Monday 28 October 2019

Blackheath to the Beach

Blackheath to Manly, starting 6:05am, Sunday 27 October, 2019

The full ride. Grey Markers are rest/drink breaks except for
the 5th, which was to repair a wayward chain. 
On Saturday afternoon I took my pushbike and caught the 3:05pm limited stops from Central direct to Mount Victoria. It's a slow train, especially when it starts climbing it's way up the mountain. By the time I got to Mount Victoria and caught the all stops train back one station to Blackheath it was 5:30pm. I stayed at the High Mountains Motel, a comfortable budget motel about 100 metres on the west side of the highest point in the town. Once I'd checked in, it was down to the Ivanhoe Hotel for a T-Bone dinner. It's BIG!

I'd checked the temperature forecast before I left and the next morning was true to forecast, the outside temperature was a chilly 5 degrees Celsius. I left the hotel at 6:05am. I wore a thermal, a hi-vis long sleeve T-shirt and my riding shirt, with mittens under my riding gloves. That was about perfect for the upper mountains. By the time I got to Blaxland I shed the mittens and just went with the riding shirt. A bit brisk but better too cold than too hot. 

The ride down is excellent, with a generous and mostly cleared shoulder for almost the entire way, with only the stretch coming out of Blackheath and a stretch through Faulconbridge where the shoulder is rough and you are forced onto the road. At Blackheath the road is single lane each way, but by Katoomba it opens out to dual lane in both directions and most motorists give you plenty of room. The maximum speed limit is 80kph however that falls to 70kph and 60kph in parts. I rode on a Sunday morning and had no trouble on the mountain and enough room to enjoy the views and the air quality as I rode. The air through Faulconbridge is particularly floral. A big change from Sydney!

The are more uphill sections on the mountain than I was expecting but there's nothing too steep to slow you down too much. I took it easy because I knew there would be some hard yards at the bottom of the mountain but I'd love to go back and just ride down the mountain. That was by far the best part of the ride, with the exception of the arrival in Manly.

From Blaxland I took the turnoff at McDonalds and came down Mitchell's Pass. It's re-opened to traffic again but its still a far better option than coming down the freeway.

The track through St Mary's where the bike path runs out..

I stopped for a break after I'd crossed the Nepean (theres a new walkway bridge now), then headed through Henry Street in Penrith which is a ghost town on Sunday at 8am. There's a bike path from the top of Penrith to St Marys and though you have to cross the freeway a couple of times, traffic wasn't really that bad. At St Marys I turned off at Pages St, then left on Putland, Swanston, Morris to Marsden where I headed north and crossed the highway again.

...and through Mount Druitt to the M7. Not much traffic here.
That took me to Brisbane Street, then along Durham, left at Mount Druitt Road to Beames Avenue which takes you all the way to Rooty Hill Road, to Mavis and you are finally on the M7 Cycleway. The M7 Cycleway takes you all the way to the entrance of the M2. Crossing there there, I took the footpath on the eastern side of Old Windsor Road all the way to Parramatta. There are some funky turnoffs through that section so you really need to keep your eyes open for the signposts.

I rode through Parramatta Park and then across the river and followed the cycle track on the north side of the river. The cycle track is sometimes a little confusing so I had to stop multiple times to find my way but I think if you've done it once it would be easy. Just stay close to the river. You have to cross the river at one point to come back over the bridge to join the bike track again and that leads all the way to Ryde Bridge.

The section through Parramatta. Very fiddly, including the river cross just to cross back over on the bridge.

From there I had to head north to join the Epping Road cycle way and there's no easy way to get from Ryde Bridge to the cycle way so I just went up the footpath on Church Street, crossed Church Street at the top where it turns into Lane Cove Road and then crossed Victoria Road to Little Church then back to Church St, turned right down to Blaxland, turned right, then left on Princes to Buffalo, left and right to Gardener Avenue, right on Quarry, then left on Badajoz, then a quick right and a left to Blenheim and that takes you to the Epping Road Cycleway! I could have just stayed on Lane Cove Road all the way to the cycleway, but I was tiring by then and I don't like riding on main roads in Sydney in traffic. 

The Epping Road Cycleway took me all the way to Cammeray where I stopped for a sensational BLT at a small cafe just past the end of the golf course. That BLT, the coffee and the rest was the recharge I needed. I travelled through the Himalayas at the back of the west side of Mosman, over the spit bridge and victoriously up the aptly named Battle Boulevard. At the top of the Boulevard there's a stunning view all the way out through the heads along the east side of Edgecliff Esplanade. 

From there I could almost smell the beach. Straight down Sydney Road and onto Manly. Luckily I had my boardies with me and enjoyed a well earned swim. The water was FREEZING!



Rider's age: Over 50
Total Kilometres: 143.5
Fastest Kilometre: 52.45 kph at Kilometre 20 between Wentworth Falls and Bullaburra.
Total Ride Time: 6:36:18, including stops for directions/drinks.
Total Elapsed Time: 8:14.
Average Speed: 21.74 kph. 

I don't like riding on roads where the speed limit is above 80kph
I don't like traffic lights, I'll go out of my way to avoid them.
I prefer quiet streets to traffic.
But that's just me...

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