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Resting is more fun than riding when it is raining.

AUSTRALIA | Tuesday, 13 December 2011 | Views [2334]

Mands stares at the waterfall oblvious to the even prettier butterfly behind her

Mands stares at the waterfall oblvious to the even prettier butterfly behind her

The best thing to do after a riding ordeal like I had just experienced, is to not go anywhere near a bike for awhile. It hurt in too many places just thinking about it. My bike was left on the roof of the hotel and did nothing for 3 days except rust. That wasn't an act of vengeance or neglect. I had covered it with a tarp but the bike had managed to shrug it off probably 5 minutes after I went to great lengths tying it down.

Adam had come to Lismore to join me and Brad in a blow-out worthy of the 210kms I had ridden getting there. Unfortunately Brad isn't the most reliable character and forgot about the world in general on the day we had all planned to get on it. With unscripted shenanigans never making it to the page, Adam and I were left to entertain ourselves. That wouldn't have been a problem if it didn't rain like a dam had burst above us!

Has global warming brought monsoonal weather to lower latitudes? I know there is supposed to be some rain around while flowers bloom and birds and bees go in for XXX throw-downs, but that's Spring. This is summer. Isn't it hot normally? How much could it have changed since I lived on the East Coast? Last summer started with half the country under water, but I didn't think much was added to that after summer started.

Luckily enough Adam and I were able to find enough enjoyment watching life go on at the service station across the road from our hotel window. Enjoyment is probably not the right word, well, definitely not really as not a fucking great deal happens at a service station. Had I have planned to spend the day in a hotel looking out the window, it would have been grand as it delivered on all it promised. Having planned for things a little more riotous, the 2 man hotel room party wasn't quite as Studio 54 as I would have liked.

The following day we headed over to Amanda's place and hung out in her plush, verdant garden as long as the rain held off. I implored Adam to stay longer now the weather had improved marginally but his work wouldn't accept rain as a good enough reason for a sick day. He headed off mid noon giving me a few hours to get drunker than I should have and count the times the weather alternated between raining and not. Final count: a lot.

Mands came home flushed with finishing another draft she is writing about Indigenous entrepreneurs in northern NSW and decided to get drunk too. Not wanting to miss out on the way Mands was pouring glasses of Frangelico, her two flatmates Paul and Vanessa soon got involved as well. Impromptu celebrations are the best and having not seen Mands in 3 years added more sentimental value to getting rinsed.

The next day it was raining and it didn't take much convincing from my hangover to stay another day. I still had my crutch in a sling and the bike needed adjustments I was too hazy to do properly. Mands took us all out to an unsign-posted waterfall only locals visit and I had a ball jumping into the chilly water from a 5 metre ledge. That night nother vego feast was prepared and a movie was chosen over another night of over-indulgence.

The next day it was raining and it didn't take much....hang on, that was the day before. The only difference now was I couldn't put off leaving any longer. Mands had initially offered to ride with me for awhile but an imminent holiday left her with too much to do. Both flatmates said that were going for a bike ride and I was humbled by that act of solidarity. Until I realised they were going to the warm and sheltered confines of a gym.

By the time I had packed my bag, the skies had cleared a little. Something blue and intriguing could be seen through the occasional breaks in the clouds. The countryside around Lismore is beautiful with green pastures, dark and mysterious macadamia orchards and gently undulating hills. That it was not raining for the first time in awhile certainly painted a pretty sheen on the landscape.

It pelted down for the 10kms leading into Woodburn, but the last 11kms to Evans Head were clear. It's no lie to say how much the weather affects the quality of the outing. Rain turns a fun ride into an ordeal akin to being waxed or watching 'Glee'. No rain, as I have forgotten what clear skies are like, makes the ride so enjoyable you hardly realise you are doing all the work yourself.

I put my tent up in a cosy corner of Evans Heads' only caravan park and marvelled with pride at a better erection than I had managed on first try. I had procured another gas canister in Lismore and was thrilled with how well the stove worked once you were able to attach it without threats of violence. I perambulated along the esplanade and watched surfers brave rough waters around the mouth of the river while I failed to understand how people could want to swim when the general environment was providing so much saturating entertainment.

When I returned to camp I met another two riders, proving that I wasn't uniquely idiotic. When I saw that he was carrying loaded panniers as well as an overloaded trailer, I realised my idiocy was actually quite mundane. I made up for that the next morning by stepping on my other pair of sunglasses and breaking them. Always one to follow one folly with an even better one, I then stood on my Lanacane as I stomped around cursing anything that wouldn't argue back. Three quarters of the tube found its way onto my pillow and a chaff free sleep has now been guaranteed for my ears.

It was an ominous sign but the day turned out to be divine. That's what I have decided to call any sunshine I see until it becomes a more regular part of the new and not-improved summer. I did my first leg on the Pacific highway and was pleased to find that the shoulder was as wide as a car lane for most of the way. The traffic was constant and travelling at speeds I can only envy but the potholes were minimal and less crater like than the road leading into Lismore. Were my mother not reading this I would have detailed how close I came to being a twitching hood ornament again 10kms outside of Lismore.

I turned off onto Iluka Road hoping to hit the sort of back roads that bicycle touring is all about. I knew there would be more pot-holes but that was a small price to pay. Big holes are easy enough to ride around, with a cut lunch and a water bag. It's the small ones that cause the most grief, largely for the effect the have on my rear view mirror. Being mounted on my helmet due to lack of space on my handlebars, the velcro attachment is as safe as a paper-mache bank vault. Bumping along extended rough patches makes the cars behind appear like they are approaching along a carnival like bouncing castle.

I stopped in at Bimbimbi for lunch and as is becoming the norm, a kindly old soul came over to tell me how much of a fool I was. Apparently he has travelled extensively enough to know that it is hilly in every direction, even out to sea. As he detailed the superhuman efforts I would need to employ were I not to take his advice and hop on the nearest train, his sombre gravitas had me wondering if he was just on his lunch break from the nearest Information Centre.

Feeling satisfied that he had put enough fear of God into me to convert me to the Liberal Party, he wandered off and I pondered how many positive people there actually were in the world. I always thought I was pretty positive until being so doubles as a form of prayer for things to be better than what others tell you they won't be. Perhaps I just need more motivation in the form of trying to prove negative people wrong.

Soon after leaving old mate to brag to his wife how he had set a young fool straight, I was rewarded with a wonderful meander alongside the Bundjalung National Park. Dense bush of palms, ferns and eculypts crowded over the road whispering secrets of evolutionary strangeness that a passing cyclist could never grasp. I had seen a koala the day previous which was strange enough for being alive, seeing as all other animals I found were just decomposing by the side of the road. The Koala did move as much as road kill though as it was probably off its tits on eculyptus oil.

Iluka was like Eden when I arrived. Rosellas, corellas and lorikeets nibbled at anything edible unconcerned by my passage. Adorable little plover chicks chased after butterflies under the ever watchful eyes of their mum. Streets and houses seemed to have sprouted out of the ground and reflected the organic nature of the hobbits Shire.

A ferry is necessary to take me across the river to Yamba and I had unsurprisingly left myself with a 2 hour wait until the next one. A caravan park sat near the pier and the time seem best spent settling in there for the night. Unbeknownst to me, a small patch of Eden costs $38 to sleep on, rivalling the biggest rip off I have known that was $40 for a dorm bed in Lake Mountain, Tasmania. At least I got a comfy bed and a roof over my head there.

I thought old mate was joking when he checked me in, and I simply stood mute as I imagined all the ingenious witticisms I could cut him down to size with were I more confrontational in nature. Granted it is a nice park, but really, $38? What drugs is this guy taking cause I want some to justify the price. Instead I had to settle for a 2 hour hot shower and I plugged in every electrical gadget I owned to charge to 500% capacity. A thunderstorm is predicted for the night so if my tent is not protected by a force-field throughout, I'll be asking this Bill Gates wannabe how he manages to keep a straight face while taking to your wallet with a shovel.

Tags: cycling, on the road, people, rip-offs

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