Day 5 - Wednesday, 24th March 2004 - Raymond Terrace to Newcastle
Last night I was able to get the help I was after from the Pegasus Crew, they would kindly cart my luggage for me and I could ride with two of them to Raymond Terrace. Breakfast was at 5 am at the Saw Mill and we were hoping to leave at about 6 am, I also had to get my bags over to where the Pegasus Guys were staying. It took a few trips but I got it all there before 6 am.
We left Bulahdelah at about 6:20 am and the sky was only just starting to get light. We set a good pace and as the highway was fairly flat we were often doing 30-35 km/hr along it. We only stopped very briefly a few times. At about 8:15 am one of the Pegasus Guys started to get into trouble, he hadn't eaten enough for breakfast and was running out of energy. I made a decision to break away and keep on, I passed a couple of cyclists who were training for Forster and they said that Raymond Terrace was only about 5 kms away, which was about 10 kms closer than we thought. I turned into Raymond Terrace, but then I had a problem, I didn't know where the official start was. I stopped to check the map in the Ride Guide, but it wasn't a lot of help, but I did see a couple of riders and they were able to point me in the right direction.
I left the official start at about 8:45am, but I was by no means the last cyclist to leave. By this stage I was feeling the effects of the previous 74 kms and I knew that I had to get some fuel in the tank. Morning Tea was about 20 kms away and I made good time getting there, I had my first good break since I started at 6:20 am, and it was about 9:30 am or so now. I scoffed two chocolate bars and a Sports Drink before setting out again. I heard that lunch wasn't far away so it wasn't too long before I was there.
It was a bit of a novelty to not only have stopped at Morning Tea, but to also be at Lunch when other people are around. I stayed at Lunch until about 10:30 am before setting off again. I heard that it was about 40 kms to camp and I hoped to do it in the 90 mins that I had before noon. The only problem was that there were two biggish climbs to get over before then. I was really starting to feel the effects of the previous distance on these hills, I was still quicker than most people up the hills but I was a lot slower than my normal pace. I was still good on the flats, but I suffered on any hill. By this point in the ride I was cycling in unknown territory, as I had ridden further today than I had ever done in a single day.
We hit a small town called Sea Hampton before we turned onto a really rough sealed road, it was really difficult on the road bike but the deep muscle massage you get was a bit different. After that we hit an unsealed section of road, it was a welcome relief as it was smoother than the previous sealed section. From there we had an under pass for the Pacific Highway and I then went past Afternoon Tea and kept on to camp. By this stage were into the outskirts of Newcastle so there was increased traffic and more stopping and starting. We also had a few stretches along bike paths which was interesting as there were some pedestrians using them as well.
I ended up at camp at about 12:10 pm, so a bit later than I planned but ahead of the pack. The only problem was that Pegasus had my luggage and I didn't know where they were, they ended up at camp at about 3:30pm. After a long day I called it an early night and enjoyed a well earned rest.
The Newcastle camp ground at night. I was one of the yobboes up on the hill.