Lithgow to Mittagong shop tour recap
Posted on October 11 2016
The Lithgow to Mittagong cycle touring route has been a favourite of ours for a number of years, and this was the second group ride we had organised.
Taking on board feedback from the last run that 200km and over 5000m of vertical climbing might be a bit of a stretch over two days, we decided that the October long weekend was a perfect time for a more leisurely three day trip.
None the less, it would still be challenging route - finding a campsite for night two involved a twenty kilometre out and back detour towards Kanagra Walls and the Boyd river campground. It gave us a formidable target of 240km over the three days.
All in all it was an excellent weekend of touring. We had a wonderful range of riders from early twenties to mid sixties took part, with a wonderful range of bikes - from touring bikes to road bikes, to mountain bikes and hybrid commuters. There were riders on their first or second weekend of touring and old hands who had been out hundreds of times.
With a temperature forecast of close to freezing conditions in the mountains I think everyone was surprised to find approximately 25 hardy looking souls gathered in Lithgow on Saturday morning.
Chief organiser Chris Moore was on hand for a quick safety briefing before riders hit the road shortly after 9AM. Riders were welcomed with a chilly start out towards Lake Lydell before conditions deteriorated with freezing rain and strong wind. Many riders were questioning the sanity of continuing in such conditions but everyone pushed on with the rain easing as we regathered at Jenolan Caves. Hot chips and some ingenious hot water bottles (drinking bottles filled with hot water from the bathrooms) revived spirits before the lengthy (5km 10% average gradient) climb out of Jenolan.
Approximately half the group decided after the climb that enough was enough and dispersed to a number of stealth camping spots rather than detouring the extra 20km to Boyd River Campground. Those that did ride the extra 20km (40km if you include the ride back in the morning) had the pleasure of a wonderful fast dirt gravel section with almost no traffic and a beautiful campsite.
Saturday was a beautiful change from the previous days challenges. Glorious sunshine, warm light winds and much more gentle terrain. Still with 100km to cover most were up and riding early. With such a large group riders were dispersed and Saturday saw a rather large number of diversion, detours and creative responses to the planned route. One group was riding hard at the front took a wrong turn and rode an extra 20km past Wombeyan Caves (rumours that a shop employee may have been involved are unsubstantiated, Tim). Another group found a local mountain bike rider Steve who ended up riding home to get his truck and escorting riders all the way to Wombeyan carrying their gear in the back. Steve joined us in Wombeyan Caves for a beer - what a top bloke! The rest of the riders were able to follow the route and the numerous stick arrows left on the trail and arrived at camp in the mid-afternoon.
At Wombeyan Caves, the group was welcomed by the news that not only had the Omafiets crew successfully cached a case of beer, but also that the local Lions Club was running a sausage sizzle. This was greatly appreciated by weary riders - its amazing how good a beer and a sausage on white bread tastes after 100km of off-road riding.
Monday dawned with mostly clear skies and the promise of a howling tailwind to push riders the last 70km to Mittagong. The twin climbs of the day were gentle and followed by a steady downhill run into Mittagong.
With the ride over, most were happy to doze on the train back to Sydney. Some riders unfortunately incurred the wrath of an extremely agitated train guard (for the heinous crime of having too many bikes on the train) and were unceremoniously evicted at Yerimbool. One decided to nap and wait for the next train in 2 and a half hours while the other three saw the opportunity for a 60km time trial to Cambelltown station.
Thanks to Chris, Ollie, Rosie, Tim and Jerry for representing Omafiets crew on the ride.
Thanks to Peter Sweeney, Ali Jones and Matthew Crompton for the photographs.
And thanks to everyone else who came riding with us, we hope you had a blast and look forward to riding with you again soon.
Interested in joining us for our next trip? We will be leading an easy summer trip along the Hawkesbury on the 12/13th November 2016.