Some crazy person decided it was time to head out to the NSW Snowy Mountains again and ride around Mt Kosciusko the long way on our roadies.
Route choice this time was anti-clockwise, which meant starting in Jindabyne then heading through Berridale, Adaminaby, Cabramurra, Khancoban, Thredbo and back down to Jindabyne.
The total distance of the loop is ca. 320km and the total climbing is about 6400m.
There were a couple of groups doing the ride and the first group (Seb Dunne, Beth Thompson, Matt Kinch, Ed McDonald, Roland Trease) started at 4:30am and the second group started at 5:30am.
I started in the 2nd group, together with Chris Thompson, Steve Hanley, Ryan Gormly, Aaron Coles, Nathan Versey, Paul Brodie and Rick (surname?).
It was half way up the first hill out of Jindabyne, 10 km in to the ride, that my chain jumped gears a couple of times before it snapped… bugger, luckily Aaron had a spare 10 speed link, so a bit of fiddling later the chain was fixed, woohoo!… but I noticed that the back tyre was down to it’s canvas….ooops!
Just as I was contemplating my next move, Ryan piped up that he was still feeling sick and wasn’t going to continue the ride. Ahaaa! I go “Excuse me Ryan, you dont need that back wheel do you!?” and before he knew what was going on I had swapped out my warn-out bling deep-dish with his brand new tyre’d dura-ace wheel. Thanks Ryan.
On we went towards Adaminaby, along what I remembered was a nice flattish b-road….DOH! Who put these hills in here, I dont remember them from last time we rode this. Ok, maybe if you had watched the video (here) of the last time I rode it you would understand why I dont quite remember things as they really were in the last part of the ride.
The pace was fairly high considering we still had 280km to go, and with a a few short waits for the bunch to reform we ended up admiring the big fish while having our breakfast of some coffee and bacon & egg rolls…. yummm! (ca. 85km)
After breakie we settle into a nicer rhythm, soon after leaving Adaminaby Rick decided he would not be able to get around and turned back…. from 8 down to 6 riders to carry on. Half way to Cabramurra the road turns into super smooth hot-mix and we enjoyed while it lasted. Riders spread out riding their own pace getting lost in the smooth ride.
A Quick stop to re-fuel in Cabramurra (ca. 143km), lots of drinks and snack and top up of water bottle and on our way.
Seb had managed to convince the shop keepers to tell us they had passed at 8am instead of 10am, and they had us in shock for a few seconds until they cracked under the pressure of us mumbling and waving our hands in disbelief 🙂
We all felt fine and headed out along the next section, which again included some awesome alpine roads, but also the first nasty climb…. especially the Tumut Pond Reservoir climb was super hot and fairly long.
What goes up, must come down… and that’s the bits we love. Some serious formation down hilling and the obligatory ‘beat you down’ moments. This section is probably where I hit my top speed of 86km/h.
Ok, I am starting to feel the heat and am getting fairly tired here…. keep eating and drinking, is the most important thought in my mind…. oh, and I have to beat somebody up this hill…. yes!
Aaron had packed half the patisseri.. I do not know… scratch that…. I do not want to know where he stored them all while he pulled out another steaming hot pastry, whereas Chris had the fruit stall packed and munched his way through his supply of bananas.
We stayed together all of the way to Khancoban and I managed to still smilie, even though my head is visibly red from heating up. A couple of big climbs and plenty of rollie hills, then a beautiful down and flattish last 30km till Khancoban for a late 3pm lunch (ca. 200km)… this was the last food stop before getting back home.
After leaving Khancoban I could tell I was in trouble, loosing all power on the first climb along Alpine Way. Luckily Nathan and Steve stayed close by to make sure the back marker was still moving. Which was a good thing as on one of the down hills I hit something on the road and blew out my front tyre at 60+km/h, only just managing to keep things up right although ending on the wrong side of the road cuddling some alpine grass. A new tube in the front and just as I finished Nathan cam around the corner having ridden back up a fair hill checking up on me.
Chris and the others were all doing their own pace up TG, as everybody (bar Chris I suspect) was starting to feel a little tired.
At the bottom of Tom Groggin (ca. 240km) I refilled both my bottles from the creek (or Steve refilled them for me) and I was needing to sit down for a bit contemplating the TG hill ahead…. ouch, and who can I ring!
From here Nathan left us, as he was chasing some fast time friends had set on the Tom Groggin climb… crazy as we had already ridden 240km and his friends had probably not when they did it…. ah well, off he went. Now it was Aaron who stayed back with Steve and myself, playing some tunes out loud via his phone. He spurred me on with the treat of some heavy rock tracks, but it had no impact on the ever emptying tubes hanging off my lower body.
I could ride most of the time as long as the gradient was less than 12%, but damn it TG has 14+% gradients, so I had to step off and walk a few sections…. man I’m tired… uh?? Where am I? What’s that bright light ahead, should I go for it? … NO WAY, says Aaron, threatening to play some Black Sabbath if I didn’t move my sorry arse up the hill 🙂
Getting over the steepest part of TG and to the middle hill rest area, the sight of Brooke in her car coming to check on all the riders was a welcome relieve… I had no issue for being the first to grab a lift. Starting to loose my lines down hills and feeling a bit queazy was enough to call it a day.
267km and 5400m climbing was all I had in my legs this day.
Driving up the rest of the hills, we passed all riders from our group, the first group and a day riders group (who had ridden 200km from the Ski tube to Khancoban and back), I was hanging out the car window handing out salty potato chips and doing the obligatory rear brake repairs to people who needed a little boost.
This time 10 out of the 13 who started made it around… nice work. 320km riding and 6.5 climbing.
Mad Chris had ridden 40 km down from Charlottes Pass to meet our start bunch and then proceeded to ride back up to his car at the end of the loop, doing a total of about 400km and 7.5k climbing…. DAMN MACHINE!
Let’s do that again… maybe next time I should not blow up my legs riding MTB single gear for two weeks leading up to it though 🙂
photos by: Steve Hanley … see more here