Day Two recap:
“Day two of my bikepacking rookie adventures. Another 100 clicks. Everything stayed fixed onto the bike for a second day. And I perpetuated my lifelong inability to successfully follow a signposted trail. Oh and there were butterflies – hundreds of beautiful butterflies 🦋 💓 Now that I’ve grown attached to the beauty of strapping the essentials to your bike and travelling, powered only by your body and mind, miles away from home; tomorrow is just a case of getting back to said home… 🚲”
Route: Esk to Yarraman via the BVRT (including some looping and some road) – 99.3km
After a really chilly, sleepless night, morning shone on Esk and I was both excited and sleepy, packing up a decidedly wet tent back onto my bike, ready for the next section of trail. Not however, before a coffee stop in town, where the barista (a lovely old gentleman) gave me an extra biscuit when I said I was riding to Yarraman that day. Easy way to my heart, thanks mate.
The locals in these country towns really bring character to trips like this. I had barely spoken to anyone in the last 24 hours and as I was riding out of town, looking for the trail, another couple of local guys stopped for a chat; told me a little about the history of the trail and pointed me in the right direction. The sun was shining and I had a moment of realising just HOW fortunate I was to have the freedom to be out there on this adventure. I made a promise to myself to look at the beauty in everything today and not fall into yesterday’s limiting mindset of “oh it’s a bit flat and not super exciting.” As it transpired, it wasn’t so flat today, and regardless of mindset, it was definitely more enjoyable and varied. I also wasn’t fully aware of the COVID-19 restrictions about to hit, and how special this freedom really WOULD become.
Not purely because of my shift in mindset, but also because of the variety of the trail itself – I found the Esk to Yarraman section to be far more interesting and fun than the day prior. I have a video of myself saying, “Today is great. There are corners.” Damned by faint praise hey, but also sort of true!! There was also some climbing, although in all honesty I don’t really remember it. Everyone talks about this long climb somewhere or other… and I think because I had hyped it up in my mind, it was sort of an anticlimax? That, or having a memory akin to Dory, is the reason I now sign up for endurance challenges time and time again.
A couple of places stick out in my mind from this day – Blackbutt, because I managed to loop back on myself at this point; passing hikers who I had passed earlier in the day, thinking, wow, that’s strange how they’re walking both ways… only to realise, I was the strange one. I’d hopped onto a section of road instead of trail and unwittingly, on seeing the next BVRT sign, jumped back on the trail in the wrong direction. Yeah – do I receive a trophy for the first person to get lost on a point to point, signposted trail?! What a numpty. I also didn’t even know about the famous Blackbutt bakery that day, but fortunately I had to come back though the following day, so didn’t miss out “third” time around!
I stopped for a coffee and a snack in Moore – home to some more friendly locals who warned me about flooding on the trail ahead (which turned out to have mainly dried up, so I merrily rode past the “trail closed” signs, more easily in this instance than day one). Another memorable spot was Linville. There’s a hotel here which looked like a good place to stop for lunch (if I hadn’t had an alternative gourmet offering of a Clif bar and some electrolytes) and an old red train parked up at the station. There’s also a free camp area here. Handy to know. The trail out of Linville north was one of my favourite sections. It was the first time I felt marginally remote (which I love) and came with ups and downs, and yes, corners. It was also home to some beautiful green, undulating hills and HUNDREDS of butterflies. It was beautiful! I also rode across a really fat, dead python, by mistake, while marvelling at said butterflies.
Having had the “looping back on myself” incident, and a mild (albeit really, mild, because, it wasn’t terrible other than adding extra random kilometres) sense of humour failure, I was pretty keen to get to my destination for the day – Yarraman. I actually hopped off of the trail for the final section, not knowing how rough or slow going it might be, and chose to boost into town via the main road (so, again, don’t follow my GPX file!). I knew I’d have the chance to ride it in the opposite direction in the morning anyway, and I was getting hungry and very sun burnt thanks to sweating off layers of sunscreen, as per usual. As I approached town, I tossed a coin in my mind – head to the campsite, unpack my soggy tent and freeze my proverbial arse off again… or… book into the local motel; have a warm bed and dry my tent before the 150 odd kilometre ride home tomorrow. Let’s just say, if I’d called “heads”, there may have been two sides to the coin, but they were both “heads”. Motel it was.
The ego is a funny thing and the stubborn part of me thought – nope, you said you were going to bikepack with your tent and that’s what you’re here for, so, head to the campsite. The rational brain however knew that I hadn’t committed to anything whatsoever, and given that I was squeezing this trip in between work, didn’t want to get sick and hadn’t ever cycled that far in consecutive days, not to mention with a loaded bike, plus the fact I was not going to be any warmer than night than the night prior (…can you sense I was convincing myself?)…. the motel was a jolly good option. I didn’t exactly find myself in the lap of luxury, but boy, it was super nice to plonk down onto a proper mattress; have a proper shower, and have a warm, dry space to unpack my bike, dry stuff and repack it for the following day. I was 110% happy with my choice. It did also mean I could charge my devices, now that my battery pack had run dry, if only I had actually brought a plug to charge them…. Lesson learned.
It wasn’t long before the bathroom was filled with all of my wet gear and after a refuel from the local supermarket, it was purely a case of deciding which of my two delightfully smelly t-shirts I’d wear for the ride home, after a hot shower and a good sleep in a proper bed… Today had been a fun day; lack of nav skills and all.