Ed’s Note: A couple weeks back we brought you a report of Euan Pennington’s fat-bike adventure to the down-there-in-the-southeast Erica area of Australia. Well, he’s baaaack… This is the sequel to the story of their Gippsland adventure. Photos are again by Jo Foley.
Diligent readers of this site will have read not so long ago of our fine adventures in the Erica area, but that is not the end of the story. Where I left off the last epistle, we still had plenty of fuel, some wine, some whiskey, and a few days up our sleeve, so we headed east.
East of Erica in Gippsland, (Australia), finds you in Heyfield, and it is here that the local MTB club has built a network of trails, which is so popular that now even the Government is chipping in some folding to improve the facility. Next door to a quality caravan park, there are rock gardens, flowing trails, and one of the finest downhill romps this side of the big smoke. At only a couple of hours from Melbourne it’s a “best kept secret”, and kudos to the East Gippsland MTB club for their work. Blores Hill is its name, check it out if you get the chance.
Speaking of the East Gippsland MTB Club, they have another park a couple of hours east, between Bairnsdale and Lakes Entrance and this is a pearler. Whilst there are some excellent trails, log rollovers and the like, to my mind the whole point of the Colquhoun Forest is the “Lollipop Track”. It’s more than a couple of kilometres, (a mile or two in old money), of singletrack that has been draped over a gully, with logs, bridges, berms, re-entries, and hairpins that come together to astonish. Now I imagine it could be ridden in a safe and sedate fashion, it’s not highly technical, but if you are, say, human, you will very quickly be inspired to push things to the raggedy edge. Once there, if you are not a dab hand on the brakes you will without question find yourself with your bowels in your back pocket shaking hands with Mr. Pain. It’s a blast. Go there with a group of mates and I can guarantee someone will end up “Ah Sovar”, as they say in the classics.
Which is all well and good, but some might say, “This is a fat bike website, and you could ride these trails with a strong pair of brave trousers and two inch tyres.” True, but Gippsland also has something else. A beach. Now I can only imagine the discussion that was had when the erudite pioneers opened up this country and came to name some of the features but, I suspect it went something like this.
“Hey Bruce, you should see the beach I discovered, I think I’ll call it Southern Sandscape Dreaming”.
“Crikey Kev, do you suddenly live in Brunswick, wear large designer glasses, and discuss the artistic merit of the underlying metaphor whilst sipping soy moccachinos? We’re not the cafetocracy here. Now, how big is this beach of yours?”
“’Bout ninety miles, Bruce.”
“Right. We’ll call it the Ninety Mile Beach then. Job done.”
“Thanks Bruce. Now, fancy a frappe?”
“Frappe Kev? Have you learned nothing here today? I’ll have an almond milk chai latte with honey, thanks. Organic, if you have it”.
Much of Australia was named this way. The Great Ocean Road is a road, beside the ocean. Quite a good one. The Great Australian Bight is a really big bight, on the south coast of Australia. The Great Sandy Desert? Big. Sandy. A desert. You get the idea. So Gippsland has the Ninety Mile Beach. A beach. Not sure how long it is, but long enough for a decent ride, that’s for sure, with plenty of dunes to sneak into for a cunning camp, and endless insects to share the experience with. Fat-bike heaven.
Sadly, though, all things good or otherwise come to an end, and as our crashes taught us, that which doesn’t kill you can still really hurt. As we wended our way to the cat sitter to pick up our small bundle that seems to demand way more space in the bed than her size would normally dictate, we reflected on what a fine week it had been. New trails are always fun, a bit of the unknown, a badly bogged car at one stage, (why do girls never see the humour in that at 8pm in the rain?), beautiful beaches, friends, cheap wine and a big courage award to my partner who crashed in the first half hour of the first ride, but rode the rest of the trip only to discover later that four of her ribs were sprained. Campfire stories for future trips. So put down the computer, and I’ll see you out there. This is why we ride.
Thanks, Euan! Always love reading your stories. Hey, other fat-bike riding folks, how about taking a page form Euan’s excellent notebook and write a story about your adventures. Shoot a couple of pix to illustrate and send the whole shebang to me at firstname.lastname@example.org. I’ll make you famous!