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Monday, March 30, 2009

Amping up the Tweed Valley



I hadn't planned to do it this way, but last week I decided to do something with the old Tweed Valley ride that I've been doing regularly for over eight years. The distance was still similar (178km), but change to the route on the way home from Chillingham would totally change the complexion of the ride. It all started simply enough with the now customary southern ride via Urliup to get away from the coast. The first slight variation came after Murwillumbah, and the decision to detour along Richard's Deviation, a beautiful detour that I had almost forgotten about.



Beyond Uki, I headed for the really beautiful stretch of the ride along Byrill Creek. This is actually a long grind of a climb on the dirt, but on a slightly cooler day, I was able to enjoy the scenery of the rainforest, waterfalls and distant mountain views. This area must be an amazing place t0 live, with the fresh air and the tranquility of the forest.



The stretch through Brays Creek, Tyalgum and back to Chillingham is one that I've been riding in the wrong direction for all these years. Heading north opened up the views of the Lamington ranges and Bald Mtn. The two climbs out of Tyalgum made me work, but the surroundings compensated. Also hard at work today was the new altimeter that I had fitted to the bike the previous evening. I smiled at it particularly, because after Chillingham it would get one hell of a job.



Returning from the Tweed Valley via Numinbah Gap and Springbrook is hard enough at the best of times, yet I was about to attempt it on the back of a century ride. Still, it was a pleasant enough day, and the promise of rain on the climb of Numinbah gap (it seems to rain every other time I climb it from this side) might just keep me cool enough to pull it off. As it happened, it didn't rain until the descent on the other side, but I managed to maintain a grinding rhythm that pushed me over the 10-15% climb and into the Numinbah Valley on the other side.



Now it was on. I cruised down the long, steady descent into the valley, and caught a ride toward the Springbrook turn off on the back of a tailwind. The only problem was that my legs were totally shot, with a 24% climb still to come. I commenced the climb to the sound of screeching tyres in the valley -- the climb might be physically impossible, but at least it would keep me from associating with hoons. As it happened, I eventually made the summit (albeit with a couple of unscheduled rest stops), and was simply too tired to raise a victory salute. At least it would be all downhill from here.



The 8km descent that followed just didn't seem to be long enough to allow my legs to recover, and there was still some work to do. I actually thought about detouring to the Fudge shop at the old Craft Corner, but decided I wasn't up for an extra climb. Instead I simply mopped up the remaining kilometres and was glad to just make it home in one piece. It had been a memorable (if tiring) day. A few more of these, and I might start to get fit.

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