Monday, May 11, 2015

Snowy Mountains TD Training Ride - Day 4


I awoke to an overcast sky and a gloomy morning. On the positive side was the delightful little camping spot I had stumbled upon in the dark.

I had this packing thing sorted into a time efficient exercise. While my water boiled for my breakfast, I rolled the tent and stuffed the sleeping bag into it's stuff sack. The front of the bike was packed, the seat bag just waiting for me to finish with the Jetboil so it could be stowed as well.

I hadn't slept that well with all the wind and rustling leaves but I felt fine. Apart from my Achilles tendons, which were quite stiff and sore. This was the first time they had ever given me any bother and I had been concentrating on strengthening them in my gym routine. Obviously, I will focus more attention on them in the next month.

Once packed up, I rode over to the other campers, who I could see one of sipping coffee by the fire. I said my hellos and apologised for being anti social last night, pointing out that I had ridden from Batlow yesterday and needed to sleep. They understood and we bid each other a g'day and I rode off to find the mythical Wee Jasper.

The road undulated and I watched as dozens of kangaroos easily bounded 4-6ft into the air to clear a fence in the process of getting away from me.

I wasn't sure how far it was into Wee Jasper but it turned out to be about 12km(8mi). I passed several dead wombats on either side of the road and in one spot, two dead ones opposite one another on either side of the road. Why don't people just slow down a bit?

Wee Jasper was at the bottom of the valley, near the creek. It was a very small hamlet with a population, including surrounding farms, of just 275 or so people. It is more or less a crossing point on the Goodrabigbee River and a very pretty river valley that is too.

The general store was closed up and I saw no sign of life in any building. Not even the pub!

I rolled down, across the wooden bridge snapping a few shots as I went.

Then, the road went up. It continue to go up for quite a while. But it was sealed and smooth so I dug into the pedals and made my legs work. No easy spinning this morning.As I climbed the view over the valley got better and better.

There was even some roadside arts which were pretty well done, actually.

I didn't linger as I wanted to get today done. I didn't know exactly how far I had to go(no surprise there!) but it didn't matter, I just had to get it done before the bottom started to fall out of the clouds. 

90 minutes later I came to the turn toward Canberra, Doctor's Flat Road. It looked to be good quality gravel but it did have an upward bearing to it.

It proved to be well surfaced granite for the first hour or so and apart from the climbing I felt I was making good time.

Passing some houses and sheds I met a guy who was closing the door on one of the sheds located right by the road. I stopped for a chat, just to make sure I wasn't on private property. He said that I wasn't and I quizzed him on how long to Uriarra and what the road was like. He said it was about 40 minutes in a car and that I wouldn't be much slower as the road was a bit rough to drive fast. Clearly, he hadn't seen me ride! I would turn that 40 minutes into 2 1/2 hours of pedalling and pushing.

Here and there I could make out 2 sets of mtb tyre prints from when the road had been wet. I wonder if these were of the last 2 guys to finish the Cloudride a few weeks back? Soon these tracks were obliterated as I came to a section where the trail had been graded in the last week or so. Here, it was soft and loose and it made the climbing even tougher on my tired legs.

Doctor's Flat Road? Flat - my arse. There was nothing flat about this road at all! It was all up or down, nothing in between.

I eventually emerged from the forest to some private land. The road was more open and faster here.

I could even see the hillside around Canberra- in the distance. Sunlit hillside marks the spot!

The track got better and better until I was finally on the main dirt road at Uriarra. I was almost back to where I had crossed the Murrumbidgee River on Day 1.

I was tempted to stop at the river crossing again for an "after" photo but figured I looked the same as in the "before" so kept pedalling. I did learn that it was 45km from Wee Jasper though!

As I pedalled up the last few hills toward Mt Stromlo my Achilles were creaking a bit. They only really hurt after a section of coasting, when I began to pedal again. The secret was obviously not to stop and to keep those muscles/tendons warm.

I stopped by this sign in Stromlo Forest Park to send off my Check in/Ok message via my Spot tracker. 

The funny thing is, it told everyone I was in Russia. Ha, not the way I pedal!

I rolled through the streets of Canberra toward my car, but via lunch. It felt weird to be back in "civilisation" again. 

I grabbed a sub and an o.j., then sat in a nearby park to take stock of the ride. Day 4 was a relative breeze.

The Stats

  • Total Time - 76hrs 45min. The longest day was 11h 40 min
  • Distance and Climbing - 488km(305mi), 11 000m(36 000ft) of climbing. 

  • Approximately 22 500 calories expended.

  • Mechanicals -  Nil. Not even a flat tyre.
  • Lessons learnt - Need warm/waterproof socks, carry less water when it is not needed, work harder on calf exercises, have good route notes with accurate distance and resupply information, don't faff around packing up camp and pedal harder damnit!

I would like to thank Steve Watson for creating and sharing with me his Monaro Cloudride route. The riders that race this route are far hardier than I. I only did the northern(easier) section of the route and it "smacked me 'round the ears". I can only imagine the pain of the full loop.

Thanks also to my "Spot" watchers here at home for keeping an eye on me while I was out there. It is a bit unsettling doing a ride like this, alone, but having some reliable, knowledgeable mates watching my progress and ready to alert the proper authorities if my ride went pear-shaped was much appreciated. I wouldn't do something like this without that support. Cheers guys.

Thanks also to my lovely wife for giving me the freedom to do something crazy like this. Many wouldn't, so thank you Rebecca.

Cheers and thanks for reading.


  1. Great posts. Taking notes for Tour Aotearoa prep for next year.

  2. Nice summary of your ride. I can't believe your trip is only a month away!!

  3. Yep there's not much in Wee Jasper is there. The store was closed 2 years ago when we were there. Its pretty countryside around there though.

    1. Not much at all but it was good to go there after 30something years of looking at the name on a map and wondering what it was like. Yes, it is a very pretty valley.

  4. Thoroughly enjoyed the writing and the photos Dave! Looking forward to following you on the TD. Not long to go now 😎

  5. I loved reading this. It felt like I was riding with you. Keep it up, mate :)

    1. I "felt" you watching over me. Thanks Neil!


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