The Waiting – Strenuous Activity – Day 1

20 – 25 December

179 kms  (111 miles)

Day 1 – 42 kms (26 miles)

We’re rolling down the asphalt, the packed gravel and the loose gravel. We’re rolling over the river and up the valley. We’re rolling through the long shadows of trees at sunset. We’re rolling along the reservoir whose waves lap high up the shoreline in a La Nina year.

What’s most important is that we’re rolling again.

We’re building from a fitness base of naught. Before surgery on 25 November, I spent nearly all of October and November sitting or lying in bed, trying to find some position that provided relief from the pain. So we don’t even have the fitness of routine walks to the shops to build on.  We’re starting at nada, zip, zilch.

But still, we’re out here riding. The week after surgery, I went car camping for a week. That was manageable.

We’ve been camping here since 2004. The creek rarely flows. But the guys had some fun floating through the pipe.

A week after that I did the long, curvy drive over to the coast to visit my old neighbour and cycling friend in the nursing home over there. I wanted to squeeze in a trip before NSW stupidly relaxed restrictions as Omicron came on the scene. It seems likely that they might ban visitors from nursing homes at some point again, so it was important to get in a trip.

On the lawn at the Seahorse Hotel, Boydstown. Completely healed from the car accident one year ago that almost killed him. He doesn’t even need the stick for walking, it’s more there for reassurance.

And now, this week, let’s go ride. I’m not supposed to be doing any strenuous exercise until the second week of January, so this could be a simple 3-day ride to a campsite and back. Or it could be 6 or 7 days up in the hills with a bit of steep, loose stuff. I’ve got a few ideas there on the map.

We’ll see what my body wants to do. I’ve got 6 days of food on board, and I’ll fill up with 6 litres of water 35 kms into it at Tallangatta.

I’ll camp tonight at Old Tallangatta or Bullioh. But those aren’t spots where you set up the tent until just on dark. Those spots are also just 42 and 48 kms from home. So we wait out most of the day’s heat and don’t leave home until close to 6pm to ride the 40-some kays.

Not one kay from home and a skinny young girl on a scooter following her chubby older brother on a bike says to me as we pass one another: “Hello, Mr Postman!”

Well, in the past, some postie bikes did have red saddlebags, but the rest of the conclusions are just a bit off. Last I checked, I was still not a Mister. And we have motorbike posties in our town. I haven’t seen a pushbike postie since 1998 in Murwillumbah. Believe me, if pushbike postie was still a thing here, I’d be all over it. Sadly though, you know, like I do, that they’d contract that out these days and you’d get paid nothing and have no decent conditions or injury insurance cover. Gone are the days of good jobs with good wages, conditions and achievable work loads.

Yes, I would have loved that job. But even the e-bike posties are being replaced with motorbikes and trikes these days. Photo from Australia Post.

The sun sinks lower behind the hills as we pass all the reserves along the lake. Ebden is still packed out with families having evening picnics. There are kids splashing in the water, parents reclined on blankets and several jet skiers close by doing all the obnoxious things that jet skiers do. The smells of jet ski exhaust and beef snags cooking on the public barbie fill the air.

I stop next to the boat ramp, go down and wet my shirt in the water, redress and continue on. It’s the first time I’ve ridden in the heat this season and I’m not yet acclimated.

About to head over the long bridge over the inlet ahead. Note the low sun and Verne’s new hat to protect the fraying fabric above his eyes. I sewed on a chin strap for him sometime back in October, but this is his first ride. Works great!

My legs will tell you we haven’t ridden with a load in a while, but we make it into Tallangatta just as the sun sets. It’s quiet – all the shops are shut. But you can tell the takeaway shop closed not long ago because you can still smell the hot oil from the fryer when standing in the street.

Mural in Tallangatta portraying how all the buildings were moved from the old town up to the new townsite when the dam was built and the old town flooded. The new townsite was at the railroad siding named Bolga.

I fill six litres of water – one litre for rehydrating tonight, 3 litres for tomorrow, and 2 litres for the next day. I have hope that the creek at tomorrow night’s camp will actually be running since we’ve had rains in Nov and Dec this year. But I can’t count on it. So I lumber out of town laden with way too much weight for my fitness level and non-strenuous activity orders.

We pedal slowly, oh so slowly, up and down the gentle grades as the day edges closer to last light.

Shadow shot at 8.30 pm one day before the summer solstice on our way into Tallangatta.

We reach Old Tallangatta in the twilight and set up camp in the same spot as we did back in September. The trees have all leafed out since then and there’s lots of things living in the oak thicket next to us. Some bird in there is sawing away at something – maybe he’s sharpening his beak, but I wouldn’t be surprised to look in there and see a bird with safety goggles on using a hacksaw to cut up sticks to reinforce his nest.

It’s 9 pm and the sun has just gone. Tomorrow is the solstice. We’ll start losing light again. The end of the year is upon us already.

Yeah, we should probably set up camp here given the amount of daylight left.

Time moves on. Even if you can’t or won’t. I’m ready to move on though. This chapter has grown too long.

And so I set up the tent as darkness claims the earth. I glug down the water and am amazed at the super highway of satellites zooming above the tent. I count 9 in less than 20 minutes. Sheesh. What would it look like from earth if two satellites collided? Would it be a bright flash and then a fizzling fireworks effect as little pieces fell into the atmosphere and burnt up?

I’m burnt up and burnt out now, too. Time to rest these weary legs and let sleep repair the rest.

7 thoughts on “The Waiting – Strenuous Activity – Day 1

  • Hi Emily, wow, big and welcome news on your part. Glad to see you out and (non-strenuously) about. I set aside your “holey” blog and missed the news about surgery; had to go back and read it tonight. Laparoscopy is quite the deal for minimizing the invasiveness of surgery but it sounds traumatic enough. This thing of using gas to inflate the abdomen is news to me.
    While you are on the slide to shorter days, the northern hemisphere is ticking toward more sunlight. My wife and I got a rescue puppy in mid-September. It was advertised as part-beagle – we’ve had beagles- so we willfully ignored the puppy’s weight of 11 pounds/23 kg and large paws. After money was exchanged ans documents signed, the woman fostering the puppies shows me a photo on her phone and said the mother might be a Great Pyrenees. My wife believes the dog is part hound and part horse. She’s at least 30 pounds ans not six months old. We have become dog park denizens, taking the dog to the park every day for at least 45 minutes of running about and wrestling. This is cutting into my bicycling time.
    OTOH, I’m breaking in a new leather saddle and. Maybe I don’t need a lot of miles just now.
    What has this to do with the solstice? Sunset and deep twilight were obviously a few minutes later today than on the 21st.
    Thanks for all the links. I had an interesting time a few months back when you talked about the immigrant depot.
    Best of luck for the rest of your outing.

    • Hi Chuck – yes, I didn’t’ know about the CO2 gas used to inflate the abdomen either. The worst part is that it gives you terrible pain in your shoulder for a few days after. Why the gas travels and gets stuck there, I don’t know. I’m all back to normal now though.

      Your foster puppy certainly doesn’t sound like a puppy. I can’t believe how big she is! And I can’t really imagine a beagle Great Pyrenees cross. But I’m sure she will bring you lots of joy along with the big food bills. It’s sad to lose cycling time, but good to lose it to something positive and fun instead of sad or terrible. With all of your training of the puppy now, I’m sure that will pay off when she’s so big you wouldn’t be able to physically restrain her so need to rely on all the good training you are doing now.

      Much luck to you in breaking in the saddle before it breaks you. I have always just suffered through until my butt gets hardened and then try not to be off the bike long enough for soft tissue to get soft again! But if you are breaking in a Brooks or some other leather saddle, I wish you well… there’s lots of horror stories before that sweet point when you no longer hurt.

      Enjoy the lengthening days – I always feel dismay for shorter days when they really start to become noticeably shorter. BUT, that always comes with cooler temps, and I’m always ready for that after an Oz summer. Can’t have it all I guess!

      I hope your wife’s frozen shoulder is not too debilitating and she is managing the pain. That’s a tough road, that one.

      All the best!

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