Friday, March 07, 2008

DAY 134: Nambour to Jamie’s

Thurs 6th March 2008
95 km @ 15.1 km/hr
Distance to date 7985 km (4991 miles)
Sunny, cloudy later, warm

Had a good nights sleep and a leisurely start, leaving around 9. Straight into several kms of climbing and I soon realised it was going to be a hard day because I had very little energy. It felt as if I had ‘hit the wall’ in racing parlance, but I yet had around 80km to ride today.
Within 10km I was on the Bruce Highway - which is still a motorway at this point, but bicycles are allowed on. I learnt from the guy I met at Caboolture yesterday that bicycles are actually allowed on north of Caboolture whereas the motorway designation lasts until well north of Eumundi. South of caboolture bikes are banned. I didn’t fancy riding with heavy traffic so near but in the state I was in I needed to take as direct a route as possible to where I was going. It was around 50km down the highway to Gympie and I fully expected to find a filling station or cafe where I might find a coffee and cake and have a rest, but no joy - it was fully 40km to a rest area, only 10km from Gympie itself.
That 40km seemed interminable, and the heavy traffic played havoc with my nerves and demeanor, and I was thoroughly p***** off the whole time. This was by far the most miserable day on the bike of this tour. I think lack of fitness and my recent cold conspired to cause the energy loss, and mental negativity after parting with Lyn played its part too.
Anyway after a steak sandwich I plodded on to Gympie, and spent an hour in the park watching the birds and even snoozing for a while, after which I had recovered somewhat. Just as well, because the next 2 or 3 hours were a bit of a nightmare.
I thought I knew where Jaimie lived from our telephone discussions, but when I didn’t find the road I expected I phoned him to check, and learnst that I was completely on the wrong road, some 14km away, whereas I had thought I was nearly there! I miserably retraced my course and arrived at the minor road on which Jaimie lives 10km down this road. I had omitted to notice a couple of weeks ago that Jaimie had attached a map to his e-mail response to me, so I could have made life so much easier for myself. And this proved one of the hilliest roads I have found in Oz - true Toblerone country if ever I saw it, straight up then straight down, this after more that 70km battling against weariness. At one point whilst furiously changing down from 14th to 1st at the bottom of a dip, my chain came off and I had to push for a while since I couldn't get going uphill again. After 10km and not having found his road I phoned again, and Jaimie thought I was somewhere other than I described, and advised me to go another 4 or 5km yet. After another 6km and still not having found the road I tried to phone yet again but there was no mobile signal! It was getting a little dark and I was getting somewhat concerned. This was a very quiet road but thankfully a lady finally passed in her car and I flagged her down to ask directions. She hadn’t heard of the road I wanted but very kindly offered to go back and look for it for me. She was gone some time but finally returned with Jaimie in his estate car in hot pursuit - saved! I think this lady worked in Coles supermarket (in Gympie?) - I don't suppose she'll see this but thanks to her anyhow. I had been getting desperate.
We bundled the bike and bags into the car and drove the 6km back to Jamie's house. After a bath and change I felt quite revived and had a lovely evening with Jaimie and Deb, and a terrific curry dinner, a delicious tart, beer, and wine. A true Warmshowers host 5 star treatment.
We had a good blather until about 10 but by then I was severly flagging and got off to bed, falling asleep instantly.

The house is set in a magnificent position, elevated some 5m above the ground at the north side, which looks out over miles of forest. there is a balcony / terrace all the way round in true Queensland style, I really like this arrangement.

It had been a traumatic day but as often happens, ended on a high note!

DAY 133: Brisbane (Chermside) to Nambour

Weds 5th March 2008
107 km @ 16.1 km/hr
Distance to date 7890 km (4931 miles)
Sunny, cloudy later, pretty warm

My 2 or 3 weeks off at Gareth and Jens have been sooo enjoyable - they have made me so welcome even though I arrived several days early, and they have been so welcoming and friendly, as usual, and being with Lyn for 2 weeks has been all I imagined it would be these past few months; we’ve had a 5 star holiday! Jen, and sometimes Gareth, cooked us a delicious meal every night, even though they’ve been working all day, and it’s been very much appreciated.
Lyn and I had a very interesting week in the campervan, staying both beside idyllic sandy beaches, and by lakes and mountains, so we’ve had real variety.
It was very sad to leave Gareth and Jen this morning and I don’t know when I’ll see them next, and especially to leave Lyn - we won’t see each other for many months until I arrive back in the UK in September. It’s not been the type of relationship I expected 5 years ago when we met - is it ever? - and I don’t know what the future holds for us - but she is very special to me, very lovable, and someone I enjoyspending time with. Events have been very hectic for her back home and I hope things settle down for her when she gets back.
Anyway we said our tearful goodbyes and I left at around 0815 this morning. I had expected the worst of traffic on the ever-busy Gympie Road north, but as it turned out it wasn’t so bad, and there was a decent shoulder to the city outskirts, so first hurdle over. The main highway north is banned to cyclists for some way out so the plan was to cycle via Strathpine, Petrie, Caboolture, Landsborough, and Mooloolah Valley to Nambour, where I hoped to find a caravan park.
There wasn’t really much navigating to do as the road to take was quite obvious. Traffic wasn’t too heavy after Petrie. I stopped in Caboolture and immediately got talking to another touring cyclist who has toured the far east a few times - -including Thailand which he recommends - but I’ve forgotten his name already! I gave him my web address and he said he’ll be in touch. He had a lot of info about the road north to Cairns which could be useful for me so I hope he does make contact. It was nice to have a chat to someone as I was feeling a little lonely this morning.
The road north of Caboolture was quite busy and there were many, many lorries and little shoulder. Well, that’s not quite true; there was a grass shoulder which I did have to dive into occasionally when there was a lorry coming both ways, but some of the time the grass was long enough to be possible concealing debris or stones, so I was very careful. I never really felt stressed though and most drivers were considerate and gave me a wide berth. I had a slight tailwind so this stage was fairly easy, nevertheless I was feeling a little weary, not having ridden for 3 weeks, and I’ve had a bad cold (caught off Lyn who probably caught it on the plane over) and this probably reduced my energy levels, but as I have a Warmshowers host in Gympie tomorrow I can’t hang about today as he is 185km away.
I had a ‘moment’ 10km or so north of Caboolture whilst during a gap in the traffic I was fiddling with the mobile to get the camera mode on, when a couple of metres in front of me I suddenly saw a large snake immediately to my left. It was some 2m long (7ft or so) and partly coiled, head upright in ‘strike’ position pointing towards the centre of the road, and my knee. I was past it in seconds and only then thought what a near miss I had had. I think most large snakes may be pythons, which haven't got a venemous bite of course, but it still felt like a near miss!
I stopped after 60km or so at Beerburrum and had iced coffee and the piece (cheese butty) that Lyn had made for me, plus a piece of Rocky Road from the store, and that livened me up a bit. By the time I passed Australia Zoo (resplendent with pictures of the late Steve Irwin but mired in family disputes at the moment it seems) the traffic was heavy and a bit of a pain. This was so until 10km after Landsborough where I turned left for Mooloolah Valley when it got considerably quieter but a bit hillier.
By the time I reached Eudio I was flagging a bit, but Gatorade rescued me and I recovered somewhat. It was hills all the way from here to Nambour, some pretty steep at 10%, not what I wanted after 90km on my first day back, but you get what you get and have to deal with it. Added to my woes was getting lost in Woombye, a town that knows no road signs - you have to guess which way to go if there’s no-one to ask (which there wasn’t during my wasteful and pointless 7km hilly detour before I found the Nambour road). I therefore award this town my prestigious title "Dump of the Day".
I found a caravan park 2km or so south of Nambour, an,d even though I baulked at paying $26 (rip off) I was too tired to carry on looking, and it was after 5 too so it was pay up and (not!) look pleasant.
It’s going dark at 1830 now as autumn settles in, so it was dark when I had dinner ready on the MSR stove. It was the usual pasta / tomato / salami but the tube of fresh garlic paste added an interesting difference - a good choice. I still haven’t really got my appetite back after the cold so I didn’t do a very large portion.

With hindsight I took too much on today in view of my recent rest / cold etc., I should have started more slowly.