Looking ahead to 2019, I decided to try ‘upping my miles’ for this issue’s cycling article. I’ve set my sights on the few roads left in our area that I know are less travelled before sunrise, reasoning that a suitable alternative to the busy Two Gorges route would be to cycle to the famous ‘Pie in the Sky’ and back. This route has all the features of the Two Gorges route, namely: Two Gorges! An extra 10km in distance! Exquisite bushland scenery! & At the turn around point you can relax and enjoy a pie and a coffee! Well, yes and no…
Early morning cycling along Arcadia Road towards Berowra Waters is always blissful, as you can watch the sun rise from behind your handlebars. It’s an easy roll, mostly downhill with a little pinch climb up past Charlton’s Creek Road. At Chilcott Road I spot two other early risers out on their bikes. I quickly catch up and, being a mountain biker, simply can’t resist overtaking them. The air is scything through my wheels as I descend at over 50km/h to the ferry. I am exhilarated and so glad that I have never stopped cycling.
After introducing myself on the ferry, I watch my two new acquaintances extract their revenge and vanish up the switchbacks way ahead of me. Still, the climb to the suburb of Berowra, is one of my local favourites. It’s got a gentle gradient, smooth surface, is lined with ferns and moss and threads of mist in all the valleys; and if you know where to look, you can spot the pylons that festoon Crosslands Road.
An excellent cycle lane along Berowra Waters Road dispatches me efficiently onto the Pacific Highway. Here, I turn left past the railway station for the final 8km up to Pie in the Sky. This is a beautiful stretch of road to cycle on, with snaking downhills and forever views into mysterious valleys. An interesting spin through the charming village of Cowan takes me across the very narrow railway bridge and then I am right into the final slog up to Pie. There is a bunch of other riders also catching their breath there, but I’m disappointed to see that the restaurant is closed- we are all too early, it seems!
The return ride starts off well, but the descent back down to the ferry now involves a bit more traffic, so I have to slow down. While on the water, I have the sense to consume a Gu for the hectic climb back up to Chilcott, which I call the Berowra B***h… It lures you in with the sweet sounds of rushing water, lyrebird sightings, picturesque rocks and Salmon Gums. All that is quickly forgotten where the road takes a savage turn into a steeper gradient and by the time I get to the first driveways of Berrilee, I’m going so slow I can hardly keep my bike upright. A tiny reprieve past Mulawa Stud, then it’s relentlessly up to Chilcott, and gradually up again to Calabash Road. By the time I get to Arcadia School my knee is hurting and I feel like I’m going to die. I am very glad that I took that Gu earlier!
Ten minutes later I’ve dragged myself back into Galston. I’m very relieved to be sitting at the Steamyard Café, commiserating with owner Michael Gobran whilst savouring a very well-earned, large cappuchino!
DIFFICULTY: 54.2km. 2.5 to 3 hours. Lots of hill climbing, don’t be fooled by the distance. This is a hard ride. BE PREPARED: To avoid injury, put some consistent 30km+ rides in before you try this one! (I’ve certainly learnt my lesson).
TAKE: Two drink bottles, some solid food and definitely consume an energy gel when waiting for the ferry to get you up that wicked hill on the return ride.
GO EARLY: It may mean you miss Pie in the Sky being open, but do this ride early. Although quiet during weekdays, on weekends it is a highly popular route for motorcyclists, fishermen towing boats and large bunches of cyclists-who ride here from all over Sydneyare getting so numerous that soon not everyone will fit onto the ferry!