… but it’s the quickest way from the heart of the west.
I left Des and Deb’s place at about 6:15 and rode down the Great Western Highway through a pea-souper. The fog had closed in last night and hadn’t lifted and the visibility was only a few hundred metres. I really should have kept my lights on the bike 🙁 As it was, I had my bright yellow raincoat on and was apparently visible enough.
There is some serious roadwork going on around Lawson, and Bullaburra, and some places where there is no shoulder (or there would be if a row of crash barriers didn’t cover it). Several B-doubles passed me on the narrowest sections, and traffic had to wait at Lawson for one to pull into the construction site.
The shoulder from Woodford to Faulconbridge is wonderful and I flew along it. My intentions of finding Mitchell’s Pass or the Old Bathurst Road to ride down were foiled by the absence of signage and the GPS maps not showing enough detail for me to decide where to leave the highway at Blaxland. That was a good thing, since it trapped me onto the M4 at the bottom of the mountain and that’s a wonderful run all the way to Parramatta. It took 2 hours to Penrith (sort of), and another 1 and a bit to Parramatta.
Unfortunately, the RTA once again proved their hatred of bicycles by having a small warning about the place to exit the freeway before it became a toll road, and you end up dumped on Church Street, and no indication of where cyclists should go in order to continue towards Sydney. I decided that the Great Western Highway was as good a place as any to continue along, so I took Parramatta Road all the way to Leichhardt and ended up finishing my trip in a time of about 4:30 for 100km. My average until Parramatta was about 23.6km/h but that obviously dropped once I was forced to share a lane with trucks and cars.
Still, that’s slight less time for a reasonably longer distance than my trip out; I think that I’d do this route in reverse next time. Obviously, looking at the route profile, I’d take somewhat longer from the end of the M4 to Katoomba, but I’d only be 2 hours and change into the ride by that point so I’d still have plenty of energy for the climb. By the way, the trip down was all done on 2 bottles of water and 2 meusli bars. I needed twice the fluid to get to Penrith on Wednesday as well as a big sandwich and some cake halfway.
I’m just in the process of uploading and backing up my ride data. Wednesday’s ride was quite meandering, and obviously a bad choice in retrospect. Since there’s no real scenery either way, the M4 wins hands-down as my choice for next time. Here‘sÂ today’s data.