Since today we were to ride down Jamberoo Pass, the police put in place
a plan to manage the descent: 17 kilometres out we're to be marshalled
in groups of 250 with a police motorcyclist ahead (and no-one must
overtake him) and a St. John's vehicle behind. The descent will be
closed to all but us. Once at the bottom it will be situation normal.
Also, the start time would be early and there would be only a small
window during which we were to depart.
I figured that the best plan would be to get away early and not have
idiots or unskilled riders around me. Therefore I packed as quickly
as possible and was one of the first at the start. James was already
there with a few other roadie mates. We chatted with the volunteers
who were partly there to prevent anyone from leaving early. James was
a bit worried about this most days since he was attempting to be first
into camp each day. He had succeeded each day except yesterday when
someone cheated. This morning, since they were holding us in a staging
area at Kiama before the finish, he didn't care quite so much.
When they let us go, James and Paul were off like a shot. I took off
fairly smartly as well, since the tourer can handle a bit like a road
bike. For the first couple of kilometres I was third on the road, but
gradually my place fell until I was 26th at the 17 kilometre staging
area. A few minutes later the first group of 250 was ready. The police
sent us off. There was an initial rise and then the almost-freefall
descent. At places there were hairpin bends, but we had the whole road
road to maneuver. There was one rider ahead who was inexperienced
enough to ride right down the centre line, and I had to pick my moment
to pass him. However, the rest of the time was scary and exhilarating.
We dropped 650 metres over 10km. There are stretches of road where I
could believe the story we were told about how the local BUG walk downhill.
If you had to cope with traffic - and they apparently have racing
motorcyclists going up and down here - you'd be dead scared as well.
It's Tour de France material. Later there was a story that one of the
tandem teams had their rear wheel disintegrate under the strain of
having the drag brake on constantly. I had a 27km/h average downhill
and seriously too much fun. If there were an easy way to get up the
top again and ride down immediately, I would have done it. The
maximum speed wasn't as fast as down from Charlotte's Pass since
today's route was very twisty, unlike the swooping curves on the
Between Jamberoo and Kiama there was one last little hill to climb
over, but they didn't slow me down much. I rocked up to the
marshalling area at about 10:20 where we had to wait until 11:00 for
the mass celebratory finish. They organised us so that the RTA were
first and the local BUG were second. Tandems, foldables etc. were
supposed to be third, then the plebeians last.
Hay near Jamberoo
We rode down that
When we got onto the main street, it was packed with spectators. The
whole of Kiama must have been there to greet the BUG members. They
even had a brass band. It felt great to ride in, to such clamour. Of
course, I had to box the bike immediately, and get it onto the right
truck, then wait for the bus. I spent most of the 2 hour ride back
zoned out listening to music on the MP3 player.
Packing up at Kiama
Bobbie was spending the afternoon at her mum's birthday party so she
couldn't come and pick me up. As there were so many people needing
taxis, I decided that I should put the bike back together and pack
everything on it. Then I would ride home. Jacinta, who arrived one
of the other buses, asked me if she could borrow my mobile to call for
a taxi, and then told them to send everything they had over to pick
up the rest of the waiting riders. I asked her for her number since
I wanted to see her again, and she gave it to me. Here's hoping.
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