Friday, February 06, 2015

A ride: Around Cox Peninsula

This morning I was up at 4:45 and out the door by 5:30am. On my way to do my occasional ride around Darwin harbour. 

The Plan: 
According to this map the ride will be as follows. Start at somewhere around map 8, cut through 12, 13 and 14 continue through 20 through to Stuart Highway (green line) follow green line through 21, 27 and 34. Turn right at the Red line (Cox Peninsula Rd) continue through 33, 32 and 31 then continue on red line through the places that appear as nothing more than a line on a page until Mandorah (Insert map 31), catch boat across blue bit back to 16 then continue home through 10, 6 and 7 back to 8.... And that's it. - It's not a new ride for me. It's pretty much the only long distance round trip available in Darwin without covering the same ground. I just thought I'd post the rout in terms of our local street directory because it just about covers every map in the book.

I didn't check the weather report but was hoping there'd be a bit of rain about. I checked the moon cycle and we had quite a full moon until after dawn which is always good for early morning or night cycling. Full moon and clear skies are good conditions for night riding... but the clear skies aren't such a good thing when cycling through the heat of the day in the tropics.

End of cycle path, about to join Stuart Highway. (Moon top right)

It was a pleasant ride to Howard Springs Rd along the cycle path, I even had some company for part of the journey. A guy on a road bike was behind me for a km or two, he had an extremely bright headlight which overpowered my puny torch and projected a surreal shadow of me onto the path and surrounding trees right in front of us. I wish I could have filmed it, it looked amazing and entertained me until he decided to overtake. Once he passed me I tucked into his slipstream and coasted most of the rest of the way to Howard Springs Rd, where my temporary travel companion/projectionist turned back. I don't feel too bad about tailing him, he was on a slick bike and I had a few kgs of stuff in my panniers. (Big thanks to you mate whoever you were)

Although the sky was clear it was humid. The grass was wet at home and by the time I'd reached the Stuart Highway my whole body was already dripping with sweat. Damn! Now that I've got a pair of those fancy padded lycra pants, today would have been a good day to wear them, I could already feel the chaffing bite.

The Stuart Highway from Howard Springs to the Cox Peninsula road was predictably hazardous. Several road trains passed me, which can be a fairly intimidating experience but they are usually very responsible drivers and rarely do anything stupid or dangerous, the worst is always the arrogant drivers in V8s or Work trucks who, despite the lack of traffic around them insist on speeding past cyclists as close as they can. Plenty of those on the road this morning.

Insect houses are big in the NT
Just out of Coolalinga I saw a guy pedalling in the opposite direction with trailer load of gear, It looked like all his worldly possessions plus recyclable bottles he'd collected. I'd actually seen him the night before at Palmerston, it's quite an unmistakable rig. I crossed the highway to go and say g'day but he wasn't much into chatting so I headed back in my original direction, it was getting late and I wasn't looking forward to riding in the sun. Unfortunately the sun had begun to rise as I pulled into the Noonamah service station. I'd prefer to get some of the Cox Peninsula Rd out of the way before the sun came up and it was looking like an unusually clear day.

Me and the Avanti taking a break at Blackmore River, Cox Peninsula Rd.
I stopped at the Blackmore Rive bridge for the obligatory 1/2 way photo and rest, it's become a bit of a ritual over the past few years, but this year I'm on a different bike. The Shogun has a flat tyre and the bottom bracket is getting quite rough. By now it was starting to warm up, I guzzled a some water and wondered why on such a long ride I would choose to wear a sleeveless vest and not bring sunscreen!

From here on, as usual the ride became decidedly harder. It's not the terrain, it's more the fact that I'd already ridden about 60km, my back had started aching, I was getting tired and the heat of the sun had started to take it's toll. After another 1/2 hour of riding I was bonked! Had to stop and eat. Macaroni and cheese leftovers picked me up heaps but without cloud cover the sun was just sapping all my energy. I could feel my skin sizzling and knew I'd stuffed up bad.

I finally made it to Beleuen and discovered that the store was actually open. There was only another 10km to go but by now I was feeling dehydrated and was really dragging my feet. I've called in there so many times to find it closed. Not today! Stepping in the door I was greeted by a slushy machine! Drank half an orange slushy sitting at the picnic table outside Beleuin store and took the rest with me for the final leg.

Nearly at my destination I had a minor crash on. On the last few kms from Wagait beach to the Mandorah jetty there's a bicycle path. If you ever do this ride be very careful when leaving the road to enter the bike path. All the dirt and grit from the unpaved gutter washes out onto the beginning of the path. It's deep enough for the front wheel to lose traction. I approached the path on a slight angle, the front wheel slipped and I ended up sliding on my  side a couple of meters with the bike on top of me. No great damage done just a few grazes, my pannier got a bit ripped but the bike was OK.

Mandorah Jetty - Low tide
There was an hour wait for the ferry so wandered down to the sea and washed the gravel and grit of my elbow and knee. By now I had become aware just how burned I was. Even though I'd done the bulk of the ride there was still one more leg to do. The ride from the city back home to the northern suburbs... Another 15 km, I'd rather not ride. As usual this part was slow and painful, I had a headache and when I finally arrived I was totally spent (as usual). All in all a good way to punish myself out of the funk I'd been in for the past few weeks. 

Comfortable ride across the sea

Happy cycling!


Chandra said...

Wow - Peter. What a lovely adventure!
Glad you didn't hurt yourself too badly in the crash.
How long did you ride?
Is your area hilly or is it relatively flat?
Have a Great Day!
Peace :)

David J said...

Nahh no permanent injuries, I didn't even bother taking a photo of the mess. The ride was about 140km in distance but took me quite a while to complete. I spent some time wandering around taking photos or looking at interesting things... or just gazing at the bush while I rested on the side of the road.
I left home at 5:30am and arrived at the Jetty at 12:15. Ferry didn't arrive till 1:30pm and then I dithered about on the way home.
I reckon it took about 7.5 hours.

Niall said...

Read your post for a 'reccy' of how to do this trip for the first time. Ended up going via Channel Island/Jenkins/Finn to Berry Springs in time to have first beer at Berry Springs at 10. Left full of beans but heat is debilitating and did the last 20/30 stop start (although I wonder if part of that is thinking ahead to the end). The last k's are the worst. Walking or riding. Thanks for your post. Niall

David J said...

Hi Niall. Congratulations, its a mongrel of a ride in the heat of the day. I've never been that way. Was tempted but preferred to ride back via Noonamah. This ride is heaps easier at night or in the rain. Dry season tiding can leave you feeling like you've had you're brains evaporated through your eyeballs.