Today was a good day. I’d mostly packed last night, with only the toiletries and tablet to go into a front pannier. By about 6:45, I was on the road although I’m not exactly sure since the GPS didn’t start recording when I thought it should have. At about 4km I realised and started recording just before I started the climb up Mount Brown.
This trip, I managed to ride up the whole climb unlike most previous attempts. It doesn’t start too steep, but ends up with about 500m at roughly 11% gradient. My hope was now that I had enough kilometers in the legs to enable me to get up Laverties Gap without walking any of it.
I stopped at Coramba for a pastry and coffee and then continued on to Glenreagh, which I reached around 9am. The weather was slightly overcast and cool and my legs felt fresh. It makes a real difference coming into a day’s ride with form.
The general store at Glenreagh is now run by a family from Melbourne. They appear to have expanded and rearranged the place, but it’s still essentially the same community hub I recall from a few years ago. After a sausage roll and a drink, I rode on, experimenting with the route planning functionality on the GPS and trying to work out why I’d been having difficulty getting proper directions earlier in the trip.
It turns out that I hadn’t understood that “current location” isn’t. It’s the location that you were at when you first entered that as a waypoint, but it doesn’t update when you change the overall route. It’d be nice if the label for the location indicated the static nature of the waypoint, and then you’d know straightaway that you had to delete that entry and re-add “current location”. At any rate, route planning is a great tool that enables you to break down a day’s ride into segments, where you can see how long it is to a lunch stop as well as how long to the final destination.
The road from Glenreagh to Lanitza is always longer than I expect it to be. I was still feeling good (a little bum-sore) but it was good to take a break at the top of the rise after the bridge over the Orara River and have some lollies and stretch. I also took a couple of photos in an attempt to capture the sense of riding through this landscape.
Overall, the temperature today was about 5 degrees less than it was when I was doing this over the Christmas period a few years ago – it was about 9 degrees in Coffs when I left this morning and high 20s by Grafton; that makes a really big difference. From Lanitza to the Armidale Road turnoff, there was a bit of a northwesterly, which acted as a cross-headwind and slowed me down, but once I turned right towards Grafton, it acted as a great tailwind. Combined with the downhill run, I flew most of the way into Grafton and got to my usual motel at about 12.
The motel had changed hands, but my name was still on the database and the new owners were as friendly as the previous ones. I got a key to the pool as well as to the room and rehydrated for a while after I unpacked and stowed the bike.
I rested until evening, stretched and did the usual internet catch up. Then I walked into town to the Clocktower Hotel where I had a couple of beers and a proper schnitzel to erase the memory of the one from Macksville.
Total distance: 80.5km
Total time: 4:50:40
Avg speed: 16.47 km/h
My ride data is here