Author Topic: Lilydale to Warburton Rail Trail on a Thorn Mercury  (Read 344 times)

Moronic

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Lilydale to Warburton Rail Trail on a Thorn Mercury
« on: May 22, 2022, 06:04:47 AM »
Enjoyed a fun weekend tour recently with a very fun companion to Warburton, east of Melbourne in the Yarra River valley. From my home in Melbourne it was well under an hour by car to the start of the ride at Lilydale, where we parked in view of security cameras next to Lilydale railway station. We could also have reached this point by train, taking a little longer. Taking the car added some autonomy.

Here is Lizzy at the carpark about to embark on her first ever bicycle tour, and indeed her first camping experience since high school. She was definitely up for it, even though the 40km distance to Warburton was about twice as far as she had ever ridden in a day. It was late autumn and the morning was cool.



The trail wound around a sports oval, crossed a couple of streets, and then headed up quite steeply, for a rail trail, about 7km to Mount Evelyn. The climb wasn't so much challenging as constant, and we both felt pretty good when we took a break at the top.



This would be the only significant climb of the outward leg, and it was followed by a 6km descent to a cafe located on the trail at Seville, where we stopped for brunch. For Victorian readers considering a ride on the trail, the Carriage Cafe can be highly recommended.

This is looking back up the descent to the cafe:



And here a shot of the cafe itself, snapped from a more recent visit:



In another thread, inmate Andre Jute was reminiscing about his time in Melbourne many moons ago and observing that it had not felt bike friendly. The trail to Warburton offers an example of where this has gone. The all-gravel surface is beautifully maintained, the scenery magnificent, and the amenity ample.

The forecast had been for heavy rain this day, but the rain had blown through overnight. Hence for a Saturday on a trail so close to Melbourne there wasn't much traffic. All that remained from the rain was a tailwind. From Seville we proceeded at a gentle pace with frequent stops to admire the landscape and animal life. A herd of cows in a paddock that we might have whistled past in a car without comment was on the bicycles an occasion for exclamation.











Warburton is a pretty town on the Yarra, sited at the foot of Mt Donna Buang - a mountain just tall enough to get snow in the winter. We stocked up at the supermarket:



Set up camp at the commercial campground:



And proceeded to prepare dinner.



Actually that shot was from the next morning at breakfast. Dinner had been excellent, washed down with a bottle of white. Lizzy was enjoying the adventure of it all. The tent gave us access to this short-notice accommodation in a town where places to stay are few, heavily booked and expensive. And the excursion was strenuous enough to feel like a proper adventure, and yet easy enough to be pleasant for someone without much experience.

The wind had dropped for the homeward leg the next day, although there was still a gentle breeze in our faces. We made a few roadside stops and then lunched late at the Carriage Cafe, fuelling up for the climb.





Lizzy's legs had been tested a little more on this leg by the headwind, and the climb tested them more but we just took our time. And then rolled nearly all the way to the car from the top. Loaded the bikes. And were home and hosed in time for dinner.

I had been slightly concerned that the excursion would make our weekend feel too short, but the opposite was the case: we felt like we had experienced a long and satisfying break from the usual weekday concerns. A tour of the campground uncovered some grassed sites that we might secure for our next trip. It is great to have the opportunity for an escape of this kind on the edge of the city. And there are similar trails only a little more distant.

For this ride the Mercury felt dramatically over-competent - a feeling doubtless enlarged by our easy pace. Interestingly, I carried about the same weight as I had lugged on my Gippsland tour late last year - 12kg. This time, however I carried it in two Ortlieb Back Rollers on a Tubus Logo rack, having fitted my Tubus Vega to Lizzy's bike.

On the Gippsland tour I had carried the weight mainly in a pair of Sport Rollers on the Mercury's fork. Mercury designer Andy Blance recommends biasing Mercury loads to the rear, and I was astonished how much better it rode when I did that. I barely noticed the load, and I welcomed the much lighter steering. Lesson learned, and I'll go this way in future.






in4

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Re: Lilydale to Warburton Rail Trail on a Thorn Mercury
« Reply #1 on: May 22, 2022, 07:05:34 AM »
Looks like a fabulous trip. Thanks for sharing inc great photos. The antidote to the ScoMo-Albo show. BTW which Hilleberg tent is that?
« Last Edit: May 22, 2022, 09:17:14 AM by in4 »

Moronic

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Re: Lilydale to Warburton Rail Trail on a Thorn Mercury
« Reply #2 on: May 22, 2022, 11:47:36 AM »
The tent is a (Hilleberg) Rogen, and new. Three season, and an extravagance. Can't justify it except to say I have had tents before and this one seems to have everything I want.

Can't review it after a single dry night in a commercial campground except to say it was fabulous. As you'd hope. I got it because it seems that the occupants can look out on each side when it's raining, and without getting wet.

An addition to the report: we did not just see cows. There were also bulls, steers, horses, deer, alpacas, various sheep and goats, rabbits, bellbirds that you could only hear, and lots of birds that you could see. I've realised that an appreciation for bicycle touring might require an ability to experience the marvellous in the mundane. It was such fun to share with Lizzy that experience. And what made that possible was the provisioning of that trail, all the way from Lilydale to Warburton with no motor traffic.




PH

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Re: Lilydale to Warburton Rail Trail on a Thorn Mercury
« Reply #3 on: May 22, 2022, 12:29:05 PM »
Excellent report and photos.  I hope you companion now has a taste for it, though you might worry that your Mercury looks to be her size...
I agree that you don't have to go far, or for long, for it to feel like an adventure.  I need to dust my tent off, I haven't been camping yet this year, I used to do a few even shorter overnight trips, out Fri evening and back for lunch on Sat, odd thing is now I have more time I'm doing less...
Your tent looks great, not dissimilar to my TN Solar, that seemed an extravagance when I bought it 17 years ago. I was looking for a replacement about five years ago as the fly was past it's best, couldn't find anything I liked as much, then out of the blue a new flysheet appeared on the manufacturers website, I snapped it up.
Bike loading - I don't tend to use my Mercury for camping, if I do it's an overnight with minimum kit, no cooked breakfast on me.  For the Surly I take camping, I've just bought some fork cages and drybags as an experiment, a sort of halfway step between 2 and 4 panniers. 

Moronic

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Re: Lilydale to Warburton Rail Trail on a Thorn Mercury
« Reply #4 on: May 22, 2022, 01:42:56 PM »
PH, luckily my Merc is way too big for Lizzy. She can't even try it out.

I love it that you can appreciate an easy tour, with camping. This was a short trip, and yet extraordinarily memorable.


John Saxby

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Re: Lilydale to Warburton Rail Trail on a Thorn Mercury
« Reply #5 on: May 23, 2022, 03:54:05 PM »
Quote
a short trip, and yet extraordinarily memorable

Great stuff, Ian -- well done for you and Lizzy!  Hugely enjoyed your story and photos. 

Thanks too for your note on gear at the back on your Mercury.  Am just beginning my rides on my Mercury: did a couple of short shakedown rides this past week, with another planned for this afternoon.  (Photos & notes to come in due course.)  It will be a few more weeks before I can carve out enough space for an overnight or two; you can imagine how much I'm looking forward to testing my new bike & a new tent.  ;)

Safe journeys,  John

Moronic

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Re: Lilydale to Warburton Rail Trail on a Thorn Mercury
« Reply #6 on: May 24, 2022, 05:26:56 AM »
Great to hear you're undertaking shakedown trials on your new Mercury, John. I hope you enjoy it as much as I like mine - and yes, I can empathise very easily with your excitement,  :D

I'll be very interested to hear how well you think it will work as a replacement for both your Ti bike and your Raven.

PH, I'll add that Lizzy has cast covetous eyes at my Mercury. I think she'd greatly enjoy riding one of her own. It's a question of whether she gets committed enough to cycling to justify the expense. She is certainly very eager to embark on another short tour with camping, and that was not a foregone conclusion before we did this trip.

I've noted that in a post offering for sale a lightly used Mercury, SJS Cycles notes that "the lead time for the same bike new would be about 18 months". I've not confirmed, but that sounds like they may have ordered a new batch of frames. If so, then that sort of timing might work out for Lizzy.  ;)
« Last Edit: May 24, 2022, 05:29:19 AM by Moronic »

John Saxby

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Re: Lilydale to Warburton Rail Trail on a Thorn Mercury
« Reply #7 on: May 26, 2022, 10:36:39 PM »
Thanks, Ian. 

On a possible Mercury for Lizzie:  you might send a note to Sarah at SJSC, asking if they have any smaller frames.  When I inquired about joining the waiting list for a new frame, back in late December/early January, I was surprised to learn that SJSC still had a few framesets available -- and then even more surprised to find out that there was one which suited my measurements  (a 550S).

Things have been a bit scrambly here this past week -- we had a violent rain/windstorm last Saturday, winds around 130 km/h, which left large parts of the city & surrounds without power, roads blocked with fallen trees, etc.  So, I haven't done many rides this week.  Attached, a couple of photos from a shakedown ride from the middle of last week.

("Freddie" is the working name, and the overwhelming consensus of two people whose opinion I value is "perfect" -- even tho' I thought it was a bit obvious...  I don't claim to know Queen's music well, but I have fond memories of Zanzibar from long ago.)

Cheers,  John

Mike Ayling

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Re: Lilydale to Warburton Rail Trail on a Thorn Mercury
« Reply #8 on: May 27, 2022, 12:16:28 AM »
Welcome to the Mercury Club, John!

What size is that chain ring? Looks like you have gone for low gearing.

Mike

Mike Ayling

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Re: Lilydale to Warburton Rail Trail on a Thorn Mercury
« Reply #9 on: May 27, 2022, 12:35:59 AM »
Mary and I had our first over night ride to Warburton on our entry level tandem. So after a while we signed up for a Raven Twin. We don't camp so we stayed in a very ordinary room at the pub with the facilities down the passage. The pub has now had a make over and presumably the prices have increased accordingly as advised by Moronic.
On the return just as we arrived at the Carriage Cafe it was very overcast and just as we got under cover it poured. We shared one of the carriage compartments with an interesting couple who ran a cycle touring business who were surveying the area for potential rides. After the rain passed we attacked the climb to Mt Evelyn then enjoyed the downhill run to Lilydale then caught the train to our local station Mitcham then another 3km down hill to home.
Re bike friendly Melbourne the current Lord Mayor has incurred the ire of motorists and business owners by converting car parking spaces to bike lanes and there are plenty of bike paths winding through the suburbs.

Mike

John Saxby

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Re: Lilydale to Warburton Rail Trail on a Thorn Mercury
« Reply #10 on: May 27, 2022, 01:29:44 AM »
Thanks, Mke.  It's a 36T alloy ring from Rivendell Bike Works in Californaia.  I had one one the Raven (just sold this past w.e.), and this is the 2nd of two that I bought from RBW.

It's made by Origin8, so I understand, and the quality of manufacture is superb:  there is no tight spot in the chain. That is to say, none. None. At. All.  after well over half a century of chain-driven two-wheelers, this is the first-and-only time I've encountered such a wonderful thing.

There's a little sidebar story in the specs for Freddie:  I wanted to get a set of alloy mudguards from Velo Orange in Maryland (in the U.S.), replicating those on the Raven.  The fellow in charge there said that he'd always admired Thorn's frames, their conception & execution.  So, I put him in touch with Robin, and they've worked out an agreement to exchange products for sale in their respective markets. I mentioned to Scott at VO that I'd bought my ring from RBW/Origin8, and he's going to look into a supply of them.  Another detail in the Small World Dep't:  he's originally from Vancouver, but spent several years in Melbun where his wife was doing a Ph D in epidemiology.  He speaks fondly of your neighbourhood.  ;)

Cheers,  J.

Moronic

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Re: Lilydale to Warburton Rail Trail on a Thorn Mercury
« Reply #11 on: May 27, 2022, 09:08:33 AM »
Great to see the new bike at last, John.

At least in those shadowy shots it looks incredibly stealthy - like a beautifully preserved vintage classic that probably wouldn't be worth much these days. Just the thing for touring.  ;) ;)

Moronic

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Re: Lilydale to Warburton Rail Trail on a Thorn Mercury
« Reply #12 on: May 27, 2022, 09:12:56 AM »
Thanks for the tip on remaining Mercury frame stock. Timing isn't right for Lizzy so no point hassling Sarah just now.