This adventure has had its fair share
of unique experiences and I savour each new one that justifies all
the hard work. There's plenty of easy work that doesn't justify
anything, but nonetheless, I give thanks for that as well. The
weather has not been consistent enough to risk sleeping without the
fly covering the tent, but its shoddy erection under a stable
structure allowed me to do so in Genoa. It wasn't a great sunrise
that woke me, nor even one worthy of mention had I not been able to
watch it from the camping level comfort of my bed.
Filming it in the hope that the camera
could focus better than my bleary eyes, the effect seemed even more
underwhelming on review. Until they invent a camera that captures
mood, circumstance and climate, any image is going to be a half empty
reflection of experience. I was far too dozy to realise that at the
time, merely acknowledging the sentiment and slipping back to sleep
in till a more holiday appropriate time to rise.
The strength of the sun eventually
forced me up with a degree of warmth I haven't felt since leaving
Broome. A minus 10 degree sleeping bag I had brought for the
Himalayas helped bridge the gap in latitude between where I was and
where I most want to be. It was cold enough to be getting white
fingers as I rode and any patch of blue sky was worth celebrating
with another protein bar. If only I could deep fry it!
As I rode through the deserted main and
only street of Genoa, I noticed an inkling of life in a derelict
building claiming to be a café. Surfing a new found spirit of
adventure that playing Russian Roulette with speeding motorists
begets, I went in to see what a one-customer-a-day business could
offer. Immediately I noticed a shiny new espresso machine sitting
atop a bench seemingly stolen from a 17th century school
room. A short, gruff looking lady appeared doing an older, fatter and
uglier impersonation of Michael Douglas as he was in the movie
'Falling down'. Knowing soy milk was as unlikely as signs of sex
appeal from someone who was more put out by my intrusion than
ecstatic at my custom, I aimed for a black coffee. This is a truthful
retelling of how the interaction unfolded:
“Yes?”, she stabbed at me like I'd
brought her back from the dead just for the fun of it. At least she
looked the part.
“Morning. How are you?...........Ah,
okay, can I please have an espresso?”
“How do you want that?” she fired
“Er, pardon?” somewhat nonplussed
that she didn't know that asking for an espresso meant I wanted just
the 30ml shot of coffee that comes out of the machine glistening in
front of her.
“How do you want it, black,
white, yellow, red, green?”
“What? Just an espresso please” and
I gesticulated towards the coffee machines group head in case she was
unaware of where the coffee might come from. I was almost tempted to
ask for it yellow, just to be sporty, but I feared she may have just
pissed in the glass. God only knows what red or green could have
entailed. Judging by her quizzical expression, my answer still didn't
explain anything to her, but like a true entrepreneur, she soldiered
on with her enquiries.
“Big or small?”
Right, this clown obviously had no idea
what she was doing so I thought I would explain it in terms a slab of
concrete could understand.
“Just a single shot of coffee, in
small cup, please”. She grunts what I thought was understanding in
a way something less evolved would, and set herself to her task.
I sat down satisfied with the suspicion
I had about why Genoa was a ghost town. When I heard milk being
foamed, or more precisely atomised, I sighed and hoped my lactose
intolerance kicked in quick enough to thank this lady with some
flatulent currency. I glanced over and noticed she was using a jug
bigger than any bottle I'd seen milk sold in. I audibly scoffed at
what little profit she was making being boiled away to loss.
Bringing the coffee over, her tone
slackened somewhat when she realised she had a captive audience for
as long as it took me to drink it. I have no idea what the coffee
tasted like as I threw the scolding liquid down as fast as possible
to save myself from her rambling tales of life in the Austrian army
and driving trucks up the east coast. She was completely unconcerned
about any feedback from me, and is probably chattering away now like
I was still listening attentively.
The caffeine served its purpose and the
lactose reaction was too mild to be a concern even coming a lot later
than I had wished. The absence of shoulder was still like putting
more than one bullet in the barrel of the six-shooter but my 'ride
perpendicular to any traffic' approach kept me out of harms way. The
47kms to Cann River was hilly but the road was not like a bong and
never in any rush to get me higher. It let me slowly work my way up
gentle inclines while entertaining me with views that bike touring
promos could use. The pass by Mt. Drummer was only 5 metres lower
than Lions Road but took 4kms to reach the same height acquired in
one-tenth of the distance.
Cann River was a small collection of
shops with all signs of human habitation hidden from view. I've been
setting personal records for food consumption and two-thirds through
my tour of hell, I felt like taking the title. A couple of pastry
goods from the appropriately named proprietor of Shorty's bakery was
followed by a veggie burger and chips from Dazza's takeaway across
the road. That momentarily filled a hole I feared was bottomless and
went part of the way to explain why I decided to follow it up with a
Dinner was of a similar size meaning I
had eaten seven meals in that day, necessitating a day of digestion.
It was also Friday the 13th and while no longer
considering myself superstitious in any way, I felt better not giving
Fate the chance to play poker with my Tarot cards. The day was spent
doing the sweetest of F.A.'s proving that all this hard work had made
me more skilled at the art of lounging. That alone is a worthy result
for my endeavours thus far.
This trip's not about lounging around,
even though I do spend most on the day sitting on my butt. I had the
last 75kms of purgatory to go, then a 95km bike trail from Orbost to
Bairnsdale where no car can come near you. I was so keen to get to
Orbost that I got up at 6am instead of rolling over, scratching my
ass and sleeping for another hour or two like I normally do.
As per usual, the morning was sunny and
alluring, but I had seen that seductive look before. As soon as I put
on sunscreen, I get to ride through a storm and smile morosely at all
the white cream as it runs down and stains my gloves and shorts. So I
went without, even though my nose and arms are currently peeling, and
was too unsurprised to register when the clouds did get around to
covering the entire sky.
It was actually a perfect day for
riding though, as the thin cloud cover never looked like it wanted to
rain and the sky poked through occasionally like blots of ink dropped
on grey paper. The wind was minimal and a 7km gradual ascent was
rewarded with a descent of equal length. Rising so early meant most
of the ride was done without cars, but when they came, they formed a
fearsome armada. The holidays were over for many punters and getting
home as fast as possible seemed more important than who they cleaned
up along the way. There was still precious little shoulder, but my
super-uber-ultra-mega defensive style of riding kept me well out of
harms way and I pioneered new trails through undergrowth too thick to
even walk through.
By noon I was punching the air
triumphantly before I even knew that I had made Orbost. If that was
hell, I think I'll pop in to play cards with Satan more often because
my fertile imagination made it out to be a lot worse than it was.
Logging trucks were apparently the worst aspect, but I had only seen
a few going in the opposite direction to my own. Given my direction
was often at odds with the actual road, it could be said that no sane
driver was going in the same direction as me. The absence of a
shoulder was a major concern but like a condom salesman, I always
aimed for safety first. It may have taken me a bit longer and greyed
my hair more, but as my dear ole Dad just said, I've broken the back
of it now.
A Wild turkey is getting rapidly
lighter next to me as I write and an entire afternoon of sun has
swelled my mood to that which was chemically induced on NYE. I still
can't help but laugh as I recollect the reaction of the friendly
receptionist who listened ever so inattentively to my story, and my
anticipation of tomorrows ride on the East Gippsland Rail Trail.
“Well”, he paused and rocked back sagely in his chair, “if you
tire of the trail, just take a left at any road and you'll be back
out on the highway!” I was too incredulous to laugh, and simply
stared hoping my vacant look would be interpreted as appreciation at
such wise counsel. It was like being told that if I wasn't happy in a
playboy bunny orgy, I could always go to another room and do it by
myself. The ride to Bairnsdale is my reward and nothing is going to
stop me from enjoying every single minute of it. Not even my third
Wild Turkey, although that may make it a little bit harder. So worth