RTA Big Ride 2005 diary

Day 7: Gunning -> Marulan (109KM)
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We were all awake by about 5:30. The stars were still out. I had not much sleep due to the trucks. Breakfast was a sober contrast to last night's feast - two hardboiled eggs on a fruit muffin. I had a small bit and then chucked them, preferring to go with the porridge instead. I noticed that they've started providing brown sugar, which must be an attempt to forestall the honey shortage of previous years. When packing my gear, I was tired enough in the pre-dawn to first pack my sleeping bag in the mattress cover, and then re-pack the mattress in the inside-out cover.

Moonfall at Gunning
Moonfall at Gunning

The ride opened at 7:45, and by 7:55 I was on the road in the slightly chilly air, riding up the old Hume. There was a bit of a climb over the Cullerin Range and alongside the railway line. As the road and line followed the same basic path, the gradient was not too bad. There was a nice flat section after that, lined with poplars, and a fast run into Breadlbane where we travelled past the route turn to the public school where the P&C were raising money for new playground equipment. Then we rode the kilometre back to the turn across the railway line and north towards Gurrundah. The unfortunate thing is that the sign at the school listed Goulburn as 25km away, whereas we had to reverse to do an extra 40km. Just over the railway line, on the Old South Road, we passed the original Breadlbane school which is a nice old building and now a private residence.

Cullerin
Cullerin

Breadlbane public school 1878
Breadlbane public school 1878

When we reached the top of the Great Dividing Range, we turned east and into the Wollondilly River valley. By this stage it was getting a bit hotter, and my legs were tiring. Just on the outskirts of Goulburn (level 5 water restrictions) the local bike shop had left a couple of boxes of apples under some trees, which was a great gesture and a nice break.

Lunch was not too far away, at the park across the road from where the rest day was in 2003 - under a line of pine trees with sap and pine needles sticking to my legs. It consisted of a horrid vege burger which I found to be upsetting my stomach after a while. There was also some fruit and a jelly cup which was appreciated.

After lunch the heat started kicking in. I was feeling slightly nauseous for a while but rode it off. The route was the reverse of that used in 2003 - up past Lark Hill, down to Bungonia, and up to Marulan (which was halfway through the corresponding stage that year). I remembered that I had climbed up to Lark Hill and that therefore once up there, it would be a good downhill run to Bungonia. The map only showed the one major hill so I felt that I would have no problem finishing the day in good condition.

On the climb I was caught by Ed who was obviously faster on his road bike but still suffering. We both had a decent break at the water stop on top of the hill, where the son of one of the tandem families provided welcome relief with his water pistol. After continuing I was puzzled by the lack of definitive downhill to Bungonia. I guess that was the tired legs speaking, but it sure didn't feel like we were descending towards a creek. Once at the hall at Bungonia, I had two cold drinks in succession which was a mistake, as they made me feel bloated and didn't immediately fix my hydration issue. I had, of course, been drinking steadily and sensibly throughout the day, as had everyone else. I heard volunteers on the radio calling for the water truck to fill up the barrels at various water stops.

After a bit of a rest, I continued on. The road was definitely uphill from here as we climbed away from the creek and up to Marulan. Once the computer clocked up 109KM I was wondering how far we had to go. One of the vollies confirmed that it was about another 5KM. She also was very kindly filling our water bottles for us. We hit the freeway shortly thereafter, where the police and RTA got us across in bunches. Then it was a fast little ride along the freeway to Marulan where we ended up in the soccer field.

I ended up getting to camp at about 3:30, which works out as about 8:30 on the road. The temperature must have been about 40 degrees at some point, and my right leg felt a bit burnt where I must have applied sunscreen unevenly this morning.

At 5:30 it was still hot, although a shower and some beers in camp made me feel more comfortable. There were some ominous storm clouds building up in the north and we were all expecting rain. I was wearing my Iraq bicycle t-shirt and ran across Caroline and Walther where she pointed out with delight that she had bought him the same one. I also ran into Jacinta at the photo tent. She told me that she and a lot of others decided to stop at Goulburn. So many, in fact, that they had to put on an extra bus to cater for them. I do feel good about completing the course today, which was another bit of a redemption for the 2003 ride, but very tired.

The clouds cleared before dinner, then reappeared in the east. After dinner they turned into fog, which blanketed the camp. It's quite nice and cool now in the early evening where I'm tuning out the bad local jazz band with the sounds of Pink Martini.

Fog over camp
Fog over camp

Ride Statistics

DST  113.25 km 
TM  6:30:49 
Max. speed  61 km/h 
Avg. speed  17.3 km/h 
Avg. RPM  67 
Max. RPM  116 

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