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Dragging an anchor proves I drag my knuckles.

AUSTRALIA | Thursday, 12 January 2012 | Views [1191]

Wallaga Lake looked amazing but I was far too pissed off to appreciate it

Wallaga Lake looked amazing but I was far too pissed off to appreciate it

The following is an account so embarrassing, I would be better served by keeping it to myself had I not already shown how much delight I take in ridiculing myself. This was not a case of factory line idiocy. This was customised cretinism so creative it gives conscious thought a bad name. I half expect everyone to slap their head in disbelief after reading it. I have done it so many times myself that my forehead is starting to look like a bruised tomato.

To set the scene, I almost quit the night before all this unfolded. It was as close to the act as I could get without actually going through with it. Similar to getting cold feet after putting the condom on. I had awoken to rain falling gently on my tent in Mystery Bay and laid there waiting for an hour for it to ease. It eventually did, so I inhaled breakfast like a labrador and rushed through the pack up like simply shoving everything in the trailer was the best way to store stuff.

A steep descent was a pleasant change to start the day from its opposite, but it nearly ended the day, and so much else, there and then. Someone had not attached the camp chair to the trailer well enough and that same someone had failed to notice the new position it acquired after being bumped on a tight turn out of the camp-ground. Sitting at a 45 degree angle to everything else brought on speed wobbles that only a Richter scale could measure.

It stands to reason that 'speed wobbles' don't occur when you are going slow, hence the chance for misfortune increases exponentially. Dodging a pot hole at 60kms an hour should not have sent my rig slithering like a beheaded snake, if everything had been facing the right way. Cars were passing by at speeds greater than my own but I had a wide shoulder to try to bring it under control. When it looked like it wasn't going to be reigned in, I drew closer to the hill and prepared for a controlled crash. A controlled crash simply means you tighten your sphincter muscles and await the pain like a kid getting a measles injection. Somehow, I didn't crash. I don't know how because I had my eyes closed. I hit the flat still doing about 30 and the wobbling miraculously subsided.

I continued on and did 24kms to Bermagui in half shock before giving up. My saddle was covered in hypodermic needles as well and I felt like I was riding through half set clay. The weather was misty and miserable, but not wet enough to justify wearing my rain coat. Doing so was tantamount to wearing a sauna-suit, and half way along I had stripped it off and gone bare-chested. It had not  been overly hilly but even small inclines had given me grief. In short, I was hating it.

I set up camp at 11am and would have loved to have spent the day at the beach, projecting myself to a place where bikes were banned. The weather was not conducive to such endeavours at all, so I set myself to finding a solution for my woes. The inclines were getting genuinely harder, completely at odds with what you would expect from the previous months conditioning. My legs feel like tightly coiled springs off the bike, boiling vats of lactic acid on it. I re-calibrated the brakes and ensured they were not rubbing the rims. I lubricated the wheels again even though the bike is so well oiled it's like riding a salad.

I had even started considering more obscure reasons. I gave my diet a thorough analysis and concluded that all macro and micro nutrients should be sufficient, even in light of my daily workload. I thought about my determination to succeed and reasoned that it had only started to wane after the hills had became harder. I checked planetary alignment, tides, cinema times and even my 'leavings' for signs of a problem. I wasn't sleeping all that well but that is to be expected with the fear that the tent could collapse on me at any moment.

So I rang my dear old Mum to let her know I was giving up cigarettes. Knowing that I've never smoked them, Mum quickly ascertained that something else was being given up. In true maternal fashion, Mum offered to come pick me up straight away, not knowing if I was at the local supermarket or ten light years away. We discussed options that largely revolved around any other means of transport getting me as far as Lakes Entrance. That is where the south east coast hilliness plains out into the flatter Gippsland expanse apparently.

Deciding that the riding had become more of a chore than spring cleaning, I gave myself until Eden to figure out what to do. That isn't the biblical place where every thing's beautiful and warm enough to just wear leaves and talk to snakes all day. It's ye ole shit-hole where the road turns to 'hell', to paraphrase a group of cyclists who had stopped along the way just to share that fact with me. It took me a long time getting to sleep that night knowing that another day of riding awaited me.

It was overcast again and to start the day on a positive note, I gave thanks that I wouldn't be getting sunburnt. A good coffee kept the ball rolling and a short meander along side a stretch of beach made me forget my troubles. Until an incline too small to even measure came up. There was little wind and no reason why I shouldn't just tear up it considering the day before had pretty much been a rest day.

I pulled over, determined not to ride another metre until I had found what the problem was. Starting at the front, I went over the bike with the sort of scrutiny that would have made Sherlock Holmes proud. At the very end sat a trailer tyre balder than Andre Agassi. That could have been put down to the broken mud guard, but closer inspection revealed more. The mud guard actually helped stabilise a frame designed to be collapsible for easy transport. In it's absence, the whole frame sunk backwards and rubbed against the wheel like a brake pad. I stared long and hard with such incredulity that a similar expression can be found next to the term in certain dictionaries. There wasn't a light bulb turning on above me, it was more like MCG flood lights. How I failed to thoroughly check a wheel of all things is something I could never justify.

The weight of the load was forced backwards by momentum and the absence of suspension over rough terrain, and the supporting bar was bending further towards the wheel. Lifting the load up and wedging pieces of hard rubber in between gave the wheel enough clearance to turn without resistance. How long this has been hampering progress is anyones guess, but as this is my blog, my bike ride and my brain-fart, I'll hazard a guess and say ever since Sydney.

What a wholly unnecessary burden! All jokes about lugging an anchor seem hauntingly prophetic. I struggle to fathom how I could think that a wheel would not be the first, last and only place you would need to check with any locomotive issues. Oh, how I wish I had opted for panniers instead. Repairing them required nothing more than a needle and thread. This trailer requires 3 different tools, more spares and a whole new vocabulary of obscenities.

The silver lining on that cloud of stupidity is how much more enjoyable the riding was once I got back on the bike. It no longer felt like loosening a rusted bolt, chewing ten kilos of jerky or sanding down the entire H.M.A.S. Endeavour. It was like spreading room temperature butter on warm toast, being last in line at the knock shop or putting olive oil on your backyard slip 'n' slide. Once more it was the enjoyable activity that had prompted this whole trip in the first place.

I cruised through an 80km day, making Pambula by mid afternoon. The ride included 3 big hills that were hard, but not excruciating work. It was simply a matter of putting the head down and just pushing the legs to do what they are accustomed to after more than a month of nothing but. I know that the next 200kms still has enough hills to give most cars heart troubles, but I feel far better suited to take them on now. I made up a sign asking any kind soul to give me and my rig a ride beyond the more dangerous sections. If it gets too risky, I'll hang it on the back of the trailer and let the universe decide how much of that section I have to do myself. Here's hoping it's not much, but at least I know it won't be as arduous as what my trailer tried to make it out to be.

Tags: bicycling, misfortune

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