Written by Dave
Rumours of our demise are greatly exaggerated! We are alive but an epic day yesterday, combined with no mobile signal meant we couldn’t post. Today was hard as well so this post will be brief.
Nancy mentioned dinner in our last post. Here’s a photo and a few more from the night before in Glenbawn. Our site was great. We sort of upset the resident mob of kangaroos that like to hang out in the area where our tent was positioned. They were not sure what to do with the tent. We had them hopping all over the place, both in the morning and the night before.
The ride out was a reverse of the 5k bonus from the day before. It went a lot faster with fresh legs and it was mostly downhill. From there we headed into the very upper Hunter Valley and into more horse country. It was quite scenic and I managed a few snaps of the local horse populations.
We had 60 of up and down, with actually lots of up before the climb into Barrington State Park proper started. We made good time with stops in Gundy for morning tea and Mooran Flats for a quick lunch (hmm, bacon, avocado, tomato wrap with chips just before a big climb not a good idea, though we put most of the chips in a baggie to have when we got to camp). Gundy had a nice looking small fairgrounds where we could have camped had we known… We asked everyone about the climb, getting answers that varied from “I’ve never been there” to “wow, no way you can do that on a push bike”. We soldiered on.
So, at 60k, we’d already climbed 900 meters for the day and we reached the end of the pavement (the road over the top is not sealed). And now the real climbing started. We only had 25k go and it was 1PM. But our pace was stunning slow – the first part of the climbed ranged from 10 to 15%. Nancy did great, riding most of it with only a few breaks required – I helped her re-start with a track stand push. The only trouble was our speed – at 4-5kph, it would take more than 5 hours to cover the 25k if the grade didn’t let up.
To make a long story short, the grade let up a couple times for very short periods – but only just. I managed to ride the whole thing but Nancy did some pushing. I would ride a ways, put my bike down, run down the hill and help push her past my bike. I’d then run back down to my bike and repeat the whole process. Truth be known, I needed breaks and helping Nancy was to my advantage. Luckily, the last 8k were flatter and rolling. We crested the real climbing at Dingo Gate, at about 5:30. The last 30 minutes were a real struggle even though it was flatter – we were both completely out of gas.
Going up the climb we spotted a few animals, a few roos, wallabies and an echidna. But most exciting was seeing a spotted quoll. We did this after Nancy stopped on the flatter section because a couple cars past and she rode into the gravel. Had this not happened, we would not have seem the quoll. Sorry no quoll photos, I was too slow at that time of day and energy level.
Going up a few folks asked us if we needed help. We said no up until the point when we were over it and would have said yes. From this point, no one else offered. One ute with no room for us stopped and gave us encouragement. We told them to get the fire and wine ready at camp. This turned out to be Suzy and Sam and just by chance, we pulled into the site next to them. Once we got the tent up, had the cold chips from lunch (they tasted better than you can imagine) and a sponge bath, they came over and asked us to join them by their nice toasty fire. What a treat, they even had a spare coat for Nancy to wear. I know it will sound weird but it was freezing up at 4500 feet. The high for the day was 14 and it was well into the single digits in the night. We were grateful for Suzy and Sam’s fire, plus the nice mug of warming wine that they shared with us.
Overall, we covered 83k and had 2000 meters of climbing. All with very heavy touring bikes and with the last 25k on un-sealed roads. We were both completely shattered and had to really pull ourselves away from the fire and back to our tent. We were thinking of staying up there for a day but the forecast remained quite cold so we made plans for sleep in and exit in the morning.
Senior editor is resting after today’s ride. She’ll fix my post errors tomorrow 🙂