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A little ride ... - He's just this guy, you know.

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December 20th, 2009

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04:43 pm - A little ride ...
So, on one of the cycling forums I read, a little message popped up, referring to this tweet from Cadel Evans, proposing a little group ride from Hurstbridge to Kinglake (with a loop out around Arthur's Creek and Strathewen).

I was still undecided about going even as I was getting up this morning, but in the end I decided it was a nice day for a ride, and it's not like you see world champions riding around every day. Of course, being a Sunday morning I was pretty slow to get going, and drove in to Hurstbridge around 9:40 - not a cyclist in sight. Oops. I quickly got on the bike and took a reasonable guess on which road they might have gone down (the signpost saying "Arthur's Creek" was a good clue). I saw riders heading the opposite direction, one or two at a time, along the way, and started wondering if I was going the wrong way, or maybe that I'd really missed out on the group somewhere. And then I rolled into Arthur's Creek and saw this, at the CFA depot :
Bunch of cyclists at Arthur's Creek CFA

Aha ! "Little" group found. Cadel was somewhere up the front, talking to the CFA people, or maybe giving a little speech - I couldn't tell from where I was, but there was occasional laughter and a couple of rounds of applause. And then we hit the road. I mostly tailed along at the back of the group, not because I was struggling with the tempo (it was billed as a social ride, after all), but it has been a number of years (almost 20) since I regularly rode in bunches, and I may be a bit rusty on bunch-riding skills these days.

Eventually we hit the climb to Kinglake, and a strange thing happened - people started going backwards. Or rather, I started moving forwards, through the bunch. I wasn't trying all out or anything, but apparently all of my commuting this year (and maybe the wider gear range on my bike than most pure racing bikes) has helped my climbing skills. In the end, I caught up with the front group of 30 or so rides (including Cadel, of course) and stayed with them to the top. At that point the Kinglake bakery and cafe (which only opened/re-opened recently) must have thought their Christmases had all come at once, with 50 or 60 hungry cyclists descending on the place.

After a break there (in which I didn't get my cycling top signed, although maybe I should have ?), we headed back down. I stopped for a photo or two (e.g. see below), and had to chase for a while, but caught up with the main group after 7 or 8km. We rolled into Hurstbridge, and that was that. 70km of riding, some of it through areas affected by last summer's bushfires, which seem to be regenerating as best they can.

And here's a view over the Kinglake area on the way down - in the middle distance, you might be able to see some cyclists on their way down (may need to click through to the larger version of the photo to make them out, though) :

Looking over Kinglake area
Current Mood: relaxedrelaxed

(5 touches | En garde !)


[User Picture]
Date:December 20th, 2009 06:01 am (UTC)
Wow. There's so much regrowth, but even so you can still clearly see where the fires went.

I'm continually amazed at how things manage regrowth.

And at how obvious the path of the fires is.

And also that you rode up there - hills! Many hills!
[User Picture]
Date:December 20th, 2009 10:00 pm (UTC)
A lot of the regrowth is from grasses (which then brown off in summer) and epicormic budding on Eucalypts (which is why the trees look more bushy than a normal gum tree would).

Fire is a very patchy thing, though. Apparently there are parts where it was a slower burn, and it managed to sterilize the soil, even killing off fungi and microflora for at least one metre down. Other places, it was still extremely hot but traveled faster, which is how the trees were blackened but not burned badly enough that their buds underneath the bark were unharmed.

Sorry if you know all this already.
(I was up there doing fieldwork about two months ago, when the grass was a bit greener.)
[User Picture]
Date:December 20th, 2009 10:57 pm (UTC)
Interesting, I hadn't heard much about the mechanics of it with respect to the plant regrowth. I was aware of the patchiness of the fires - the photo of the four burnt out cars with a patch of completely untouched bush about 5 metres away helped with that - but I don't think I'd clicked that the rate of burn would have such an effect.

And yeah, if my backyard's anything to go by the grasses up there must be going nuts about now.

I'm trying to convince my husband that we should go up and have a look before the anniversary. Initially it was too raw, and recently... well, it's been Christmas for starters. But it'd be good to see the view of the city from Kinglake before the trees go back. And support the businesses by buying coffee and cake and stuff.
Date:December 24th, 2009 09:40 am (UTC)
I went for a drive around the western parts of the ACT two years after the bushfires there, and parts still looked like that, where they hadn't gotten around to clearing away the burnt trees. It was quite sad.
[User Picture]
Date:December 24th, 2009 09:42 am (UTC)
Whoops, sorry, that was me.

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