As I lay here with my broken collarbone and fractured ribs for potentially another 6-8 weeks, I’m thinking about when I’m going to get back on my bike again and what kind of riding I’ll be able to do once I get back. One thing is for sure, it will be a struggle and it will be harder to get back to the same level of fitness than ever before. One thing I do have to keep me motivated and keep inspired is a new bike as well as a bit of time up my sleeve to plan a couple of epic rides either on my own or with a group of friends.
My longest and most epic ride to date was back in February 2018 when I planned a 200 kilometre ride through the North West across the Hawkesbury River through Wisemans Ferry. Riding through by the McDonald river we ended up at St Alban’s and returned back across to Wisemans Ferry through Settler’s Road, here we encountered an eight kilometre gravel road, which in certain parts became so sandy that our wheels were sinking into the road. The other parts are washboard like pattern and felt as if my brain would fall out through my ears. This gravel road really set us back and the more I think about it now, how much better it would be to tackle the same route with a bike which is fit for purpose.
I planned this ride on the back of a solo ride on New Years Day when I set out to ride to Wisemans Ferry and back. That was a 180km loop on a 34 degree day. Feeling accomplished I knew that an extra 20km to St Albans is not going to make much difference. Dante, Archie, Eric & I set out together at around 5:30am on a drizzly & damp Sunday morning from Norwest. Luckily for us, the rain had stopped after an hour when we were making our way towards Kenthurst when tragedy struck for Archie. He lost control on a short steep bend which was very slippery from the early morning drizzle. He came down had on this right hip and his derailleur snapped. Ride over for him and we waited until his Uber arrived to take him back to his car at Norwest.
Eric, Dante & I decided to press on. We skipped the Mcclymonts Road climb due to the slippery road, by this time we were approximately an hour behind our schedule so we decided to skip the Lower Portland crossing and proceeded directly towards Wisemans Ferry via River Road. It’s a 30km drag along a twisty single lane road, surface is not the best so you have to keep on the lookout for deep potholes and tight bends.
Once we reached Wisemans Ferry, it’s time to refuel and get some food in as well as a much needed toilet break. Beyond the river and onto St Albans Road is uncharted territory for us. What we discovered is a beautiful stretch of country road all the way to St Alban’s town centre, it’s mostly flat sealed road with minimal traffic. The only traffic you’ll encounter are the ones coming from the ferry which is quite minimal and have around 15-20 minute gaps. We took a short break at St Albans along with a handful of motorbike riders before taking on the Wharf St. Drunks Challenge which is a short 400 metre wall averaging 5 % gradient. It was time to head back to Wisemans Ferry along the other side of the river through Settlers Road. This is where we faced another lengthy delay, what I didn’t realize is that there is a 9km section that is gravel and sand. It took us almost 40 minutes to get through this section at an average of 14.5 km/h I think it was through this section where my EPS rear derailleur began to deteriorate. Although I wasn’t fully aware of this until we reached the Wisemans Ferry climb which is a 1.2 km wall averaging 9%. By this time I couldn’t shift into the lowest cog and I was forced to climb the 5km segment on a 36-27 ratio, after 100 on your legs and 35 degree heat, this is was not the most pleasant thing I’ve ever experienced.
There was a relief in sight however, once we turned right back into Wisemans Ferry road, this was a downhill stretch all the way back to South Maroota so we were able to claw back some time.
The rest of ride was pretty uneventful, we were pretty exhausted by the time we got to around 170km. We ended up riding through North Richmond and back onto Old Windsor Road. A quick stop at Starbucks and back to the bus stop at Norwest to make up the distance.