[SUBW-A] Trip Report, 6 foot track by MTB, 4 May 2003

Ashley Burke aburke at ozemail.com.au
Tue May 6 22:19:19 AEST 2003

Trip : 6 foot track by MTB
Date : 4 May 2003
Party : Steve Belcher, Tim Davis, Richard Wood, Ashley Burke

A very memorable trip in which timing and trains played a crucial part.

Plan A, whereby Steve, Richard and Ashley would meet up at Epping Station at
7am fell through due to an outage of Richard's alarm clock. Plan B swung
into action with Steve and Ashley driving to Parramatta to pick up Richard
at 7:56am. But unknown to all there are 2 exits at Parramatta station, and
Richard came out of one while we were waiting for him at the other.

The long and short of it all is that Steve and I, now running about 45
minutes late and failing to rendezvous with Richard, proceeded by car to
Explorers Tree leaving Richard, whose whereabouts were still unknown, to
find his own way there. Tim meanwhile had driven up separately and was
waiting for us at the start.

So in beautiful weather three of us started out at about 9:30am, carrying
our bikes down the stairs at Nellies Glen. Once down the steep bit we
enjoyed beautiful riding through grassy paddocks and scattered timber,
stopping every now and then to pass bikes over stiles. Towards the Coxs
river the route became single track, offering interesting riding with views
of formidable peaks ahead and the granite gorge of the Coxs river below.

Meanwhile Richard had managed to catch the next train to Katoomba and,
leaving Explorers Tree about 40 minutes after us, bent his will to the task
of catching us up. So intent was he on this task that he mistook a fence for
empty space and crashed into it, bouncing off it like a caged animal.
Remembering to alight from his bike before attempting the remaining fences
proved a better strategy and soon after ploughing through a fresh cow pad,
Richard caught up with us on the Coxs River.

Now happily united the group continued the ride up the long hill out of the
Coxs River, over Mini Mini saddle and down to Little River for lunch in the

Next came the big haul up the fire trail onto the Black Range, and we ground
our way slowly upwards on our bikes, keeping pace with another group of
walkers. By now most of the hills were behind us, but so was most of the
day. And in terms of distance, we had covered a mere 27km and there was
still about 50km to go. Trains from Lithgow to Katoomba were only every 2
hours. We held council and decided that if there was to be any hope of us
getting home before 11pm, Richard and I would have to make an attempt to get
the 5:39pm train, catch it back to Katoomba to retrieve cars, and then pick
up Steve and Tim from wherever they had got to.

The task before Richard and I looked daunting. We had just over 2 hours to
get to Lithgow and nearly 50km to ride. We weren't even on the tarmac yet.
And although we now had a net height advantage, there was that dreaded long
hill into Lithgow to do at the very end of it all. But our goal had been

I'd forgotten how many uphill bits there were on that road and every one of
them ground us down to a snail's pace. Things were looking grim. Then there
were 30km left and just under an hour and a half to do it in. More uphill
bits. Then at last the huge fanging downhill run to the McKanes Bridge on
the Coxs River. 40 minutes left. Next that dreaded long uphill to the Great
Western Highway. Again we were reduced to 8km/h. The last rays of sunlight
caught the tip of Mt Blaxland and then were gone.

At about this time, Steve and Tim wheeled into Hampton. There they had to
weigh up the merits of riding the rest of the Hampton Road in the blackness
of a moonless night against the alternative proposal of wiggling their toes
before the warm hearth of the Hampton Roadhouse, while enjoying the friendly
service and wholesome food of the Austrain family who run it. Thus ends
their side of the story.

Meanwhile Richard and I were slugging out the last stretches of that
interminable hill. We reached the highway with 15 minutes left to get to the
train. At last we gained the top of the pass. 12 minutes left. Suddenly
Richard sniffed victory. He dug deep, found the turbo charger, hit it hard
and surged on ahead. I found no such turbo charger but began steadily
cranking up the pace. 10 minutes left. Then came the McDonald's sign, only
3km ahead to Macca's corner. It could be done. Richard was now way ahead. I
floored it. Up came Macca's corner. The traffic  lights went orange ... red
... tuff shit I kept going. 2 minutes left. Into the main street of Lithgow.
It was 5:39pm, time was up. In despair I ground up the main street. The
train would just be pulling out by now. Onto the footbridge, down the
stairs. The guard was standing there, his whistle blew. I lunged into an
open door, Richard was there, he had held the train. It lurched into motion.
The sweet taste of victory.

The rest was easy. Got off at Katoomba, grabbed a car, drove back to Hampton
to pick up Steve and Tim. The hardest part was dragging them away from the
fireside. All members of the party rejoined at Explorers Tree and were
safely homeward bound at 9:00pm.

A memorable ride indeed.

Ashley Burke
Phone: +61 2 9476 3531
Mobile : 0414 633 315
E-Mail: aburke at ozemail.com.au

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