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Adventures on a bike; sometimes on foot

Nelly knows best

Right from the start Nelly knew we were doomed to fail. She always knew she was going to be driving the sad wagon out to pick us up and as usual, Nelly was right.

The saturday forecast was for it to be hot. The sunday forecast was for it to be properly hot. They were right. Probably not the ideal conditions to be taking some fatpacking Newbies- Scoot and Toddy out for a ride if you’re hoping for them to ever want to do it again. Yet the date had been arrange and we were still sufficiently optimistic that we could make it work if we hid under the odd tree to avoid the worst of the heat. Of course, somehow Magoo who was the chief instigator in this whole caper managed to crash his bike the night before departure and ruin his knee. Thereby giving us great excuses to do it all again in the future when he is back on the bike.

Our goal was to ride Newcastle to Woy Woy on beaches and trail. We’ve done that route so many times, we have worn a rut in the ground but it has been a while so it was time for a revisit. We reversed the direction that we normally ride this loop in an effort to take advantage of the afternoon prevailing NorEast breeze and on Saturday, that proved to be an exceptionally good call. I have never ridden the Redhead-Blacksmiths section of beach so quickly. It was sublime.

We hit all our waypoints on record time – Dudley pub, Caves Beach pub, Catho Pub where we then settled in for the night. After consuming my yearly allowance of dark beer – we headed off to find somewhere secluded to stealth bivvy and await the rise of the super moon.

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Goal setting is important: 3 photos, 3 pubs

Of course, it’s thirsty work waiting for moonrise, so the Scotch and Vana Tallinn was passed around and all manner of world problems were solved until the moon made it’s appearance and we decided that we should bunk down for the night.

Somehow i slept past sunrise and when Brad finally prodded us all awake, I spent the first 10 minutes trying to remember where I was and what my name was. Hangover.

Having a little lie down. Photo courtesy of B-rad

Having a little lie down. Photo courtesy of B-rad

So i brewed up some coffee with the minispresso and reflected on where I went wrong last night. In the end i decided I had in fact made no bad decisions and that Toddy was to blame – who brought me that last dark beer anyway despite my protestations that I was out.

We made some porridge and jammed things back into bags and then headed off for leg 2 of our ride. At this point, my chamois and I were having a disagreement. I knew things weren’t great the day prior, but this morning, it was a new level of unhappy. Since i didn’t have a backup pair (now there is a pro tip for anyone riding some solid k’s) there wasn’t really anything for it but to suck it up and keep riding.

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It was already hot and we climbed over into Frazer park amid a shower of perspiration and puffing. from there we stayed on the road around to Birdie campground before getting back onto Budgewoi beach. The tide was low and the sand was hard, so despite it being early and little breeze, it was still a pleasant enough ride till we found our exit point where we could grab a bacon and egg roll for breakfast.

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Over breakfast, i managed to drink about 1.5 litres of fluid as the temp was now mid 30’s and I knew i needed to stay proactive with hyrdation or it was going to be all over. The problem was that the bacon and egg roll was so large you couldn’t jump over it, so there really was little space left to do things like breathing when it was time to get back on the bike.

We rode some cycleway till we got to the boat ramp at Norah Head and then we rode around the front of the lighthouse and appreciated the amazing views. I was in some kind of protein overload at this point and spent most of my time trying to say upright as B-rad powered off in a Bacon fuelled surge.

It was about 11 am when we got to the clubhouse at Norah Head. It was seriously hot now and we all spent time standing under the showers trying to get our body temperature down because we knew that the next sections and in particular Pelican Beach were going to kick our arse.

There was still no sign of the NE’r, but we couldn’t hang around too long as the tide was still rolling in and we needed to make tracks while the going was good. For the first 5 or so kilometers, the going was very good. It was unbearably hot but the sand was good and we were making relatively easy forward progress.

After this point, things started to slide. It was like there was a line drawn in the sand where happiness ended and soft shite began. I had been ticking away steadily, slightly off the front of the group so i could have my pick of line choices to avoid incoming waves. But starting at that line, my motor began to develop serious problems. In a matter of minutes, Toddy had caught me and 15 minutes later, he was almost out of site up the beach.

I began leafing through my catalogue of excuses and quickly settled on tire pressure. So i then began a series of pressure reductions which did little to actually aid my forward progress, but at least assuaged my mind that things were perceived to be improving. Fiddling with tyre pressures did little to help with the heat though. Nobbys Weather observations show it was 38c at that point however in the direct sunlight (because lets face it, there is no shade on the beach) it was waaaaaay hotter than that.

Things were so unbearable on that beach that once I reached the first row of houses at The Entrance, I got the hell out of there. Pushed up the dunes, picked up a backstreet and slumped under a tree with Scoot. Toddy had disappeared into the distance but we figured it wouldn’t take long for him to realize what we had done.

Brad soon turned up with a glazed look on his face and about 90% of the way to heat stroke. We were broken. So we rode the cycleway around to the bridge, crossed over to the other side and then jumped in the river in the shade of the bridge.

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I was in complete baboon arse territory by this point. My chamois had turned my once toned posterior into something that better resembled 2 rissoles side by side at the butchers. Pro-tip number 2: don’t rub salt into the wound. I thought it would be a good idea to try and drop by body temperature by sitting in the river with B-rad. No. Just No. I’m sure if first aid Nelly had been there too, she also would have said No. Suffice to say that bathing my only pair of pants in salt water wasn’t clever and the fire in my loins wasn’t from passion.

Fast forward an hour and we are waiting for Nelly to pick us up at the Entrance Hotel and i can’t even sit on a bar stool. It was just ridiculous. So i headed off to find a pharmacy and a change of shorts. I found some board shorts. I found some proctosedyl ointment (which is just next level for taming an angry baboon. I was a new man inside 10 minutes) and then as i was walking past Vinnies, i noted a rather sporting shirt in their window for $6 which seemed like it would smell less like a dead badger than the shirt i was currently wearing.

So i sneakily tried on the shirt, smeared on some arse cream and put on the new boardies. Life was good again. I even though it possible i might be able to sit down for long enough to ride the B-rad courtesy bus home.

Massive thanks go to Nelly and Zali who picked us up at short notice and didn’t say “I told you so”. Massive thanks to Toddy, Scoot and B-rad with whom i couldn’t imagine a better group to ride trails . Lastly, a massive thanks to Sanofi-Aventis for manufacturing a next level arse cream that saved my day.

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