Monday, April 30, 2018

End of Another Road

The weather has again been consistently sunny, though cooler yet. The nights are getting quite cool, but my 32 year old sleeping bag may have something to do with that perception.

For the past few weeks, the flies have been the worst I've experienced in Australia. Even the locals say they've never seen them this bad.  They're attracted to motion which, of course, is exactly what bicycles are all about. I can only outrun them with a headwind or a crosswind, which takes some of the fun out of tailwinds. It takes a heavy dose of DEET to keep them off my face.

Back in 2001, while fixing a puncture, a woman pulled over to see if I needed help. That’s how I met Kate, the windmill fixer. I visited her family at their farm in 2015. I wasn’t going that way this time, but we were going to meet for lunch in St. George. Alas, car trouble and other complications got in the way, so it didn’t work out. Kate tells me her children even got ahead on their school work for the occasion. 

No matter, I planned to spend the day in St. George anyway, resting up for the long ride to Surat. In the afternoon I found a great oboe spot at the sports ground, which I had all to myself. They seem to have cleaned up St. George a bit since 2015. 

That afternoon, I got in touch via Skype with my friend Peter in Finland, this time before it got dark here. Spring has arrived in Finland

Oboe Spot in St. George

South winds were forecast for the next day, when I planned to ride to Surat, some 120 km north. 

Tailwinds in the Forecast!

Leaving St. George

It turned out to be a pretty easy ride, with that tailwind. An unexpected luxury was the several rest areas along the way, all with tables and shade. 

Getting Close

Still, it was fairly late when I got to Surat, so I just stayed in the cramped caravan park for quick access to the shower and laundry. 

Surat Store

Surat Museum

The next day, I moved to the free campground by the river, just a short way from downtown Surat. As Surat is a nice town, and I had some time to kill, I stayed there a third night. There was a very nice free shower in the old shire hall.  I even found some outlets at which to charge my phone.  There were a couple good oboe spots, too.

Surat Campsite

One of the pleasures of a long bike tour is the feeling of becoming more fit. I can't measure it, because there are so many variables, but I'm definitely feeling stronger than when I started out in Victoria two months and almost 3,000 km ago. The challenge will be to keep up that fitness when I get home.

Leaving Surat

The final ride to Roma, on another tailwind, was quite pleasant, though traffic picked up towards the end. There were 3 more rest areas on the route, so I'm getting really spoiled.

On the Road to Roma

Almost There

End of the Road

Roma is my most northerly point of this trip, and it's where I catch the 4 AM bus to Brisbane. The odometer shows 2,891 km since leaving Melbourne, though I'll add a few more riding from the bus station to my friend Peter's house in Brisbane.

Many have asked me what the worst thing that has happened on the trip has been, and seem disappointed when I can't report any disasters. A bunch of punctures, I guess, no big deal. There have been just three rain events during the trip, only one of which happened when I was on the road, and I probably rode in the rain a grand total of 30 minutes.  There were a few tough days into the wind, but I had tailwinds for the two really long days.  Now, if spring will just show up in Wisconsin by the time I get home!

Here ends the cycling part of the blog. Peter and I will drive down the coast from Brisbane for a few days, so I can see a part of Australia I never see on the bike. Then I'll pack up the bike and start the long trek home.