I tried to tell myself it would be okay. Half-heartedly I gripped the spokes, testing their tension. Maybe it will be fine how it is; after all, it made it over the mountains under rigorous torque. The rim had cracked in four more places since then, but five missing spokes can’t slow me down that much, can it?
The wheel wobbled alarmingly as I coasted down from camp into the town of Cooma. It was weak beneath the punishing weight of rider and rig. At the slightest lean it flexed dangerously, promising to fold in half at any moment. Then I noticed the tire was hitting the frame, once every revolution.
It was like a manacle clapping closed around my mind. The inevitable encircled me.
I would not be able to ignore this all the way to Canberra.
Some things less than others, but my gear was all just damp. My poor shoes, my poor feet! I had basically camped in a puddle last night — talk about getting a soggy bottom!
But at least it wasn’t raining again, at least not right now.
I left the highway for the relative peace of the side road, heading to find a campsite in Murray Valley. Around a bend I noticed an entry into an apparent campground, and a sign that said “Poet’s Paradise.”
This gave me pause.
Earlier, in the midst of misery, when it was raining and hailing and then raining some more, I had fantasized briefly about buying a warm, dry motel room. But then the rain had stopped, and the sun came out a bit, and, escaping oppression, my spirit felt strong enough to ditch camp again. I could dry things by the fire.
So I gave it a miss, and pedaled into the gathering dusk.
I had so much fun there. I became such good friends with the whole crazy bunch: Sam and Shath and Charlene and Kenza and Matt and Mehdi and Jonathan. I could easily envision myself taking a spare room there and staying in Melbourne. It’s a pretty happening place.
But of course, there’s a tour on. And no matter what excuses I can come up with, be it “not enough writings been done,” or “new bikes just arrived that need tune-ups,” or “the fellas need more instruction on the fine points of Dungeons & Dragons,” or “I’ve got the sniffles”… there comes a day when you’ve just got to leave, as painful as it may be. You know how it is. (more…)
It was a full afternoon’s ride from Ellendale to Lachlan, so I finally rolled into the village as dusk was beginning to descend. I removed my sunglasses to gain some time — always worth a half hour or so. =)
I couldn’t shake that nervous feeling one gets when you’re about to attempt something difficult, something other people might consider impossible. That swimming-against-the-current uncertainty. A bit scary, but undeniably exhilarating. I wondered if people passing me might think I was lost – or crazy – heading for a tiny village with no real through road at dusk.
A visit to the one and only shop in the village did not dispel this feeling. (more…)
So began a series of what I’ll call “afternoon surprise mountains.”
Sounds kind of fun, doesn’t it? Like a children’s after-school cartoon, or a wacky dessert on offer at the ice cream parlor.
But no. These were just the road, my road, that same road to adventure I’ve always been on. Only, for about five days in a row, it happened to go up at the end. Like the sound of a question mark? (more…)