Adjective, meaning extremely impressive or daunting; inspiring awe:
We may have become too liberal with the use of the word awesome, but there were definitely times over the last 4 days where I think it was appropriate, the scenery, the gradients, the run to Kosci.
So I feel justified in saying that the camp was literally awesome!
It started on Wednesday, with some pretty ordinary traffic leaving Sydney. This gave Webby, Colin and Kroney a few hours in the pub before Karen, Paul, Victor, Karl and I arrived. Unfortunately Jas and John couldn’t join us.
Day 1- Start with a bang- Tom Groggins
Breakfast at the hotel was great, so fuelled with a stomach loaded with bacon, egg, sausages, beans, hash browns, toast, fruit, muesli, Burcher muesli, cereal, yogurt, croissants, waffles and coffee we set off. With some more bacon, egg, sausages, beans, hash browns, toast, fruit, muesli, Burcher muesli, cereal, yogurt, croissants, waffles in our back pockets just in case. The ride to Thredbo was relatively straightforward and after a water stop, some pictures and a minor mechanical fix-up we headed on to Dead Horse Gap. This is where the fun started, dead horse to Tom Groggins. The first 7km descent was fun, not too steep, good road surface, corners weren’t too sharp, the second 7km descent was scary; steep gradient, reverse camber corners and unpredictable road surface, but thankfully we all made it down in one piece.
While the rest of us were throwing our bottles in a creek, pestering a dad and his daughter to fill them for us, Karen and Webby managed to do an amazing disappearing act. They missed the turn by just enough time for us to have waited a bit then we rolled out before they passed us, the result being we missed riding back with them by probably quite a short amount of time. I don’t think it would have mattered anyway, the ride back was long and hard, there was no way it was going to be anything other than an individual effort. There was no chatting. I think it was Falls Creek territory hard, think Beach street for 15kms.
Despite giving us a bit of a lead, Victor had a great ride and picked us off one by one, catching Karl and Paul by the time they reached Thredbo, he then used some local knowledge to be second in line at the pie shop behind Kroney. Colin learned the hard way that a few beers the night before and bacon and eggs for brekkie do not make staying hydrated or cycling uphill in the Aussie summer easy.
Despite a few unnecessary pinches it was a pretty quick ride back from Thredbo. Back at the ranch, some of us went for a bit of a swim/splash in the very cool, refreshing lake, followed by a yoga session courtesy of Kroney.
0/10 for hospitality skills in Jindy that night, after some lack lustre performances from both a Persian and Italian restaurant, we settled on celebrating Webby’s birthday and Australia Day with the very traditional, Peking duck!
Day 2- Inland to Eucumbene Dam.
For this ride we were joined by some of Karen’s mates, Lucy and Pete. The first bit was part of the L’etape course. It consisted of a few steady hills out of Jindy before turning on to Eucumbene Road, which is a relatively flat road surrounded by beautiful Australian countryside. 45km out and in, it provided some welcome respite from the hills of the previous day. The conditions were perfect for Paul on his TT and he lead a blistering pace back to town, at least I think that’s what happened, I couldn’t keep up. Karl, Karen, Kroney and Victor backed up with a 2km swim in the lake. Webby and Colin caused some confusion among the locals. Kroney again treated us to a Brendan stretch session and that night we got our revenge on the rude Italian restaurant by pretending we wanted to eat there but then deciding it was too hot and went to Banjo’s instead. Victor cannot be blamed for any ill treatment of Italians; he has a million friends and didn’t join us for dinner that night as he was meeting some of them.
Day 3- another big one
The assault on Charlottes Pass followed by a run to the summit, then home. Our friends Pete and Lucy joined us for this one too.
Sheesh it was windy! It started out ok, we started in what had become our usual procession of Kroney, Karl and Paul or Paul, Kroney and Karl or Karl, Kroney and Paul followed by the rest of us, but by 15km in they were becoming specks on the horizon. Did I say it was windy, one minute I was on the left side of the road the next second I was in the middle, that was not my bad steering, the wind was really strong, we were getting jostled all over the place. On a steep downhill, pedalling as hard as I could I was maxing out at 24km/hour! WINDY!
We got there though, and I felt pretty happy with my ride up, course I would say that cause I forgot to switch my Strava on, so it means nothing!
As you might expect the wind did not get any calmer closer to the top of the mountain, and I tagged out of the run. I’m Irish, I’ve had my fair share of enduring shitty weather, I did not fancy doing it on Saturday, so I walked so the saddle while the rest ran to the summit. Hats off to them, it was really tough to run in that wind, let alone run up a mountain, I was really impressed by them all! Karen drove up but don’t think she took an easy option; she was busy running an additional 7km up hill while we were on our bikes. Chapeau!
Karl spoke about a burger place on the side of the road between Perisher and Charlottes Pass, we were sceptical, but what do you know, there is a really good burger bar on the side of the road between Perisher and Charlottes’ Pass, even open in summer. It might have been the altitude, or the beer or the tiredness but whatever it was, it lead to some pretty interesting confessions over a burger and a beer, never to be repeated of course. What goes on camp….
I had the advantage of fresh legs for the way home, even so considering the company I was pretty chuffed to be sitting in second place behind Paul coming close to town.
Hint, if you’re trying to gain a few seconds on Karl at the next BRAT triathlon, ask him to run 10km up a mountain in gale force winds beforehand. Tell him there’s a burger joint at the top and he might actually do it!
My second place was too good to be true and I was caught by Kroney on the way into town.
Of course it doesn’t matter, it’s not a competition!
Day 4 Breakfast was leisurely.
There was no talk about cycling, I think you could have picked up pretty flash Giant from Victor or Ridley from Colin for a couple of bucks! We decided on a run around the lake, the procession started as usual. It was hot but the trail course kept things interesting. 7km was enough for Victor and I but Karl, Colin, Kroney and Paul rounded things off with a steady 10km.
Things I learned:
1. For a life long robust immune system, eat a kebab while holidaying in Egypt
2. Multi-talented Colin, plays (golf) of 3.
3. Tom Groggins is a sadistic Mo-fo
4. If all else fails, just go Gonzo!