Yep, over the course of our four days cycling we only saw two other cyclists (that I can recall), and the second cyclist was participating in a MTB race just on the outskirts of Bendigo.
However to put that into perspective, we saw only one group of walkers doing a long day walk (ignoring people out for short walks as we were coming into or leaving towns). We did however come across six motorcyclists using parts of the trail which they shouldn't have been on.
But I digress. If you were just out to ride one section of the Goldfields Track, then the Dry Diggings Track between Daylesford and Castlemaine would be the section to ride. It has the best tracks for mountain biking and is the best signed of the whole route ... if only there was a VLine stop at Daylesford so you could do an out and back by train it would be darn near perfect.
My impression was that we rode it in the right direction as well, because after the initial steep climbs up from Hepburn Springs most of the single track sections we rode were downhill, and the uphill sections were mainly on gravel roads or 4wd tracks and this is just the way I like it.
But don't let me mislead you - there were some steep hills in there at the start ...
.... and Kim wasn't the only one pushing, believe me, but the tracks also went through gorgeous open bushland with the steep climbs all short and spaced with some great riding (and scenery) in between.
Kim has pointed out that I only seem to ever take photos of her when she is pushing her bike, so I would just like to point out that this is simply because I'm more likely to pull out my camera somewhere where we're pushing our bikes than if we are ripping down some single track somewhere, but just for the record here is a picture of Kim riding her bike to prove that she does
occasionally usually do so ...
Anyway, after some lovely bush riding we knew we were coming up to a road because we came along one of the many bush rubbish tips along the route ...
and you could be pretty sure that anyone who was so lazy and tight that they couldn't take their own rubbish to the tip was similarly too lazy too drive far from any roads. This turned out to be only a gravel road though and we had another great section of single track before coming out and crossing the highway next to a chocolate factory ... thought that was worth noting.
Unfortunately our early start had got us here too early, so we carried on.
After a brief and annoying section along the highway we followed the track off onto a gravel road and enjoyed some great fast riding and even some views! (something that took Kim by surprise was that there are actually very few views from this track. I hadn't thought about this until she pointed out that we are supposed to be riding along the spine of the great dividing range).
Then we hit the main sections of single track and to quote Genesis 1:31, God saw all that he had made, and it was very good. Except it was me, not God, and I didn't make any of these trails ... but I think that is just splitting hairs ...
but it also ended oh too soon, as we had to divert away from the trail and out onto ... wait for it ... bitumen roads. It was in fact whilst flying down a steep bitumen road into Vaughan (no services) that we passed that other cycle tourist I mentioned so we didn't get a chance to stop and say hello.
After a bit more bush riding we eventually pulled into Fryerstown (no services) where we had planned to stop for lunch because the route profile showed that from here it was all pretty much downhill into Castlemaine.
To continue on with my Genesis storyline ... may whoever put that route profile together be cast down into the pits of hell and burn ... OK, maybe that's not a direct quote from Genesis, but after a large lazy lunch and having mentally engaged myself for a downhill run home, to then find ourselves fighting up some brutal little hills for what seemed like forever, well my mindset went very dark.
I admit that if I had started at Fryerstown these hills probably wouldn't have worried me, but I was in shut down mode and my legs were obeying this instruction to the letter so every turn of the pedals seemed unfair ... If you've ever been in this headspace you'll know what I mean: You're enjoying yourself somewhere inside, but it's time to cross the finish line, and ever corner that you come around and just seem more hills and more track just seems painfully unfair.
Because of this mindset, this section was a bit of a blur, but I do remember there was some bits of fun riding in it. I can't tell you how happy I was however to come up to a Goldfields Track trailhead sign which showed that it was only 9.7kms to Castlemaine. I also knew we were almost onto a water race which I had to assume would be mainly downhill.
I was happy.
After another five or six kilometres, and another decent little hill climb, I came across this sign:
10 f*#king kilometres????? that means I've ridden backwards!!!
I have banned Kim from ever repeating what I said upon coming across this sign, though I think every human within a three kilometres radius of where I stood would have heard my opinion on this matter.
The simple summary is "I am now less than happy". Let's leave it at that.
However, we were finally onto that water race and ignoring the fairly steep drops on either side of you it was fun easy riding for a ways and again I was dreaming of a cold, cold coke and a hot shower.
Then, just as I started to get my first glimpses of Castlemaine amongst the trees, Kim's rear rack broke.
I mean, "That's cool, no problem".
Initially we thought we could fix it by replacing the bolt that had sheared off, but of course with disk brakes it was an extra long bolt and we had nothing that was long enough on us (even if we could have got the broken bolt fragment out of the frame), so Kim resigned herself to a long walk into Castlemaine ... at which point muggins here had a brainwave.
I pulled out the large duffle bag that Kim had brought to carry our panniers on the airline and managed to load all of Kim's panniers into this and get it onto my back wherein I got to ride the last few kilometres carrying both of our gear along what turned out to be some pretty technical single track, and you know what ... because this changed the riding from wearisome to Epic I suddenly found myself really enjoying the riding again.
I needed that extra challenge apparently.
Who would have guess that?
That said, I wasn't sad to hit the bitumen and run the final section into town.
That cold coke wasn't bad as well.
Day 3 done.
Again just for the record, other than the chocolate mill there were no services between Hepburn Springs and Castlemaine.
There were two bike shops I came across in Castlemaine. A Giant stockist on the main street (which seemed very well stocked with good quality bikes) and a second bike shop called"The Vault" which was just up from the train station (both shops are on the GPS route for the track). This second shop was closed before I stumbled across it and I couldn't see what stock it had.