Monday, 20 July 2009

Day twelve: Mittagong to Sydney

Thursday July 16, 2009, 150 km (93 miles) - Total so far: 1,013 km (629 miles)

With the elevation profile showing a downhill route all the way to Sydney, there were no complaints when I woke everyone up at 5:30 AM for a 7:30 departure. For the first 70km to Campbelltown, it was everything we'd hoped for. Whoosh, we sped down the Hume, averaging something ridiculous like 28kph.

Things did level out a bit after Campbelltown, but before we rode any further, we had a delicious and very cheap lunch at a Lebonese bakery. The $1.40 oregano pizza was absolutely divine with half an avocado spread on top (I bought two).

Our maps ran out a little bit past Mittagong, and unfortunately that meant we were stuck at the mercy of the highway direction signs. This meant that we had to make a horrible detour when we encountered a 'no bikes' sign on the overpass that would have connected us to the M4 motorway leading to Sydney. I really did not understand the logic of it considering that bikes were actually allowed on the motorway itself. We ended up having to ride an extra 6km in the other direction until we could get off and ride up an exit ramp that took us to the correct side of the M4. Quite annoyed by this, we had a stop at Macdonalds before tackling the remainder of the ride into Sydney.

For twenty km, we rode down the M4, getting heart breakingly close to Sydney before another sign summarily kicked us off. Matt M was all for ignoring the signs, but after my tangles with police for doing exactly that in Spain, I wasn't keen to try our luck and followed the directions to take the bike path. The path wasn't all that great with far too many crossings at busy roads where we had to wait ages for the traffic to clear, but I still would have preferred to stay on it rather than ride down Parramatta rd as Matt M convinced us to do. It was awful. The road was barely wide enough for three lanes of busy traffic, let alone a bike lane, so we were stuck in the mix of it with cars whizzing past with just centimetres to spare. To top it off, the road was very hilly and obviously hadn't been maintained very well.

I hadn't had enough to drink and was getting quite whoozy, having to really concentrate hard to avoid making an error of judgement that could result in me getting mown down and I really just wanted it to be over. When we got to the CBD things got even more hectic as we struggled to work out exactly how to the Opera house. Sydney was far too busy for my liking with an incredible amount of traffic both in cars and on foot.

Eventually we did get there and got some nice British tourists to take this snap in front of the opera house (which I must point out is far more yellow than I expected)

I was feeling utterly drained and got separated from the guys at one stage as we tried to find a tourist information centre. Luckily I still had a bit of charge left in my mobile phone and found them again before we made our way down George street on foot (which wasn't a pleasant experience for us or for the crowds of pedestrians) and into a youth hostel.

After digging into (some would say 'stealing and eating') two tins of home brand baked beans left in the room, I felt a lot better and enjoyed our celebratory dinner (well kind of, it was fairly mediocre food) and drinks at a nearby Chinese restaurant. I nearly fell asleep at a quiet drinks session that followed, but somehow regained enough energy to go for an exploratory tour of Kings cross and Oxford street with James while the others slept (losers:P).

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