16 April, 2022

We’re always a little humbled by all the wonderful people across the generations who say they can’t wait to ride our trail.

Never more than this week, when CMRT scout John Carruthers caught up with Castlemaine cyclist and emigre Scot Calum Brydon about why he rides, what it means to raise to two amazing daughters and why the trio can’t wait to ride the Castlemaine – Maryborough trail.

Where’s your neck of the woods? We’ve just moved to Barkers Creek. Before that six years in Castlemaine. We love it here.

And where do you hail from? The beautiful Clyde Coast, in south west Scotland. White beaches and single malts. With a ferry and bike you can see it all. From the picturesque isle of Bute to the wildness of Islay. That’s the siren song of the Outer Hebrides.

What do you love most about being on two wheels? Cry “Freedom”? Yes, it’s true; freedom’s what two wheels brings me. Whether its on a mountain bike trail among the pines out the back of the Bako in Castlemaine or a more relaxed trail between hamlets in Central Victoria or in the Outer Hebrides. On a bike is simply the best way to travel.

So, you’ve got two daughters. Yes, Maggie’s 11 and Elsie’s 7. They’re both amazing. Pretty sharp on two wheels.

Tell us about your bikes. Not sure we’ve got time. I’ve been riding for 46 years. My mum taught me how to ride. The bike was purple and it had solid tyres. She pushed me off and said “Keep going, Calum, I’ve got you”. Of course, she’d already let go!

So, your favourites? OK, here’s four. A 2020 Canondale Cujo MB with 2.8/27.5 tyres. Super comfy for a hardtail. At the same time, I can’t pass up my trusty 2006 Mongoose hardtail; we’ve done thousands of kilometres together. But don’t get me onto BMX: I’m still really fond of my 2005 Specialized; I snagged it in a Parkdale Cash Converters. A more recent steed is an old 1970s chopper I picked up and it’s my next project. 

The Purple Haze? Tell us more! So I spied the rusty old lowrider kids bike in an antique shop. It was too tempting. My prayer was that Elsie and Maggie might love it too. We painted it purple, found a purple seat, plus whitewall tyres and flashy mirrors. Pure Hendrix.

Your two daughters cycle too? 100% they do! I got them into riding early. Under four for both of them. Maggie enjoys Mt Alexander’s Rocky Riders’ Dirt Crits. She’s absolutely fearless and took a high placing in the mixed boys and girls class. Last year, she cycled the O’Keefe Rail Trail with a school camp. Mt Alexander Cycle Safe’s Penny Gilbert was a wonderful guide and mentor.

Speaking of other trails, you were on the widely-acclaimed GVRT recently. What were your impressions? Great trail, but for out-of-region tourists they need to get things better organised in terms of people arriving for a multi-day event and potentially with trailers and so forth and where to park. Safe parking and clear instructions about how to do it in a town are things that CMRT could pick up on, certainly. Signage, plus in-town and online tourist information all have an impact on the visitor experience.

What do you like most about the idea of a rail trail from Castlemaine – Maryborough? I love that it is mostly new territory. I’ve cycled a lot on the MB trails. But I haven’t gone much further than Guildford. I’d love to ride the trail with my daughters. The trail can be another destination along with the Mountain Bike Park at Harcourt that puts Central Victoria on the map for cycling.

All that riding must make you thirsty. Where’s your favourite place for a frosty in Castlemaine?  How can you go past Fermentus? It’s a craft beer Mecca. Jeff Carr’s amazing. Best selection of quality frosties in Central Victoria. I’m a hop fan. But what I really like is the combo of a good beer and a good yarn.

What keeps you occupied during the week when you’re not on your bike? By day I’m a greens keeper. Let’s skip the Caddyshack jokes eh? I’m pretty good at cooking dinner, washing dishes, being a soccer coach, and I do my best to put my arms around my talented daughters every day.