A link to the full photo gallery is here: http://www.ulyssesmelb.com/content/autumn-ice-run-may-2015
If anyone wishes to add photos please email them to me and I will add them to the gallery
We were blessed with perfect weather for the weekend after some harsh and wintry conditions in the mountains a fortnight earlier. Twenty of us met at the service centre on the Pakenham bypass and Chris White volunteered to do tail end duties on his Ducati.
We made the new participants welcome and headed out promptly at 8.00 am with Andrew and Mick heading off separately to deliver something in Officer with a plan to meet us again at Heyfield. After about 20 minutes of “transport” along the freeway we turned off at Longwarry and went through villages such as Drouin West, Brandy Creek and Buln Buln along the Old Sale Road in perfect conditions right through to Westbury. The views were great and I couldn’t help but marvel at how lucky we are with the roads and scenery around Melbourne as we meandered through the dairy region looking its best. We continued through Yallourn North without any corner marking hiccups and again the contrast between the old fibro housing and the rolling hills in the immediate vicinity provided a great contrast.
We arrived in Heyfield in good time and met up with “Pop” McLeod and some more participants at a local café and had a relaxed break.
Andrew caught up with us shortly after we arrived and told us that Mick had somehow lost his wallet. After several phone calls it was discovered Mick’s wallet had been handed in at Warragul but that he was having some navigation issues and that he would catch up with us in due course. “Pop” with his excellent local knowledge then provided us with a “pilot” service through the beautiful countryside north of the highway by starting off skirting the actual weir wall of Lake Glenmaggie and then tracking east through places such as Stockdale and Glenaladale along some more fantastic country roads before popping out onto the Omeo Highway just north of Bairnsdale and we arrived in Bruthen for lunch and fuel by 12 noon. We met up with Neville who indicated more of the advance group had already headed off to Omeo.
We then rode north up the highway with many views of the Tambo River in perfect conditions
and paid attention to the new speed limits before regrouping in Omeo and meeting up with still more attendees.
A small group then broke off and headed to Howmans Gap via Anglers Rest (The Blue Duck) and the Bogong High Plains Road which is a considerably shorter route but an extremely winding road. The majority of us headed on up to Mt Hotham on the lovely open sweepers via Dinner Plain and stopped just past Mt Feathertop to simply have a rest, take in the views (which were great with excellent visibility) and take some photos.
We then descended cautiously to Harrietville down the very tight section, continued towards Bright, turned towards Mt Beauty and climbed and descended the lovely Tawonga Gap before stopping in Mt Beauty for a break, fuel and some last minute supplies. We made our way up the last 30 odd kilometres individually and arrived at Howmans Gap with plenty of daylight to spare only to discover that two people (no names mentioned here but they were both first time attendees) had ridden past the huge sign to Howmans Gap and on to Falls Creek and overshooting yet again on the return journey before finally getting me on the phone and then reuniting with us as just darkness fell. On arrival we were made welcome by the manager Matthew and Di who was our cook / host for the night. We also discovered that Mick had taken the “short cut” via Anglers Rest and arrived at Howmans before us, so that was good. Once rooms were sorted and bikes put under cover many adjourned to the fire in the lounge for some well earned drinks, nibbles and camaraderie. Dinner was served in the large dining table and we rearranged to furniture so that all 39 of us sat around the one large common table.
We enjoyed more camaraderie, food and a couple of music DVDs which most people were too busy socialising to take much notice of. After that most adjourned back to the fire for conversation and drinks.
The night passed quickly and many retired early after the long day in the saddle.
On Sunday morning Di provided us all with a hearty cooked breakfast, we then packed and got the bikes ready for day 2.
Several popped out early to take in the short ride to Falls Creek. The temperature was very mild and we had no problems with the ice we had anticipated and in fact it got colder once we had descended to Mt Beauty, where we regrouped and fuelled up.
We then tootled north down the Kiewa Valley Highway past Coral Bank in beautiful sunshine but the frost was still evident in the shaded areas of grass beside the road. We then turned towards Ovens via Happy Valley (another great road) and exercised some caution in view of some dampish roads in the shaded areas of the hill. We continued through Myrtleford and then headed west along the Snow Road to Oxley where we stopped at the café for morning coffee and a rest break.
Again plenty of varied conversation accompanied the break and then it was off again up the King Valley to Whitfield and then over the mountains via Tolmie and on to Mansfield for an early lunch stop.
The group basically broke up then as people headed off to their various destinations and a couple of us rode all the way back to Lilydale together via Yea and the Melba Highway. In all, I did about 950 kilometres including my ride to the start point.
I had a great weekend. The weather was perfect for riding. It all went too fast and I didn’t seem to get enough time to speak to everyone I would have like to enough, but I guess that happens with large groups. Thank you to everyone who came along and made it the event it is.