RTA Big Ride 2004 diary

Day One: Bus to Gloucester and registration
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Today, I got up at 4am - felt vaguely awake by 5am - and was driven with my bike and bag to the pickup site at the back of the UTS building on Darling Drive for the 6am bus to Gloucester. I got talking to James - the unicyclist from last year. This time he is using his road bike - turns out that he's a bit of a speedster as he was talking about his experiences on the Queensland Big Ride that was held last September; often racing to the end before the camp was set up.

It also turns out that he's a reader of Slashdot and knows something of the SCO issue. We chatted on the bus for a while about such things until a mid-morning stop at some god-awful truck stop behind Newcastle. It had a co-located fast-food outlet that looked disgusting, and I couldn't bear the thought of eating any of what was on offer so I sat outside in the cool morning air with all the petrol fumes instead.

I started chatting to some of the other people on the buses which had turned up - a nice lady from the North Shore called Sue, and a vollie. This is her first Big Ride and I felt like a bit of old-timer, handing out advice. Back on the bus, I started to read a bit, but felt a bit queasy and had to stop. We finally arrived in Gloucester at about 10:30. It was stinking hot, already.

Setting up my tent, I heard a rip when I leant down and realised that I had torn my old boardshorts across the bum. I had to quickly get into some knicks and then wander into town to buy some new shorts. I also had a pie and carton of milk and sat at these quite nice tables outside an art gallery. Then I went into the information center to look for where I could do some warm-up riding once the bikes arrived. I picked up a nice map of the area from Gloucester to the Myall lakes area which covers the first four days riding.

Where I ate lunch
Where I ate lunch

Between the camp-site and the town, there's a nice little park. It has a suspension bridge across a small creek, and a little pond with water-lilies in it and a bridge dividing it.

Suspension bridge
Suspension bridge

Water lilies
Water lilies

I got back to camp to find that the the bikes had arrived. I put the pedals back on and rode around a bit to see that everything worked. On the way back to the registration point to pick up my commemorative jersey, I saw an American rider with a Segway; I'll have to get a closer look later. He's only using it to get around camp, as he has MS. On the ride he uses a recumbant.

The campsite backs onto the Gloucester river and had a commanding view of the Gloucester Tops to the west. Due to the recent rain, the river is running quite well. There is a rickety little ladder leading down to a deep section at the bend directly behind the camp. I had a swim halfway through the afternoon which was quite refreshing.

Gloucester Tops
Gloucester Tops

Cow going for a swim
Cow going for a swim

This evening a local band "4 Play" were at the Brasserie. Not anywhere near as good as the Sydney band "Four Play", but decent for a pub-rock band I guess. The guitarist is a bit dodgy when he tries to be a guitar-solo hero, and they're at their best with more folky rock ballads.

I ran into Sue again at dinner in the Brasserie. She was sitting with a few friends from Bike North, mainly women. There was an older couple there - he was called Mike, I think. This was their second ride. Last year he bought them bikes for Christmas (2002) and three months later they were on the Big Ride. This year, his wife has made him get a bigger tent, better mattresses etc., before she would agree to go on the ride.

One of the girls had been on this year's New Zealand ride which was apparently awful. They had frozen quiche for lunch one day and it was really cold. We've all agreed that the organisation is much better on the RTA Big Ride.

Ride Statistics

No riding today.

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