A decent hilly ride after a +30hour working weekend was not what I needed but it was exactly what I wanted and what kept me excited on those extra long days.
Right, it’s 13.30, work is done and I need a ride, desperately. Time to say goodbye to this lot, jump on the rental truck and drive to Mount Vitoria, saving me a few kilometres on extremely busy roads with no shoulder to ride on and nothing beautiful to look at. Parked outside a house and geared up in a hurry, as I watched daylight burning way to fast for my liking.
As I joined the main road, a super steep downhill presented itself to me, with wide lanes, perfectly smooth tarmac and cars to race with. Travelling over 80kmph, overtaking cars and getting my heart pumping with adrenaline was the perfect way to kickoff this ride.
Turn off to Browns Gap Road, which would connect to Hassans Walls, this ride’s main objective. Quieter road, way less cars and finally time to get in my groove and knockout some kilometres at a decent pace before sun burns out… Wrong!… Welcome to magpie territory. If you don’t know what a magpie is, just envision satan itself, covered in black feathers and ruthlessly coming at you from the sky. Not even this gives you a clear description of what exactly this devilish bird is. At one point, I had 2 magpies taking turns at trying to kill me. Not happy days! My trick to fight these off, turn back and face them, wait till they’re close enough and try to punch them. Whilst not effective in actually hitting them, this will scare them enough to not come closer.
After magpie territory, came uphill territory. Country roads are great for their lack of traffic and untouched scenery, unfortunately this also means that roads can (and will) point up steeper than other busier roads. A small price to pay for better sight and adventures.
After what it felt like a never ending uphill, where at every corner I hoped to see the summit, Hassans Walls Road was finally here. Dirt road with some loose gravel, the perfect road conditions for a road bike running skinny tyres. Adventure was calling and there was no way I was going to chicken out. Up we go, Hassans Walls lookout might better be worth it! Carefully choosing my lines, avoiding potholes and sharper rocks for nearly 5km, the lookout was just 200meters away.
Lookout done, photos taken and a sense of early accomplishment made me briefly forget about the downhill ahead, still on gravel roads. Right, brakes will only slow you down and increase the chances of an accidental lockup and consequently stack. Easy decision then, let go of the brakes and believe everything will be okay. SO MUCH FUN!!!
Back to civilization now, Lithgow city centre and following google maps suggestion of taking a side road, away from the highway and fast moving traffic. Decided to give that a go, only to find Google’s route way too optimistic about what trails I can do on a road bike. Okay, let’s get the maps out and check alternatives and sunlight remaining. Roughly 30km to go, shy of 2 hours cycling time according to Google’s calculations and less than an hour and half of daylight. Okay, let’s get moving then!
Back on the main road, Mountain Highway in all its splendour, with super steep hills, insane altitude gains in just a few hundred meters and traffic. I was on a mission and getting back to the truck was my only goal. Push, push harder, feel the burn, savour it and push harder.
Bell just ahead and my last turnoff point to reach home. Time for the last pit stop, water and go faster food. 1 hour left of sunlight, temperature dropping and knee complaining about all the uphills we’ve had thus far, I knew way too well that a steep and long uphill slow me down and get to the truck by nightfall.
Rolling hills meant I could easily concentrate on what was immediately ahead of me and keep pushing for speed.
Train tracks on my left, the noise of traffic and sight of building tops above the trees in the distance were a clear sign the finish line was near.
Ride over, 60km travelled, 1100meters climbed, 2.30hours riding and a staggering 87kmph maximum speed sum up the stats nicely.
Back on the truck heading home, Katoomba’s Three Sisters were just a quick detour and apparently a must see in New South Wales. Not my first time here, I wanted to check if my memory of this place/attraction was still true.
End of the day, tired, not only due to the ride and all the uphills I didn’t order but mostly due to the extra long hours we had work this weekend. This ride was without a doubt the best part of the weekend and the perfect way to end it on a very positive note.