A Snow Ride with Ray and James
In August 2015 I took off from Bright on a very questionable mid-winter ride up Mt Buffalo. The forecast was for clear conditions but there was a heap of cloud cover and things can change quickly in the mountains. It turned out to be a stunning climb onto the snow covered plateau and I regretted not taking a decent camera or some company. So this year Ray and I were keeping an eye on the winter conditions for another chance to ride in the snow and maybe even closer to our place in the Kiewa Valley. I am no meteorologist but in late July all the signs were good. A big east coast low flipped on it's head by massive blast of cold air from the Antarctic did the trick.
Storms with sleet and snow flurries were rolling across the ranges on either side of the valley for a few days leading up to the ride and we had high hopes but our place sits on the valley floor near the river at about 350m elevation, so when we woke to fog and heavy drizzle instead of snow we were resigned to a wet ride and maybe some soggy snow at the top. But at about 7.30am the clouds lifted briefly to reveal the entire valley, down to the edges of the farms, covered in snow.
Of course our northern hemisphere friends will be laughing at how excited we were but you have to understand that for much of the year we here in Australia are rightly concerned with sunburn, bush fires and poisonous snakes, so to see so much of our valley softly blanketed in snow was a lovely little moment. Not to mention that Ray had only experienced snow once before in all his 18 years and never on a bike.
We took the cross bikes out to the base of Mount Bogong to start the ride and even this small rise in elevation saw the drizzle turn to delicately falling snow. For the first few k’s the gravel road was too wet for the snow to settle but either side of us the snow cover on the gums and the mountain ferns grew heavier. Conditions were almost mild - no wind and we were dry as the falling snow brushed off our jackets. But as we climbed toward Trapper’s Gap, the snow claimed the road and in the space of 100m the riding went from a steady spin to an exercise in balance and momentum.
In the end we didn’t make it to the top. Eventually, once you lost your balance it became impossible to get going again. And those mild conditions I mentioned, started to get really cold – it was time to grab some final photos and go home.
It was tiny ride – no more than 15k all up but it was one of those magical things you get to do on a bike. Enjoy.