Bikepacking Mt Buller

April, 2016 by Richelle Olsen

What could we do over Easter in Victoria, that is low cost, close to home, and avoids the crowds?

Packing up the bikes and bikepacking through the Mt Buller region of course! Basically circumnavigating the mountain, using 4x4 trails, a Hut to Hut adventure of sorts.  130+kms with over 3,000m of ascent.

 

  • Starting at our house block at Sawmill Settlement, we climbed up Circuit Rd to TBJ (with a well deserved pit stop at the awesome Epicentre for coffee, coke and cookies!), then down to Pineapple Flat for the night.  32kms.  
  • Day 2 saw plenty of river crossings as we made the climb up Speculation Rd, back on the Circuit Rd for a bit, then down Bindaree Rd with a brief stopover at the Falls, before finishing at Bindaree Hut.   34kms.
  • A visit from the Easter bunny on Day 3 made for an amazing start to an enormous climb up and over Refrigerator Gap, resulting in a dropped lip or 2 from me, and an amazing descent (with some hills thrown in) to Sheepyard Flat and the hoardes of people.  42kms.
  • And the 4th and final day took us climbing up the absolutely deserted Doughtys Rd, with spectacular views back over the West Ridge of Mt Buller, and the peacefulness of having the whole road to ourselves without being dusted out!  After a sharp, abrupt descent, we found ourselves back on the bitumen, with only a short rather sharp hill between us and home.  26kms.

Why?

Do we need a reason?  Haha!  Well aside from cause its fun, and cause we can.....  With our upcoming mammoth ride along the Great Dividing Mountain Bike Route from Canada to Mexico, we figured we had better test our gear to see what works and what doesn’t.  And we had also better test my mind and body as well, as its waaaaaay beyond anything I have ever done before, unlike Shane, who eats 29hr endurance events for breakfast!
 

Less than ideal bits:

  • The 4x4 traffic – by and large the most annoying thing was getting dusted out as 4x4’s passed us on the roads, with most of them offering a friendly wave, or a few words of support, or stopping on the side for a chat.  It was Easter weekend, so traffic was to be expected!  But there were definitely a few hairy moments of a few morons flying around corners on the wrong side of the road, or passing way too close and fast, but hey there are crazies on all our roads.  Shane was definitely my road guardian, riding in the middle of the road so that the crazy ones would have to slow right down before they got to me!  He’s just lucky he didn’t get squished-ed! 
  • Tent condensation!  No matter what we tried, we still woke with a dripping fly every morning!  Need to work on that one!
  • Coming to the realisation that I am unbelievable uncoordinated!  My feet are covered in cuts and bruises just from walking around the campsite.  And I am still waiting to master the art of getting on the bike on a hill, and well, getting off the bike has ended too many times with a head stem to the pubic bone.  But to my credit – no stacks!  Shane just thinks that I approach most tasks in an unco way – and I now admit he is right!  Oh and I can’t squat with my heels on the ground....  
  • Trying to go back to work after this kind of blissful weekend

Best Bits:

  • How long have you got!  The absolute feeling of freedom knowing that you are free to go anywhere, and sleep where you can find a flat spot – being absolutely self reliant, with the only proviso being that we needed to access a river every day or so.  The feeling of rolling into a campsite on just your bike is such a liberating thing!
  • The deserted bush tracks – for some reason some of the tracks we chose had almost no traffic – it felt like we had the world to ourselves!  I cannot count the amount of times I exclaimed “This is so beautiful!”
  • The feeling of knowing that at the end of the day, I’d gotten over that mountain entirely under my own steam.
  • The amazing encouragement and support I got from Shane all weekend.  From luring me up hills with offerings of food, riding alongside me at my very slow pace, and riding to the top of the 2km steep grind up to Refrigerator Gap, so he could park his bike and come back down and take mine (which I was pushing) off me just to make it easier.  Oh and what he called his strength training.....riding alongside me, and keeping his bike heading straight as he pushed me with one hand up some of the hills (even while recovering from a nasty shoulder injury from his own bike stack a week ago!).  And bless him, when I did throw the toys out of the pram towards the end of a very long day 3, he promised me that he would put them all back in the pram when I was sleeping that night......I’m a very lucky girl!

 

  • Making friends with fellow campers with campfires!  As theres little room on the bikes for firewood or a chainsaw on the bike, the generosity of strangers was very welcome, especially when they take our rubbish, and provide us with a warm bucket of water for washing dishes...its the little things!

 

  • Camp food no matter how basic, tastes AMAZING after a big day on the bike!

 

  • The weather – it was amazing!  The first night was pretty chilly, but otherwise, mild and sunny/overcast all weekend – perfect cycling and camping conditions!
  • Wearing 1 set of riding clothes and socks for 4 days, just cause we could!  And we didn’t even really smell that bad.  Maybe we were just used to it!

 

  • Knowing that this was just a tiny taste of the freedom we are about to experience once we hit Canada in 3 months time!

Gear List

Bikes/racks and bags:

Shane – Giant Anthem 29er dual suspension, with a Bike Bag Dude Large Handlebar roll, a Thule Pack ‘n Pedal Tour rack  and 2 hot pink Ortlieb back roller panniers (he's telling everyone they are mine!).  He was carrying around 22kg of extra gear, including water.

Richelle – Trek Fuel eX 8 dual suspension, with an Oveja Negra Seatpost Bag, and a dry bag attached to the handlebars with and occy strap.  She also carried a small Salomon backpack with 3L water.  Mine was around 7kgs of extra gear.

Sleeping Gear – all packed into Shane’s Bike Bag Dude Handlebar roll:

Mont Moondance EX 3 tent
Mont Prolite 250 sleeping bag (half bag – no down on the bottom) 
Western Mountaineering Ultralite sleeping bag
2 x Exped Synmat UL inflatable sleeping mat 
Exped Airpillow 

Other gear:

2 spare tubes, chain lube, bike tools,  Jetboil stove + gas, Sea to Summit collapsible bowls and cups, Sporks, cleansing wipes, Ay Up lights, Body Glide

Shane’s clothes:

1 x cycling knicks and shirt
OR Helium Jacket
Patagonia Ultralight Down jacket
La Sportiva lightweight windproof layer
Thermal top and bottoms
Boardies
Thongs
Buff


Richelle’s clothes:

1 x cycling knicks and shirt
Patagonia Torrentshell jacket
Patagonia Nano-puff hoodie
Snowgum lightweight hiking trousers
Thermal bottoms
Nike baselayer top
Feetures Elite light no-show socks 
Shock Absorber Ultimate Run Bra
Buff
Thongs

4 Days worth of food

Dinners:
Backcountry freeze dried meals
Deb dried mash potato, with olive oil and milk powder
Safcol Salmon Pouches (Mild Red Chili) with 2 minute noodles
Cookies
Weight Watchers instant choc pudding

Breakfasts:
Uncle Toby’s plain porridge sachets with sultanas, tea and coffee with powdered milk

Lunches:
Air dried salami, Laughing Cow cheese, Babybel cheese, Tortillas

Snacks:
Ginger nut biscuits, Nuts, seeds, sultanas and choc chip scroggin mix, Snakes, Museli bars, bag of small easter eggs