Beech Forest, Cliff Young and Me

photo 3 photo 15 photo 12A month ago, with a long weekend looming, I said to my husband, let’s go bike riding along the Old Beechy rail trail. Given it’s winter and this area is the wettest in the state, I knew it was going to be weather-dependent, but I was hopeful.

A couple of weeks after making that decision and totally by coincidence,  I watched the telemovie, Cliffy, about Cliff Young, the 61 year-old potato farmer from Beech Forest, Victoria who back in 1983 ran and won the ultra-marathon from  Sydney to Melbourne. He’d always been a runner…he’d run from Beech Forest to Apollo Bay and back….70km, half of which is up a very long hill!! And he used to do it in gum boots!

Funny that by coincidence, I should find myself in Beech Forest on Sunday after riding my bike 18km from Gellibrand to Beech Forest, up a continuous uphill gradient. Beech Forest is teeny, tiny…there is a cafe, a pub and a park with a granite gumboot in memory of Cliff Young. It is a beautiful part of the world, dotted with dairy farms, rolling hills and fortunately still some unlogged forest.

It was glorious riding my bike through Casuarina forests, past towering beech trees and massive gums. It was hard work going up and one section, which took 25 minutes to climb, took 6 on the return downhill run!  I am hoping the cycling I am doing in France later in the year is less hilly than this ride!photo 2A photo 4

photo 1A

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