RTA Big Ride 2007 diary

Day 9: Coopernook -> Taree (30KM)
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I thought that I'd be clever, today, since it was still raining, and put on my shoes, before I really left the tent. That way my feet would be kept dry. Unfortunately, as soon as I put my feet onto the ground, they sunk in, to about halfway up the shoes. The whole campground was a bog. We hear now, that it's common for the oval to become waterlogged in a king tide.

I loaded the bike as quickly as possible, leaving only the kitchen stuff out. Then I went and had breakfast, standing up inside the serving tent, and then trekked through the mud with the bike to the toilet trucks. Volunteers had placed pallets etc. over the biggest mud-holes to try and keep us from getting too bogged, but that hadn't helped the luggage trucks. The call went out that we should pack up everything inside our tents and wait while they would, hopefully soon, get the trucks un-bogged. Then we could load our luggage onto them. I was very glad I didn't have such an issue. Since there was no official start, I headed off at about 6:45.

A lot of people had been talking about heading straight down the highway to Taree but, when we got to the turnoff back to Lansdowne, the vollies were already out and standing in the rain. The woman said the the official route was only about 8 kilometres longer than the highway. Given the similar lengths and the fact that the official route was a quieter country road, I decided that I should ride it. Anyway, I felt slightly guilty about planning to leave the vollies out in the rain without purpose (although it's not like they wouldn't have other riders doing the route).

It was good, but slow going. My glasses continually fogged up and I couldn't leave them off for long since the rain swept into my eyes. I took about 2 hours to get to the end, at the Taree show-grounds. It was real confusion there. The word was out that the luggage trucks were still bogged, as were the catering trucks. People with cars were urged to go back and pick up their own luggage, while there was talk about getting smaller 2-tonne trucks to get the remainder of the luggage. I never actually saw any of the riders' luggage arrive, but was told that the last option was used, and that all luggage was retrieved. From what I also heard, the drivers for the catering trucks basically retreated to motels and left them there. The luggage trucks were pulled clear with the help of tractors, etc., but the others were going to be left until the ground dried.

This time there was hot food and tea provided. Some organisation (not sure who) were selling rissole sandwiches and the like, with free tea and coffee in a small building. Nearby, the toilets were open with a couple of hot showers available. I could get dry clothes off the bike and get clean and dry. Others had to wait for their clothes. I ate a couple of sandwiches, and packed up everything into the duffel bag and waited for the coach to Sydney.

Recovery
Recovery

We were eventually given some bubble-wrap for the bikes, since the boxes we had come north with had, in Debbie's words, turned to porridge. I helped unload some of the volunteers' luggage which eventually arrived, as we discovered that there was a bogged coach, about 100 metres away. That was one of ours, and the driver was very annoyed. He had to wait ages for someone to come and pull him out. It wasn't until about 1:30 that we actually left. The trip to Sydney was uneventful, although the air-conditioning on board was cold, and I think that I arrived home at about 7:30pm

Taree show-ground
Taree show-ground

Packing up
Packing up

When I got home, I took a picture of the state of the occie-strap bought in Port Macquarie. It had barely survived 100 kilometres.

Travel-worn
Travel-worn

Ride Statistics
DST  32.5 km 
TM  2:10:59 
Avg. speed  14.88 km/h 

Overall Statistics
Overall Statistics 
DST  448 km 
TM  26:27:18 
Avg. speed  16.9 km/h 


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