Melrose, the penultimate preparation place

Melrose has been an easy peaceful three day stay. Nestled at the foot of Mount Remarkable and renowned as a moutainbike mecca, it’s a small quaint town. Probably more likely a village.

Melrose, qute quaint and the last decent cycle shop until I don't really know
Melrose, qute quaint and the last decent cycle shop until I don’t really know
Wirrabara campsite. A nice spot
Wirrabara campsite. A nice spot
The water in the rainwater tanks at Wirrabara did not look good. Ms Platypus got a good workout and provided clear tasty water for my stay
The water in the rainwater tanks at Wirrabara did not look good. Ms Platypus got a good workout and provided clear tasty water for my stay

Getting here was hardly challenging. But then again I put a lot of effort into my route nowadays. The Mawson, like the Munda Biddi, has a tendency to vie off up impossible inclines before plunging into terrifying declines whilst going off at tangents to the direction I ultimately want to go in.

Thus study I carefully the maps.

I’m not against inclines nor declines nor even tangents and significant deviations if it all leads to a rewarding experience.

What 6% looks like when you're half way up it
What 6% looks like when you’re half way up it

The definition of ‘rewarding experience’ differs significantly when I need to move 14 kg of dual-suspension aluminium mountain bike with the only baggage being my camel-pack and some energy bars. As opposed to 50-60 kg of loaded full steel framed no suspension touring bike + trailer and lots of gear.

An incline or two of say 8 – 12 % with the length of the incline in inverse proportion to the grade, is OK. Good for the heart-beat, good for the legs, good for that feeling of having accomplished something, then a bit of semi-flat riding to enjoy the view, the mood and get some kilometres done.

The Mawson, like the Munda Biddi, are not designed with this definition of ‘rewarding experience’.

I followed the Mawson through the Wirrabara Forest where the fire had wreaked havoc.

Wirrabara burns are long from healing
Wirrabara burns are long from healing
Australia is obsessed with PENALTIES APPLY as a disincentive, rather than education, in this case why you as to why you wouldn't want to go into a recently burnt out forest
Australia is obsessed with PENALTIES APPLY as a disincentive, rather than education, in this case why you as to why you wouldn’t want to go into a recently burnt out forest

I got my 8%. For a good number kilometres actually as I ground my way towards Number 9 Bore, which represented the pinnacle of my climb. I got a good dose of 12% and shot of 14%. Heartbeat stuff. A 4WD load of forestry dudes stopped as I was taking a break and some photos half-way up one of the 8%-ers to make sure I’m ok. Nice of them. We joked that no matter what I eat for breakfast it’s gone pretty fast.

What 8% looks like when you've still got a lot to go.
What 8% looks like when you’ve still got a lot to go.
Wirrabara's burns are extensive
Wirrabara’s burns are extensive
Me looking hot and very sweaty after a shot of 14%
Me looking hot and very sweaty after a shot of 14%

I enjoyed it. My MoJo is definitely back.

The Mawson still has water obstacles. Looks a lot worse than it is. I crossed it easily to the left
The Mawson still has water obstacles. Looks a lot worse than it is. I crossed it easily to the left

Then the Wirrabara came to an end and the pastures, paddocks and croplands began again.

Ah, my world: crop (wheat) and sky ...
Ah, my world: crop (wheat) and sky …

And I faced a choice.

The Mawson wants to hug the foothills of the Southern Flinders Ranges leading to Mount Remarkable, which towers over the landscape. I know, through hard experience, it’ll be a day of steep but controlled descents and steep hard-slog ascents. Now, if it were through forest and some kind of aesthetically pleasing landscape, ala the Munda Biddi, I find I have the motivation to put up with this. But not paddock pasture and cropland. Just don’t do it for me.

My handy map tells me about Dust Bowl Road. The name alone makes me want to ride it. Wouldn’t anyone?

As I’m eating a banana on some dusty road looking in the general direction the Mawson goes and comparing it to the general direction Dust Bowl Road goes a grain-transport truck pulls up. The driver can’t quite grasp what I’m doing and advises I give up on the gravel, take to the asphalt and make my way to Melrose via Murray Town. Nice kind advice but advice I cannot take.

Dust Bowl Road is great. A nice little tail wind, enough variability to be pleasing and I make my way quite rapidly to Melrose. Under a lone giant tree I stop for snacks and to enjoy the view of Mount Remarkable barely five kilometres to the west. Melrose nestles at the base of Mount Remarkable.

A widow maker in action
A widow maker in action

Bundaleer and Wirrabara Forests not withstanding the view’s not changed since Adelaide. There have been some nice towns too. Otherwise it’s a desert. An agricultural mono-crop desert. Aside of magpies, galahs and kangaroos there is no biodiversity. I’ve not seen any Bobbys or Blueys, no snakes no snake tracks, no tracks of anything else either. Except when I’ve been in the Bundaleer and Wirrabara Forest. In the latter I come across a large snake. Not sure who’s more surprised I or it. Either way it disappears pretty fast and I’m not game to give chase through the long grass. A small snake later on disappears in a more languid fashion.

A 4WD passes me. A Bobby is crossing the road with perfect timing to end up under the vehicle’s left wheel. The 4WD very deliberately swerves to avoid it. Made me smile.

Still further on I finally come across a Bluey. A Bluey is very similar to a Bobby and occupies the same ecological niche. They have yet to cross the Nullarbor and so are only found in the Eastern States and the middle of Australia. Not in the south West. A beautiful lizard, slightly longer, sleeker with smooth scales.

A Bluey. Similar to a Bobby only smoother
A Bluey. Similar to a Bobby only smoother
The head of a Bluey
The head of a Bluey
No surprise where the name comes from
No surprise where the name comes from

Over the Edge Sports – http://otesports.com.au/ – in Melrose is the last decent cycle shop I’m going to encounter until … well, am not sure even Alice Springs has one. It is the last decent cycle shop.

I need an answer to my noise from the belt.

OTE, Santos Bikes and BMCR from Adelaide and I finally conclude that tension is OK, alignment is OK and therefore the noise is the result of the severe dunking I and Dreamer got coming into Burra which resulted in the chainwheel oxidising, as in getting a bit rusty, as it sat in the beer storage room. As I rode off from Burra the carbon-fibre belt began to re-polish the steel chainwheel resulting in the alarming noise. Solution? Well, keep riding. And it’s true. The noise, whilst still discernible, is a lot less noticeable of late. And a dose of Teflon &/or silicon spray. I opt for a small bottle of water-based wax emulsion, which also does the trick.

Melrose is where I also need to solve my new problem. The Topeak handlebar bag is supported by two L-shaped pieces of steel. All the vibration has resulted in them wearing out, much like you can break a can in half by repeatedly bending it. Topeak were sympathetic to my cause but apparently the supports are not available as independent spare parts and they don’t have a bag in stock to pilfer the supports. Should they come up with a couple of supports they’ll let me know.

Topeak's handlbar bag's support, decidedly bent. I need a solution otherwise I'm not going to have a bag
Topeak’s handlbar bag’s support, decidedly bent. I need a solution otherwise I’m not going to have a bag

Mark of Melrose Motors agreed to take on the challenge. His solution is a thick steel plate to lie behind the supports. To reduce the weight he cuts out sections then grinds them smooth. Another excellent piece of Bush Doctoring. I reckon the Topeak bag will now survive what’s coming.

Mark of Melrose Motors cutting out the Topeak handlebag support
Mark of Melrose Motors cutting out the Topeak handlebag support
The support in its rough form
The support in its rough form
Making the support smooth and silky
Making the support smooth and silky

Next week is going to be hot out here, approaching 40C in the water-bag. I need to find out how I perform in 40C coz it may well be my New Reality as I head further and further north.

I look forward to it.

My target is Quorn where new steel coupling arms await me. It’s only 70 km further up and it’s unlikely the arms will be there for another week, so I have an easy ride.

Quorn is also the last decent sized town until Alice, if I’m not mistaken. That means I have to be well prepared when I leave it.

I look forward to that too.

Max

Melrose 14 November 2015

3 thoughts on “Melrose, the penultimate preparation place

  1. Be well prepared. Good luck. Mind IS around the bush.
    Here on the old continent IS are already standing in front of the gates of Vienna. Will the fortress Europa hold? A reverse Crusade. With revived ismailic assassins.

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  2. Hey Max. Love reading these even though it gets a bit technical for me. And love the cards as well. Can you post a map of what you have done? And plan to do. You mentioned Alice Springs. If you pass there let me know. Xxx. Hans

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    1. All I need to do with the map is sit long enough at a computer to work my way through the software. I really wanna do that.
      I’ll be in Alice Springs within a week to 10 days. I’ll look at posting a map then.
      Hugs …

      Like

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