Visiting : Cambarville, Royston River Road, Rubicon River Road
Distance : ~75km
When : Saturday 4th April 2015, 5:45am @ Cambarville Picnic Area

Another slacker ride. The Rubicon/Royston area has been on my list for a while now and, after a bit of last minute route planning, I came up with a sort of “back’o’Lake Mountain out’n’back” that would visit Rubicon Power Station and fill in some gaps in my knowledge of the area.

I decided to keep the (car-enabled) commute stage small on this one. Much as I love getting further and further into the hills for these “day” rides, I know it’s probably only a matter of time before one of my 3am cannonball runs through the bush will end in disaster for the very animals I go out there to visit. There were a lot of roos around as I cruised out to Marysville and then up the hill to Cambarville Picnic Ground, the start of my ride.

It was cold and I couldn’t keep the windscreen from fogging up so I had the window down most of the way to Cambarville. Cars are stupid sometimes. Anyway, I was chilly and eager to start riding so I could get warm. I rolled out of the picnic ground on two wheels about 5:45am.

It was pitch black of course, so I just settled into the rhythm of riding and let the road take me. I sensed open areas off to the right as I rode but couldn’t see into them of course. Figured I’d see them later in the day on my way back.

It smelled like smoke.

The main thing that struck me on this section was the amount of water around. So many little trickles and streams coming down the hill and crossing (underneath) the road. And I knew my route followed either the Royston River or Rubicon River nearly all day. One bidon was more than enough round these parts.

After a while, day broke.

Tall trees, steep gullies, thick lush vegetation, wide, well-maintained gravel roads. It was nice country I was riding through.

It was also logging country. I guess I can thank the logging industry for the wide roads, the regular kilometre markers and, something I wasn’t expecting, a large freshly logged and burned section of bush right next to the road. No wonder everything smelled like smoke.

I had a good wander around the smouldering ruins. Some parts were still burning, there was a lot of smoke. What looked like solid ground often turned out to be ankle deep ash. The ground was smashed and burned. Not a sign of life anywhere on the burnt block. Yet the air was full of bird song from the surrounding bush. I spent far too long wandering around trying to take interesting photos of the destruction before finally leaving it behind and getting back onto the good road.

It was mostly downhill on fast wide gravel. I was loving the winding road, no hands, no brakes, fanging it, beautiful trees, beautiful birds, best place to be.

Soon the road shot down sharply and suddenly I was in amongst a brazillion campers all spread around the Rubicon Power Station, just getting up for the day, starting their fires, chopping wood, collecting water. I felt a bit like an intruder amongst all the car-campers who’d staked out their temporary Easter domains. Looked like a great place for family camping though.

I took Rubicon River Road on the way back. Correct choice. Royston on the way down, fast and smooth; Rubicon on the way back up, gnarly, rocky, sometimes loose, a good road for climbing. It was steep in places so I hiked a bunch of it. The views down the river were awesome.

There was another little power station up here. Great engineering. Left me thinking, man, what a cool way to make electricity. Rubicon River comes winding down the valley, you divert a little bit of it and make the diversion go straight while the river does a big windy loop, you send the diverted part straight down the side of the valley and shoot it through a little hydro power station, it flows out the other side and rejoins the river. You’ve only borrowed that water for a couple of minutes and then put it right back where you found it. Perfect.

I climbed up and up, stopping periodically to look at the hydro power infrastructure that was snuggled all through the valley. Miles and miles of water race, little power stations, power lines draped over steep gullies at impossible gradients, little shacks with monitoring equipment and water rushing through concrete and steel tunnels, old tram tracks seemingly going nowhere.

I’d smashed myself somewhat on the climb back up from Rubicon Power Station so my pace was slow and laboured. It was around here that I started thinking about the mechanism of my smashed-ness and had a few epiphanies regarding human energy systems in the context of the hill-climbing singlespeeder. Nothing I shouldn’t already have known but it did cause me to do a bunch of fevered googling when I got home and relate my findings to not only this ride but to many other rides I’ve tried and died on in the past.

Despite my slow pace I made reasonable time back up the hill, went past the logged’n’burned section again, realised I still had plenty of time up my sleeve.

There was a long section of road, flanked by the Royston River, that was impossibly lush and green. Well, by aussie bush standards. Looking down off the side of the road to the rushing water it was just so green and mossy and wet in there. I climbed down for a good look. Thick leaf litter underfoot, everything mossy green, lichens, toadstools, ferns. I got the impression it would be riddled with leeches but I figured it’d be worth it even if I did pick up a few travellers.

I stared into the clear water for ages, trying to see whatever was in there. Fish? Yabbies? Platypus? Man, if I was a platypus, I’d totally live in a place like that. Didn’t really see anything in there though. Oh well.

A bit further down the road I was struck by how many different birds there were in this area. Cockies, Kookaburras, Currawongs, Bellbirds and a bunch of others I couldn’t identify. Then I saw a medium-sized something scamper goofily off the road as I rounded a corner. Ha! So many birds, my arse! It was a lyrebird. I stopped dead. The lyrebird that had run off the low side of the road had disappeared and was silent but its mate was still on the high side of the road, hidden from view of course, but mimicking like a madman. I took a video so I could capture its blatantly plagiarised mash-up of a song.

Love lyrebirds.

Rolling on, I finally spied a view through the trees. Soon enough, I came across another recently logged and burnt section which, through the removal of the trees, facilitated a nice big panorama view of the mountains to the east. The first big view of the whole ride. I took a bunch of photos before accidentally finding the “panorama” function on my phone. Duh.

Yep. Winning.

A few k’s later and I was back at the car, loading in bike, getting out of bib straps, drinking fresh water, while day-walkers and tourists wandered around the carpark and looked at information boards.

Job done.

Crank music, kick Camry in guts, outta there.

Epilogue :
These slacker rides have been fun but they’re starting to feel a little hollow. Driving has enabled me to get to some amazing places in the context of a “day ride” and getting home in time for dinner is a big big thing when you’ve got a wife and kids but it’s starting to sour a little. Driving to a ride? I mean, why not just ride, right? Cars are stupid and expensive and I miss doing long day rides that start and finish from my front door.

I dunno.

Might be time to start earning my turns again…

Epilogue 2:
The Camry got towed home yesterday after it almost caught on fire. It’s a sign.

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