Conditions were perfect, apart from a prevailing headwind most of the way. Mild evening, low humidity, and less traffic than previous editions, perhaps all attributable in some respect to the event moving from early Nov to early Dec.
I’d had a rough morning after a work social the night before, suffering the indignity of being violently ill…in my car, and somehow also waking up with a black eye – these sleep injuries are getting more varied as one ages. However come mid afternoon I felt ready for the dreamy adventure that awaited.
The adventure started a little earlier than planned, as when Anita and I arrived at the station we were disappointed to see a sign across the entrance announcing track work, and buses replacing trains between Macquarie Uni and Chatswood. But at least Anita got to discover the joys, firstly, of the LCNP, and secondly, of Fullers Rd, thus explaining the orientation of my circular mid-week commute. Having gained Chatswood we were met with more signs announcing the whole of the North Shore line was out of action – hence more trundling to gain Observatory Hill, and the pub, whence we met Ben with still time enough for pizza and beer to be added to a still delicate stomach.
We met up with Andy, and a couple of hundred of others with similar contraptions at the start, and come 9 pm the field slowly inched over the bridge and through the hustle and bustle of North Shore traffic, before this was all left behind at Hornsby for the magic of the old Pacific Highway.
As with previous additions, the food stops at Mt White and Budgewoi were much appreciated, savouring the delights of watermelon, Tim Tams, mixed lollies, coffee and, particularly, hot tea. It’s amazing how refreshing a hot cuppa (or three) can be, especially if it’s been a while.
Despite starting at the tail of the field, we tapped out a decent rhythm and were fairly efficient at the stops such that we hit the Fernley track at about 4:30 am – before the birds had really got going, which was a bit of a shame, as birdcall through this forest corridor has in the past been one of the highlights. The flipside was that we arrived at the baths in time to witness a magic sunrise, enjoy a dip, shower and relaxed breakfast, and make the 7:30 train home, which was considerably less crowded that the sardine-tin experience endured on a later train during the previous edition.