17 Feb 2020
Piping hot coffee in hand, absentmindedly watching the coots cruising on the lake, I smiled to myself as realised that we’re really doing this.
The adventure has officially begun! A wave of excitement washed over me. I turned back to Dave and burst into a little dance making him chuckle.
“Today’s the day! We’re actually doing this!” Finally! After waiting 16 weeks for David’s new bike; months of planning; and waiting, waiting, waiting!
A group of riders cruised past as we were loading the bike to the back of the car.
“Do you know which way is the café?” Ask one lady
“Sure, it’s that way, follow the road you can’t miss it” I said pointing directions. She called to the riders who’d gone on ahead and then smiled and said “Boy what a great ride – the Threadbo Valley Trail!”
“Oh wow! We haven’t done it yet, is it hard?” I asked adding “we’re beginners” much to Dave’s indignation.
“It’s pretty easy but there are a few techy bits to watch out for, but you’ll be okay” she said eyeing our bikes. As they regrouped and rode off in the direction of the café, Dave turned to me.
“Erm babe…I’m not a beginner.’ He said quietly, “remember I used to go trail riding with Trent at Stradbroke..” Ah whoops, right. I’m the beginner. Chuckle.
“Where should I attach my L plates?” We teased each other mercilessly in the car, winding the window down and shouting into the wilderness “We’re Beginners!”
Our excitement grew as we approached the trailhead at Charlotte Pass and dropped down onto the gravel trail. Our first proper trail ride of the trip will be the Mount Kosciuszko Summit Track 18km return.
“What a beautiful day!” A cool gentle breeze, huge fluffy clouds, it was shaping up for the perfect conditions.
We were mentally prepared for an 8 or 9km uphill ride and so started out at an easy pace.
Being mentally prepared and physically prepared are two different things! There were a few times screaming muscles insisted that I get off and walk for a bit to stretch out the legs, riding uses a different set of muscles to running. The more we ride, the stronger I’ll get. Meanwhile David was striding out ahead.
I passed an American hiker on his way down the mountain. He smiled, said hello and then “is that an e-bike?” eyeing the chunky frame of my bike.
“Nope- hence walking for a bit” I chuckled “…need to use a different set of muscles.”
“Right! Good Luck!” He smiled and waved me onwards and upwards.
“Wow, this is beautiful!” I said pulling over as we reached the Snowy River. A crystal clear stream moved over smooth granite rocks and reflecting the sky. It was so serene. We took a moment to be still and listen to the quiet wind around us.
“So this is what it sounds like when we stop” Said Dave noticing the contrast to the sound of crunching gravel beneath chunky tiers and perhaps cursing the constant uphillness!
Even though I was tired, I was riding on the excitement of being out here on the new bikes.
“I’ll start, you’re faster than me” I called to Dave busy photographing the river. I was keen to get going. He passed me in a few minutes. The gravel path deepened and softened, as it steepened, making it tough going for the next 4km.
I could see Seaman’s Hut (built in 1929) on the ridge above, and David slowly riding uphill pushing through the loose gravel. My hero.
I decided to dismount and walk sections of the difficult terrain up to the hut. A sort of scouts pace, between walking and riding.
Finally reaching the hut, we found a spot in the sun, out of the wind, for lunch and a rest. Overlooking the sweeping valley we watched clouds glide overhead and shadows creep across the hills.
Rawson Pass was only a few more kilometres up the track so we decided to keep pushing uphill. So much uphill. Around every bend we looked for the end of the climb. One more bend. One more bend. I was back to a scouts pace of riding and walking every three poles marking the track.
“We’re here!” Called Dave back to me, as our destination came into view. (Bikes aren’t allowed beyond Rawson Pass on the final track to the summit of Mount Kosciuszko.)
Sitting on a rock, eating a muesli bar we were interested to observe another couple of riders deflating their tire pressure in preparation for the downhill. They had older style cross country bikes, hardtails and no dropper posts.
Soon enough we decided it was time to tackle the downhill! How exciting! 9km of downhill – ‘how hard could that be’ thinks the beginner in me.
Downhill is FUN!
But it’s still hard work – mainly standing, dropper down to make room for moving my bodyweight for balance across rapidly changing terrain: From sliding through loose rough gravel to negotiating rocky causeways. Holding onto the handle grips with just enough pressure to remain in control but not so much as to get sore fingers. But speed was easy enough to control.
Dave would stop to wait for me, and when I reached him I stopped too. That was when I realised I was breathing fast and hard. It was my leg muscles rather than cardio fitness that were getting the workout. Wow, I really need to focus on strength training!
“Try alternating your leading foot, to give your muscles a break” coached Dave. A great idea.
But it was exhilarating! Bone rattling fun. The dual suspension cushioning out the bumps.
“I’m trying to imagine doing this on my old bike” said Dave “ it would fall to bits!”
We stopped again back down at one of the rivers.
“I see a watercolour, here” Said Dave looking upstream at the sunlight shimmering across the surface. “There is so much to paint.” I can’t wait to see what he comes up with!
It’s the colour of the landscape that inspired me most, feeling the need to paint.
At the speed we were going, we knew the ride would be over soon, so we slowed down a little to take in the scenery.
After the Snowy River plateau, the track levelled off and it was a super enjoyable roll down the mountain.
Yes indeed, we are hooked!