So much to remember in these last nine days, I suspect I won’t do justice to all the great experiences and all the laughter moments. I’ve done well journaling most all the days since leaving the states but as the adventure wears on and days fill, there seems to be less time and less dedication to the journal pages. Here goes my attempt.
Port Augusta to Snowtown, Sunday, 8.21.22, 155 kilometers
Rested up after taking a day off in Port Augusta, we wake to a very cloudy, misty, foggy 6:00 alarm. Our routine is getting get settled, alarm at 6, the three of us lay in bed for 10-15 minutes and check phones and media and messaging. Up, preparing porridge (oatmeal/muesli mix) in cups with water boiled in the kettle. Toast, usually a toaster is at our overnights. Get kitted up (dressed ion cycling clothes, the multiple layers) for the ride, load all the gear back into the van and off we ride. Happy to have flouro vests and bright flashing bike lights today as it took about an hour before the fog and mist cleared. The ride, as much as I can remember, was as easy as a ride like this can be. My mind drifts off into a zone, not consciously thinking about any one thing. Something happens, a truck flies by, the scenery gets even more amazing, one of us starts talking about what has happened, what might happen, some foolishness that occurred and we communicate back and forth for a while and then back to quite riding.
Our destination today is Snowtown, Chris and Scotty have been talking about this place, “the bodies in barrels in the bank” town. The story is murders occurred, the bodies were then stored in barrels in the vault of the bank, sketchy, eh? Not sure when that happened but in the past. Our experience for the overnight was marvelous though. We stayed at the Snowtown Hotel, a large place, maybe too big for what is currently going on in Snowtown. Downstairs pub and dining, upstairs, about 10 to 12 hotel rooms, a common toilet and shower room and a common kitchen area for all the guest to use. All the guests, that would be the three of us. Comfortable rooms, warm, hot showers after the water ran for a bit. The owner and his partner served us dinner. We had some friendly conversation, heard all about the last 20-year history of the place. We finished dinner and the hosts told us they were headed to Adelaide for the night, we locked ourselves in and were the only ones staying there that night. I felt like I was living in a bit of the movie “The Shining”. All things were good, up the next morning, normal routine and off to Adelaide.
Snowtown to Adelaide, Monday, 8.22.22, 149 kilometers
The weather predictions were good for the start of the day, not so good for the finish. Scotty and I started at a relatively calm 24 kph pace enjoying the tail wind and pleasant day. As in past days, the pace started to increase and I needed the hourly breaks more and more to get some food, liquids, and a quick bit of recovery. The closer we got to Adelaide the traffic got heavier with the road conditions not improving. Eventually we got to dual carriageway, which felt unusual after having ridden on a two-lane roadway for so many kilometers. I was having a hard time processing that other set of lanes to my far right across a median.
2 hours away from Adelaide the rain started. Cool and wet, my favorite, maybe not. We were still on the A1 highway, it crosses over the M2, the newer freeway into Adelaide with traffic continuing to build. Prior to today I was looking forward to getting back to the city. Now, I was looking back to the days on the Nullabor Plain with fond memories of long open stretches, calm and quite except for the road train trucks and the caravans.
We arrived at our Airbnb about 2:00, check in not available until 3:00 and it’s still cool and raining. Lucky, a few blocks away was a friendly Italian restaurant, they let us in to drip all over the floor, stored our bikes in their storeroom, served us a great pre dinner meal and kept us entertained and warm until we could check in.
The Airbnb was wonderful, newer building of apartments, three stories tall, garage on the ground level, living room and kitchen on the second level with a fold out couch, third floor, two bedrooms, toilet and shower and bathtub. Hot shower time!!
Time to relax and then a walk down to a lane of restaurants to find a Chinese place for a change of pace. Good dinner, relaxed, a walk back and before long, lights out, me on the fold out so Chris and Scotty to sleep without my annoying snoring to disturb them.
Adelaide, rest day #1, Tuesday, 8.23.22
Today was a resupply and walk about day. Our lodging was close to the CBD (Central Business District of Adelaide) Still a cool day, but the rain was gone. Big breakfast at a local city café and on the Rundel Mall, a high class, busy shopping district in central Adelaide. I was finally reunited with the large Skratch Labs order I shipped weeks prior from the USA with a promise of 8-to-10-day delivery only to take almost 4 weeks and then need Chris’s wife to post it from Goulburn to Adelaide for us. At least we have it for the last third of the trip. A few GoPro purchases to replace mounts that failed along the way due to road vibration, a few pictures, a casual lunch. Back at the lodging, it was time for a big bike update, new chain, new brake pads, install the spare set of wheels with new tires, clean and adjust in preparation for the last third of the trip.
Back to the Italian place for dinner after touring restaurant row only to find all Chinese options. We had an extravagant meal, ate too much but it was delicious. Back to home and another good night’s sleep.
Adelaide, rest day #2, Wednesday, 8.24.22
Another sleep-in day and then a walk to try and find pancakes but not successful. Bushy and I found good options, Scotty not. Today was a planned casual bike ride to a wonderful suburb of Adelaide, Glenelg. Motivation for the ride was a bit low and the weather was not so appealing, a bit cool. Chris went off to get a massage to work out some extended driving kinks and when he returned, we all decided no bike ride for today.
The local Coopers Ale House was the dinner plan, and they did not disappoint. Great dinner and of course a Coopers green on tap.
Early end of the night as tomorrow was ride day, up the Adelaide Hills over Mount Lofty.
Adelaide to Tailem Bend, Thursday 8.25.22, 117 kilometers
I was looking forward to todays ride, had been for several days, probably since Port Augusta. I’ve ridden the Adelaide Hills before with Chris in the Aussie summer months and it was wonderful. Today, I’m on a bike that has only one front chain ring instead of two so my gear choices are somewhat limited. I’m wondering how I will manage. The climb starts gradually right out of our door and lasts about 10 to 12 kilometers, getting steeper after the first 2-3 k’s. No surprise, as we have nightly looked at the weather forecasts so we can kit up properly for the day, rain, and lots of it all the way to Mount Lofty and on to Handorf, our first planned mini rest. The haze and mist is dense so scenery is muted to almost non existent. Cresting Mount Lofty, somehow, I got ahead of Scotty, and I hear him yell out, Pat! You have a flat rear tire; sealant is spraying out of your tubeless rear tire. We stop and as we look at the small cut ion the tire, the sealant takes over and the leak stops. Humm, on we go, no follow vehicle until we get to Handorf.
Down the hills we go, cooling off excessively in the rain and the wind. We both made good clothing choices for the climb, not for the descent. We ride through the town of Stirling, and I am freezing and saturated from the inside out and the outside in. A quick stop to make sure where we are and how far to Handorf and off, we go again for about 6 k’s.
Thankfully, Chris is in Handorf and has checked out eating venues. I stop at the back of the van and with traffic everywhere, strip off all my top layers to bare skin and tear through my bag gear bag looking for dry, warm replacement kit. Dressed again and starting to warm up we head to a quaint café and order long blacks and pancakes. Food arrives and as Chris tries to seriously explain the complicated next part of the route, Scotty and I break into hilarious uncontrolled laughter, giddy with the past two hours of trauma. My coffee and pancakes disappearing immediately. A quick stop at a souvenir shop and back on the bikes with the rain slowing and then stopping as we go.
I keep thinking about my leaky rear tire and as I ride, the bike just feels less responsive, Scotty is off away from me, and I can’t seem to catch him. We stop a few k’s down the road, get the tire pump out, top off the tire and then realize the rear brake is dragging some. The checkout ride to Glenelg we did not do, maybe should have been done. A roadside rear caliper adjustment and I am good to go again. The rest of the ride was uneventful, thankfully. The weather improving as we went, eventually ending at the Murray River across from Tailem Bend.
We wait for and then board a punt (ferry) to cross the river and arrive at a nice motel just across the river. Carolyn, the owner welcomes us, donates money to our mission for the Black Dog Institute and even gave us some more home baked Anzac biscuits because we raved about how good they were.
Tailem Bend to Keith, Friday, 8.26.22, 131 kilometers
None of these ride days are easy, some are easier, but none are easy. Every day brings its own set of challenges, opportunities, wonderful sights, crazy funny lapses, and all out hard efforts. Today, the challenge was more so than I expected. At about 130 kilometers, I didn’t see it as being a long ride, even though that’s about 78 miles in USA terms. I don’t have any good journal entries or memories because by the time we arrived in Keith, I was trashed! Accumulation of the trials of the last few days is the only reason I can think of why I felt so worn, maybe, poor food along the way, certainly the strenuous efforts, whatever, I knew I was in trouble. I tried my usual routines of activity that can sometimes allow me to recover, a bike of bike maintenance, dismounted the leaking tire, drained the sealant, and added a tube because the tire cut seemed bigger than I would like to see. Shower, relax, an hour’s fitful nap. Another hour before dinner, still uneasy. Off to dinner in the pub attached to the motel, an easy walk. I ate, even though I didn’t feel like eating, forcing what I knew I needed into me. I left the dinner early after telling Scotty and Chris I was feeling lousy. Back in my room and lights off probably around 7:30, alarm tomorrow at 6, hoping a long sleep would make the difference. Awake at about 11:30 to the sound of the guy next door singing in the shower, really?
Keith to Penola, Saturday, 8.27.22, the 160 kilometers I did not ride
The alarm went off and I knew, today was not to be a ride day for me. The three of us had two rooms, me in one, Chris and Scotty in the other. Breakfast in their room, I announced my plan to not ride today. To focus on recovery so that I could reclaim the fun of the last bits of this adventure. Overall, a great decision. Even by mid-morning I was feeling better and more energized. I was sad not to join Scotty but today was an opportunity for Chris to join Scotty riding the last 20 k into Penola. The weather was great, Scotty was on fire, getting 20 k down the road before Chris and I caught him. His average pace for the day was record setting. He and I have talked since and he has expressed the emotions he felt riding alone, a day that has strengthened the relationship the three of us have developed. I got a chance to oversee the follow vehicle duties for the last 20 k, a role I hadn’t thought I would have, but a good role.
We arrived in Penola to a very nice motel “Two Room Suite” and friendly proprietor who stored our bikes in his lock up storage shed. An excellent dinner, best of the trip maybe, at the local pub. This is a wonderful wine region so Bushy bought me a giant size glass of local Shiraz, yum to all that was consumed. A drive back to the motel for a great night’s sleep, I was cautiously reenergized to get back on the bike and ride to Hamilton, ready to cross the South Australia, Victoria border tomorrow.
Penola to Hamilton, Sunday, 8.28.22, 128 kilometers
Our proprietor told us about a minor adjustment to our route for tomorrow and the next day, ride through the Grampian Mountain Range region of Victoria. His description for tomorrow was mostly flat, a few climbs, generally an easy day in the saddle. Easy to talk about but as I’ve said, not without challenges. There were probably a few more than two climbs, some marvelous downhill sections where Scotty launched off the front with a huge grin on his face breaking over 68 kph down at least one. I’m not so comfortably with those speeds on rough pavement with significant cross winds on a two-lane highway. Still fun at over 50 KPH for me.
The plan was to eat well, don’t expend needless energy and continue to improve my reenergization process. Overall, job well done. The ride was a bit boring, no real significant challenges. About 20 k from Penola we crossed into Victoria, time to stop and get some pictures. Another milestone achieved. I keep thinking, how is this all possible, I am still living in this world of unreality. Other details of the ride, amazing scenery, rolling foothills of the Grampians. Promise of Emus, not fulfilled. Still a great day.
Hamilton to Ararat, Monday, 8.29.22, 111 kilometers
Hangry Day! Hamilton to Ararat, the day we pay for all the Western Australia tail wind days. But also, the day we, at least from a distance, get to see the glory of the Grampians. There were plenty of photo ops, hours’ worth of opportunities. We took advantage along the way. Scotty was on a bit of a mission to start the ride as the weather forecast was decent for the morning but getting bad the closer, we would get to Ararat. Neither of us interested in riding in more rain, the pace was more intense until we started to head closer to the northly direction when we were faced with 20 to 25 kph head winds and cross head winds. Both of us agreeing that we would take the head winds over the rain. Scotty is/was a machine during the head wind section, I would never be able to hold that pace at the lead, sometimes it is tough to hold that pace in the draft. Scotty keeps checking with me about how many watts of power I am producing while riding, helps keep us together when he ramps up his pace. After this ride is all done, I hope to do a statistics recap page, might be interesting for the cycling geeks who love to talk data.
The ride continued, clouds rolling in, wind increasing and then decreasing, directions changing slightly all the time as the road wound its way to Ararat. Closer and closer until about 2:00 we reach Ararat, unfortunately check in time at the Airbnb was 3:00.
By now, the hangry (Hungry and irate) version of me started to surface. Our normal dining hour has been 6:00 P.M. It’s two now and as we get into town, Chris starts driving away for the CBD out to the lodging. Eventually we stopped in front of the place, unable to get in and I undiplomatically say I must eat and eat now. I caught Chris by surprise, but he quickly realizes my need for food. Back into town, found a great bakery/café and feed as needed. Whew, I say I am sorry for the outburst, but I know in the Australian way, I will pay for that episode.
Unload, shower, relax, the storm hits big time, lightning, thunder, lots of rain. We are so happy to not have to deal with it.
Dinner, Scotty’s parents are in Ararat, so we meet up with them at the RSL Club (Returned Service League of Australia), kind of like a VFW club in the USA. We need a temporary membership to get in, no hats allowed, respectful interlude where everyone stands, lights dim, and a commemoration moment is observed.
Back to the lodging, relax and lights out for me at 10 ish instead of 9. Warm bed, sleep in day tomorrow.
Ararat, Tuesday, 8.30.22, Day off/Rest Day
Whoever oversees the weather has been kind to us again. Our rest day starts out raining, heavy mist, cool/cold and we don’t have to ride our bikes in it. A promise of nicer weather tomorrow to boot. Coffee at home and then off to The Vines Café for a lovely breakfast, Scotty gets his Big Breakfast, Chris an omelet, me, French toast and three Long Blacks. The display case has some wonderful treats in it, some made by the owners, husband making some, wife the others. She serves us home cooked breakfast and then sells us the treats to go laughing about how Scotty wants the husbands’ items and not hers. We get two of hers and two of his.
We were planning a side drive trip to Halls Gap, scenic overlooks of the Grampians but it so misty and overcast, the tourist place says not to bother, we will only see misty clouds and the roads might be sketchy because of almost 2 inches of rain fall last night.
Lunch at the Hangry café from yesterday, back to the lodging to get my updates wrapped up, maybe a trip to the library for WIFI as our Airbnb barely has 4G service, at the edge of town.
Hoping to get some bike maintenance in to make up for the Adelaide rain ride, another visit to the RSL to meet up with Scotty’s parents again, oh and multiple loads of laundry getting completed.
Tomorrow, 6:00 A.M. will come before I know it.