(September 27, 2020 – written by Dave)
We’re off, minus one. Roman ended up not joining us today because his bike is in pieces and he needs a part that won’t arrive until early this week. He’s already ridden this section recently so he didn’t mind hanging back and then next week, using the train to catch back up to us.
Today was cooler than it has been so we dawdled over brekkie and didn’t even leave our apartment until almost 9AM. It was hard to leave the warm sun busting in our back deck window but eventually we escaped. Then we rode all of 250 metres before our first break. Like Roman, we didn’t see any need to ride out a road we’d ridden many times, especially Pacific Highway in northern Sydney. So our first break came at St Leonards Train station where we caught the train to Hornsby.
We’ve ridden road from Hornsby north what seems like a thousand times already this year but the sun was out and it was warming up. Train or bike on a sunny day – bike wins. There were tons of riders out on the old Pacific Highway coming back in towards Hornsby. We got a lot of thumbs ups and woops. Everyone buys an adventure bike these days but it seems that not many folks get the time to take them on adventures. Our loaded up bikes are a dead giveaway that we are doing more than the usual Sunday spin.
We stopped at our normal haunt, Pie in the Sky, but only got photos. We’d barely finished brekkie and couldn’t be convinced that we had earned a pie yet. After Pie, we had the big climb up Mount White. Both of us were concerned about the climb with all of our extra weight but we had no troubles. We love riding this “bikepacking” set-up.
There is a cafe at Mount White right on the old highway but it is a little rough. Most of the clientele are motorcyclists but these days the average motorcyclist looks just like we do – greying facial hair (me) and either retired or a still toiling away at a corporate job. The rough part of the cafe is actually the staff. I’m not sure that they actually like having customers.
Roman told us about another cafe just off the highway called Saddles (as in horse saddles). Hard to imagine how many times we’ve ridden past Mount White and not heard of, nor seen Saddles. Wow, what an oasis. It’s actually a nursery with plants but they also have a great cafe sitting on a manmade lake, complete with two black swans. We had late morning tea eating at a table on the lake. I can’t offer much commentary about their food as we had some yummy glazed carrot bread that Nancy made the day before our departure. Saddles did however provide some tasty flat whites. Thanks for the tip Roman.
After tea we headed off to our second climb of the day with the fun down and up section towards Mooney Mooney bridge. There were lots of fast cars and motorcycle groups out on the highway but everyone managed to enjoy the sunshine safely. The climb out of Mooney Mooney Bridge was no drama either. Have I mentioned that we like our lightweight bikes?
We found a back way into Gosford that worked really well – this kept us off the super busy and steep main highway leading to town. Good navigation continued in Gosford as we managed to find bike paths mostly all the way into the city. We were looking for another cafe for lunch but found everything shut. Both of us had forgotten how dead these country towns can be on a Sunday.
We debated riding further than Gosford but couldn’t find anything interesting up the road so we ducked into Woolworths and got dinner supplies and rode the last few K out to the Gosford showgrounds. The showgrounds are not fancy but they will work for us for one night. We’ve got a nice site right on the edge of the greyhound racing track, they have showers, power and yes, toilet seats. There was a market here today so the toilet blocks could use a cleaning but any time Nancy says “I’ve seen worse”, well, I’m calling it a win.
There is no greyhound racing tonight. And for the record, sharing one’s opinion on greyhound racing while staying at a greyhound park will probably get you kicked out of said park. The caretaker has his own pet greyhound no less.
Tomorrow we’re off to the Hunter Valley. It’s about 100k ride to reach the YHA there and best we can tell, we are their only guests. Roman stayed at the YHA a few months ago and highly recommends it. So far his advice has been solid. We’re riding through an area called the Central Coast and are little worried about traffic tomorrow but also know that there are a couple villages where we can get a coffee to calm our nerves. I’m sure that it will work out fine.
Time to make dinner before the sun goes down…