Cycling in Sydney Australia
a lot of fun, a good crowd,
somehow managed to find myself in the bunch on the front. A combination of bludging on the back of the group and only 3 short breaks (while they seemed to have more frequent stops and hang around a bit longer). Anyways, the 3-4am shift from doyalson to belmont being pulled along at a great speed with almost zero effort was a highlight for me. Kudos to the stronger riders who did the pulling, adrian and eleri, amoungst others.
I am told 70 starters, 50 finishers. I saw 35 or so of those finishers before hopping on an 8.30am train back to Sydney with a bunch of others. I rode in with Adrian E and met a few people at the York Lane Bar (which looked like a really cute bar btw - thanks for the coffee!)
9m at Observatory Hill and bikes were still arriving. It was dark and hard to see who was who but I spotted a couple of people I knew and said hello. A short safety briefing from Garth and signing waivers and we were off across the Harbour Bridge bike path. A few drops of rain made sure we knew the weather was a bit iffy. Humidity at about max possible I think!
It was a great ride that started along the Pacific Highway to Hornsby which wasn't too bad. Adrian and I pretty much took a lane the whole way leaving a whole lane for cars. Fortunately traffic wasn't heavy so this worked OK. Got minor grief from "BMWs" but OK. At Hornsby we caught a bunch ahead of us and all rode together for most of the ride after that.
Descending past Pie in the Sky in the dark was good fun. I felt sorry for the heroic dude riding an old school TT bike, now a fixie but without brakes ...
Stopped for snacks and welcome hot drinks including Milo at Mt White. Although it was so humid that we were sweating like anything. More water!
Gosford and that part of the Central Coast is memorable because of the descent into Gosford where we all got our max top speed and then the locals who were entertaining! Lots of P-Platers wishing us well mostly but in rather raucous fashion. We got there after midnight so everyone coming home from whatever passes as Gosford nightlife.
A few more hills along the way, some towns along the coast most of us had never heard of - especially the Brits - and not much water to be had. Eventually at a servo we found snacks including Pringles (Adrian) and chocolate milk (me and others), met some more locals who were concerned we were wearing helmets inside the servo shop against the sign. No MHLs in central coast servos! We regrouped at this point and picked up a couple of others not far behind us and were in a bunch of about 10 or so and all worked together.
Adrian E, hard man, was riding a single speed and sat on the front. Some of the rest of us rotated off the front on the other side (we were riding 2-abreast) but no-one could match him for long. Eventually we got to the turnoff for the rail-trail bike path which was not surprisingly fairly flat and just kept a good pace into Newcastle. About half way along it started to rain and we were feeling pretty miserable. I realised I could see better if I took my glasses off otherwise the flashing red lights were almost blinding as they reflected and magnified every flash.
Suddenly we were in Newcastle and heading for the Sea Baths. Most of our bunch got there at 5:10AM but a couple including Rob Berry not that far behind us having been with us most of the way from Mt White but then flatted twice.
We didn't actually see the sun come up because of the cloud cover but it did get lighter and Adrian impressed everyone even more by riding off to find a bakery and bringing back food!
Stayed around for a couple of hours to welcome in the next travellers who came in fits and starts and in groups of 2 or 3 mostly.
In summary, a really good ride and well worth doing. It's not a ride I would want to do in the day time because I think there would be too many cars, but at night there were many stretches where we saw nothing coming either way for ages.
I met quite a few SCs along the way, or people who said they had read about it on SC. Hello to you all! And well done. Anyone embarking on this ride in the first place deserves recognition. A huge thanks to Adrian E, the guy who navigated brilliantly and everyone involved in organising it. And massive kudos to those who did the ride on fixies including one that mostly stayed with our bunch until the last 20ms or so. This was the longest ride that some people had ever done, but quite a margin. Hugely impressed with the guy on a flat-bar road commuter, not clipped in but who rode with us the whole way. That's something I couldn't do!
Definitely doing this again next year.
PS - I'm a bit brain dead now and I've forgotten everyone's name. Oops - sorry! Feel free to identify yourselves :-)
I was the guy in the cadence jersey on the silver giant!
Hey Eleri, great report.
Any chance you can tell us what was the range of tyre sizes. Many road bikes? Anything wider than 32? With hindsight, what is the best tyre choice for that ride in your opinion?
Lots of steel tourers /commuters with racks, mudguards. I assume they had wider tyres. Only one flat bar in our group.
A surprising number of fixies and only Adrian was riding single speed. His bike is steel with mudguards.
A handful of lightweight bikes with none of the above including mine - 700c skinny. But definitely in the minority.
If there was anything wider than 32 I didn't notice it and only an exceptionally strong rider would have kept the pace with our group I think. For some reason - nothing to do with me of course :-) - we got into that efficient bunch, fast pace mode.
I'd be a poor commenter on what's the best tyre choice really as I only ride 23s. It was no different from any other road ride really and I didn't take any stuff that didn't fit in my pockets or seat bag. Some people had panniers with stuff in, others had back packs. I'd say the best tyres would be the ones you like to ride on and what you want to do. I treated this a novel training ride :-)
I was riding 700c 35mm, slicks at 95psi. The ride was a little harsh for my liking on the rough bits, most of the road surfaces were very good, especially when we took the entire left lane. I normally commute with my tyres at 70 or so but felt on the long ride the higher pressure would pay dividends in terms of effort. I think it worked, my arse is sore today but my legs seem fine. As a one off ride this works well. If however you were touring and spending long times in the saddle day after day a lower pressure would be more kind to your behind.
on Audax 200km rides I use 32mm tyres, 60PSI up front and 70PSI rear. Comfort is my aim, on rough surface the softer tyre rolls faster as it distorts rather than jolts a whole bike and person.
"Hugely impressed with the guy on a flat-bar road commuter, not clipped in but who rode with us the whole way."
That was me...i didn't think it was that impressive for a few reasons
1. I never went on the front and spent most of the time at or near the rear of the group. There is probably a derogatory velominati term for people like me.
2. I got dropped by you guys several times but always seemed to catch you again as you stopped for photos, drinks or Robs flats
3. I left every stop (except the Doyalson servo) before you guys and you'd catch me pretty quickly.
I was impressed with your stint at the front. but agree Adrian was at the front pretty much the entire ride. Absolute machine.
Glad to know my flats were helping someone out! Bloody rim tape. I had a few hours of riding by myself thanks to them. The last one did allow Ollie and Andy to catch up to me somewhere between Doyalson and Swansea, though, which was some welcome company from there to the end.
Top ride by all, I'm amazed that so many people completed, particularly those who had never really done anything like this before. There were a few people still arriving at Newcastle four or five hours after the first groups, an hour after I'd gotten back to Sydney and had a shower - that shows a whole lot of determination and commitment.
Looking forward to next year already, which will no doubt be even bigger.
One night last week I had a dream that I was riding unclipped, trying to go up a hill and my feet kept slipping off the pedals and I got really angry. And the odd occasion now that I do ride unclip
Nice write up. I'm the guy that tried to keep up with you on the climbs. While I don't think I did anything brilliantly, I was also the one in our group with a mapping GPS, that gadget deserves all the credit.
A big thanks to the non-organisers for an excellent adventure. Thanks also to both Adrians in our bunch for doing the bulk of the work, it would have been a long night/morning for me if I wasn't riding on your wheels. And finally thanks to Rob for posting this up here.
The big downhills at night were a highlight for me, not something I've done on the road before. I also enjoyed interacting with the friendly-drunk locals. Sitting about 5th wheel, rolling along after The Entrance on empty, pitch black roads was a pretty cool experience too. The swim at the end was perfect.
So, when is the next one?
I loved the navigation - that was really good. I was way underprepared for that.
The descent into Gosford was excellent. Apparently I was doing 75kph - lucky I had those good lights :-)