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Taralga - best ride EVER (so far)


Images (from L to R). 1 Paul with old Aust Post box. 2 Under the turbines. 3 Heading to Laggan. 4 Riding to Ron and Jay's for morning tea.


The Ride - How it happened


I was reading an article in Australian Cyclist Magazine titled "Gravel on, gravel off" about a couple of guys who headed off to Taralga to tackle a 93K ride of gravel and bitumen and gravel again that took a loop route from Taralga to Crookwell via Laggan and returning to Taralga via Roslyn. The ride really appealled to me. The magazine provided enough info about the ride, including access to their Strava GPX file, that enabled me to re-plot the route in my Strava account and work out a decent place to stay as well as places to eat and drink. I thought it would be a good warm up for our Adelaide Hills rides the following week that a group of us from Cronulla are doing. OK, so I was in, now to see if anyone else wanted in on the ride as well. As luck would have it my brother Paul and Cliff Lewis were keen. Cliff and I had recently puchased the new Giant Revolt Gravel Bikes from the local Cronulla bike shop, Chain Reaction and were also keen to test them before Adelaide on some real gravel roads.



The Route - as posted on Ride with GPS


Map of our Ride - Click "View Full version" link above to see more details of the route.


Where is Taralga


greenTaralga is 230K down the freeway from Cronulla our departure point. Leaving the "Nulla" around 10:30 am on a Monday morning we headed for Goulburn for lunch at the Green Grocer Cycle Shop and Cafe where we stocked up on new tubes for the bikes and had lunch. It is one of the largest bicycle cafes I have come across even bigger than the ones I have seen in London and was busy with great food. Highly recommend making a beeline for it rather than stopping at those dreadful roadside stops along the freeway. Taralga is 45 minutes north of Goulburn along a very pleasant rural road with very little traffic.


The town of Taralga is a small village in the Southern Tablelands of New South Wales, in Upper Lachlan Shire. It is located at the intersection of the Goulburn-Oberon Road and the Laggan-Taralga Road. It is accessible from Oberon to the north, Mittagong to the east, Goulburn to the south, and Crookwell to the west. At the 2016 census, Taralga had a population of 467. The exact origin of the name Taralga is disputed. The two most widely supported theories are that the village was originally known as "Trial Gang" as within the early colonial boundaries of Argyle County, it was a location for the trials of convicts and bushrangers before the Crown. The second theory is that Taralga means "native companion" in the language of the Burra Aboriginal people. Taralga is located relatively close to the famous Wombeyan Caves. The town experiences a volatile climate and is frequently affected by snow in the winter months.


The population of Taralga has fluctuated over time reflecting the town's fortunes. There were approximately 100 residents in 1863, growing to over 700 by the 1890s. Immediately after the depression of the 1890s, the population shrank to half this size, but recovered by the mid 1950s almost to its peak level. Today the town and surrounds service around 400 people.



Where we stayed



We stayed in a B&B on Bunnaby Street just off Taralga's main street called the Taralga Cottage: "a little bit of country in town". From there it was an easy 5 minute walk to the Taralga Pub for meals which were great value, typical country pub food and the beer was not to bad either but despite the large Carlton Drought sign hanging off the front of the pub it did not sell Carlton Drought. Go figure!green


Down the street from the pub is the Tangled Vine Cafe (see image right) serving, great coffee, smoothies, cakes (well we did ride 96K) and meals. A great place to start and finish the ride.


greenIf you want to stay a little more up market you could stay at the Taralga Argyle Inn (opposite the Tangled Vine see image left). The Argyle Inn is the oldest still trading hotel in Taralga.   First built in 1875 in the Victorian tradition, and further modified in the later part of the nineteenth century and early 20th century. It was long overdue for a makeover which it has now recently undergone. Whilst we did not see the hotel from the inside the locals told us it is schmick!


The ride to tea & scones


We headed off from taralga about 8:30 am pedaling down the main street being greeted by all the kids as they headed off to school. As we left town we turned onto Hillas Street which quickly became Golspie Rd on our way to Laggan and for our first planned stop, morning tea at Ron and Jay's (Jay is Paul's sister-in-law) about 20K out of town. gravelThe first couple of Ks where surprisingly steeper than we thought, a couple of drawn out inclines that each got up to around 9-10%. With our legs well and truely warmed up thankfully it wasn't long before the steep hills turned into a rolling gravel road that was well graded and capable of being ridden just as easily as if we were still on bitumen. The road was undulating with some long stretches of relatively flat riding which allowed us to get along a pretty good pace all the while taking in the scenery of lush green paddocks with either sheep or cattle and the occasional dopey looking lamas. gravel


45 minutes after heading off from Taralga we arrived at our first destination looking forward to the tea and scones that we had been promised by Jay. We were not disappointed.gravelgravelgravelgravelgravel

Ron and Jay have 450 acres where they raise sheep amongst other things. We got the royal tour from Ron of the property including his newly renovated shearing shed (above left). When we were there all the dams and water tanks on the property were full, the paddocks were lush and green. It was a stark contrast to a few weeks ealier when, we were told, the dams were dry and the paddocks a lovely shade of brown. Sure glad we came when we did getting to see this area at it's finest.



The Video - Rolling


Rolling out of town and onto tea & scones at Ron & Jay's




....and now onto Laggan and Crookwell


With still another 20K to Laggan and yet another 10K to Crookwell for lunch we said farewell to Ron and Jay and started pedaling once again heading out onto the gravel. green If we thought the country side looked stunning before we were wrong, it was getting even better. The terrain was undulating for most of the ride to Laggan however there was one long, sweeping down hill (see the 2 images below right) where the Giant Revolt gravel bikes hit close to 80 kph. Unfortunately what goes down must go up and we spent the next 15 minutes pedaling up a 7% average gradient hill before settling back into a relatively flat ride for the remainder of the ride to Laggan. gravel


You see interesting sights along these rides and whilst there might be a saying "I think you need a bigger boat" we thought the caption for the image on the lower left was "perhaps you need a bigger dam".




After we had burnt a few matches climbing the hill from the fast down we had a few Ks of gently rolling country side to pedal along. We were nearly 40K into ride and had only one car pass us in all of that time. Remarkable. I have never been on such a long ride with virtually no traffic. Not sure if we were just lucky or that is the way it normally is.gravel


gravel gravel


So we did take Ron up on his suggestion to stop and take a look at the old Laggan Pub. This would have been all well and good but for Cliff's suggestion, which both Paul and I readily agreed with, to have a beer. Bloody coldest beer I have ever had and certainly would have been well appreciated if it wasn't for the fact we had to get back on our bikes and pedal the final 10K into Crookwell for lunch. Lesson to self. NEVER have a beer at 11:00 am and especially when you still have 50K of riding ahead of you.


Let me just say, it was a struggle into Crookwell where Paul headed us in the direction of the Crookwell Bakery. He had been there before and assured us we would not be dissapointed. He was right. Two pies each and we were then back on the bikes for the final 40K back to Taralga via Roslyn. This is where we had a bit of confusion about where to go from here. Paul was pretty sure we had to go back to Laggan to get on the road to Roslyn but I could not recall seeing on the route planner anywhere along the ride where we doubled back on ourselves. We had a bit of to and fro between ourselves about this before I had remembered that I had downloaded the route map onto Strava which I was able to pull up on my iPhone and check. I hate to say I told you so but the turnoff for Roslyn was two streets down the road not 10K back to Laggan. Easy we thought but little did we know what lay ahead.

gravel gravel


The Video - at the Laggan Pub


Discussion about the ride so far over a beer at the Laggan Pub




Back to Taralga via Roslyn

(Much tougher than we were expecting)


gravelOnce we agreed on the way back to Taralga after consulting Strava we settled in for what would turn out to be a much tougher ride back than what we were expecting. Aside from the head wind there was more gravel than bitumen and some of it not as good as we would have liked. There were a few long sections with deep ruts and some on some steep downhills. The Giant revolts with the 40mm tyres handled it much better than the Defy Paul was on with only 28mm tyres. The first downhill really taught us to pay attention. What started out easy and allowing us to build our speed up to around 50 kph soon turned very dangerous as we hit the ruts that we had not seen.


I almost lost control from the jarring, I thought I was going to break my teeth they were chattering so much, my arms were so painful I could hardly control the bike and the vibration was so bad I thought I was going to be physically sick not to mention I had not noticed one of my drink bottles had jettisoned itself from my bidon cage. I hadn't even noticed it but thankfully Paul was behind me and he saw it go and stopped to pick it up for me though he did bitch about having to carry it for about 5K trying to catch up.


Both Paul and Cliff had the same experience as I described above for myself. It cerainly taught us to pay attention to what may lay in wait for us around the next corner. gravelLuckily we had the same experience with the cars on the way back to Taralga with only a couple to have to deal with, all who gave us a very wide berth, on the 40K trip back to Taralga.


Between the 80 and 90K points was by far the toughest. The head wind and the ruts had taken their tole on our bodies. We hit the bitumen with about 5K to go and thankfully it was all downhill back to Taralga, a hot shower, a short lay down and then off to the pub for a beer or two and dinner and a good nights sleep.gravel





The Bikes and The Numbers



The Bikes


Cliff and I both rode the new Giant Revolt Advanced 0 Gravel Bikes with 40mm tyres.


Cliff's bike had mechanical Ultegra with a Praxis 48/32 crankset and 11-34 cassette and Ultegra clutch rear derailleur.


My bike was retro fitted with Di2 Ultegra, a 50/34 Ultegra crankset (with a left sided Stages power metre), 11/34 cassette and a Shimano GRX Di2 clutch rear derailleur.


Both bikes handled like a dream - in Cliff's words "most comfortable bike I have ever ridden).


Paul rode my Giant Defy with Dura-Ace Di2 (except for rear derailleur which was long cage Ultegra di2), a Shimano Dura-Ace 50/34 crankset (with a left sided Stages power metre) and a 11-32 cassette. The Defy is a 2016 model so unfortunately the widest tyres we could get on the bike were 28mm. The bike handled well though no where near as good as the Revolts. We think for this type of riding 32mm tyres would be the minimum you would want to go out with,



The Video - the last few K!


Near the end. Head Wind + Gravel Ruts = Buggered!




By the Numbers



Distance Ridden - 96 Kilometers


Elevation Gain - 1,286 meters


Average speed - 19.5 kph


Power - 147W Weighted Avg


Temperature - 17 degrees C


Moving Time - 4 hours 57 minutes


Elapsed Time - 7 hours 2 minutes


Starting Time - 8:30 am


Finsihing Time - 3:32 pm


Distance Ridden - 96 Kilometers


Calories Consumed - 2,714 Calories


Scones Consumed - One not enough


Beers Consumed - One too many


The Wrap Up


Why the Ride


This ride came together on the spur of the moment after I read about it in Australian Cyclist Magazine (thanks guys). It was to be a warm-up ride for our trip to Adelaide the following week where a group of our ride bunch from Cronulla will be spending a week riding around the Adelaide Hills.


The Ride Itself


This was one of the better rides I have done and would come back as we have already scouted some other routes which we did on a short reccy the next day (see images above with the wind towers).


The Giant Revolt Bikes


According to Cliff "the most comfortable go anywhere bike I have ever riden" and I concurr.


The People


The people in Taralga were very friendly and all loved a chat and were always keen to know what we were up too.


The Camera Gear


In case you were wondering all the images and video here were either shot with iPhone X Plus or a GoPro 8. I took along my Canon DSLR gear but had a fault with the camera/lenes literally as we were about to roll out. After trying to sort it for about 10 minutes I gave up and left it behind (at least the weight loss was helpful). I fixed the problem almost straight away when I returned from the ride. Very disappointing but at least I was able to get some images/video.




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