Wednesday, April 1, 2009

Drink-riding the Swan Valley

The Swan Valley is often compared as the poor cousin of the famous Margaret River wine producing/surf/artsy region of Western Australia. That is not a fair comparision as the Swan Valley is pretty enough on its own. My foldie exploration there with Ken on April Fool's Day proved a most enjoyable 40km experience.

Taking the empty train to the city, and then to historical Guildford took all of 40 mins from my home.

A quick 500m ride to the old County Jailhouse, now turned Tourist Info Centre, for some directions and a map and we were soon on the saddle.

What impressed is the new bike path that goes right up north on West Swan Road and it is littered with so many fascinating detours. Numerous vineyards, including the renown Sandalford Wine, parks, tea rooms, schools, stables, galleries, fruit farms, Bed & Breakfast places and even a seminary.

As wine lovers, our first stop of course was at Sandalford where we enjoyed wine tasting. $2.50 a person and you can go through the list of 8-9 different and excellent wines.

We behaved ourselves and stopped at 3 (we swallowed). It was a pity I did not bring along my trailer so that I could take home a case. Feeling a bit guilty about indulging at the start of our ride, we skipped the Chocolate Factory. It was a test of our wills as it offered free choc samples!

We stopped at Maali Footbridge (abt 14km) for a nice picnic lunch by the river where we had to go through 9-10 sharp interesting hairpin descends, very much like the famous Lombard crooked street in SanFrancisco. Our next destination was Whiteman Park and the ride there was absolutely lovely. I stopped by a horse riding school to admire the well groomed horses when a friendly brown one came to say "Hello". It was magic. The country road we rode on was well paved and we cruised at an easy 26-27km/h.

Ken has not been to Whiteman Park since the 1980s and it was a good stroll down memory lane. It has a little village, a mussel pool, train ride, car museum, galleries, restaurants, picnic grounds and is a real family place. The very English Lolly Shop there would be a treat for the kids.

Its a good thing we had our bikes to explore as walking would be too long. However, the paths were not always well paved and some were pretty challenging. It was providence that I had the unequally yoke Big Apple/Supreme tire combination which could handle the sand, gravel and stones that came our way.

Some downsides to this ride is that traffic on some parts are pretty heavy with big trailer trucks plying the Great Eastern Highway coming through. Also, watch out for broken glass on bike paths just by the road no thanks to idiots who toss their empty bottle while driving. Looks like the HD-V guard on my Schwalbes actually worked brilliantly in this instance.

More info about the beautiful Swan here...

Definitely worth a return visit, especially if you love good wines and a great ride!
The fastest and best wine maker in the world...
Jesus ordered the servants, "Fill the pots with water." And they filled them to the brim. "Now fill your pitchers and take them to the host," Jesus said, and they did. When the host tasted the water that had become wine (he didn't know what had just happened but the servants, of course, knew), he called out to the bridegroom, "Everybody I know begins with their finest wines and after the guests have had their fill brings in the cheap stuff. But you've saved the best till now!" John 2:6-10

1 comment:

Las montaƱas said...

It really is a pity not to have sampled the chocolates!