As promised a while ago I am at last getting to this SOTA by Bike story.
It was early March and grape harvest is finished early, mind you it was not an easy vintage the old vines were all ripe and ready for harvest 2 weeks early and singing out to be picked, Baume’s were going through the roof. We got through the harvest in 8 weeks and picked 4,800 tons with 5 machines going all hours. My body was trashed from long hours in the seat and not many hours of sleep in between but as they say “that’s vintage”, I wish it was not like that of course.
So with not many miles in my legs and only a few training rides pulling BoB behind my MTB up along the Riesling Trail I must say I was a bit under done on the bike. I did carry 10 kg of sand in a bag in BoB to shock my body into the task and when fully loaded with clothes and radio gear I was pulling 20 kg including BoB. I find the excitement of the first day tends to help and the second day is the hardest and by the end of the ride you think you can do it for ever. I managed to get the right accommodation along the road for every stage and decided to be away for 6 days and activate 3 SOTA summits. Because I don’t carry camping gear or camp I like to stay in cabins so I can take care of my needs and feed myself better I had mixed accommodation with the motel at Quorn being the worse . The motel rooms have these great large lit up EXIT signs on the veranda near a fire hose for safety reasons but I would say the patrons would be in more danger from sleep deprivation the next day.
My trip Started in Laura and I rode to Melrose the MTB mecca of the mid north and stayed in a quiet room behind the pub. Next morning I walked up Mt Remarkable SOTA vk5/ne-010 it was an early start and I was walking in the dark with lights for an hour or more.
That’s were I am headed, it is a benched walking track to the summit of about 6 km distance and it took me around 2 hours 40 minutes to make the top . I had great views out east from the benched trail on these screed slopes from an ancient time and the weather was nice and cool.
Once up the top and set up for SOTA I found it very hard to rustle up enough contacts to qualify, 40m was really bad locally and it was only Tom VK5EE who saved me by telling some of his local mates in Mt Gambier to come up on 40m and give me a call . VK6BSA was really strong from his mobile but I could not hear or be heard by any close stations at all. Its a strange feeling to climb up for 3 hours and not qualify I must say, I was getting a bit desperate. I did manage to get Roger VK5NWE on 2m fm simplex so he got Nev VK5WG to try 30m and we managed a low signal swap on a ground wave signal to make maybe 6 QSO’s in total . I hate leaving a summit without giving Nev a contact. The walk down was good taking about 2 hours then I had a really nice bacon burger at the White Pub washed down with a big glass of stout. Then on the bike and off to Wilmington my next over night destination. I found the camp ground down stream about 3 km from town and to my surprise an air conditioned cabin for $20 so I had a nice sleep that night. The funny band conditions were still playing havoc, I set up my usual sked with Grant VK5AMC for Wednesday night but it was a no go, I sent a couple txt msg but no copy via radio either end. Much to my surprise I worked a Japanese station on the same frequency just after Grant gave it away using the KX3 at 5 watts.
Next Morning I was off again on a road called “the gunya” which is a dirt road to Quorn my next destination.
It’s a very hard ride I climbed and descended 430 metres to arrive at Quorn at the same sea level I started out at, my Garmin showed about 30 ups and downs with most of them being Granny Gear climbs with all the weight on board.
Smoko in a creek about half way to Quorn on the gunya
One thing I will say for BoB he makes for a lot of spinning small gears , it took me 4 hours to go 44 km and I was shattered by the time I got to Quorn. Being in the Motel behind the pub I had to dodgy up my meals with no real cooking equipment in Motel rooms but I got by. Up early next morning I road out to Richmond Valley a very nice ride even if it is up hill all the way to do SOTA summit Richmond Hill vk5/ne-089.
I parked by the road side and the hill in the back ground is the Richmond Hill summit about an hours walk away. These days the Goats have made a good track to follow up the hill it was not there a couple years ago when I first made the climb. These are ferrel Goats not SOTA goats. This day band conditions were really good the solar flare had settled down.
I made QSO’s on ssb and cw this time . On the way back to Quorn I went past Devils Peak summit but it was closed off to the public during fire danger season so I saved it for later. I had a great tail wind for about 20km and set a great speed towing BoB setting a record of 21 kph average speed pulling a trailer. Back in town I was able to get to my usual cabin at the caravan park and even got a echo discount for turning up by bike, it was great to have a room again and good cooking facilities. Just as a by the way this year the Caltrop weed was really bad and I had already had two punctures on my bike so I decided to head back to Melrose via the black top. This was my longest trip to ride 65 km so I was up and out the park by sun up but it made no difference about an hour later I got another puncture this time on the black top.
My safe working place bike hanger to keep my good wheel out of the Caltrop prickles. Lucky it happened near a creek crossing I could use the concrete ford as a place to change my tyre. Because I was spinning along on the big chain ring at about 20 kph by the time I stopped all my puncture goo in the tube had blown out . So I just rolled up the tube and put in my last new one but making sure I had checked inside the tyre for prickles sticking in the tyre. It pays to take the tyre completely off the rim and turn it inside out and run fingers around to detect and prickle that have penetrated through. I run Maxis Kevlar walled tyres and on a previous tour I ended up throwing the tyre away because of a Caltrop prickle infestation they just kept on working through giving flats all the time.
Back at Melrose in the after noon with no summits that I had not already done I went up to the War Memorial near the base on Mt Remarkable and chased a few vk2 and vk3 activators just for something to do, and swapped off a few numbers in the John Moyle field day contest.
I probably could have done some of the excellent bike trails there as well but radio was the other choice I had, but I went for an evening walk around town to loosen up my sore legs. After a nice meal at the White Pub and my same cabin out the back I hit the sack early in anticipation of another good nights sleep. Well pity the mob at the pub did not have the same idea by 3.30 am the boom box fell silent and all the lads with their xr6 fords and other noisy cars wound out to full noise up the main drag left town so I decided to hit the road as well with hardly any sleep. I had the usual big feed of oats soaked in cold water and powdered milk and was on the road by 5.30 am. I had a good flashing tail light and front light on my bike and also wore my led head lamp so I was well lit up and it was very pleasant at that time of day. I only encountered one vehicle from behind and wondering if it maybe a left over drunk I made sure I was stopped and well off the road before he went past me. I made good time to Laura in about two and half hours to find the local coffee shop serving eggs and bacon so I made sure I had some of that . I had to kill time before going to my sisters place and not wake them up on a Sunday morning to collect my ute and load up to drive to the next summit . vk5/ne-065
This is where I activated the Bluff summit it was totally burnt out a couple years ago but its great to see how the old bush recovers . Its a leg burner to activate, I had to walk about 3 km to make the top up a bitumen road that is closed off to traffic these days . I had a good activation being Sunday lots of folk chasing and S2S activity .
That ended a great week of SOTA by bike for me thanks to the chasers and great accommodation establishments along the way.
3 SOTA peaks and 300 od km of cycling and 12 od hours of hiking to play radio.
Best two hobbies in the world IMHO.
73 de ian vk5cz ..