Tuesday, July 30, 2013

Winery Wander 300

After a spot flu that kept me off the rode for the inaugural Tarago 400, I decided I would travel north to have a go at the Winery Wander 300, and so move me a bit closer to completing a super series this year.

The start in Berowra is about 2 hours away from home so it was an early start on Saturday morning, as the alarm rang out a 3.15am and a bit dazed and sleepy I jumped into the car to head off. A few kilometers later I realized I was still wearing my ugg boots, but it was too late to turn back for more appropriate footwear. I also managed to miss the motorway exit and had to endure a 15 minute detour which meant that I would miss my chance of a coffee and have to rush to get ready on time.

I was the last rider to arrive at Berowra, but only just, and quickly changed into my riding gear and loaded the bike, got checked and away we went, only 5 minutes late.

In the dark and preoccupied with my preparation, I didn't really have a chance to familiarize myself with the bunch which was made up of 300 and 200km riders, so I set off into the cold, going a nit hard to warm up. Before long things were settling down after we descended from Cowan and with the sun beginning to rise I decided to pause for a photo, realizing at the same time that in my rush to get going I had not properly put my bib knicks and the shoulder loops were flapping by my side.

After partially disrobing on the road and being passed by a few familiar faces, I jumped back on the bike to make up lost ground. Passing a few riders on the climb up Mt White I found Dave, who I had ridden with on the Oppy earlier in the year and we fell into place for the rest of the ride.

As the day opened up before us it was clear it was going to be a great day for riding and after a brief pause at Peats Ridge we enjoyed the beautiful countryside between Kulnarra and Broke to the first controle. Here we caught up with Howard and Hugh and after a quick breakfast we headed out this time with Mark joining to make a trio of riders.

A slight headwind had cropped up and we shared turns over the undulations for a while before turning into the quieter and lumpier roads through the wine country around Pokolbin. The countryside was truly gorgeous and I was reveling in the pleasure of riding through it in such wonderful conditions. After a few more lumps, Dave signalled his intention to take it easier along here so Mark and I headed off towards Cessnock before stopping at a cafe for a cup of coffee and a sweet. A few minutes later Dave joined us and after a short rest we set off again taking the back road towards Quorrobolong around the Watagan Mountains before heading over the gap and skirting the back of Lake Macquarie towards Morriset. I had spent quite a bit of time on the front by now and as we turned onto Wyee road, Dave suggested we stop at the servo for a quick bite to eat before carrying on to Wyong and the second controle. I was eager to do so, feeling the fatigue creeping up from the early start and I had a rare guarana drink to keep me perky. It was here that I decided to attach the battery charger to the garmin to keep it going as the internal battery was getting low only to pull the connecting wires from the box. Bugger!

We rolled into Wyong as the sun set and after a rest and card stamping at the fish and chip/chinese restaurant we donned our night attire and headed out for the last 70kms. This last section was relatively tough and included a few longish climbs, and a few longish descents to break the monotony! As always the Cowan climb loomed before us and I was very glad to reach the Pie and set the controls for the relatively easy run back to Berowra.

I pulled into the station carpark at 9.30, a few minutes ahead of Mark and Dave. It was a great day out and confirmed my love of 300s, tough enough to make you work hard for most of the day, but without the sleep deprivation of 400s.

I was back home in a couple of hours and slept like a log, waking on Sunday morning to the pleasant ache of achievement.

Monday, July 8, 2013

Berry Mountain 200

Saturday saw the second running of the Berry Mountain 200. A few riders from Sydney plus a few from Wollongong, meant that the second run would be more populated than the first, though both inaugural completers i.e. Shane and Me were back for more.

The weather forcast had been looking good for most of the week leadin gup to the ride until thursday when strong westerly winds fetured in the forcast. They were supposed to abat during the day, so we set off from Dapto, gritting our teeth into a cold wind but optimistic that it may slacken off during the day.

It didn't.

The first control after a hard slog into and a pleasant run with the wind saw coffee cups blow off their plates and bikes crash over, further on we experienced wild pushes that sent us off line but it was all part of the day.

First control at gerringing #audax

As we pushed on the group moved ahead towards the mountain as one, though I was feeling the effects of the cold and dropped back, happy to plug away at my own pace.

I soon found myself at the bottom of the climb of Cambewarra Mt, after catching occasional fleeting glimpses of cyclists in flouro ahead. Starting the climb I stopped to remove my outer shell and fiddle with the new EO gear saddle bag which was proving tricky on its first run.

Plugging up the climb I was getting hotter so stopped again to remove my beany and quietly giving up hope of catching the rest of the guys.

The climb was long and steep and the false flats between Mt Berry and Cambewarra Mt seem long and hard in the wind. When I arrived at the control I found Barry and Geoff the sole riders. Seems I was the 3rd one in, but how? Everyone else was in front of me...

Soon Shane and Dale hove into view having missed the turn and gone passed only to swing back.

Cambewarra mt #audax

After a short break we continued on and enjoyed a rare descent of the mountain without any cars up front or behind and soon found ourselves sloggin along the flatlands south of Nowra across the wind into Greenwell Pt. It was hard work and we were glad to find the cafe at the end of the point for  lunch. Well some of us were :-)

Greenwell pt #audax

The return leg had us facing back into the wind en route to Nowra before turning with the wind for a very fast passage out through Bomaderry and along 7 mile beach road. before stopping at the penultimate control at Crooked River.

Something warm and something sugary at Crooked River #audax 50km to go :-)

I hung around to see Shane roll in at about 3.45pm and with heaps of time up our sleeve we set off for to cover the remaining 50kms. Shane had beene xperiencing some gearing problems all day so was travelling conservatively and I soon drew away over the hills.

Stopping to switch on lights and don vest at Kiama, as the sunset and temperatures dropped I was soon cocooned in my lights and tapping away for the finish. I made one wrong turn up a freeway exit, but managed to loop back down and continue on to Dapto without any further misadventure.

It had been a challenging day but I was glad to be out and commencing my preparation for the SM1200 in November.