We’ve just clocked up two years of living (and cycling) in Canberra. Lots of local exploration but not so much outside the immediate vicinity of the city. Our occasional forays into the Snowy Mountains have been epic in nature, and more focused on surviving rather than sightseeing. So the Canberra Day long weekend provided a chance to head for the hills for some more relaxed exploration.
We rolled out into perfect sunny conditions at the decidedly non-epic time of 8:30am. Our bikes were laden with absolutely stuff all as we decided to take the easy option and book rooms in Tumut and Adaminaby. Thus we had no excuse for avoiding the road less travelled and quickly found ourselves at the gate leading on to Doctors Flat Road. This kept us busy for a while as I struggled up some of the steep, rocky ascents, making reference to my lack of granny gears as Ed spun merrily past on his MTB. Some nice views through this section, but bashing over sharp broken rocks may have been responsible for the sidewall damage to my rear tyre that made itself known a little further down the track.
We popped back out on the sealed road a few km out of Wee Jasper, hoping that the pub would be open for lunch. Sadly not, so it was roadside banana and peanut butter sandwiches instead. Soon afterwards we revisited the scene of my dirt Everesting, the Wee Jasper Road climb. Once was more than enough as I wondered exactly how I had managed to complete 37 ascents of the same climb a few months ago.
Shortly afterwards was puncture number one. No problem, a pinch flat after letting some air out to improve handling on the loose gravelly climb earlier. Investigation of puncture number two revealed an impressive gash in the rear tyre. Finally, the ageing tyre boot that I’d carried around for years had its day. The adhesive was a bit dodgy, so a $5 note was added for back up, creating an interesting tyre bulge. It was late afternoon now, so it was head down cranking it out into a stiff head wind until we reached Tumut. A shower and food provided the necessary stimulus for us to make it down the road to the nearest pub for more food and liquid refreshments.
The next morning we spent some time at the breakfast buffet before dragging ourselves out on the bikes. It was a glorious day to be out cruising the Snowy Mountains Highway. Past Blowering Reservoir we reached the main climb, one that we’d already been warned about. This was a solid slog of 6km at a gradient around 9%, so it was a relief to pull over at the Black Perry lookout near the top. Access to water is limited along the highway, and I was happy to accept a top up from a couple in a campervan. From here the road continues past the Cabramurra turnoff, showcasing the high country landscape. Lots of short, punchy climbs and swooping descents – my speed tempered somewhat by the knowledge that my rear tyre was only just holding together. Arriving in Adaminaby we joined the crowd of motorcyclists hanging out outside the pub, also our accommodation for the night. The ‘bike’ shed was jammed with huge, powerful looking machines … and two pushies. Each to his or her own I guess.
Adaminaby is around 1000m asl, a fact that was immediately obvious when we rode out into a crisp wintery morning. Missing a glove, I searched in increasing desperation, before it was eventually located in my helmet, once I removed it. Duh! The back road turns off a couple of kilometres out of town and heads into the Namadgi National Park. Traffics was surprisingly heavy, and on a couple of occasions it was pretty scarey, with drivers flying along the dirt at insane speeds, presumably assuming they had the entire width of the road to themselves. The Boboyan Road was in great condition, probably navigable on a roadie, although you’d need legs of steel for the steep climbs. This was a lovely ride, despite the long weekend traffic. Eventually we rolled on to the bitumen just before Rendezvous Creek and were back on familiar ground. There is still plenty of up in the downhill run back to Tharwa, but most of the work was over. Given tired legs and the sad state of my tyre, we elected to take the low road home, arriving dusty, weary and very satisfied to have spent some more time exploring the Snowies. In hindsight, the soft knobbie CX tyres I was running weren’t the best choice for the dry, rocky roads around the ACT, I’d probably go with a semi-slick tread and heavier sidewalks next time …..