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Beautiful beaches to Bondi blowouts.

AUSTRALIA | Thursday, 5 January 2012 | Views [1646]

So many different versions of a blow out gather on Bondi to see in 2012

So many different versions of a blow out gather on Bondi to see in 2012

With a day of nothing being planned, I exceeded all expectations by actually doing something. Nothing of real merit like promoting world peace, or even peace in the camp ground as there was too many loud kids running around for that. To my disappointment, our nearest and noisiest neighbours left before I had mounted snot-seeking missiles on Niamh's car. Therefore I was left to do something vaguely positive and leave auto-mobile armament until a more apocalyptic time.

We went to some other random beach that we happened to chance upon during our holiday driving dawdle. Wandering down to the soft white sand, we saw that someone had started a sand castle and left it as a real fixer-upper. When its sand you're dealing with though, it means your castle is in ruins but relatively easy to fix. A couple of hours were spent building bridges, moats, botanical gardens and other places of necessity for imaginary sand dwellers. We eventually noticed this beach was extremely deficient in frolicking dolphins so we went back to Hymas Beach and spent too long pointlessly trying to relive yesterdays magic.

The beach did offer enough time to evaluate my efforts thus far and I was able to summarise how much I had done up till that point in time. 1079.3kms in 66.1 hours of riding over 17 days (not including rest days) at an average speed of 16.3 kms an hour. A good enough effort to tell some hypothetical grandchildren about it one day and I'm only half way.

Before my ego could help me levitate, Niamh put everything in perspective when she detailed a similar experience of her own. While holidaying in Bali, her and her friend Laura decided it would be a good craic to ride from Cairns to Brisbane. As you do! After doing as much training as anyone would in a place like Bali, ie. none, they set themselves up with the cheapest of everything and set off dreaming of adventure. They found it in spades too and having made less of a personal mission out of it than I have, they also found enough kind souls to give them a lift about a quarter of the way.

That last fact is shared from envy, not an attempt to belittle their efforts. That kind of bravado is admirable as even a two day ride is challenging in the absence of training. Niamh was later to marvel at my bike for how well equipped it was and my respect increased in a way only someone in the same boat could understand. Ultimately, no matter what you do, someone else has already done it harder, longer, cheaper, drunker, etc.

A long forested walk out to the point of Jervis Bay National Park was the stretch my legs always need. The weather was finally doing something expected of it for this time of year, and sunlight streaking through dense forest was even more ethereal for its rarity. Some of the clearest sea water on Earth could be seen through the trees, but after yesterdays surf thrashing, it was like window shopping in Amsterdam. I would've loved to have gotten involved but knew that it could only lead to trouble. The path was so nice, I could have walked for ever but doing so wouldn't have broken anything on my bike, and therefore didn't seem as interesting.

Before it had really felt like it had started, I was driving Niamhs car back to Bondi in time for NYE. I hadn't wanted to get large knowing that doing so would use up funds better spent on the trip. Not planning a big one is a sure fire method to ensure it will be a big one. I was in Sydney after all and only my naivety forgives me for thinking I wasn't going to blow it out. And like someone acting half their age, in fact the closest possible impersonation of it, I really blew it out. Broomites Jess and Paul came over to join Jess, her neighbours, myself and some sneaky Black Russians. We joked around singing, dancing, loving the world, particularly the people in the room, and celebrated the night like we had all ridden from Brisbane just for this night.

We went to Paul's friends place in Pyremont and watched the fireworks from the top of their apartment roof. The harbour bridge was shielded from view, but every tall building around shot off fireworks like God was pouring coca-cola on his keyboard. No one had checked to see if they were planning on shooting fireworks from the building we were on, but standing on a roof with no barricade was dicey enough in our current state. Didn't care. Loved everyone. Winning!

We saw the night out in Bondi, but numbers were reduced to four by the time 2012 greeted us with an amazing sunrise over the beach. Paul had stayed in Pyremont and Broome Jess had wandered off into the night smiling. Entertainment was left to Jess' neighbour Shane whose hyperactivity provided witty observations, profound insights, random tangents and a inspirational dance track for me to tackle big hills.

It was all pretty messy by this stage and I must have been anxious about ending such an awesome night as I couldn't stop grinding my teeth. A joint might be the best answer to any question, but not if a cop is asking, as it's great at convincing your brain it's sleep time when you've done everything you can to avoid it. 10:30am I eventually checked out ensuring the first day of the year was a write-off, as it seemed to be for the entire suburb.

By the time I was able to recognise simple shapes again, it was time to pack the trailer and hit the road. It was another hot, sunny day and I was already in full stench mode by the time I had dropped passed Niamh and Jess' places. Such weather is rendered void when traveling in a train, and I returned back along the line I had taken only three days before. I couldn't justify going to the end of the line at Nowra as I had, so I got out at Sutherland and started from there.

The traffic was so thick from a mass exodus from Sydney. Most of the cars ignored an Audley Road closure sign that greeted us on the turn off to Royal National Park, so I went along with the pack. The road was closed and chumps had lined up for a long time to discover that the sign as telling the truth. Fortunately I was allowed through because of the small stature of my vehicle and faced up to a long steep hill that highlighted the small stature of my will and determination. Six days off and I was heaving like I had emphysema, not to mention still keeping some chewing gum companies in business.

The ride levelled out after that and continued along a ridge for awhile before turning in to an amazing forested track that seemed anything but penultimate at the time. Once the road had made it out of the National Park, it hugged the rocky cliff face most of the way into Woolongong. It was a spectacular road that reminded me of a shorter version of Victoria's Great Ocean Road. All I could do to stop my smile from getting any bigger was to shout out to everyone “Still winning!”

And that was where the win streak ended. The caravan park I was heading for was as open for business as Enron, and everything else I had checked was full. Standing out the front of a derelict looking caravan park office, my phone chose then to stop working altogether. Unsure of my options, I headed down the road until something came up. That something might have been Melbourne had I not found the friendliest 7-11 worker to grace the stores. He used his phone in a manner mine still refused to and found some nearby caravan parks.

That would have saved the day had they not all been full. Finding that out though forced me to consider, or again invent other options. Always good at making nothing out of nothing, I surprised even myself when I found a sheltered little haven nestled right between the Sydney Freeway and the Princess Highway. How this prime plot of real estate has been over looked by smart investors is beyond me, if I ignore the incessant noise, take delight in being underneath massive steel power pylons and love the company provided by a million different biting insects.

It had been my longest day of the ride, but I hadn't even covered enough ground to crack a century given how slow I was traveling. I was feeling deflated by the fact that 'no vacancy' signs could greet me all the way south, but I took a lot of comfort in knowing I've got what I need to just camp anywhere. As the pylons hummed above me and mosquitoes hummed in my ear, I was lulled to sleep still missing the simple things in Sydney that this camp couldn't offer me, like friends, a shower, and uber blow-outs.

Tags: beaches, camping, cycling, friends, party

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