It began as a whisper in October. Bob Seger’s song, “Roll Me Away”, would quietly creep into my head late at night when I’d awaken at 2am. He’d softly sing:
“Took a look down a westbound road,
Right away I made my choice.
Headed out to my big two-wheeler,
I was tired of my own voice.
Took a bead on the northern plains
And just rolled that power on….
We rolled across the high plains,
Deep into the mountains,
Felt so good to me,
Finally feelin’ free….
Stood alone on a mountain top,
Starin’ out at the great divide.
I could go east, I could go west,
It was all up to me to decide….”
By November, the song was louder and played in my head in the daytime, too. That song was accompanied by Tom Cochrane singing, “Life is a Highway”:
“Life’s like a road that you travel on
When there’s one day here and next day gone
Sometimes you bend, sometimes you stand
Sometimes you turn your back to the wind
There’s a world outside every darkened door
Where the blues won’t haunt you anymore
Where the brave are free and the lovers soar
Come ride with me to the distant shore.
Life is a highway, I want to ride it all night long….”
By December, those songs were joined by Mumford and Sons,”Hopeless Wanderer”.
Yes, all I wanted to do was be back out on the road. But I had commitments in Albury until the end of the year. So I did 30 and 40-mile loop rides locally on the rough, narrow, chip-seal roads. I survived all the Aussies who passed me way too closely. I survived the dive-bombing magpies, who will actually hit your helmet and draw blood when they beak your neck or ears, in October. I tolerated the sticky swarms of flies through November. I got up and rode at dawn when the heat kicked it up in December. I sat around in a dark, cool room and read Crazyguy journals about Montana (my next touring destination) when we had our first heatwave just before Christmas featuring temps of 40 degrees Celsius.
Then, it happened.
2014 dawned with an amazing weather forecast and I had no commitments. The Bureau of Meteorology (BOM) was predicting a week of light winds and temperatures only in the upper 20s Celsius. That just doesn’t happen in January where I live.
I immediately pulled out the touring gear and started planning a route. The crew (my stuffed friends Verne and Kermit) and I were going to hit the road. We were going to sneak in a summer tour between heatwaves! Take that, Aussie Summer!
But where to go? The Australians take their holidays very seriously, and the city folk escape Melbourne/Sydney/Canberra en masse over the Christmas period and into January. Many families load up their caravans and big canvas tents and invade the country for a few weeks of camping on the beach, in the mountains or near the big, inland reservoirs. So that ruled out a ride in the nearby NSW Snowy Mountains and Victorian Alps. Way too many people up there for me – besides, November and March are the perfect months for riding up there.
So why not just head off from home and do a loop that will take in the plains and the slopes and then skirt the edge of the mountains on the return, instead? We’ll stick to back roads – and thus, all the scenery will be new to me. Sounds like a plan!
Oh, Bob Seger, I can already feel the lines of your song’s chorus reverberating in my heart:
“Felt so good to me
Finally feelin’ free….”