January 6, 2016 – the gravel cycling in JOM’s home state of South Australia continued, with more excellent summer weather on tap. High temperatures were 31 degrees Celcius / 87 degrees Fahrenheit with plenty of sunshine and a bit of wind about the place.
For the first time in a while, I (JOM) was faced with a real conundrum. There was so much amazing scenery along the route, it proved difficult for me to not blow the entire day photographing just about everything. These first world problems really suck.
While I’ve been focusing on still photography of late, I do have a GoPro camera or two with me, and will film some of my future rides for release to the website. So many rides to do, so many videos to produce and so little time! All make for good reasons to keep visiting the GravelCyclist.com website eh 🙂
Today’s gravel ride began in the South Australian town of Mount Pleasant, and headed southeast to the Murray River town of Mannum. The Murray River is Australia’s longest river, at 2,508 kilometres / 1,558 miles in length. For once, I got lucky with the wind direction. On the way out, mostly a head / cross wind in the southerly direction, and favorable winds on the return. I (JOM) don’t ever plan rides based on the direction of the wind. When I last checked, organiz(s)ed rides and races aren’t based around wind direction; you play the cards you’re dealt with!
If you take a gander at my Strava link at bottom, you’ll notice the elevation profile of the ride. Downhill all the way to the town of Mannum, and uphill for the return leg. On the positive, there weren’t any leg-breakingly steep climbs on the menu for today… a good thing, as I was still feeling Monday’s ride.
As many of us know, gravel roads are seldom traversed by vehicular traffic, or most cyclists for that matter. Today, I (JOM) set a new record for the number of vehicles seen while on the gravel roads. Three cars. Three. Yes, really, there were only three. One bloke was driving a courier van and shocked to see a cyclist as we met at an intersection – hopefully he took notice of the kit I was wearing! The other two were friendly locals.
Despite the beauty of the scenery, much of the ride was quite desolate. My only company for much of the day was the sounds of the wind, gravel beneath my tires (tyres) and Australian birds such as the magpie and galah. On the subject of tyres, I’ve been riding the Maxxis Rambler filled with Orange Seal’s new Endurance formula exclusively during this trip. Both have been absolutely stellar. Expect a review sometime soon.
The town of Mannum was the half-way point of the ride, and the only planned stop along the way. During the summer months, Mannum is a popular tourist destination. Like the springs and rivers near my USA hometown of Gainesville, Florida, Adelaideians like to head to the Murray River. This being a weekday, the town was relatively quiet, which made for no wait time at the local bakery! I LOVE Aussie bakeries. If any of our international website visitors ever make the trip to Australia, do yourself a favour and visit a local bakery. Yum!
The return leg of today’s journey was pleasant, mostly due to the tailwind which I (JOM) mentioned earlier. While there was a little bit too much pavement for my liking out of the towns of Mannum and the town of Palmer, those stretches of road were very quiet today; during a weekend, that could be a different matter. Google Maps / RidewithGPS.com indicated a couple of possibilities to avoid the pavement, but the Google Street view indicated the roads were gated. After Monday’s bush bashing / walkabout session, I wasn’t up for another episode of covertly riding across some bloke’s cow pasture.
Along one of the final sectors of gravel, I came across a nice piece of railway desolation. Due to improvements made in paved roads and vehicular transportation over the years, this has sounded the death knell for many railroads the world over. While it is commonplace to convert these former railways to cycling or hiking paths, there are many sections of disused and abandoned railway track that still litter the state of South Australia. As mentioned in previous articles on the site, I (JOM) am an avid railway nut. I take every opportunity to examine and photograph railway artifacts and track – if the South Australian Government is reading this – please leave the old railway tracks alone!
The final town along today’s journey was Tungkillo. There isn’t much there. The local watering hole (aka pub) looks to be under reconstruction and the rest of the town seemed very sleepy in the late afternoon sun.
Overall, yet another amazing ride. There is so much good gravel riding in the state of South Australia – and I have only touched on a small part of it. It is becoming quite apparent to me that:
- South Australia is a gravel cycling paradise.
- I need to spend more time in the homeland exploring. That includes exploring the other states and territories of Australia – Victoria, New South Wales, Western Australia, Queensland, Tasmania, the Northern Territory and the Australian Capital Territory.
- I need to document all of it.
- I should probably have a job doing this.
Strava Ride Data
For those so inclined, you can check out my ride HERE.
Tomorrow, another ride beckons, and it may be possible I’ll have company for this ride. Looking forward to it!
Thanks for reading.