RTA Big Ride 2005 diary

Day 1: Check-in at Jindabyne; bus to Charlotte's pass; ride back to Jindabyne
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We left Sydney last night at 11pm. Bobbie drove me to the drop-off point at Darling Drive behind the UTS building. The bike was boxed up as per instructions, but the handlebars don't turn around much due to the geometry and the bar-end gear levers. A vollie loading the bike truck gave me a bit of grief, but I told him that it wasn't a mountain bike and walked off. I understand that BNSW got a bit of stick last year about scratching people's precious bikes during the flooding last year, and that's why they've mandated the use of boxes.

On the bus I chatted for a while with a woman called Sharon who was there with her partner on their first ride. I shared my experiences over the last two years, and passed on some useful tips (such as where to set up tent to minimise noise, and minimise the effort carrying luggage around camp).

The bus arrived at 6am where we stumbled out into the dark in a cold so strong that my teeth were chattering. I checked in, keeping the crumpler with the tools, pedals, a raincoat, vest and arm-warmers. Then I got changed into knicks and jersey in the public toilets and found some coffee and a muffin at a local cafe. We were then all loaded into buses to Charlotte's Village.

Check-in at Jindabyne
Check-in at Jindabyne

Once at the village we had to wait about 10 minutes for the bike trucks and then we were to set them up and ride up to the pass itself, up a steep little concrete road unto the main road. Setting up my bike, I realised that the front brake cable had snapped. I had to wait in line behind about 20 people (and there must have been a few more before and later) who really didn't know how to put their bikes back together. The Pegasus crew sold me a new cable and fitted it for me and I was off.

Mine's there somewhere
Mine's there somewhere

Back together
Back together

The road out of Charlotte's Village
The road out of Charlotte's Village

Once up the hill and at the pass, I had time for a few photos and a half-hour wait until the official mass-start time of 11am. There was snow visible on the peaks in the distance which I presume have some snow, year round. The scenery is spectacular with the glacier-gouged valleys, impressive rock formations and alpine vegetation. It's also strange to see ski-runs without snow - so rocky and bumpy.

Looking back over the valley
Looking back over the valley

At the lookout
At the lookout

Rock formation
Rock formation

The weather was perfect - 17 degrees, sunny and 42 percent humidity according to a rider with a special computer. However, that meant that all my cold-weather clothing was unnecessary so it went in the panniers. I did have some sunscreen packed away in the handlebar bag so I put some on.

After we started, it was a leisurely fall down almost to Perisher with a bit of a climb out from Spencer Creek. We hit the first of the exhilarating descents at Dainers Gap, then had lunch at Rennix Gap. Lunch consisted of a sausage on a roll, enhanced with the taste of dirt, grease and sunscreen.

Spencer creek
Spencer creek

Finally the was a 12km downhill screamer to the Thredbo river followed by a decent little climb out of there and then rolling country into Jindabyne. We passed the service station featured in Somersault, and the hotel itself, but I don't know where the other locations from the film are.

First views of the lake
First views of the lake

The camp was at the sports-ground halfway up a hillside and it was quite warm by the time we got into camp (about 1pm). I had trouble finding my bags, but got set up eventually - right near where I told Sharon not to (the toilets) since they have a noisy generator running all night. The view from the camp was spectacular across most of the lake

View from camp
View from camp

The BNSW had a special 15th anniversary celebration where they asked everyone to wear a jersey or t-shirt from a previous (or the current) ride: I ended up being the face of 2003. If I find out where the photo is published, I'll try and include it later. I also found out that I had forgotten a tea towel, so I bought one on camp.

We were told at the briefing that someone had come down hard on the mountain and had to be flown to hospital. We have no more details, although it appears that no other vehicle was involved.

By about 4pm, the wind was picking up and it looked like a storm. That dissipated, but another set of clouds built up later and about 8pm - just after I went to bed - the rains poured down. I was listening to the soundtrack to Twin Peaks, trying to block the generator noise, and the atmospheric music really suited the lightning and thunder in the storm

Ride Statistics

DST  43.75 km 
TM  1:56:21 
Avg. speed  22.5 km/h 
Max.  74 km/h 
Avg. RPM  68 
Max. RPM  114 

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