Are we there yet?

Is it a long, hard road out of hell?

AUSTRALIA | Monday, 16 January 2012 | Views [645] | Comments [1]

The sun rose somewhere out over those lakes that formed on the tennis court

The sun rose somewhere out over those lakes that formed on the tennis court

This adventure has had its fair share of unique experiences and I savour each new one that justifies all the hard work. There's plenty of easy work that doesn't justify anything, but nonetheless, I give thanks for that as well. The weather has not been consistent enough to risk sleeping without the fly covering the tent, but its shoddy erection under a stable structure allowed me to do so in Genoa. It wasn't a great sunrise that woke me, nor even one worthy of mention had I not been able to watch it from the camping level comfort of my bed.

Filming it in the hope that the camera could focus better than my bleary eyes, the effect seemed even more underwhelming on review. Until they invent a camera that captures mood, circumstance and climate, any image is going to be a half empty reflection of experience. I was far too dozy to realise that at the time, merely acknowledging the sentiment and slipping back to sleep in till a more holiday appropriate time to rise.

The strength of the sun eventually forced me up with a degree of warmth I haven't felt since leaving Broome. A minus 10 degree sleeping bag I had brought for the Himalayas helped bridge the gap in latitude between where I was and where I most want to be. It was cold enough to be getting white fingers as I rode and any patch of blue sky was worth celebrating with another protein bar. If only I could deep fry it!

As I rode through the deserted main and only street of Genoa, I noticed an inkling of life in a derelict building claiming to be a café. Surfing a new found spirit of adventure that playing Russian Roulette with speeding motorists begets, I went in to see what a one-customer-a-day business could offer. Immediately I noticed a shiny new espresso machine sitting atop a bench seemingly stolen from a 17th century school room. A short, gruff looking lady appeared doing an older, fatter and uglier impersonation of Michael Douglas as he was in the movie 'Falling down'. Knowing soy milk was as unlikely as signs of sex appeal from someone who was more put out by my intrusion than ecstatic at my custom, I aimed for a black coffee. This is a truthful retelling of how the interaction unfolded:

“Yes?”, she stabbed at me like I'd brought her back from the dead just for the fun of it. At least she looked the part.

“Morning. How are you?...........Ah, okay, can I please have an espresso?”

“How do you want that?” she fired back.

“Er, pardon?” somewhat nonplussed that she didn't know that asking for an espresso meant I wanted just the 30ml shot of coffee that comes out of the machine glistening in front of her.

“How do you want it, black, white, yellow, red, green?”

“What? Just an espresso please” and I gesticulated towards the coffee machines group head in case she was unaware of where the coffee might come from. I was almost tempted to ask for it yellow, just to be sporty, but I feared she may have just pissed in the glass. God only knows what red or green could have entailed. Judging by her quizzical expression, my answer still didn't explain anything to her, but like a true entrepreneur, she soldiered on with her enquiries.

“Big or small?”

Right, this clown obviously had no idea what she was doing so I thought I would explain it in terms a slab of concrete could understand.

“Just a single shot of coffee, in small cup, please”. She grunts what I thought was understanding in a way something less evolved would, and set herself to her task.

I sat down satisfied with the suspicion I had about why Genoa was a ghost town. When I heard milk being foamed, or more precisely atomised, I sighed and hoped my lactose intolerance kicked in quick enough to thank this lady with some flatulent currency. I glanced over and noticed she was using a jug bigger than any bottle I'd seen milk sold in. I audibly scoffed at what little profit she was making being boiled away to loss.

Bringing the coffee over, her tone slackened somewhat when she realised she had a captive audience for as long as it took me to drink it. I have no idea what the coffee tasted like as I threw the scolding liquid down as fast as possible to save myself from her rambling tales of life in the Austrian army and driving trucks up the east coast. She was completely unconcerned about any feedback from me, and is probably chattering away now like I was still listening attentively.

The caffeine served its purpose and the lactose reaction was too mild to be a concern even coming a lot later than I had wished. The absence of shoulder was still like putting more than one bullet in the barrel of the six-shooter but my 'ride perpendicular to any traffic' approach kept me out of harms way. The 47kms to Cann River was hilly but the road was not like a bong and never in any rush to get me higher. It let me slowly work my way up gentle inclines while entertaining me with views that bike touring promos could use. The pass by Mt. Drummer was only 5 metres lower than Lions Road but took 4kms to reach the same height acquired in one-tenth of the distance.

Cann River was a small collection of shops with all signs of human habitation hidden from view. I've been setting personal records for food consumption and two-thirds through my tour of hell, I felt like taking the title. A couple of pastry goods from the appropriately named proprietor of Shorty's bakery was followed by a veggie burger and chips from Dazza's takeaway across the road. That momentarily filled a hole I feared was bottomless and went part of the way to explain why I decided to follow it up with a rest day.

Dinner was of a similar size meaning I had eaten seven meals in that day, necessitating a day of digestion. It was also Friday the 13th and while no longer considering myself superstitious in any way, I felt better not giving Fate the chance to play poker with my Tarot cards. The day was spent doing the sweetest of F.A.'s proving that all this hard work had made me more skilled at the art of lounging. That alone is a worthy result for my endeavours thus far.

This trip's not about lounging around, even though I do spend most on the day sitting on my butt. I had the last 75kms of purgatory to go, then a 95km bike trail from Orbost to Bairnsdale where no car can come near you. I was so keen to get to Orbost that I got up at 6am instead of rolling over, scratching my ass and sleeping for another hour or two like I normally do.

As per usual, the morning was sunny and alluring, but I had seen that seductive look before. As soon as I put on sunscreen, I get to ride through a storm and smile morosely at all the white cream as it runs down and stains my gloves and shorts. So I went without, even though my nose and arms are currently peeling, and was too unsurprised to register when the clouds did get around to covering the entire sky.

It was actually a perfect day for riding though, as the thin cloud cover never looked like it wanted to rain and the sky poked through occasionally like blots of ink dropped on grey paper. The wind was minimal and a 7km gradual ascent was rewarded with a descent of equal length. Rising so early meant most of the ride was done without cars, but when they came, they formed a fearsome armada. The holidays were over for many punters and getting home as fast as possible seemed more important than who they cleaned up along the way. There was still precious little shoulder, but my super-uber-ultra-mega defensive style of riding kept me well out of harms way and I pioneered new trails through undergrowth too thick to even walk through.

By noon I was punching the air triumphantly before I even knew that I had made Orbost. If that was hell, I think I'll pop in to play cards with Satan more often because my fertile imagination made it out to be a lot worse than it was. Logging trucks were apparently the worst aspect, but I had only seen a few going in the opposite direction to my own. Given my direction was often at odds with the actual road, it could be said that no sane driver was going in the same direction as me. The absence of a shoulder was a major concern but like a condom salesman, I always aimed for safety first. It may have taken me a bit longer and greyed my hair more, but as my dear ole Dad just said, I've broken the back of it now.

A Wild turkey is getting rapidly lighter next to me as I write and an entire afternoon of sun has swelled my mood to that which was chemically induced on NYE. I still can't help but laugh as I recollect the reaction of the friendly receptionist who listened ever so inattentively to my story, and my anticipation of tomorrows ride on the East Gippsland Rail Trail. “Well”, he paused and rocked back sagely in his chair, “if you tire of the trail, just take a left at any road and you'll be back out on the highway!” I was too incredulous to laugh, and simply stared hoping my vacant look would be interpreted as appreciation at such wise counsel. It was like being told that if I wasn't happy in a playboy bunny orgy, I could always go to another room and do it by myself. The ride to Bairnsdale is my reward and nothing is going to stop me from enjoying every single minute of it. Not even my third Wild Turkey, although that may make it a little bit harder. So worth it!

Tags: bicycling, coffee, people

Comments

1

'Sporty' gets a guernsy!

  The Filth Jan 16, 2012 9:02 PM

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