Cycling in Sydney Australia
How did you find the difficulty of the ride?
The difficulty was lower than the average Audax 200km ride - a little less distance, and less climbing then you would generally have on a brevet.
The terrain isn't a concern - you are slowly climbing all the way up the North Shore but it is never too steep, you drop down to Brooklyn and then have the hardest section up to Mount White and through Mooney Mooney, but once you have completed that section it is more or less flat the rest of the way. The most enjoyable section, possibly because it was also a new section for me, was the Fernleigh Track that gets you from Belmont to Newcastle.
Riding through the night is more difficult than riding through the day because your circadian rhythms get upset.
I found riding through the night to be the best part since the roads were mostly clear - it was pretty eerie not seeing anyone else for hours apart from my riding partner.
As Si said, there are nicer rides to do around the place - part of the appeal of riding at night was the more or less complete absence of cars, and some stretches of the route wouldn't be as pleasant during the day. During the day you are much better off exploring the territory to the west of the Pacific highway - around Peats Ridge, the Yarramalong Valley, or along the Hawkesbury to Wiseman's Ferry. If you really want to go to Newcastle, though, I'd say you could definitely use the same route yourself.
As for fitness, the range of people that started the ride and completed it went from people that routinely ride 200km in a day to people that might generally only ride half or even less than that distance over a whole week. At the front of the pack people were finishing in 8 hours or so, and I think there were still people finishing after around 15 hours. I think the moral to be taken is that if you can ride a bike for an hour, you can ride a bike for a whole lot longer if you want to or have to. The fitter you are, the quicker you will cover the distance. The difficulty for the less fit rider is less their ability to physically ride for as long as they need to in order to finish and more the mental difficulty of sticking with it for so long - I'm pretty amazed at the finishers who spent almost twice as long on their bike as I did because that would take a whole heap of will power. If you ride your bike regularly and are reasonably fit, you can make the distance if you ride within yourself and just keep going.
The Newcastle Tourist Board aren't going to hire me any time soon - I was only there for half an hour until the next train came to head back to Sydney!
Thanks for the responses, very much appreciated!
The one major advantage of riding through the central coast though is that there are numerous bailout options (i.e. train stations), watering holes and feeding troughs. I'm just biased towards riding in the country away from all the traffic and noise with only stunning scenery, and smelly randonneurs, for company :).
You can also ride up to Palm Beach and catch the ferry across to Ettalong skipping most of the hills. Check the ferry times though. They do not start until 09:00 (IIRC) so most Sydney riders ride to Ettalong and then get the ferry back - a very nice ride. In fact, there are 150 and 200km audax rides (Get Along To Ettalong) doing that very thing from and returning to Dee Why on Feb 9.
Being a Novocastrian, I'm a bit biased. However, if you are after a pleasant ride, I'd recommend day 20 and 21 of this one at any time.
I've been wanting to have a crack at Day 21 for some time. Maybe this year...
Now for a little plug - if you're after accommodation in the city, give my old boss a call at The Grand Hotel. They are city based, across the road from the Courthouse and Police station, near the beach, and the owner was a cyclist and should let you store the bike in the basement.
The date is set.
It's on again.
80 riders last year.
Two tea rooms this year.
Hope to see you there!
Listen mate, I'm going to Newcastle.
Hopefully the new +1 will let me join the ride this year.
i was very excited to get the notification in my email this morning!!! lock it in Eddie