4,000 for 40 – March Ride 3

Oak Brand Caramel Milk: Jindera-Burrumbuttock-Brocklesby-Howlong-Moorwatha-Jindera

Sunday March 13, 2016, 55 miles (89 km) – Total so far: 55 miles (89 km)

Each year, the Bicycle Life Challenge is run (in 2018, it will become the Cycle Life Challenge). Participants must follow a few rules.

The rules are very simple:

1. You must go on a ride with a bike at least seven (7) times between March 12 and May 1, 2016.

2. You must contribute to the local economy through which you ride by some sort of purchase.

3. You must write accounts of your rides with photographic proof of rules 1 and 2.

My goal is to find seven different types of milk to purchase in the Challenge period. My income is pretty teeny at the moment (the charts show I am ‘better off’ than just 14% of the population) and I’m saving money for bigger and better things. This means I try to keep costs low on my bike rides… but I do like to drink milk as a recovery drink. So, given that Oz has many wonderful flavoured milks, I will be working my way through the various brands and flavours on my rides. I will still be contributing to the local economy in that these purchases will all come from local general stores, milk bars and takeaway shops.

This journal also makes my time in Oz come full circle. On my first visit in 1998, there was a flavoured milk called Caramel Dare. It was DIVINE! It was like drinking ice cream. It was so, so good! It was so good, in fact, that my future husband was not quite sure if I kept coming back to Oz for him or the milk. And he was not quite sure if I married him for his rugged good looks, kindness and charm… or for continued access to that milk.

Sadly, they discontinued that milk in the early 2000s, even though it was very popular. They replaced it with a mocha flavour, an espresso flavour and something else coffee-oriented. For many years, there was no caramel milk. But I stuck around anyway. Another brand has now reintroduced a caramel flavour, but it’s not quite the same as that amazing Dare of the past. But we’ll get to that one somewhere on this Challenge, I’m sure.

Soooooo… our first ride goes like this:

On this day in 1976, my mother was convinced she was pregnant with an elephant and that the gestation period reflected that. Her second child was five weeks late.

The doctors had finally decided that the following day they would induce labor, so she was admitted to hospital in preparation. However, the baby – me -, had other ideas. My vital signs deteriorated, my oxygen levels dropped and I went into fetal heart distress. My mom did her best for me. She inhaled oxygen like nobody’s business and emptied a full canister as they prepared for an emergency c-section.

I was born healthy, but my ears were pointed like Star Trek Spock (luckily, somebody rounded those out for me), and my fingers and toes were all shriveled with the skin peeling off. But importantly, the lack of oxygen did no permanent damage (go ahead, make the jokes) and I was born without cerebral palsy or any brain damage. I did have a heart defect – a hole in a ventricle – but it closed on its own by age 4. So when people say the number 13 is unlucky, I just say that was a very lucky day for me.

So what better way to kick off the Bike Life Challenge than to do a “Ride Your Age” ride. If the weather were more cooperative, I would have tried for an Imperial century, but it was quite hot and very humid (the humid part is unusual for us – the hot part is par for the course). The high today was 34C (94F).

We are in the middle of a heat wave that just won’t quit. It was 38 or 39C (100-102F) every day from 28 February to 10 March. The 11th, 12th and now 13th have all been in the mid-90sF or higher (mid-30sC), but very humid. Our normal high for this time of year is around 84F.

So it is the summer that will never end. We never had a spring – it went from cold to freaking hot in late October – so summer has already been going for more than four months. I’m sooooo over it. And so is everyone else.

Still, we got in a ride and are on the board for the Bike Life Challenge. Check out the requisite pics below.

Typical views in my area. This is from the Burrumbuttock – Brocklesby Road. There are a lot of sheep, plenty of wheat and canola, and fair amount of cattle grown here. They also grow oats and lucerne, but most crops are grown over winter. The area where I live is a transition zone from the Southwest Slopes and the Riverina Plains. This means we get a bit more rainfall than all the flat bits but not as much as the mountains. We also have plenty of hills, but they are much lower and gentler than those in the Slopes. You only have to get about 40 kilometres further west to get out into the really flat stuff.
This is what the views were like for the entire 55 miles today. Sometimes more hilly, sometimes less hilly. But this is pretty much the view…..
See the old railroad rails? The state of NSW is soooooooo far behind the rest of the world with rail trails. We don’t have any, and getting the first one is a huge saga. If the state ever gets its act together, this old rail-line from Culcairn to Corowa (where I work) is one of the ones proposed. It is quite scenic from Walla Walla to Brocklesby.
Village of Brocklesby. It once had quite a few businesses in the main street (most burnt down), but it’s a quiet place now that farmers travel into Albury to do their business and the rail-line closed down. You can see all the post boxes in this photo and the local pub. It is run on a community licence these days so has very limited hours. The tin roof in the background is the community hall. There is a very nice park in between.
Across the street from the pub in Brocklesby is this old store. The phone booth probably still works. You can also see all the old grain silos (still used) on the old rail siding in the background.
There has been a long, gradual hill to climb to get here – looking down towards the mountains southeast of Barnawatha. We are on the Kywong-Howlong Road here. It is so hazy today with all that humidity (and some smoke from somewhere, too) that you can’t see all that much.
So here is our local purchase for Ride 1: A chicken and leek pie ($4.70) and an Oak Brand Caramel Milk ($4.00) from the Howlong Bakery, to be consumed at Lowe Square park in Howlong. I’m not a real big fan of Aussie pies because many are just average – like this one. You have to eat alot of average pies before you find a stand-out. I normally go for a spinach and ricotta roll instead, but they were out of those. The milk is tasty, and my favourite flavour, but it’s not DIVINE like the old Dare Caramel milk used to be.
Because the birthday girl doesn’t drink much alcohol, she gets a caramel milk… and couldn’t be happier. These refreshments came at mile 32 – the only place on our entire ride where we could get cold drinks (Burrumbuttock has a store, but it is closed on Sundays.)
Here we are at the 40-mile mark. I’ve ridden my age. That chicken pie is settling heavy, and it is getting quite hot. I feel pretty shitty from miles 42-49 – until I take my helmet off and get some evaporative cooling going on. From mile 49 to 55, I go helmet-less and feel MUCH better. Big-ass fines in my state now for going without a helmet, but my face was so red, I think I could have explained the situation and not been fined (however, I very rarely see cops or highway patrol officers when out on the bike, so I wasn’t worried).
I planned my route so I would go by the “Anderson Road” sign. I had to go by there on the birthday ride, since that is the name of the town where I was born.
Looking through the haze out over the landscape about 7 miles from Jindera. It is hot. I am ready to be done.

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