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Cycling



Go for Broke IV (aka “BananaGate”)

The map for this ride is available by going to Routes. After bringing up that page, look to the left of the map to see “Hunter Valley” next to a map target (a blue square with a white “M” in it). When you click on that map target, the appropriate map will be presented. The profile for this ride is then available by clicking on the red line heading north to Broke.

This year saw the reunion of the classic Go For Broke Mark II line-up, which had disbanded last year, leaving founding member, Greg, to carry on solo. It has been said, in certain circles, that last year's event didn't count as a true “Go for Broke” - No, Geoff, just because your weren't there, doesn't mean it didn't happen!

Geoff’s bike with bananas holstered
Geoff’s bike with bananas holstered

Sadly, Geoff was unable to appear in his trade-mark England Team Jersey and Castelli cycle shorts, which he'd worn to such great acclaim two years ago. These had been destroyed in the process of our successful attempt at curing his tinnitus (for detailed information on this break-through medical procedure, please refer to Geoff's 2012 entry, though we don't recommend that you try this at home but, if you must, not in your favourite jersey). Instead, this year he decided to adopt a Hopalong Cassidy theme, packing six-shooting bananas to either side of his saddle bag, with another in his back pocket for good measure. Perhaps, next year we should each adopt a Village People persona? It had been suggested that the bananas might travel better stuffed down his knicks in a formation reminiscent of a snake's hemipenes. Matt bet him five dollars that his six-shooters would not make it to the Berowra Waters Ferry.

Bay Rd, Berrilee
Bay Rd, Berrilee, just before the top of the Climb from Berowra Waters

It was a cold frosty morning with a clear sky. The truck that Margaret and I had followed on our way to Matt's had been shedding sheets of ice from its top. Early in the ride, Danny noted that the frost covered rooftops reminded him of the winters of his youth in Switzerland. Although it was the first day of Spring, it presented colder riding conditions than we had experienced all winter, but we were up and going an hour earlier than normal.

Berowra Waters with the vapour rising from the water
Berowra Waters with the vapour rising from the water

We took a very relaxed pace all the way to the Berowra Waters Ferry. Down there, by the water, the temperature was quite pleasant. Here the bet was settled, Geoff's bananas were still securely attached, though starting to show the results of having been kept in a freezer (i.e. outside).

The ice on the ferry deck had already turned to water, causing me, when remounting, to lose traction and land with my bum on the bar. Similarly, my first stroke on the pedal resulted in the wheel spinning but no resultant forward movement. The second stroke was more successful, allowing me to ride off the ferry and start up the hill at a nice relaxed pace, without Matt noticing that I had gotten away.

Climbing along Berowra Waters Rd
Climbing along Berowra Waters Rd, from Berowra Waters to Berowra

About a third of the way into the climb, Matt realised that I was not behind but ahead and likely to claim, once again, the King of the Mountain stage. He caught me about half a kilometre from the top; I let him go, as I was only prepared to claim the title if it didn't require any effort.

Hawkesbury Bridge
Hawkesbury Bridge

We regrouped and rode together to the towers before Pie-in-the-Sky. Then, after descending, regrouped just beyond Brooklyn Bridge.

Geoff, Matt, Greg, and Bob at the Road Warriors Café, Mount White
Geoff, Matt, Greg, and Bob at the Road Warriors Café, Mount White

From there we proceeded towards Mt White (No Bob, it's not all uphill; it undulates with a certain bias). Matt and I became isolated ahead of the pack, leaving Danny, Geoff, and Bob a little distance further back. As I was cycling along here on my own, with motorbikes passing and my thoughts drifting, it occurred to me that, should one of these riders lose control, I'd be in a bit of a pickle, with his machine weighing some 50 times mine, and he in his leathers while I'm in my next-to-nothings.

Maybe it was something about the way one of them was riding, or maybe it is just that I'm getting old - at the ripe old age of eighteen was when I first considered consequences before diving into a rugby tackle. In any case, when Danny, Geoff, and Bob joined us at the Road Warriors Café, they related that very thing.

A young P plate motorcyclist lost control of his bike on one of the corners, missing Danny by ten metres or so before ploughing his bike into the cliff wall. Geoff, being outside Danny, and therefore further from the incident came within less than a metre of the careering daredevil. To best understand this, it is an advantage if you possess some familiarity with Einstein's dissertation on space dilation in relation to fast moving objects - Bob swears that the vehicle was travelling fast enough for him to experience time dilation. Geoff was quickly to the man's side, and, as soon as the rider had removed his helmet, was suggesting to him that he do a Stay-Upright course and to follow that with an advanced riding course. However, just as the rider was thanking Geoff for his concern, and before he could ask Geoff for any contacts he might have, he lapsed into a coma. Realising that there was nothing more that could be said, and since the rider's friends had just managed to catch up, Geoff, Danny, and Bob resumed their ride.

Peats Ridge Road, Peats Ridge
Peats Ridge Road, Peats Ridge

We left Road Warriors for Kulnurra, putting in a little more effort than we had on the first leg. Here Matt cycled on at his own pace, while I maintained a short distance ahead of Geoff, with Danny accompanying Bob, in Danny's assumed mantle of tail-end-charlie. At Kulnurra, Geoff unholstered one of his six-shooters, nearly resulting in its partner finding the dirt. Unfortunately, the means of attachment resulted in a brown band across the centre of the banana's flesh.

Bucketty and The Letter A
Bucketty and The Letter A

We started out from Kulnurra in the same fashion as we had from Road Warriors. Matt had pulled over to wait for us some little distance shy of Lemming Corner (beyond Bucketty and The Letter A). When Bob arrived, he was complaining of severe leg cramps. His new low-salt diet was not doing his cycling any favours. Geoff, who normally carries a salt additive to add to his water had already proceeded forth. I offered Bob a lick of the inside of my cap, but that was gracefully declined. Danny and Bob then swapped energy bars, as Bob had chosen his on the basis that it did not contain salt. After consuming this we proceeded, assuring Bob that after the descent through Lemming Corner, the rest of the way to Laguna was flat except where it wasn't. Bob promised himself a sports drink when we reached Laguna.

The descent through Lemming Corner proved rougher than ever in the past. The tarred road had begun to ripple, causing the double white lines to present a zig-zag pattern, as they do on the Kenthurst end of Blue Gum Road. As the bike descends through these curves, the wheels are losing contact, momentarily, as the bike skips to each next ripple crest. That loss of contact is, of course, accompanied by a certain loss of bottle. Fortunately, this ensures that you are travelling at a safer speed by the time you encounter the decreasing-radius curve at the bottom of Lemming Corner.

At the bottom, with Geoff and Matt ahead, and the road flat and gently winding through verdant countryside alongside the river, I just had to allow myself to stretch out some speed to pass Geoff and accompany Matt up the first rise between there and Laguna. There were three such rises, so I found myself wondering how Bob felt about our description of the road to Laguna.

The wine bar at Laguna
The wine bar at Laguna

At Laguna I followed Danny and Bob's lead in ordering a sports drink. They had opted for Mr. Cooper's red label, whereas I went for the green, given that the yellow (extra stout) was unavailable. This I complemented with a chocolate doughnut - not a combination that one is likely to find recommended in any food/beverage chart. Bob complemented his sports drink with the more traditional packet of crisps - if you are going to blow your diet, you may as well do a good job of it.

Here Geoff consumed the second of his six-shooters, and found the third in his back pocket, having forgotten that he had stowed it there. He'd believed, instead, that he'd left it back at Matt's. This third he saved and surreptitiously slipped up his right sleeve so that, should he find himself once again in a show down with Matt for line honours, he could strategically drop it, Mario-Brothers style, in Matt's path.

On leaving Laguna for the final leg of the ride, as Geoff was wanting to take it easy and Danny was anxious to have a “bash” with Matt, Danny handed the mantle of tail-end-charlie over to Geoff. I was somewhat wary of giving it a “bash”, as Danny had put it. I felt pretty damn fresh but believed that it was probably a rather fragile freshness that a concerted effort could utterly destroy.

Leaving Wollombi
Leaving Wollombi

So, with Matt in the lead, then myself, then Danny, we set off. This segment of the ride Matt has been know to describe as “Cycling Nirvana”. It wasn't long before the effort in drafting behind Matt became a bit much, so I signalled to Danny to take over before I fell too far back. Just as Danny caught Matt, Matt eased his pace and we proceeded together with Matt and Danny alternating the lead, and me riding comfortably in their wake. After Matt dropped his bottle, I found myself in the lead, a position that the other two threatened to leave me in. No skin off my nose, so long as they were patient enough to travel at my pace - they weren't.

The bridge with planks running parallel to the direction of travel
The bridge with planks running parallel to the direction of travel

There are three wooden bridges that you need to cross on the way from Wollombi to Broke. Last year the first of these, the notorious one (pictured right) that had its narrow planks running parallel to the direction of travel, had been replaced by a new concrete tarred bridge. The other two bone shakers are still in place, but the last remant of dirt road has now been tarred.

Between Wollombi and Broke
Between Wollombi and Broke

Meanwhile, Geoff and Bob were travelling at a comfortable pace. Carol passed them around this time, on her way to Broke having followed our route, and stopped to check that they were fine. They assured her they were. I got to thinking that next time, if Carol will again be travelling the same route, that Geoff should arrange for her to take the bananas and place them along the route at designated locations. Maybe paint a special symbol (a six-shooter?) on the road surface to indicate where they have been secreted. Perhaps even make it a combined ride and banana hunt.

Almost at Broke
Almost at Broke

Back at the front of the pack, Danny had assumed the lead, and Matt, keen for line honours, kept in second. Naturally, when Broke finally appeared, Matt made a charge, with me on his tail to keep him honest. Danny: “There's never a banana around when you need one”. I didn't really give myself much hope, but had Matt slackened, I would have been only too pleased to take the honours for myself.

Geoff and Bob arriving at the Broke Pub
Geoff and Bob arriving at the Broke Pub

We three arrived somewhat before three-thirty to be greeted by Carol and Karen and Matt's children. Margaret, Maggie, and Verena trickled in as we proceeded to our “fifth” ale. Eventually, Geoff and Bob meandered in, looking not too much the worse for wear.