Tuesday, December 04, 2007

DAY 59: Adelaide to Strathalbyn

DAY 58: Adelaide (Parra Hills) to Strathalbyn
Monday 3rd December 2007
111 km @14.1 km/hr
cloudy, sunny intervals, 23 deg C
little effect from wind
Distance to date 3978 km (2486 miles)

Phew, what a weekend! Peter and Sue could not have made me more welcome if they’d tried - I had a ball! It was sad to leave as we have become such good friends, but I really do hope to see them again sometime.
After another hearty breakfast we said our goodbyes and I cycled the 8km or so due south to the River Torrens cycle track (aka Torrens Linear Park) and away from the busy roads again (bliss!). The track was delightful as ever, the sun popping out to cast deep reen shadows through the continuos tree cover. Several other cyclists were on the go, and even more joggers and power walkers. I was surprised to see that buses were flying along a concrete ‘railway’ track one after the other (right), but then the penny dropped - where I got onto the track there is a bus depot that obviously connects to this transit system, which is then totally separated from the road system on its own track. The buses fairly fly along too, much faster than they would be able to on thye busy roads, all in all there’s a great public transport system in Adelaide - there are also several free buses in and around the city centre.
The cycle track took me through the city centre and I continued to the west as far as the A13 ‘South Road’, whereupon I reluctantly left the track for the stark reality of a very busy road with NO cycle lane - feast or famine! The road was too busy and narrow so I got on the pavement for some 6 km (this appears to be legal as long as you take care). Hardly anyone walks around anyway. There is a ramp at every road / street etc. but it’s still a lot less easy than being on the road. The traffic thinned a little so I ventured onto the road, but still had to get back on the pavement at times when lots of traffic / lorries were approaching. There was a cycle track for anbout 3km but not much use really when there’s none either side. I love Adelaide and South Australia too, but the lack of cycle space on the busy roads is very annoying, not to mention very dangerous for those who dare / have to use the roads. Moan over - I love this place otherwise!
I could have taken a more direct route to Strathalbyn than I have, but the shorter route, via Mount Barker / B37, but having seen this road from the safety of the car yesterday I could see it was pretty tricky - all steep hills and no shoulder; it looked quite stressfull, so i decided to avoid it even though this route is at least 25km more.
I eventually got off the A13 at Maclaren Vale - a very nice and well-to-do little wine town (vineyards everywhere around here). I was about to stop at a cafe when I saw a Subway. I have never used one of these even though there’s plenty in Scotland, so decided to give it a try - I was fancying a sandwich anyhow after the terrific one I’d had at the Adelaide Botanical Gardens last week. I wasn’t disappointed either, I finished up having two 6” (seafood, and meatballs if you must know) and was well impressed - all manner of salad and dressings that you can have on, and only $3.95 each too, so I’m now a Subway fan.
Well fed again (how could I have been hungry after all I ate at the weekend??) I plodded up the draggy road to Wulunga 5km away - the road didn’t look as if it was rising but it must have been judging by the slow pace. A billion flies had come out to play for the afternoon too, entring every available orifice, so I stopped to try and buy a proper fly net but no go - my midge net is too fine and I can hardly see where I’m going.
After Wilunga there was a BIG hill - around 3km at >10% I reckon - and I was SO glad with my Rohloff lowest 18” gear. The panniers must have been unbalanced left to right because I kept wobbling at slow speed. I could see the A13 again to my right and fully expected to get back on it for a while, but there was a right turn which would lead me towards a rather complicated route to Strathalbyn some 30km away.
The first 10km was slightly downhill and downwind too, but someway up the Woodgate Hill road the tarmac became gravel and the road steepened to 10%+ again for 2km or so. No big deal though, the surface was well-graded. The vines had gone now, replaced by cattle and then sheep.
Once the tar returned the scenery also changed again on the downhill - a pleasant and tranquil green valley which looked even better as the sun came out to play again too. There was hardly any traffic at all for the last couple of hours - mmmm. At one point a huge flock of Lorikeets burst out of the trees at my coming, and the sky was filled with every colour under the sun and a lot of squaking.
The last 3km into Strathalbyn featured the biggest and fastest downhill yet for me in Oz - a heady 68 km/hr to end a very enjoyable ride today for the most part. The few days off have done me good since I still feel pretty strong despite the strength-sapping steep hills. Maybe it was Subway?
As it was 1730 I rode straight to IGA as they often close at 6 in the smaller towns, and I stocked up with goodies. Not meat though - Peter had given me a piece of Hungarian hot salami that was tonight’s main feature.
Strathalbyn looks a very nice little place, and I wondered if I might spend an extra night here - I’m still around 9 days ahead of schedule despite the 5 in Adelaide. The caravan park is a bit spartan for $14, but everything was clean, and I quickly set up, under a willow tree, showered, washed a few things and cooked dinner. Very nice it was too.