I have known of the boarding house dam for some time but had never really had the chance to go looking for it. I always figured it was one of those non-literal things like the name of a rock formation or something. The last time I did the MT Faulk road climb some people in a 4WD stopped and asked me if I knew directions. I went home and googled it only to discover that it actually was a dam. On top of that the parks service had built some woodern boardwalks close by. Figured “Epic Gravel Adventure to find the dam” was on the cards.
The route was pretty simple, go up Mt Faulk rd (Cat 2 climb) past Heaton lookout and follow the road till I found Slippery rock rd on the right. It was about 11k from the start. I dawdled my way up the hill, still sore from the previous days climbing just trying not to push the the red too much. This climb is where my Avanti Giro comes into its own. With the CXKing tires on it just eats its way up the hill. I have done the same climb on my XC bike and it took me 4-5 more minutes to complete it. Cresting the top I veered past the lookout turn and headed for the dam.
I reached a fork in the road which I thought was too soon from what I had seen on the map. I checked my phone but no reception so I elected to stay on what I thought was the main road. Turned out it was the main road but to Cessnock. I headed for some kilometers down the road before i wondered. I knew there was a slight descent before I got to the turn but the road went away faster then I had expected. I was now descending looking to my right for the turn when I around a bend and all I could see was farm land. Oops… A check of the map, as I know had phone reception, showed that I should have turned at the earlier fork and I was several kilometers of course. TO add to this I now had to turn around and go up the hill I had just come down. The return gradient was 21% at times and my garmin was showing 4.1kph. It was a slow grind back up to the top of the hill then the trip to double back to where I had come.
I found the original fork and went down the right way. It was now raining however for what its worth the rain was cool and actually quite nice. The descent was more what I expected and went on for about 2k before I finally see the right hand turn and the first of any sign mentioning the Boarding house dam. A small rise for 200m and then a quick little descent saw me in a picnic area and the dam in plain sight!
The dam itself was small but really awesome. There was a small set of steps leading down into it and a pathway that ran along the left side. I followed this path down to a small bridge that had been built over the creek that the dam flowed into. A few pics later then it was back to the gravel as I was running behind the deadline I had. The climb back out was a constant gradient for about 2k. Then back onto the undulating Watagan road for a short while.
Finally I passed Heaton lookout turn for the final 4k decent and time to test out the new brakes. In short the work! Its a rough decent at the best of times but on a full rigid frame it will shake the crap out of your arms. The actual track is not too bad part form about 1k down for 200m and the final 1k, which is the steepest and the roughest. Sometimes the back would skip and the brake would grab which on landing would be a quick slide. The relief of hitting the tar was welcomed before a quick dash back to the car and sitting down. Now I feel hungry.