Monday, May 3, 2010

It begins...

...with a horror first day!

It's hard to recreate the feeling of the first morning, especially when I'm sitting here with aching muscles and two full days of riding behind me. But Elise does a great job of this through her photography. You can see her blog of my preparation and departure here:

Massive thanks Elise for donating her time and talents :)

Family and friends braved the early start and miserable weather to come out to Bondi and say farewell. I was almost off, just tightening the last bolt, when... SNAP!! Broken seat bolt! "Hahaha are you kidding!?" Spares? No, that would be too easy. My champion brother in-law offered to head off to the nearest bike shop, which didn't open for another hour, so in the meantime it was bacon and egg rolls all round.

In hindsight, snapping the bolt was great, as it gave me a couple of hours to soak up the atmosphere and hang around with friends and family at Bondi Beach. Big thank you to those who came out. It was a funny departure, with many jokes at my expense.

Josh came back with the spare part, and after hugs and kisses all round, I was off! "Wait... does anyone know how to get out of Bondi?" It was decided that I would follow dad's car out to the highway, but first, lets just get out of the carpark!! On the first speed hump (in the car park) I snapped a pannier clasp. "haha no way!" It was just holding with the support of the second clasp, so I continued on and promised myself I'd deal with it later... Later was in Bexley, when my pannier fell off completely onto the road. I 'solved' the problem by strapping the pannier on the back of my bike under the ocky strap with my tent and sleeping mat, leaving the weight of the bike completely lop-sided.

(above: my lopsided bike)

Ok lets recap: one broken seat bolt, two hour delay, can't get out of Bondi, a broken pannier clasp and a severely unbalanced bike - all before midday on day one.

Eventually I did get out of the traffic and said my last goodbye to dad. Bowral here I come! The rest of the ride was tough, but comparatively uneventful. I saw skydivers floating down against a low sun, and some great scenery. I also ate and drank a lot, although my water - carried in goon sacks - still had remnants of the previous tennant; Coolabah Fresh Dry White :p

(above: cracking the seal on the Fresh Dry White)

In many ways, day one was always going to be the biggest challenge. I had never cycled 126km before. In fact, I don't think I had ever cycled more than 80km at one time. I had also never cycled with panniers, and what a difference they make!! Plus, I ended the day 750 metres higher than I began, and without looking at altitude charts, my quads, hammies, glutes and calves all back this up.

I remember riding along the highway thinking "I could just camp there! or there! or I could camp THERE!" Looking at any patch of grass remotely the size of my tent. I eventually arrived at Talitha's house - destination day one - 126km later, in the dark and exhausted. I'm not sure if I've ever been so happy to arrive anywhere! I almost couldn't make it up her driveway, although to be fair it is the steepest driveway I've ever seen. Talitha was a wonderful host and ran me a big hot bath to soak in. Her parents came over and we ate a big meal of dahl, rice and prawns. Delicious. Talitha and her parents are so warm and friendly, and I was being fussed over a lot, which was fine by me :p

I was invited to go down to Nowra with them the next day, and I was struck with a decision that I will no doubt face again. Do I favour progression in my journey to Perth, or do I favour experience? Being just the second day, I decided to push on through cycling and let my muscles know they can't just take holidays whenever they like, but finding the balance between experiencing the places I pass and spending time with the people versus pushing on to maximise distance is something I will no doubt debate for the rest of my trip. Ideally, I want to accept as many invitations as possible, so if I make all of my decisions by answering the "which will be more fun?" question, I'm sure I'll be fine.

A massive thank you to Talitha for being such an awesome person! It was a pleasure to stay with you and a shame I had to rush off.

(above: breakfast with Talitha and her parents)

I left Talitha's place at about 11am after a slow morning, and decided my next destination was to be Goulburn. My legs were obviously lacking the strength and power they displayed the day before, but I kept on grinding up the hills and cruising down the other side. You have a lot of time to think when all you do is ride a bike, and mind games play an important role in getting you over the next crest.

So on day 2 I had made a decision to make more stops. I cycled through a very scenic tourist drive with ranches, wineries, antique stores and tea houses set amongst fields and rolling hills (note that rolling hills are much nicer to look at than to cycle over!). A also had great shortbread at a bizarre Scottish corner store.

(above: Scottish corner and shortbread store)

I stopped at McDonalds to use their free WiFi, and called some hotels in Goulburn to see if they would put me up for the night. The Comfort Inn Posthouse in Goulburn were immediately responsive to helping out a fund raiser for the Starlight Children's Foundation, and they put me up in a very comfortable room with a queen bed, bathroom, WiFi, my own balcony, and a couch and table. They also included a cooked breakfast which I just finished gobbling down! So a massive thank you to The Comfort Inn Posthouse in Goulburn!!!

Today I'm off to Bowning... for the sole reason that it is about halfway between here Goulburn and Gundagai. I have been making video diaries which I feel will be much better than a blog, as they immediately capture the experience and feeling. Although my hotel has WiFi, all I wanted to do when I arrived was shower, eat and sleep.

Thank you to everyone for your support. I have noticed more and more donations coming through on my everyday hero page which is great. It truly does help keep my legs pumping up the hills. If you would like to support you can do so by donating to the Starlight Children's Foundation:

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