It was with a sense of trepidation that I set out on a bunch ride with the PBCC (Pinarello Boys Cycling Club) on a 170km epic from Wollongong through to Kiama, Berry, Woodhill Mountain Rd to Kangaroo Valley, onto the Barrengarry Mountain Climb to Robertson then down Macquarie Pass back to Wollongong. I knew in the back of my mind there were some gun riders in the group and was concerned the pace may have been a bit too high for my abilities.
We left at 5.45am in beautiful cool conditions, all in kit and excited for a great day out.
Dances with Cows
The forecast was for some warmer weather later on so we were all keen to get going, before we knew it we had reached beautiful Kiama and had a quick drink stop at stunning 7 mile beach further on at Gerroa. 45km knocked off in no time but we all knew the real tests were to come.
Stunning 7 Mile Beach Gerroa
From Gerroa it was onto Berry via Beach Rd, a nice country road will little traffic. Once you get to Berry there is little time to prep yourself before you start the climb up Woodhill Mountain Rd, a 4km climb at around 7% and 350mtrs.
Woodhill Mtn Rd drinks break
At this stage all were feeling strong and with the first climb under our belt we all enjoyed the descent into Wattamolla where you are witness to some beautiful scenery and many dairy farms, we also had to negotiate around a hundred cows that were out that day, all good fun as they were the best behaved bovines I had ever come across.
At around 90km we had reached Kangaroo Valley and made the crossing of the iconic Hampden Bridge, was on the move so unable to take a pic but here is a file shot for the record.
Hampden Bridge, Kangaroo Valley
It wasn't long after that Barrengarry Mtn loomed, it is a 6km climb of around 720 metres and an average 9% gradient. It was at this point that my legs left me. While I knew I was always going to make it I struggled to generate any power so it was a hard slog. One of the bunch was suffering cramp so it was an opportunity for we stragglers to stick together, even stopped to take a pic, the view approaching the top was magnificent. We encouraged each other and got there in the end.
Approaching the summit of Barrengarry Mountain...Kangaroo Valley below
The bunch were waiting patiently up the top of the climb so in little time we were off again, we were happy with the knowldege that all the bigger climbs were done with. From there it was a beautiful 15km to Robertson and I have to say it was some of the most beautiful country views I have seen.
We stopped for half an hour at the famous Robertson Pie Shop where we refuelled with some nice pastries and lots of hydration as we heard it was mid 30's at the base of Macquarie Pass... and they weren't wrong. The 10km descent was awesome but the temperature differential between the top and the bottom of around 10degrees celsius meant it was like cycling into an oven.
The final 40km were very hot and most were glad to get home due to the heat. The ride distance was 170.1km’s and we climbed 2,759 meters in total. That said, the two climbs, Barrengarry Mountain Full Climb (6.4km's, average 8% gradient) and Woodhill Mountain - East Side were both very steep and represent a tough challenge for any rider. Check out their elevation profile and gradient here:
Woodhill Mountain - East Side climb: www.strava.com/WoodhillMountainEastSide
All in all it was a very satisfying ride with a great bunch of guys that support each other and have a good laugh along the way... a ride that will stay in the memory for a long time to come.
Ride route details here: www.strava.com//BarrengarryMountainLoop