(Actual week 6 and Monday of week 7)
Yackandanduh to Wagga Wagga, Tuesday, 9.6.22, 163 kilometers
The last two days in Yackandanduh were a well needed break as I have mentioned in my previous posts. Now, back to serious ride distances again. 163 kilometers is just over 100 miles, generally considered a significant milestone ride in biking circles. The Century! Riders maybe do one or two in a ride season, some riders never complete a century, it’s a big commitment. This ride, we have done 14 rides that have either exceeded or come very close to being 100 milers. That is record for me, I doubt I will ever come close to completing that many centuries in a ride season.
The ride out of Yackandanduh is a climb of about 7 to 8 kilometers, some on gravel rail trail and some back out onto the two-lane highway with a fast downhill into Wodonga, a busy little town. We had to negotiate through the town trying to stay on the Olympic Highway, we missed one turn but found our way out of town onto the M31, the 4-lane busy road between Sydney and Melbourne.
Bonus, as we navigate out of town, we find the border sign for New South Wales (NSW), the state of Victoria is now behind us, 3 full states behind us.
You may recall that we were on the M31 a week or so ago, 77 kilometers west of Melbourne (closest we got to the coast at the time) I got a flat tire on that section going into Broadford.
Today, traffic is heavy, passing fast but we have a wider breakdown lane and feel ok about the ride so far. The lane we are in is smoother than the two-lane roads which feels good and adds to our average speed. Scotty glimpses a wrench on the road and stops to pick it up, it’s a guy thing! I continue along and eventually come to an exist. I rely on Scotty and the van to keep me on the right road and now, I see neither. I stop and wait for Scotty, which is taking a lot longer than it should and I see no sight of his headlight flash behind me. Concerning! As I look forward and back, I glimpse the van up ahead. I am not sure how Bushy got there, must have passed me and I didn’t see it. I ride up to it and Bushy tells me Scotty has a flat and is riding the flat up to the van. A little chaos but we get a replacement wheel out and get it onto Scotty’s bike and off we go. Two flats to the M31, hoping for no more.
Soon we are off the M31, back to two-lane, eventually about halfway to our destination, Culcairn, we stop in a park for a well needed lunch, the ride going amazingly well. We continue along the mostly flat area racking up the distance at a good pace.
Wagga Wagga, commonly called just Wagga, is a larger town. We are booked into a Best Western that has motel rooms as well as apartments. We got a multi room apartment that was nice and roomy. A trip out for dinner, a stop at a local Woolworths grocery (Wollys) for a minor resupply and then back to the room for a well-deserved rest.
I am feeling amazingly good but worried about the huge effort of today’s ride. For those bike data geeks reading, there is a score that tracks ride effort. It’s called TSS, Training Stress Score. It is based on data collected from bike sensors and calculated during the ride. TSS scores for active 3–4-hour rides usually are 100 to 200 for my pre-Australia training rides. Today’s ride was 833, highest I have ever seen. The days before Yackandanduh were over 500. I am exerting efforts that I never knew I could repeatedly do. Scotty’s coach has said that a score of 800 or more means about 4 days of fatigue and soreness. I should be worried for tomorrow.
Wagga Wagga to Harden, Wednesday, 9.7.22, 47.7 kilometers
Normal 6:00 alarm, breakfast in the room, kit up, load up and I am feeling a bit tired already. The next days will be challenges of a different version. No flat straight roads. We are into hill country of NSW heading back towards the Great Dividing Range.
My energy level and mental state is not improving as we ride and enter the town of Junee, where the Junee Licorice and Chocolate factory are in a very scenic old industrial building. Another good lunch stop, and a chance to don the Dancing Bear Chocolate tee shirt I have been seen wearing at strategic locations across Australia. Dancing Bear is a chocolate shop only blocks from our home and a great place with wonderful owners and the best treats ever. Some pictures were taken, some lunch consumed and back riding.
Within about 2-3 kilometers I know it’s time to get off the bike and ride in the van for the next 100 kilometers and sadly, leave Scotty to ride alone, well not alone because we are close behind in the van for support and safety.
I am back to co-support role and Scotty puts in a massive effort, up and down the hilly area riding into headwinds.
Our destination is a very small town, Harden. A small motel with a “family” room. Two tiny rooms with a common door we can open to share the limited spaces. Dining options, very limited but we find a country club that is open until 7 only a few kilometers away and we are off. I’m not all that hungry, just fatigued. I need to eat something, get a hamburger and a beer. On the way out, we meet a guy who is walking and raising money for a charity. We talk some and move on.
Back to the rooms and I am into bed and trying to get maximum sleep to be ready for tomorrow’s ride to Goulburn, Bushy’s and Scotty’s hometown and a huge milestone in our journey. I have already admitted that I may need to shorten tomorrows ride as well.
Harden to Goulburn, Thursday, 9.8.22, 53.8 kilometers
Yup, 6 A.M. alarm and I am not at all excited about another century ride. I am determined to ride into Goulburn. First big obstacle of the day is getting through the town and hills around Yass. The weather forecast is poor at best, rains predicted for most or all of the day and so far, we have avoided all the rain. There is a town about 50 kilometers from Goulburn named Gunning. It is a well know turn around stop on local Goulburn training bike rides. Scotty has ridden here and beyond countless times prepping for the adventure. There is a great little café there, the Merino Café. We plan lunch there and I will start to ride up the hills from Gunning to Cullerin, Breadalbane on country highways and then back onto the M31 for a push into Goulburn. I have ridden and raced on these roads during one of my first trips to Australia and have heard no ending stories about the rides and roads. I am energized to do the last 50 k and arrive in Goulburn.
Scotty is getting tired; hills and headwinds have taken a toll. He did the last 100 k’s in about 4.5 hours, WOW! I am anxious to get riding and leave Bushy and Scotty at the café, the route is straight ahead 255 k before getting on the highway.
At my own pace, enjoying all the emotions that are starting to overwhelm me as I ride. Trying to relive all the highlights and low points I have experienced. Euphoric, giddy, sad, totally exhausted, amazed and just about any other human emotion you can imagine, we have experienced. I feel tears come to my eyes and try and take in all the surroundings.
About 7-8 k’s down the road, I hear the van behind me and then Scotty pulls up. He wants to do the last minor climb before we hit the highway. Side by side we ride, at one moment we reach out and lay our arms over each other’s shoulders in solidarity knowing that once in Goulburn the “adventure” will morph into something unlike what the last 6 to 7 weeks have been. The threesome will split up for 2 days and then reform for the last two day pull to Bondi Beach.
One last stop at a rest area along the M31, 10k from Goulburn. Emergency energy food/fuel needed for both of us. Adrenalin starting to kick in. Bushy’s son Gavin, who is in the police force and was a past Highway Patrol officer has arranged for a Highway Patrol car to escort us in through Goulburn the last 5 kilometers, lights flashing, Scotty and I in tow.
We meet the HP car, ride past a local lady with pom poms yelling welcome, we ride, harder than I have ridden for quite some time, trying to keep pace with the flashing lights. I know he probably is not on official duty and wants to complete this task quickly and with little local disruption.
Down the last hill on the back side of Goulburn, left turn into the Goulburn Central Park and rotunda where there are about 25 people waiting with signs, cheers and good wishes for a task completed. As I told both Scotty and Bushy, riding to Bondi is the bonus kilometers, because of my Goulburn connections, my Tour of Australia is Goulburn to Goulburn and tonight that is done.
The local newspaper sends a reporter/photographer to do a local interest story about us. Tons of photos, a minor interview, a cheerleader song from the pom, pom, cheerleader lady that she made for us earlier today. More photos and then crowd dwindles to a few. I hop on my bike and ride back up the main street of Goulburn to Chris and Lyn’s home.
In for a shower, change clothes and then meet up with extended family at the local RSL Club, Scotty and I are starving again. Jittery from the efforts of the day, Scotty more so than me as to be expected.
Back home, relax, get settled some and lights out.
Goulburn, rest day #1, Friday, 9.9.22
The adrenaline is gone, sleep last night was not as good last night as previous night’s so this morning I wake, hungry and a bit nervous. Look outside, rain. Rain is predicted all day to day and tomorrow, both non ride days. Bushy and I are off to Roses Café in town to meet Scotty for breaky. The local owner, Carol, buys us breakfast, how nice. A small local town environment. We meet and talk to some friends, off to the bank to adjust some funds for the rest of the ride. Back to Bushy’s house and blog and relax time.
Eventually, it’s time to unload the van of all the major cross-country gear, the refrigerator, tents, sleeping bags, extra cooking utensils, coffee pots, all the usual breakfast and sometimes dinner food that we have relied on daily. Then, deliver all the borrowed gear back to Daniel and Scotty.
A stop at the local coffee shop, casually called Tatt’s Corner Café. A little snack and time for the three of us to continue to talk through what we have accomplished since we loaded the van and left Goulburn to drive west on Saturday July 23rd!
Easy dinner at the home tonight and more relaxation, hoping to get a bit of a handle on pictures and video from the trip, yeah, good luck with that!