This morning was a real fuckup. The bikes didn't arrive until about 9:30. I'd
arrived at about 8:00 for check-in and should have done so immediately but,
due to my slightly obsessive nature about the order of things, didn't. As a
result I had to deal with standing in a large queue as the time grew closer
and closer to the official start.
the check-in queue
By the time the bikes arrived, Debbie was quite concerned about the amount of
time left for all those who had to check in. They had to be out by 10:30, if I
recall correctly, and they had also run out of luggage tags to indicate which
bags were correct-weight and allowed to go on the luggage truck Therefore
Debbie made the executive decision to get us to place all remaining luggage
on the truck and get the infrastructure moving. A girl came down the queue
handing out the appropriately coloured dangly bits to vegetarians or normal
people and we eventually queued through to get our identity cards. There were
no bracelets which meant that anyone could take a card and use it to get on or
off campsite etc.
My front brakes were screwed up again (like last year) when I set the bike
up. It's that bloody roller mechanism that means that the cable can get jammed
and frayed. The mechanics replaced it with a bendy metal sheath which is much
more sensible than what King Street Cycles had put on the bike. Everything else
was ok and I had the Garmin up and synched to satellites so I could record track
Behind the shire hall, and looping under the Hume along a creek bed, is a
mini train on small gauge tracks. It was one way to keep some of the kids
(and adults amused) while waiting for bikes.
More reliable than Countrylink
That's the famous Holbrook submarine
The official start, which was meant to be 11:00 was underway at about 11:30.
It had started to sprinkle, but evidently wouldn't continue too long. About
20km out of town, at some place signposted as Ute Beaut there was a coffee
stall. I wasn't actually in a coffee mood so I had some a chocolate milkshake
instead, with marshmallows, as it was still quite hot (and there were lots of
flies) regardless of the rain. We later found out that the place was there
without the blessing of the ride. Admittedly the location might have been a
bit unsafe, but the Coordinator gave it a real serve at the briefing in the
evening, whereas I thought that BINSW was supposed to have coordinated with
towns' businesses and community groups to provide such facilities as
morning tea (although the coffee stall was in direct competition to the
business that travelled around with us providing coffee).
On the road again
Given that lunch wasn't until about 30km in, and we had Chinaman's Gap between
us and that location, the coffee stall was a great idea and the fact that the
ride organisers hadn't arranged for someone to provide something like it (in a
better place if necessary) speaks again to the fact that we have a new and
inexperienced coordinator who doesn't know what her job requires.
Mount Pleasant in the south
Chinaman's Gap is a real sharp, but short climb which rises about 160 meters
over 2000 meters - or about a 8% gradient. It has a false flat in the
middle and then a section which is slightly steeper than the first. I stood up
on the pedals to try and get some more power but I lost traction on the wet road
and the rear wheel started skidding, so I had to sit down quickly but had lost
momentum which meant that shortly afterwards I had to get off and walk the last
hundred or so metres. The rest of the route was quite reasonable with a good
downhill run and I got into camp at about 3:15pm
After setting up at camp I went around to the Jingellic Hotel where I met James
again, and had a few quick drinks with him and some others. Then I went and
explored down to the bridge at the Victorian border, and came back to camp
where I met up with Ed and Glenn and had a couple of drinks with them. Cafe
Big has instituted a policy this year of making you buy a plastic schooner,
after you can bring it back to be refilled more cheaply. It's a shame that
the people running the official coffee stand have forgotten the last few years'
policy of allowing the riders to bring in their own mugs to be filled with a
large coffee, rather than having to use a disposable container.
I had always thought that the Murray flowed the other way, for some reason - had
envisioned it as running further south than the Snowies to end up on the east
coast. Now I know better. The Snowy River is the one that ends up there as it
starts from the east of the mountains, whereas the Murray starts on the western
side and ends up in South Australia. Isn't geography wonderful.
Walking to the border
The Murray, looking towards Jingellic
I missed the start of the ride briefing, but apparently Gaye was talking about
the fact that there's an entire new management structure at BINSW, and that
somehow we, the riders, were to blame for causing the old team to go. That
seems a bit strange when so many of the people I have seen today are new to
the ride. She seems very confrontational and defensive and I guess she feels
that she has something to prove. However, so far, the result of her actions
has been to piss people off. Maybe she will mellow.
I came across Lauren and Grant at dinner so we sat and chatted again. This is
their second ride and the first since 2003 (although I don't recall seeing them
then). Dinner tonight was Shepherd's Pie - quite nice. There was a girl walking
around in pyjamas (presumably getting ready for bed) with a yap dog behind her.
A dog on the ride, un-heard of! The rumour is that she is some sort of Russian
dancer or similar and that she carried the dog on the day's ride in a basket on
the front of her bike which is supposed to be one of those old swept-handlebar
girl's bikes. We guess that she just turned up with the dog and there was nothing
in the rules to prohibit it since no-one ever had even thought of such a
An indication of tomorrow's riding
There's no entertainment in camp tonight. That strikes me as another sign of
the new management's lack of planning or incompetence. Similarly there was only
a few copies of the The Courier being handed out this morning at check-in with
instructions to read them and then pass them along - unnecessary penny-pinching
which detracts from the ride. For the sake of a few cents a copy (for fewer
people than on previous rides) we are being denied equal access to information
about the day's events. We will have no idea what - if any - activities are
available in camp or town when we finish the day's riding.
Day 1 route map (from Google Earth)
Day 1 route profile