All the pieces left behind – Introduction

22-26 November 2020

You don’t always know when the end is near. Sometimes you don’t even know when you’ve reached a conclusion until hindsight later on makes it clear. Some endings are cataclysmic; some just flow on the trickle of time: think early-phase volcanism or the slow erosion of high mountain peaks.

Yet so many times post-conclusion, there is evidence left behind of what once was. It’s the chimney of a house long since gone. It’s the shards of glass that escaped the broom. It’s the knowledge gained from experience that says, “don’t do that again.”

So this trip formed from a bunch of pieces left behind:

  1. My marriage has been over for some time, but there are many pieces of love left behind. We still try our best to look after one another. As such, I’ve purchased a bucket list experience for him to drive a race car around Mt Panorama in Bathurst. They only do this event once a year, so that is what determined the dates for this tour.
  2. First, I planned out two tours that would have me riding my bike to/near Bathurst. One plan was if I were to take my own car. The other plan was if we were to travel up together (he would pick me up on the way from wherever I’d made it to).

    But motels in the towns I was going to travel through were booked out or nearly so (Sydneysiders escaping the virus for long weekends). Even though the virus is currently pretty much in control in Oz, the number of people that come with full motels freaks me out a bit. I know the virus is still out there, even if we aren’t experiencing an outbreak. So those plans fell apart. I was still left with a couple pieces though: a desire to do a tour and the days off to do it before heading to Bathurst.
  3. So I planned out a trip that would take me away from people (hopefully) and up into the Toombullups near home. I’ve ridden up there before, from Tatong to Tolmie, but there are still lots of roads to mark off on my map.

    Plus, there’s all the pieces left behind showing that the area once experienced volcanic activity. The whole plateau is just a bunch of volcanic rocks from the Devonian (and some underlying and overlying Ordovician sediments and Carboniferous red beds). There are 3 separate volcanic rock types from 3 different events to look for.

So I’ve picked up all the pieces to nut out the basics of a five-day ride. I’ve got some ideas in mind of what I may do, but I’ll let my body and the weather tell me what to do.

The big map on my wall with roads ridden marked off. We’re looking to fill in a little bit where that yellow arrow points.

Close-up: This is what we ended up doing. Yellow line represents roads we’ve ridden before. Red line represents new roads. We did this loop counterclockwise.

Preparation – Food

I’ve never carried five days of food on the bike before, even when I was fit and healthy. But there will be nowhere to resupply, and I’m really limited in the distance my body can manage, so I carefully plan out some meals and snacks that should get me through.

I also need to carry a heap of water as the first day will be hot and humid, and we may not be able to get water until later on Day 2. This means I take off with 5 litres of water, the most (or equal to the most) I’ve ever carried I think.

This should get us through 5 days – one protein per day (2 lentil packs, 1 tin salmon, 1 tin chicken), some fat and fibre (block of cheese, mixed nuts and seeds), some carbs (gluten free muesli bars – 3 per day), some sweets (choc and raisin nut mix; caramel popcorn)

Preparation – Gear

I really only need the basics for this tour. It’s short and I won’t be near humans which means 1 pair of on-bike clothing and 1 pair of off bike clothing. Rain is forecast on day 1 and 2, so rain coat goes in instead of warmie jacket (most of the year in Oz, I just take one or the other).

Front Pannier

  • tent
  • ground sheet
  • tent pegs
  • tent fly
  • flip flops

Other Front Pannier

  • two tubes
  • basic tool kit I carry everywhere
  • chain lube
  • small nylon folding bucket (had this for 10 years and is great for bush bathing)
  • toiletries (little bar of soap, toothbrush, toothpaste, deodorant, hair brush)
  • some wet wipes
  • TP and little spade
  • water purification tablets
  • sunscreen
  • guy’s floaties and rope
  • couple of spare ziplocks to carry out rubbish

Rear Pannier

  • sleeping bag
  • one 2-litre water bottle
  • one 1-litre water bottle
  • 1/3 of food weight

Other Rear Pannier

  • sleep sheet
  • 1 pair under wear
  • 1 pair super lightweight hiking pants
  • 1 pair extra riding shorts
  • 1 t-shirt
  • 1 pair socks
  • sunhat
  • rain coat
  •  i-pod
  • Powerbank
  • maps and notebook
  • one 2-litre water bottle
  • 2/3 food weight
  • (I meant to take one thermal top and quick dry camp towel but forgot them)

Handlebar bag

  • Verne and Kermit
  • phone and wallet
  • camera
  • inhaler
  • head net (for pesky fly avoidance)

Rear rack – sleeping pad with tent poles wrapped inside

On me – riding gloves, 1 fluoro shirt, bra, 1 pair hiking shorts, 1 pair socks, helmet

What the bike, gear and crew looked like on this trip.

Now let’s go!

9 thoughts on “All the pieces left behind – Introduction

  • Oh Em I love your packing list. So light so agile so ready for adventure no matter what is left behind! Up here in the north the virus is everywhere. Dave just spent 10 days in the basement recovering from COVID. Hazel and I by luck or chance have escaped this round but are quarantined for 2 weeks. So much to be thankful for this day after Thanksgiving. Sending our love. Jenny

    • When the water and food take up the weight allowance, you can’t take much else! Please stay safe up there, been thinking of you and your family and worrying about my own. I hope Dave makes a full recovery and you and Hazel don’t go down with it on day 11 or so of quarantine. Sending all my love and all the best wishes, Em

    • Hi Tony – I guess it all depends on what level of comfort you require and what temps you will encounter! The food and water took up all the space this trip for me! I forgot to list sunhat (have gone back to do so). And I forgot to take my thermal top and quick dry camp towel on the trip. But obviously I survived 🙂 I hope your shoulder is good enough not to require extra padding and gear. Em

  • hi emily, this is way off topic but you’re in australia and this is an australia question, so therefore you must be able to answer it. (i took one philosophy class in college and i know how to construct a logical theorem.) my wife and i have watched a fair number of australian programs on the net and broadcast tv. they seem almost totally to have financial support from victoria. what’s going on, is victoria more artsy than new south wales, or trying to be? and while i’m at is, is there some convention that ballarat or bendigo are examples of going into the country? and is albury really a city chosen for professional society meetings?
    i hope your trip goes well. it sounds like it’s going to be hilly.

    • Hi Chuck – hope you are well and staying safe up there! I am certainly not an expert, but here goes (I love this assemblage of questions by the way!):
      1) Yes, Victoria is the arts and culture capital of Oz. NSW does fund films, but they’ve had a conservative government for quite a while who don’t put as much funding into the arts. VIC has had a more liberal government over the same time period with more arts funding. VIC tends to be artier in general.
      2) Ballarat and Bendigo are examples of going to the country simply because they are once-rural areas where you can still get some acreage but still be within easy commuting distance of Melbourne. Out here further away from Melbourne, we think of Ballarat and Bendigo as “inner regional”… or as commuter towns to Melbourne. During COVID’s second wave in Melbourne, most of the cases listed for “regional” Victoria were in those two towns, or another one called Geelong, because people go in and out of Melbourne every day from those towns for work. Those towns are also “escape to the country” towns because the people moving there would have plenty of money which means the properties would be quite nice. I guess they are a “tree change” destination for those city people that want to get out of the city but still want to be close enough not to have to give up all the city conveniences. (It is also pretty temperate in Ballarat whereas it gets super hot in summer where I live).
      3) Albury does have a fair share of conventions and society meetings – but mostly rural-based, I think. Like the National Farmers Federation or the Meat and Livestock Association. I think it attracts some others because it has good airline connections to Sydney and Melbourne and is about halfway between those two big cities. Maybe that’s why? I like Albury a lot – it’s big enough to have everything you need, but not big enough yet to feel crowded.
      Hope that answers some questions! Yes, the ride was hilly, but I really didn’t do all that much riding over 5 days, so it was all manageable. I definitely took it very easy on this trip!! Em

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