Day Seven: Tumut to Wee Jasper 68km, 1018 metres ascent
The ride from Tumut ended up being the last day of my Melbourne-Canberra tour. The Vulcan objected to the poor treatment I was dishing out through the fairly tough unsealed roads. A few kilometres of nicely packed rail trail is one thing – but the 50 kilometres of very rocky dirt road on the way to Wee Jasper proved too much: The Vulcan told to GFM.
Which isn’t to say the day didn’t start well. The scenery really is magnificent. There’s lots of hills, but its an enjoyable ride.
But things may have gone even better if I hadn’t taken the a wrong turn out of Tumut. An alternative route would have reduced by 25kms the amount of unsealed road I had to ride, but didn’t realise until I’d already ridden them.
And although the rough road gave the Vulcan a fearsome bashing, it was still worth the effort. Bear in mind that the Vulcan was already suffering. It now had only a single gear; and its tyre pressure was too low to give it much protection (the little hand minipump I was carrying was truly pathetic.)
But riding with the extra weight of panniers, tent and wotnot, the road was too tough. If it was a supported ride, I think Vulcan-like racing thoroughbreds could make a very enjoyable ride through Wee Jasper. Here’s a bit of the road:
And I would have LOVED to be able to do that ride on the Hell Bitch, if she were still with me. Hell Bitch was the XTC1 I rode the the first Epic from Melb-Adelaide.
As it was, when I reached Wee Jasper, I was forced to put in a call to HQ requesting extraction and was lucky indeed that someone was home to pick me up a couple of hours later.
There is a good route through the Brindabellas from Tumut into the ACT. It can take you either through Wee Jasper and into Belconnen, or through Brindbella into Weston. Either way it involved a lot of dirt road.
The 4-wheel drives and trail bike riders I met along the way gave me wary looks that people usually reserve for the deranged. But with the right set up, this is a good ride.
As it was, I was pretty lucky. I didn’t get a flat until about 40 km into it. I changed tubes, but I must have repaired the one I put in poorly as it kept going down. And it was hard to get decent pressure into it anyway.
Riding downhill was tedious because I had to go so slow to try to stop the rear wheel bottoming out. And having to stop constant to put air in the tyre was a bitch. Fortunately, at some point along the way I lost that ridiculous pump – forcing me to walk the final six or seven kilometres.
Not exactly my most successful days’ riding, but I’m glad I had a go. It was also good to get to Wee Jasper – I hadn’t been there since caving as a teenager.