RTA Big Ride 2005 diary

Day 8: Marulan -> Robertson (80KM)
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RPM readings today may be a bit dodgey due to the moisture from the fog causing problems with the computer. From the very start it was reasonably foggy, and became quite dense at Fitzroy Falls park. I had to wear my sunglasses all day since my eyes became quite cold from the chilly damp air. If I'd known the depth of fog that would be present, and thought about it, I would have changed the lenses to the clear ones to get better vision. As it was, I had no problem seeing through the dark lenses and didn't feel unsafe.

We woke up to a light fog, and rode out in the same. The police got us across the freeway in stages again, this time, with big groups rather than the handfuls of yesterday afternoon. The section of road up to morning tea at Wingello was nice and flat and I flew along, escaping the crowds early on. Morning tea was slightly off the main track (as at Breadlbane), and this time I decided that the breakfast banana could be eaten in one of the bus shelters on the main road. The City Rail managed train-stop had a sign that no trains were running on the weekend due to track-work - so typical of City Rail.

The fog deepened after Wingello, and by about 9am I had entered Bundanoon in a white world. As we came out of the open farmland and into the purview of the forests, the road became wet as well, from the fog dripping off the trees. All this road was the same as that ridden two years ago, when we came the other way.

Lunch was at Exeter, at the sports ground, where the local cricket eleven was playing in fog so thick it's a wonder that anyone could see the ball. The whole of Exeter is so English with European trees and big mansions. The whole feel was complemented by the fog, and the scene could have been one of those moments from a Famous Five book with the children sneaking out of doors to follow the suspicious neighbour as he slips into the fog.

Lunch at Exeter
Lunch at Exeter

Cricketers in the mist
Cricketers in the mist

Riding on to Fitzroy Falls, the fog deepened. Some local drivers were on the roads without lights and one of them abused us for being dangerous. At least we had police motorcycles patrolling the ride with flashing lights to warn other road users. The route was much the same as the day two years ago when we road from Bowral to Bundanoon, except for the deviation into Exeter.

At the falls the field of vision dropped to about 3 metres, and it was getting reasonably chilly. There was no way you would see any of the lake. I had worn my arm warmers the whole day, and really appreciated them now. Afternoon tea at the park was most welcome and I had a cup of tea and several home-made biscuits.

Spider webs in the mist
Spider webs in the mist

Trees at Fitzroy Falls
Trees at Fitzroy Falls

After the park was a left-hand turn which was quite hard to see in the fog, and there was a volunteer sitting across the road who didn't really seem to be making enough of an effort to alert riders to the turn. I recalled that there was a nice descent coming down to the falls which we would have to climb this time. However, with the fog, it didn't seem as bad as it should have. I just kept turning over the pedals and looking for the next bend in the road and, when the pedals felt a bit harder to turn, I just upped the pace. There was little appreciable feel of climbing.

Almost before I knew it I was at the highway just outside of Robertson, where the police again got us across onto the right side of the road. Then there was a nice gentle run down into the town itself. We were camped at the sports-ground on the main road, where I set up facing a nice little reed-covered waterway.

Camp at Robertson
Camp at Robertson

The fog has thinned and thickened several times. For a minute or so you can see the houses on the hill across from the camp, and then they're gone again. It's started drizzling as well, and I'm rugged up in the vest, raincoat, and beanie. I look like a real wild man with the several day's growth of beard. The local dignitary who spoke at the briefing read the ballad of Mulga Bill, and I almost feel like that character may have looked.

There was a talk this afternoon by Nikki Brown, who was one of a pair who cycled around Australia in 1999/2000. She's written a book covering the section from Cairns to Perth, and presented information on her experiences and tips for cycle touring. It was very good, and I bought a signed copy of the book. Not that I'll do that ride, but it's inspirational and full of useful information about the areas she passed through and about cycle touring in general. Thinking about it, a trip from Cairns to Sydney sounds nice. You'd have to plan it carefully and look at when the prevailing winds are from the north, of course.

Nikki started out as a complete cycle novice, having seen the distance achieved by a friend just cycling over 6 months to and from university (about the distance from Newcastle to Brisbane). She then did a weekend trip to see if she could cope, and then set out not long afterwards. Eventually, she and her friend covered 25,000 kilometres, mainly on small roads - off the main highways.

I meet Jacinta again, and we talked a bit more. She's really nice - I could feel myself falling for her as we spoke. She's had some unpleasant experiences on previous mass rides by the sound of it, and is a bit over them. I must admit the same, as this ride started off badly, what with obnoxious BNSW office staff, bike problems and the weather.

The final night party was tonight. I was all for it initially, bought a mask for the masquerade ball and felt good about going. Unfortunately, the event was in a smallish hall which couldn't fit anywhere the number of people wanting to get in. I arrived at the same time as James who didn't have a mask and was hassled at the door by Heebee. She wasn't going to let him in without one, but he pushed his way in. I think that she was a bit over the top in trying to enforce a party spirit.

Once inside, the music was loud and out of tune. There was a guy playing guitar who was ok, and a mandolin player who was not so ok. The vollies opened the bar, which was a hole in the wall, and all of a sudden a line of about 50 people formed. Both of us left soon after - another bad experience.

Ride Statistics

DST  85.23 km 
TM  4:05:28 
Avg. speed  20.8 km/h 
Max. speed  57 km/h 
Max. RPM  97 
Avg. RPM  89 

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