km to melrose in one day (rather than the two we had planned).

with a record early start at 8.40am (after the obligatory dirty nappy discovery as we are about to roll out!) we were doing very well after two hours of riding. unfortunately (yet another) flat tyre on helen's bike slowed us down a bit, so we turned the stop into a lunch break as well. kai then slept as we spun up some long climbs until we could see mount remarkable in the distance.

at about 3pm we rolled into melrose and stopped at the local bike shop (Over The Edge Sports) where jake made us a nice coffee and we talked bikes for a while (he knew my bike and its previous owner and had also toured up the mawson trail).

dyon descending towards melrose

the melrose caravan park is a block back from the main road (which doesn't appear to get trucks anyway). we managed to get a cabin for a few nights as there is rain expected and we need a rest after seven solid days since clare.

Edited on: Saturday, May 22, 2010 10:18 PM

bundaleer forest to laura

Posted on Thursday, May 20, 2010 at 12:46 PM by dyon

got up early in case the rangers found us camping in the picnic spot.

we had to go through a couple of locked gates which was quite frustrating with fully loaded bikes and the trailer.

kai takes the easy option while dyon lifts a bike over a locked gate

the first few kilometres were through some nice forest before some more downhill-ish roads into laura. we rolled into town just in time for lunch and discovered a cafe doing $13 roast specials which really hit the spot.

we set up at the caravan park but discovered that it was on the corner of the two main roads in town which are frequented by trucks. so instead of staying for a rest day we decided to just stay the one night.

also, we went back to the cafe and had more roasts for dinner!

Edited on: Saturday, May 22, 2010 10:17 PM

spalding to bundaleer forest

Posted on Wednesday, May 19, 2010 at 12:46 PM by dyon

we discovered a flat tyre on the trailer upon arriving at spalding the previous night but had not bothered to fix it. this proved costly as it took ages to fix it in the morning. by the time we got going it was 10am and helen had heard about a playgroup in town so she took kai there for some interaction with people his own size.

we finally got on the road at 11.30 and rode a very frustrating 10km along the bundaleer channel. the channel (used?) to be used to irrigate the area and therefore followed the contour which was nice. unfortunately the service road that the mawson trail followed along the top was overgrown with thorns and interspersed with closed gates that had to opened and shut every few 100m.

once we got past the channels there was a lot more barren farmland before we made it up a climb to curnow's hut in the bundaleer forest. unfortunately you have to pay for this hut and while we'd called the forest office the day before we hadn't been able to get in contact with them. we had hoped to just get some water from the tank at the hut and camp the night nearby but when faced with a locked gate we couldn't be bothered lifting our gear over to check the tank. so we upped the pace and sprinted a further 5km to the picnic area where we found some water. we cooked dinner at dusk and pitched the tent in the dark despite the no-camping signs.

Edited on: Saturday, May 22, 2010 10:15 PM

hallett to spalding

Posted on Tuesday, May 18, 2010 at 12:45 PM by dyon

back on the road in the cool morning air we pushed on towards spalding. a lot of the ride was downhill and uneventful mainly through barren farmland. not a very exciting day.

dyon climbing towards wind generators on the north mount lofty ranges

spalding was a metropolis of 200 people compared with hallett and we ended up getting a cheap room at the pub and a pizza at the one-table roadhouse. kai spent most of the afternoon playing at the plane-guard (his interpretation of "playground").

Edited on: Saturday, May 22, 2010 10:13 PM

old mount bryan east school to hallett

Posted on Monday, May 17, 2010 at 12:44 PM by dyon

while it was tempting to take a shortcut (and miss the main climb) of today's track we decided to stick to the official mawson trail and head up to dare's hill summit. it was worth the climb as we had an amazing view from the top.


after completing a 20km loop and ending up almost back within sight of the school we had lunch and then headed towards hallett.

hallett is a sad looking town with a claimed population of 100. it's attraction for us was that it had a general store and a heysen trail hut. the hut is situated in the old railway station and had a pot belly wood fire which kai and i enjoyed cutting some wood for. after grabbing some supplies at the store we cooked up dinner and with the pot belly roaring and the candles lit we enjoyed a hygge (cosy) evening.

burra to old mount bryan east school

Posted on Sunday, May 16, 2010 at 7:51 PM by dyon

waking up we both felt tired after the previous day's efforts. i walked into town with kai to find some milk for breakfast to find that the only supermarket didn't open until 10am (we had forgotten it was a sunday). i got milk at the servo but we needed to buy supplies for the next couple of days that we could only get at the supermarket so we had a quiet morning waiting for it to open.

as usual we were pretty much the only people in the caravan park under 60, and the only ones without a caravan (and 4WD/SUV). we seem to provide great entertainment for them and they come to talk to us about what we're doing. this often works out OK as kai gets some grandmotherly love but the conversations with us usually end up with their medical histories which can get a little tedious. interestingly enough we did meet a couple in burra who encouraged us to keep adventuring with kai throughout his school life (most say it's good we're doing it now because we won't be able to when he goes to school). it turns out that they went sailing with their children when they were 3 or 4 and continued until the time they entered year 9 at school. it was great to hear as it is quite close to my own childhood.

after chatting at the caravan park and buying our food at the supermarket we didn't get on the road until 11.00. with another 50+km ride ahead of us we were quite frustrated.

yesterday the surroundings had been almost completely deforested with hardly a tree to see between clare and burra. today the first 25km were similar and it was with some relief that we finally saw entered some low woodland.

at around the same time we came across the second group of riders we've seen on the mawson trail since leaving adelaide. it was a trio of lightly laden mountain bikers who were supported by some friends. they were training for what sounds like an epic stage race in africa. hopefully we can follow their progress when they do it.

our goal for the day was to reach a hut on the heysen trail (a walking trail that mostly parallels the mawson trail). as the day wore on we cursed the late start and we didn't make it to the location marked on the map until just before 5pm. after searching around a number of farm buildings and an old house looking for the hut, we found it 500m up the road. the mawson trail map was wrong. once we entered the (not very) secret combination into the lock we found ourselves in an old stone school house. it has a number of small rooms with fireplaces, some bunk beds (some with mattresses) and a kitchen with a sink and a rainwater tank.

we started cooking dinner and i took the trailer a kilometre back to a creek where there was plenty of trees and filled it up with firewood. after a hearty meal we are now sitting around a roaring fire reading books and writing blogs.

Edited on: Saturday, May 22, 2010 12:44 PM

sevenhill to burra

Posted on Saturday, May 15, 2010 at 7:50 PM by dyon

isaac and kai swapped places for the first 5km into clare with both of them enjoying the alternative transport (isaac in the trailer, kai in the car). we met matt and julia for a coffee in clare and finally got on the road at 11.30. the late start made the hard day very long.

i had one of my worst days on a bike, it felt like i had a hunger bonk right from the start and it just didn't get any better. even the small hills i found myself in the granny gear grinding up and trying not to fall off.

there were only a handful of corners in the 50km trip but we missed the signs for two of them. the first one just sent us a bit further (and possibly around a hill) so wasn't too annoying. the second one was when we were within 3km of burra and both of us were feeling very tired. we ended up riding across a recently mown paddock for a kilometre before deciding we really had gone the wrong way.

in the end we finally stumbled into the burra caravan park just before dusk and quickly pitched the tent before heading off to find some really nice meals at the continental, one of the many hotels in town. burra appeared to be a beautiful town with many nice old buildings and wasn't too touristy or pretentious.

Edited on: Sunday, May 16, 2010 8:06 PM

a week in the clare valley

Posted on Friday, May 14, 2010 at 7:50 PM by dyon

we spent the week with matt, julia, isaac and phoebe in a farm house about 4km out of clare on the riesling trail (cycling/walking rail trail). it was great to catch up with the family and have a relaxing holiday, though it felt like we managed to eat and drink away all the recent fitness gains.

matt and julia brought the baby sling attachment for the chariot trailer so we installed it so that phoebe (5 months) could ride next to kai. isaac rode on the tag-along that rotated between helen, matt and julia's bikes. we went for a couple of rides to wineries (mitchells and reillys) and into clare.

the ride out to mintaro was particularly fun as it was a 33km round trip (including a detour to martindale hall) and included a couple of climbs in each direction for a total of 500m. we had a great lunch at reillys before attempting the return leg. even though the weather was cool (under 20C) the sun was warm and the wind was light making for a great day on the bike.

auburn to sevenhill

Posted on Sunday, May 09, 2010 at 9:23 AM by dyon

a super short day but unfortunately started immediately with 17km of rail trail climbing that took an hour and a quarter. kai was asleep so we didn't dare pause, but the incessant hill really took its toll. it was like being on the trainer for the same period of time and was quite frustrating.

after cresting at sevenhill we coasted down the other side for a short distance and found the farmhouse we had rented for the week with helen's sister-in-law and family. after riding into clare for supplies we met them at the house upon return and cooked up a bbq for dinner.

Edited on: Thursday, May 13, 2010 9:43 AM

cornvale to auburn

Posted on Saturday, May 08, 2010 at 9:07 AM by dyon

another short day, and this one was predominantly downhill which was a nice change.

we had morning tea at a cafe in riverton where we were reminded that we're in the country - the time it took two people to complete our simple order was astounding.

it appeared that a farmer had decided he no longer wanted the mawson trail to go through his paddocks. on mcinerney road where it hit golf course road we were meant to cross straight over, but the gate was padlocked shut (quite a pain lifting the trailer and bikes over) and all the mawson trail signs had been removed. we detoured onto the rail trail and rolled into auburn that way instead.

kai was asleep and dyon planned to keep riding so he could sleep longer. we did an awesome rolling pit stop where helen grabbed the panniers and tent while dyon rode slowly past. however it was all for nought, as dyon immediately got a puncture and kai woke up!

helen had also got a puncture in riverton earlier in the day, so we doubled the puncture count for the trip in one day.

after setting up camp we walked up to the mount horrocks winery cellar door and bought a nice bottle of wine for the evening.

kapunda to cornvale

Posted on Friday, May 07, 2010 at 7:30 PM by dyon

this morning we woke to clear skies and a relatively warm day. after the usual 2 hour breakfast and pack up routine we were back on the road. we've decided to just do three 30km days and take it slowly on the way to clare.

we appear to have left most of the vineyards behind and have moved into drier sheep country.

after about 15km of rolling hills we stopped for first lunch and met 4 riders coming from the opposite direction. the first cyclists we've seen on the mawson trail! they had left blinman two weeks ago but are travelling light (no food, camping gear or extra children). they were all mostly on bling dual suspension MTBs so made us feel quite slow. it was nice to get some info on the roads ahead and to actually see some other riders out here.

they warned us to avoid a section of singletrack that they said would be difficult with the trailer but we ended up riding it anyway (though the rocks did wake kai up) and camping by the track in a quiet valley near a farm called cornvale.

stockwell to kapunda

Posted on Wednesday, May 05, 2010 at 1:24 PM by dyon

knowing that we have 5 days to travel 115km to meet up with family in clare we have slowed down and rode only 25km before we holed up in the kapunda caravan park. kai has enjoyed the steam engine at the local playground and we've decided to spend a second night here before continuing on.

mount crawford to stockwell

Posted on Monday, May 03, 2010 at 12:06 PM by dyon

the map for today's section of mawson trail promised a big descent into the barossa valley but unfortunately there were some rolling hills to content with first. we climbed through a number of vineyards including steingarten which was impressively perched on a rocky hill overlooking the barossa.


as we crested the last hills to look out over the barossa, we felt that we'd earnt the view via our climbing efforts of the last couple of days.

the barossa  w

at this point we also saw a number of lambs that had been born earlier in the morning and ewes still birthing. quite a cool experience.

the descent into the barossa was very slow as we negotiated the rocky trail and then through some more rolling hills until we got to tanunda. we were all ready for first lunch and had some food at the first bakery we found. a few km north we made our way to stockwell where some friends live, renovating an old stone cottage.

lobethal to somewhere on the side of the road near mt crawford

Posted on Sunday, May 02, 2010 at 8:13 PM by dyon

after yesterday's horrendous climbing, helen wanted to stay in bed and cry but that wasn't the plan. today was another day of rolling hills and some climbing, however, it all seemed easy compared with the extreme gradients of yesterday.

after an awesome week of weather in adelaide it started to cloud over and cool down today. we had first lunch in birdswood and stocked up on some supplies at the local foodland.

we kept going after lunch through farms, forest and pine plantations until we decided to set up camp by the side of the road. we were really feeling the cold and started layering up all our clothes as the temperature dropped to about 10 degrees by 8pm. we were near mount crawford which we later found is one of the coldest spots in south australia!

helen and kai rugged up  

Edited on: Thursday, May 06, 2010 12:06 PM

hell hills

Posted on Saturday, May 01, 2010 at 6:52 PM by dyon

we left adelaide optimistically with the knowledge that we had a tough day ahead of us. we knew there was some steep climbing that would push our rested legs, but we didn't really know the depths that it would push us.

the journey began with easy riding through the back streets of adelaide then along the torrens river. we hit the start of the mawson trail about 11am so we stopped for first lunch. this turned out to be a great idea as we needed the lunch energy early on.

we rode along gorge road (with lots of roadies wizzing past) feeling content as it was an easy 3% gradient then we turned onto the dirt and went up, straight up! the hills were steep and relentless. it hurt. helen gave in and started pushing when he front and rear tyres started slipping and sliding. dyon managed to keep riding through most of it, only having to push once or twice when it was so steep (23%). but pushing for dyon was bad news as he tows the trailer, it needed both of us to get him going again.

helen feeling the hills and the heat

about half way through the climbing we ran out of water. :( from then on it was a battle against thirst as well. we decided to bush camp at the top as a previous sign had said there was water at a carpark (for mountain biking in the area). dyon pushed on ahead to get the water while helen waited with the gear. it was an unfortunate sight when dyon returned empty handed, the map was incorrect. so we pushed on to lobethal (with the knowledge of a bierhaus waiting for us) with dry bottles and dry throats.

Edited on: Thursday, May 06, 2010 12:05 PM

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