Cycle Against the Beast – Day 2 (Picton to halfway between Hill Top and Colo Vale (steam engines, and another flat)

I left Picton at around 07:45, this morning. Rolling back down into Picton, I was greeted with the image I added to the post header above. An absolutely glorious morning.

After taking the wrong Thirlmere turnoff, I probably ended up climbing a bit more than I intended to. Considering I carry a few kilos myself, and being somewhat of a touring novice, I’m not all that great at climbing. πŸ™‚ But my cycling journeys are just starting.

After arriving at Thirlmere, I decided to stop for a bit, and take a few photos. Now what’s called Trainworks, it used to be called the NSW Rail Transport Museum. As a kid, in high school, I had visited the museum on a couple of occasions. It wasn’t yet open, when I passed by. However, they were in the process of getting ready.

NSW Railway Museum (Trainworks), Thirlmere
Trainworks

Filling the tank, at Trainworks, Thirlmere
Steaming away, after a refill

Steaming away. Trainworks, Thirlmere.
Steaming away

It was very tough cycling, for much of the day. A constant uphill, with very little downhill stretches. Still, no pain, no gain. πŸ™‚ The traffic wasn’t too bad, and I was given a pretty decent and wide berth. It’s a shame city drivers, in Australia, don’t give the same respect towards cyclists.

As well as negotiating uphill stretches, I also had to take a detour (with all the other road users), as the road has apparently been blocked for a few weeks – roadworks, apparently. So, this resulted in continuing along on an unsealed road. For the most part, it was ok. Bit of a washboard surface, though.

By late morning, I reached the railway cutting just north of Hill Top. This cutting is the deepest railway cutting in New South Wales. This section of railway line used to be part of the mainline, between Mittagong and Bowral. It was bypassed many years ago. And, for a number of years after that, it also served as a backup, should the mainline be blocked. This is no longer the case, and it’s now all overgrown. Would take a lot to rehabilitate the line.

Deepest railway cutting in NSW. Hill Top.
Deepest railway cutting in NSW, just north of Hill Top

After passing through Hill Top, and making my way towards Colo Vale, my steering went all wobbly. Yep. Another flat tyre! So, I started searching for bicycle shops. None in Mittagong. Great. But there was one in Bowral (The Fixed Wheel – their other shop is in Manly, one of Sydney’s northern beach suburbs), my intended destination of the day. So, I started flagging down drivers to see if I could get a lift to Mittagong (I was happy to catch the train on to Bowral). It only took a few attempts, and I didn’t try every vehicle. I was mostly looking for pickup trucks. A couple, named Warren (who, I found out, is a volunteer firie for the Rural Fire Service) and Angela, were on their way to Mittagong, but they were gracious to take me on to Bowral.

After arriving in Bowral, it didn’t take long to get to the bike shop. Had I been doing this bike trip more than two weeks earlier, I would have had to go on to Moss Vale – they only opened up two weeks ago! The culprit was a metal strip, which I probably encountered yesterday – it was probably the cause of yesterday’s flat tyre as well.

After getting the bike repaired, I treated myself to a fish and chips, at a local cafe, and am now sitting back watching the AFL (Melbourne vs. North Melbourne). Big day tomorrow. 90 kilometres, and about 830 metres of climbing. Thankfully there’s also about 900 metres of downhill!

Despite the mechanicals I’ve had to deal with, it has not, in any way, dampened my enthusiasm for this ride, and the reason why I’m doing it.

[Click here to donate to Fight MND (Cure for MND Foundation) at my fundraising page]


Date 21st May, 2017
Distance 30.7 km
Ride time 2 hours, 13 minutes
Elapsed time 4 hours, 13 minutes
Average speed 13.8 km/h
Maximum speed 56 km/h
Altitude gain (alleged) 575 metres

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