I'm not loose, but my wheel is.
AUSTRALIA | Tuesday, 20 December 2011 | Views  | Comments 
Rare pink and blue sky over Big Nobby
As the rain fell on my tent during the course of the night, I silently cursed the fact it hadn't come any sooner. What, you may ask, could prompt such a reversal of opinion in relation to something that is as ruinous to bike riding as the absence of swell is to surfing. Kate and Mal, the lovely managers of the camp ground, had offered me a cabin if it were to rain. I did an improvised version of a rain dance but must have got my shimmies confused. It rains normally, I do a dance and it doesn't rain, go figure!
It had cleared again when I rose, convincing me that the weather in these parts follows a rather predictable pattern. Sunny as I pack, pissing once I get 5kms down the road. Fortunately, that didn't happen. Tony, of Nambucca camp ground fame, told me the road on from Grassy Head was flat. To a satellite perhaps. To someone traversing it on a push bike, it was fucking hilly. The rest day had done wonders for my puny pistons though, and I sped through them, triumphantly high-fiving the air as though Big Daddy was urging me on.
The hills might be getting easier to handle, but my bike is making it as difficult as possible. $600 I was stung to get an enlarged rear hub with internal gears. The reasoning was everything is enclosed, requiring no maintenance or cleaning. There is no derailleur to bend into wonderful new shapes making the bike unrideable were I to stack. And the gears are able to change while stationary. Unfortunately, that is the only time they'll change. Going up through gears on hill climbs involves stalling and losing valuable momentum to let the gears click into place. It should be a matter of tension adjustment, but I don't have the tool to do it with. Fail.com number uncountable. Changing two gears at a time nullifies the anguish somewhat, but I only learnt that after a week of trying to rectify things with obscenities alone.
35kms under the wheels and I come to the quaint little town of Gladstone. Which one? The NSW version as there is a Gladstone in every state. It's like my destination, Crescent Heads. Travel from point A to B along a path of some description and a million different names are possible. Road, street, lane, etc. If it's a rocky outcrop, its a head. Not a point, or a jut, or a protrusion. If there is any other vague deviation from a straight line of coast it is considered to have two heads. I wasn't expecting to see any of them until I got to country Victoria, but they are everywhere. We know its a head, so just drop it from the name. It's not called Brisbane Hills, or Melbourne flatlands for a reason.
Anyway, I digress, and more than normal. A handy piece of literature from the Information Centre correctly misinformed me that Gladstone has great cafes. It has one, and as I sat awaiting a coffee, I realised it wasn't even a good one at that. It sounded like being on a tarmac with what the lady was doing to the milk. At times like that, I pretend I am a barrister instead of a barista and imagine sueing the shirt of the lady's back if she burns my tongue so badly it falls off.
When she brings it out, it's still bubbling like a witches cauldron. I thank her politely while eyeing her name badge and the time for future litigation. Not stupid enough to just gull it down, all evidence to the contrary, I wait for my veggie burger and eat it before attempting a sip. It was no longer volcanic, but it tasted like molten ash. Preferring a bitter coffee normally, I was happy to have this one taste like a melted candy cane instead.
At least it had the desired effect of speeding up the muscle twitch fibres. I was off the Pacific Highway and cruising along another gorgeous back road. It wound its way along beside a river and the weather was mostly clement except for a quick sprinkle that saved me from about five minutes of sweating. The quick shower also highlighted the extremes of the act of touring. Rain makes it a boring chore, like cleaning or foreplay, while no rain makes me feel like Leonardo DiCaprio on the front of the Titanic, minus the imminent sinking feeling.
Possibly because I was enjoying myself too much, Lady Luck took it upon herself to change my fortunes. Feeling a shimmy that certainly wasn't part of any rain dance, I looked back to see the trailer bolt was loose again. It required tightening every morning but had stripped to the point of just holding on now. As it held the back wheel on as well, it was a key component and not to be fixed by simply leaving the trailer behind. 10kms from Crescent with no phone reception I had no choice but to push on and spend more time watching the bolt than the passing scenery.
I rolled into Crescent, lacking my usual Compton low rider style and had to take pot luck with the first caravan park that came along as there was still no phone reception. As the first day of the Christmas Holidays, the Park owners need to pay for the turkey so up went the prices. Not up as high as Iluka, which was a shame as I have some insults awaiting delivery should someone else delve so brazenly into my wallet again.
My site was right on the beach, except for a gorgeous little car park that sort of got in the way. There was a golf course right next door that amazingly stretches right up to Little Nobby, the first and smaller head. It straddles the lower parts of Big Nobby, the other Head, and a number of holes are bordered by walkways leading to a look out. Other than missing playing golf in Broome, I was sorely tempted to have a go there. Pulling out the 'shank stick' could easily result in flooring a pedestrian, and the blame could be placed squarely on the shoulders of course management for not having a 50 meter high wall around players of my dubious skill.
I checked out all the Crescent Head sights, all the while dodging errant golf balls hit by giggling grey nomads proving my nefarious intent was shared by all. I didn't believe the sun would shine so long so I got sunburnt again watching dolphins and surfers jostle for small but pristine and perfectly formed waves. Crescent Heads is a nationally declared surfing reserve, baffling me as much as any non surfer as to what that means. I was in the minority here though, as my garrulous neighbours failed to grasp why I choose to tow a trailer instead of a surfboard.
I found a service station and inquired about some teflon tape as a stop gap measure for my stripped trailer bolt thread. Always up for a chat now that most of my day is spent on my own, it still surprises me just how many people willingly reciprocate; and at length. Overt friendliness is definitely the norm if you always have a smile on your face. Even though these kind folk lacked the teflon I required, they managed to upsell me on some far more expensive Loctite liquid, demonstrating that working the service station was a recent career change from used car salesman.
Back at camp, I applied said liquid and watched it ooze all over the drive train. Suspecting it acted somewhat like glue, I quickly mopped it up with my only dish-washing cloth and inadvertently gave myself the reason I required for eating out that night. 60Kms from Port Macquarie, Adam had offered to pick me up and with a gravel road, or an extended hike back to the Pacific Highway before me I will take him up on the offer. The trailer was the one essential touring element that I tried to cheap out on and brought off ebay. Big mistake, but I guess there is a lesson there, and that is don't eat a bag of mixed lollies near a primary school.
With Adam's rescue mission all but enacted upon, I decided to treat myself to a pizza. I ordered a tasty sounding gourmet vegetarian that some other smuck had the pleasure of eating. As my life is a highlight reel of human error, it would be hypercritical of me to take the kind pizza lady to task over her small mistake. At least the pizza she tried to give me was a margarita, exactly what I wanted minus all the topping. After another half an hour wait, my stomach was less than impressed with the fact that she had obviously tried to compensate me by putting on as much cheese as the pizza base could hold. Sometimes it really does suck to sleep in a small tent.
Tags: beach, bicycling, weather