I spent 3 1/2 days in Mansfield, just at the base of Mt Buller (1805m, or 5922ft). On my first day (the half day, after I rushed madly from school), I drove to Lake Eildon National Park to get my long run in. By the time I finally made it, it was past 6pm. I'd forgotten I wasn't in Wanaka (further south, on New Zealand's South Island) and it wasn't summertime anymore -- there, it would only really be dark past 10pm. The sun was setting, and quick. Nevertheless, I made it into the forested regions, and really got in my groove running up and down fabulous red earth paths.
|Getting dark -- I had already missed the sunset over the mountains, but the sky was beautiful nevertheless.|
|Getting seriously dark... in the middle of nowhere! Without a headlamp, too... what was I thinking!|
|You'd think those were gorgeous stars, but no... there were flies EVERYWHERE. I took a self-portrait and only after I looked at it on the computer did I realize about 20 bugs died on my face, LOL!|
|Disregarding my ridiculous facial expression, and the photo obviously doesn't do it justice but we had one of the largest moons in 80 years! Maybe that's how I made it out alive -- the moonlight was bright enough to let me see where I was going.|
|Gorgeous red roads and eucalypts all around!|
|On the way out, across the horizon, I could see beautiful smoke formation. Someone was burning off some vegetation -- a common practice to reduce fuel load in an area. This reduces the risk of damage to property should a bushfire pass through.|
|Before the ride... it was chilly in the AM but turned out to be a gorgeous 28C day!|
|Enjoying the brief downhills!|
|Love this guy -- coke bottle at the ready!|
|Hell's corner (on the way down). I wasn't thinking about glamour shots on the way up!!!|
Finally, on my last day in Mansfield, I rode with a couple hundred other cyclists up to Toolmie and back (a hilly 50k ride). By this point I was seriously aching, but there's no backing out now!! It's a painful slow uphill out there, then a gorgeous downhill. I took full advantage of the downhill to snap my last photos of the beautiful High Country.
After all the riding, I relaxed on the main street. A market, a food exhibition and a cycling/endurance sports expo were all going on at the same time. Am I in heaven, or what?!?! I did ask some main strip shops what they thought of the town being taken over by cyclists. There are always the outliers that respond in a totally negative way to lycra-clad cyclists (some cyclists got punctures because of tacks placed on the road), but overall the response has been highly positive. These types of events have people staying for several days. They enjoy the good food, the cafes, the excellent atmosphere. This is in comparison to winter, when Melburnians simply drive through Mansfield to get to the base of Mt Buller and other ski fields. The only people that benefit are the city-slickers getting access to a mountain and perhaps the petrol or ski shops. The positivity I experienced from everyone, both locals and visitors, really made this event a success. If I ever am in Australia again at this time of year, I know I'll want to come back and climb all day in the gorgeous Victorian countryside.
Next: back to the Great Ocean Rd for another smashy weekend: long hilly solo trail run, a 145k cycling event along the Great Ocean Rd and in the Otways, and a 10k trail run race! Yahoo!!