Today was the day of the saddle sores. For a long while after getting back on the bike at any point, I’d have to try and find a comfortable position, stand up on the pedals and side out of the saddle for a few meters, and then sit down again, hoping that I’d have got used to the pain. After a while, the numbness would be overtaken by pain and I’d have to stop. I also had calf cramps on and off, and the lower back was sore enough for me to need to stop and stretch after a while.
Leaving Uki, it took me a while to get comfortable, and by the time I did I was hit by the Smith’s Creek hill. At the bottom there’s a sign that merely says 15.7% gradient. I saw what I thought was the top and rode up as far asÂ I could, hoping that I could get up it on the bike. Then I had to stop and walk at about the same time I realised that it was merely a bend in the road, and I was only a quarter of the way up.The rest of the way over to Stoker’s Siding was uneventful, although there’s a bit of a climb before the old highway.
The climb up the Burringbar Range was a test – 5 km of uphill, not steep, and there’s a slight dip in the middle, but steep enough to get out of the saddle at times. Otherwise it was just a metter of keeping my head down and not looking too far ahead. I couldn’t stay too far left, either, since I was having trouble holding a line, and didn’t want to fall into the gutter. It took me half an hour, and I stopped for about 10 minutes at the top, eating the trail mix pack that the girls had packed for me.
The downhill side was wonderful. I hit about 65 km/h and make great time across to Mooball. From there there were several smaller climbs, but the lack of a second uphill lane made them hairier. At the Billinudgel stock road I turned off and under the freeway and onto the dirt road into Billinudgel by the back way. The sound from the freeway is dreadful – all these houses that must have been built in what was a relatively calm (given that the old Pacific Highway was not a huge distance away) and successful middle-class area.
I stopped at the general store in Billi at sometime around 10:30, and demolished two pies and a milkshake. I was still feeling reasonable, but the time sitting down off the bike meant that my bum was more sore for longer after getting back on it, and the heat was starting to rise. I had to stop for water at the Pocket primary school, and again a while later a guy asked if I needed anything as I rode past his house. I asked for water and got a refill while he told me that several years ago, he’d ridden from Cairns to Melbourne. All his water came from a filter unit, as the tap water was undrinkable (bore water).
The next section of road to the Main Arm turn off is all patched and re-patched and horrible to ride over. By the time I got to the relatively shallow gradient of the hill before the turnoff, I had decided to walk, rather than being all shook up. It’d taken about 1:15 hours for the 11km from Billinudgel to here. The ride into Mullumbimby was ok, but I was not looking forward to Lavertey’s Gap. Kath had offered to take my luggage off me, so I called from the BP Servo and asked if that was still an option. I waited at the bike shop, which has moved from Dalley Street to Tincogan Street (replacing the other failed bike shop), and kath asked why not put the bike in the car. At this stage, I was not really in the mood to ride further in the heat, so I accepted.
The first thing I did after unpacking the car was to dive into the creek. Cool water on a hot day is a wonderful restorative, but I still have a sore back and bum. Those won’t be fixed so easily 🙁