The full moon odyssey was definitely a new experience for all of us who took part. How could we turn down the collision of fine weather, clear skies and a full moon on a Friday night? Of course we couldn't so the Dusk to Dawn adventure was born, a 220km ramble through the Macedon Ranges. The plan was to depart the Cross on Mt Macedon at dusk and ride to Castlemaine via Pyalong, the Burke and Wills track and Redesdale, returning to Woodend for a pre-dawn finish back on the mount. I'd ridden in the dark plenty of times - a winter's day commute will do that to you but never attempted an all-nighter!
Lights were charged and clothing options discussed. The forecast was for a not too cold 6C minimum and light winds. Perfect.
The four of us - myself, Mark, Marty and Mitch - rolled out of Woodend and up the mount, arriving just as the sun was dropping. Lights were turned on and we dropped of the mountain and headed out on quiet roads to Lancefield before quickly dropping down to Pyalong. Not suprisingly we had seen little traffic - these are not the busiest roads in the daylight hours - but also little wildlife. Arriving into Pyalong for a water stop and the local wildlife was in evidence at the pub. We were soon attracting attention and comments and rolled out of Dodge quickly before any of the tossed comments became reality. Soon we were really of into the wilds, heading west on the ever rolling and aptly named West Rd in search of Burke and Wills track. By now we had to be vigilant for errant roos that made the odd appearance in our path.
Mitch bade us farewall at Baynton, ploughing his lonely furrow back to Gisborne as we headed north. The further north we pushed on the track, the colder it got. Every time we dropped into a hollow to cross a creek, the temperature plunged only to spike up again as we rolled out the other side. Soon we were crossing the plank bridge at Redesdale and the mercury was down to 2C. With no sun or reflected heat, it was feeling really cold as our bodies questioned what we were doing out riding bikes beyond midnight.
We pushed past Mt Alex and quickly dropped into Castlemaine. The temperature had climbed significantly. It was gone 1am and we were in search of a hot brew and something salty to eat - surely a 24hr servo would sort us out? But, alas, no. According to three taxi drivers, the nearest was Bendigo and Castlemaine "shuts at 12 o'clock". Which, of course, beggars the question, what sort of business did these taxi drivers expect standing at the taxi rank in the deserted centre of town at close to 2am?
Empty handed, we rolled out of town. What we ate, we carried. A pleasure of these night rides is the freedom from traffic and the new perspective on the landscape, dominated by sound and the huge sky. These were roads we had ridden many a time but here we were discovering them again. It was a pleasure to climb out of Castlemaine on the Midlands Hwy, a normally busy little stretch of road than is more a chore than a treat. Each little town felt deserted, occasionally punctuated by a light in a window - late Friday night frivolity or early prep for a busy Saturday?
As we headed back to the end of our journey, the physical act of riding became almost invisible and it was our minds that started to fog and play games. We had all had a day's work so had been on the go for close to 24 hours now and thinking was... well it required some thought! Mark declined the final assault of the mount and rolled straight home to Gisborne - he later described hallucinating his way along Black Forest Drive.
Marty and I then plodded up the mount, ticking it over at a speed never likely to challenge our personal bests. Conversation had long since dried up, our foggy brains functioning on the bare essentials only. Marty and I parted ways at the top, Marty dropping to Macedon while I returned to Woodend. I snuck into bed looking forward to some rest only to be woken up 2 hours later my lovely daughters!
Saturday was a slow day- my eyes hurt from straining in the dark , always on the look out for a fast moving local fauna that threatened to dive under my front wheel. I was finally sent to bed by my wife after falling asleep on the couch at 8pm.
So would I do it again? Absolutely, although a warmer night would suit and having a mid point where there was a hot drink and some real food on offer would have been a welcome refresher for mind and the body. It's definitely a recommended experience so next time there's a similar opportunity, you might see us out there again. Thanks again to Mark, Marty and Mitch for the company.
Elapsed time: 10hrs 9mins
Ride data: http://www.strava.com/activities/89829091