The Dueling Banjos: My Side of the Saddle – Day 01 Lilydale to Jamieson Apr 10, 2012

All Photos by Andy White

Andy from Fyxomatosis and I did something a little different this time around. He’s posting my photos and dictating over them and I, his. We loosely are calling this the Dueling Banjos. So here’s my side of the saddle:

When I found out I would be returning to Australia, Andy asked if I wanted to go on one of he and Dan from Shifter Bike‘s “epic” rides out through Woods Point. I’ve been following Fyxomatosis, since forever, so I knew what that meant. This was a man’s ride. A no holds-barred, dirt and hurt ride. Since doing my tour, I have stayed in the saddle. I had the base miles underneath me but did I have the ability to keep up with Dan and Andy? Nervously, I accepted the invite and the day before we left, Dan took my Milwaukee Orange One into Shifter Bikes for a cleaning.

We left that morning and met Andy in Lilydale. We rode along the Warburton Rail Trail, through flea markets and eventually stopped in Warburton for breakfast. Canadian pancakes, a long black, fresh juice and some pastries. As we were leaving the cafe, I thanked Dan for cleaning my bike, to which he replied “thank me in 30 minutes”…

He was right. The ascent came out of nowhere. But at least it was sealed. I’d soon learn to love sealed road. Sure, it’s easy to get caught up in the “epicness” of gravel but the roads here weren’t for Suburus or Hondas. These were ATV-only. We climbed up  Reefton and to Cambraville for a rest in the shade. The whole time, I couldn’t sit. I don’t like to sit when I ride. I’ll stand, eat, drink, piss and crack jokes, all while taking photos but sitting just reminds me of sleeping and I can’t bring myself to do it. So I sat for five minutes with DAndy…

Here’s where the suck began. Unfiltered, organic suck. When Andy opted out of the normal Woods Point route, he threw in a fire trail that bridged the Jamieson-Eildon rd. As soon as we hit the gravel, Andy was descending like a bat out of hell, or into hell rather. Dan was close behind and I pulled up the rear, watching their lines and ensuring that I didn’t go off a cliff. Within a few miles, I flatted. Then Andy flatted. Then I flatted and then Andy flatted. Fucking bugga’. I brought three tubes, Andy brought 2 and Dan brought maybe 1.

Dan is smart. He showed up with a 7kg bike and 38c expedition tires. His tires weighed more than his wheels. Andy was on stock Bontrager 35c tires and I thought, for some reason, that 32c Vittoria cross tires would be ok. Pfffft…. The tubes kept popping. I learned that the yellow gravel was perfect for bombing, the orange sand was a little grittier and the red clay was where hell laid. These weren’t pebbles, they were large, sharp rocks, hidden under dead leaves and plant matter. Like little land mines waiting to ruin your day. Snakebites continued.

Around this time, we had all exhausted our water supplies and food was scarce. I learned on my last tour to not drink from dodgy water sources, or so I thought. “Hey Prolly, there’s a stream, fill yer bidons there mate”. Feeling dehydration coming on, I jumped into the creek and had at it. People will say that you should carry a filter with you, or tablets. Truth be told, the tablets have just as much of a chance at upsetting your stomach as the river water does and I was sure the mountain streams would be the closest thing to potable water.

NEVER eat the berries

Out of hell, came heaven. Finally, the Eildon-Jamieson road returned. Miles upon miles of sealed goodness awaited. I have never been so excited to pull it into the big ring and fly off the back of the saddle. My cheeks hurt from smiling so hard. The rain began and soon, the descent sent ripples of goose bumps over my legs as we peeled off through the ranges. Soon enough, we were at the bottom, where another river awaited our emptied bottles. So what did I do? Like an idiot, I filled up again.

This is that point in a ride where you think “oh, we’re staying on a river, the climbing must be finished”. Nope. From there, we climbed up to Bald Hill Gap. This climb didn’t seem too bad and it really wasn’t, at least it was sealed. Dan and Andy took off, out of their saddles up the range. Meanwhile, I just took my time, soaking in the beautiful countryside, stopping just long enough to swig water and avoid the massive flies.

We made it up and down Bald Hill Gap and rolled into Jamieson, a paradise that would house us for the night.

In Australia, a lot of the pubs in the countryside have hotel rooms. You can make a reservation and simply “crash”. Which is what we did, after we ate and downed a few beers and played a round of pool. We knew a good night’s rest was due, for tomorrow, we had an even bigger day ahead of us.

Here’s the break-down from Day 01.

My GPS wasn’t connecting to the satellites this day, so I got left with a mapless ride.

  • Guest

    awesome

  • http://twitter.com/klei_ber Brian Kleiber

    So epic & inspiring. I really hope to visit the OZ and NZ in the near future…

    • http://theradavist.com John Watson

      Melburn, it’s the place to be!

  • http://www.facebook.com/wade.stevens Wade Stevens

    awesome. love these kinds of rides (minus flats).
    so much build-up (hah) about the water … not sure if I want to read day two … “when John gets the shits”

    • http://theradavist.com John Watson

      I love me some bacteria.

      • http://www.facebook.com/wade.stevens Wade Stevens

        I prefer mine in yogurt and stinky cheese.

  • curt mcgirt

    i want to like dan and fyxo. but i get bad vibes

    • http://theradavist.com John Watson

      From in person? Or…?

      • curt mcgirt

        just weird internet vibes.  they seem a bit elitist 

        • Terd Ferg

          give me a break

          • http://theradavist.com John Watson

            I know, right?

        • http://www.facebook.com/wade.stevens Wade Stevens

          I would love to be lucky enough to find a mechanic like Dan in my neighborhood.

        • http://theradavist.com John Watson

          Elitist, or experienced? You gotta remember, Dan’s been a top-notch mechanic for over 20 years and has seen the industry change many times. Andy’s also one of the original track bike “bloggers” – and both are as friendly as can be, as long as you’re not a twat to them.

          I don’t like shitty people, I only surround myself with positive vibes.

  • Guest

    what jacket you packing john? 

    • http://theradavist.com John Watson

      Gore Bike Wear ALP-X (pretty sure that’s the model) – I’ve had it for 4 years, no issues. Still 100% waterproof. Lightweight, packs well and fits me perfectly.

  • Epsilon Rock

    Wow, reading this makes me miss my Davidson Impulse even more, Amazing photos and posts from you and Fyxo!

  • http://www.facebook.com/aggiodavo Dave Coultas

    Hey John,

    Great write up. Sorry I haven’t met you yet when you’ve been in town. Are they Giro shoes you wear? Any good?

    • http://theradavist.com John Watson

      I wouldn’t wear them if they were shit.

      • http://www.facebook.com/aggiodavo Dave Coultas

         Good point! I also switched my brain into gear and read your reviews on these and the Rapha shoes

  • http://www.facebook.com/jamesmckeon Jamie McKeon

    fuck dude. i gotta get to melburn.

  • Tgtodd

    was wondering where the syrup was…

  • Guest

    Whats that day pack you got on John? The compresson straps on the side look neat & niffty.

  • http://www.facebook.com/wade.stevens Wade Stevens

    what tires on the MKE?

    • http://theradavist.com John Watson

      Vittoria Cross EVO