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Awaking to a nightmare (Part 2)

AUSTRALIA | Sunday, 11 December 2011 | Views [918] | Comments [2]

Just to prove I wasn't lying!

Just to prove I wasn't lying!

Emergency procedures were instantly put into play as the evening was turning into more of a farce than what the day had been. Food calms me like valium so I pulled out my unused Jet-boil stove system. The tap water was basically creek water with only half the chunks so I threw a purification tablet in and started counting to 10 over and over. 30 minutes the pills needed to defunkify the water so I used the time to assemble the stove.

Now I don't have much experience with gas other than what is self generated, but you would think that those tiny little camp canisters have a universal fitting. Why just think that when it takes two seconds to check? Right then was not the time to find out the stove had a thread on the bottom but the canister was a push and click. I really need the odds to be stacked in my favour because 50/50 chances are a guarantee I will always get it wrong the first time. I'd be a great partner at the casino. If I bet on red, put your life savings on black. I was being tested for my patience and preparation and I was failing so bad I should really go back to primary school.

I tried to ram the stove on, partly hoping to affix it, partly venting frustration. If gas canisters were able to release gas after having something rammed on them, there would be a lot less idiots in the world. I was not going to get the stove on, nor end my misery with impromptu detonation, so it was cold baked beans on a stale bun for dinner. That was the only way gas was going to be associated with that meal.

The day was a write-off. Astral travelling was my only hope of redemption, but I have not yet mastered that skill. Or even attempted it. I know what it is in theory, and the day's numerous fiascos seemed capable of changing me from beginner to savant in one night. I had to be in Lismore by tomorrow night as Adam was making the trip up from Port Macquarie to see me. I had tried to sms to say that I either won't be making it that far tomorrow, or making it out of the tent alive. Of course there was no phone reception.

At least the bed was warm.

Fears about the hills that lay ahead kept me awake longer than I could afford to be. The Rathdowney Information Centre Boogey Monster told me that my only hope getting over them was by hitch-hiking. If there was a way to get to the other side without riding, growing wings and alien abductions included, it was given due consideration that night. Eventually prolonged mental tension got the better of me and I passed out asleep.

It was raining when I woke. It felt like the day of execution. I had over 100kms to go and I had told Adam that I would make Lismore around lunch time. Unless lunch is around 2am for Adam, I was not going to be able to keep that promise. For the first time ever, I wished I could eat my muesli bars heated up. By the time I had packed up, I was already wet through.

I did 3kms of mild up and down riding before my worst fears were realised. For my vantage point, the top of the next hill was lost in the clouds. Given the crappy weather conditions, that could have meant the hill was only 20 metres high. I could have tackled it with a degree of optimism had an overly informative sign not told me that the next kilometre of road rose at a gradient of 19%. That sounded like a rather abstract number as I had never encountered anything of that nature on a push bike before.

Realising it was too far to turn back, I went at it like a rabid dog. I pumped my legs until I thought they would spontaneously combust. My balls were so chaffed I could hear them squeak. Sweat poured off me like I had sprung a leak. By the time I quit, I was still not at the cloud line but could quite easily see the 10 or so metres I had just ridden. It was a cold baked bean sort of demoralisation where it was your own stupidity that comes back to not only haunt you, but possess you.

I pushed my bike, and what I realised then really was an anchor, all the way to the top and the QLD/NSW border. It took me half an hour and so much effort that 5kms for the day really did seem like a valiant effort. Reaching a peak fortunately means descending the other side, but it wasn't long before I was going up hill again.

Whether my prayers were answered, or whether it never existed, the alleged second huge hill never materialised. I had been riding through the lowlands for awhile before allowing myself to believe it wasn't waiting around the next corner for me. Hills don't normally just spring out of nowhere, but anything was currently possible.

Even in the rain, the remainder of the ride to Kyogle was pleasant as I felt like I had conquered a beast. The last few billion kilometres I had to ride to Lismore didn't matter as they could not possibly be as bad as the ones I had just ridden. I even started to smile irrespective of the fact it meant my breath was heaving through clenched teeth.

A brief stop at Ripples Cafe showed that my fortunes were changing again. They were only open this day for a lunch function and could happily squeeze me in for coffee and a cake. The cake turned out to be the most divinely decadent chocolate and beetroot brownie and I knew Lady Luck was lusting after me again.

Then I found out the quoted distance of 68kms for Lions Road included the 19kms of Summerland Highway into Kyogle. Feeling zesty I checked the distance on to Lismore and found it to be 44kms not the 59kms I had obviously exaggerated with my fear. That instantly halved the distance I had left to go and not burning muscles, not my skinless family jewels, not my soaked clothes, and not even Adam calling every 30 minutes from the pub could dampen the ecstasy I felt as I rode in to Lismore.

It was 4:30pm and the 90.98kms I had ridden had taken 5 hours and 25 minutes of actual riding time. Or at least time when the wheels were spinning as at least another 10 hills through the day had required me to push my rig up them. First stop was a pharmacy for Lanacane (Anti-chaff cream) amongst other things, then the hotel for a shower then to the pub for a celebratory beer that I was too exhausted to drink.

Tags: camping, hills, misadventure, riding

Comments

1

Always enjoy reading your tales, Harry. Best of luck with this ride, sounds like it will be quite the adventure!

  stowaway Dec 12, 2011 1:06 PM

2

But- you DIDN'T drink the beer?

  Filth Peake Dec 12, 2011 8:58 PM

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