RTA Big Ride 2006 diary

Day 8: Cootamundra -> Boorowa (93KM)
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This morning I made it as far as morning tea. The road was flattish as we left Cootamundra, but it soon turned up hill as we went the reverse of 2003's route and back to the turn at Cullinga (where morning tea was that year). As soon as I turned right, the wind hit me again. Funnily, morning tea was listed as being there this year but, since I hadn't been checking the ride guide I didn't know there was a problem. Everyone who had been pacing themselves for the expected location found themselves with another 5 kilometres to ride.

Between Cootamundra and Harden
Between Cootamundra and Harden

My riding speed was getting down to about 12 kilometres an hour at points and I struggled to the water stop halfway between that 5 kilometres. Again, the same St. John team drove past and stopped. They told me that lunch was a couple of kilometres away and once I sat for a while with a cup of tea and some food I might feel better.

Morning tea
Morning tea

Hot and dry and windy
Hot and dry and windy

Once I got to morning tea at about 11 am (that's about 3 hours for the 30 kilometres, I sat down at the St. John's tent, where I relaxed in the shade for a while. One of the volunteers told me that the sweep bus was only about 10 minutes behind me and I decided that the best course was to wait since I was still not really recovered. Once on the sweep, I joined 10 others that were already there. From the bus we watched the locals who provided morning tea pack up. Behind the tents was a wonderfully painted fire truck.

Fire truck
Fire truck

We drove slowly onto lunch at Harden, behind the slowest riders. When we got there we had half an hour for food. I found that the Russian girl was there and took some photos of her robed for protection against the flies. On the bus there was talk that she was a circus gymnast who grew up in the steppes without electricity or running water, and ran away to the circus when she was 15. Supposedly there's a book about her and her name's Olga.

I was watching her exercise for a while. She did the full splits on her back, moving her legs into incredible positions. Then she rolled up into a full backwards somersault followed by a handstand with legs apart and parallel to the ground. All the while her dog was in the shade under a tree just keeping an eye on where she was. Olga got up, the dog dutifully trotting after her and came over to the bike mechanic where she lined a woven basket with a little blanket and popped the dog into it, which went into the handlebar basket.

Olga's dog
Olga's dog

In riding position
In riding position

She took out a large tube of what looked like anti-inflammatory cream, muttering something about having no ligaments and rubbed handfuls into her knees and calves. Then she dragged a large square of gauze out of her bag and started winding it around her head so she looked like a ghost version of Audrey Hepburn. The mechanic gave her a knife and she cut eye holes in the gauze into which she placed her sunglasses. She then primped and preened in the handlebar mirrors, making sure that she looked pretty, before setting off again. Later I found these links which are, I think, her book and web site.

Olga
Olga

The ride organisers radioed the bus at lunch and it was decided that, as we now had about 13, we should go directly to Boorowa. Then the bus would come back since it was pretty clear that there would be about 3 loads of people that would end up on the bus. Now I estimate that I'm about 200 kilometres short of the total ride distance.

This is the second time I've been to Boorowa. The first was in 1988, perhaps. A fellow Telstra apprentice took me an another friend back for some holidays to see where he came from. We spent one night camping out by a creek and another cold one at some camp in town. I recall lots of dirt roads in the town itself (not that there's much town). This time I'm not sure where we were as the town has changed a fair bit. The camp ground looks reasonably recent, or at least the surrounding fountain and park does.

Camp through the willows
Camp through the willows

Stream running through the park
Stream running through the park

Fountain
Fountain

Model Store 1919
Model Store 1919

I got to town at about 2pm. By 5:30 people were still rolling up at the finish. That's an awful long day if they started no later than 8:30. Olga rode in at about 5:10 - she may be no cyclist, but she's amazingly fit if she can get that far on that bike, dressed the way she was. There are also others with small families (one with three young daughters) of whom I am in awe. The whole day was apparently a really shitty one. Not only was there the rolling hills on what the profile showed as reasonably flat (but I recall from 2003), but the headwind and the heat was considerable. On top of that, the BINSW CEO Alex Unwin apologised to us this evening for a typo in the ride guide. In addition to morning tea being moved, the distance was not 91.7 kilometres, but 97.1 kilometres. The consensus is that today is the toughest day most people can recall on the rides. Some people are reporting that their odometers read over 100 kilometres today.

Olga makes the distance
Olga makes the distance

Grain silo
Grain silo

The final briefing is a bit of a disappointment. Normally they tell us the route for the next year's ride. This time, because there's entirely new management structure (including the CEO's son for web site duties - maybe that's why it's so shitty) they haven't managed to liaise with everyone they needed to to confirm things. All they said is that it's probably to be on the coast somewhere. They also are considering options for shorted and different format rides, like a Hunter valley tour where you ride out to a different vineyard each day and the BINSW team collects your wine for shipping back to Sydney or wherever. Another option which garnered a lot of support from car drivers is the possibility of riding a circular route where you would be able to just jump back in your cars. I guess that would also cut down transportation costs for the BINSW.

Overnight, in Junee before falling asleep, I heard Alex and someone talking outside my tent. They were mentioning Eden, Bombala and the like, which fits in with the coastal theme. At a cafe in the afternoon several of us were discussing where we would like to go and there was a lot of support for the suggestion of going north instead. When I raised Eden as a rumour, I was told that a lot of people were sick and tired of going south. Only one of the last four years has been north and a ride south again might mean a lot of people not turning up.

My health problems continue. Most riders develop diarrhoea on the ride due to the nature of the food. Today, however, it has gone out of control. The nausea also continues and a talk to Dr. Gallow suggested that the antibiotics was the cause of both. Normally St. Johns refuses medication to sufferers and tell them to wait 24 hours to see if the diarrhoea persists. In my case, I've been taken of the antibiotics and put on Imodium.

Ride Statistics
DST  30.82 km (out of 97.1) 
TM  2:19:46 
Avg. speed  13.2 km/h 
Max. speed  55 km/h 
Max. RPM  109 
Avg. RPM  58 

Route map

Notice how crinkled the map is? That's a lot of ups and downs to ride over.

Day 8 route map (from Google Earth)
Day 8 route map (from Google Earth)

Day 8 route profile
Day 8 route profile


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