We massed at Dapto station for the start at 7am. Quite cold but clear so I was optimistic about the day. Quite a few people had lined up for the start, there were the usual suspects, Henry, Richard, John, Greg, John, a few people down from Sydney and Yugo and Tom up from Canberra.
The route was a large loop pretty much like this one on bikely http://www.bikely.com/maps/bike-path/Tahmoor-Ride , taking in the challenging Mt Keira climb, country roads through the western villages of Bargo and Tahmoor, Broughton Pass, and undulations to Bald Hill and the sea cliff bridge and then a scenic run for home down the coast and around the bottom of Lake Illawarra.
We left after a slight delay at 7.10am and right from the start things were looking pretty good for a good day. It was still and cool and the early climb up Mt Keira was rewarded with scant traffic and the sight of a Lyrebird running along the side of the road. We formed into two groups and made a fast ride down Picton road. Travelling in the second group with Henry and Greg, we caught the front group who had stopped at the freeway turnoff as John cranks had come very loose and they didn't have an 8mm hex. John had just had a new chainring fixed earlier in the week and he was less than impressed with the result. Luckily Greg's multi-tool had the right size and we were off together as a group (Note to self - get a multitool). The first controle (53km) at Pheasant’s Nest was reached in 2.5 hours which given the long climb was a pretty quick fifty.
From the controle it was a fast pace line from the freeway to Picton through Tahmoor and Bargo, before the hills coming out of Picton saw us split up a bit. Nearing the 80km mark and the cramping zone I backed off and settled in to spin the next 20 kilometers to the control. Turning off the Picton road at Wilton, I found myself in fresh terrain and enjoying the countryside down towards Broughton Pass.
At a couple of points on the way I could smell a sweet perfume and looked around to see a carpet of Freesias lining the road. I stopped at the foot of the pass to take a couple of photos and then began the steep climb up and out and then the seemingly endless undulations to the second controle at Appin Bakery. I was the last to arrive but was happy that I had made it through the “danger zone” without cramps.After a quick lunch of sausage roll, salt tablets and powerade we headed off again up the long and grim Appin/Bulli road before turning onto the old Princes Highway across the environmentally “special” Bulli tops towards Hellensburgh and Stanwell Tops. A Northeasterly headwind began to pickup as I grappled with the undulations (surely I’m at the top now!?), before turning south at Bald Hill and the familiar territory of the coast road down to Bulli. I arrived at the Controle a “Marsbar” bite behind the others with only 50km to go and five hours before the cutoff.
(Henry on the Appin Road)
The northeasterly breeze was now quite a strong wind, but with it in our backs we made great time down the coast route under darkening skies. Lights came on as we turned around the bottom of Lake Illawarra and rode across back streets before rejoining the Princes Hwy at Albion Park and the last 5km back to Dapto station into the wind. As luck would have it I pulled into Dapto at 5.10pm, turning over 202 km on the odometer, just as it started to rain gently.
The Tahmoor ride was a great day out and it was terrific to see and meet some new riders from further a field. The route is terrific, challenging and scenic and takes in some of the best parts of the Illawarra.
Now in preparation for the Alpine, I have
Mt Keira x 2
Mileage in Kilometres = 2833