Woomargama National Park to Jindera via Mountain Creek and Gerogery
Monday November 23, 2015, 50 miles (80 km) – Total so far: 1,029 miles (1,657 km)
The obnoxiously loud screeching of the sulphur-crested cockatoos is late. By the time they find me and come to protest in the trees above me, I’m already awake and packing. The sun has not yet found me either. I’ve slept well and feel refreshed. I drink the rest of the liquids I have on-board and then we head off down the rest of our well-earned hill.
We get a little bit of speed, but nothing like you’d get on the hills going the other way. This side is more scenic. The forest is more open and has bigger regrowth towering above the road. The road follows a creek in a deep valley that widens as we lose speed. Then we hit private land and are soon out in the foothills of fenced pastures and dry grass.
This is a notoriously dangerous road in this shire. It is heavily used by logging trucks (hence our early start) and is single-lane much of the distance in the private land. The edges are rough enough, and the drop to the gravel deep enough, it is not easy for me to drop off the pavement. Consequently, two cars squeeze me very closely when they refuse to drop off the other side, too. I don’t understand their hesitance, as it wouldn’t bother me in a car. Sheesh!
Soon enough, we roll into Woomargama. It’s a tiny little place a few blocks deep. The main Sydney to Melbourne highway used to come through town, so there are the remnants of a couple gas stations, repair shops and tourist shops. The tiny pub and motel is still in business. But without all the highway traffic, it’s almost completely still in town at 7am.
I roll down to the park to get rid of my bag of rubbish and use the toilet. The rubbish bin is overflowing and the toilets (mens, womens and disabled) are all gross and out of toilet paper. It’s uncommon to come across grotty public toilets in Oz. But here you go. This is in the local government area where Nigel pays rates (as has been all the crappy roads yesterday and upcoming today). Great to see the large amounts of money he pays each year are keeping the infrastructure well-maintained and clean. Not.
I roll on out to the highway, ride along it for a few hundred metres, then turn off on the Fairburn Road. Now we are back to gentle hills, wide, flat valleys, grazing cattle and wheat ready for harvest. We follow the creek on mainly flat roads all the way around the end of the main Yambla Range and Fellow Hills. My legs are a bit dead today, so I’m setting no speed records. But still, I’m glad to be alive and out on the bike. I’d rather be nowhere else. We also roll over a thousand miles on the cycle computer, meaning we’ve done 1,000 miles of loaded touring on overnight rides this financial year.
Then, at exactly 9am, as we are about to turn onto the Old Coach Road, somebody flips the switch to ON. At 8.59am, there was nothing but a breath of wind, if that. At 9am, there is a puff of movement through the leaves of the trees. Then, before the clock turns to 9.01am, the wind is blowing out of the WSW at 10-15 mph. I kid you not. There is no wind. Then there is moderate wind. Just like that.
It’s a quartering headwind for me and it slows me down quite a bit. My dead legs don’t like it. Then the road swings a bit and it is a more direct wind. It continues to build as we continue to head SSW.
We rode this road back in July when we went to Holbrook and it was in good condition. They must have not done any maintenance since then because, once we hit the gravel sections, the road goes crap. There is incredibly thick and large gravel on the edges that is not rideable. The two tire tracks down the middle are either corrugated or down to thick chunky road base. This crap road combined with the wind really slows me down and puts me in a foul mood. My quads also protest the extra effort after yesterday. I feel very flat today, even with swigs of Coke and a chocolate bar to try to put some pep back in the pedalling. Ugh. It is just a slog back to Jindera today.
Finally, we roll into Gerogery. We are only averaging 10 or 11mph. We’re moving Verne the turtle speed today. We stop to make up some peanut butter tortillas on the picnic tables, then resume the ride toward home. It’s still a slow go, and the wind is still moderate but now getting gusty. Slog. Slog. All the way home, but now on paved and familiar roads.
I pull off at the Bethel Lutheran Church to put on more sunscreen. When I go to ride away, I discover a flat rear tire. Ugh. We are only 7 miles from the end of the ride. I pull off all the panniers, flip the bike and fix the flat.The numerous flies assist or at least show intense interest in my head as I set about repair. Somehow a sharp stone (likely from this gravel driveway) has worked it’s way into the tire. Luckily, I am able to find it quickly and pull it out of the tire. We’re back on the road and riding into the wind in about 15 minutes. I slog it home and even Verne and Kermit don’t seem so peppy today. Verne says next weekend no gravel is allowed and that maybe we should just have a weekend off!
NOTE: We did take the next weekend off. We got the fuel filter replaced in the car and lazed about instead of packing up the bags and heading out. We only did a 40-mile ride over that weekend. I think we needed the break. For two days after this 3-day ride, I felt really exhausted. I think I’m low on iron – a common problem for me since I’m a very sporadic meat-eater when I’m living by myself. Iron supplements have been purchased…. let’s get back out there!