If you haven't started from the beginning you can read it here.
Every ride should have a theme song.
A song of equally epic proportions.
When the jukebox starts playing Khe Sanh you know it's time for bed. Dan and Dave were worried the music would keep them up, but we all fell asleep before the last train out of Sydney.
I was woken by a thunderous roar from the bunk above. I stumbled to the bathroom, brushed my teeth and waited for morning haze to wear off. One of the locals from the night before owned the local store and said he'd be open no matter what time we rose to serve us breakfast. Not just breakfast, but produce all from the back garden including their own hen laid eggs. All the fresh goods barely touched the sides. Another toastie, muffin, and a bacon and egg roll for good luck and we were rolling.
The dirt and climbing starts from kilometre one and continues for 80 odd more with no water or food available until Licola.
The only other company we had on this route was half a dozen 4WDs in the first half hour. The entire way to Licola I cannot recall passing or being passed by another vehicle. It's a nice change for anyone that spends time on Beach Rd.
A series of ups, then slightly down, followed by more up was the flavour of the day until just after noon.
I nearly ran over this guy. It was on the steepest pitch of the day, I was ambling in the smallest gear available and veered only at the last second. I'd missed the other snake altogether. The David Attenborough in me defied sensibility, stopped and took a happy snap of Mr. Brown before he slithered into the shade. Good thing it wasn't the deadly hoop snake variety.
It's always a task to convey the gradient on rides, adding to the difficulty was the loose terrain. This was genuinely steep.
The summit couldn't have come soon enough.
Dan had been dragging his heels on the descents all day today, and yesterday as well. Turns out those whizz bang carbon wheels are rubbish for braking even with swiss-stop pads. Add to that the fist full of brake required just to wash off the slightest amount of speed, you might as well run Delta's with polished rims in the wet for a comparable ride.
The kid in me loves to let go of the brakes on decents and flow with it, rocky ruts, potholes and all. This particularly rough and steep descent was a rock to far and I double pinch flatted - at 50kph.
I don't often get scared on the bike, but I was now scared, anticipating being flung off in a direction that would mean breaking something - like a neck. I held my line which fortunately for me was straight. I bunny hopped the massive pot hole at the bottom of the dip and as the road started to rise I finally started to slow down.
When I timidly removed myself from the bike I was greeted with two broken valves and no broken bones.
Bloody amazing. If you'd like to heighten this online experience, douse yourself with a bidon, stand under a radiator, and blast dust in your eyes on a stationary bike for full effect.
The next 16 kilometres I'd argue is just about the most fun you will find on two wheels. Better than the Gavia, Slickrock, Bruces Loop or The North Shore. I sprained my jaw from smiling so hard. The last 7 kilometres are sealed hot mix with corners resembling banks of a velodrome that allow you to rocket through them. A Mazing. Why o why would you ride Beach rd with every man and their dog when you can ride this in the company of good friends.
There isn't much to say about Licola. Food at the General Store was sparse, but we took on whatever we could, including microwaved meat pies.
By now it was scorching hot. The heat radiating from the road was the same as from the sky, and a strong wind was signalling the change of weather.
Dave, up until this point believed the climbing was done for the day and we believed him. Whatever garmin, or google tell you, the next 90km was far from flat. It was another bitumen rollercoaster that was sapping the strength from the legs. Dave gave a spirited TT performance on the flat until Toongabbie and was well and truly spent. The last kilometres were a stroll drowned out by conversation of how amazing our day was, and how could we possibly top it.
A welcome sight to finish, but sad that our adventure was at an end. Until the next one.
We probably can't top it, but these two days are the official A.R.S.T. standard which all other rides will be measured against. If you are planning on recreating the ride, carry a spare everything and that includes legs.
Choose your own adventure.