Official Ride day 1. Sunday 30th November
Woke sometime around 5:30am to the sound of heavy machinery flashing lights and reverse beep-beep-beep of fork lifts... I fumble around with the zipper of my tent look out and find people are packing their gear and getting ready for their first day of riding.
Figuring it best to beat the crowd I packed my gear, loaded it into the nearest truck (5), and jumped in the breakfast line, it was about 6am. In the cue there were about 20 people ahead of me, but when I looked over my shoulder I could see a long line stretching well past my camp on the river bank and up the hill toward the main entry already well over a couple of hundred meters long. Phew! I'd made it just before the crowd. I thought to myself 'Man! I'd hate to be at the end of that cue!' But actually the cues move amazingly fast! At every meal there are at least 5 serving bays and each of those bays has about 5 people serving. So the line just keeps moving, people sit at one of a sea of tables to eat their breakfast, or Dinner and are replaced by the people coming behind them, pretty soon 4,000 people have been well fed. It really is an amazing sight.
So on Day 1 we rode from Albury to Yackandandah via the Hume Dam!
This was my first experience of riding with a large group and I was quite excited. I pushed off with a group of young guys, one of whom was carrying some kind of sound system in his backpack so we had music... for a while. I soon discovered that people ride at very different pace and I tended to want to stay away from large clumps of riders so I tended to push forward to get away from the crowd, rather than dropping back. By the time we'd climbed a few small hills the field had spread out and I was in a comfortable riding space with some serious riders around me.
|Crossing Hume Dam wall|
Fairly early on the ride we rolled down across the Hume Dam, which produced a kind of euphoric feeling of freedom and awe at the beauty of the country we were in.
Heading toward Yackandandah or 'Yack' as the locals call it we had a fair bit of up hill work to do, it was quite strenuous but the encouragement of other riders made it somehow easier to keep peddling (Or maybe that was competitive pride?), then amazingly several km before Yackandanda the road started to slope downwards and riders had a freewheeling free ride all the way into town! (Or quite a fast ride for those of us who preferred to keep our legs pumping!)
As we zoomed into Yackandandah we were greeted by a welcoming parade of locals who stayed (in the heat of the day) to welcome all riders over a period of about 4 hours! The town of Yackandandah was very welcoming. Cyclists mingled with locals and sat in the shade of the main street caffe's, museum, art gallery, grassy park and the pub, where live music was playing. The people at Yack were very welcoming and friendly, it was a great place to spend the day.
|Yackandandah community welcoming party|
|Fresh water Spiny Tailed Crayfish|
This ride is pretty amazing! All I need to do is peddle and put up my tent, everything else is totally catered for by the ride organizers! Just line up with your plate at dinner time and you get an awesome meal (wash your own plate), after dinner you can sit back and watch a movie on the giant outdoor screen or listen to live music, or just head into town and see what's going on in there.
Really loving this ride so far!