Plan B – June Ride 2 – Queen’s Birthday Party (not really, but, well, you know)

11 June 2018

Total Kilometres: 42 kms (26 miles)

Total Kilometres 2018: 2428 kms (1509 miles)

It’s a long weekend. It’s the Queens Birthday public holiday. So what do a few Yanks do to celebrate a monarch in a Commonwealth country? Well… we go ride, of course.

The Queen’s birthday is actually in April, I think. But we have a heap of public holidays in April (Good Friday, Easter Monday, ANZAC day), and I guess Oz needs a holiday to celebrate the start of winter, so Queens Birthday is always the second Monday in June. That just means we have to share the national park today whereas we would normally have it all to ourselves on a Monday.

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Plan B – June Ride 1 – Loop de loop

4 June 2018

Total Kilometres: 42 kms (26 miles)

Total Kilometres 2018: 2315 kms (1439 miles)

I am glad I am not a farmer. Oh yes, the idea of making your living off the land, and cultivating a crop and a relationship with the earth… oh, that all sounds attractive. But to be a farmer, you’ve got to be a gambler. You’ve got to try to read the weather, the commodity prices and the future and then make decisions about when and what to plant. And then cross your fingers that a big round of hail doesn’t wipe out the whole thing. Then, in autumns and winters like this one, you’ve got to just wait and wait and wait… for rain that doesn’t come. Read more

Plan B – May Ride 4 – Extended twilight

26/27 May

Total Kilometres: 107 kms (67 miles)

Total Kilometres 2018: 2212 kms (1374 miles)

Autumn this year has been like one of those sunsets that you think has finished, but then the colours develop right at the end and linger for what seems like forever. Summer went well into autumn this year, and autumn has continued long past when we would normally get our ‘autumn break’ and the start of our rainy season. The leaf colour on the exotic trees has been pretty spectacular this year as well, also developing quite late and lingering on and on. What a spectacular backdrop that provides for another weekend of marking roads off the map. Read more

Plan B – May Ride 3 – Six new tracks

21 May 

Total Kilometres: 17 kms (10.5 miles)

Total Kilometres: 2056 kms (1278 miles)

There’s the crunch of gravel beneath my tires, the white noise of wind in the trees. The sun comes and goes in the spaces between thick, puffy, grey clouds. There’s the pounding of my heart in my ears (we’ve lost so much fitness since December) and the rasp of the air in my lungs. We’re working our way up the spine of a ridge to views of the Indigo Creek valley and the hills east of Barnawatha. After being taken down by a rotten cold last week, it’s our first bout of pedaling in seven days. Read more

Plan B – May Ride 1- Back to the ‘Bogies

5/6 May

Total Kilometres: 94 kms (59 miles)

Total Kilometres 2018: 1970 kms (1224 miles)

Ugh, it’s all I can see. It jumps right out at me.

It’s just one small part of the big map on my wall where I mark off the roads I’ve ridden.

Yes, it’s the Strathbogies and we filled in a bit more of the roads there over three days at the end of April.

BUT, all I see is that black bit that just all-of-a-sudden ends. That black line that doesn’t loop or join other lines. The line that just looks like a branch hanging out there in the wind. Read more

Plan B – April Ride 3 – The tour that wasn’t

22-24 April

Total Kilometres: 136 kms (85 miles)

Total Kilometres 2018: 1876 kms (1166 miles)

Most bike tours, from weekend jaunts to months-long routes, are a joy to plan and anticipate. I’ve never felt trepidation or fear before a tour, even on my first ‘big’ tour in 2010. I’ve always just been so excited to go and spend time on the bike, time in my tent and time out on some sort of an adventure.

But this tour is different. Normally, I would be doing my week-long autumn ride sometime in March. I would plan out something super-ambitious and wonder if I’d be able to pull it off. Riding and touring has always been about pushing my limits and redefining what the bike and myself are capable of.

Originally, I wanted to do a big ride out of Benambra through high plateaus and Snowy River country. The ride would have been mostly on forest roads and tracks. But as January and February wore on and it was a struggle to just ride 20kms on flat ground, I knew that dream was over. Read more

Plan B – April Ride 2 – Misty sprinkles

16 April 

Total Kilometres: 27 kms (17 miles)

Total Kilometres 2018: 1722 kms (1070 miles)

The fires started Thursday. Between 11am and 12pm, there was a new fire reported every six minutes or so. In our area, more than 25 fires ignited throughout the day. It was hot (35C) and very windy, prime conditions for fire spread. It had been 37C the day before – a new heat record for our town going back to the 1880s. Many of the fires will likely be found to be reignitions of stubble burns from previous days. Some are reported to have been caused by lightning – though it was clear where I live and work. Luckily, no homes were lost, and all of the grass fires were contained by the end of the day.

BUT, this all meant the Rural Fire Service revoked all burn permits and wouldn’t grant new ones until Tuesday. Their firefighters, almost all volunteers, needed a break after 25 fires in one day. What this meant for me, an asthmatic who has been suffering greatly the past few weeks, was a few days of clear air!!! Read more

Plan B – April Ride 1 – To the market

8 April

Total Kilometres: 27 kms (17 miles)

Total Kilometres 2018: 1695 kms (1053 miles)

I did not escape the ‘post-exertional malaise’ after my three-day Easter ride. In the past few months, the fatigue would hit 48 hours after a ride. I would feel fine the next day after a ride and think I had escaped it. Then I would be struck down by the cognitive dysfunction, exhaustion and joint and muscle pain the following day. This time I got two days of thinking I’d escaped it – but no, I felt like an achy zombie Wed-Friday. Stay away from mosquitoes, kids, the repercussions can be nasty.

So the weather this weekend was perfect for an overnight ride – light winds, clear skies, cool nights and highs in the upper 80s (a little warm, but okay with the cool mornings). But I did not have the energy, and I did not want to drive the relapse any further, so we just stuck to easy 30 km rides around home on Sat and Sun. Our normal high for this time of year is about 22C – but we’ve been routinely hitting 29C for the past three weeks. This coming week will have highs 32-35C (up to 95F)… so I’m not sure I will force myself out in that. It will be very, very odd to get that hot and have the sun set just before 6pm! Read more

Plan B – March Ride 4 – Heathen Heaven

30/31 March – 1 April

Kilometres: 179 kms (111 miles)

Total Kilometres 2018: 1643 kms (1021 miles)

DAY 1

Every culture has written rules (i.e. laws) and unwritten rules (i.e. social norms). It’s the unwritten rules that are the hardest for immigrants to a country to figure out. For example, there’s nothing written to tell you what ‘bring a plate’ means in Australia. If you show up with just a plate to a BBQ… you’ve not quite done the right thing.

One of the other unwritten rules of Australian culture is that you must go camping on the Easter long weekend. Australia is quite a secular country, and many individuals don’t even know the Easter story or its timeline of events. What is lent? Did Jesus die on Ash Wednesday or on Good Friday? When was he resurrected? And how was the bunny involved?

I became a citizen well over a decade ago. Back then, there was no written citizenship test, as there is today. At some stage in the application process, I had to rock up to a post office at an appointed time where some poor postal service staff member read me a paragraph and then asked me a series of questions about my rights and responsibilities as an Australian citizen. “You are aware you must register to vote.” Yes. And so on. I don’t remember if there was a question that said, “And you are aware that you must go camping each Easter weekend?” But there might as well have been.

Given the exodus of Aussies to the bush for the last blast of summer camping over Easter weekend (we get 4 days here – Easter Monday is a public holiday, too), we needed a weekend ride that would steer us away from all the traffic and overflowing campsites. You really don’t want to be on narrow chipseal roads with people towing caravans, boats, trailers full of bicycles for kids to ride around the campsite, and box trailers full of miscellaneous gear. You also don’t want to end up at a public or private camping area or caravan park which is normally empty but suddenly packed cheek by jowl. Read more