For quite some time I'd been wanting to find a safe and enjoyable way of cycling out of Sydney to the south. A few years back a group of us started a tour at Moss Vale (See Moss Vale to Nowra via Numerella Tour
). I've done some other riding around the Southern Highlands and beyond, but never felt comfortable about cycling there from Sydney. I'd taken part in the 2003 Big Ride, which started at Warragamba and cycled down Silverdale Rd as far as Werombi Rd. But I didn't feel comfortable using Silverdale Rd in a non controlled environment.
Anyway, after doing a ride with some friends a few months back around Buxton, Oakdale, Nattai & The Oaks, I went back to the maps to try and join the dots.
A couple of weekends ago I rode down to Rossmore to try and find an alternative way across South Ck rather than going along Bringelly Rd (which at times carries a fair amount of traffic including trucks, but has virtually unusable shoulders). I did find a bridge across the Ck
from Rossmore Grange...but have decided that Bringelly Rd is not so bad after all!
I contacted a few friends to see if they'd be interested in doing a short overnight tour to test the route. A few days before the ride, it looked like there might have been 7 or 8 potential starters. However, by the time Saturday morning 6am rolled around, there were only 4. Maybe the ones who pulled the pin were the sensible ones. This was Saturday the 24th Jan, where the temperature out west was supposed to reach 40 degrees.
Greg and Glynne (riding a Bike Friday tandem with a 2-wheeled trailer), Caroline (who's house in Buxton we were using as an overnight stopover) and myself set off from Rooty Hill just before 6am. Our aim was to get as far as possible before the real heat set in. Mygoal was to get to The Oaks by midday. This means the main climb of the day would be out of the way.
The ride started with heading south along the M7 shared path. We realised after we got back that we must have passed the scene of the cycling fatality on the M7 only minutes before it happened. (A couple of frantic text & phone messages were left by people who knew we were cycling in that area around that time...).
We had a water refilling stop at Rossmore, and a longer break at Cobbitty (around the half way mark distance-wise for the day) around 9am.
A little while after the break we did a little unplanned exploring (also referred to as taking a wrong turn). After climbing back up the hill along Loop Rd that we'd enjoyed cruising down, we got back onto the correct route...and some more steady climbing.
I'd been pleasantly surprised by the speed of the traffic up to this point. I think all of the roads used either had a 60 or 80 kmph speed limit, and most cars seemed to be sticking to it. (Speed limits on some parts of the route increased after this, but no complaints about the behaviour of the motorists).
Turning onto Burragorang Rd presented us not only with the growing heat of the day, but a reasonably strong headwind. It seemed slow going through Mt Hunter as we approached the main climb of the day. We had a food break under the first tree spotted at a flat section half way through the climb.
We made it up to The Oaks hotel a few minutes after midday.
There we camped for the next 3 and a half hours (including pulling out a sleeping mat and resting under one of the verandahs).
Around 3.30 we decided that the day had cooled down a little, so thought it was time to make tracks towards Thirlmere.
We rehydrated and rested at the Thirlmere hotel, before enjoying the cool evening ride back to Caroline's house in Buxton.
After a great BBQ and salad dinner (and Veggie burgers for me) and sleep, we made another early start on Sunday morning to do the climb to Moss Vale.
I was pleasantly surprise at the lack of traffic along Remembrance Drive/Old Hume Hwy around the Bargo area. We had a few breaks along the way, and the climb up Catherine Hill wasn't as painful as we thought it could've been. We had been planning to detour into Mittagong along Bong Bong Rd, but a couple of us were experiencing some 'common cycling related aches & pains'. The cyclist's concerned thought the temptation of a railway station in Mittagong might be too strong to resist, so we decided to press on up the hill towards Moss Vale.
We got into Moss Vale around 12:30pm, and called in to see Greg's auntie. We'd started the previously mentioned tour from her house a few years back, so it was good to call in again.
We finished lunch in time to make it to the 2:05 train back to Sydney.
Ride route (on bikely):
- Day 1 - 85 km Rooty Hill to Buxton
- Day 2 - 52 km Buxton to Moss Vale
Thanks to Caroline & David for opening their house to us on the Saturday night, and for the local knowledge of their area!
This is all a precursor for the next ride I'm planning - 5 day ride to Canberra in the week before Easter (Then attending the National Folk Festival
). Anyone care to join me for the ride and/or the festival?