Bairnsdale to Stratford
- It’s pretty easy to carry stuff on a bike if you have panniers. Our panniers were not stuffed to the brim, and if I were to do this again I’d bring a few more luxuries. This is because (a) the weight isn’t so difficult to carry (no hoisting everything onto our shoulders every time we set off was such a treat!) and (b) it doesn’t matter so much if things are odd shapes or bulky or rattly (because they’re not sticking into your back or rattling in your ears)
- Uphill is hard, but you get through it. I’m not used to noticing slight uphills when walking, but on a bike every percentage of gradient counts. On the flip side, coasting downhill is brilliant - I love the feeling of moving without any energy expenditure (if you don’t count the ascent!).
- It can be easier to be a tourist as a cyclist than as a walker. It’s quicker to get around and therefore easier to make detours and spur of the moment decisions. A detour around a block is a quick minute or two, rather than a potential trudge.
- Wind, what the heck? I really noticed how much the headwind affected me, especially on the third day coming into Bairnsdale, but also occasionally after that. It’s not such a slog to walk against a similar strength of wind, but on a bike I could really tell how much slower it was making me. Also, Australia is windier than I remember!
- Things I don’t miss. While we had good chats to the people at Nowa Nowa and Bruthen campsites, I found that most of the people we met or passed were … very incurious. I wouldn’t necessarily say unfriendly, but we cycled about 180km (over 100mi) through several towns and nobody asked us what we were doing or where we were going. Nobody other than one group of other cyclists commented on our bikes, our gear, the terrain, the weather. People were happy to give us a good long stare, but they didn’t initiate a conversation. I don’t think you could cycle that far through that many small towns and villages in the UK without a passer by saying hello or a shopkeeper having a chat.
- Bikes are surprisingly noisy. The grind of gravel under the wheels is constant, as is the rush of wind in your ears. It’s harder to hear the sounds of nature around you, harder to have a conversation. Paradoxically, you might be quieter to the rest of the world - the soft swish of tyres is different to the crunching of boots, and when you combine this with your speed you can find yourself sneaking up on more animals and seeing more wildlife than you might when on foot.
- Cycle touring is super fun! At least, it is when you’ve got good company, good food, good bikes and good weather.
- Here’s a lovely essay about cycle touring, which really spoke to me.
- Why We Ride is a zine that Allysse has put together full of interviews with cycle tourists.
- And if you want, here's another cyclist’s experience on the East Gippsland Rail Trail: Orbost-Nowa Nowa; Bruthen-Nowa Nowa; Bruthen-Bairnsdale.