I always feel a little nervous when I set off on a cycle tour. It’s not a fear-based nerve. It’s just knowing that I’m starting out on a new adventure and wondering how it will go. There’s always a risk of failure and I’ve had rides in the past where I’ve had to turn back. But my nerves dissipate as soon as I start to roll out of the Karara Hotel and onto the Cunningham Highway heading west. This is my zen.
My sister and I drove out to Karara, midway between Warwick and Inglewood yesterday to hang checkpoints for a rogain she is helping to organise. We had a fantastic day out 4WDing on some beautiful farms. It worked out well for me because it reduced my ride from 1,100km (690 miles) down to 800km (500 miles). This means that I will be able to cycle home from Bathurst instead of flying home from Sydney. But that’s still a few weeks away.
It’s tough country out here in the bush. I will cycle 96km and not go through any towns. Even Karara is nothing but a pub with some motel rooms and Omanama, which I will pass through after 35km is just a petrol station with some picnic tables under a shade shelter.
The locals farm sheep, cattle and goats battling the constant vagaries of drought and flooding rains. Currently the land is gripped with drought. The creeks are dry and dams have shrunk to the size of small ponds. While I don’t want to get wet while cycling, I can’t help but hope the rains come.
That’s not to say there’s no sense of humour out here. This is Australia and the larrikin spirit is alive and well. It’s visible in some of the mail boxes, like this tractor.
The riding goes well today. I leave Karara around 6:30am and make it to Texas before 2pm. I have a group presentation for university due on Thursday and I’ve taken the lead roll so need to develop the PowerPoint slides and record my part of the audio (it’s an online course so we are pre-recording our presentation). I also have a huge work project due while I’m away so it would be great to get the uni assignment done. So, instead of camping at the free camp on the river out of town, I book into the commercial campground. It’s a delightful place to while away an afternoon on my laptop. I get my share of the assignment completed by 7:30pm, stopping only briefly for dinner.
On the subject of dinner, I cooked up one of my dehydrated meals. It turned out fantastic. I had chicken, bacon and vegetable sweet and sour noodles complete with pineapple. The sweet and sour sauce was from a sachet but the rest of the meal was just dehydrated foods I brought with me. I started rehydrating them after I ate my lunch so just had to cook them up. I find myself mentally thanking my mum for so highly recommending that I buy the dehydrator.