Georg down under

Deutschsprachige Version
Georg is riding his Penny-Fathing in Australia. A ride from Sydney to Melbourne, the World Championships in Evendale, Tasmania and finally the Country-Tour trough Victoria.
Here’s what he wrote:

We (Georg riding his Penny-Farthing & his brother Florian riding a mountain-bike) arrived in Melbourne. To say it short: It was a hard ride. Here are some details:

10.2.2003: Sydney => Port Kembla. 107,8 km.
We tried to avoid the busy highway, but soon got lost in Sydney’s suburbs => back to the highway. After a few kilometers a police officer stops us: we should better leave the highway, a hail-storm is ahead => coastal roads though the rain.

11.2.2003: Port Kembla => Ulladulla. 126,4 km, Ab Syd: 234,2.
50 km downhill, 26,4 km flat (Seven Mile Beach), the rest is 50 km uphill. 7:30pm – terribly tired. Sunburnt.

12.2.2003: Ulladulla => Moruya. 81,0 km. An Syd: 315,2
Downhills more than 50 km/h, that means: uphills likewise! Extremely hot. At 5pm it’s over.
All sins atone. Building up credit from tomorrow on.

13.2.2003: Moruya => Tathra. 121,3 km, ab Syd 436,5
Now we are used to it: uphill, downhill, uphill, downhill, uphill, downhill, ... It starts as a cloudy day, later Eucalypts give us some shade, that makes it an enjoyable drive. We reach our destination at 7pm. “VB-for a hard earned thirst”.

14.2.2003: Tathra => Genoa. 115,2 km, ab Syd 551,7 km.
„Walking day“ to Eden (uphill, downhill, up...). After Eden 64km of bush, nothing but bush. Fully laden with water and worries we start our ride (the tourist-information called the only hotel in Genoa to give notice that two guys on pushies will arrive in the evening). The 64 km are rather easy: the landscape flattens. Lost a screw of the luggage rack. Damn!

15,2,2003. Genoa => Orbost. 123 ,0 km, ab Syd 674,7.
Repaired the luggage rack using a screw from the bottle mount (this solution came while asleep!). The way to Cann River is rather tough. Only 47 km and flat, but sunshiny and hot. Maybe that is the reason.
After Cann River again 76km bush (All towns listed on our map do not exist). Just one lonely hotel “Bellbird Creek”. We stop there for a drink. We reach Orbost freshly, just “der Arsch ist im Arsch” (no translation).
Commonwaelth Hotel. Built 1901. Nothing changed since.
Some motorcyclists recommend a piece of Austrailan literature: “Mulga Bill” by by A. B. "Banjo" Paterson.

16.2.2003: Orbost => Bairnsdale. 100,4 km, ab Syd> 775,1.
We planned to do an easy ride today, just 60 km to a beach in Lakes Entrance. But: rain and no beautiful beach, therefor we ride on.
Only 282km left till Melbourne. We can do that in the ramainin three days.

17.2.2003> Bairnsdale => Traralgon. 124,4 km, ab Syd 899,5 km.
Flat today but we are nevertheless complaining: headwind! There was a hotel in Rosedale but we did not stop (big mistake), the last few km are utterly exhausting. After you go up a hill, you can coast down on the other side. Headwind does not have this advantage.

18.2.2003: Traralgon => Beaconsfield. 118,1 km, ab Syd 1017,6.
"Highway-day" .Boring except for Georg’s knee-pain.

19.2.2003 Beaconsfield => Melbourne ~60 km so far
The last part of the highway to Melbourne does not have a sholder. Trucks overtake with only some cm distance. Cycling is no fun that way, so we take a long detour.

That’s it, so far. In the evening we will board the ferry taking us to Tassie.
We will report later -

20.2.2003, Melbourne=> Evendale
Yes, we made it to Tasmania. Though it was not easy: Our Ferry-Tickets were cancelled. And the ferry was fully booked. Fortunately we meet Michael, Sascha and Kurt from Germany who have valid tickets which allow also taking our cycles with them. THANKS for your help!
We manage to get plane-tickets over the phone (flying is far easier than travelling on a boat in Australia) and arrive in Evendale, Tasmania the same time as planned.

Pickup from the airport and registration for the World-Chanpionship-Event was well organized. So was accommodation: we stayed with Gaye and Simon Handby, who let us a part of their bungalow. Many thanks, Gaye and Simon, you were the best hosts we could wish for.

In the afternoon we made a little round trip by bike to have a look at the neighbourhood.

The official part of the event started with a wine and cheese evening at Clarendon Hose, a local sight. We rode there by bike as a warm up for tomorrow.

21.2.2003: Evendale - Airport-Sprint
The Airport-Sprint. If you ask around, many of the attendees from overseas come here to participate in the legandary Airport-Sprint.

This is the only place in the world where an airport is closed to do a bycicle race! Phantastic atmosphere! You pass the terminal and ride to the end of the runway. Ready. No, wait, two small airplanes take off afore. Ready! 50 Penny-Farthings are standing side by side and then rush down the runway. On the other end two fire trucks are standing vis-à-vis, spraying an arc to mark the finish. Phantastic, did I mention ths before?

22.2.2003: Evendale - Races.
In the very morning traffic is locked out from the small village. A round track is saveguarded by straw-bales.

At 10am the first races: Slow-race, then slalom. I commit, I was not successful in those. Too much pressure to succeed (our hosts said that they betted all their money on me ;-)
Then the Novice-Race: A race for those, who are the first time at the Evandale-event. Two laps … the competitors are not so fierce and experienced … I finish second :-)

Numerous other races follow … the official World Championship Race over one mile … I did not even reach the final …
Then the Unicycle race. Won that one easily, but it was a inofficial, self organized race … no trophys for that ;-)
Relay: We set up a European Team (Sascha, Germany; Rob, Netherlands; Michael, Germany; Georg, Austria) … not came in last … could have come worse ;-)
One of the funniest races was the “Obstacle”: You had to run to your bicycle, carry it back, wheel is back again and finally ride it. I was one of the last after the first 3 parts but the others took a long time to mount their penny-farthings … that’s why I finished second :-)
Another race to tell about was the so called miss’n out: After each lap the last one is called to leave the race, until only three survive. Me among the final three … I go over the finish line first … oops … misinterpreted the rules … there would have been another lap to go … anyway … third place … and saved the labourious final lap :-))))
I was not allowed to compete in the consolation race, where riders who have not won a medal during the previous races, had a final try.

Great atmosphere, only nice peoply, beautiful weather, sunshine … what was the weather at home? … here it had 25 to 30 PLUS!

Gals-Dinner in the evening ... what more will one want.

23.2.2003: Evendale 20 mile race.
I was not prepared to race, just wanted to catch up with the group started a few minutes ahead, then ride unhurried to the finish, where a picnic waited. But then it begun to be fun … well known: the faster ones are at the buffet at first! … don’t know who won and how I came in … maybe we can read it in the newspaper tomorrow.

That was my second report from my trip down under. Tomorrow we leave Tasmania and return to Australia (by plane again, the ferry is booked up again). The country tour will be the next event … about 70 penny-farthings … sensational!

24.2.2003: Evandale => Melbourne
We have to get up early and fly to Melbourne. Sightseeing and shopping instead of cycling.

25.2.2003: Melbourne => Euroa 65km.
Again we have to get up early. We have to meet those who come by ferry and start the country-tour together.
Compared to our ride from Sydney to Melbourne this will be a unhorried ride: luggage is carried by a bus, every few kilometres food and water is offered.
"strongly recommended dismount and walk" => this is not an advice, this is an order!!! Got reprimanded for riding over the mentioned bridge, but was told the sad background of that story and apologize once more.

26.2.2003: Euroa => Benalla 76km.
Alleys of Eucalypus, where nearly no cars are driving … a pleasant ride to Benalla. The organizers really did great work to find the most beautiful routes.

27.2.2003: Benalla => Wangaratta 160km
That means: get up early once more … get up one hour before sunrise. Ack your luggage and have a extensive breakfast. At 6:30 am it is just bright enough to start riding. The first 56km lap is rather easy, we finish it at 9:30am exactly 3 hours.

Those, who do the Metric Century (100 kilometres), ride to Wangaratta now, those, who do the Imperial Century (100 miles), have to do the lap once again. Interestingly the Americans prefer to ride the Metric Century … probalby a more “exotic” Distance for them ;-)

Three on penny farthings start the second lap together (Nicky Armstong/Western Austraila, Michael Grützner/Germany and Georg/Austria) acompanied by Sascha and Florian on safeties. The secone 56 km lap again takes us exactly 3 hours to finish, although the ride is not as easy as it was in the morning. Besides it started raining cats and dogs.
We finished the next section to Glenrowan at 2:30pm. Strong headwind made it a laboured ride.
On the final section Michael woke up. The pace was that fast, that we even passed a few riders on safeties. It was exactly 3:43pm when we finished our ride together. We did one hundred miles in a little bit less than 9 and ¼ hours.

No one wants to ride to the next hotel to have a well deserves stubby of beer => we prefer walking

28.2.2003: Wangratta => Beechworth => Wangratta 98km
The final day for us. Again a very beautiful tour though the back country. For a crowning finish a looooong ascend on a former rail-track had to be done to reach Beechworth (Gold-Rush, Ned-Kelly, ... a beautiful little Village).
Time to say goodbye now. It was a wonderul week! Georg & Florian rode the same way down to Wangaratta.

1.3.2003: Wangratta => Melbourne => airport
We took the train to Melbourne.
If someone wants to know how to cycle from Melbourne-City to the airport, ask me, I know the route off the busy roads now. Thanks to the organizeation-team of that tour. Another piece of excellent work to select and describe this route!

The flight back to Vienna takes ages. This is the only disadvantage in connection with Australia I can imagine.
It was easy to take the cycles with us on the plane, just deinflate the tires, that’s it.

Story (and clumsy english translation) and Fotos by Georg Bachl, 2003.

The nicer pictures you'll find in the foto-gallery of Annemarie & Holli Hollitzer.

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