Intro & Day One
It has become an annual tradition that on Australia Day weekend a cross section of Balance members relocate from the inner west and head further afield in search of a few days of training in the hills. In recent years the Snowy Mountains has been the destination of choice however this year we felt like we needed a change from Thredbo so it was decided we would venture to Jamberoo near Kiama.
This year Australia Day fell on to a Thursday so the plan was agreed to travel in the morning and arrive at the hotel (Jamberoo Resort) fuelled to ready to go for a lunch time ride. To make the weekend more appealing we planned for a variety of rides to cater for different abilities of those making the trip. Due to the location of the hotel at the foot of some big hills even a short ride would involve some serious climbing not for the faint of heart.
It was agreed that the first ride was to be the official club kit day as based on previous experience both bike and people malfunctions can happen on the first ride so it was the best opportunity to get as many Balance kits on the road as possible on day one.
For day one the group rides were fairly similar with a climb up Macquarie Pass up to Robertson and back down to the hotel. For what was supposedly a warm up it was certainly a sign of what lay ahead. As you can see from the photo below the weather that greeted us at the summit was hardly welcoming so great care was needed to be taken on the 20km descent back down into Jamberoo.
A Ride – Macquarie Pass & Jamberoo Loop: 66km/1700m – 3.5hrs; https://connect.garmin.com/modern/course/13787856
B/C Ride – Macquarie Pass Loop: 53km/1100m – 2.5hrs; https://connect.garmin.com/modern/course/13874767
After a good rest and buffet breakfast we were ready to embark on the first long ride of the weekend. After a quick spin out from the hotel the first climb of the day that greeted us was Saddleback Mountain. For those that haven’t had the pleasure of going up this thing, the first 4.7km rise is at an average of 8.4% and when you turn right to make your way up the final 500m to the summit that final half-kilometre has an average gradient of 18% with sections well over 20%. Now if that means nothing to you, those numbers reflect is one of the steepest climbs you can ride up in Australia. It is nothing but brutal but very satisfying if you can make it to the top.
From there the route wound its way down to Kiama for a water stop then traced the coast line to Berry. We turned off the main road just before the town centre and headed up to Woodhill. The bottom half is quite steep and with the rising temperatures it made for hard work.
By now the group had formed a normal formation with the freakishly fit Dom Linder leading the way, with David Ogier and Joe following with the rest of us hanging on as best we could. The ride was already turning into a battle of attrition with a few riders taking the sensible option and heading for home.
After Woodhill the group descended from the hill with the warning from Joe ringing in our ears that there was a stretch of gravelled road between us and the bottom so we needed to have our wits about us.
We safely navigated the rugged terrain that was more suited to Geoff Evison’s cycle cross bike and eventually in arrived in Kangaroo Valley in search of lunch. We managed to end up at a fine establishment that claimed to serve the world’s pies and after sampling most of the menu we can confirm they are definitely contenders for this much coveted prize!
One major obstacle stood between us and getting to the hotel, and that was the long climb up the Barrengarry Mountain climb up to Fitzroy Falls. This wasn’t anywhere as steep as the ascents earlier in the day however it was much longer so this one was a real challenge. A quick 20km dash along the top of the ridge then dropping back down to the hotel was all that was left of the day.
Some quality poolside time, a big feed en masse with Team Balance and some watching of the Australian Open tennis rounded off a really enjoyable day.
A Ride – Saddleback & Woodhill & Fitzroy Falls Loop; 140km/3000m; 7hrs; https://connect.garmin.com/modern/course/13787869
B/C Ride – Cambewarra & Berry Loop (Starting from Berry); 57km/1300m; 4hrs; https://connect.garmin.com/modern/course/13874900
Saturday treated us to a stunning morning; we all had very stiff legs but knew we had to push through the pain to make the traditional final night celebration drinks taste even sweeter. A few of the Balance support crew showed us how real athletes prepare for a big day ahead with some poolside core work before brekkie, however the support crews energies were to be spent at the local spa rather than heading up mountains.
After yet another detailed briefing from ride leader Joe we were made fully aware of what lay ahead of us for the day and it was going to be a toughie. We started out from the hotel and went straight up Jamberoo Mountain pausing for a quick photo at the lookout.
We retraced our steps from the previous day, heading back along the ridgeline to Fitzroy Falls, dropping back into Kangaroo Valley. It was already turning into a scorcher of a day so we loaded up with ice at a servo, stuffing as much as we could down jerseys and placing into our helmets for some much needed respite. We crossed the valley and headed towards Berry then slowly climbed our way up Berry Mountain and across to the Cambewarra lookout.
The exertions of the previous few days were beginning to catch up with us so we didn’t stick around to admire the spectacular views for long so we made our way quickly back down into the valley to restock. We had to be more considered in our movements as the temperature was still increasing and it was starting to cause us problems. Making the final climb of the day back up Barrengarry Mountain the heat was becoming unbearable. Joe took the novel approach of setting up base camp half way up and waiting for the sun to go down. After some motivational speeches we managed to grind our way to the top of the climb. Even then the heat was pretty excessive, as you can see from the image below we were doing everything we could to avoid the heat, David O managed to find the quickest way possible to cool down.
Following the descent down Macquarie Pass and the 20km ride back to the hotel we were greeted by the sights of the Balance crew really enjoying themselves around the pool.
All that was left for us to do for the day was to unwind and make a few acknowledgements; Joe had done a fantastic job of organising the weekend and we were able to present him with a Black Sheep windbreaker to say thank you from the group. Also Don had spent the weekend riding with Felicity, Hannah, Krissy and Georgina so it seemed perfectly apt that he was able to find a craft beer called ‘4 Wives’ to relax with…
A Ride – Jamberoo & Berry & Fitzroy Falls; 155km/3200m – 7.5hrs; https://www.strava.com/activities/846511803
B/C Ride – Jamberoo & Fitzroy Falls Out&Back; 105km/2100 – 5hrs; https://connect.garmin.com/modern/course/13874787
Now after three consecutive days of very solid riding completed, the fourth day is generally pretty relaxed in terms of who does what. The very hard-core bunch repeated the ride from day one by heading up Macquarie pass one final time. A couple of the group (Geoff, Hugh and I) went out for a run and the remainder of the group chose to sleep in and prepare themselves for the fun times at Jamberoo Water Park.
After our morning exertions we demolished a ginormous buffet breakfast the group said their farewells and went their separate ways, bringing to a close the Balance training camp for another year. Yet again people were able to push themselves and accomplish things that they would have previously thought impossible. Everything was done with a smile on faces and new friendships were forged. The Balance camp is an amazing experience, and with the new location closer to Sydney it’s not just about those cycling as those with partners and family can share in the fun too. From my perspective everybody seemed to enjoy themselves and will hopefully be back for more, I know I will be….
Macquarie Pass Loop: 53km/1100m – approx 2.5hrs; https://connect.garmin.com/modern/course/13874767