Phil's Blog

Phil regularly posts here with his opinion on current races, cycling politics, and updates from the ground at Le Tour de France, La Vuelta a Espana, and other major races.

Ride with Phil: Road Trip

Posted on: Sunday, August 28, 2016


Road trip.

Phil has dreamed of 'the road trip' for many years and let’s face it he retired a long time ago. Work, in the office that is, has never been high on his bucket list. We are joining the nomads! Semi-retired Phil has left the blog to me.

I have been involved in the odd camping trip. When I first started with the ex we had a small tent and more sporting equipment than you could imagine. Fitting it all into the camira with eventually the second son made me a packing expert.

When it came to our trip. Phil wanted the 4X4 and built on camper.

It seemed pretty stupid to me to leave the Skoda at home and it is now superbly fitted out for the job. Awning with an attachable tent and we are away. It is our test pilot and we reckon we are ready for the road.


We have deliberately kept the necessities to a minimum and have already began a list, forgotten, on this trip and essential additions for the next.

The Skoda has packed well and without promoting the brand it is a clever little car. We took the base off the back seats and head rests out creating an awesomely clever flat platform that realistically we could have slept on. We haven’t yet but Phil is keen.

Day 1
We dropped the dogs, 2 border collies, indeed a sad moment, old Gracia well aware we were leaving her behind as she had studiously studied the packing effort. Little dog was far too busy stalking my sons cat to notice any goings on.

The plan was to kill some kilometres on the first day as we were generally Noosa bound.

Travelling with PA is most possibly like competing with him in a bike race, head down and go. You only stop for fuel when there is 2 litres left in the tank , no time to waste. Toilet stops, unheard of requiring howls of resistance and the threat of impending disaster before stopping.
Phil hurrying me along.

We left Melbourne around 0800 and reached the northern outskirts of Sydney by late afternoon. Our destination, Mill Creek Camp ground at Wisemans ferry. We Crossed the ferry, the longest running ferry in NSW as the sun set and had to set up our first camp in the dark. Luckily we had had a practice run as there was some wombat dodging to find a site.

Day 2
The Mill Creek campground was nestled just north of Sydney in the Dharug National Parkand if it weren’t for the noise of the overhead jets it was as if we were in the middle of nowhere. As prepared as we were for our expedition it was absolutely freezing and a real camping reality check.


Waking to our first real day on the road it was crisp, quiet, the bush turkey poking its nose around our camp quietly comforting. We settled in for coffee and our own homemade breakfast bread before embarking on an exploratory ride.

I have taken possession of a cannondale slate, Phil insisted. One pre trip ride left me open to a real passion for this bike. I am a pretty bad bike rider and I need all the help I can get. There seems to be a general assumption that as Phil’s partner I am a fair hand at this cycling business. Yeah NO. I train, or practice but to be honest I do ride like a girl!

Our first ride of the trip was on the Great old north road. Phil loves mapping and planning and it seemed like a great idea. About a 50k ish loop.


Still not used to the slate it was tricky to start on the steep slopes, the men's seat, doing my head in and catching on the knicks every time I try to take off. That will have to go. Still eventually up and running I smashed the first hill, a well established tourist and drama setting where the story of the convict built road is told. This section of the road was in great knick, steep and gravely but I was unable to stop and read the plackards as I wouldn’t be able to mount my bike again. Welcome to life with Phil.

We progressed up and there is always a point on a bike ride where there is no going back. Up and on the road deteriorated. The convict road is amazing, the conditions in which it was built possibly terrible but it was abandoned quickly as it was deemed too dangerous and with the advent of the steam ferry it was left to decay.

We pressed on, having gone too far to go back and I have to say the Cannondale slate was great. So easy to push. Lift and carry over obstacles and roads that any girl in her right mind would hardly consider scrambling over let alone riding. My technical competencies are very lacking and to his credit the great Phil only fell once riding up section that was so rocky, over huge bolders… another story. I walked pushed and cussed.

The seat on the slate was a perfect fit for my hand to carry it, the one advantage of a mans seat. I could slip my hand through the rails to lug the bike. Balancing precariously from bolder to path without falling and carrying the bike over paths that Phil could ride. There was of course the rare obscenity spoken and consequently due to the increasing ruggedness I was walking down the descents.

Day 1, 50 km in about 5 hours or so later we finally made it back to the main road en-route to the camp. We had to race for the ferry as food was in short supply. Phil took off, the agreement, if I wasn’t there he would take the ferry to town and buy some vegies for our dinner. Fortunately my pace had slackened off and I didn’t make it. I turned for home, bracing myself for the camp shower.