First of all I should apologise for taking so long to get this update, but I have been to hell and back in two different ways this week. The most recent one (and the one I'll mention only briefly) was having my wisdom teeth removed on Wednesday morning. Actually, the pain since hasn't been too bad, but the headaches, the hot & cold flashes, and the almost total lack of sleep in the last 48 hours have not been pleasant. Far more pleasant was the ride to Hell's Hole in Mt Jerusalem National Park with Dave from Tweed Coast Treadly
The day started in seemingly typical fashion with me leaving home about 20 minutes late and trying to make up the time over the course of 45km between home and Round Mtn on the Tweed Coast. A roaring tailwind (which would later be a roaring headwind) took care of that problem, and we set off through the back roads, over the climb of Cudgera Creek, past the village of Billinudgel to where the ride would really start.
I've often commented that one enters another world when they hit the back roads behind Billinudgel and points further south. There just seems to be a more laid back feeling about the narrow country roads passing the green fields, hippie cottages and remaining patches of rainforest. This day would be different again, because the spring flowers were blooming all through the valley, creating a riot of colour. Dave and I made our way relatively slowly, but I decided to hammer the first climb up to Mt Jerusalem National Park, as I actually had some form from the previous day at Mt Nimmel (more on that later).
I hammered the climb, then waited for Dave at the summit with a group of high school kids who were riding the other direction. Somehow, the didn't really want to know that they'd climbed the range on the harder route. After Dave and I reunited, we set off on the climb of Middle Ridge road. While this climb only gains 100 metres or so, it was negotiated on a steep, loose dirt road. I surprised myself by climbing it relatively easily (relative to what happened last time I was here).
The Middle-Ridge fire trail branches off from Middle Ridge road and ultimately leads to Hell's Hole. Unfortunately, Dave and I decided to waste an hour discussing whether we really were in the right place or not. Eventually, a pair of walkers showed up and confirmed that we really were where we were meant to be, and we were able to descend the trail and walk through the forest to find the holes.
The hole is basically a series of smaller swimming holes linked by little waterfalls at the top of a much larger waterfall. Apparently the larger one can only be viewed by accessing it from the other side. This is actually something I plan on doing in the future, but just when I'm not sure. The falls did make a beautiful lunch stop before returning to the Middle Ridge Trail for the ride home.
Middle Ridge road was a scary descent, but was negotiated quickly, before we continued through the Mt Jerusalem National Park, eventually descending to the village of Uki, and the cafe for a well-earned drink. I was a little surprised at just how thirsty I was after the day's exertions. I knew I had a ride home against a headwind (why do all my Southern rides finish with a headwind this year?), so I opted to throw a mountain at it after Dave departed for the ride back to Round Mountain.
I knew this could be my last solid ride for a while, so when the 350 metre climb of Tomewin ramped up the gradient to 11%, I went on the attack. This was one of those special moments when I went for the limit and suddenly realised it wasn't there. The mountain crumbled. Later, back on the coast, the headwind that I had dreaded had one final go. Fortunately, coming home over Tomewin doesn't leave me with much more than 10km of suburbia to negotiate at the end, so the headwind at the finish wasn't an issue.
All in all another extremely rewarding day. The next mission in Mt Jerusalem National Park is South Chowan road, which is supposed to lead to some cave paintings high in the hills. We shall see.