Day 2: Conquering the mountain!

by Stephen

Pedal Cure 4 FightMND – 2020

29th February, 2020

Penrith (08:59)
52.94 km
11.8 km/h
Katoomba (18:40)
4 hr 30 min
137.79 km

Today was going to be a battle. An uphill battle. On two previous occasions, I failed to climb the mountain – once due to running out of daylight and once due to just being totally stuffed and worn out. Today, I was determined to make it all the way up the mountain to Katoomba – regardless as to how long it would take me. I left my overnight lodging at Nepean Shores, an over 50s lifestyle community (with properties also available for accommodation to anyone), and made my way up the eastern bank of the Nepean River. Before crossing the river, I decided to give my drone another little fly. One day I’ll become proficient in flying it!

After a little bit of a fly, I packed it away and rolled on to the Yandhai Nepean crossing. This is a fantastic new shared pedestrian/cycle bridge, opened less than two years ago. Before the bridge was opened, the only alternatives were the adjacent two-lane Victoria Bridge (in the featured image at the top of this post), carrying the busy Great Western Highway, or breaking the law by cycling along the bridge’s pedestrian-only footpath. After crossing the river, a flat stretch of a few kilometres followed. It was then time to start climbing, which I’d be doing for the rest of the day. Rather than cycling up the noisy and busy Western Motorway, I instead opted for the much quieter Old Great Western Highway Track. This was the old trunk road before the motorway opened in the early 1990s. I stopped on the Knapsack Viaduct for a few minutes.

The old Knapsack Viaduct – only two lanes!

A short way along, after crossing the old bridge, the track ends and rejoins the motorway. I knew I couldn’t keep away from the noisy traffic for long. However, there is a protected path on the eastbound carriageway up until the Lapstone exit. Noisy, but still safe. The path crosses under the motorway and ends at a water tank covered by art.

Art covered water tank.

A little track off to the right takes me back up to the motorway, which has a decent hard shoulder. Climbing up to the top of this section of the road, it ceases to become a motorway and the speed limit drops. It also levels out for a few kilometres.

Rejoining the motorway.
Top of this hill.

Continuing up the mountain to Blaxland, I passed the place where I bailed the last time, where I caught the train on to Katoomba. Wasn’t going to do that this time – good weather and feeling great! On I kept pedalling. After grabbing lunch at Springwood, a few hours later I decided to stop at Lawson and grab a cuppa! Nothing quite like a nice hot cup of tea.

Can’t beat a nice, hot cup of tea.

After a nice tea stop, it was time to make the final push up to Katoomba. After putting my head down, I finally make it to the Katoomba sign. After nine and a half hours, I had conquered the mountain! A great feeling near the end of the day.

Katoomba – home of The Three Sisters.

Not quite the end of the day, though. Just another few kilometres to the Flying Fox Backpacker Hostel, my accommodation for the night. I stayed a night here in October the previous year. A nice little hostel. Check them out! After checking in, and taking a shower, I grabbed some dinner at a local restaurant.

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