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Touring the way it should be

AUSTRALIA | Monday, 23 January 2012 | Views [1374] | Comments [3]

A typical sky looms over the Gippsland flatlands looking toward the High Country

A typical sky looms over the Gippsland flatlands looking toward the High Country

Having a rest day is never a bad thing, especially when it's time spent screwing your tormentor. That has to be the sauciest start to one of my blogs ever, but unfortunately I can't say that I got laid by Lady Luck. Sure, she's fucked me over quite a few times, but if that's considered sex, I'm going to become a eunuch. I think that can be done chemically, or you could just sit on a bike saddle for two months and I'm tipping it'll have the same affect.


I didn't think I could get as many swear words and sexual references in my opening paragraph, but that shows my lack of luck and lovin' of late. I didn't think I would ever want to ride again after the East Gippsland Rail Trail either, but I'm so close to the end now that nothing short of amputation could stop me. I know for a fact that I am never going to cheap out on anything so fundamental to a bike trip like a trailer again. Dad made good on his promise and he screwed two supporting brackets on to the back end of the trailer to stop it from sagging like E-cups. He also welded another nut to the end of the de-threaded rear axle bolt that held the trailer on.


I let him have the honour of doing all this while I drank Wild Turkeys and chatted to Mum. Had a I paid more attention to what Dad did with his tools when I was a kid, I probably wouldn't have been in this situation. Hindsight is a wonderful thing, and if I could use it to change anything, it wouldn't be watching Dad give a Holden HQ a grease and oil change. It would be banning myself from using e-bay, forking out an extra 100 bucks and looking forward to an entirely different trip to the one I'm having.


With the trailer secured in place, everything did change for the better. So much so that I did a touristy detour on another section of rail trail to see what the previous day of riding could have been. It was only a 9.5km section from Statford to Maffra, and it was composed of the same hard packed gravel as what the later stages of the EGRT had been. The biggest difference, other than the dead weight of the trailer and my psychotic leanings, was what I expected from the track.


I hadn't seen a photo of people gliding along their own bitumen bike freeway like the entire length was such, not a tiny percentage of. I hadn't just come through three days of riding a tight-rope of road shoulder as holiday makers tried harder to hit me than miss. I didn't feel I deserved to be rewarded for anything other than wanting to kill something so badly yet restraining myself from going through with it.


I even had to back-track towards Sale, but that was one of the rare occasions when the wind was actually behind me. And Sale soon gave me the opportunity to inflict physical harm on someone if I still had the wherewithal. I found a nice spot under a huge acorn tree right next to a bus that had been pimped out like a porn-stars pleasure palace. I threw up my still mangled tent in the same way that probably contributed to it breaking in the first place.


No sooner had I sat down to digest a few pages of my book did I hear “You must be fucked in the head to travel around on that thing!” Being a pacifist, I haven't had too many people try a pick a fight with me. If they had, I'd probably misinterpreted it as a come-on and politely declined, leaving the instigator more confused than combative. This bald headed bogan looked like a pin up boy for hot rod lovers and boiler makers and was staring straight at me with menace. Having a stock pile of witty comebacks at the ready a few hours after they were actually needed, I merely returned the glare and prepared myself for fight or flight; most probably flight.


Turns out that in boiler maker circles, which he was, that was a rather polite form of greeting. Sure enough, once I had established the tone of the conversation, ie. squeeze as many unnecessary swear words into each sentence as possible, old mate and I had a great chat. He was on his way to see the hot rod show, vindicating my initial assessment, then on his way back to W.A. to get some work in the mines. He had the manner of speech perfected for such a job, and judging by his rig, he obviously had a taste for the good things that only a mining allowance could permit.


So I didn't get the chance to vent my anger on this guy, and it will undoubtedly manifest as a physical symptom one day like a boil on my ass, hives or man titties. Or it will lay dormant until something like a really strong head wind brings it to the fore again. Is that statement predictive or retrospective? Who can tell as I don't know if I thought it before I had to ride into a gale force wind.


It was supposed to be a simple matter of cruising down the wide shoulder of the highway between Sale and Traralgon. Nothing is simple for me it seems, and even though the sun shone throughout the day, the afternoon winds made it less than ideal riding weather. I should have given up on the notion of ideal riding conditions and assigned the concept to the same category of 'non-existence' as the Yeti, Loch Ness Monster and Woodside's consideration for the Kimberley environment. Luckily I had about three metres to swerve around in as the wind was so blustery, it was like riding a paper bag through a hurricane.


That was all meant to change the next day with an easterly tail wind expected to blow me all the way to Warragul. Wishful thinking weather man! It remained sunny, but relatively still, meaning my last stretch of A1 was some of the easiest of the ride. It also brought up the 2000km mark, celebrated rather enthusiastically with enough chest thumping to wind me as badly as Mt. Cootha.


Just before turning off the Pacific Highway, I stopped in at Yarragon for lunch and tore a glove taking it off. Barely even registering a response, the bike lock breaking soon after had more success at raising my breathing rate. That convinced me that it must be my negligent or incompetent use of this shit that is seeing it all break within a tenth of its expected life span. I'm not clumsy by nature, but my attention to maintenance would see me stuffed with Ritalin if I was in a classroom. The one thing needing the most maintenance, is the one thing that has had the least amount of trouble. Even though the bike was brand new, so was nearly everything else that has fallen to pieces like cheap Chinese imports. So I don't know what it is, but I'm too close to the end to really care. As long as I make it, everything can see out the rest of its short existence in the junkyard. The bike won't obviously, and even the trailer has some value now that it’s no longer a right-properum-buggerup.


The hills through to Neerim South were long enough to tax me, but without the handbrake on, my legs lapped them up. The small camp ground 4kms east of Neerim South was the little slice of heaven you dream of if the serene sounds of nature is all you want to hear. After a long chat to the friendly proprietor Mick, I set up my tent for the last time in a shady spot second to none so far. That was until Mick took a shine to my jib, and the way it's cut, and gave me a free upgrade to a cabin. Now, the tent sits derelict under a tree and I regard it somewhat nostalgically knowing I won't be sleeping in it again this trip.


If was great to finish the trip in the same way it started; the benefactor of someones amazing generosity. When I went in to pay for the second night, Mike said they don't have card facilities and I had no cash left on me. He shrugged and joked I should be happy to pay $5 a night for a 3 bed cabin. Don't you know it my friend! The cabin was spacious, fully equipped and covered with wall to wall wood panelling. It also had the biggest Huntsman I had seen in awhile guarding the main bed, and if I wanted to start getting paranoid, Mick's surname is Bates!


The queen size bed seemed so huge compared to my self-inflating mattress that I slept like a baby. That doesn't mean I spent half the night crying, dreamt of boobs and woke up to find I had shit myself. I did wake up so refreshed that I could have taken on any hill had I not already decided to have another rest day. It seemed more logical to make the most of such a beautiful spot, and ride one longer day than two really short ones.


About 80kms of various ups and downs lies between here and the family friends I will stay with in Millgrove. Then my cousin is joining me for the last 40km stretch along the Warburton Rail Trail. Unless that has become a thoroughfare for elephants since I last rode it, I know exactly what to expect and anticipate a nice leisurely ride to the Coldstream brewery where 20 or so friends and family will be waiting. And almost as appealing, so will enough beer to celebrate in the style that such an endeavour warrants.

Tags: bicycling, family, on the road, repairs



That bald-headed guy sounds compelling and rich- another world weary soul from the book of Ash. Whats all this about miners not being able to converse without swear words- ya fuck!

  The Filth Jan 23, 2012 10:45 AM


We really liked your post and decided to feature it on the WorldNomads Adventures homepage so that other travellers can enjoy it too.

Happy Travels!

  Kate Hoffman Jan 23, 2012 11:31 AM


Well done H!!! An amazing effort, have a coldstream porter for me and we'll continue the celebrations back in Broome town. The weather is perfect for riding at the moment...lots of rain!! ;) Mr Lane

  Chris Jan 28, 2012 1:47 AM

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