Monday, January 28, 2008

DAY 113: Gresford to Dungog

Sat 26th January 2008
32 km @10.5 km/hr
Distance to date 6942 km (4339 miles)
Cloudy, sunny intervals

I woke early at 0600 despite getting to sleep late due to a lady nearby who loved the sound of her own loud voice, and it has stopped raining after last evening’s several hours of rain. The tent was mostly dry and I finished it off with a chamois before packing away
I knew today would be a short ride of 30km or so, although there is a climb from 100m to 450m to attend to. The road from Gresford to Dungog is rough, just as it was for the last 20km yesterday - almost entirely composed of patched-up potholes; someone told me it’s the local council’s doing (what a surprise!). The ride was very pleasant though - more winding and afforested than yeterday’s austere scenery from Singleton, with occasional vistas of the valley below and beyond. Again, the road never flattens out - up and down again for the first 14km, then a BIG ascent of at least 9% for around 3km. The road was pretty quiet though, and although I was puffing a bit on the ascent (down to under 4 km/hr for some distance!) I did enjoy it. Once again the Rohloff gearing came up trumps and I was never concerned about ‘stalling’ or having to get off and push. Because the road was quiet I sometimes zig-zagged up the hills to reduce the gradient. The early morning shadows cast over the fields and forest looked very pretty. This was still beef farming land, until the road became more mountainous.
The downhill was great - max speed 68 km/hr and over 60 for 2 or 3km - what is known (in my small world) as a screamer i.e. over 60 km/hr. The road was quite a bit smoother fortunately on the downhill, nevertheless I was still watching the road carefully in case of potholes, which could be disastrous carrying this weight at that speed. In just over 2 hours I was entering Dungog and heading for the VIC.
I was ‘accosted’ by a Sydney couple who bombarded me with questions about the ride, and we chatted about lots of interesting things - I gave them my website address as usual. The site is getting an increasing number of hits, and I hope this turns into some more donations to WaterAid. I am aware that some Australians have donated via the WaterAid Australia website which explains several ways to donate, but I do not get to know how much they donate - doesn’t matter - anything is welcome.
The caravan park in Dungog is council-owned again and I had to pay the $12 fee at the VIC, and I got the key for the showers etc. The site is located directly between the railway (main Brisbane to Sydney line) and road. After setting up I did a pile of washing and put it out to dry in the bright late-morning sunshine. Drying is rapid in these conditions of course. I did the bakery stop then wandered around the town museum for a while, which wildly exciting but passed an hour - I had a good natter with the custodian who told me quite a lot about the UK / Scottish links to this area. I explored a bit and fancied a dip in the pool but got lazy and couldn’t be bothered in the end. The caravan park is in quite a busy area and I don’t like to leave my stuff unattended for too long. That’s one drawback to travelling alone, though there are many pluses too like being free to set the agenda.
And it looks like I’ll be quite alone tonight as there is not another soul staying here tonight. Trouble is anyone coming late doesn’t have a key to the facilities including toilets, which isn’t very good planning on the council’s part if you ask me. There is power on here though, and I was able to get all my batteries charged up. I haven’t actually used the solar panels I brought with me, although they may come into their own in the Top End.
The Schwalbe Marathon Supreme tyres still have plenty of tread after 6500 km, although there is some cracking around the side - possibly caused by me having them underinflated for some time. I shall probably run them into the ground and collect the pair of Panaracer Tourguards that came with the bike in Brisbane where I sent them on to.
I had a slight leak in the tent (MSR Hubba Hubba) roof last night during the heavy rain, and i will have to get some waterp-roofer next chance I get and give it the treatment. The tent is great at keeping insects out - as long as I’m quick getting in and out nothing gets in.
The Garmin Edge 305 bike computer / GPS now seems to be holding it’s charge OK, and it is very handy for getting you to your chosen destination / indicating height etc., but I’m not sure it’s worth the £200 I paid for it, for my purposes at least. I haven’t used the heart rate and cadence functions at all.
Enough waffling - good night!

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