After a period off the bike to rest and recuperate (among other things 🙂 ), I was ready for the road again. I got up at 5:30, but didn’t leave until almost 7:30. Packing up everything including the tent etc. took more time that I wanted. Marissa was still up and looked slightly embarrassed about it – we’d said our goodbyes last night in the hope that she’d have an early one.
I only got a few hours sleep, as I had stayed up to midnight to finish The True Game trilogy. If I’d thought about it, I should have left the final few chapters to read over breakfast. It was also a disturbance every time Marissa came into the kitchen, and when Kath got up a couple of times and spent time talking to Marissa so the period between midnight and morning was not as restful as I wanted. However, I didn’t feel overly tired (and if I did, I had no choice but to ride).
By the end of an hour, I had slogged up Montecollum. It was getting a bit hot by the time I got there, but the heat backed off down in Goonengerry, and it took only another 40 minutes to get to the school. At Rosebank store, I had some vege chips, a Cherry Ripe and a fruit juice,Â which may not have been a good choice, as it started to come back at me later. I dropped two refilled water bottles down the store steps, and discovered that my small 2000 Olympic bottle had a tiny hole. The store owner taped it up, but had no waterproof tape, so water still leaked out slowly.Â After stopping for lunch – a turkey salad sandwich which had barely enough turkey to qualify as turkey anything, and a sports drink, of which I could only drink half – I went around to the bike shop on Keen Street to see if they had a replacement bottle. They only had normal sized ones, so I later went to find an appropriately shaped 600ml bottle of water.
The guy at the bike shop chatted with me for a while about various routes and hills around the north coast (apparently there’s one riding around Barker’s Vale that climbs 1000 metres on dirt in 2km!), and confirmed my decision to try the Kyogle road followed by the Naughton Gap road, thereby avoiding the Bruxner Highway. He said that the Gap climb started nice and shallow, until about halfway up, where it got a bit steeper. He described it as not too hard, which would be right if you weren’t pushing 30kg and it wasn’t stinking hot. As a nice little heart-starter for a roadie, it’s a perfect.
The ride west from Lismore was nice and mostly flat, although there was a bit of a hill before The Disputed Plain, which was nice and flat again. I guess it’s wonderful cattle country, which has been passed through different families’ hands over the years. There’s certainly no disputing that it’s hot, and that there’s not much shade.Â Along the way I passed over a railway crossing, which seemed at the time to go the wrong way, and I thought that it might have been some side line. Looking at the map later, I see that it’s a loop in the old main line to avoid the hill at Leycester. It’s a pity to see the line so un-maintained; I noticed the same thing crossing the railway bridge south of Mullum on McAuley’s Lane. If someone doesn’t pull their finger out soon, it may be too late to repair a lot of the infrastructure if ever the line is to be re-opened. Instead it’ll all have to be replaced 🙁
By the time I reached Naughton’s Gap, I was stuffed. Halfway up the shallow part (about 1 km long) I was off and walking.There was a house near where I dismounted that had a sign for selling hands of bananas, and cucumbers. I should have stopped for refreshment, but I didn’t and kept trudging up the kilometre of the steeper section. From the top, I shot down, but had to stop at the railway bridge to let a car through; probably a good thing as it was a pick-a-plank and I would have had to slow to get across safely, anyway.
Sometime in the next few kilometres, I heard a pop, but neither tyre seemed to be going flat, so I assumed that I must have kicked up a rock, in my weaving motion up the climbs. I struggled the final 6 or 7 km and, when I hit the Bruxner Highway turn-off in Casino, I stopped to refill my water bottles, which were almost empty. I emptied a 1.25l bottle completely in refilling my bidons. At the motel, I had a long shower and drank heaps to refresh myself, as I was definitely dehydrated. After dinner I had another shower to wash the pub smoke off me, from the Cecil whereÂ I went for dinner, andÂ was preparing for bed. Then I noticed that the rear tyre was flat and had to take the bike out of the room and change the tube. There was a tiny bit of metal still stuck in the tyre, which I removed. By the time I’d finished replacing the tube it was 8:30 so I didn’t bother trying to patch the old tube (I had a couple of extras), and had a third shower to clean off the oil and dirt I’d accumulated during the repair. Then I crashed.