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Whippet’s rap-up of Sunday, 20 July ’03 "Tour de Royal National Park via Bundeena Beach and Otford Pie Shop” – 86km

On this overcast morn’ with a customary Winter’s nip in the air, a large group had mustered at "Sutherland Leisure Centre" Waratah Park.  A tad before 8:30am we received a ‘phone message from four of the team who had opted to ride from the Northside to our Sutherland start point - Samurai, Rummager, Martin B, Greenie.  We learnt that the Karen aka Grey Nurse had picked-up a foreign body, causing a flat tyre. 

Hence, our scheduled start was temporarily on-hold pending the arrival of our intrepid journeymen.  Overnight rain had cleared, however, the road surface remained wet.  Our forced delay would help a little with the drying process, although pools of water on straight flat stretches provided wheel-spray for close formation riding.  Our largest ever Sutherland Sortie of 16 fast, experienced riders were underway around 9am; Whippet led the group into the RNP, via Farnell Ave.  The downhill run to the Audley Causeway was fast ‘n furious, with the lead changing several times as the Big Guns took aim for the imposing “Artillery Hill".

From the Audley Causeway (5km) we’d bobbed ‘n weaved out-of-the-saddle, up seemingly one of Muggs’ most formidable climbs.  Our first Sag-Stop after 15km at the junction of Sir Bertram Stevens Dr. and Bundeena Rd. evidenced Rocket take-out the Green sprinters jersey, having fired-up her main engine to tracer bullet off the Gibraltar Rock launch pad and scurry along Flat Rock, no doubt zeroed-in by her new cleats.  But the KOM crown to Gibraltar Rock went to Marcel aka Schooners, followed by Arno, Tornado, & Greenie.  Our following 12km section due east to the scenic coastline was a fast ‘n furious affair, initially undulating with a couple of ups, followed by a downward run to our first Nosh Stop at picturesque Bundeena Beach.  Alas, consensus hadn’t been reached over the preferred Nosh House, so we pull into the Bounty Café, which as the name implies, charged like a wounded bull, where orders were mixed-up i.e. hot chocolate was $4.50 and cold.  Perhaps the café further down the road where the coffee was good and offered a view of pristine Bundeena Beach may be a better option for our next Sortie South.

Our climb from Bundeena back to the road junction (35km all done) was slower with lots of ups.  Following a further regroup, longish, straight stretches thru scrubby re-growth of past fires [heading SW] on Sir Bertram Stevens Drive evidence the Peloton crank-up the tempo.  Arno, Marcel, Greenie, Tornado and Big Gears had surged ahead of the Peloton, in a break-away familiar to many of Muggs’ rides where egos take control. 

Naturally, each cyclist is responsible for his/her tyre problems, but mostly get help from other passing riders, to ensure that no rider is left behind.  Sarah experienced the group’s second puncture, but alas was at the rear of our brigade.  Hence, unbeknownst our Head Scouts arrived at the Otford Café (familiar to Gong riders) ordering-up big-time with yummy burgers, cheese and bacon rolls etc.  Barely a few minutes later, the second wave of Whippet, Pacific Pete, Rummager, Mark C, Simon O, Nurse Karen, Rocket, Pacific Pete T, Publican.  In hindsight it would have been better to have scheduled a Sag Stop at the junction of McKell Ave to Waterfall as Sarah was no where in sight.   Our resident Physio’s other half, Arno, alerted us that Sarah was AWOL and rode back in search.  They had to borrow a pump from another rider to get underway again.

Arno, with Sarah in tow, returned and replenished their ravenous tummies.  Lagging behind our scheduled ETR, a unanimous decision was reached that we would return along the freeway, as this route was faster, but about the same distance as a return back thru the park via McKell Ave to Waterfall.  

Over the years I’ve heard boasting yarns and braggadocio from young bucks who mostly had missed-out, but notwithstanding had bragged about alleged conquests over the fairer sex.  Today, outside the Otford Pie Shop one of our ladies proffered that she was too tired to throw her leg over (her bike).  Whereupon, offers immediately came from the male contingent to dutifully assist our flagging damsel.     

Following yet another merit worthy climb, our Peloton re-grouped at the Symbia roundabout on the inroad to the freeway where the pace had cranked-up behind "Tornado".  However, this was short lived as Trevor bailed-out with a puncture and caught the train back to Sutherland. The lead scouts overshot our carpark.

By 2:50pm our entire contingent had returned with 86km on the clock; well-satisfied with our venture south to the Royal National Park.  Hats-off to Samurai ‘n Rummager for shoring-up a platform of interested starters a few week’s ago, ‘cause our previous forays to one of Sydney’s best National Parks had been solitary affairs.  And after a long lay off attending to family stuff, it was good to again hear the grind of Big Gears big chain ring powering up the climbs.

The Scribe  23 July 2003