I set off on my journey trying to reconnect with the core elements of bikepacking that made me fall in love with traveling on my bike in the first place. First off, since I didn’t have much time to train before rolling out of Melbourne (in 2022 the group started in Melbourne and finished in Canberra) I decided to make a bike trip out of my way down to the start. I rode from my home in Newcastle down coastal tracks to the Central Coast of Newcastle, enjoying the ocean breeze and rolling through some of the most beautiful beaches in New South Wales. I visited my in-laws, had a nice home cooked meal at my mum-in-law’s, then headed up through Wyong on a route my mate James (he’s one of the proprietors of the Overlander Bike Shop in Wyong, and organizes weekly no-drop gravel rides every Sunday) suggested for me. I got to ride a particularly scenic version of the Great North Road, which is a historic road built by the convicts between 1825 and 1836 to connect Sydney to the fertile Hunter Valley. I hopped on a ferry at Wisemen’s Ferry and cruised into Sydney to convene with my mate Izzy. Izzy had concocted a plan—we’d catch a bus to Canberra and ride the very last leg of the Hunt 1000 route. This would give us a chance to test the mettle of our gear and legs on the section of the route in the highest elevation, the section through the Kosciuszko National Park. This part of Australia is known as The Snowies, and is home to Australia’s tallest mountain, Mt. Kosciuszko, which peaks out at 2,228 meters or 7,309 ft. It’s not the Rockies, but it’s up there. Izzy and I happened to ride through the park in some interesting weather for the Australian summer. The wind was brutal and slowed us down, even on the damn descents! We camped out in one of the many alpine huts you can find in the high country, built a fire to stay warm, and woke up to snow on the ground. Having lived in Indiana for the last 17 years, snow is a welcome but not a particularly novel experience, but Izzy was giddy with excitement. Dan makes sure to caution all the riders that snow is a common experience at elevation on the ride, so both Izzy and I had taken precautions to pack winter gear with us, but when Izzy posted a picture of us in the snow to the WhatsApp group chat Dan had set up, many riders made sure to pack some over gloves, overshoes, and thought it prudent to pack the rain pants in with the rain jacket! It was an intense and challenging day getting buffeted about by gusts of winds and feeling the sting of hail and sleet on the descents, but we got out of the elevation and were down to our t-shirts by the end of the day.