Tuesday, November 27, 2007

DAY 53: Riverton to Gawler

Tue 27th Nov 07
49 km @ 16.4 km/hr
Sunny, hot, 30+C
light tailwind

All the world was awake at 0630 so if you can’t beat ‘em, join ‘em. Having ditched the rather smelly fruit loaf last night (probably too hot for it to keep fresh too long) I had to get a pastie from the one shop open in Riverton, and then I was on my way.
Plenty of lorries on the road again; apparently many are going to / from Broken Hill Mine, but there was a reasonable verge. Even so I had to dive off into the gravel a few times when traffic was coming both ways. There was a slight tailwind so that was appreciated, but in any case there was a gradual descent for the most part. nothing much to report on the scenery front - I’m sure the farmers like looking at their wheat fields but it does nothing for me lol.
Very hot indeed by the time I reached Gawler, which is a big town and administrative centre by the looks of it. The caravan park was smart-looking as reflected in the $20 fee, unfortunately there was nowhere shady to erect the tent (it was only noon and the sun was high in the sky) so I had to try and work out where west was in anticipation of some shade later on - not a very exact science I have found! (pic below right)
I was feeling completely devoid of energy for some reason - this seems to have been worse ever since this hot spell started a few days ago, and as I’ve already commented, this may be due to dehydration. I’ve been pretty lucky since the start of this tour in that it has been cooler rather than warmer so far. Maybe I need to adapt some more? The short days should help in this respect, as will a few days off in Adelaide.

Pic above left = Gawler Railway Station / Jacaranda tree

Had a great lunch of serve-yourself salad for $9.95 then called in at the library for internet, but unlucky again, closed today (as was Clare library yesterday). Looks like I’ll have to pay at the caravan site computer lol. Half an hour after lunch still very tired so now sat in an arcade cafe with FU Iced Coffee resting / recovering. I don’t like this tired feeling as I’ve usually got lots of energy, hmmm.
Had trouble at the Gawler CP internet machine which crashed on me -the lady manager seemed to be blaming my USB attachments in a very shirty way, but after admitting she knew nothing about computers grrrr!
Had an interesting conversation with a former NZ Fire Chief about the science and fighting of fires in the bush - scary stuff.

DAY 52: Clare to Riverton

Mon 26th Nov 07
49 km @ 12.7 km/hr
Sunny, hot afternoon again 30+C
Headwind (light to moderate)

I had kind of decided I would spend another night here but after visiting the TIC next door to the CP I learned that the Riesling rail trail to Auburn ran past very close by, and went to have a look. It had a very good surface, and there were plenty of CP’s, at Auburn and beyond, that I decided to pack up and head south along it - this was in any case in the direction of Adelaide where I need to be by Wednesday. It’s around 24km from here to Auburn, and very pleasant riding indeed - no traffic of course - in fact I only saw 2 other cyclists and a few walkers, and the trail is lined with all kinds of trees hosting many varieties of bird. Although it was another clear blue sky and promised to be hot again, the dappled shade from the trees made for comfortable progress. In places the crickets gathered to create a deafening noise, though I didn’t see a single individual. I was in no hurry and took my time so as to savour the experience. Being a former railway line there are no steep hills or sharp bends to worry about - just easy cycling, even loaded up.
In just under a couple of hours I was entering Auburn, which is a tidy and pleasant little place. In keeping with most small towns I have visited in the past few days there are a lot of older building - 19th century I presume - that add considerable character. Perhaps the presence and wealth produced by the many local vineyards (many producing Riesling wine) helps this process - clearly many old houses and other buildings have been restored and maintained sympathetically.
The Bakehouse bakery /cafe was another quaint building and they did a fantastic afternoon tea for $8 - 2 lovely fresh scones of gargantuan size with cream and jam, and a nice mug of tea - mmmmm, went down a treat.
The TIC lady this morning had told me that there is another rail trail running from Auburn to Riverton - the Rattler - so I decided to give it a go. Unfortunately it was not finished or maintained to the standard of the Riesling trail; the surface was very coarse being primarily 25 to 50mm stone, there was no tree cover whatsoever, just open wheat fields, and worst of all there were gates across the path. Not ordinary gates mind that are easily opened and closed, but lengths of fence roughly wired or tied up - not easy to undo and re-fasten, especially when trying to hold up a fully-laden touring bike with nowhere to lean it whilst doing this. The forth such obstacle was not actually a gate at all but a full-blown fence, and pretty cheesed off by this time I had to take all the gear off the bike and physically lift everything over. At this point I decided to abandon the trail and got back on the tarmac road a km away.
After another few km (all uphill and against the wind) I picked up the trail again so gave it another go. The remainder of the 19km from Auburn to Riverton was OK - there were gates, but proper ones that had catches and easier to manage. The trail was still very dull though, scenically benign unless you like several-square meter cereal fields. The last 2km before Riverton was very nice though, through a dense avenue of trees.
Riverton is a lovely little place - sleepy but smart, again with lots of old buildings - I really liked it. The small caravan p-ark is part of the oval (cricket ground) and swimming pool complex. The CP had plenty of old gums for shade, and the birds, particularly the ubiquitous Galahs, and Corellas, were much in evidence.
I got myself a couple of beers from the nearby bottle shop and settled down in my Thermorest chair to enjoy the late afternoon sunshine.
I cooked myself a seafood spaghetti and watched the last of the sun disappear over the horizon at around 2015. I felt quite tired again - the last 2 or 3 days have been among the hottest and must be draining my energy, or maybe I’m not drinking enough water. Next time I stop at a cafe I must remember to get a top-up of cool water and have a good drink while it’s cold - it isn’t long before it’s warm and less palatable.
No internet again today, library closed Mondays, will try tomorrow when I arrive in Gawler, which is only 40-odd kms from Adelaide.

DAY 51: Wallaroo to Clare

Sun 25th Nov 07
110 km @ 13.5 km/hr
Sunny, hot afternoon 30+C
Headwind first 20km then sidewind
Climbed from sea level to 398m

Up by 0600 and away 0715 in view of possible long day. And it was, long and hard, not to mention hot.

10km to Kadina and another 14km to the turn for Locheil and Clare. I made a mistake with the latter and turned too early onto a (good) gravel road which ran parallel to the correct road, and I took it because I wasn’t sure whether it was gravel or tarmac due to a dodgy map. Anyway after a pleasant 6km in the bush on an ever-diminishing track I decided to check my position with the GPS and I found I was very close to the correct road, and soon found it. It was sheep or cereals all the way to Clare with about 50% tree shelter at the side of the road, and only one cafe-shop in 80km. This proved to be a very quiet road with hardly 10 vehicles per hour - bliss!
As I progressed I could see hills ahead, looming out of the flat country, and sure enough a few km before The Shack cafe at Locheil there was a bit of a climb for a few km, but countered by a long, fast downhill into this little settlement.
I topped energy levels up with a FU Iced Coffee as usual, and Picnic, and proceeded in increasingly hot conditions. I had great difficulty drinking the warm tasteless water; I need to address this problem before it causes me grief - lack of body water = lack of energy = suffering. There was nowhere to get fresh, cooler water either.
After 80km+ I was grovelling somewhat; struggling along very slowly, but 12km from Clare thankfully arrived at a cafe in Blyth (right), and a latte and carrot cake revived me a little.
It needed to, because after Blyth there’s 6km of climbing, the last 2km being STEEP - at least 10% and more at times. I noted from all the writing on the road this is probably part of the route of the Tour Down Under cycle race - I’m not surprised. Anyway the nutrition must have kicked in and I spun away until the summit and enjoyed what I thought would be the final descent into Clare - but there were a few more short and sharp climbs yet, and an interminable plod for 3km after the town centre of Clare to the Caravan Park. Peter had recommended this CP and indeed it was very nice - lots of shady spots, and good facilities as at Wallaroo.
Unfortunately after erecting the tent I had to return to town to buy dinner, however with lighter load and yet another FUIC inside me. (Surely you know what that stands for by now?)
I threw the lamb chops (Scottish readers note - 3 large chops for $5 (£2) i.e. cheap) and zuchini, onions, mushrooms and onion onto the electric barbie and felt absolutely weary / knackered, but chatted to another ‘chef’ whom I had chatted to before at Arno Bay a few days ago - this keeps happening again and again.
2110 now as I type in the tent in utter peace - the last 2 nights at Wallaroo have been rather noisy with groups of youngsters on a ‘weekend out’.
No plans for tomorrow (Monday) yet - I’ll have a look in the TIC tomorrow and make a plan. I have to be in Adelaide to stay with a Warmshowers host on Weds nt., and then invited to Peter and Sue’s next weekend. Looking forward to Adelaide.....