First time bikepacker: Bairnsdale to Wangaratta

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ComradeSpear
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First time bikepacker: Bairnsdale to Wangaratta

Postby ComradeSpear » Mon Sep 04, 2017 11:59 am

This is my first bikepacking trip and would be great to receive advice from more experienced members.

I’m bikepacking from Bairnsdale to Wangaratta 28 Sep to 30 Sep along the Great Alpine Road. I was in the Omeo area during Easter but didn’t get to ride from Omeo to Mt Hotham; however, I’ve ridden Mt Hotham and Mt Buffalo from Bright.


Advice needed:
1- Weather: I note that there’s still snow on the mountains. What’s the recommendation to ride up Mt Hotham/Buffalo late Sep?
2- Clothes: Any recommendations? Pack less or more? ...... Details below
3- Safety: anything else I should factor in?
4- Pre-ride: I was thinking of fitting everything for a long ride to test the setup. Thoughts?
5- Anything else?

Route Details:
• Bairnsdale-Omeo (via Cassilis) ~128km (1,850m) @20km/h: starting 11:45am & aiming to finish 630pm
• Omeo-Bright (via Mt Hotham) ~108km (1,850m) @22km/h (downhill to Bright after Mt Hotham): starting 10am & finish 3pm
• Bright-Wangaratta (via Mt Buffalo) ~130km (1,700m)@25km/h (downhill from Mt Buffalo): starting 9am

Packing Details:
I’ll be riding a steel bike fitted with compact cranks & 11-32 cassette and:
• Large saddle bag(8.5L): change clothes for 1 day ride (shorts/Long bibs/jacket/thermal/socks/small bag of toiletry – planning to wash clothes at Bright to wear for the last leg)
• Frame bag (3L): x2 spare tube/x4 CO2/large pump/patches/levers/Topeak Alien compact toolset/food/rain jacket/thick gloves/spring gloves
• Toptube bag (0.75L): phone/powerpack/wallet/ride food
• x2bottle cages x750ml bidons + Electrolytes
• Garmin 520 + Stages powermeter for pacing
• Front lights Lezyne 400 Lumens & Lezyne 100 Lumens (Flashing)
• Rear lights: Lezyne 80 Lumens / Specialized rear helmet light
• Small first aid kit
• x2 Phones: main phone & emergency

I’ll be wearing MTB shoes + Booties with SPD-MTB pedals. I’ll use the MTB shoes for walking in towns... Main meals/breakfast will be in the main towns too.

Hildalgo
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Re: First time bikepacker: Bairnsdale to Wangaratta

Postby Hildalgo » Mon Sep 04, 2017 4:07 pm

There's quite a bit of snow forecast this week, and likely to be there late September.

http://www.weatherzone.com.au/climate/s ... e&lc=83085

If you look at the averages, maximum averages at Mount Hotham in September is 3.4 degrees. They get quite a bit of rain so you'd want to have some good wet weather kit just in case.

A number of roads around there are open and exposed to the elements so you'd want to bring as much is comfortable to carry in some pretty cold weather/wind.

Keep an eye on the weather closer to the date, particularly with the winds as you can really get pushed around on a windy day up there.

Roads are pretty quiet around there, and good visibility on many of the roads. Just long distances in-between where you can buy food/drink. Definately agree that you should test the bike with the full weight, particularly on climbs as guessing you'll have quite a bit of climbing on this adventure.

dalai47
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Re: First time bikepacker: Bairnsdale to Wangaratta

Postby dalai47 » Mon Sep 04, 2017 4:47 pm

There will definitely be snow around.

Have a plan B ready as the road can be closed to all traffic like it has been today from Mt Hotham to Harrietville due to conditions!

madmacca
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Re: First time bikepacker: Bairnsdale to Wangaratta

Postby madmacca » Tue Sep 05, 2017 3:42 pm

1. Once you climb out of Omeo, you are then onto the Cobungra high plains for 15 km- c. 1200m with little cover. From there you climb onto the Dinner Plain ridge line for about 20 km of 1500m+ which is even more exposed. At these altitudes, the combination of wind, wet clothing and temps <5C can suck the heat out of you fast, and become LETHAL very quickly. Ypu may want to look at the forecast closer to the time - if it is like this last weekend, perhaps postpone. Regardless, you will want to check your wet weather gear - if you jacket does not offer good wind protection, you may want to add a wind gilet to your gear. You will also probably want a beanie under your helmet.

2. Given snow conditions at the moment, it is likely that the ski resorts will still be in operation that weekend. So there will be plenty of traffic about, but they will NOT be expecting to see a cyclist. Be visible!! On the plus side, this means that services will still be available at Dinner Plain, Hotham and Buffalo.

3. While it is not steep, the long exposed uphill drag to Mt Hotham can be quite slow into the prevailing westerly headwind. I'd allow extra extra time by a 9.00 or 9.30 start out of Omeo.

Of course, having preached doom and gloom, you'll probably be riding in beautiful spring sunshine through the snow, and having an awesome time! :D

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ComradeSpear
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Re: First time bikepacker: Bairnsdale to Wangaratta

Postby ComradeSpear » Tue Sep 05, 2017 4:31 pm

These replies got me thinking twice about this trip :x but thank you for stating some of the risks I need to factor in.

I've got some good cycling gear but I've never tried them in trying conditions. Nevertheless, I am still seeking an adventure with limits of course :lol:

I'll derive a Plan B and keep monitoring the weather closer to the dates to make a call on the final route.

Hildalgo
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Re: First time bikepacker: Bairnsdale to Wangaratta

Postby Hildalgo » Wed Sep 06, 2017 2:14 pm

Have you got an alternative route you could do instead?

lone rider
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Re: First time bikepacker: Bairnsdale to Wangaratta

Postby lone rider » Thu Sep 07, 2017 10:03 am

Last year i was at Falls Creek late November and there was snow, they are predicting to extend the season this year due to conditions already so I think this plan is very ambitious. Descending Hotham in freezing conditions would not be something I would want to do for fun. You could head through Mitta Mitta towards Tallangatta and either to Wodonga on the rail trail or back towards Yack through Allans Flat and onto Beechworth if you have a desperate need to get to Wang. Camping wont be fun, its pretty cold at nights in the North East this time of year.

madmacca
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Re: First time bikepacker: Bairnsdale to Wangaratta

Postby madmacca » Thu Sep 07, 2017 1:19 pm

Hildalgo wrote:Have you got an alternative route you could do instead?


That's got me thinking.

Day 1 Tallarook to Eildon
Day 2 Eildon to Mansfield via Jamieson
Day 3 Mansfield to Wangaratta via Tolmie and the King Valley

Similar distances, all sealed roads (although option for rail trail for part of it), services at towns, rail station to rail station, but tops out at about 1200m in altitude.

Hildalgo
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Re: First time bikepacker: Bairnsdale to Wangaratta

Postby Hildalgo » Thu Sep 07, 2017 3:38 pm

Here's a link to that rail trail:

http://www.thedandenongranges.com/touri ... ail-trail/

I found most of the rail trail quiet and peaceful, but not a flat trail. There's a bit of loose gravel, and you'd want to be running at least a 28 mm tire. Fair bit of undulating climbing. Would highly recommend to do the Cheviot tunnel near Yea, and the crossing at the Bonnie Doon Bridge though if you just do short sections of the trail.

If you get up north, can recommend a 25km loop to the west of Glenrowan (near the King Valley) through Taminick Gap that is a gem to do:

http://www.thedandenongranges.com/touring/taminick-gap/

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cyclotaur
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Re: First time bikepacker: Bairnsdale to Wangaratta

Postby cyclotaur » Thu Sep 07, 2017 4:55 pm

Along with Uncle Just, I've done:
Tallarook>Alexandra>Warburton(via Acheron Way)>Melbourne(Balwyn)
Wangaratta>Whitfield>Mansfield(viaTolmie)>WoodsPt(Via Jamieson)>Marysville>Lilydale
Benalla>Tatong>Mansfield>Alexandra(via BonnieDoon/ColesRd/SpringCkRd)>ReeftonPub(via ReeftonSpur)>Lilydale
Lilydale>ReeftonPub>WoodsPt>Jamieson>Eildon>Warburton>Lilydale

These all included some gravel trails and/or roads, with the two WoodsPt rides being pretty epic but there are doable routes from anywhere on the NE railway line to/from Melbourne or, indeed. out and back from Lilydale. We've stayed in pubs, motels, cabins - no camping. All good fun. :)

Hoping to squeeze in another trip later this year from the NE down to Gippsland via Omeo/Hotham/Dargo or similar.
Here's my blog - A bit of fun :)
"Riding not racing...."

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ComradeSpear
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Re: First time bikepacker: Bairnsdale to Wangaratta

Postby ComradeSpear » Thu Sep 07, 2017 9:31 pm

Google maps has been my friend.
My friend just got back from Mt Hotham and it's packed with snow and unlikely to melt in 3 weeks!

Wang has to be a stop for me. I don't mind gravel and climbing but can't fit 28s on my bike... I've got 25s.

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ComradeSpear
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Re: First time bikepacker: Bairnsdale to Wangaratta

Postby ComradeSpear » Thu Sep 07, 2017 9:35 pm

madmacca wrote:
Hildalgo wrote:Have you got an alternative route you could do instead?


That's got me thinking.

Day 1 Tallarook to Eildon
Day 2 Eildon to Mansfield via Jamieson
Day 3 Mansfield to Wangaratta via Tolmie and the King Valley


This one sounds interesting. I need to research it.

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ComradeSpear
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Re: First time bikepacker: Bairnsdale to Wangaratta

Postby ComradeSpear » Thu Sep 07, 2017 9:49 pm

cyclotaur wrote:Along with Uncle Just, I've done:
Tallarook>Alexandra>Warburton(via Acheron Way)>Melbourne(Balwyn)
Wangaratta>Whitfield>Mansfield(viaTolmie)>WoodsPt(Via Jamieson)>Marysville>Lilydale
Benalla>Tatong>Mansfield>Alexandra(via BonnieDoon/ColesRd/SpringCkRd)>ReeftonPub(via ReeftonSpur)>Lilydale
Lilydale>ReeftonPub>WoodsPt>Jamieson>Eildon>Warburton>Lilydale


Some good ones here but I only have 3 days. I allowing 120-150 km/day

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ComradeSpear
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Re: First time bikepacker: Bairnsdale to Wangaratta

Postby ComradeSpear » Sun Sep 10, 2017 9:50 pm

madmacca wrote:
Hildalgo wrote:Have you got an alternative route you could do instead?


That's got me thinking.

Day 1 Tallarook to Eildon
Day 2 Eildon to Mansfield via Jamieson
Day 3 Mansfield to Wangaratta via Tolmie and the King Valley

Similar distances, all sealed roads (although option for rail trail for part of it), services at towns, rail station to rail station, but tops out at about 1200m in altitude.


I had a look and here are the routes:
D1: Base-Alexandra @130km/1300m
D2: Alexandra-Mansfield via Jamieson@120km/2200m
D3: Mansfield-Wangaratta @100km/900m

In terms of gear & clothing, what is the advice to pack for this route if riding end of Sep? I'll stop at towns to refuel.

Hildalgo
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Re: First time bikepacker: Bairnsdale to Wangaratta

Postby Hildalgo » Mon Sep 11, 2017 10:32 am

Keep an eye on the wind. You're horribly exposed to the elements up north, and spring the weather can be pretty consistent. Northerly in the morning and southerly in the afternoon. If you don't have it, download an app like Willy Weather that you can look up wind conditions geographically on an hourly basis to work out the best times to ride, and plan in rests.
If you do the rail trail, you can get food in most of the towns along the way.

dalai47
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Re: First time bikepacker: Bairnsdale to Wangaratta

Postby dalai47 » Mon Sep 11, 2017 3:48 pm

lone rider wrote:Last year i was at Falls Creek late November and there was snow


I was skinning up the lake side downhill runs skiing on my Alpine Touring gear late October last year. Expecting similar this year with snow falls still continuing!

lone rider
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Re: First time bikepacker: Bairnsdale to Wangaratta

Postby lone rider » Tue Sep 12, 2017 9:22 am

One thing thats been missed here as well. I spent last week up near the Murray, the magpies are completely feral compared to the city ones. Be prepared.

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ComradeSpear
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Re: First time bikepacker: Bairnsdale to Wangaratta

Postby ComradeSpear » Tue Sep 12, 2017 1:15 pm

lone rider wrote:One thing thats been missed here as well. I spent last week up near the Murray, the magpies are completely feral compared to the city ones. Be prepared.


.... And I have a Fluro helmet!

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ComradeSpear
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Re: First time bikepacker: Bairnsdale to Wangaratta

Postby ComradeSpear » Sun Oct 01, 2017 10:32 pm

I completed my first solo bike packing adventure based on some of the advice from this thread and overall it was a enjoyable and challenging experience mixed with great scenery, challenging terrain and some wild weather to boot.

Three stages but I think I could've pushed the km/day a bit more:
- Melbourne-Alexandra: https://www.strava.com/activities/12052 ... 1506677786

- Alexandra-Mansfield via Jamieson: https://www.strava.com/activities/12082 ... 1506766981

- Mansfield-Wangaratta: https://www.strava.com/activities/12079 ... 1506813015


I used everything I packed but next time I'll pack a rechargeable power bank for the phone and electronic devices. I think better tracking is also a better option of traveling solo. Thanks again for the tips and ideas.

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