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Friends, Roaming, Countryside

I'd been looking forward to the Easter Cycle for some time. An event that provided for a fair amount of socialising, some great mountain biking, road riding for those who wanted it, and a chance to reacquaint oneself with the Mawson Trail. Last year, while on the Outback Odyssey, we had intersected with the Easter Cycle at Kapunda and I made a mental note that, should the Nullarbor 1200 not go ahead, Burra 2008 might be a good alternative.

What a great time we had! My wife Lynn and I rode on each of the four days, enjoying dirt and bitumen, while we cycled as part of smaller and larger groups.

on webster road... Shortly after arriving on Good Friday we took a trip on the unsealed roads around the Burra area, stopping at the ruin on the Mawson that appears regularly in calendars and tourist brochures. About twenty of us rode along Leighton, Shafton and Copperhouse Roads on the dirt before returning to town via the Barrier Highway. That night we caught up with friends around the dinner table, and listened to one of the locals as he gave a presentation outlining some of the historical highlights of Burra.

On Saturday, a group of nine adults and children rode the bitumen down to Hanson, a sleepy little location with a population of five. In that tiny place, we met 40 per cent of the population. The two of them couldn't stand the sight of each other. There you go. We rode back to Burra via unsealed roads, enjoying those feelings of joyous isolation that country riding brings. The scenery was dry, yet magnificent, and I felt very lucky to be out there on my bike. There were a few hills to climb, and it was pleasing that everyone made it without any dramas.

 In the afternoon Lynn and I rode out to the cactus farm on the Mawson Trail, before turning around and thoroughly enjoying the downhill fun back into town.

We took a stroll around Burra in the afternoon and I was lucky enough to find a J. D. Salinger biography going cheap in a second hand shop. A bit of a bonus, that. We had a beer at the Burra Hotel while we read the paper and filled in journals, happy just relaxing in the afternoon sun. We spent the remainder of the day and evening at the camp before retiring to our room at the Paxton Cottages. The Kooringa Hotel across the road was rocking so it was ear plugs all around.

On Sunday, while hordes of children scoured Burra to see what the bunny had left them,  Lynn and I decided to ride out of Burra along the Mawson and head for the top of the Camel's Hump range. It was just the two of us, so we made sure that people knew where we were headed and that mobile numbers were exchanged. We both had good packs so I figured we had all we needed. Off we went, in our elements as we reacquainted ourselves with the red dirt of the tracks. Our triumphant feelings of exploration and isolation were shattered as we approached Miller Road when a big shiny 4WD crossed our paths. We enjoyed a fantastic ride - I'd not travelled the trail in that direction - and the views from the top of the range were magnificent. It was the first time Lynn had done any off road climbing and she had a great time. 

We turned around and enjoyed the ten minute downhill without ever feeling the need to pedal. Once we hit the flat we were into the wind but we didn't care. We had all day, after all, and we were doing exactly what we wanted to be doing.

racing down camel's hump

 We stopped for lunch at the ruins by Springvale, enjoying vegemite sandwiches, lovingly warmed in the backs of our jerseys. I tried to avoid being unnerved by the multitude of shotgun casings littering the place. We got back on the bikes, knowing we only had about an hour of our ride remaining. Before long we were at the Barrier Highway. We'd enjoyed the Saturday's hi-jinks on the Mawson so much that we relished the prospect of entering town via the cactus farm once again. It didn't let us down.

That evening, under the full moon, we took part in the night ride - A huge, snaking line of illuminated cyclists. I can't imagine what the locals made of it.

booborowie hotel

On Monday we headed out along the bitumen to the sprawling metropolis on Booborowie. Which was shut when we got there. Fair enough, Adelaide itself is pretty quiet on Easter Monday. In any event, the ride there and back was rewarding, with some beautiful early morning vistas and a few ups and downs to keep it interesting. The Booborowie Hotel was for sale, so if anyone is looking for a sea-change...

We got back to Burra around noon. We'd already packed the car so it was a quick change before stowing the bikes and saying farewell. Back to (the other) reality.

All up, we had a great time. New friends were made, old friendships renewed, and the Easter Cycle provided a great opportunity to get away and do what we love for four days. A big thanks must go to everyone involved in the organisation. I don't know if I'll be there next year though - I think I hear the Outback Odyssey calling!

© Copyright David Robinson, 2008

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