When all else fails… – Day 4

Killdeer Creek to Houselog Creek: What will become an all-time favourite

Friday August 11, 2017, 45 miles (73 km) – Total so far: 226 miles (364 km)

There are some days on tour that stick in your memory for all the right reasons. You might pedal down 130 days, each memorable in its own way, but only a handful will stick in your head as some perfect combination of factors and events and a perfect day. Today is one of those days. It is bookended by ‘wild camping’ in random spots in the forest, so that puts it in a good position to start (and end). Read more

When all else fails… – Day 5

Houselog Creek to Monte Vista: Rough and tough

Saturday August 12, 2017, 55 miles (89 km) – Total so far: 281 miles (453 km)

I cannot pry myself out of bed for an early morning start today either. I try, but two hours of meteor viewing between 1 and 3 am last night after I got up to pee means 5.15am is not happening today. I think of all those many, many mornings in Wyoming when I crawled out of the sleeping bag at 4.45am or earlier. I don’t recall it even being that hard after a while. I guess I’m just all run down and don’t have the mental discipline on this little ride. Read more

When all else fails… – Day 6

Monte Vista to Ft Garland: The rift valley

Sunday August 13, 2017, 45 miles (72 km) – Total so far: 326 miles (525 km)

We are just hopping across the valley today – traversing the basin of the rift. It’s a cool start at 7am but the pedaling warms us up quickly. Highway 160 has a huge shoulder all day, so it’s just a matter of ignoring all the traffic off our left shoulder. There is plenty of it, too, even in the early morning. When we get east of Alamosa, we’ll see strings of 10-15 vehicles at a time. I wonder whether it will be everyone heading home from the mountains, since many schools in different states start tomorrow. But no, it seems like there are just as many cars going the other way. Read more

When all else fails… – Day 7

Ft Garland to Lathrop State Park: Over the old pass

Monday August 14, 2017, 58 miles (93 km) – Total so far: 384 miles (618 km)

A man in one of the old trailers is standing outside soaking up the early morning. He watches me take down the tent. Then he heads over to start up his truck before heading inside. He nods at me. He’s heading to work, I’m heading for the road. It won’t be long now before I head back to work, too. The turn of events means I’m heading home soon and returning to the job I left in March. It’s a topsy turvy world sometimes – let’s go get amongst it. Read more

When all else fails… – The parents

Tuesday August 15, 2017

I head down to Walsenburg in the morning after the guys have had a nice long float at the swim beach. I stake them off and just hang in the sun while they swing back and forth at the extent of the guy line.

My parents show up right on time at the mining museum in town. We load my bike in the car and then go inside and have a look around. This is a great place to get some context if you are going down to see the Ludlow Memorial (a must-see if you want to say you’ve got an understanding of CO history – this is one of the most significant sites in the state). We have lunch in a diner – my parent’s sort of food. Read more

When all else fails… – Epilogue

So I’m back to life in Oz. I managed in two weeks what I could not manage in four months in America: work and a place to live.

I’ve been flat out getting everything set up again – I’ve done more shopping in two weeks than I would normally prefer in five years. I now own a fridge, required homewares, a bookshelf and have started a small herb garden in pots. I’ve registered the car, stocked the pantry and done a million mundane things. I’ve started back to work – there is more work than I’ll ever get done, and there’s six months of stuff to catch up on! No one touched anything while I was away – so it is good to get back to interesting work and plenty of it! Read more

The residual refrain: Introduction

Friday March 17, 2017

I don’t know what to say. Or maybe I don’t want to say it.

But I think it goes something like this….

Some people get a swan song when things end. Swan songers are the beautiful people – the ones with perfect or predictable lives. They are the ones who have closely followed social norms and followed a predictable path – college, marriage, dog, kids, car, house, career. They live a model life.

Swan songers make the rounds to say goodbye upon a conclusion to rapturous applause, accolades and a symphony of praise. It’s a finale fitting a life where melody, harmony and rhythm blend together for a Top 40 hit that resonates with the predictable.

But then there are those of us who receive the ‘residual refrain’ – those of us whose path in life, for whatever reason, hasn’t followed many social norms. Our endings receive nods of appreciation, or looks of “I told you so”, or pats on the back with “better luck next time”. Residual refrainers are not the beautiful people. Our paths are not predictable ones.

Let me explain further.

When you do not live a model life, you are more likely to end up with a residual. In any model, you have multiple factors that combine to predict a latent variable.

For example: Factor A (spouse) + Factor B (career) + Factor C (house) = Latent Variable (Your Life) .

Of course, this model is based on theory (and it would be more complicated with mediating and moderating variables and other stuff). It’s what you THINK will happen.

But then you get what actually happens. This difference between the predicted value (what you THINK will happen) and the observed value (what ACTUALLY happens) of that latent variable (YOUR LIFE) is the residual.

So when you think life will go one way, and it ends up another – you are dealing with a residual. And for those of us that this happens to repeatedly, well, it ends up a ‘residual refrain’.

So this trip is my residual refrain of life in Australia. It’s a short ride to say goodbye to the mountains of Victoria before I move back to America after 17 years. I don’t want to go. If I had no responsibilities to anyone but myself, I definitely would not leave. Everything, except my family, is here. But I do have responsibilities to them, so it is time to go.

I presently find the grief and loss overwhelming. I’m not sure if this ride will distract from, or compound, the loss of all that I’ve known for most of my adult life. But let’s go ride some roads and ranges that have been on our to-do list for awhile and see what happens.

The residual refrain: The route

Friday March 17, 2017

The route went through a few iterations.


I first thought maybe I should link up places I wanted to say goodbye to – places we’d gone camping or bushwalking or riding over the years that had good memories. But the more I thought about that, the more I thought I wanted to leave those places with the memories they already had.

So the next idea was a three-prong approach:

1) Link up some of the places in Victoria that I’ve been wanting to visit and roads that have always beckoned to me on the map. This would include the Nunnett and Nunniong Plains (interesting, stepped basalts and maybe a chance to see some Buchan limestones and Snowy River volcanics), the Strezlecki Ranges (interesting faults and vegetation), the Pinnacles and Bryce and Morkoka Gorges (old erosional surfaces and dissection), Freestone Creek Road (entire Devonian rock sequence exposed in road cuts) and the Acheron Way (a road through rainforest I’ve always wanted to ride).

2) I also wanted to include the Omeo Highway – I’ve ridden it twice and driven it a few times, and it is just the most fun you can have on a bike. It is my favourite road that I’ve toured in Oz, I think.

3) Since it became apparent in September 2015 that my time in Oz was most likely coming to an end, I started a quest to ride new roads each weekend in about a 150 km radius from home. I’ve documented these rides over on Neil’s Bicycle Life. See the map picture below. Even though I have covered a lot, I still need to do the Ryans Gap road over the Warbys near Wangaratta and the road over Mt Samaria.

Black lines show all of the roads we’ve ridden in the past 18 months. Wagga is to the north, Tumbarumba to the east, Omeo and Molesworth to the south, Euroa and Berrigan to the west. The red star sorta in the middle is home.

So the final route reflected the desires of the three-pronged approach, though I ended up not being able to do the Gorges and Pinnacles because of bushfires and closed roads. This meant my ride was three days shorter than I’d planned.

I also had a look at using the Jones Road out of Dargo to the Wentworth River and then down Engineers Road to Bruthen. I also had a look at the Bulumwaal Road out of Bairnsdale. I didn’t end up doing these roads, though – just not enough time for everything and you can only flog yourself on rough gravel for so long 🙂

The residual refrain: Day 2

The Warbys – Mt Samaria State Park: Pushing…

Sunday March 19, 2017, 57 miles (92 km) – Total so far: 103 miles (166 km)

The morning is cool and silent as I wake to the grey of night turning into day. We’re near the end of daylight savings, so sunrise isn’t until 7.20am. It’s 6.40am now and I soak in the quiet and the first few rustles of day. It’s as if earth has a resting pulse and we’re packing up between the long, slow beats of life. Read more