Friday, 22 June 2012

Audax Lower Hunter Valley 300km

16 June 2012. Completed my fourth 300km/200mi since joining Audax in April!
This ride took me back into the Lower Hunter Valley region where I have ridden on two previous 300km Audax rides. There were a few differences in the route so it wasn't exactly the same, plus, no two rides are exactly alike anyway. The ride had 100km, 200km and 300km options with only three of us electing the longest distance.
Leaving the house at 5:30 in the morning to ride to the starting point 4km away, it seemed that I had grabbed an older, worn out, set of legs. They weren't sore, more like lethargic and not in the mood to do another 300km+ ride, let alone the 4km to the start. This was not a good sign going into my fourth ride of this distance.

After getting to the start of the ride in Gordon and receiving our brevet cards, we all headed out toward the Ku-Ring-Gai Chase National Park where we rode through Bobbin Head, a very familiar set of hills for me. As you enter the park, it's a great 3.5km downhill with only a few sharp turns along the way. As the sun still had yet to rise and the roads were a bit wet, some brakes were used during the decent. Since it doesn't seem that you can have a decent without an ascent, much to my chagrin, this downhill is immediately followed by a 4km long climb out of Bobbin Head. During the climb, the sun finally started to make its appearance for the day. Well, it tried at least to poke its way through a sky thick with clouds that threatened us with a wet ride.

Once daylight fully broke, the rain began. The first 75km, or so, of the ride was through a light rain. I've ridden through torrential downpours so this light stuff didn't bother me too much. By the time I had reached the first check point on Peats Ridge Road, the rain had pretty much let up and the next 150km were dryer, though the clouds never did let up on its hold over the skies above.

Up to the first check point, my legs continued to feel lethargic but they held up their part in the ride decent enough. After a short break and quick snack, I was back on the bike for the next segment. This is also when the legs started thinking that they really didn't want to have any part in this ride and the notion of not completing the ride started forming in my head. Unfortunatly for my legs, I'm and Audax rider and that means we do endurance rides and don't always listen to what are legs want (at least this Audax rider doesn't). The rest of the ride, about 225km, became a lesson in resource management. Additional breaks and paying close attention to nutrition was my primary focus for the rest of the ride.

At check point two, it was lunch time and I was chatted up by a bloke that was thoroughly impressed by the ride I was doing. The check point was in Millfield which seems to be so small that the check point was at the only petrol/eatery/general store/bar in town. Small towns tend to be populated with some of the friendliest of folks and had there been beers involved, there's a good chance that the bloke and I would have talked well into the night. But I had a ride to complete with just over half of it left.

Between check points two and three, I had to stop again. Rest, recharge and refuel. Back on the bike, gotta make it to the next check point...

Check point three! I made it! Another rest and a more substantial feeding. Chicken wrap, chips, Poweraide and a chocolate milk. The chocolate milk is new form me while riding and I wasn't sure how my stomach would take it but I was willing to do anything to keep this ride alive and finish it.

From here, I only have three more tough hills to climb. Dog Track, Brooklyn and Bobbin Head. If I can make it up Dog Track, the worst of the three, I shouldn't have a problem with the other two and I will finish this ride! Back on the bike then and now it's dark and the rain starts up again. 100km left at this point and the rain continued the entire time...

Dog Track was tough but I made it without getting off the bike! This ride is not going to beat me! At the top of Dog Track is Wisemans Ferry Rd. On the other rides into the Lower Hunter, the route took us to the right at this point but for this ride, it goes left. Sure, why not. A new road in the dark while it's raining; the hell with comfort zones when your legs are hating you anyway. This stretch of road turned out to be fairly nice. No hills of any consequence to batter my legs, decent surface and little to no traffic. I actually enjoyed this slice of blacktop until I reached the end.

This is where I realized that I really should pay more attention to the details of these rides. They are all plotted out on and you have the ability to view the elevation chart for the course. Had I actually looked at it at any time before the ride, I would have known at check point three that I really had four big climbs left, not three. Perhaps this is a good thing though. Would I have continued on had I known?

The section of Wisemans Ferry Rd terminates at a round about that leads to Gosford with the first exit and Calga with the second exit. I know this place and I know the hills I'm about to hit. I groaned along with my legs...

A brief, passing thought toward the short ride to Gosford and the train station before pointing the front tire toward Calga. Dark, cold, wet and tiredness was not going to best me today!

The rest of the ride was a chore with my head down, my determination up and my wheels continuing to spin. I made the hills to Calga, turned south toward home, made the Brooklyn hill and then the Bobbin Head hill and sprinted toward the finish. Well, it was a sprint in my mind at least... The ride officially started at 6 am and I reached the final check point, the Police station in Gordon, at 11:15 pm. What a day!

All told, I completed 324 km / 201 mi on this ride. The Garmin device reported 4,172 meters of ascent whereas RunKeeper gave my 6,656 meters. Regardless of which one is more accurate, the ride had more hills than any other I've completed.

My next Audax ride is set for 30 June. Another 300km ride into territory I have yet to explore. Even after everything this ride threw at me, I can't wait!

1 comment:

  1. So lovely! Good for you managing getting through all that elevation! Maybe I need to consider cycling next!