Berridale training camp report. 22-25 Feb 2018.
Once again, the Illawarra Cycle Club headed off to Cottonwood Lodge Berridale to start off their season with a training holiday in the Snowy Mountains. This year we had members from eXsight Tandems Illawarra, Sutherland Shire Cycle Club, St George Cycle Club and some of our non-racing friends from Wollongong joining us on the weekend.
The riders arrived on Thursday afternoon at the Lodge, with plenty of time to settle in and get ready for the first ride of the training camp, a 40 km round trip from Berridale to Dalgety. This year we had 35 cyclists attending, which was up from last year’s 22 riders. We only take 40 riders max on the camp.
The ride out to Dalgety was a beautiful ride through some of the most spectacular countryside in Australia. As usual, we all stopped at Dalgety for some coffee and cake and a chance to catch up with some friends from the other clubs attending.
One thing which is common at our training camp is our 4pm ritual. We head off to the Berridale Hotel for a quiet coke or lemon squash to wash down some of the dust from our daily ride. Once again stories were thrown around about racing, clothing, gears, tyres, lights, weight issues, and who snored the loudest on the previous night. Or in Jason’s case, singing and ‘pick the song competition’ in the dining room at 10pm at night. Far too late for a cyclist to be up.
At dinner on Thursday night, the next day’s ride was revealed. Last year we rode to Charlotte’s Pass, this year we would ride to Thredbo on the Friday.
We rolled out of the Lodge under a sunny sky at 7.30 am. The bunch stopped at Jindabyne along the way for a coffee, whilst some continued, as they had a long day of riding, and over 2500 metres of climbing. Myself and Gary Fisher on the tandem bicycle rode to the ski tube and couldn’t go any further. Riding a tandem up these hills was just leg zapping and so exhausting. We took a rest at the top of the hill to gather our thoughts and decide whether we should turn around and head back to Jindabyne or press on to Thredbo village. This was an easy decision, a 10-minute break, and we were heading back to Jindabyne for morning tea.
On the way back to Berridale we did get to see a couple of cyclists behind us, so Gary and I put the tandem into top gear and roared down the mountains reaching 80 kph. There was no way anyone was going to pull us back in the last 10km run back into Berridale.
The rest of the riders started arriving back at the lodge around 2pm. Everyone had a tale to tell about the climbs, especially how Nicholas Burke only did half the ride as he had only done 75km so must have got a lift back in the car from his wife as he was a little tired (rectified later by Rod Child and David Soto after his garmin had issues with the upload). It was also great to see Rod and Luigi beat Nicholas up to Dead Horse Gap as the times on strava do not lie!
During dinner on Friday night, the course for Saturday was revealed. A ride back out to Dalgety, then turn right and head to Beloki climb. This is a horrendous climb which is far steeper than Mt Keira for a long way. To add some fun to the climb, it was decided to make the climb a handicap race. I decided to do the handicapping, and Lou was not happy with his mark. I couldn’t understand why he complained when I gave myself limit. I suppose that’s the benefit of organising the weekend.
We all grouped at the base of the mountain to start the race. The riders were a little stunned when I put my bike in the support van. I told them there was no way I was going to ride up that mountain, and I also wanted to take some photos as the riders struggled up the climb. Usually people smile when they meet me, but as you see in the photos, they were not impressed with what I was putting them through.
As the riders ascended the mountain, the first to the support van at the summit was former ICC member Steve Franklin, closely followed by Susie Dale of Sutherland Shire Cycle Club, and Nic Burke third and fastest time. Each place getter received an eXsight T-shirt for their efforts during dinner, whereas in Nic’s case, his fastest time CSC jersey was awarded to his wife for her efforts in looking after Nic and the baby during the weekend, whilst Nic rode around the countryside with his mates.
When we woke on Sunday morning, we woke to a very dreary day with the likelihood of rain extremely high. A couple of riders decided to stay in bed, others headed home early. Myself and about 10 other riders left the lodge hoping to make it to Eucumbene Dam. After about 2 kms or riding, the heavens opened up, and we got drenched. Some of the group turned around, whilst others pushed on until the 20 km mark. This was getting unbearable. The temperature was dropping, the wind was increasing, and the rain was not letting up. This was silly to continue under these conditions, so it was time to turn around and head back to the lodge.
We made back to the lodge by 10am. After a hot shower and putting on the Ugg boots, trackie dacks and jacket, my body was thawing out. With an early lunch, the last of the cyclists were on the road by midday heading back home.
On behalf of all the riders, we would like to thank David and Lynette Wall of Cottonwood Lodge for putting up with a bunch of lycra clad cyclists for the weekend. They treated us all like family, and the food was great.
The last weekend of February 2019 will be the next training camp at Berridale Lodge.