Easter 2017 we kicked off our Community of Clubs with a "bang", and hosted our first free ride in celebration of the launch of Cycle Tours NSW. We had a great turn out with 20 riders joining us, none of whom had ridden with us before. The weather was a little cool at 6:30am, but for good reason - the sky was clear creating a cooler night, but promising a warm day to come. And it did not disappoint, so following a brief photo shoot donning our "Cycle Tours NSW" shirts, we head-off, thankful for the crisp air and no head-wind!
The universe decided it we should split into two groups as one of our intrepid riders had a flat tyre within the first 5 minutes of the ride! A quick chat agreed that we would re-group at the first water-stop before heading up the pass.
As we rolled through Marshall Mount road, it did not disappoint and delivered its promise of stunning views across rolling farmland, with an escarpment backdrop that almost looked like a waterfall of fog, as the early morning mist cascaded down.
After a re-group we had a good appreciation of the speeds each rider and head off again for the next section - the climb up Macquarie Pass. Chris, Tour Guide Mark and Glen head up first and it quickly became apparent that Chris had plenty of energy for the mountain and set a strong pace with Mark and Glen deciding very quickly that there was little point in attempting to keep up. The middle-pack consisted of Tour Guide Andrew with James, Tom, Kerry, Stephan, Adam and Courtney, with Tour Guides Brad and Fred with Cameron at the back. Tour Guide Brad selflessly gave a quick wheel-change to help a fellow rider with his lower gear ratios, something that I am sure was greatly appreciated!
The twists and turns of Macquarie Pass provided excellent photo opportunities, with cameraman Alaric picking up some fantastic shots as each rider passed through some pretty aggressive hair-pins.
The summit found the group energised but in need of a little breather before pushing on through the tablelands and highlands towards our first destination - the pie shop for a well earned feed! We split into three groups - the fast pack to cycle the a further 40km to the shop via beautiful views across Wingecarribee Dam and the second group to take a 30km shorter route, allowing both groups to arrive within a reasonable time of each other.
Coffee, Coke, Meat Pies, Custard Tarts - it always amazing me how each rider has found their own special way of replenishing their strength for the ride home. After a solid 75km of riding with some good hills, everyone had a strong appetite and had a lot to talk about. Its fantastic how cycling creates such social moments in the pack, where after just a few hours of riding with a complete stranger you can know them so well!
The ride home delivered on its promise of long wide sweeping roads down the pass. By now the morning had heated up nicely and the wind was warm in our face. The pace slowed down as the talking sped up! I could hear talking and laughing happening all up and down the bunch, with the only interruption being the call from the guides as we neared civilisation again, calling out the occasional pot-hole or approaching cars.
Fred, Brad, Andrew and I thoroughly enjoyed hosting this launch ride - the first of many around this beautiful state and we look forward to the next one already!