There were road-works at about 5km out, today, extending to about 10km.
The police sent us through in bunches so that traffic coming the other
way up Sutton road wasn't too inconvenienced. Most riders were well
behaved, but one idiot came racing up between some of us without
warning. On the iffy gravel surface, that's quite dangerous.
After the road-works ended, the rest of Sutton road was really nice
to ride - mainly flat with some undulations. About 2 km out from the
village, I realised that the road looked familiar. It wasn't that I
had ridden the same section two years ago, but the section on the road
between Bungendore and Yass that we rode then is parallel to this and
has a similar layout. We had morning tea at the Pony Club, exactly as
we did two years ago, and it felt great to actually ride out of there,
not wait for the sag wagon.
The route diverged again about 2km up the road where we continued north,
not west. The road was almost flat, but with small uphill undulations,
and I kept a good average speed using the downhill sections to sustain
the momentum up the next rise.
Lunch was at Dick Smith's property (Bowlylie) just outside Gundaroo. He
has a narrow gauge railway running around his hilltop house yard. There
are perfectly manicured lawns and lots of fruit trees. Outside the the
grounds are poplars and oaks and a tennis court. There was little native
flora that I could see.
Dick Smith's house
After riding over the pick-a-plankish bridge and through Gundaroo, the
road turned uphill and over a range - some nice, sharp climbs. I think
that it took as long for the last third, as for the first two thirds of
the day's ride. Some people got into camp before 11am and the pub in town
only opened at 11 - I think that the riders were a bit put out at having
to wait. I managed to make camp by 11:30 and had a shower before heading
down there. Water pressure in camp was low and the vollies were grumbling
about problems with the council supplying proper electricity and water.
Gunning shire office
At the pub I had a few beers with James and another racer - Scott. The
bar staff were overwhelmed at the amount they were selling, being used
to a small town appetite, not a hundred cyclists swarming in, it seems.
At one point I was asked to tell people to bring their glasses back to the
bar, as they were running out of clean glasses. Also, the local
news-agent had sold out of papers (which probably pissed off a few
locals). At 2pm the local pool (which is normally closed) was apparently
to be especially opened for us. I had planned to go down there, but didn't
make it. I heard later that it was so packed that people could only stand
in one spot - no swimming possible.
Elton and Olivia play tennis?
At 3pm there was a talk by Michael McGirr, the author of "Bypass: the
story of a road" about his cycling trip up the old Hume Highway. His
brief was basically about how to turn a diary into a bestseller
(sure!), but turned into a discussion of his research and
creative process. The main point he made was that you need to find the
voice of the characters - his example being Aunt Polly in Huck Finn. He
suggests sitting in a cafe and just writing down the conversations you
overhear. He's an interesting guy and the book sounds good. I'll have
to pick up a copy sometime.
The one book I took with me has become dog-eared from being thrown
around in my bag. I haven't read any of it yet and probably won't.
Next trip, I'll have to remember not to take one. Poor old
Just before 4pm, I left and went back to camp as there was a talk on
digital photography for beginners. Unfortunately I didn't get much out
of it except that the speaker - a ex-pro photographer and now lecturer
at UTS - is in love with digital photography. I asked if he had any tips
on exposure times and lighting, but he didn't really understand or
answer the question. The thing that everyone seemed most interested in
was finding the equivalent of 35mm film. I think that the only useful thing
was his iteration of the 70/30 rule in taking pictures of landscapes,
and a tip for getting around auto-focus when the camera can't cope
(focus on something which camera can see and then point the camera back
to the real subject). At least, the talk was an realisation that I've
probably got to just experiment more and re-read the manual if I want
to take better pictures.
This evening I went to the gourmet dinner at the pub at Gundaroo, which
has one chef's hat from the SMH Good Food Guide. The listed menu
contained two entrees:
- Hand crafted goat's cheese tortellini with pine nuts, sultanas
and a butter of fresh plucked sage
- Honey glazed, house smoked duckling with grapes, watercress and
- Chef's hand-selected market fish with bok choy and a crab
and egg noodle salad. Finished with pickled cucumber and an Asian
- Confit chicken with parsnip puree, peas and a tarragon jus
- Mustard crusted rare roast Bungendore beef, with mash and wilted
and two desserts.
- Pavlova stack with mascarpone cream, bananas, butterscotch
sauce and praline
- Vanilla bean creme brulee with peppered pears
On the bus over there I was feeling a bit solitary and single since
everyone else appeared to have booked in groups. When we got to the
restaurant a woman named Kath, who was from the RTA, took charge and
organised some of us in a table group - overriding the seating
arrangements of the staff. I found myself seated with her, a young woman
called Caroline and her German father, Walther (who I recognised from Red
Faces where he placed blues harmonica). Jim, the photographer, was there
as was another woman called Jacinta. I thought that she and Kath were
friends, but later found out that they had only met briefly on the ride.
Kath was a real organiser, as befits her educational role within the RTA
- riding to schools along the route and speaking to the kids about cycling.
She organised me into selecting a good bottle of wine (San Genovese)
which we shared, then gave back and foot rubs to Jacinta, who was obviously
tired, during the evening.
Caroline was born in Germany, but came out here as a baby when her father
decided that the nuclear risk of living on a potential war zone was too
great. He spent quite a while telling me about his life there and how
he has found himself now in a similarly dangerous situation thanks to
the new world politics.
Jim, unfortunately, appears to have little to talk of but cameras. It's
his first ride and he says that he's enjoying it a lot. However, I guess
I'm not the best conversationalist, myself.
Jacinta has some sort of HR research qualifications and has recently moved
to Sydney and taken up a new job. She lives in Surrey Hills and quite
enjoys the place, apparently. She's a really nice person (obvious despite
the tiredness) with beautiful eyes and a very open countenance. She's the
knockout of the table.
The food was outstanding - not quite the advertised menu, but similar. I
had the tortellini (which was great), and Kath insisted on sharing the
duck with me (which was not quite as good). I had the rare roast which was
melt-in-the-mouth tender and properly rare, with a great mustard glaze. I
also was passed some of the fish which has a wonderfully delicate flavour
with a bit of peppery, pickle flavour infusing it.
The pavlova had been taken off the menu, replace by Rocky Road.
We all, apart from Kath, decided on the creme brulee. Instead of the
the pears it came with honey-glazed Egyptian figs, and it was one of those
close-your-eyes and linger on the palate moments. We were all in ecstasy.
The vanilla flavour was just right, and the figs were so sweet. It was a
taste that you just want to hang onto as long as possible.
The evening turned out to be a great success, and my earlier misgivings
about my lack of social skills were assuaged (thanks mainly to others
reaching out to me, I'm afraid). I'm still nowhere near as self-confident
in company as I want to be, but I feel that I have made contact with some
really nice people that will continue.
Back in camp, and we came in past the tennis courts which were in full
operation (with people trying to sleep in tents nearby by the look of it),
and the nearby rumble of the Hume highway. Given that it's an early start
for the 109KM ride to Marulan, the chance of getting a good night's sleep