Continuing from the last installment, the next destination for gravel fun would be Australia’s Capital City, Canberra. I’ll wager a lot of non-Aussies thought it was Sydney… moving on 🙂
The drive from the Central Coast of New South Wales to Canberra is about 360 kilometres / 225 miles. No biggie, except that I didn’t depart James’ house until about 10:30pm on Tuesday evening. In the US of A, most of the hotels I have stayed at feature late check-in with a clerk in attendance… even at 1:30am in the morning. Australian accommodations in far-flung country towns operate a little differently, in that a lot of employers respect the lives of their employees, meaning, you won’t find a clerk sitting around at 1:30am waiting for you to arrive. Some of these establishments are family owned and operated, meaning they too want to keep somewhat decent work hours.
Where am I going with this?
Once an Aussie hotel booking has been made over the internet (how I usually do it), I call ahead to inform the clerk I will be arriving late. This is pretty standard practice. The clerk places the key into a lockbox / safe, and said lockbox is opened upon arrival by the inbound guest at the premises.
The city of Goulburn, New South Wales was my destination for the evening of Tuesday, 26th December 2017, and a booking was secured and confirmed by the clerk. But there was a problem. The lockbox / safe that should have contained my room key was empty when I arrived at 1:45am. Faaarrrrkkkk!!! The hotel staff couldn’t be roused and the online booking website had in waking them either. To say I was PO’d was an understatement, but I figured out a solution.
Plan B called for a refund from the booking website and a lie down in my rental car, at a rest stop located off the Hume Highway. My hour and a half of sleep were less than restful, but it did set the tone for Wednesday.
Mixed Surface Canberra Cruise Ride – December 27, 2017
The day was capped off at BentSpoke Brewing Company. Thanks to James of Graveleur for the brewery suggestion, and to Canberra’s best shoulder doc and local cyclist, Kevin, for the company!
After some cleanup and reorganization of the car, I set off for the city of Wagga Wagga, New South Wales (pronounced “wogga wogga”). My hotel accommodations for the evening of Wednesday 27th of December 2017 were positively delightful compared to sleeping in the car. This time around, I arrived much earlier, early enough to meet the front desk clerk and her family who owned the hotel. Social obligations out of the way, barely any time passed before I drifted off to sleep. Next morning, an early rise left enough time to write an article for the website and after, roll out for a mixed surface ride.
The forecast high temperature was 34C / 93F. Toasty, but nothing to worry about… or so I thought.
The Mixed Surface Wagga Wagga Cruise Ride – December 28, 2017
Above, one of the 25 species of Goana that populate Australia (aka monitor lizard of the genus Varanus), tried to hide from view as I rolled on by. I would estimate he / she to be about three feet / one metre in length and very adept at climbing this tree!
Above, a bird’s eye view of the approximate halfway point of the ride, the town of Coolamon.
A little after my hydration / refueling break, it became apparent to me I was not dealing with the heat of the day in my usual elegant manner. Australia is known as the “sunburnt country” for a reason. That statement is no joke. The sun is stronger and hotter than what I’m used to in North Central Florida, and riding your bicycle around between the hours of 1pm – 4pm in summer, is generally not a good idea.
Above, I latched onto the draft of this fast-moving tractor which only made my plight worse. Between that abbreviated effort, fatigue, heat of the day and drone camera on my back, I cracked… with some 50+ kilometres / 34 miles still to ride. D’oh!
The remainder of the ride was spent crawling along at pitiful speeds on every incline in a low gear – thank you, gods of the double chainring!, or getting off the bike to stretch and moan. If someone had driven past in a car and offered me a ride, I would gladly have taken it. It was one of those days… but definitely better than sitting around on the couch!
As proof the Aussie sun is all powerful, see the photo below. That’s the result of three days of riding in the Australian summer sans sunblock… which I kept forgetting to purchase.
Thanks for reading, next installment coming soon.
JOM… now with sunblock.