The Easter break gives us 4 days break. I took 2 extra days so I could get out there and test my new pushy, this time around the Hunter Valley for about 400kms over 4 days.
The definite highlight would be the ride from Singleton to Pokolbin State Forest passing through Bulga, Broke and Wollombi. Absolutely beautiful. The images speaks for themselves.
Approximate distance: 380 kms
Total ascent: 3360 meters
Total descent: 3208 meters
I was looking for a bike trip to get myself ready for the ride back home, especially physically given that I’ve had injuries during the past year. Easter break provides the best window for a multi-day trip for a full time worker, despite being a busy time on the roads. 2012 was mount Kosciuszko, 2013 was the hunter valley and the vineyards. I was blessed with amazing weather. No rain at all (some droplets and an overnight shower), mild temperature for Australian standards (25-28 degrees) except for one day when in reached the mid 30s thanks to a hot westerly wind.
I took the train to Newcastle where I started riding. I basically did a loop, starting towards north-west all the way to Singleton through Maitland before going south towards Bulga, Broke and eventually Wollombi. Then it was back up north-east towards Cessnock and into Pokolbin region where most of the vineyards are located. The 4th and last day was back into Newcastle from Cessnock using the hilly George Booth Drive, then through Minmi to eventually ending up on Newcastle Rd back where I started.
The hardest day was definitely the second. I pushed 70kms into the hot strong wind. The road was slightly undulating, but with a strong wind in makes it hard work. I was going down a 6% hill at only 12-15km/h. I slept in Maitland and took off north to get on Maitland Vale Rd going onto the west. That road eventually becomes Stanhope Rd and then Elderslie Rd. Beautiful sunny day and superb scenery but really hot – I drank about 7 liters of water – and super windy. I finally reached Singleton late afternoon where I decided to stay for the night.
The section from Singleton to Wollombi was the highlight. Highly recommended. Quite road, beautiful scenery as the road squeezes in between Yengo National Park and Pokolbin State Forest. Cycling past heaps of farm land and the occasional vineyard along the road was a bliss. Side roads along creeks are worth exploring as they can lead deep into the forest where it’s easier to come across wildlife such as kangaroos and monitor lizards bathing in the sun on massive rocks not too far from the side of the road. I scared a few of them! I finally settled for the night beside a creek in Pokolbin State Forest. Lots of cattle in the surroundings which made for an interesting night sleep… I was woken up every 30 mins or so.
The third day started by climbing Mount View using Mount View Rd. Some steep sections in there, especially to Bimbadeen view point where my Garmin Edge was showing 16%. The view into Pokolbin region was great and going down into it from the top was awesome. That’s after I reached the popular vineyards at the bottom I started to freak out with the Easter holiday traffic. The roads weren’t that great either with heaps of pot holes and patches making for a bumpy ride. Sometimes without a shoulder. Stopping into estates was a bliss especially after some hard and steep hills. I also decided treat myself with good cheese, a bottle of wine and a pide bread. That’s food for 2 days. And alcool for 1 night.
The last days was cloudy with the occasional droplet here and there. No rain though, not even a shower. The sun did shine for brief moments, but nothing like the past 3 days. Riding through George Booth Dr was a challenge with the traffic and the steep hills. Some blind corners too. Going through Minmi was a relief of traffic. Then it was easy going back into Newscastle.
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