My poor old bike was looking dusty and forlorn in the corner of the garage. It was time to show it some love and fresh air. After a quick service and check of the gears, we were ready to set out on our first cycling adventure for many a year.
The legs were stiff and the butt was a bit sore, but the smile on my face was wide as we pedalled out of Mudgee on Day 1 of the Central West Cycle Trail (CWCT).
Date: Sunday, 16 October 2022
Official Distance: 30km Actual Distance: 31.3km
Ascent: 215m Descent: 306m
Weather: Blue skies and warm – almost too hot to be out riding.
Stayed At: Mudgee
- It was a glorious Spring day. A perfect day for cycling, but as the sweat started to bead on my brow (read = sweating like a pig) and the sun started to bite, I wondered at the wisdom of us starting our ride at a civilized 10am, rather than at a much earlier and cooler hour. Thankfully we only had 30-odd kilometres to knock over today.
- Our start time coincided with the check-out time of Mudgee’s multitude of AirBnBs and motels. It was peak hour for this little town, which possibly equates to peak minute for other larger towns and cities. Thankfully the start of the Trail is only about 500m (depending where you start) along the Castlereagh Highway before you turn right onto blissfully peaceful and flat, Wilbertree Road.
- Road Conditions: We had timed our ride to avoid the worst of the wet weather that had been plaguing us of late. What we couldn’t avoid was the impact of the consequent flooding and the road was pretty badly affected.
The first part of Wilbertree Road is tar and that is now a fairly generous description. Great sections of the asphalt road had peeled back like a ribbon, moved sideways or simply crumbled away. The fences lining the road were decorated almost to the top wire with flood debris or flattened by the force of the water.
The low level of traffic on this back road, and our slow pace, meant that we could ride around the worst of it or simply plough right on through the remaining puddles.
- Terrain: The road is deceptively flat to start. It is possible to ride along goggling at the lush paddocks, sweeping rural views and the fattest of fat cattle. Do not be fooled! There are some killer hills amongst all that rural paradise. The hills themselves are not all that high, but they are long and unrelenting. Just when you think you are finally at the top, another ridge awaits and the climb continues. Thank goodness for granny gear (the lowest gear you can possibly use). Oh well, there is always a nice freewheeling ‘down’ to look forward to on the other side of that %$#@ hill.
- Lunch: After a good ride, there is always a good thirst and a good hunger. The burgers at the Prince of Wales Hotel (the first hotel as you cycle into Gulgong) hit the spot and the beer was cold. There are no photos as it all disappeared too quickly. You could lock up your bikes at the back of the pub (adjacent to the beer garden area) if need be.
Top Tips for this Section:
- Support: While this first stage is only a short one, you need to be prepared. There is no water (except for flood water) or any other facilities for the length of this stage. If you get a puncture etc you will need to carry your own repair kit or have a back-up vehicle.
- Mobile Service/Range: You can access the mobile network all along this section. Generally, the Telstra network has far better coverage in rural areas than Optus.
- Traffic: Even though traffic levels are low on most of this trail, take care when entering and leaving main roads at Mudgee and Gulgong. Large trucks are frequent on these roads and the level of ‘bike-awareness’ is generally poor. Make sure you wear highly visible clothing to increase your chances of being seen.
- Signage: Waymarking is fairly limited on this section, but you can’t go too far wrong. There is only one main intersection – a dogleg onto Kaolin Road, after turning left onto Canadian Lead Road – and the post has a CWCT sticker on it to indicate you are on the right track. Apparently, there were propersigns attached to the post, but some idiot has stolen them. No doubt the signs will be replaced at some stage.
- Holtermann Museum: If you are staying overnight in Gulgong, make sure you stroll the streets and soak up the atmosphere of this wonderful gold rush town. Also, a must-see is the Holtermann Museum. I know museums aren’t everyone’s cuppa, but this one is a cracker. Read more about it here.
It was a glorious start to our CWCT adventure. Unfortunately, the forecast of yet more rain for days on end forced us to postpone the rest of the trail until Autumn 2023. Surely the rain will be done by then?
Who would have thought that endless wet weather would be a problem in Australia? Although there is that iconic poem about our country being one “…of drought and flooding rains…”.
Stay tuned for more CWCT fun when the skies clear.
Happy cycling everyone.
- Central West Cycle Trail – find out more – HERE
- Mudgee & Gulgong Tourism – find out more – HERE
- Overview of the Central West Cycle Trail – find out more – HERE
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