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
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
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.
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
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.
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
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.
No riding today.