BASS COAST RAIL TRAIL

18 Mar 2021

“Everything is pink!” I jumped out of bed, threw on a tracksuit and padded out into the dawn light in my socks.  

A silent mist hugged the valley, a flock of birds fluttered across the sky. The clouds glowing gold slowly slipped into rose then pink. 

Everything was still. And silent. 

“Psssst” whispered Dave through the screen door, not wanting to disturb the quiet. “Breaky…”

“Oh, right! Yes, breakfast.” I forgot we’ve got things to do today. We’re leaving Phillip Island and heading east to Prom Country in Gippsland and stopping to ride the Bass Coast Rail Trail on route. 

Car packed, bikes packed, we were ready to roll. After a short drive to Anderson, we unloaded the bikes and mounted up. 

Heading east towards Kilcunda, a cute seaside village, the trail followed the rugged coast with views along the beach and out over Bass Straight. I loved the sound of the gravel under our tires, and starting with a long gentle downhill helped fill me with happy beans. I threw an arm into the air and let out a whoop. It’s little moments like this where I can’t believe we’re actually doing this. On a year long adventure.

There was a relaxed vibe in Kilcunda. People in wetsuits picked over the rock pools, surfboard under arm, or standing on the cliff, coffee in hand, staring out to sea. With a polite ding on the bell, we slowed as we passed. 

“Look at those cute cabins overlooking the sea” I pointed out to David. 

“Yeah” he agreed absently, I could tell he was itching to get going again.

From Kilcundra, the trail gently undulated through the countryside and farmland. A field of sunflowers, a heard of black and white cows, and wind turbines on the horizon. 

David powered on ahead, I caught glimpses of him as the trail straightened out. He periodically pulled up and waited for me at road crossings and bridges and I got used to cycling on my own. 

“Are we going the whole way?” I asked when I came across him sitting on a bench in the shade. 

“How far have we come?” He asked. I looked at Runkeeper.

“11 kilometres” I said holding up my phone.

“Let’s keep going – it’s only 5 more to Wonthaggi”

“Maybe there’ll be cheeseburgers there!” I chuckled mounting up.

“It’s a fast-day.” he reminded me. 

“A fast-day…” I repeated to myself. Damn it.

In no time we pulled into Wonthaggi, the path unceremoniously depositing us into the back streets of the town. We soon found a café with a few benches outside, perfect to prop the bikes and have lunch. Egg and lettuce sandwiches and coffee. No cheeseburgers. No hot cross buns. No little cake. Fast-day etc. We had a sugar and carbs festival at the Curry’s. Time for a quick detox 5:2 style.

Back on the bikes, back the way we had come. We picked up speed and fell into a steady rhythm of peddling and listening to the familiar churn of gravel under tires. 

After an hour and a half of smooth peddling a few things started to happen. Firstly, my …ah-hem.. ass was getting sore and the balls of my feet were getting numb. So I dropped the seat and stood up to peddle and repositioned my feet. 

Secondly, I realised that rail trails were pretty dull compared to the say, Thredbo Valley Track which was all undulating, switch-backs and rocky sections. That sort of riding required constant adjustments to body positioning, skill and quick decision making. It turns out I much prefer the more technical riding than this mindless grind on gravel. 

Meanwhile David’s inner monologue was more along the lines of really enjoying the rail trail and how fast he could go and wondering if we had accidentally bought the wrong bikes. 

It was lovely countryside, especially the views of the cost, but I was glad to finally reach the car! That last, long, slow rise was a killer. But wheeling down into the car park I felt great! 

“How far?” Dave asked unclipping his helmet as I approached the car.

“34.34km” I read from Runnkeeper. 

“That’s the furtherest we’ve ever ridden.” He observed. 

“Oh yeah, you’re right!” I wonder if we’ll be able to ride the 42km Bay Of Fires trail in Tasmania. 34km on smooth gravel is one thing, but 42km on single-track? Hmmmm. Training, skills and experience. That’s what we need. 

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