Release from the Melbourne Covid-19 Lockdown and a loop around Victoria, Australia

Release from the Melbourne Covid-19 Lockdown and a loop around Victoria, Australia

After four long months and the defeat of the spread of the Covid-19 virus in Melbourne, restrictions were lifted and travel within rural parts of the state of Victoria is allowed.

Time to spread the wings

The route – an 1800km loop around the outskirts of Melbourne – A route I will dub the outer Melbourne Ring Road.

Victoria, is the smallest mainland state of Australia but with a diverse landscape some iconic riding roads, along the coast and over mountains.

This route took in aspects of them all

Starting with a trip in company past the Port Phillip Bay Heads (the Rip) an often treacherous piece of water but calm and benign this day.

Off the ferry it was a ride through the Mornington Peninsula to Cape Schank and its magnificent view over Bass Strait

There is a lovely ride from Cape Schank to the township of Flinders before heading up to the first set of mountain twisties around the base of Mount Baw Baw.

And through some magnificent old growth forest.

After a run on the back roads of Gippsland camp awaited at Bruthen and the start of the Great Alpine Road.

From Bruthen the Great Alpine Road runs up the Tambo River Valley

Up to the summit of Mount Hotham

The northern side of the mountain is the most steep and a bit of a testing ride at times and then just after it flattens out there is a turn off to Mount Beauty over the Towonga Gap Road; with its beautiful views over the Kiewa Valley and the Mount Beauty Township.

Storms were forecast and a caravan was found beside the Kiewa River

After the storm the next morning was cool and the clouds still hung in the Valley

The run was now west through the King Valley

One of Victoria’s famous food and wine regions

With beautiful country pubs

And views over the valley from the mountains that flank it

The final twist for the day was to head north over the Macedon Ranges to Mount Franklin

Where there is a camping area in the crater of this old volacano

And walks around the crater rim

Mount Franklin is near the historic gold mining town of Maldon. See previous post here

The route west was then onto Maryborough and its amazing Victorian Era Railway station built during the gold rush

Then Avoca in the central highlands and central to the Victorian Pyrenees wine region

To the Grampian Ranges and a ride through these amazing rocky outcrops.

By this time the weather had turned wet and cold and it was a dash south across the western district plains to a warm hotel in the green rolling hills of the Otway Ranges hinterland.

A gentle ride along the Great Ocean Road.

An old time favourite ride see previous posts here and here

The overall trip was just under 2000km

So different to being confined to a 5km radius

Yes it was time to spread the wings.

Next week the interstate borders open!!!!

A bit of greenery and a lucky turn in the hinterland

A bit of greenery and a lucky turn in the hinterland

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It was a sunny clear still winters day

The air was crispy cold as I headed out of the city and into the rural hinterland of Melbourne

As I passed over the Murchison Gap  the rich green farming land was rolling out in front of me – a sight to see

The little back roads winding through the hills and farmland beckoning

But it was a holiday weekend and the roads were slowly filling, even the back roads were starting to bulge with caravans being towed by big SUVs.  Post the Covid 19 lockdown I think all Melbournites were keen to get out of the city.

After the lovely tourist town of Marysville I was heading for the Black Spur only to hit a long line of traffic

A sign to Warburton   a quick to the left and I was on a little road through the forest

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The road soon became a gravel track

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And I was in the tall trees and giant tree ferns of the  Yarra Ranges National Park

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The surface was a little damp and slippery in places

But no traffic just the smell of the bush and a through this beautiful piece of old growth forest

Such a lucky turn, a piece of serendipity on a little days ride.

A taste of the Savoia, Annecy and Aix les Bains.

A taste of the Savoia, Annecy and Aix les Bains.

The old town in Annecy built around little canals that flow into the lake is a treat

The lakes are the feature of both Annecy and Aix les Bains.

In Aix-les-Bains the steep cliffs around Lac du Bourget provide a riding and viewing pleasure

Especially when you find a little Cafe perched on the cliff edge

To enjoy a beautiful Savoia pinot noir and chucaterie selection.

I was lucky enough to be able to join in solidarity with French Climate Activists and march is support of the world’s beautiful natural places. The planet is worth making a stand for!

Romania two further places of natural beauty

Romania two further places of natural beauty

New companions on the Transalpina

For the touring motor enthusiasts the Transalpina rates highly

Its a long pass that’s what makes it so special.

148km of curves over the Carpathian Mountains

With beautiful lakes

The top of the road is more like a long ridge across the top of the Carpathian Mountains than a pass

From the southern end of the Transalpina it’s not too far to the Danube and the Bulgarian border

And encounters with well pravelled riders

Follow the river west and there is a gem

The Iron Gates of the Danube road which is cut into the cliffs along the Danube

The start of the Iron Gates are marked by this ancient Statue

The road then runs for about 100km mostly cliff face with some beaches

Until the you reach the point where the strict girdle of the mounts stop and the mighty river opens out again.

Two very special rides!

Le Dolomiti

Le Dolomiti

In the Dolomites

From my camp in Cipena near Bormio it was over Stelvio once again and onto Merano, a gateway to the Dolomites.

Jaufenpass

The high road from Merano leads to the Jaufenpass.

From there the amazing rock structures that are the Dolomites unfold

Campsites tucked under the monoliths give amazing mountain sunsets

Over the Passo Gardana, a favoured by bikers the way I took toward Cortina d’Ampezzo

Cortina is such a beautiful Alpine city.

Looking down onto Cortina

Cortina centre

The there is the back roads and villages. Little campsites where there is space and few people

In and around the village of Cimolais

Like all Alpine areas you have to sometime pay for the beauty with thunderstorms and a day of rain

Rain after the thunderstorm in Cortina. It’s a small price to pay.

Ciao bella Italia, Auf Wiedersehen sonnige Schweiz

Ciao bella Italia, Auf Wiedersehen sonnige Schweiz

Swiss/Italian border, Umbrial Pass

There was much nostalga riding from Switzerland to Italy

The Fluelapass was the first Alpine pass I rode back in 2016

At the time I couldn’t imagine how I could come back again

And now Im on the 4th tour.

Truly addicted to the Alps

The Fluelapass links to the Ofen Pass and that to the Umbrial Pass which crosseS into Italy and leads to the beautiful city of Bormio.

The top of the Stelvio is a Circus of bicycles, motorbikes, cars, sausage Stalls hotels and shops .

From Bormio the valley opens up

With lovely camping grounds, with walkers, cyclists and bikers in summer. Skiers in winter.

Perfect for camping in the pretty village of Cepina.

A perfect day riding in the Swiss Alps

A perfect day riding in the Swiss Alps

Atop Nufenen Pass

My Swiss friend took me for a days ride

A beautiful day with the sun shining, 9 high mountain passes and 430km covered

I was buzzing at the end

Ice flow on Furka

There is the right way! Ascend the mountain on the side with the tightest corners and descend where the corners are not so tight.

Why?

Its more challenging that way!

Then you must do your favourite pass twice.

Looking at Grimsel Pass from Furka

Looking over Glestch to Furka Pass from Grimsel

There was still lots of ice flows remaining from winter.

Top of Grimsel

Then there is a stop at a mountain top restaurant for lunch

Goulash soup my fave at the top of Nufenen

And the view

And of course the amazing Alpine transport system

Fast trains

And luxury coaches

San Gotthard to Airola coach runs up and down San Gotthard pass

Just a perfect days riding

What a ride 3 countries, 4 high passes.

What a ride 3 countries, 4 high passes.

The Col de Iseran looms high above the Val d’Isre

The Val d’Isre is a Ski Ressort in winter a biker mecca in summer

Then there is the Petite Saint Bernhard that crossed from France to Italy

The Petite links to the Great Saint Bernhard at Aosta,

And at the top of the Pass it crossed into Switzerland

The Great Saint Bernhard runs to the Swiss city of Martigny

There the is a final pass to Chamonix in France

The Col Forclaz with its little hotel in the Pass which is so Swiss

And then in Chamonix stay at the foot of Mount Blanc.