Touring #4 – Xtracycle Rail Trail

May 19th, 2011 Posted in Touring, Travel

We set up Lou’s Xtracyle Peapod in November last year, and just before Easter took it down the East Gippsland Rail Trail with her two boys. Check out more Xtracycle adventures on Lou’s Blog

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Off-roading on the Xtracycle!

It’s almost 5 months since I got back on my bike (thanks to Xtracycle’s awesome Free Radical) and from that very first ride I’ve been dreaming up a way to hit the ‘open road’ with the kids and test my bikes ability to go beyond the daily commutes to music class, home-school meets and all the normal life stuff that we achieve on wheels. I wanted something more, something akin to the kind of bike touring that I did pre-kids. A proper cycling adventure, outside of the urban jungle.

Last week the kids and I packed up the car with our camping gear, threw the bike onto the shiny new roof-mounted bike rack (a tandem to accommodate the length) and headed south to try our luck with cycling along a Rail Trail. Well, not quite threw – it’s bloody heavy and not easy for this 5 foot nothing mama, but with the help of a milk crate and sheer determination I can do it. And have put it on and off successfully several times now with little more than a few greasy stains and perhaps a tiny little bit of chipped paint on the car! (Lucky I’m not precious about the car).

We drove for a few days, camping along the way. The weather turned rather foul at one point and we postponed hitting the Rail Trail for a couple of days while snuggled up in a gorgeous warm log cabin outside Marlo, sitting around the wood fire toasting marshmallows between little bush walks and wanderings along the beach nearby. (I’ll post about the non-cycling part of our trip soon).

When the rain finally stopped we drove to Bairnsdale, ditched the car and hit the East Gippsland Rail Trail on the bike for the next 3 days for our first ever almost whole-family (Will stayed home to work poor thing!) out of suburbia cycling trip. It was great. Challenging and hard work, but really great.

We needed to take a detour off the trail for the first night after discovering on-route that our accommodation options in the village we were headed to did not exist, and apart from the rather hairy 2 or so kilometres of cycling along the Princes Highway with enormous high speed logging trucks and way too fast cars in a ‘shoulder’ that consisted of a lot of loose gravel and uneven surface, we cycled the whole way along the peaceful old railway line through farmland and forest. Over rivers and creeks and gully’s. Past a Brown snake, many kangaroos and wallabies, about ten million butterflies and thousands of birds. And even a few other cyclists, though none of them carrying a load or child(ren)!

I just want to do it all again. Hopefully next time we’ll figure out how to carry camping gear as a cycling trip just doesn’t feel right when you’re not pitching a tent each night in my opinion. Oh well, for this trip we were loaded up enough without throwing in the extra weight of camping gear. And being our first time off a sealed road on the Xtracycle I didn’t want to bite off more than I could chew. I have found myself day dreaming about acquiring some super dooper ultra lightweight and compact fancy pants camping gear that I imagine must exist… anyone have gear of that description that you want to off-load on us?!