20/21 September 2014
The Windsor to Brookyln route is a great tour which tracks along the Hawkesbury River through Sackville and Wisemans Ferry, before climbing to the top of Mangrove Mountain and freewheeling the last 30km or so down to the old pacific highway.
I’d taken off for the weekend with a few friends, the intention was to ride the 150km route over 2 days and camp somewhere near or around Dharug National Park. The two days were going to be testing, and a few mechanical issues to a friends bike made the weekend truly interesting.
We hadn’t made it far out of Windsor, but had crossed the river at the Sackville ferry crossing when Rus (a friend) noticed a rear puncture. It had happened right next to a pick your own orange grove, so while he took care of his bike, I went exploring and picking oranges in the orchard. I picked up 15 oranges which were offered to me for free by the farmer since the season was closing out. Rus had managed to swap his tube out but couldn’t get a proper seal with his pump – I was happy to be able to give the topeak pump a test and it performed more than adequately (I can’t recommend the road morph pump enough).
The day kept winding on and we covered the 70km route to the national park with little more problem, with a mutual friend of one of my riding companion ending up camping at the same spot (by coincidence). Oranges galore and a failed rice dish for dinner were supplemented when a nearby family brought over dumplings and chicken for us to eat, as well as letting us fill up our water bottles from their supplies – receiving free food is a great little perk of cycle touring, and the constant generosity of strangers never ceases to amaze me.
Getting up early the following day, we took off riding to knock out the final 90km’s before the sun truly started beating. We’d stopped for lunch and begun the ascent up Mangrove Mountain when Rus was plagued with more bike issues – this time a little harder to fix. During the ascent he’d managed to thread a pedal out of his crank. A few different ideas were thrown around, and we were about to call it and admit we had no really constructive ideas when we realised that a flat saddle spanner might be appropriated as a pedal to get Rus through the final 40km’s of the day. It was good British steel and Rus managed to limp his bike to the finish line and ruin his sneakers in the process.
The last stretch of the old pacific highway was the final test, no real elevation gain to speak of but at this point the sun was setting and we were as tired as you can be. There were a few big downhills as a final reward, and I clocked up a cool 60km/hr through the final km’s before setting up in a park to gorge the last of our food and boarding the train in the dark to make complete the journey home.