Well, I ended up doing a modified reverse loop like the one I suggested above.
I figured I'd get the flatland slog over with early, then climb the rail trail to Beechworth, then back down to Chiltern and back to Corowa.
So the day started looking a bit like this:
Yada yada... then it looked like this:
Around the corner was this:
Made a few minor navigational blunders along the way.
I intended to take one of the other
sealed roads running kind of parallel to Federation Way toward Wangaratta. The one that Google Maps suggested south out of Rutherglen soon turned to dirt, so I diverted on to the main road to Springhurst. Heading south from there, the single strip of tarmac led me west until I found myself at a crossroads with three dirt roads leading away. The dirt was fast and fairly smooth, so ~8km of unsealed road wasn't a problem.
Across the freeway, I didn't bother looking at a map... just followed the first signs I came across to the only town in the area... guessing that Eldorado must be somewhere near the rail trail. Turns out it was about 7km out of my way (and the same back again)... and the shop was sold out of sausage rolls (damn them!)... and the back road direct to Beechworth was unsealed and had a fleet of quarry trucks coming down it. So, back to the rail trail.
The flat bit of rail trail was a bit uninspiring (and a slow surface), but the climb was nice. I hit it pretty hard... HR hovering around 170 for the whole 45 minutes up. Lovely part of the world.
The problem with continuing a long ride after a beery lunch is the need for frequent pit stops on the way back down the hill
Back home for just over 150km. I toyed with the idea of riding around town a bit to bring up the magic hundred miles... but meh, I'm grown up enough now that I don't need to achieve such petty milestones and I was a bit weary and really CBF by thenhttp://app.strava.com/activities/87234064#
A nice ride, but I don't think I'll be rushing back to ride those flats. Start closer to the hills is my tip.