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Tuesday, June 30, 2015

Crossing to the Queenslander Side



I was washed, I was clean, I was well fed; and I was all set for another adventure!
(Look how white that t-shirt looks)

DAY 10: Sat 20 June

I couldn't believe how sunshiny and happy life was when I finally set off from Coffs....
 Any day on the bicycle generally means a wet one!

I stopped off to lick the Big Banana (A ritual I've done every time I've passed it) and carried on into the unknown.


Google sent me into the Barcoongere State forest to avoid the highway and it was a nice break from the hum drum of traffic, and it was rather beautiful; but after 3 hours on dirt roads going in every direction I finally realised I was lost.


Very very lost!


I waved the first (and only) car I saw in the forest down and they, being lost themselves, decided it was best to throw the bike in the back and return with them to the highway; so I did... Three hours of pedaling and I was back where I started.
...And by then it was raining.

Instead of a coastal route, I ended up racing to beat the dark and make it to Grafton for the night. 
It was the second coldest night of my life - even wearing everything I owned, and cuddling the bear.

DAY 11: Sun 21 June

The day was wet, but relatively flat and filled with wildlife - most of which was the same species: dead.

I camped out at New Italy for the night and had my first bonfire of the trip with an exceptionally awesome mismotch of grey nomads.


Day 12: Mon 22 June

I was all set for an early start when I suddenly discovered I'd lost my keys... I'd chained my bike to a tree for the night and I was quite stuck.
I had every man and his dog out looking for it. Some of my new friends even had their metal detectors out. I'd checked everything I owned thrice when I suddenly realised I'd slept in a sleeping bag... and low and behold....

I carried on to Ballina


And took the long scenic tour that leads you to the little ferry
(Selfie taken while waiting for the barge to return)


And on the other side was the Big Prawn - But it was far too high to lick.


The shire of Byron Bay welcomed me with this sign


And then welcomed me with a shower and a beautiful sunset before I retired to the comforts of a friend's brother's couch.


DAY 13: 23 June

After a narrow escape from a falling plane (it crashed in the trees just next to me) and while I survived to tick "survive a plane crash" off my bucket list, the pilot  wasn't quite as lucky!!

I was expecting Queensland to welcome me with big signs and flags and sunshine, but all I got were signs forbidding me from riding on the highway

And when it stopped raining, I tried to take some Queenslany pictures, but they're not that exciting... 




I spent the night in Robina (Gold Coast) with a friends mum who served me soup and shnitty and wine and chocolate and to quote her - "Had all the food groups covered"

DAY 14: 24 June

It was the rainiest day yet and I had to laugh at the irony as I passed wet and wild.

The Queensland bike paths were pretty good, but their labeling system is a lot on the confusing side!

After a very hilly day, I finally arrived, soaked to the core, to these lovely people, and another day rest in Mount Cotton.

Day 1: Roast dinner

Day 2 : A braai

DAY 15: Friday 26 June


I stopped in at Cleveland high on the way to Brisbane because the awesome student chaplaincy committee were doing a Bikes 4 Life fund raiser. (And doing it well!)


I continued on to cross Brisbane and met up with some legendary human beings I haven't seen in over 5 years.

...and their little dog Barney
...And their daughter, Poppy

DAY 16: Sat 27 June

It was just me (and the bear) and the road again. Gone were the days of plans and knowing people along the way.


After a late departure and many random conversations and awesome donations (you'd be amazed how many people are curious about a barefoot cyclist carrying a giant teddy), I cut the day short and camped out in Caboolture.

DAY 17: Sun 28 June

The scenery was awesome, but the sunshine coast wasn't quite as bright and merry as I'd hoped.


Soaked to the brim, I took shelter in a hostel in Marichidoore for the night.

DAY 18: Mon 29 June

I guess I didn't really know what a hill was until yesterday.
I have now added three swear words to my cyclist vocabulary:
"Hill", "Flat" and "Rain"
And I have had a lot of all of them!!!

At least there were some pretty things to see along the way


And after getting lost in Yandina and having to trespass across farms to avoid going back the way I came (up a very big hill), the road became rather beautiful


And the view from the tops of the mountains was awesome


I camped the night out in Pomona and met some exceptional people before crawling into a moggy tent (waterproofing doesn't work so well when you keep rolling your tent up wet)

DAY 19: Tue 20 June

Would you believe that this morning began with sunshine???

I delayed my start this morning to drink more coffee and dry my everything. And then some  hilly dirt roads have led me all the way to Gympie


It's weird how your body adjusts to the cycling life. My butt doesn't hurt as much, the rain doesn't bother me as much and the worry of where I end up in the day has become the least of my concerns... I still have no idea where I'm staying tonight and where I'm heading next)

I used to be a skeptic about cycle touring  - but over the last few days I've realised than I'm happier than I've been in a long time - there's something about combining exercise, adventure, an amazing cause, and going slow that seems to make life that little bit more epicer!

Bikes 4 Life is right - bicycles do transform lives!




Friday, June 19, 2015

Rain and Pain: The Second Legg


And I was off...

DAY 5 began in Tea Gardens...


I simply cycled out of work and kept going


...until my first flat of the leg happened (Number 4 since Sydney) ...only 30 km down the road.
But there are worse places than the Myall Lakes National Park to break down



And after the second flat, I ended up changing the whole outer tyre.

With a late start (midday) and the double break down, I ended the day early (40 Km), and camped out on the old mining trail heading towards Seal Rocks.


DAY 6: Old Mining Trail (Boomeri) - Forster

It's amazing what 12 hours of sleep can do for you.


Refreshed and rested, I cycled the 23 km dirt track to Seal Rocks and kept peddling through the torrents of rain through Booti Booti national park till Forster (70 km) where I pitched my tent and sat repairing my rain gear.


DAY 7: Forster to Port Macquarie

With mended rain coat and saddle bag covers I was ready for yet another day of sogginess.


Despite veering on and off the Pacific highway and it's traffic, it wasn't all dull...




I pushed hard and finally made my first over 100 km day (136 according to google maps).

Soaked to the core and exhausted, I checked myself into Port Macquarie Backpackers and treated myself to some high life living.

DAY 8: Port to Clambucca

I delayed the day to visit the Koala hospital.



And then finally pretended to be excited about heading back into the pouring rain.


From settlement Point I took a 400m ferry which added 30 km to my route, but saved me from the madness that is the Pacific Highway.



And quite suddenly the tar ended and 34 km of mud began.






I stopped in Crescent Head for lunch and quite enjoyed being back on the tar up through Kempsey and on to Clybucca



I camped out at a truck stop where I joined the plethora of truckies in watching the second game of Origin


DAY 9: Clybucca to Coffs

I was off bright and early.
97 km stood between me and a hot shower and good people and a home cooked meal and a real bed.

The sun even decided to make an appearance and even though my buttocks ached and my rear tyre had a slow leak, nothing would stop me from the goal!!

The Millers and a delicious hot pot meal
 It's a beautiful day today, and I'm almost finished demudding everything; now I just need to find a way to fix my battered buttocks:
A massive decision lies ahead, to buy cycling shorts and risk being mistaken for an actual cyclist,
or to add more weight to the bike and gel seat it...
Either way, it's rest day the second and I'm off to explore the awesomeness that is Coffs [in the sunshine] 

 662 km lie behind me and a flipping long way lies ahead - but it's good to know I'm doing it for an awesome cause!!
Visit www.bikes4life.com.au and donate today!!