Wednesday, 31 December 2014

Culcairn, Walbundarie, Rand

Felt much better when I woke. Peaceful ride into Walbundarie. It's larger than I was expecting. I'm ravenous, eat my breakfast, quarter of a watermelon, a loaf of fruit bread and a handful of cashew nuts. Still I'm hungry, but decide to leave. Better to be a bit hungry than stuffed full.
A tail wind leaving, and it is good, until it moves to a cross wind, and strengthens.
I'm walking. The wind is roaring. Black clouds grow. I head down a narrow dirt track to get to a parallel road. But riding is impossible. Even walking is difficult. Just as rain drops hit, I find a bush to hide behind. There are other trees about, but none I trust to shelter under.
I watch the storm pass. Not enough rain to wet me. But the wind continues. Eventually I decide to find better shelter. More walking.
An hour later, I find it. A stand of Casuarina trees. I wait in vain for the wind to drop. Dust clouds are whipped up.
I watch the fire brigade speed past, and look anxiously for a fire. Impossible to tell with the dust. No smell of smoke.
As darkness falls, I'm not going anywhere. Still too windy.  A couple hours later it eases.
Next morning, in Walbundarie, I learn the fire was at Rand. But it's out now.
Rand, when I arrive it's a ghost town. Or maybe aliens have abducted everyone. I stop for lunch. Then riding around the town, still see no one. Slightly spooky. I head off towards Urana.
Later I see a ute driving up and down in a paddock. Is this what country people do instead of driving round and round the block? Nope, Jay is doing EM Mapping. Up and back, 30 meters apart, for the whole field, dragging the sensor. He tells me of fields that are 8km in length. Long uneventful days, just driving up and back. I guess it is a job that drones will replace in the future.

Holbrook, Culcairn

Old car, still used every day in Holbrook.

I stop for lunch, restock with food and water then leave.

Hannah, an older lady, not as spry on her legs as she once was, comes over to talk with me. When she was 18 she rode her bicycle through Sweden and Germany. Her eyes sparkled remembering the times.

On the way toward Culcairn, I'm not feeling the best. The helpings of roadside plums probably didn't help. I stop early. My stomach rolling, and dig several cat holes. By the time darkness falls, I've used them up. Thankfully, I fall asleep without further problems.

Holbrook

A spectacular sunrise over the valley.

On the road into Holbrook, I'm walking. The slope was gentle and I should be riding, but the energy wasn't flowing. I stumble along slowly.
A motorcycle passes, slows, turns around and returns. John was on his way to work, and wondered if I had mechanical problems. We talk for an hour about bicycles, bush, to many cars, the climate of fear in Australia and the country life.

Tumbarumba

Christmas has come! Crunchy peanut butter marked way down. Okay, expiry it's listed as 3rd Jan 2015. As if that matters. It won't last that long! I get the last two jars.
Manfred, on holidays from German invites me to have a coffee with him. We have a wonderful chat about life, holidays and the beauty of nature.
Back roads towards Holbrook. A farmer stops to see if I'm lost. As he says "don't see many of your type out here". I think he was meaning the bike.
I pass an old church in a sea of yellow. Then spend another peaceful night in the pine forest.

Saturday, 27 December 2014

Tumbarumba

Or Tumba, as Australians shorten it to. Took the slow road from Batlow. Weaved about the logging roads, avoiding the showers and storms, and feed the mossies. Also avoided the dropping branches. Unlike the the park in Batlow, I did see branches falling.
Yesterday was the first fine sunny day in a while.  Was cool and windy, so I sat in the sun, read and knitted. Was near a rural fire building at first. But people stopped to ask if I was breaking in. What sort of question is that?  Would a thief have answered "yes"? Did my "no" convince them? I noticed other drivers slowing down and looking my way. I didn't like the attention, so moved on up the road out of sight.

Monday, 22 December 2014

Under the tree in Batlow

The sign meant no one else wanted this great tent spot!

Tumut, Batlow

A forestry road near Batlow, Tumut
Grrrr. Another midnight wake-up on the way into Tumut. Have people never seen a tent? Why is midnight the time to visit?
Tumut, nothing special. Food, water, then off towards Batlow. Given where I'm headed, there is a lot of up hill, without much down. Seem to be spending more time walking than pedaling. Narrow roads, lots of traffic. 4x4, logging trucks, semi trailers.  I bail off to have a rest under a tree. The day drifts into afternoon, then evening. I stay, watching the trees, clouds and butterflies. One night, two nights. Third night, kids turn up (again!) at midnight! Sleeping I don't hear them arrive, but yelling, car doors slamming, and music wake me. In the dark, they don't see me. I sit and listen to them. Lots of swearing; every second word. Is this how they talk all the time? After an hour, they leave and I fall back to sleep.
In the morning, with water running out. I continue on to Batlow.

Thursday, 18 December 2014

Jugiong, Gundagai

Just happy days of normality. A stop in Jugiong to correct a new tire from the post office, then on to Gundagai.
Was no need to go into Gundagai. Would have saved myself considerable effort if I'd avoided it. But:

There's a track winding back
to an old-fashioned shack."
Along the road to Gundagai.
Where the gum trees are growin'
and the Murrumbidgee's flowin'
beneath the sunny sky.

So, I had to visit.

It wasn't what I expected. It's a small town nestled in the hills along the banks of the Hume highway..

Grenfell, Young, Harden

Hot, humid, windy and storms. But when the wind blows, and it's a tail wind, you pedal.
I didn't get rained on, but it was close.
Watched the top soil blowing away. Rode with it for a bit.
Over 100 kms, with only the last bit walking. The cross wind was to much to cycle in.
Had time to read, day dream, and feast on plums and cherries. Lots of plums and cherries! In the end, too many! Slept on my belly.

Monday, 15 December 2014

Nangar National Park, Gooloogong

A peaceful day was had. Quiet roads, cool sunny day. Bliss.

This morning, these horses wanted to come with me.

Sunday, 14 December 2014

Canowindra

Woke this morning to the birds singing in the trees. Looked out over the fields and breathed the cool morning air. Faint accent of hay. Peaceful start to the day.
120 km to get into Canowindra. I didn't take the short way. Will only stay a few hours before heading further south.
Weird thing leaving Orange; had a squeak. I thought it was the bags rubbing the plastic tubing on the rack. Eventually I decided to do something about it, and found to my horror that the rack was loose. Not just mildly loose, but really really loose. All the bolts holding it on. And the bolts on one side of the front rack. I checked everything then. Only the rack bolts, and only the one size Allen key. Someone playing a prank I think. They would have needed more than an Allen key to remove my racks. Only could have been the last night in Orange, as when I used the Troll during the day all was fine.
I'll check squeaks sooner next time!

Friday, 12 December 2014

A windy day in Orange

Woke in the night, the wind whipping the poplar trees. 40km/hr. Cool: 9C. Decided on another day of rest. Snuggled down in the sleeping bag.

Me on my Troll, leaving Orange the first time.

Thursday, 11 December 2014

Molong, Gumble, Cudal, Orange

Thanks to the kind hospitality of Orange resident William, offering a place to stay. He had room inside, but I choose the back yard. I like my tent, my home.
A day of rest, then back out. William weighed my gear, 40kg back wheel, 24kg front wheel, and me. "Too heavy" was said. He was to wise not to comment on my weight, but did say he weighed less.
I think I influenced him though. He took his heavy bike for the ride out with me.
Not enough low gears though. He struggled to stay behind me on the hills. Had to rush to the top and rest till I arrived.
After William turned to return home, I continued to Molong.
The road to Gumble looked quiet, so off I went. And soon had problems. Flat tire. I couldn't figure out how, as it was a long cut in the direction of the tube, on the inside. Patched it. Got 10km, patch it again. New glue this time. Stopped for the night near Gumble. A locality now with only the community hall left.
Next morning all started good. Till another deflation. I changed the tube, and changed course to return to Orange. No other bike shops for a long time, so better to get a spare tubes now.
The new tube lasted 20km. This time I was sure it was the rim tape. Added duct tape over the top, and got another 15km before flat again. Never had I so much trouble with rim tape, tubes.
The last 30km into Orange was slow. Walk up hills, pumping the tube up, roll down. Repeat. It felt good when I arrived.
Bought new cloth rim tape, spare tubes, glue and patches. Hopefully it's all sorted now.
I couldn't impose on William again, so a night in the van park before I head out again.
Williams heavy bike
Once it was called a tap...

Monday, 8 December 2014

Hill End to Orange

It was a slow trip to Hill End. Going via Mt Horrible and Upper Turon, meant it wasn't going to be flat easy pedaling.
Maybe the trip too Orange would be better.
I chose the Dixon Long Point track. 4 wheel drive only, with a river crossing 20 km from the start. Okay, it wasn't easy pedaling either. But it did delivered on views and low traffic.
An unknown was how deep the water crossing would be. I'd been told everything from bone dry, to waist deep. With the daily storms, it seemed no one knew.
Only ankle deep.

Lithgow to Hill End

A very early start out of Sydney. Hot, humid and hilly, but I've a grin from ear to ear. It's good to be out cycling again.

Monday, 1 December 2014

The new Troll


Was in a ride state by the Sunday, but then I spent four days working on a new chain case. The old one was white core-flute, the new is black polypropylene(?); from a discarded A0 art folio. It is thinner, as stiff as core-flute, and holds its shape better.  I have plans for more improvements, but, next year.
The clean and shiny look won't last long. I am returning to where I left off. The forecast for the next week; daily showers and thunderstorms.