Thursday, January 10, 2008

DAY 97: Cooma to Canberra

Thurs 10th January 2008
Very warm & sunny
112 km @ 13.2 km/hr
Distance to date 6192 km (3870 miles)

Thankfully had a really good sleep last night, no distrurbances, and I felt much better this morning.
I was unsure how today would turn out - I was due at Patrick and Christine's tomorrow (Friday) so I expected to find somewhere between Cooma and Canberra to camp, although there was nothing anywhere to say there was a formal campsite - but possibly a (personal!) bush camping site would appear.
As I rolled out at 8 it was already pretty warm and a hot day was promised, and it was also quite windy with the NE wind in my face. A hard day was likely.
I had been told by someone that this stretch of road was pretty boring, and this is actually true - all bush has been cleared to make way for sheep and cattle, though not many animals were apparent.
It was very slow going against the wind, and the gradual uphills seemed interminable in the very hot weather - it must have been 30 deg C by 1000. I though that I was actually climbing up to Canberra from Cooma, but in fact I later learnt I actually descended 200 metres! Such is the deception of a headwind.
Patrick had said that if anywhere it might be possible to stay at Michelago, but on arrival there there and after sitting in the shade for a while with iced coffee and sandwich, and considering that it was only 1300, I decided to press on.

The road is pretty straight as you can see, and you have the added discouragement of being able to see too far ahead what is in store - you can see it's going to be tough!

Today I knew it would be tough so made absolutely sure I looked after myself by drinking plenty (6 litres before and during the ride) and eating well, and also using plenty of sun block - there was no cloud cover or shade in these blistering temperatures. I think this worked quite well, and I never felt compromoised by the heat, even though my skin felt a little baked. Despite 3 applications of 2-hour sunblock I still had clear signs of over-tan on my arms, though no soreness. You just can't be complacent if out for long periods in this weather.
Before long I left NSW for the ACT, so yet another new state.
As I neared Canberra (30 km away) the wind eased and the road flattened out a bit, so I was up to around 18 to 25 km/hr, which felt good. There is a good shoulder all trhe way from Cooma, and with 20km to go it was designated as a cycle lane also. Canberra is reckoned to be the city best-provided for cyclists in Australia - they are everywhere, both an on-road and off-road (through parks etc) system.
I tried to ring Patrick from a filling station back up the road but there was something wrong with the phone, so I rolled into the city up Canberra Avenue into the centre, found a call box, and got through OK - and without hesitation. yes it was OK to start tonight - great! I had intended to get directions to the house but P insisted on coming for me in his 4x4 which has a roof rack for bikes, and a few minutes later we were saying hello and loading up.

On the way to the house Patrick told me a little bit about the planning of Canberra, and told me that although we were close to the city centre, and their were trees all around (it looked like bush!) there were actually housing estates behind the trees. The planning regulations are refreshingly strict here it seems, and the city is fiercely protective of it's many green areas. My kind of town!
I was made very welcome indeed (as always in Australia!) and after a shower myself, Christine and Patrick sat in the garden with a beer with all kinds of birds swooping around the houses. I was able to learn a little more about our feathered friends as P and C know quite a lot about them.
After a good dinner and wine I was just about shot, and I just lay on the bed as soon as I entered the room - amd fell asleep fully clothed until waking at 0400! It was a hard day but I now have an extra day in Canberra to look around.

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