We woke up to dark, gray storm clouds looming over us, and the sky hanging heavy with rain. We packed up as quickly as possible, said goodbye to the stream of much frolicking, and got a move on. According to the maps, we still had a little bit of gravel ahead of us, and we were pretty scared of the idea of that turning into mud, and us having to push some bloody heavy bikes through mud. Add to this our fear of running out of fuel, and we were moving pretty quick smart. Thankfully, we made it over the gravel section without incident, and into the nearest town about sixty ks away at about eight in the morning, just in time for the servo to open. We rode past dozens of “lakes” that had appeared where an entire paddock had been flooded.
We rode on, going straight into some black-as-night skies. Oddly enough, seeing this made me reflect on how perfect the weather had been for the whole trip so far, which made me feel quite happy. This feeling was to last about forty minutes, until the skies opened and it pissed down upon us. We stopped in at the nearest town, which was thankfully fully equipped with a wine bar. We were watching the weather radar maps on Yaegs’ non-branded-internet-capable telephone (it’s actually a HTC), and working out whether or not to stay and wait out the rain, or chance it. The maps said that we’d be missing the brunt of the downpour, so we put on our wet weather gear (not a euphemism for condoms) for the first time, and headed out. As predicted by the Gods of the Bureau of Meteorology (divinity yet to be ascertained), we only had gray skies, with no rain. The roads were pretty slick though, and we were back in caravan country, which led to some annoying patches of riding stuck behind a slow moving large vehicle.
We passed on to the Alpine Way, which was simply tremendous riding. We were a bit cautious with the wet roads, so we eased ourselves into things. A dickhead in a hotted-up ute (utility truck, which have somehow, inextricably, become a fashion statement in certain pools of Australian society) tried to race us by sitting tight on our tail for a few corners. This scared us, as we knew that if we came off, we’d have some bogan in a shrine to redneck society crushing us within milliseconds . We didn’t rate our chances of hopping off the bike, having a chinwag and explaining our position, and so we decided to speed up to get away from him.
On the Alpine Way, I saw my second kangaroo on the road of the trip. When I bought the bike, it came with a kangaroo whistle, which is essentially a hollowed out tube stuck on near the front of the bike, which claims to channel in air, at speed, and emit a super-sonic whistle that ‘roos don’t like. I was skeptical at first, but when I came out of the corner and saw the ‘roo on the road, it immediately snapped it’s head towards me, then bounded off into the shrub at the side of the road. Was it the whistle, or was it an inline three screaming at 8000 revs? Who knows. At least I didn’t crash into a metre and a half of a disemboweling maching.
We blitzed the road, had a little rest at Thredbo, then passed right through Jindabyne and had a stop at Cooma. After the afternoon tea of champions (meat-pie), we gave a mate in Canberra a quick call, checked that we were right to crash with him then smashed out the last bit of distance. We were now getting pretty close to home.
We woke up and decided to try to leave Australia’s Most Boring City (not the official tourist slogan) quick smart. Canberra is the home to Australia’s federal parliament, where our not-rulers (the Queen is still the head of state) are located – as a trade off for having to host so many politicians, Canberra is the only place in Australia where the discerning consumer can buy both fireworks and XXX rated pornography. Fair trade? The entire city is built as a system of concentric circles, which means that it does look very nice from the air, but has the drawback of every single place being so far away from every other point of interest. Add to this the fact that the bus (singular) doesn’t run very regularly, and it doesn’t sum to much of a café culture. It was pissing down, so we decided to take the main road out of town – straight, wide, high-speed, but the safest road possible, given the appalling conditions. We had about an hour and a half ride to Goulburn, which wasn’t overly pleasant.
At Goulburn, Yaegs and I parted ways – he was off to see his dad, who lived south of Sydney near Wollongong, while I was going to meet up with my girlfriend and a few of her mates in the Blue Mountains out to the west of Sydney. Thankfully, about thirty ks out of Goulburn, the clouds disappeared away, to be replaced by a blazing hot sun, meaning that I had to stop by the side of the highway to take some clothes off (how the other half live!).
The roads for today were all pretty ordinary – big highways with not too many interesting features. I was hoping that the Blue Mountains might offer something up, but sadly there was roadwork all along the road, keeping the speed down.
I met up with Gel at a microbrewery in Leura, where we bought a few locally-made American Pale Ales, and assorted deli stuff. I had picked up some strawberries out near Camden, and we had a fantastically relaxing afternoon, comprised mainly of lying on a picnic rug eating strawberries and drinking nice beer. Bliss. I also finally had a chance to put my extensive speedo collection to work, and had a quick dip under the waterfall. Double bliss.
Today was the shortest day of the trip, and the one that I came the nearest to a bad tumble. I was aware that I might get complacent, being so close to home and riding familiar roads, so I gave myself the little pep talk about every other driver being mad, etc. The roads were full of filthy feds, so I kept the speed legal. This meant that some wanker in an electric green ute (seriously? He must be able to see it, surely …) started getting closer and closer to my tail. I waved him past with one hand, not really sure why he was doing what he was doing. He didn’t move, just stayed right on me. I had had enough of his bullshit, so, with a quick twist of the throttle, jumped about 40 ks an hour or so, overtook a number of cars then moved back into the left lane, hoping that he wouldn’t try anything more. After about a minute, he overtook in the right lane, and just stared at me. Dickhead number one!
Dickhead number two came on the Anzac bridge, which links the inner-western suburbs of Sydney with the CBD. I was sitting about a metre in front of a van, who decided that it’d be a good reason to move into my lane, to hell with a bike already in it, in front of the van. I honked the horn and accelerated to get away from the wank.
Sooner than soon, I was back in the eastern suburbs, getting frustrated by the low speed, the constant traffic lights and the boring roads. Home sweet home.