We left Tuncurry at about 7:15am, packing up in the rain. It drizzled a bit until morning tea at the Pacific Palms Surf Club, and I think that I arrived at the lunch stop (again at the same place as in 2004) at 10am or thereabouts. Even though the topography doesn't show it, I think that the toughest climb today was at Red Hill. The council were doing work to widen and straighten the road, and it was dirt in patches, with lots of traffic and steep, if not long. The bump shown below is not at Red Hill, but just before morning tea. It's where I broke my chain on the 2004 ride.
Up and over
In contrast, the first big climb, just after Mayer's Flat, was about 160 metres high but with a shallow incline, and I coasted up it. Since I had momentum from coming down the other side, I didn't stop at the Boolambyte for afternoon tea but continued on and up the side of Bulahdelah Mountain and onto the final 10 kilometres.
Today's final climb was also fairly challenging. It was 100 meters vertical, and the last 30 meters of that was over a quite steep 100m of road for which I had to get off and walk. Today, on these climbs, there's been a lot more comments and questions about the fact that I'm carrying all my gear. Most of it's all been positive, with the riders continuing to share their previous experiences in touring overseas. There's been a handful of people on road bikes who power past, meanwhile loudly slagging me off, but they're the sort of people who hang in their little cliques and don't socialise outside of them anyway. I don't think that they're really on the ride to participate in a large-scale social cycling event. I'm not actually sure why they're out here.
The first long climb
Bulahdelah is overcast, with some drizzle on and off. I'll have to keep an eye on the tent as I try and get it dry, after packing everything wet this morning. That also means that the solar charger isn't charging, and the Edge is almost flat. Now I find that I didn't bring the AC charger for it. At least I beat the luggage trucks into camp again.
For the second day, they have scanned us into camp using the barcoded wristbands. It looks like they are trying to institute some sort of security measure to make sure that we all turn up in camp and that they haven't left anyone behind. Last night at dinner, we were also scanned. It didn't happen at breakfast or lunch though, so I figure that they're finding it all a bit too much work. Why go to the effort of making such a change if the problem of reliably making sure that people don't eat seconds still isn't addressed reliably? It's still a people problem, where you punch stamp a card, or scan a barcode. Either you keep an eagle eye on the untrustworthy mob at all times, or you allow them the responsibility of managing their own affairs. It's not like someone in a small country town is dying to come along and eat our food, in preference to their own, and it's not like the cyclists are going to delay getting on the road in a timely fashion for the sake of a bit more porridge or another hardboiled egg.
When we arrived at camp, we were informed that dinner is up at the mill - where it had been set up in 2004. It appears that management were told by Bulahdelah Council that the sports fields were too wet to park all the trucks on. Bad organisation, or bad luck? As it is, there appears to be no camp services on site, apart from the toilets and showers. There's certainly no Lions or Rotary Club, or the like, to offer us some refreshment as we ride into town. Luckily we've got all of the afternoon to wander up to the pub or a cafe, if they're open on a Sunday, to find something. More bad management?
Sunset over Bulahdelah camp
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