St James from the Rainbow

Georiga, Pat, Benni and I went for a big mountain biking mission down the rainbow road and around the St James Cycletrail. It was a big day out with 12 hours riding (moving time) over 186  km and 3200 metres of climbing.


We camped in St Arnaud the night before and got up early and drove to the rainbow. We parked, loaded our bikes, and began riding in the fresh morning. At the toll gate we learned that a freak storm had gone through the night before and the road was washed out in parts. We decided to try our luck anyway and continued riding. Perhaps 15 km further we found the first debris flow that had covered the road in a thick-like-custard mix of mud and stones. We tried walking across it carrying our bikes. It was like sinking sand. There were a number of these sections as we continued South down the road. We found a bunch of sad looking four wheel drivers with a truck stuck in one of the debris flows. They were young guys who looked like they’d had a lot to drink the night before, still not quite awake and in their sleeping bags.


We got down to the start of the St James Trail and immediately were joined by many cyclists who were riding the trail as part of a race that happened to be on the same day. Riders rode past until our pace began to match theirs. We cycled down Maling Pass and at some point we left the race. A few minutes later a motor bike came zooming up behind us to check that we hadn’t gone the wrong way, no no, we aren’t racing, thanks. The next section was really nice to ride, single track through meadows with the sun shining.


We crossed a bridge later and joined the race course again. The track ascended steeply and it was very hot. Pat and Georgia got ahead and I rode behind a few slow people from the race. We had lunch later beside the track and then carried on to the Homestead, taking a break there to say hello to JJ who’d won the running version of the race.

We joined the dusty road and started riding North. I jumped in the river a couple of times to cool down. I was feeling cooked and slow. I struggled up Island Saddle and met the others waiting for me at the top. As the heat subsided and the sun began to drop my legs came right again. We stopped to pick up the coke bottles we’d stashed in the river earlier in the day, consumed their cool sugary contents and continued riding. The debris flows and hardened by the time we were back and some more riding and we were back at the car after a long long day.


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