The joy of the slow lane

Two cyclists, one riding up a hill, one riding down

Take your time and notice things you might usually miss on your ride. Photo: Eddie Barkla

We write and talk often about the camaraderie on the bike and how it does not seem to make any difference what station vocation or prominence we may have in life we are all the same when it comes to sharing the road. The camaraderie can sometimes be a distraction from appreciating the finer details of the areas we chose to ride around. In the solitude of a solo ride and at a slower speed we get to appreciate the heritage, history and native flora and fauna that abound. We get to appreciate why we need to keep Australia beautiful and sustain the majesty of the area.

Take leaving Sternberg roundabout heading south along Retreat Road.  Pass the sports ground down the slight slope looking to the left you will see one of Bendigo’s best kept gardens along a painstakingly stoned paved creek reserve, yes blink and you would miss it.

Work your way up the slight rise the pressure is added to the legs and is a great way of warming up before attempting Laudens Hill on Spring Gully Road a name many a bike rider may not know. The descent down the other side heading for Mandurang takes us past the old brick building on the corner of Tannery Lane that is being transformed and is a mystery as to its origins.

Tannery Lane itself has a dry-stone sandstone and slate gutter which reflects the craftsmanship of a bygone era, tucked under one of the few significant stands of Osage Orange trees or Indian Bow Trees. When this timber is cut and polished it is exquisite.

Over the rise the road around to the left we pass close to a Lattitude of 36degrees 49minutes 23seconds South and Longitude of 144degrees 17minutes 39seconds East GDA94  just to the right into Hollidays Road is what is known as the geographical centre of Victoria .

This area has cold pockets of refreshing air and in winter will take your breath away and chill the fingers and toes to the bone.

Past the sports oval on the left and up the tree lined road which is known as the Snake Eye in cycling circles (as to why no one will own up to could well be a legend gone to grave). At the bottom just before Storeys Road look to the right and see mobs of kangaroos feeding in a valley.

Along further on the left hand side we pass a significant tree a Eucalyptus Camaldulensis believed to be over 700 years old with cairn and plague indicating that in 1862 Bourke and Wills rescue search party passed by the tree.  We have passed through some of Park’s Victoria’s box iron bark forest parks with remnant timbers slowly grown on the quartz lined ridges more than likely second generation as large portions would have been denuded to supply the gold mining needs of shoring and fuel for boilers.

As we gaze forward on a clear day to the alluring Mount Alexander with its large dog rock and koala park. Have heard it told it is known for its grey granite the best in the world but due to its colour is less appealing. Mount Alexander Regional Park consists of 1240 hectares of forest on a large granitic intrusion. The eastern and western slopes of the mountain are steep and heavily crowned with large rock outcrops and granite sheets. The mountain, called “Lanjanuc” by the local Dja Dja Wurrung tribe, was important to Aboriginal people as a high vantage point at the centre of their tribal area. Major Thomas Mitchell was the first European to climb the mountain, in 1836.

Gently rolling down the goose neck (another cycling icon) turning onto Axe Creek Road on the left is Black Eagle Flora and Fauna reserve around the area not commonly known Pilchers Bridge where a small flora and fauna reserve is situated.  On occasions we are joined by black wallabies and grey kangaroos.

Further along Mannes road where in a peleton there is often a fast break to a given point that many a rider would not possibly know that back in 1854 Franz Anton Mannes settled the land and there has now been six generations work that property since. The Mannes family has also been well known for their compassion and generosity to refugees of history.

Take time occasionally to look around you and appreciate the rich tapestry (of not just of people) as to what our rides routes offer as a book mark of our history, heritage, flora and fauna abundant and accessible.

See you on the road soon God willing

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