Goulburn, Tuesday, 9.13.22, rest day #2
The mini break continues in Goulburn for one more day until we ride for the last two days and finish this epic adventure. I am glad we made some adjustments to the overall schedule. We adjusted to help recover before the last 250 kilometers of the ride as well as adjust to get us to Bondi beach at a less busy time. Our original plan to arrive on Sunday proved to be flawed because of a large kite festival happening at the beach so there would be limited parking and access to the beach. We also split the planned mega kilometer last day into two days.
Today, not much going on besides some breakfast at Rose’s Café in downtown Goulburn and then back to Bushy’s house to relax and try and update media and blog related items. The volume of pictures and video is daunting, trying to get it all organized and then decide what to post and add to the blog is challenging and time consuming.
Some last bike maintenance and check over while it is easy to do here instead of on the road, chains checked, tires pumped, general look over, all good to do as the next k’s will still be challenging in different ways. Roads with busy traffic to come, big climbs and fast descents, some rough breakdown lanes as usual, good to be prepped.
Quiet meals at Bushy’s, thanks to Lyn for lovely meals, thank you Lyn. Early to relax and bed for a good sleep, to be ready for the penultimate day to Wollongong.
Goulburn to Wollongong, Sunday, 9.14.22, distance? Predicted 100 kilometers, actual?
The dynamics of the past 30 plus days of riding have changed. Scotty back at home, Bushy, and I at Bushy’s home. We will gain some additional support family as we close in on Sydney. Scott’s wife, Michele will be joining Bushy in the van for two days. Jude, Bushy’s sister will be driving a separate vehicle as well. We will all join up in Wollongong at the Novatel Hotel for dinner and a Sunday night stay. We need Jude to drive the support van on Monday after Bushy joins Scotty and me for the last 25 to 30 k of riding into Sydney.
Some of the local bike riders will be joining us for a bit of the ride out of Goulburn as well for an 8:00 departure, later than usual. Wayne, Chris, Keith and Jacko, thanks for the accompaniment for the first 5 kilometers or so out of town.
The weather has changed in our favor again, I just am amazed at how lucky we have been. We have sunny skies and tail winds to help push us to Wollongong.
Up the M31 for a short distance, then at Marulan, off onto the side roads with a planned stop at Bundanoon 60 k down the road for a late morning food break and a chance to meet up with one of Scotty’s friends, Sal. A nice tourist friendly town with a good café for late second breakfast/early lunch. I really need that break as I was pushing the limits of what I need to stay fueled for rides. I usually need hourly stops and we are into the ride for 3 hours. As I suspected, I need about 20 k to digest food and get back to a more energized feeling.
The weather is warming nicely, sunny, tail winds still with us, overall, a great day for a bike ride.
We are headed to the top of Macquarie Pass; lucky we are riding down not up. Bonus, there is a classic pie shop just before we drop where we plan to stop for more well needed food. Macquarie descent will be another challenge for me. My descending skills are those of a flat land rider/Minnesotan, not all that good but improving as I am challenged by all the Great Dividing Range descents. I will have some video up soon of the descent, steep, fast, busy two-lane roads with lots of traffic and switch backs. I am not very comfortable with big scenic, open sided drop offs so this will be another chance to push more of my limits. Scotty is letting me lead at my pace and calling out suggestions as to where to pull over and let backed up vehicles pass; I am thankful for that. We pull over 3 to 4 times to let a few vehicles pass, most vehicles are good, a few are impatient to get by us only to be stuck behind other slow descending vehicles. We all have our comfort zones. The descent takes almost 30 minutes, huge drop of about 1000 meters or about 3000 feet of descent, wow! Spectacular!
We get to a more level road at the bottom and a car passes and someone yells out my name, Pat, well done! What the heck? How does someone driving by know may name? A few k’s down the road, a car is pulled over. It is Scotty’s uncle and Aunt, who passed us going up the pass, turned around and chased us back down for a chat. Amazing timing to come across each other like this, 5 or 10 minutes or more change in our stops or speeds and we would have missed each other.
Albian Park, next stop, we meet up with Scotty’s son, Tim, daughter in law, Jess and their two daughters, Samantha, and Georgiana. I get to meet more extended Aussie family for me. We talk some, they plan to meet us for dinner tonight in Wollongong at the fancy hotel we have booked, the Novatel. As a side note, Wollongong will be hosting the UCI World Championship bike races the end of this week and into next. The Novatel is the headquarters for the event, so it is decked out in UCI champ decorations.
The next kilometers are tough as I am running out of energy and what looked to be a 100-k day is now turning into something significantly more. So glad we broke this planned one day ride into two days. The route is basically flat and relatively easy, we get a bit confused finding the location of the hotel, wonderful location on the beach of the Tasmin Sea. The Novatel is extremely nice. We arrive about 5 or so, dinner at 6:30 in their fancy restaurant, a big group, 7 adults and 2 kids. As can be the case, I am famished but when I get this way, I have a hard time ingesting food. Tired and hungry don’t make a happy Pat. I eat, excuse myself and head to the room to relax and try and recover for tomorrow.
Tomorrow, last day, I am determined to eat very good and stay fueled properly for the last day. Here’s hoping.
Wollongong to Sydney/Bondi Beach, Monday, 9.12.22
I don’t even know what to say or think. I have become a lot quieter as we get to this day. The enormity of this adventure maybe is coming home to me. What I can’t do however, is take my eyes off what might be another hard, long day in the saddle. There seems to be no exact idea of how many k’s we need to do today. The challenge is the last 20-30 k twisting and turning on Sydney residential streets and paths to keep us mostly out of the heavy traffic that is Sydney.
We leave Wollongong, busy rush hour traffic. Wollongong is a lot bigger city than I expected with all the challenges that every big city anywhere presents. Good areas, less good areas, lots of traffic, lots of buildings, commercial, residential, industrial. I am feeling at ease as I ride through this. I think I am getting prepped for my return to home. Wollongong is smaller than Minneapolis but still close to a quarter of a million so big enough.
Our route is beautiful, we are on the eastern edge of Australia, so we get glimpses of the Tasmin Sea to our right occasionally. The route is hilly but not overwhelming, roiling ups and downs. We roll along, stop about an hour in at a coffee shop in Coledale, 16 k down the road, for a flat white and a large piece of buttered banana bread. Not great performance fuel but good enough.
Our route takes us to a long bridge at the edge of the continent, skirting the crumbling cliffs. The Sea Cliff Bridge, the bridge is amazing, curving along the cliff edge, planted in the sea. No real place to stop for pictures so I will need to remember this one, amongst 100’s of other remembrances.
Now, challenges begin. We are headed to a famed Aussie area called Stanwell Tops State Park. It is a challenging maybe 10 k climb of up to and more than 10%, averaging about 8.5 % incline for the entire climb. I am in my easiest gear, a 42/36, early on and just set a tempo to keep after the elevation one pedal stroke at a time. Our follow car finally says, only about 300 meters to go, well maybe not 300 but close enough. It is a spectacular view, and the day is perfectly clear and sunny. There are people around but being Monday, not so busy as what the weekend would be. This is a favorite hang glider launch area, we see someone setting up to make a flight. Jude, Bushy’s sister has been here for a while and bought sandwiches and treats for us to replenish the empty tanks, I needed that, I think Scotty did too. Pictures galore, a view back into the distance, we barely see the tall buildings of Wollongong and we are off, still up unfortunately but not for long as we crest and start the approx. 10 k descent.
I am enjoying this easy, quick 10 k, but I know there is another big climb to come, soon! This one is up to a suburb of Sydney called Waterfall. This is another 10 plus kilometers and almost an hour of climbing, this time with grades of mor that 11% at times. The only thing I can think about is that this is not a 45 kilometer climb like we did days in the past heading toward Beechworth. We gain the top and here we meet Jude. Time for more food and Scratch Labs hydration mix. Feed the beast time, there are still an unknown number of kilometers to go.
We leave Jude’s car here as we need her to drive the manual transmission support van soon. Off Scotty and I go on the M31 again, smiling at each other as we break the 40 kph speeds riding a slight downhill with a tailwind. We talk about the memories of these speeds on the Nullabor Plain, wonderful to experience this bond again.
Sutherland suburb is next. We stop to refuel some and get Bushy kitted up to lead us through the complicated zig zags of residential outer Sydney city. He has memorized a complicated route to get us safely through all the congestion of the largest city in Australia, maybe 4 million or so.
Not without a huge number of zig zags, some sidewalk, aka foot path, riding to get across dangerous intersections. We find some redeveloped old home areas that have been gentrified and roads have a lot of traffic calming construction. We are in search of the paths that lead us to Centennial Park. Across a foot and bike bridge that crosses the extremely busy inner city M31, onto a path, eventually finding Centennial Park. The park is dedicated to 100 years of the Australian Federation. Reminds me of NY Central Park. Dog park, horse riding, bikes, joggers, walkers, just a great large park.
We find a way through and are descending on city streets again into the promenade that borders Bondi Beach, lovely, famous Australian beach. Not a lot of sun worshippers, it is winter here but surfers, swimmers, tourists, walkers, just people enjoying everything the beach as to offer.
To my surprise, another welcome crew of family support. It has been overwhelming to have all this support from Scotty’s and Bushy’s family to fuel us for this adventure. Some pictures in the parking lot and then onto the deep white sand beach, cycling shoes filling with sand as I walk. We get on the water compacted area and dip our front tires; journey complete.
I think Scotty and I have another emotional moment as more pictures are taken and I feel my feet sinking into the sand, I don’t even care as my feet get saturated and sink deeper.
I am in a daze, unbelieving of what we have accomplished. We have ridden across a continent that when, as a map, is placed over the USA, will totally cover the USA.
We adjourn to a beachside restaurant that Daniel (Scotty’s oldest son) and Taylor, Daniel’s partner have found. There is 9 of us at the table again. Great feed and beers with clinking of glasses, adventure well done.