Posts Tagged ‘Cycling’


With the external and internal borders closed due to the COVID-19 pandemic, my cycling holiday was a lot closer to home. I love bleak, lonely landscapes, and luckily, New South Wales has some of these. So I was headed west. West as far as I could go. West to outback New South Wales.
I headed west from Sydney over the Blue Mountains, following an Aussievelo route – a naissant version of Eurovelo – long distance cycle routes across the continent. A big highlight was Evan’s Crown – a great tip from a cyclist I met on the first day. It is a beautiful rocky outcrop on the top of a hill, overlooking valleys in all directions.

Evans Crown

It was magpie nesting season and swooping magpies were a common theme before I left the tree areas.
Magpie attack

Magpie attack

The road got flat after Parkes and really flat and desolate after Hillston. Thanks to Kristie and the team in Hillston for helping me get in touch with farmers on the desolate stretch to lake Mungo.

On the way to Mossgiel

On the way to Lake Mungo

Another highlight was the Menindee Lakes. Lake Pamamaroo was filled with water. There was not a soul there, and I spent hours swimming and watching the pelicans.

Lake Pamamaroo

The endpoint of the trip was the Mundi Mundi Lookout – 35km from Broken Hill, looking out over the red endless plains. Only this time, they were green endless plains.

Mundi Mundi lookout

It was a quick dash home along the main road – covering some large distances on some days.

Storm near Cobar

The last stretch was through the Hunter Valley and its endless coal mines, and then the familiar territory of the Hawkesbury River.

The dirt track to Wisemans Ferry

2858km later, I was back where I started – at Wolli Creek in Sydney. I was at the same place, but had a head full of amazing memories of a bicycle trip to the outback. And back.

Today was visiting some of my favourite places on the Hawkesbury River, and today was navigating my way through the suburbs of Sydney. The loop is now complete. Home – Broken Hill – home.

The approach to the city

The approach to the city


I followed the bends of the Hawkesbury River for a while, breathing in the nature before plunging into the Sydney traffic.

Hawkesbury River

Hawkesbury River

Hawkesbury River

Hawkesbury River

Hawkesbury River

Hawkesbury River


Approaching Sydney from the north or west always involves cycling on some busy, unpleasant roads. I have found a way out of Sydney heading south, but in other directions, stints on very main roads or freeways are unavoidable. This time I didn’t do too badly. Only once aggressive horn ‘get off the f*ing road!’

My good deed of the day was to save a little turtle sitting in the middle of a busy road, waiting to be squashed.

Turtle saved

Turtle saved


My Tour de NSW is now complete – 2858km in total. From the green and hilly coast to the desolate and barren outback, there is a lot to see in this beautiful state. Not a bad place to be in lockdown.


Today was always going to be wet, windy and stormy. Today was my last rest day watching the rain fall, staying warm and cosy inside.

Wisemans Ferry in the rain

Wisemans Ferry in the rain


Tomorrow will be the final stint into Sydney and my Tour de NSW will be over.


Vineyards, shady river gorges, cute little villages and motorbikes – out to enjoy the road in the beautiful sun. Oh, and there was a lot of up and down.
On the way to Wisemans Ferry

On the way to Wisemans Ferry

My stand broke this morning as I was strapping the luggage to the bike. No more cute photos of the bike standing in the middle of the road. Now the bike lies there.
On the way to Wisemans Ferry

On the way to Wisemans Ferry

On the way to Wisemans Ferry

On the way to Wisemans Ferry

On the way to Wisemans Ferry

On the way to Wisemans Ferry

The road started the day by passing some beautiful wineries, twinkling in the morning sun.
Vineyard in the early morning

Vineyard in the early morning

At 30km I passed the lovely village of Wollambi and 8km later, Laguna.
Scones, jam and cream at Wollambi

Scones, jam and cream at Wollambi

Motorbikes day out at Laguna

Motorbikes day out at Laguna

After an uphill slog between river systems, it was up and down on a gravel road following the river down to St Albans.
The road to St Albans

The road to St Albans

The road to St Albans

The road to St Albans

The road to St Albans

The road to St Albans

The road to St Albans

The road to St Albans

St Albans pub

St Albans pub

St Albans pub

St Albans pub


The last 20km to Wisemans Ferry was on bitumen, but remained up and down, and I was knackered. Beautiful, green scenery.

Horses on the way to Wisemans Ferry

Horses on the way to Wisemans Ferry


Tomorrow will be miserable, wet weather, so it’s my final rest day before the last leg back to Sydney. My Tour de NSW is almost over..

Up and down. Headwind. Coal mines. Busy roads with coal trucks. Flat tyre. But also a side road through the hills. A taste of the national park to come.

The side road starts to climb

The side road starts to climb


The main road started with a ‘good morning’ two steep climbs to Denman. I was hungry again after only cycling 16km. I decided to leave the main road with its traffic and noise, and took a side road through farmland and vineyards.

Vineyards

Vineyards


Farmland

Farmland


With the constant headwind, the going was slow.

Then the road moved into the hills and felt more wild – no farming but just nature.

Into the hills

Into the hills


Back to the main road, it was noisy, hilly, hot and ugly. Huge open cut coal mines were on both sides of the road and the coal trucks plied the road at great speed.

10km out of the town of Broke, I noticed my tyre was flat. Only a slow leak, so with regular pumping, I crawled into Broke.

Changing the tyre

Changing the tyre


Everything is set for a cycle through the Yengo National Park to Wisemans Ferry, where I will stay for two nights, waiting out the rain. From there, it’s just a day to Sydney. Almost home.


The Bylong Valley Road is stunning as it winds its way between rocky escarpments and peaks, following the Goulburn River. I cycled this road, bathed in glorious sunshine.

The Bylong Valley Way

The Bylong Valley Way


Well, actually, I spent 25km cycling along the perimeter of the Wilpinjong coal mine. The other side of the fence was another planet. An expanse of black, plied by huge lorries, bringing the black chunks to be transported on the endless coal trains.

Coal mine

Coal mine


Coal mine

Coal mine

Coal mine

Coal mine


The road followed the train line full of endless trains transporting the black coal.

Coal train

Coal train


But, after Bylong – a beautiful little village – the coal mines passed into a distant memory.

Bylong village

Bylong village


Bylong village

Bylong village


Bylong Valley Way

Bylong Valley Way


Bylong Valley Way

Bylong Valley Way

Bylong Valley Way

Bylong Valley Way

Bylong Valley Way

Bylong Valley Way


I left the main road and it got hillier. I still haven’t reached the Bylong Valley Way, but am feeling tired. I stopped early at the mining pub in Ulan. Some sleep was on the menu.

Could this be the highest point?

Could this be the highest point?


I continued to meet cyclists on the Central West Cycling Trail. First yesterday in Ballimore, this morning in Dunedoo and at lunch in Gulgong. It’s a 450km odd route through the area – sometimes self supported, sometimes run by a group. There are lots of cycle friendly shops en route. It seems to be taking off. I hope more of this cycle tourism becomes popular.

I took a little side road to Gulgong. It was very pleasant, but I soon realised why the kilometre tally is less in the hills. Steep up and down is slow going.

The road to Gulgong

The road to Gulgong


The road to Gulgong

The road to Gulgong

The road to Gulgong

The road to Gulgong


The pub at Ulan was pretty quiet. They opened at 4 and closed at 8 because of the lack of people. Just a few people popped in to get a beer for the road.


The warning was for potential extreme thunderstorms. I missed them, although I did have a race against pelting rain. I wheeled my bike into my Dunedoo hotel room 5 minutes before the heavens opened.

The black sky

The black sky


It’s nice to have roads with bends in them. Bends and crests. The farmland has started and the rolling countryside. The weather was cool, with the odd spot of rain – mostly when I was undercover. A handy tailwind made it all the more pleasant.

25km to Dunedoo

25km to Dunedoo


I stopped to replace my hopelessly scratched sunglasses in Dubbo, and for a bite to eat in Ballimore. Nice pub.

Some research has popped up the Bylong Way. I’ll be heading there tomorrow.


Wind can be frustrating and wind can be joyous. 60km without a bend in the road and a side/head wind is arduous. The same wind as a tailwind brings joy. All in the set of dark clouds and blue sky.
Side/head wind

Side/head wind

Nevertire is 60km from Nyngan. That’s 60km without a single bend in the road. That’s the longest stretch I have ever ridden without a bend in the road. My previous record was about 35km in Kazakhstan. Today’s 60km was with a very strong side/head wind that made me feel every kilometre. Nevertire was a perfect destination for this kind of morning cycle.

Nevertire

Nevertire


There was a hailstorm while I was in the pub at Nevertire. Post-storm, and after a slight bend in the road, I got a slight component of tailwind. As the day continued, this turned into a full-on 100% tailwind. My crawling at 12km/h turned into a cruising 30km/h. My frustration turned into joy.
The same place - the view in front

The same place – the view in front

The same place - the view behind

The same place – the view behind

Tailwinds gave me an early arrival in Narromine. Time for an afternoon nap.


Today I rode through showers of grasshoppers. Constant streams blew with the wind, and when I had a tailwind, I rode with the grasshoppers.

The grasshoppers

The grasshoppers


I have left the outback. Big trees were everywhere. I even passed my first wheatfield in a long while. After some initial undulations, the road became flat and dead straight – as far as the eye could see, and then some. Running parallel was the train line. I regularly went to check for trains.

Check for trains

Check for trains


Check for trains

Check for trains


Not sure where to next. My mad dash out of the outback is over. I’ll probably head to Dubbo tomorrow.