So Danya and I rode from Sydney to Wollongong today. It was expected to be a hot one, but luckily for us the fairly constant headwinds kept the temperature down. It didn’t get above 23c from what I saw, although the temperature graph on the bike computer shows a spike as we left the sea bridge and climbed up to Wombala. I expect that the slow pace up that short sharp climb meant that there was no cooling effect in place from either wind or my movement, and the actual temperature if you were just hanging around in the sun must have been around 30c for much of the day. When we were leaving Sydney and heading through Engadine, I was cursing the wind, but I guess I should have been thanking it for making the day more bearable 🙂
As we were leaving Sydney Park at around 7:30am, it became obvious what a tremendous eyesore and monstrosity the WestConnex interchange that they’re building will be. Basically there will be 7 lanes of freeway traffic dumped into suburban streets at St. Peters. and they’ll take a section of the park and demolish lots of people’s houses to do so. Very upsetting to see.
We headed along the usual route and ended up at Loftus for morning tea (or so we thought) not long before 9am. Unfortunately, this year, the locals had decided that they would only provide jugs of hot water along with tea bags and instant coffee – none of the muffins that they had provided every year for the last 15 that I have been doing the ride, to the best of my recollection. That’s their prerogative, but there were a lot of disappointed riders who saw the lack of food and simply turned back to their bikes, including us. We shared some muesli bars I had with me and kept riding.
Danya dropped me along the ridge-top section as I battled the headwind, and I caught up with him again at Waterfall. He’d only beat me there by a couple of minutes; I’d sheltered behind groups of riders when I could and then used on momentum on downhill sections to leapfrog to a new group. We headed down into the national park together and go to lunch at around 10am where we were very glad to get some decent food into us, having missed morning tea. There was the usual chicken or ham sandwiches along with a chocolate bar and a juice box and a apple (which I saved for later). After about 30 minutes we headed off again and Danya again dropped me on the climb up to Stanwell Tops.
The rest of the trip was the same. Danya would head off and then wait a few minutes for me at a rest stop. We eventually arrived at Lang Park at around 1:20 and then we had to queue for about an hour for food. Luckily there was a stall selling cold drinks (at an inflated price) and nothing else, so we could rehydrate quickly, but all the decent food stalls (all 5 of them) had lines of dozens of people at any one time. From what I heard on the PA speakers, there were about 9,700 riders coming through and it amazes me that they didn’t organise more food. As it was, I decided that the queue for a Japanese food truck was the shortest so we got some chicken yakatori rolls that were delicious. I’m not sure they were worth the wait, but then again, nothing probably would have been. The person running it was, according to newspaper clippings they had displayed, a professional chef in Japan who came back to Sydney and decided a food truck specialising in hot food like gyoza was a good thing to try. The establishment is called Shiso Fine and works the inner city – Redfern etc. I think I’ll have to find them again and try some of the other things on the menu 🙂
Eventually we left the park and headed to Wollongong train station, where we arrived just as a train was about to depart. As it was already packed to the gills, I though we should wait for the next one, which arrived in a few minutes. Due to the lateness of the hour (3:30), I think we’d missed the rush and there were not many people on this train. Danya and I ended up as almost the only ones in the vestibule area of a carriage, and I had one entire bench seat to myself, so I stretched out and dozed for the tip back to Sydney. I left the train at St. Peters and rode home – Danya continuing on to Granville via Central – and arrived around 5pm.
It’s been a long but productive day. We worked hard for the money we’ve raised – $435 on my part and $625 total. I’m still short of my $500 target and I’m hoping that people will pitch in to help me reach it. As to evidence of my day’s work, the ride data is here, and a few photos are up on Flickr here. I’ve some video footage to pull of my GoPro which might be usable and even watchable. I’ll update this post later, if so.