IP Day 45 – Khancoban to Three Mile Dam

Monday 9th May, 2022

79.3k +2457m
Moving 6:31, Elapsed 9:24
Max 61.5 kph, Avg 12.2 kph

Up in the dark, again. We left the motel just after 6 and rolled over to the roadhouse cafe. (Sunrise wasn’t until about 10 to 7). I had coffee. Marc would have eaten. I can’t remember if I tried. Always a fine line between me needing to fuel up, and that pre-dawn nausea, which is heightened the more anxious I am. No doubt I was a bit anxious about today.

We headed out of Khancoban at 6.45. It was only 15 minutes back to the intersection, with one little climbing warm-up pinch that we were expecting after riding down it yesterday. It was about 1 degree, but that didn’t matter. From there it was up, up, up, so we would warm up soon enough. It was foggy, but we could tell it was the sort that would likely burn off. The day was looking to be shaping up as we’d hoped, weather-wise.

Marc had broken the climb into sections like he did with BOF. Colour-coded this time. I left it to him to refer to it, and just give me the good news when we’d reached the elevation that was the top of each climb. (The % is the average gradient – so it didn’t mean we wouldn’t hit some 10+ percenters, but it was still a ‘how much of a slog’ rating – He recalls seeing 12% at
some point.)

Not quite as steep as sections of BOF, but it definitely went on… and on… and on… for much longer.

Short break part way up the ‘tuff climb’:

‘Tuff climb’ (Climb #2) done! 24k from Khancoban (so about 19k from the intersection), and at about the 2 hrs 40 mark:

How’s that blue sky?!!!!

Only a few kilometres along in this beautiful section – Clover Flat – we could hear the running water, so we stopped and Marc walked a few metres off the road to the creek and filled up a bottle.

Third climb sector done (29.7k) and then we rolled down to Tooma Dam. As we started the next little climb we hit the area that had been burnt out in the fires. Devastation is the only word for it. This is two years afterwards.

At about 43.5km, and ‘Climb 5’ we were more or less at the top. The Garmin recorded us at about 1700m not the 1580 on the spreadsheet that he got from the plotted route. (I’ll take the 1700! ) Either way, we had about 8km on that plateau at that elevation – with a few little ups and downs – before losing 400m on a 5km downhill coast to Tumut Pond.

It was getting on for 1.00, so time for some lunch and a bit longer break.

We had one more climb, then, to get to Cabramurra. While I knew it wasn’t a hard gradient, it didn’t help being able to see the road snaking up the other side through the burnt-out trees.

Yeah I don’t know what’s going on with that bike-holding stance either…

At least that climb wasn’t that bad, as it followed the contours.

Just over an hour (to do 12km!) got us up and rolling down past the turnoff into Cabramurra. Woohoo. We’d done it!

At 68.7km and 2,098m of climbing today.

Only about 10km to go!

That celebratory feeling of having conquered the climb turned out to be a bit short-lived. Turned out there was ONE more significant climb before Three Mile Dam. Bit of an omission with the Psychologically Helpful Spreadsheet! It was nearly 4km, average grade of 7.2%. Max 9.9%. It started to rain- a passing shower out of nowhere! It just about brought me undone. I insisted on stopping for a break when we only had another 600m to the top, and a couple of kilometres to our endpoint. Not helpful, really, but oh well.

We were pretty happy to see Three Mile Dam and the sign to the camping area, only to realise that Mic had chosen the other side! One more kilometre! (One less tomorrow I guess!)

It was after 4pm when we rolled down the track. Mic was there, and Derek and his daughter, Genevieve, drove in only a few minutes after us.

Mic had set up a tent for us, and we did the awkward in-tent change out of bike gear into the warmest off-bike gear we had, with a refresher towel ‘wash’. Derek had brought firewood and a fire keg. And booze. And snacks. And both had brought stuff for dinner.

Within an hour the sun was setting…

And then this was happening…

Marc summed up the evening perfectly here:
When each of [Mic and Derek] heard about the ride and our plan to camp there they would not hear of not making an occasion of it. What we got though, was beyond our wildest expectations. Snacks, refreshments, dinner, beer keg fire, the list goes on. We are so thankful that a night that might have been a bit tough and cold was turned into a trip highlight with many laughs and old stories shared. We really shouldn’t be surprised at all – it’s what both these blokes do. Can’t express our appreciation enough in words.

It was also lovely getting to know Genevieve. Derek’s youngest, she was now 18 and in her final year of school. The last time we had seen her she was about 3 years old! Marc and Derek had met and become friends when they were younger than that! Anyway, the jokes and jibes were flying around, and she fit right in!

Derek and Genevieve headed back home before 9.00. (I think he brought her as Designated Driver! She also would have had school tomorrow! ) After a moonlight pit-toilet run, the three of us hit the hay.

First quarter moon – a couple of hours before it set. Bit blurry, but you get the picture!

Mic had gone OTT and brought and rolled out a couple of snow-rated sleeping bags in the tent; it seemed silly then to pull ours out, so we just got out our sleeping bag liners and crawled in. Even though we’d rugged up (and been fire worshipping) the official overnight minimum for Cabramurra was 3.3 degrees. Balmy! We were actually too hot and sweaty in the bags! Told you we were waiting to do this in a good weather window!

Here’s a screenshot from the BOM Cabramurra weather observations for those few days. Date/day/min/max/rain.
I think we got it pretty right!

Later we saw this really lovely comment on one of the introductory posts on this blog about us doing Indipac – dated today. It was from Michael James, who had completed IPWR in 2017. He’s got his ‘murras and ‘mattas mixed up, but we know what he means. (While riding through Cabramatta -a suburb in western Sydney – would have been a whole lot easier, it would not have been nearly as scenic. Nor as special!)

It really meant a lot to us that he took the time to write this to us on our blog.

2 thoughts on “IP Day 45 – Khancoban to Three Mile Dam

  1. Looks a big day with great finale. There is great off-track walking further south near Jagungal in the not burned out section of the park. We try and get down there in November ( warm enough, no flies, deserted). National Parks have refurbished many of the old stockman huts and you can do some interesting loop walks.


    1. Back in the late 80s we went hiking down there. Went up Mt Jagungal. (Won’t forget that – I developed what was eventually diagnosed as Iliotibial band friction syndrome on my knee. The walk out for me was pretty painful! )
      We also once did an MTB overnighter (or 2? don’t remember) in those parts.
      I wouldn’t mind getting back into some walking. Marc still seems to have that ‘need for speed’ that cycling gives. Plus he doesn’t miss carrying a huge pack on his back!


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