Riding the Big Ring: Snowy Mountains Highway

Day Six, Wagga Wagga to Tumut via Adelong 103kms, 911m ascent
After a welcome rest day in Wagga, I am fired up and ready for some Big Ring riding. I leave the flatlands and head into the mountains, into the thin air of the Australian Alps. Today will be unspeakably hot; all the signs are there. But there’s some good ANZAC mojo in Adelong along the way.

Adelong ANZAC

Adelong ANZAC mojo: Slouch hat, barrel down



I’ve been through Adelong before, and remember it as beautiful. I am looking forward to lunching in the little Rotary park next to the cool Adelong River. Before then, however, I am forced to spend nine kilometres on the Hume Highway – the only part of the trip I couldn’t avoid it – before getting on the iconic Snowy Mountains Highway for the slow grind into the hills.

It’s funny, I have a few photos of today’s ride. But all I can remember of the day is that it was so hot I wanted to tear my own head off and eat it. Oh yes, and I recall running out of water.

I also remember that the ever trustworthy and reliable Ninja warrior called “Shimano” – who I had put in charge of changing gears on my behalf – chose today to rebel, exploding under pressure just outside of Tumut.

Yes, this was one of those days. My diary entry, in its entirety, says: “Very hot. Lots of flat tires. Derailleur broke with  a few kms to go so I walked. I have been forced to shorten the chain, so the Vulcan is now a single speed.”

In hindsight, none of this seems terribly difficult or disturbing. So the process of burying the nightmare as deep as possible has obviously been successful. But if I spend a few minutes thinking hard about this day’s ride, I can give myself the screaming yips. And not the good kind.

Still, it could have been worse. Certainly the moustache seems to have coped OK, without suffering signficant droop.

Oh dear

Nothing but Big Ring since the 'stache arrived

What would have been a beautiful ride was spoiled somewhat by a couple of flat tyres. That set me back time-wise, so I ended up riding in the heat of the day. And running out of water really is inexcusable. I thought there would somewhere to stop for second breakfast and water refills where the Snowy Mountains Highway meets the Hume: There’s not. And that sucked about as hard as things that suck can suck.

As a result, the following video – which is actually shot on a steep, steep hill – carries a language warning:


But it would be great to get the chance to do the whole of the Snowy Mountains Highway, all the way down to Tathra on the NSW South Coast. It is that pretty. And while it was hot all day, there was a big weather change off in the distance (that I never seemed to quite reach). This video shows some of the beauty. If you look closely, you’ll also see what turned out to be a gigantic Visy processing plant, which explains all the forestry.


Adelong is pretty. I think its originally an old mining town. Certainly Adelong Falls has some old mining digs, with quartz crushers and an huge old furnace.

Tumut is bigger than you’d expect. As I do when I arrive at any of these towns, I stop into the Tourist Information centre. These places are always helpful and its worth having a chat with the staff (who are volunteers, in the smaller towns at least.)

The Tumut Visitors centre was a little weird. I don’t know anyone who is into stuffed animals, but someone at the Tumut Visitors centre is. There’s a giant feral pig at the door. Why? And hanging from the ceiling is a huge, stuffed Wedge-Tailed Eagle, talons out, in full screaming eagle mode. WTF?

A stuffed feral pig has a certain bogan hilarity to it, I can appreciate that. But a stuffed Wedged-Tail? Tasteless. And without an artist statement of intent, no excuse. And it’s the Ngunnawal totem for goodness sake!

Apart from that, Tumut’s place, although I figure its pretty cold in winter. I stayed at the caravan park, which was nice enough, with my tent site right next to a very swollen and fast flowing Tumut River. Looked too dangerous for a dip.

Tumut River: A lot of water

I spent the evening putting patches on tubes, removing the rear derailleur, shortening the chain, and generally trying to talk the Vulcan into continuing the journey. Tomorrow, the ride is to Wee Jasper via 50km of dirt road.

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One Response to Riding the Big Ring: Snowy Mountains Highway

  1. ducatiboy says:

    Loving your blog James! I rode the Snowy Mountains Hwy (by motorised bicycle) at xmas when I went from Griffith to Narooma. Overnighted in Tumut, great little town. It is an outstanding ride!

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