24/12/2014 – written by Dave 90 k – Blackheath to Bathurst Last night’s fog turned into a fantastic clear sky this morning. We slept ok, typical first night in the tent restlessness. I gave up on sleeping at 6AM and to my surprise, when I got out of the tent there was nothing but blue skies. What a glorious Christmas morning. We were the only ones stirring in the tent area – it looked a lot better with sun as opposed to fog.
We are trying out some recipes from the folks called “Going Slowly” who put together a cookbook. This morning it was fried egg sandwiches – cut a hole in the bread and fry an egg. Nice bread makes this an easy tasty brekkie – almost making me look like a chef. Nancy tried out our new Aeropress coffee maker with success as well. All and all a good start to our first day. We had a hard slog back to town. We didn’t even notice the downhill last night. That could have been the fog or just that downhills never seem hard. We stopped in town at the train station to get a photo at the same spot we did yesterday. Note what a difference 14 hours made below.
We had some 10k of rolling ridge top riding to get to Victoria Pass. We stopped at a few of the viewpoints. This is a pretty amazing road – with cliffs alternatively dropping of either side. The ride down Victoria Pass was fast and steep. Before no time, we pulled up and the historic site of Hartly. They’ve restored a number of the old sandstone buildings here – it was closed but the buildings are still visible.
I knew it was uphill from the Jenolan Caves turn-off but what a hill this turned out to be. 2k in first gear the whole way. In fact it was uphill almost to the turn-off to Lake Lyell – our fist short-cut of the day. We’d only covered 26k by this point but it took most of the morning and we were pretty tired. We drank a 750ml chocolate milk each and contemplated bailing on Bathurst and just riding to Lithgow. Bathurst won out. (Senior editor’s note – oops, I mean Chief Editor’s note, given my promotion of yesterday – I don’t recall getting to vote, because if I had I am sure we would have had a hung vote).
The next 15k were really hard. Steep down followed by steep up. Nancy had to push once and was getting really tired. She muttered a few choice words my way but generally took advantage of both my poor hearing and a little distance to ensure that I was always just beyond comprehension range. (Funny how Dave has this innate sense about being just far enough out of hearing and striking distance at these times…) By the time we reached the junction to Torana, Nancy had had enough of the lovely, yet terribly hilly side roads. She directed us off the short-cuts and back to the highway.
Not to let the fun stop, we took one more dirt road, slight diversion to get to the highway. This saved us a couple K but my co-rider was not impressed as the road was dirt, steep and required a little more walking. (Chief editor’s note – I mean really, what was the point of taking that rocky dirt road at that point?) By now, we made it to the highway and had only covered 50 of the 90k we needed to reach Bathurst. I think I may have heard a few more choice comments here but again, they were just not quite audible and said co-rider was not willing to repeat. (Chief editor’s note – at this point I made the decision to keep my mouth shut, for the sake of the marriage, but Dave doesn’t know how lucky he was, given his close proximity at this point). What had been a hot, summer Aussie day was now suddenly looking very wet. Big dark clouds had built up all around us. We dodged one shower but clearly today was not going to be our day. After about 10 k of highway riding our number came up and the rain started to come down, with thunder and lightning all around us. I could see a road entering halfway up the hill and took a punt that there would be a bus shelter there. Lucky me – there was one. Unlucky us as we only got there after a sprint as the clouds opened. The shelter was not perfect so we got out our tarp and covered up. It bucketed down and we started making plans to spend the night in the shelter. Eventually it let up and we made a run for it. We had 5k more uphill before coming upon an open servo – lucky given it was Xmas and all – run by folks from India probably didn’t hurt (Sometimes we must thank God for the non-Christians among us!). We stopped for a cold drink and plan. They had a little highway hotel that looked very dodgy but we thought about it.
Here’s where our long day of climbing paid off. I wish I could say I knew it was coming but I didn’t – we had roughly 25k of downhill to Bathurst. Some was steep, some not so steep and there were a few little climbs but we made great time. We were in Bathurst in an hour and rolled into the Big4 caravan park it started to rain. They were open but the office is closed today. So we pinched a key from the key drop off and pitched the tent – just as the heavens opened. Dinner and a shower – done. Last of the Xmas pudding – done. Ready to pass out after a really hard day – done. The Chief Editor is happy but thinks I may have pushed her a wee bit too much today. I say, “you gotta be hard” (Chief Editor’s note – that comment just goes to show how sometimes Dave is really clueless…). As luck would have it, we are running out of time in the camp kitchen – so I’m not sure how much editing I’ll get on this post.