What happened in Berridale?

Thanks to Terry Wall for the write up… who’s already keen for next year?

Berridale training camp 2019.

Thursday 21st February 2019.

This year we had 30 riders from the Illawarra Cycle Club, Yamba region, and eXsight Tandems Illawarra, heading to the Snowy Region of NSW to tackle some of the best climbs in the country, in the most spectacular countryside one could possibly imagine.

With everyone ready to hit the road on Thursday afternoon for our first ride of the camp, our destination was Dalgety for coffee and cake. This was a great chance to catch up with some of our former riders who still train, but don’t race. We hope after this weekend, we have encouraged some to start racing again. The Yamba crew had a big hitter in the field with Brian Elvery amongst them. I’m sure he’ll give Keith Bennett and Dave Raymond a run for fastest time on the Beloka challenge in 2 days’ time.

We had State, National and World Champions amongst us this weekend.

Although we do take this riding camp serious, we still manage to socialise at the Berridale Inn at 4pm for a quiet drink or 2. The biggest challenge is getting everyone to get back to the Lodge for dinner at 6.30pm.

Friday 22nd February 2019. Charlottes Pass.

With a good night’s sleep and a hearty breakfast, the riders were ready to hit the road for the long day ahead in the saddle. The ride for today was to reach Charlotte’s pass high up in the snowy mountains. Some riders drove to Jindabyne and started their ride from there. The tandem bike started at Berridale and was determined to make it all the way.

The day started at 12 degrees and warmed up as the clouds disappeared over the mountains. I was riding the tandem with Gary Fisher. We made it to Jindabyne and decided to stop for morning tea, with Jo Golab and members of the Yamba crew. We were in no rush to start the long climb out of Thredbo River. Although we had all day, we needed to make sure we had enough in the tank to make it back out of Jindabyne.

The tandem lost sight of the riders soon after leaving Berridale and wouldn’t see any of them again for a couple of hours.

It was time to get back on the tandem and head further into the mountains. Once we crossed the Thredbo River, the road went upwards for several kms. Our goal was to make Perisher Valley, but that was not to be, fatigue had us stopping at Sawpit Creek. We turned around and headed back to Jindabyne and commenced the long climb out of the dam and onto Berridale. The tandem has two types of speed, downhill like a rocket, climbing a hill like a snail. NO in between.

The riders started to arrive back at the Lodge by 3pm. The day was a beautiful sunny day, little wind, and excellent company. Some of the riders had clicked over 140 kms and 2500 metres of climbing.

After everyone made it back to the Lodge, it was time for a swim and more socializing.

Dinner at the Lodge is always a great get together. Cyclists get to embellish their riding achievements for the day, which totally contradicted their strava results. When I challenged Lou on his achievements V Strava, he replied, “Garmin error”.

Being the organiser of the camp, I was the handicapper for the race tomorrow, the race to the summit, the Beloka challenge. Whilst reading out the handicaps during dinner, the usual complaints came of “No Way, you’re kidding, how can Frank get such a good mark’. As the handicapper, I did what all good handicappers do, totally ignored them. After all, Frank and I have been good friends for over 20 years and that had to count for something.

Saturday 23rd February 2019. The Beloka challenge, the race to the summit.

After a hard day yesterday, I was sure that some of the riders would have heavy legs. The group rolled out of the lodge at 7.30am for a 35km ride to the base of Beloka mountain. Some of the riders decided to continue up the mountain prior to the race.

It was time to start the race.

The first rider to hit the mountain was Chips Rafferty. The scratch riders were Keith Bennett and Dave Raymond. With all the riders on the mountain it was time to put the bike on the car and greet the riders as they reached the summit. The first rider to come in sight was Frank Soto. With riders close on his heal, perhaps this was Frank’s time. Michael Lanyon was closing in quick, but Frank held on for a great victory.

As the riders crossed the line, we watched in anticipation as to who would take out the title of fastest time in 2019. Clive Berrell appeared, closely followed by Brian Elvery of Yamba. The next rider was Keith Bennett. It was clear that Keith was the fastest climber on the day.

The results for the challenge; Hand timing.

1st Frank Soto, 17.10

1st female, Deb Coulls, 18.00

Fastest time, Keith Bennett, 14.30.

Brian Elvery, 15.27

Dave Raymond, 15.31

Glenn Winter, 16.00

Clive Berrell, 16.49

Rod Child, 17.06

Richard Lorence, 17.46

Hugh Brown, 18.24

Michael Comensoli, 18.36

John Groom, 22.40

Chris Rafferty, 24.25

Lou Jonceski, 17.00

Michael Lanyon, 16.20

Once everyone had completed the climb, it was a nice downhill run into Jindabyne. With a nice stop to refresh on another beautiful day, some riders would take the Kalkyte road back to Berridale, whilst others would take the highway home.

Once we were all back at the lodge, some riders went for a swim, whilst others went out wine tasting to one of the many top-class wineries in the region. The snowy mountains are not only famous for the snow, but famous for cycling, mountain biking, trout fishing and of course, wineries.

Saturday night at the lodge is the night where awards are handed out for the weekend. A great chance to complain about the handicapper, who sat on the most, who was the fastest, and the list goes on.

This year’s jersey winners were, Frank Soto, Keith Bennett, Deb Coulls and Kim Elvery.

Each year we give an eXsight T-Shirt away to keep promoting the excellent work of eXsight Tandems Illawarra, who support vision impaired people. Gary Fisher of eXsight presented the shirt to David Harlow of Yamba. As it turned out, David’s brother in law is vision impaired, so we need to work on getting a tandem up to the north coast in the near future.

This year the sock award went to Dave Soto. Last year Dave had to walk up part of Beloka mountain due to a problem with his bike. As a result, he destroyed his socks. This year Dave made it to the top in great time, and a new pair of club socks were his for the taking.

The final award went to Clive Berrell of Sutherland. Clive has recently been riding with Gary on the tandem at Sutherland and was presented with a new eXsight cycling jersey.

Sunday 24th February 2019.

Today was the final day of the camp. The ride would take us up and over the range and down onto Eucumbene Dam wall. With the mandatory group photo outside Cottonwood Lodge, it was out to the dam on another stunning day. This ride had some challenging climbs along the way, but the trip back was fast and mainly downhill. Michael Lanyon took a flyer with 5 kms to go and managed to hold off the chasing bunch into town.

After a nice lunch and clean up, it was time to pack the cars and make the trip back home.

A big thank you goes out to David and Lynette Wall of Cottonwood Lodge, for hosting the event. Plenty of good food, accommodation and top-class hospitality.

On behalf of the Wall family, we hope to see you again in 2020.

Safe riding, Terry Wall.