Paruna to Pinnaroo

After a solid 11 hour sleep I wake feeling a little anxious about the 72km ride to Pinnaroo across the middle of nowhere. Intellectually I know that I can ride 72km without any problems. I mean, last year I cycled 100km every day for 31 days while still going to work and university. But somehow this feels different. I am pushing a bicycle that weighs 65kg, which is 87% of my total body weight. I still have some anxieties about my legitimacy as a cycle tourer. I am a little worried because my Hb count has gone back up to 178 when it should be below 174 and this was what caused my mini stroke (TIA) in February but there’s nothing I can do about it out here. I want to enjoy this experience, not ride long distances every day. The anxiety is an important lesson because it shows that I need to select my ride destinations and routes to suit my more laid back approach. While I a enjoying the long bush roads, I definitely would prefer to be cycling in areas where there are interesting towns or places to explore every 25-40km. In future, I will probably use a motorbike to explore more remote areas. This is an important part of my process at this formative stage of my life as a nomad. And I realise I don’t need to feel guilty or anything for being less hardcore than others’ whose journeys I follow.

That’s not to say I don’t appreciate and enjoy my ride through the mallee. When you travel slowly out here you see the subtle changes. There’s long mallee plains. There’s red soil and bright green broadacre farms. Crops grow in various stages. Some green and some a golden brown. Colour contrasts abound. And bright yellow canola crops glow bright under the woolly gray skies.

I get into a rhythm where I ride 10km then stop to eat and read a chapter of my book. At most stops I just eat snacks like nuts, fruit, crackers and cheese. But I do have a fantastic curry with rice for lunch. I enjoy this rhythm because it forces me to take in my surrounds and because I love the experience of being in the fresh air. Sitting out here in the red dirt is a fantastic experience.

Big country calls for big machinery and massive buildings. It’s pretty impressive to see. I can only imagine how the pioneers using the tools I saw in the museum yesterday would love to have such huge tools and reliable sheds to farm crop out here.

At the end of the day I reach Pinnaroo. The town has a shop, bakery, caravan park, quite a few houses, two road houses and a motel that also has cabins. I’m fatigued and still feeling a bit off. While I’ve had a good day, fatigue is getting the better of me. I buy some sweets at the bakery and some junk at the supermarket before checking into a cabin at the motel for the night. It’s worth every cent to have a comfortable bed, private shower, television and heater. I get a heap of work done and sleep well. It’s now the next morning and I am remembering why I’m out here. For the next few days I will cycle east to the Murray at Swan Hill before I resume a slow pace and might even hire a car to head to the snow to spend a few days skiing before I head home for my birthday. Odd how a bit of comfort can make you see the wood for the trees.

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