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Relaxin' and reviewin'

AUSTRALIA | Friday, 17 February 2012 | Views [1204]

Probably just as chuffed to be off the bike for the day!

Probably just as chuffed to be off the bike for the day!

With a flight, a few weeks, and a few too many beers between the end of the bike ride and now, it's time to sum up all that was. I wish I could do it in a pithy statement or something for people with short attention spans, but it was so much more to me than just two months on the road. Not only did I feel extremes of emotion unlike anything I had felt before, most days consisted of redefining the concept of extreme.

There were daily highlights, as the stop at the Bullant Brewery showed some merit to even the worst day of the trip. The mountain camp site over looking the Hawkesbury River was by far the most impressive place to stay. Any forested descent could lay claim to the best section to ride, but the section just outside Kiama probably induced the most yelps of pleasure. Riding towards Moruya, alongside Myall Lakes and towards Wollongong stand out largely because of the scenery they offered more than the quality of road.

Aside from the act of riding and sense of achievement engendered, the biggest highlight would be the friendliness of the people I met along the way. Even people that hated bikes being on the road, enjoyed chatting about what such a trip entails. Questions about my sanity subsided the further along I rode, and I could not imagine the degree of respect I would have enjoyed had I chosen to ride for a charity. My parents couldn't tell me enough how proud they were, and merely seeing something through to the end was a feat in itself for me.

The totally of the stats listed below may have had more relevance had I set the cycle computer for the right wheel size, something I was unaware you could do until I reset the thing for post ordeal use. That was a 50/50 proposition between 26inch and 700cc and I have learned to accept how such things always turn out. More important concerns remained unchanged, such as trailer reliability, disposition of rider and duration of ass numbness.

The only real lowlight was anything and everything that was dependant upon the trailer. My initial plan had been to treat it to a Captain Caveman style clubbing, but the anger subsided rapidly after I was no longer reliant on it. I knew it was capable of one last act of vengeance by burying parts of itself in me as I gave it a right proper trashing. None of the ways in which I envisaged its demise were actually rooted in possibility, unless one of my Melbourne friends had taken up arms dealing in my absence. That wasn't the case, so I had to settle for letting the trailer rust out its days as a planter box in Simon and Tanya's expansive garden.

Everything else is okay to be used again, albeit in a slightly reduced capacity and worn manner. Things like bike gloves, sunglasses and certain nerve endings will need renewal, but everything else that broke along the way still functions, in a manner of speaking. Dad took three seconds to fix up my tent pole, merely moving the inner tubing to the broken piece from its closest neighbour. There is no look the human face is capable of when hours, days, weeks of frustration, confronts the simplest of remedies. Dad accurately portrayed someone who was pretty chuffed with themselves knowing that although I may have size and youth on my side, Dad will always be more practical than me.

My second ride around Melbourne proved that fact once and for all. I had gone along the Maroondah Highway and passed by all the wonderful vineyards there such as Domain Chandon, such and such, and etc. Yeah, I still spent more time watching the condition of the road than enjoying the scenery around me! A kilometre of two out of Healesville, the bike suffered its first ever puncture. It was such a surprise that I wobbled along on the rim for awhile before realising what was wrong. A three inch nail had buried itself in the side wall, allowing the sealant to simply leak out rather do what it is designed for.

I had a pump on me but no spare tube. Trying to re-inflate the tyre brought hissing noises from the valve stem leading me to intelligently deduce that the nail wasn't the only issue. I inspected the tread and saw it peppered with numerous holes large enough to be capped by small white tops of effective sealant. An uncountable amount of smaller holes lacked such signs, but still proved that the sealant was one of the best investments for the trip.

Two happy coincidences then presented themselves to remedy my situation. A friend had the day off, a thirsting for beer and the openness to impromptu trips out to the country. And I had fortuitously managed to break down within walking distance of the White Rabbit Brewery. My ride for the day was halved, I got tipsy enough to forget that combining my name with bicycling spells 'imminent misfortune' and decided it was in my best interest not to ride the bike again in Melbourne.

Once back at Simon's, I realised I may want to ride the bike again at some point and figured fixing it sooner rather than later was best to that end. Disassembly was straight forward, as any idiot can pull something apart, unless they are seething with rage. I wasn't to begin with, but after five minutes of trying to wrestle the new tread into the rim I started to explore new shades of facial colour with repressed anger. Walking passed casually, Simon paused briefly, but long enough to pop the tread in place before I was even able to suppress my snorting. Off he wandered, hands in pockets and whistling casually as I contemplated giving up altogether to start collecting barbie dolls, 'Twilight' DVDs or flowers from fresh graves.

Inserting the tyre sealant in the bike shop is a two minute distraction. It's an hour long chance to think of ways to clean it off the driveway if done at home. Doing so also gave me plenty of time to think about how my lack of mechanical skill had contributed to the overall ride. I spent 10,000% longer cursing about the trailer than Dad took fixing it. I wasn't carting around a welder and a grinder, but both will top the list if such an endeavour is entertained again. Had I known the issue was going to be so major, and enduring, I would have taken steps earlier. Such things as the tent pole either prove that my way of fixing something is fucking it up so badly the only option left is replacement. Or, that the ride was an opportunity to improve my undeveloped mechanical dexterity; and I fucked that up too.

Some people just have a harder time of things because they're not cut out for that particular experience. I'd hit the deck in a flash if I went to work in an abattoir, or an operating theatre. Some people will always burn water no matter how much cooking instruction they get. So I focused on preparing my body for the rigours of everyday riding, but I didn't train my mind for repairs that would be necessitated by two months on the road. It may have coloured the bike ride somewhat, sort of like pouring two litres of black paint over an ant, but nothing can alter how unique the experience had been.

In conclusion, it was an overwhelmingly positive experience. One that I will remember fondly for the rest of my days. I may twitch uncontrollably and want to suck my thumb every time I see the trailer in Simon's garden, but the headaches and homicidal rage it induced along the way have largely been forgotten already.

Days Kms/day Ave speed Time
1 80 17.3 4:47 Beaudesert
2 51.85 14.3 3:48 Andrew Drynan Camp
3 90.98 16.7 5:25 Lismore
4 47.45 17.9 2:03 Evans Head
5 69.62 20.6 3:22 Iluka
6 110.47 20.1 5:29 Corindi Beach
7 83.53 19.6 4:15 Nambucca Heads
8 31.4 18.4 1:45 Grassy Head
9 61.51 19.9 3:04 Crescent Head
10 12.89 18.8 0:41 Lake Kathie
11 76.51 19.7 3:52 Taree
12 97.43 19.5 4:58 Buladelah
13 51.51 17.1 3:00 Nelson Bay
14 50.62 21.4 2:21 Tomago
15 70.99 19.5 3:37 Kanwal
16 48.25 18.7 2:34 Mt. White
17 42.15 16.3 2:34 Sydney
18 96.82 17.1 5:38 Dapto
19 52.14 18.6 2:47 Shoalhaven Heads
20 81.32 19.4 4:11 Ulladulla
21 72.63 17.7 4:05 Tomakin
22 70.99 19.9 3:33 Mystery Bay
23 24.35 16.3 1:29 Bermagui
24 78.13 17.7 4:24 Pambula
25 23.92 15.9 1:29 Eden
26 63.94 17.1 3:43 Genoa
27 47.64 17.9 2:39 Cann River
28 75.2 19.3 3:53 Orbost
29 99.78 17.8 5:35 Bairnsdale
30 76.98 21.2 3:37 Sale
31 62.46 18.2 3:25 Traralgon
32 73.92 20.2 3:34 Neerim South
33 59.75 19.7 3:01 Millgrove
34 44.03 18.9 2:19 Coldstream
Total 2181.16 126:57:00
Ave 64.15 18.49 3:26

Tags: bicycling, relaxing

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