After Jagungal, I could have taken the rack and rigid seatpost off the bike, and put the dropper post back on. Instead I went with it and signed up for another sufferfest.
Sam B was planning to get to Boree Log by bike again, continuing his quest for an “ass hewn from the finest granite”. This time, the route involved climbing up on to the Southern Tablelands from sea level, with a few extra valleys thrown in for good measure. Me and Aidan were persuaded.
Pleasantly, the packing was a lot easier than for bike-ski touring. Especially as the others volunteered to carry the heavy items like tents and a stove. I brought some straps from Omafiets, which were very helpful in simplifying my rigging. Summit Cycles serviced my suspension forks – having the suspension lockout in working order was vital with all the planned road riding. I also put together a spectrum of butt creams & lubricants, vital for long-distance butt performance.
We got the very scenic and surprisingly fast train down to Nowra on Friday morning. After scrambling out of Nowra in the rain, it was 32km out to Yalwal on a mostly gravel road. A couple of descents and one big climb, under cloud, mist and drizzle. There was some good misty views over the Yalwal valley. After lunch, we then pushed bikes (“Canadian pedaling”) up a hellish firetrail climb to the top of the ridge up the other side of the valley. It was another 25km of damp sandy firetrail in the drizzle.
There were some good misty views over the Yalwal valley, and some lovely sections of rainforest, but the plateau was, disappointingly, mostly dreary thin scrub without much interest.
We finally hit the (tarmac) Braidwood Road, and the day was getting on. There was a horrible demoralizing hill to get up to the top to Sassafras in the mist.
Then, it finally cleared a little on the top of the range, and we had glorious sunset cruising through Morton national park, and a hectic descent to the Endrick river. Almost enough to make you take up road cycling.
We slowly rolled up to the Nerriga pub, for beer and chips on dark. It’s a nice country pub! Then, we headed back out into the dark and hunkered down for the final 14km to Oallen Ford, to camp at about 10pm. Just over 100km.
Day 2 dawned. After a couple of climbs to push up from Oallen ford, we had 50km of rolling hills to ride to Bungonia on a pleasant road.
I was worried about being monstered by cars on the road until my nerves were frazzled, but honestly I thought we were treated really well, there were only one or two close overtakes I remember. And even those were probably meter rule compliant I reckon. In the country, everyone just overtakes without much fuss – a few people even slowed and waited for a better spot. This supports my belief that most cyclist rage is actually city traffic rage. A couple of honks, but they must all have been enthusiastic cycling fans.
Spirits were buoyed when we reached the little roadhouse out of Windellama. Soon after that, we hit a great section of mostly downhill, and triumphantly rolled into Bungonia town. The Lookdown road out to the campground was actually covered in lichen and moss and beautiful to ride on. You don’t notice that stuff in the car. We ran in to Allie and Dion getting petrol, and they gave us brownies. We were basically there! At the campground, it was time for beer, showers and fluffy towels. In fact, it was PARTY TIME.
Final total: 155km and 2122 vertical meters in eleven hours of moving time.
On Sunday, Sam Bladwell kept on going through the Southern Highlands and rode back down Macquarie Pass to Albion Park. Aidan actually turned around and pretty much rode back the same way! I chickened out and called it a weekend, my bike went in the UNSWOC trailer for a lift back to Sydney. But I did go for an old school mountain bike ride around some of the Bungonia walking tracks.
Bombing down from Mt Ayre was sweet on steep loose chunky quartzite-like rock.
And that was that. It’s amazing how far you can actually ride a bike with flat pedals and hairy legs, eh?
Here’s Aidan’s vlog of the trip!