With the lack of international bike touring possibilities at the moment, Joel’s been looking for options closer to home. Last weekend, he loaded up his gravel bike and headed south to do a loop from Braidwood to Bermagui on the coast, and back a different way (which allowed the luxury of a night in a hotel in the middle).
Here’s his report:
Day 1 – The forbidden road
[168 km, 2500 m ascent]
I took a punt that I would be able to tiptoe past the two landslides that have closed the Araluen Rd – and it paid off. The ride to the coast was exquisitely car free as a result! Some really nice dirt roads – and you could easily extend the dirt even further west of Narooma. Weather excellent – though sub zero start in Braidwood made for a sore face for an hour or so. Got to see the results of last year’s terrible fires first hand – and the regrowth beginning. After a stop at Moruya for lunch, there was some more dirt road and some highway and a sunset finish in Bermagui for an excellent meal and comfortable bed at the Bermagui Beach Hotel. A top gravel touring option so far. Let’s see what the return leg via a different route brings tomorrow!
Day 2 – Things I haven’t done before
*Taken nearly 12 h to ride 105 km.
*Fellen into a fast-flowing river while carrying a loaded bike
*Ridden 70 km with a down jacket on and socks stuffed into my mittens
[176 km, 3600 m ascent]
Well, that was a big day. It started innocuously enough with a tootle from Bermagui to Cobargo, but when the climbing started – it was something (and a half). Weather was good and roads/trails were mostly good quality. The ‘out in the wild’ moment came when I gambled that a road that headed down a big hill to the Tuross river but seemed to stop just before the river on several maps would actually allow me to cross. Didn’t look too bad (as you can see in the photo), but was v. slippery and fast flowing. I think I was lucky to only fall in once. Miraculously everything that needed to stay dry did (except me). Had visions of ending up either under the bike or being carried off down to the coast…
The hill up – from 200 m to 1350 m – required some pushing and much pausing (I mean admiring of the view) – and took so long that I ended up riding the last 70 km in the dark back to Braidwood. Everything was kept warm (as noted above – with extra socks stuffed into my overmitts…) except feet – which took about 3 h to regain feeling on the drive home. Should have opted for the heated bike shoes…
Fantastic views and a real out-there feel – hardly saw a soul or a car all day – there is a lot of countryside (and interesting letterboxes) out there in Australia!