19 Feb 2021
Making the most of the glorious weather today, we set off for another high altitude ride: Cascade Hut. The trailhead starts about 5.5km pass Thredbo at 1580m and climbs 400m to Bob’s Ridge.
“It’s out and back: The first half is all uphill, then all downhill to Cascade Hut.” I said remembering the elevation profile. It’s a tough ride through beautiful country.
The track started by following the Thredbo River up stream, (uphill) through a broad sub-alpine valley. Straight out of the gate, we were found ourselves climbing. No time for warming up the muscles.
“Let’s walk for a few minutes to warm up” I called ahead to David who was grinding up the hill. Pushing the bikes up a steep endless hill it seemed that we would be taking our bikes for a walk.
“Dear Mike,” said Dave composing a letter to the bike shop “I’d like to talk to you about your recycling policy on bikes aged 2 weeks old…” making me giggle, nervously.
Eventually the track levelled out and we could mount up and continue riding beside the river until we reached the crossing.
“Watch out! It’s deep!” Dave called out to me from the other side of the river. “My shoes are soaked” he laughed. I stopped and we debated the best course of action, deciding to peddle straight through.
The riverbed was loose and rocky, and with the added resistance of water washing over the wheels I stood up, pushed down on the pedals, pull up on the handle bars and powered through. Water sprayed up behind me.
“That was fun!” I said soaked from the knees down. “Wait, look! There’s a bridge” I said pointing to the flat metal bridge we’d just passed. “How’d we miss that?”
“I was too busy going fast!” He chuckled
After a few more river crossings it was time to climb again. David did Scout’s Pace- alternating riding and walking. I started this way too but couldn’t keep it up with David.
In some places it was so steep we could feel the front wheel lift and/or the back wheel spin. I focused on shifting my weight to keep it over both wheels. It was tough riding!
‘I will do more strength training’ I promised myself. ‘Ride more, get stronger’ I was busy coaching myself up the hill when I heard Dave’s voice floating down to me…
“Hey maaate,” Dave drawled in my Aussie accent “is it steep enough for ya?” After an hour of pushing the bikes up hill, he said “I’m not bothered about going all the way to Cascade Hut, we’ll have to do this climb all over again.”
It took me a minute to disengage my determined mindset, and then I was quite relieved.
Our pace gave us plenty of time to take in the snow gum woodlands, alpine ash, heath, and wildflowers around us. We made a point of being in the wilderness, on the uphill sections, because we knew that we wouldn’t on the downhill!
This forest would be spooky at night with the twisted and gnarled gum trees. Petrified ghosts against a deep blue sky.
As I reached Bob’s Ridge, the highest point of the route, Dave had pulled off the main track and followed a path to a rocky outcrop. With the bikes leaning against a dead tree, we climbed over the rocks to get a better look at the view.
“This looks like a good spot for lunch” settling down on the rock in the lee of the wind and pulling out our packed lunch. It was the perfect vantage point to enjoy sitting quietly with a gentle breeze to our back, taking in the view.
“This might be the worst sandwich I’ve ever had” said Dave struggling to swallow the bone-dry, day old sourdough and peanut butter sandwich. I chuckled in agreement pulling out an apple and muesli bar instead.
“Are you ready!” Dave asked excitement building in his voice. It was time for downhill- quite steep downhill.
“As I’ll ever be…” I said pushing any nervousness aside. “Please go slow! …Rather than slow, stay in control ” I revised my worry.
“Don’t worry!” He called setting off at a cracking pace.
I soon found a comfortable pace and concentrated on my body position, choosing the best line and staying in control. And it was exhilarating. We stopped every now and then to give the muscles a break, prolong the experience, and take in the view.
At one point I could see wild brumby grazing in the distance. I knew to look out for them having been dodging great piles of… evidence that they were in the vicinity.
Back down at the river crossings I had fun ploughing through them, spraying water in every direction and coming out the other side soaked. It was impossible not to whoop with delight!
“This is so much fun!”
“Who are you, and what have you done with my wife? You’re a pod inside her body!“ he teased.
“The slug is dead”
We rode back along the valley following the winding river to the last stretch of downhill.
“I don’t want this to end..” I said to Dave’s back as he scooted off and bombed down the hill. He was gone before I could get my camera out to photograph him.