Good intentions to head for a ride were initially thwarted by my usual reticence to head outside with the thermometer reading less than 1 degree, and I managed to convince myself that it would be sensible to head down to Kingston for a coffee and breakfast, read the paper down by the beach and then see how things were looking after that.
However on the way down the outlet, I started thinking about that trail from Kaoota up onto Snug Tiers which I’ve been meaning to try and find, and the thought stuck in my head and grew as I flicked through the usual rubbish in the local Sunday rag and drank my coffee.
So it was that I found myself down at Margate unloading the bike at the town hall before getting changed into my still slightly cold and damp clothes from yesterday and headed off down through Margate and out along Sandfly Road. I happily admit to churning along in granny gear as the legs and body warmed up, but before I knew it I was back up in top gear and had reached the turn off to Allens Rivulet Road where it felt like the ride began. The section up through here is a lovely bit of country road, and a bit like the proverbial frog gradually boiled in water as I was taking in the sites and saying hello to the walkers and farmers out and about, I hardly notice the gradual climb, as it starts to rise and rise until just after turning off Allen’s Rivulet Road, I finally noticed that I actually needed to drop back a gear or two.
Thankfully this is only a short section and after turning off onto Kaoota Rd the climb returns to a nice gradient and I found myself more distracted by the new season lambs playing in the field, the many wallaby runs criss crossing the road and the stream churning through the forest beside me than I was on the gradient I was climbing.
The road up to Kaoota wends its way in and out of bushland and past houses, and before I knew it I was heading into Kaoota itself. The temperature had dropped significantly in the last kilometre of the climb and snow was again settled on the ground. There’s not much at Kaoota: basically a sign either side and a few houses in between. From Kaoota I headed down Umfrevilles Road, where I met a couple out walking their dog, who were able to give me very useful directions on how to find the track and which turns to take (which I was later to ignore at my peril). I set off pretty chuffed about this chance encounter as I’d been this way several years before and having taken a wrong turn ending up in some farmers paddock and having to haul my bike over his back fence to escape back out onto the road and eventually found myself Pelverata quite a way from where I planned to be.
Still glowing from my little encounter, it was a bit of the shock as I came around the next corner, to see a large dog charging out towards me, I turned on the speed with both eyes locked on the dog as he ran around me, and started catching up and alongside. Just as I thought I was a goner, a ute came flying around the corner towards us and the dog nearly disappeared under the front wheels only just managing to jump out of the way literally as the car came over the top of it. Fortunately none of us ended up worse for wear and I happily continued onto the end of the road and past a gate and onto the trails.
I soon came to the junction where I was told by the locals that I should head left, but my GPS showed the track heading off to the right. I decided to trust my GPS, which I was to regret not much further on as the route I was on started to diverge from the supposed route on my GPS and I found myself backtracking to the junction humbled by my trust in technology over local knowledge. That said it was a beautiful little detour so I wasn’t that disappointed.
From there on, it was a steady to steep climb, on slippery, rocky tracks, with cutting grass on either side and frequent downers across the track. Despite this, or maybe because of it, I really enjoyed the climb, and there were a few sections I could even cycle. I was delighted when clumps of snow started appearing alongside the track, and then as it go thicker and thicker I kept stopping to take pictures and enjoy the sights. If only I’d known. By the time I crested the top of the climb, the snow was quite thick and an increasing number of sections were obstructed by branches and trees weighed down by snow.
It took me nearly an hour to travel the next kilometer as I physically had to push and shove myself and my bike through increasingly thick sections of scrub, through puddles covered with ice, with my arms, legs and clothes drenched and frozen from all the ice and snow that covered them.
It was sort of fun, though if someone had been nearby to hear my frequent screams of frustration it may have been hard convincing them I was enjoying the challenge. It was a relief to finally break out onto the main track, and after a fleeting consideration of heading on to the top of Pelverata Falls, I decided instead it was time to get warm, so I turned to the left and headed to the top of Van Moreys Road. An Ice Cream headache convinced me to put on all the warm clothes I had, and get rid of the snow that had got caught in my helmet and was causing my ice cream headache.
From there it was a wonderful descent all the way back down to the car as kilometre after kilometer disappeared beneath my wheels. I even passed another couple of cyclists heading up the hill, but didn’t feel the need to warn them about what lay ahead.
It was only about 3 or so hours to do the whole loop, with the only downside being that I had to sit in front of the heater for an hour to warm up when I got home.