Hills and more hills, today. Looking back from halfway, it was obvious that I’d crossed the shield wall of the old volcano – this wall of mountains, the Mackellar Range, was all along the horizon.
For some reason, I’d had it in my head that Kyogle was 20km, not 30km fromÂ Casino. The heat and the flies were building to a really annoying level by the time I got there. I had to stop and revive and refill my water bottles, and I consumed 2 bacon and egg rolls at this little store at the top of the hill just before the main street.
After Kyogle, there is a right hand turn and you’re faced with what looks like a massive climb up to this lookout back over the Richmond Valley. On the other side, I came across a roadie from Nimbin – a young guy on a regular training ride – who said that there were a couple of similar climbs before a nice big downhill fro which you could see Mount Warning. From there, he said, it was all undulating country on to Uki.
He was also telling me about theÂ local club cycling. Apparently road racing is banned about Murwillumbah, but Criterium racing is big. Byron Bay and Ballina both have clubs now, and Murwillumbah’s C grade is the equivalent of other local A grade levels.
The first of the two climbs was hard; the second was tougher – maybe 3km or so and steep. I was walking up both, and I had the first, and I had to stop several times to catch my breath and let the legs rest. Finally I hit the downhill – about 5km to Cawongla, and probably steeper than the uphill. I’m almost amazed the roadie climbed this, but then he was talking about there being real hills around Nimbin 🙂
I stopped at Cawongla to refill my water bottles and saw that they offered Devonshire teas, so I had one, as well as a sports drink. It’s taken me about 4:30 hours to get here – 6:45 to 11:15 – and it’s only 45km!
The next 11km was really depressing – long climbs (not too steep, but I have to walk every one) followed byÂ similar descents, all the way to the Lillian Rock turn or thereabouts; 11km in one hour, which actually wasn’t as bad as the first 4:30 hours :), it just seemed worse because the heat had kicked in.Nearing the top, I stopped on the side of the road (basically stopping for a minute or so in every piece of shade), and a woman stopped to ask if I was OK. When I said I was exhausted, she said “good, I thought that you might have had an accident”. Apparently she’s seen a few. Perhaps the B-doubles and logging trucks etc. side-swipe cyclists who are having trouble holding their lines, or perhaps the cyclists are swept down in the backwash from the trucks.
Finally there was another swooping decent which led into the Tweed Valley; wonderful views of Sphinx Rock, and Blue Knob, as well as Mt. Warning. For some reason I had thought that I wouldcome across the Doon Doon turn earlier, but I guess that’s because I was counting from Casino, not Kyogle. Kunghur is only 15 km or so from Uki, and that’s how far away Wilson’s Creek is – over Mt Tarrawyra. Given the way I’ve handled the load and the heat over 50 metre climbs today, I think doing twice that on dirt tomorrowacross the back way is really foolish. It’s the old Pacific Highway for me.
At least the road from Kunghur is only small undulations. I stopped at the Sphinx Rock Cafe to refresh my water and to drnk heaps, and then set off at a steady pace, past some roadworks that covered the bike in mud, and about 4 “pick a plank” bridges. I could take then at a good speed, since they were in good condition, and short, without major gaps.
I finally rolled into Uki at 4 pm – almost 9 hours on the road (6 and a half riding). The Guest House has a swimming pool out the back, fully appointed with disability paraphernalia – chairs that swing around to be lowered into the water, and guide rails down a sloping bottom, and I was given a beach towel as told to make full use of it, but I declined for an immediate shower.
The place is wonderfully appointed – leather armchairs, old wooden furniture, a pool table, nice big airy rooms (4 of them) mostly adjoining a big common area sun-room and then a verandah, where we had (me and the only other guest, Graeme, and the owners) a very nice home-cooked meal in the twilight. The room on the website is the one I stayed in, so that gives you an idea of the comfortableness of the place.
There’s also a couple of big combined bathrooms, all decked out in disability chic,Â and the whole place is very accessibility oriented. One of the two ladies who run it is an ex-nurse, and they have a contract with the MS Society for combined holidays for carers and their patients. The carers can go and get some rest and sightsee, etc., while the charges are looked after.When I changed into my MS fundraising shirt I didn’t know this, and they asked if I worked for the Society so I told them of my involvement in fund-raising, and the riding I’d done on the Big Ride.
Jules is an excellent cook, and gave me some home made banana bread as afternoon tea. She asked what we wanted for dinner (I said lots of carbohydrates), and we were given some lovely mini-quiches as appetisers, followed by a very nice spag bol, and some lime soufflÃ©s with ice-cream for dessert (a bit of an experiment, apparently, and delicious).
Breakfast was two nice egg tartlets, a breakfast parfait (fruits and muesli and yogurt in a glass), and banana bread. They also piled a heap of fruit into the fridge in the room for me to take on the ride, but I didn’t have any extra room to carry it unfortunately.
It’s very much a family atmosphere, and I wholely recommend the place, although I’m not sure I’d ride all the way from Casino to get there again 🙂 Of course, dozing off to sleep, I felt that it was all doable again, now that I knew the route. Given better packing and better preparation, I think that I’d make better time and be in better shape by now. The only leadup I had to this trip was the ‘Gong, which obviously wasn’t enough.