27 and 28 April 2019
40 kms (25 miles)
ANZAC day has come and gone. The rains have not yet come. Usually, ANZAC day coincides with the autumn break, and everyone suffers through a cold and wet dawn service. (ANZAC Day is like Memorial Day in the US, but without all the “USA!-RAH-RAH-RAH!” chest-beating patriotism.)
So the autumn break, when we get our first big dump of rain for the wet season, is late. It is looking it might come late this coming week. Or maybe that will be just another cold front and it will go back to being dry again. April is going to end up with only one day of the month where we had any precipitation at all – and even that was only 4mm.
This does mean that the weekend weather is perfect again. It is perhaps a bit cool, and a bit windy, but I do not mind one bit. However, I’m still way down on energy, and my shoulder still prevents good sleep, so the route idea I’ve developed for an easy overnight will wait.
Instead, I sleep a lot on Saturday morning and then get out and go enjoy the gorgeous day in the afternoon. The guys and I do a gentle 20 kilometres out through the vineyards and along the riverside paths. Even when I’m feeling this scabby, it still feels good to get out and move.
The guys get a long float on the river at the end of the ride while I relax on the sand. Most of the school holiday visitors have gone home, so it’s quiet down at the lagoon once again.
Sunday sees us load up the car and drive down to the Tuan campsite in the national park. This is always a good place to leave the car. We’re going to do another gentle 20 kilometres today.
This type of riding requires both hands on the handlebars for longer periods of time, so the excruciating claw that is my shoulder is probably not up for too much more. I also need to shift in and out of the front chainrings a bit today, and that reach is difficult and painful at the moment.
So 20kms will be enough. Still, we should pick up a couple new tracks and one road that we haven’t ridden before. These are links between tracks that we have picked up on previous rides.
There are three backpackers packing up a small SUV (gone are the days of buying an old, crappy station wagon to go ‘round Australia in?) when we arrive. They sound French. They ignore me, so I ignore them. Once I get the guys in the handlebar bag, it’s off we go.
I thought I might see a few people out on the tracks today, but no, just one guy on a motorbike and that’s it. I do follow a bike tyre track a few times – their tires are a bit wider than mine and much more knobby. I also see about 20 kangaroos today – all over near Ryans Road.
This ride is just about getting out and pedaling. There is a building wind and clouds that come and go. It’s about 16 degrees. I could go far on a day like this. Maybe not today, but hopefully someday again.
The guys want to go for a ride on their trike, so we get out all the gear (I have to carry an extra pannier just for their stuff now!). Verne puts on his Murat Shriner helmet (if you do not know the Murat Shriners, their funny fez hats and tiny cars they drove in parades… then you didn’t grow up in the Midwest of America!). We attach the high vis streamers to the rear. We seatbelt in Kermit.
The guys have a take-no-prisoners approach to riding the trike. Verne rides hands-free, Kermit looks over Verne’s shoulder and they just bump along with not a care. Away they go!
I decide to ride up Slaughterhouse Track – as I’ve done the ones on either end, but never this one. Oh, maybe now I know why! It is a super steep climb up to the top of the hill. I am impressed with how far I get with no muscle, fitness or appropriate tires. I push the last 100 metres. There are nice views through the trees. Then we go flinging down the other side, though the Howlong Road side we go down would be the easier way to go up! Next time.
We wander around a bit more and then go have a look at the old mining dam near our parked car. Wow – do we ever need rain! I’ve never seen the water so low. It’s so murky and stinky (like chemicals), even the guys don’t want to go for a float. Hopefully we get the 15-30mm of rain forecast next Wed/Thurs!
There is now a Baby Boomer guy with a big 4WD and off-road caravan in the car park with a big amateur radio set-up attached to the parking bollards. Whenever I see this type of thing, it makes me think of Malcom Gladwell’s book “Outliers” – about how your lot in life can be so influenced by when you were born. No generation in Australia before the Baby Boomers, or at least the three generations after, ever saw or will ever see the amount of wealth the Baby Boomers so easily amassed.
My biggest fear with the Baby Boomers, however, is not their grip on all the money, but what the roads will be like in 10-20 years when that big population bubble of people still insist on driving but shouldn’t be! No one 80 or over should ever get behind the wheel of a car. Full-stop. Period. End-of-story.
This is why I plan on making my exit at age 76, if a distracted driver or nature doesn’t get me first. I’ve had a lot of time to think about quality of life, and what I’m willing to endure, over the past 18 months. I’ve determined, and confirmed, that my use-by date is 2052.
If you’ve seen the climate change scenarios for 2050, you’ll completely understand. Not only will I be old and needing to start thinking about surrendering my driver’s licence, but the earth won’t be in a very good way by that time either. Summers are already awful. I don’t want to be around when it becomes unbearable!
The Baby Boomer guy sees me disassembling the bike. He walks over and leans against the bonnet of his 4WD to clip his nails as he watches me load the bike in the car. I feel like I should whirl around or kick out a foot or something – I’ve never had an audience for loading the bike in the car before.
Once finished, I look over, wave and am surprised to see that he doesn’t wave back or acknowledge me with anything but a smirk. Well, okay then! Maybe he could read my thoughts….
Now let’s all just cross our fingers for lots of rain on Wednesday and Thursday!
We conclude with the song that was on repeat a lot on the ipod today – it’s a cover by one of my favourite Aussie singer-songwriters.
“This is for the traveller on a blind and desert road,
Good fortune smile upon you,
And may love be your only load.”