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Offroad Touring on a Recumbent Bike

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Shortly after I bought my first recumbent bike (the Kotzur mark one), I found the opportunity to go touring for the first time, with Ken Wilson. He wanted to go wandering round the Barrington Tops Natnional Park, in what he described as "easy gravel roads" country. The tops are a plateau sticking up the the northern part of New South Wales, notable (it turns out) because they have a bit of sub-tropical rain forest on them - beech forest, just like New Zealand). This was also my first exposure to Ken's panniers - the giant yellow waterproof panniers-o-doom. They hold... more than you want to carry.

So after the usual tribulations involved in any organising effort we duly departed for a small town in the middle of NSW. We arrived in Scone about 11pm, unpacked and assembled our bikes then filled up our water bottles at the local ambulance station (outside tap...). After looking for a campsite near town we gave up and biked to a lake about 10km away and camped there. It's one of those artificial lakes made by drowning farmland, but because it's a storage lake the level goes up and down randomly and the old roads etc are still there. The "boat ramp" is just a road into the valley, so it doesn't matter what the level is the ramp still works. Will decay rapidly, but that does not seem to worry the locals yet.

The camp site is the boat ramp for a couple of fishing clubs, there is a locked gate and some ranty sign about private land but no guard dog. We park and just sleep on groundsheets, no tent. The weather is fine and there's a 3/4 moon which made biking in easy, but sleeping under the light is not as easy.

We woke up the first morning to this...
We woke up the first morning to this...
Packed up our stuff
Packed up our stuff
Since I'm so bad at remembering names, I'm going to copy them off the map right now and get them out of the way: the place is "Mt Barrington National Park".

We started at Scone and camped at the south end of Lake Glenbawn. At Gundy there is a general store, then Moonan Flat has the last pub for a long while. From Moonan Brook it's all uphill. We bike from there through the park to Gloucester Tops, then down to "The Bucketts Way". Then to Gloucester briefly, before back the other way down to Newcastle and a train to Sydney. OK, that is the detail from the NRMA map (Nationalised Ranting Motorist Assholes or something, they're like the Automobile Association in NZ). On the real maps, it's a little more detailed. Moonan Brook is at 500m altitude, and the road turns left there and starts climbing properly. Like, 100m in the first kilometer just to remind you that there's climbing ahead. 23km of road in a rectangle on the map about 4km by 7km. From there we follow Moonan Brook trail to Polblue Swamp, then dodge around to get to the track to "The Big Hole". From there we go to Gloucester Falls via a walking track.

We biked up a hill.
We biked up a hill.
Sunset, day one
Sunset, day one

We bike along nice country roads looking at the scenery. Amazing how being on holiday makes everyday farmland look much nicer. Despite Ken's conviction that most hamlets on the map will be a couple of houses and no shop, there is a general store where I buy bread and vegimite to compensate for my lack of breakfast material.... [read the rest of the Day One Ride Diary]

Things started out well enough on the walking track
Things started out well enough on the walking track

As seems to be usual now, we wake at first light and spend an hour getting organised. Ken breakfasts, I nibble on the first of the days sandwiches. I begin to worry about how much food I have because if we do another three days without towns I'll have to eat a lot less than I did yesterday.... [read the rest of the Day Two Ride Diary]

Mud plus recumbent?
Mud plus recumbent?
Not a happy combination
Not a happy combination

(note that this is on the track!)

We wake at 6am, first light. It's still raining, so I run over and start with tea and dinner. Well, Ken has tea and muesli, I have pasta. Real food! .... [read the rest of the Day Three Ride Diary]