Lockhart to Jindera via Henty
Tuesday May 31, 2016, 75 miles (121 km) – Total so far: 1,597 miles (2,571 km)
We need to go east this morning to start our route home. This means I’m in no real hurry to get going, since I want the sun to get high enough in the sky so that I’m not hidden in sun glare for drivers approaching from behind.
Sunrise is at 7.15am. It doesn’t rise directly to the east, but I wait until 8.30am anyway before I head out. I can’t wait too long though, because I need to get 70-80 miles done today before it starts getting dusk-ish around 4.30pm. Sunset is at 5.03pm.
It’s not foggy today, but there is frost. It got down to 1 C overnight – the price you pay for clear days. It’s chilly, but I’m warmed up quickly riding a gentle uphill tilt up the basin toward the low hills. The easterly headwind seems a bit strong for this time of day, but I’m not saying much. I don’t want to jinx myself and have that wind turn southerly. Easterly will be a crosswind for much of the day, and I can handle that.
There’s not much traffic on the road that leads from Lockhart to the Rock. This bit of road is new to me. We pass through more fields of emergent crops and through some really nice stands of cypress pine and box woodland. There are some b-double grain trucks moving grain out of the silos at Milbrulong, but luckily, they are all going the other way at this point.
I slowly climb the first hill, then pass a cemetery and another little Lutheran church on the downhill. Then, it’s more tree-lined road and big fields all the way to Milbrulong. The Council workers have started themselves a warming fire by the side of the road, and they are just getting ready to get out there and trim tree limbs along the road. They smile and wave enthusiastically – all five of them!
There are two couples standing near the main road in Milbrulong (which is a couple of streets of tumbledown cottages and no businesses). They are watching all the grain trucks line up near the silos. I guess that is all the excitement there ever is in Milbrulong.
We came through here on our way back from Wagga last month. I love this road – there is never any traffic, it’s recently been resurfaced, and it’s just a long series of rollers with great views over the landscape from the crests. Today it’s just as good as every other time past.
At the top of the hills, in the roadcuts, you can see all the layers of shales and slates pancaked and compressed. Where there’s been some erosion, some of the layers protrude as slabs of flaky, nearly vertical rock. It was all laid down under seawater during the Ordovician (485-445 mya) and then folded and uplifted at the end of that period. Interestingly, about the time these rocks were being folded and uplifted in the Benambran Orogeny, the second greatest mass extinction in earth’s history was occurring. The supercontinent Gondwana was drying out and cooling off as it settled near the South Pole, and all that rich ocean life didn’t make the transition.
I love to think about these things as I ride. I also love to think about this: what does a mass extinction look like? I tell myself… it looks like this, like all that laid out before me, because we are currently in another mass extinction event. Most people just don’t see it, because human time scales don’t always permit the vision to see the time scales that extinction events work on.
We turn eastward on the road that runs to Yerong Creek. After an initial climb and just past a property named “Hillcrest”, we get a nice, long and gentle downhill. The views through the trees are long and good. The ridge of The Rock is always visible off to the north and east. Good views, not much traffic, it’s all good this morning.
Eventually we roll back down to another low area and cross a few branches of a creek. Then we turn off towards Munyabla and start gently climbing up through more enormous fields. At the ‘crossroads’ in Munyabla, we stop for a drink and a chocolate bar. The climbing steepens a bit – perhaps to a 4-5 percent grade ahead. That easterly is being a bit cruel and turning southeasterly… which means we’ll be riding into it all the way home… another 50 miles.
After the short snack stop among the silence and sun, we climb up and around the hill past Terlich’s Quarry. More great views over cleared fields and down into the treed folds of the low hills. It’s all pastoral and pleasant and just a very nice day for a ride. I just wish I was heading away from home and out for an extended period, rather than back toward home and work and all the mundane normality.
We roll across another swampy basin (camping options if required at the Five Ways intersection) after Five Ways. I don’t see five roads converging, but I’m sure there once was. Five ways makes me think of the Midwest of America and all the ways you can order chili. Five ways includes onion, cheese, spaghetti and other stuff I can’t remember now. It’s been a long time since I’ve had a meal at Steak N Shake or Skyline Chili!
As we begin climbing out of the swampy areas and over the hills that stand between us and Henty, I look in my rear-view mirror and see a big-arse truck bearing down on a ute. I can’t hear them because of the headwind, but I decide I don’t really want to be a part of that on this narrow road, so I pull off into the gravel to watch them approach. The b-double truck pulls out to overtake the ute, his right-hand wheels just on the line of pavement and gravel. He rumbles on by the ute and then gives me a little toot of the horn as he goes past. I think it is a thank you toot, because he probably would have not been able to get around the ute (who would have been trying to get around me), if I’d stayed on the road. Really, I do try to share the road the best I can! How do people ride without a mirror?!
We head on up and over the hill and down into the big basin that Henty sits within. We pass by the the huge swamp and on into town. I stop at the IGA to get drinks… and end up on the receiving end of some very, very poor customer service. C’mon, Henty, you can do better! I just mentally note that I will try not to give them my business in the future.
Then I head over to the servo (the Shell station – because last time I was here I got shitty service from the Liberty station… you are a happenin’ little town, Henty, what is up with your customer service?) for a hamburger.
While I’m sitting there waiting on them to cook it, I am bemused to see that directly next to the stand of thongs (flip-flops) for sale, there is a stand of winter hats for sale. I guess it sums up the climate here – 3 months of winter hats and 9 months of flip flops. Amusingly, the majority of the winter hats are just various colours and styles adorned with the New York Yankees emblem. Ha! I bet most Aussies would have no idea that is a baseball team logo – and if they can at least identify ‘US sports team’, they’d have no idea which one! Of course, I have no idea which suburb in the AFL (Aussie Rules Football) is affiliated with which animal mascot, either, so all is fair 🙂
I head across the road to eat the burger – sitting in the sun behind the brick BBQ to try to stay out of the cold wind. Burger and a banana milk… that should fuel me home.
The road home is one we’ve done a few times – the last time at the end of December when it was quite hot and dry. I much prefer this time of year. I don’t mind cool, even if does mean I’m sweating on uphills and then freezing when I stop and that I’m constantly wiping snot from my nose. This is just all so much more humane at this time of year. Riding becomes a pleasure rather than a decision between hydration-rationing or carrying heaps of water weight. I just pedal and pedal without worrying about dehydration or overheating. Daylight is an issue, but it’s not quite such a killjoy as heatstroke.
Over the hills, through the basins and on against the wind we go. We’re back in Greater Hume Shire where the roads are shittier, so body and bike get pounded by poor pavement. But we know this road and it’s nice to see the landscape coming alive again. I’m always ready to say “See ya” to summer, and this year, I’m super-ready to say “See-ya” to May, as well. Good riddance!
We roll into town around 4pm. It’s amazing to see how low the sun is in the sky – we’ve been riding in deep shade for the past 30 minutes. I even turned my blinky light on. And we’ve still got three more weeks until the shortest day of the year!
We roll into the drive at exactly 75.0 miles. Not a bad day at all. The ride has been just what the Dr. ordered (me being the doctor, of course, and yes, I know I’m not THAT kind of Dr!). It’s been just what I needed – and I’m ready to see what June has in store (besides a bunch of rain forecast next weekend). Onward. Forward. It’s the only way to go.