I caught the train from Central to Coffs Harbour and reassembled the bike and rode to the motel where I rebalanced the load in the panniers. It appears that tomorrow’s weather will be reasonable. As far as I can see, the heat wave won’t hit the north coast until the weekend.
I got up at 5am and was on the road by 6. It was 19 degrees as I left Coffs and 14 once I crested Mount Browne. After 1:30 I reached Coramba where I stopped for coffee and an apple turnover and exchanged a polite greeting with a local; it’s one of the things I like about cycle-touring – the fact that you’re in the environment and not separate.
After Coramba, I continued through to Glenreagh for lunch. Along parts of the way, I was riding through a wall of cicada noise that was almost deafening. The temperature was still only around 22 and there was a reasonable amount of cloud cover so it was quite enjoyable, although I was slower than on previous trips, I think.
After Glenreagh, the apparent temperature shot up briefly to 36, but I think that was partly due to reflected heat from the road, as well as riding with clear sky for an extended period. Before long, it dropped back to mid 20s but later, in the last hour or so of the ride, the temperature rose back to around 30.
On the north side of Glenreagh, Clarence Shire workers had stripped back the road surface to dirt for a few hundred metres since just filling in potholes obviously wasn’t working anymore. I’ve noted before that the road quality drops noticeably when leaving Coffs Harbour Shire for Clarence Valley Shire. There are sone decent sections closer to Grafton, but there’s still a lot of potholes along the northern half of Orara Way.
I arrived in Grafton at around 12:30, having ridden from around 5:30. My legs are sore in parts from a lack of long riding, but I’m sure I’ll shape up ok for tomorrow’s ride to Casino.
I was on the road again by just after 6am. For the first 5 kilometres – almost until Junction Hill – I was riding through fog with a quite limited visibility. Climbing away from the river, the temperature rose to low 20s and I maintained a decent pace until lunch at Whiporie; I’d taken breaks for an apple and muesli bar along the way but was feeling quite hungry by the time I reached the general store. When I was about 30km out of Grafton, I passed a cyclist coming the other way and I suspect he must have camped at Whiporie overnight in order to be that close to Grafton that early in the morning.
Lunch was a fizzy pineapple juice followed by a strawberry milkshake and a bacon, egg and pineapple sandwich. I also bought a 2 litre bottle of water and refilled two of the three bidons, which were about half empty.
After lunch, I pushed on through what my garmin was reporting as mid 30s, although it showed the temperature dropping to around 30 degrees before long. I think the high reading was due to the bike sitting in the sun for 20 minutes or so. My pace was slowing due to the increasing heat and the soreness in my bum and hands, and I was having to stop every half an hour or so just to try and recover, as well as to keep my headcloth soaked. When I reached the Rappville turnoff, I had to pull over and lie down in the shade of a school bus shelter for 10 minutes with a re-soaked head cloth across my face.
I finally arrived in Casino at around 13:45. As I unloaded stuff off the bike and into the motel room, I realised that my glasses were missing the rubber nose rest. It was a detachable piece that slotted over several small pins that were now pressing into my nose, so that meant I’d need a new pair of glasses. I’d noticed it detach a few times and reattached it, but I must have missed it that one last time.
Even after a long warm and then cool shower, I was still quite hot and headachey, so I lay down under the air conditioning with a wet cloth over my head until it was time for dinner. I went up to the Cecil for a schnitzel with chips and salad and a single beer and then went back to my room, watched a little TV and then crashed with some headache tablets at around 8:30pm.
I repacked everything on the bike and realised that, along with needing new glasses, I also needed more sunscreen. The local corner store provided that, and the servo on the way out of town provided the glasses. My legs were feeling quite sluggish as I crawled through to Lismore and I stopped at the visitor information centre to eat some biscuits and lollies as I was also feeling quite hungry again.
After resting for a few minutes, I headed out of town but found myself barely to crawl up the hill at Bexhill and couldn’t hold my line very well, partly due to sore hands and bum. As it was also heating up, I decided it was better to pull the pin, so I called Kath and asked if she could pick me up. She arrived about an hour later, by which time I’d bought a few cold drinks and recovered somewhat. We finally arrived home at around 12:30 – based on how I feel at the moment, this may be my last year riding north for holidays.
I’ll bunker down for a few days until (if) the coming heatwave passes and then do some training runs to town and back over the next couple of weeks. Maybe that’ll help improve my fitness to the point where I can ride south in the new year without incident.