The weather gods really were looking down on us as I joined ~160 fellow riders on the Newcastle Overnight ride. The day had been wet and I was preparing for a soggy 170km up to Newcastle. But those fears were unfounded. We ended up with perfect conditions – little wind, comfortable temps and zero rain.
The assembly point was Observatory Hill, just on the southern side of the Harbour Bridge, and we were treated to an amazing view across to Luna Park as we waited for 9pm to roll around. There were bikes of all types, which simply reflects the all-embracing culture of what is almost an underground cult event! Recumbents, tandems, flat pedal “regular” bikes and I even spotted a TT bike. People who love riding getting together to do something slightly crazy by the light of the (mostly) full moon.
And so we set off, rolling over the Harbour Bridge and then heading north out of the city. Various groups formed, got broken up by traffic lights and new groups came together.
Out of the city and we came across our first major climb, heading up Mt White. Riding in the dark was fun and my lights (and brain) coped well. We did hit some foggy patches and that was more freaky as there was no way the lights were getting through that pea soup. Thankfully those patches were short-lived and ended up not causing too many issues. There were few cars around and those that came across us were considerate and gave us plenty of space.
At the top of Mt White volunteers had set up a food/drink stop with plenty of food on offer and hot instant coffee available. I got there at midnight and took the opportunity to have a hot coffee and then decided to press on rather than sample the food.
I only had one bottle on the bike, filled with Infinit and the plan was to replenish that with Powerade as I needed it. That became necessary at around 2am!
At around 4am, and with 50km to go is when the struggle started. The lack of sleep was starting to tell and I was getting sore and uncomfortable, and ready for it to be over. I managed to get through the next 25km and at that point stopped at another service station for a refill of Powerade. At that point I figured another caffeine fix would be a good idea so an iced espresso joined the party!
Soon after I reached what I considered the highlight of the route. If I weren’t so tired and sore by then I would have loved it even more, but it was still lovely. The route put us onto the 16km Fernleigh track, a sealed rail trail which wound its way north through bush land. The sun was coming up by then and, with it, the birds were waking up. I passed an incredibly noisy, but beautiful, flock of rare black cockatoos – always so special seeing those birds. Another highlight, at the end of the trail is the 180m curved tunnel. I had seen pictures of it and so it was a buzz to see it and ride through it.
Finally I was in the final few km and rolling into Merewether and the ocean baths. I stepped off the bike a shade before 6.30am totally stuffed, but equally chuffed to get through it.
In the meantime St Pete was driving to meet me at the finish. He was able to sleep before hitting the road 😂 and timed it well. It was only around 15mins after I got in that he turned up, ready to celebrate with breakfast on the waterfront and a swim in the ocean baths.
All in all it was a fabulous adventure. A magic night, a magic memory and hopefully the first of many more.
#tzero #tzeromultisport #relentlesscourage #newcastleovernight #Audax #audaxaustralia #irongirl101