I encountered some more geographical embarrassment – this is getting to be a habit, but at least this time I was mainly unladen – in the central coast on Monday before my talk, after meeting with the guys from BikeTheEarth. I did 74.3km in 3:12 hrs at an average of 23.2km/h and a maximum of 68.7km/h and found myself in all sorts of interesting places I didn’t expect!
I headed off on Tuesday morning bound for Newcastle and took the more picturesque but somewhat hilly coastal route. Again I managed to raise the bar on maximum speed – 72km/h this time. I stopped at a bakery in Budgewoi for morning tea of a couple of cream buns – true cyclist’s food!
I then set off in pursuit of the guys from BikeTheEarth but managed to pass them without realising while they were stopped for a break themselves – oh well. As I didn’t know that I had passed them, I continued on and, after 93km, I arrived in Newcastle – or Merewether to be precise – and met my billet for the night, Patricia. I had a total of 4:23hrs in the saddle with an average of 21.2km/h.
Now Patricia just happened to be a masseuse and, being the kind of person she is, she kindly offered to give me a treatment which was greatly appreciated – I can heartily recommend the ‘hot rocks’ for what ails you!
Patricia, her daughter Joanne and her partner Cameron made me feel so welcome that it was just like being at a home away from home. We had dinner and then set off for the Newcastle Town Hall, the venue for my presentation (thanks must go to John Sutton for organising this on short notice) which followed on from a somewhat controversial ‘population’ talk – apparently, unconstrained growth is both a good thing and totally ‘sustainable’ in Australia – sigh – some people just don’t get it. My talk went well and we returned ‘home’ and I again slept very well – I can recommend exercise to anyone who has difficulty sleeping. (Of course, the massage might have had something to do with it as well! 😉 )
I left Merewether the next morning after a hearty breakfast (and a not so good change of tube – another flat tyre!) and bid Patricia & Joanne a fond farewell – you guys are just great – bound for Bombah Point Eco-Cottages which is about 10km SE of Bulahdelah. I headed out via Kooragang Island ,again to avoid traffic, but, nearing Williamtown RAAF base, I couldn’t avoid being buzzed (or so it seemed) by three FA-18 Hornets. It occurred to me that there was quite a difference between our modes of getting places!
I stopped for morning tea at Medowie at Kim’s Bakery for hot chocolate & bun – talked for awhile with a guy there who struck up a conversation – and then headed on again. I soon joined the Pacific Hwy and headed north again but, before long , it was approaching lunchtime so I took a detour into Karuah for a sandwich, bun & drink.
With a big ride in front of me, I set off again and re-joined the highway. There was a lot of up and down but I finally found myself at Bulahdelah, picked up a bottle of wine to have with dinner and headed down to Bombah Point.
Rob and Kim were my hosts that evening and again I was made to feel most welcome. Not having a talk that evening, I of course rested my voice – not – and we talked together until about 11pm! The Eco-Cottages are just amazing and Rob & Kim are well versed in and totally dedicated to conservation. Like Melliodora back in Hepburn, this is just a great place to go to learn about becoming self-sufficient.
This day was another biggy in a big week with 116.4km travelled in 5:03hrs with an average of 22.9km/h and a top speed of 59.8km/h. I’ve got to say my mate ‘BoB’ has been wonderful to tow – stable as anything and not a problem in the world. Thanks Brunswick Cycles.
Another big ride beckoned the next day so I was gone by 8:20am, thanking Rob & Kim for their generosity and heading back to Bulahdelah and the renowned hills on the Lakes Way into Forster. The first one wasn’t too bad but it led to a big downhill (69.7km/h top speed!) before it started climbing again which meant having to regain that lost altitude! The second climb was a knee-breaker but I eventually managed to reach the top (at what seemed like a crawl in comparison 6.7km/h). I needed to get into Forster for media appointments – I had missed out on a radio spot on the ABC that morning because of a double-fatality on the Pacific Hwy, understandable given the circumstances – but managed to get a 15 minute ‘gig’ on Great Lakes FM and a spot on PrimeTV (thanks Andrew and Amy respectively). I had come 93.2km in 4:20hrs in the saddle at an average of 21.4km/h – this seems to be what I’m tending to average these days.
My talk in Forster had an early start – 5:30pm – so I grabbed a bite to eat, had a quick shower and headed out again. I’m really hitting my straps with the presentations now and look forward to them with relish! With the early start came an early finish and I was back ‘home’ with Geoff & Helen by 8pm for a lovely curry.
Bed beckoned and I was asleep by 10:30pm and up again at 6:30am for another day in the saddle – this day’s destination is Wauchope (16km west of Port Macquarie) where I will be picked up by my host Stuart for the last leg to his property in Bellangry about 17km west. It has dawned grey and cool and I set off on my journey early, as I have 126km to go.
I head off the Pacific towards Taree to avoid traffic as Stuart has recommended and have a quick morning chocolate & bun stop there before climbing back into the saddle. It has been drizzling quite heavily and I am wet through and cycling is the best thing for me to keep warm.
I make it to South Moorland for an earlyish lunch and continue on my way. This is not a day for sightseeing and I make it into Kew at about 3pm for afternoon chocolate at the Far Kew Cafe before the final leg into Wauchope.
Just after the turn-off the highway to Wauchope, I get a small chip of blue-metal through my rear tyre and have to stop, as the light starts to fade, to change my tube. I climb back on but find the chain has slipped and, by trying to pedal, I have dragged the front deraileur around jamming the chain further! It is now really starting to get dark so I quickly get out my allen keys, fix the derailleur and carry on as fast as I am able. Less than 10kms later I arrive at Wauchope and get picked up by Stuart and his wife Heather, who has just returned from 5 weeks away. After grabbing some provisions, we bundle my bike and trailer into his van and head off for Bellangry.
My hosts Stuart & Heather have mountain bikes, ski and own a Prius – Stuart is even converting a Diahatsu Charade over to an electric car – talk about kindred spirits. Thank goodness tomorrow is a day of rest though – this has been my hardest week of riding yet! 502.6km all up!!