By Nat Bromhead
Akuna Bay is one of Sydney?s best and most popular rides – everyone knows about it and we are truly blessed to have such an awesome loop so close to civilisation.
Whether you take the high road or the low road there?s no escaping a steep climb on the other side.
It?s always tempting to stop for coffee and maybe even cake at the perfectly-located cafe at the bottom. Akuna Bay is a great place to spend some time relaxing and talking all-things-bike with like-minded mates. Set amidst million-dollar boats and picture-perfect views, it has to be one of Sydney?s top two-wheel destinations.
Don’t Sit Too Long
Coffee and cake are great, but the reality is the longer you sit the harder the climb out will be. Over that friendly Pinarello versus Colnago banter and second flat white, your body has been cooling down by the minute. If you’re like me that relatively quick spin up the hill, north or south, will become a tiresome slug if you?ve stopped for more than a matter of minutes.
Onto The Climb
Living on the Lambert Peninusla I’m fortunate to call West Head and Akuna my ‘home roads’.
But for some odd reason, probably time and energy (or lack of), I?ve always ridden straight past the Cottage Point turnoff.
That all changed this week when I though ?what the heck,? and turned right.
In doing so I soon discovered what might be a contender for one of Sydney?s best short climbs.
Up Before Down
A sea level destination, I?d always imagined the road to Cottage Point to be a long and gradual descent.
But no ? after a short descent you?re met by the first climb, a slight reprieve, an even steeper climb and then the most amazing view of Kur-ring-gai National Park and Cowan Waters you could ever imagine.
After a few quick pictures of the spectacular panorama it’s back on the bike for yet another short but steep climb. Yes the road keeps going up!
Although nudging ever closer to Cottage Point and expecting an imminent descent, the road follows the ridge till the very end. Then, as you?d expect, it?s a virtual straight drop, bang into the heart of the sleepy little hamlet named?Cottage Point.
Hot Out There!
By the time I arrived on Monday my Garmin was registering 34 degrees.
?It?s already hot,? I thought.
?I may as well have a quick coffee, have a look around, and then brace for the climb out.?
Cottage Point feels like it?s a hundred miles from the CBD, not the 35km it actually is.
It?s a mix of old Halvorson cruisers swinging on their moorings, day trippers enjoying Devonshire teas, restaurant patrons arriving for lunch by seaplane and lazy locals wetting a line.
It?s also the starting point for an agonising 15% climb back toward General San Martin Drive, McCarrs Creek Road, and the modern world that left it for dead.
And when I say starting point I mean?exactly that. Hoping for a false flat or gradual ramp?before hitting the climb from hell? Sorry … there’s sweet nothing. It’s a matter of trying to stay balanced as you clip in, your front wheel about a foot higher than the rear, then pushing hard to get started.
The Climb Out
‘Pedalling squares’ is a well-known Liggett & Sherwanism. It perfectly describes my first few (hundred) metres of the climb out.
So next time your climbing your way out of Akuna Bay turn right and add an extra 8 km, 400m and?colossal quantities of lactic acid to your ride.
Easy to say it?from the couch, but I think it?s Sydney?s best climb and?can’t wait to tackle it again soon.
What do you think is Sydney?s best short?climb? We would love to hear your thoughts!