We‘ve been well blessed with the weather so far. And so it’s steady as she goes, pleasant and sunny, when I wake up on Tuesday morning the first day of the new month. The darling buds of May have arrived. In another hemisphere. In Australia, I am marooned in the real time of late Autumn, looking forward to another day’s solid cycling. I sing ridiculous baptismal chants in the shower and wish myself bon voyage.
Once again the Muddy Mudster has set the earliest alarm bells and was already away creek crawling in the nearby park. Some walk he had discovered on the local map last night. He may have warned us of his intentions at Tea. I did hear him get up and was sorely tempted to join him but instead I decided that the offer of an extra hour’s sleep was too good to refuse. I prefer to save my energies for the forthcoming ride estimated at about 75km but with significantly bigger hills than anything we had officially done so far. Though after our unrecognised climb to the border, I reckon I am ready for anything gravity can throw at me.
Glenn returns to the room and the good man has not only been out walking, he has been out shopping. He returns with milk and breakfast cereals. We hoe into the food with relish.
As our eyes start to regain focus on the world about us, we realise that Grunty has not shaved since Day One. Today is the first day that laziness has been transformed into intent. Grunty’s grizzle is taking shape and its beardish outline dominates the morning diatribe. Viva Zapata! I leave our gringo star and his hairy cheeks and check the status of my washing on the popular line.
The t-shirts are dry but the bike pants are still a bit damp. They are the only ones I’ve got, so on they go. I know that whatever discomfort I feel about a damp bum will soon be replaced by more substantial forces.
We retrieve our key deposit from the front desk aﬁer having proved ourselves as worthy tenants for the night. Outside to check the bikes and load the gear. I whirl my wheel around but can’t locate the source of the clicking noise. It was difficult to pin down, overwhelmed by the noise of Coffs peak hour morning trafﬁc that has assumed dominance by 8am on the main road outside.
We set off on Day 4 of the cycle. Within ten seconds of starting, we are ﬂagged down by Grunty. He stops, dismounts and examines his cycling shoes. What’s the problem? It’s the cleat. The cleat is the connection point between his shoes and his pedals and his right cleat has broken off. It will need to be replaced before he can consider any further cycling. A technical hitch that will require a minor change of plan. Grant will have to hang around town for 45 minutes until the bike shops open.
Our lunch stop is the town of Bellingen on in its near- monikered Bellinger river (where a Lucinda-less Oscar drowned in his glass church). Glenn and I will set off ahead and Grant promises to meet us in Bellingen — if not before.
We part ways and Muddy and I take the back road out of town to Coffs’ partner town of Sawtell. Sawtell is a sleepier surfside resort cast in Coffs’ image but without the crowds. However the Sawtell road is busy enough this morning. As well as the inter-town trafﬁc, the airport and university are also attracting custom.
It is a relief when we ﬁnd a bike path parallel to the road. It’s wide and quick and a lot less stressful than dealing with trucks on the road. We pass a wide imposing unnamed creek in the woods that surely deserves a name as well as the better epithet of river.
According to our trusty Book, we don’t actually go into Sawtell itself. No, we are supposed to take the roundabout turnoff to Toormina (another near namesake, though Toormina lacks the geographical harmonies of its Sicilian cousin Taormina) and turn inland towards an unavoidable section of the Pacific Highway. But given Grunty’s dilemma we now have additional time on our hands. So we agree that if the Pacific Highway can’t be avoided then there is no reason Sawtell ought to be avoided either. We decide to check out this seaside hamlet’s ghost.
Thus we take the Sawtell turnoff at the roundabout. We would be made to pay for this minor revolt against the dictates of the Book. We spin onwards until we get back to the coast and see a sign for a lookout. We can’t resist. The lookout is only a few hundred metres from the road but it is perched at the top of a pole of a hill.
After much huffery and puffery, these two little pigs made it to the top. We are rewarded by a wonderful view fore and aft. Well worth the lungburst. Sweeping views back along the way we came, we see our pilgrims’ progress over the creek, back through the woods, past the airport and on to the beaches at Coffs. Behind Coffs is the Red Hill we tramped down yesterday and although I can’t quite see them, I conjure up a two day old memory of the jacarandas back at Grafton, tall and proud. Turning the other way, I can see into the future. There are more beautiful beaches beyond Sawtell and big dark ominous hills further south. Meanwhile the wrap-around of the present is completed by the straight ahead sight of the Pacific Ocean. You didn’t to be up here to appreciate it, but it certainly helps. This feast of movable parts goes on for a fair slice of forever before finally mingling with the sky in some navy blue battle well out to sea.
After a few minutes of photography and smelling the view, we trudge back down the hill and venture into Sawtell proper. In the township, the Mudded one informs me that he requires two things. The first is money and this issue is easily dealt with a smash and grab raid on an ATM. The second is a bit more problematic. A bike problem. He is slipping out of gears at inconvenient moments and requires some technical assistance from a bike shop. But Sawtell doesn’t seem to have one.
We find a sports shop where “we look after all your shooting needs”. Glenn asks the older gentlemen behind the counter if there is a cycle shop in town. No, the nearest shop is in Toormina, is his response, but he tells us he does stock puncture repair kits. Not quite part of our shooting needs. We thank him for his interest, and set off back to Toormina.
Glenn leads the way and disappears over the top of a hill. When I see him next, he has dismounted and is picking up a snake from the road. When I get closer I realise its not a snake, it’s a bicycle chain. Glenn’s chain has completed snapped off. Mayday, mayday indeed. Our mechanical problems mount by the hour.
Now a return to Toormina is an imperative. Only problem is Toorinina is still 5km away and Glenn’s bike is severely handicapped. He trudges off up the hill forlornly on foot but he will be able to freewheel on the downhill stretches. With time suddenly on my hands, I go back to Sawtell to find a public phone and alert Grunty (he was the only one of us to carry a handset in these pre-smart phone days) that now we too will be delayed, and probably by a more signiﬁcant margin than him.
Only problem is that Grunty has got a new mobile phone, especially for this trip and guess who has been meaning to get the number off him but has consistently forgotten to ask? But there is more than one way to skin cattle and so I ring Malool in work back in Brisbane and after a brief but exhausting effort of trying to make him understand what I was after and why, he provides me with Grunty’s new number. I ring the number and nothing happens. No tone, No beep. Try again, same result. I bring down vicious curses on Malool’s absent head. I ring him back and proceed to heap some abuse. He stoically gives me the same telephone number. Then I look at what I’ve written down and realise I can’t read my own writing.
Grunty picks up his mobile when I ring the right number. Complete with cleat, he is back on the road. I tell him of our troubles and our delay. “Where are you?” I then ask. I could hear the sound of trucks in the background. “I’m on the Pacific Highway” he shouted “near Bonville” he added helpfully. “BonvilIe? Where’s that?” “About 15kms south of Coffs Harbour” “Wait there, I don’t know how long it will be before we are back on the road. I’ll give you a call back when we get to the bike shop and assess the damage”.
I leave Grunty to marinate in Bonville. I set off towards Toormina. It doesn’t take too long to catch up with Glenn. He has done an impressive job despite a lack of pedal power and when I haul him in he is freewheeling down the last hill to the Toorinina roundabout. I scout on ahead and quickly locate the bike shop in the Toormina shopping centre.
Glenn hobbles into town. In the shop, the mechanics look busy. However Glenn tells them we are long distance cyclists and on a mission from God. Actually he might have left that bit out, it didn’t matter – they were sympathetic and moved their work schedules around and made Glenn their highest priority. They reckon they can have the bike with a new chain back on the road in 30 minutes.
Excellent news. I ring Grunty with an update. He has found a service station in Bonville and is pleasantly ensconced in a courtyard with a coffee and a newspaper in his hand. No problem then for him to hang around another hour or so until we arrive. Grant causes my own caffeine sensors to ﬂare up. Conveniently there is a coffee shop next door to the bike shop. By the time the second short black is working its magic, Glenn’s bike is ready to hit the road again. One of the mechanics is from Bellingen and he recommends the Swiss patisserie there for lunch. Thanks, we’ll check it out.
We meander through the suburban arteries of Toormina without ever ﬁnding its heartbeat. Soon we are on the Paciﬁc Highway, our ﬁrst experience of this, the court of King Bitumen linking Sydney and Brisbane. It starts off well with four lanes and a wide shoulder with no glass or rubble to interrupt a cyclist’s progress. Soon, however, the dual carriageway is exposed as a mirage and we have shrivelled back to 2 busy lanes of trafﬁc. Not particularly pleasant especially when the trucks roar by and lift us off the ground in their slipstream.
Bonville quickly comes into sight and we look out for the service station where Grunty has taken refuge. And there he was, ever patient and bright as a button when we arrived, another coffee in his hand and the newspaper well thumbed. The day’s dealings didn’t look to have seriously inconvenienced him. Now that we all have our running repairs done, we quickly set off.
As we leave the service station, two cyclists enter. They are the ﬁrst other touring cyclists we have seen so far. They are an English couple in their 50s, very hardy souls. They had done it all, putting our miserly two week effort to shame. They have been on the road for three months, starting in Tasmania and working their way slowly up through Victoria and NSW. They were hoping to get out to the Red Centre of Australia after they dealt with some family matters in Nambour north of Brisbane. These gritty veterans give us vital snippets of information about our proposed route south. They give us good news and bad. The good is the beach north of Port Macquarie is cycleable (this will help us avoid another signiﬁcant portion of the Paciﬁc Highway), the bad is the splendidly named Buckett’s Way (which we are scheduled to hit about 10 days into the ride) is a long, bumpy potholed nightmare. There are too many holes in this Buckett for our liking and a signiﬁcant detour may be necessary. In return, we give them a synopsis of the road conditions we’ve experienced. We wish them good speed and they set sail in the direction from whence we came.
We are in a busy stretch all the way to the Bellinger river. Grunty sets the pace this morning and I struggle hard to keep him in view. Just before the turnoff, he spots a viewing point (and being hopeless suckers for these things), we both detour to look at the expanse of the river and the surrounding valley. Glenn bringing up the rear is unaware of our diversion and the viewing point so he cycles straight past.
After a rest, Grunty and I get back on the road. We say a willing farewell to the Paciﬁc Highway knowing that we have not seen the last of this mother. We are now on the evocatively named Waterfall Way. We don’t see any cascades but the Bellinger River is our pretty companion for the 10 kms into Bellingen. Brotherly, we go over Marx Hill and dialectically glide into town.
There I spy Glenn in a phone box. Contrary to my initial impression that he was donning a Superman costume, I ﬁnd out he was about to ring us. Glenn didn’t realise he had overtaken us and wondered if we’d missed the mark.
We all cycle down Bellingen’s pretty main street. The town has become a rainbow outpost of Coffs over the last 20 years and its evolution can be charted in the number of alternative lifestyle enterprises thriving here. With a bit of German Lutheran thrown in to the architecture. The river can be heard behind the main street, charging down towards the sea. There is an enjoyable feel to the town, very different from any town we had passed through to date.
We were sorry we hadn’t timed our stop here for the evening so we could check the place out after dark. Our regrets on this score were to increase later today.
We quickly locate the Swiss Patisserie as recommended by the Toormina Bellingen boy. It looks cosy enough with plenty of outdoor seating. Busy too so the food can’t be too bad. Little did we know that the incident that named the day was about to occur. It started innocently enough when we went inside and ordered from a varied menu. The pies were simple enough but delicious. The problem came when Grunty spotted the piece de resistance on the menu. “Bee-sting Slice” the gateau fatal advertised itself as. We were stung by the name alone. A sort of honey, custard and caramel slice and it may have marzipan and chocolate and probably a host of other temptations too. Grunty fell in love with it straight away.
As I was nearest the counter he asked me to order it “oh, and get it cut in 3 slices so we can all have a bit”. I passed on Grunty’s request. “Three slices?” the lady behind the counter replied incredulously. “Yes, three” I repeated, patiently. I looked at the slice. It was surely big enough to cut into three. I wondered if she was contemptuous of our dessert eating capabilities.
“Three, uh?” She glared back at me.
“Yes three, please” I reply ever more timidly.
She goes away to collect our pies, cuts the cake and wraps it up for us.
I retreat to the table. We hammer home the pies and open the bag containing the cake.
She had cut it into two slices. I suppose even that must been a superhuman effort for her. In any case, the three of us bit indiscriminately from the two slices. They were lip smacking good. And well worth its ﬂirtatious name.
We are loath to leave town but we still have 30kms and three big hills to contend with today. We bid a fond farewell to Bellingen An Der Bellinger and set off on to the road to Bowraville in search of more serious quarry.
We immediately hit a long hill after we pass the last house in town. I’ve barely recovered from lunch and I have to deal with this? Halfway up this bonecruncher I start to suspect we are the quarry. And what is it exactly, that’s hunting us?
While this was idle speculation, at least it was speculation and it was taking up time that might otherwise be spent thinking I’m in pain. Any tactic, anything at all that will help me through these last few hundred metres. I would gladly use my soul as collateral in a bid to fast forward my life ﬁve minutes so that I could ﬁnd myself at the top of the hill right now. Ugh! Just got to keep pushing. Somehow I get to the top before I realise I won’t have to foot the bill for my Faustian fantasy. I’ve just done my ﬁrst official Triangle! Only two more to go today, I think as my triumph quickly evaporates.
I stop to draw breath and take a big gulp of my water supply. Quarter of my entire ration gone in one almost fallen swoop. The boys arrive single ﬁle trailing in the wake of my small chain. Despite his thirst, Grunty looks as if he could really do with a cigarette. Glenn muddies the waters by coming in looking perversely healthier than he has looked so far. These hills were obviously driving a lot of shit from his lungs.
The weather continues to be terriﬁc. We have not yet needed to invoke Patton’s Weather prayer to keep the rains away. But, I warn myself as we start to ride again, you’ve sold your soul to the devil on that ﬁrst hill and he is one diabolical son of a bitch who keeps his promises. I ponder the truth of this aﬂer our freewheel down the other side is over all too quickly and we are into our second climb. And this one is not even a Triangle.
Not quite in the same league as the ﬁrst hill, it is still capable of causing a cup upset and we treat it with due deference. The names of Bellingen, Spicketts and Bowra were to become painfully familiar to me. They were the law ﬁrm that ruled these here parts, the names of the three hills that formed the Triangles we had to conquer.
We had beaten Bellingen hill but it was just a kid compared to the upcoming duo of Spicketts and Bowra. And ma and pa were angry. I am soon out of the saddle and riding in the standing position as I strike Spicketts. Worse still I am now on dirt. Halfway out of Bellingen (the town, not the hill) it becomes a gravel road. We are to be deprived of the familiar comforts of bitumen for the last two Triangles.
I ferry myself up the hill accompanied by a constant crunch of stones and mud with the odd pebble being ﬂung far out of its orbit. On the more positive side of the spectrum is the quiet of the place, gorgeous Edenic glimpses stolen through the trees. And the trees themselves. They stand high and proud and leave only the width of a trafﬁc lane or two for sky above.
I pant my way around another corner and the view brightens with the glorious sight of the valley below. But this is hard work, you’d better believe it. Finally done it. Made it to the top. Two down, one to go. Time again for more joyous downhill squeals. But as we are on a windy dirt road, my hands are never far from the brakes.
The last challenge is Bowra mountain, the master criminal. He is 160m tall, 2.75kms long and is mad as hell. He starts looking for my scalp as soon as the second downhill is complete. “No respite” is part of his weaponry. I am immediately wrestling with the biggest daddy of them all. But having gotten used to the conditions on Mama Spicketts, I feel conﬁdent I have the armoury to defeat big bad Bowra too. But the big bully has one last ace hidden far up its sleeve. I hear its whine ﬁrst. As I go further up the hill, the whine becomes a roar. I exhaustively scan my imagination in a vain attempt to shed light on what this monster might actually be.
And then I see it. My heart sinks. On this of all days, the local council have got the grading machine going on the top of Bowra mountain. It’s an enormous rig that threatens to engulf the whole road. Which, I suppose, it does. The ﬁrst problem was how to get past it. I inch up on this fornication of formulas and judge the gap between the slow moving machine and the slower moving bushes. It was a tight ﬁt and I ended up with a generous amount of greenery decorating my helmet but I squeezed past. My problems were just beginning. Not only does this monster eat the road, it also spits it out. The degrading aftermath of grading is a treacherous soft muddy road.
No time for triumph at the coronation of this hill, going downhill was even harder. I was concerned about reaching any sort of speed on this icerink on the way down. My hands jitterbug and jagger between the handlebars and the brakes. Somehow I manage to hold on until the bottom. I ungrit my teeth and whisper gratitude to Bowra for sparing me.
The lads join me in a unified chorus of relief. We gain a bonus point by returning to bitumen for the home stretch to Bowraville. However this is not quite the cakecycle we had promised ourselves. We face one last troublesome hill (only 15 degrees short of a Triangle, in my estimation) then there are a few rolling encores that due to our tiredness were far more difficult than they had any right to be.
We arrived in Bowraville as the clock ticked on towards 4pm. My ﬁrst instinctive reaction is not good. Is this it? I ask myself the question as I wheel down the main street. According to the Book, “Bowraville is a charming little town on the Bowra river”. I didn’t see much charm or any river as I slowly glide past the shops. There is the big wide street divided in two by a green area. I couldn’t quite put my ﬁnger on the reason for it but it seemed to be an unhappy place.
The sadness appears in the eyes of the aboriginal people sitting on the street and outside the pub. It also appears in the shopfronts with the ‘Site Vacant’ sign. It seemed that four out of every ﬁve shops had this sign. The place is dead quiet with barely a car or a pedestrian moving. All I could hear was the sounds of distant dog barking. This was a town in a fair bit of trouble. A dying outback Australian town starved of jobs and facilities.
At the pit of my stomach, I felt I wanted to move on and stay somewhere else. The others had similar feelings as we met to discuss our options. It was late, we were tired and Macksville at 15kms seemed a pointless bridge too far. Nambucca Heads, the nearest coastal town, is even further away. So it looks as if we are staying in Bowraville.
Our accommodation options are limited to the two pubs that remain. Grunty and I walk towards the nearest pub. A few Aboriginals were having an animated discussion in the balcony outside the pub. Only whitefellas were inside and the few who were there were meditating in cloistered silence.
I ask the barmaid whether they have accommodation. Yes they do, and she thinks its $10 a head for the night but just to be sure she’ll ask the landlady. I’m sure she has got it wrong. $10 seems ridiculously cheap — even for a place like Bowraville. The landlady emerges to greet the rare sight of newcomers in town. The barmaid was wrong, the price is in fact $5 a head. I struggle to keep a straight face as she tells me the news.
Grunty and I go upstairs to look at the room. It’s a typical pub room. Old, musty and dusty and no en suite. A 1950s mothball smell pervades the room. Still, it’s clean, the beds look comfortable enough and I don’t think we will have too much competition for the bathroom. And you cannot argue with the price. Surely this was the cheapest bed in Australia?
We check in and fork out the outrageous room rate. The landlady leads us around the back to park the bikes. Back upstairs, I test out the springs on my bed. I doubt if it has been slept in for some considerable time. Not only have we got a room, we’ve got a balcony which goes right around the front and side of the pub.
I looked out on Bowraville. I imagined I was transported to a small dusty southern American town. I was waiting for a rabid dog to prowl the street. Better get all the chillun inside and call Atticus Finch. I put this notion out of my head and collapse in one of the balcony’s armchairs.
I consider the Triangles and their significance. What did it mean to go up a big hill by pedal power alone? Apart from the strain I feel in every part of my body, I reckon it gives me a sense of being in tune without pulling strings. There is ample pain but in return the rewards are great.
I am temporarily distracted from my sado-masochistic woolgathering by the noise of a loud argument below. But I don’t give it much thought; after all the pub is a splendid venue for boisterous debate. And my mind strays to some of the products sold in the bar below. I’m too tired to go for a beer now, alcoholic refreshment will have to wait until later.
For now, I pull out our travelling card deck. I play a little solitaire and under hypnosis I forget where I am. While mesmerised, the boys go outside on a fact-ﬁnding mission. They come back soon with food and the food story. The food is chocolate biscuits and Coke and the bottle and the biscuits disappear quickly.
Then they tell me the food story. Where can we eat tonight? Well, the RSL does food but not early in the week so it’s out. Neither pub serves food in the evening and if there were any restaurants in town they have been shut down. There is a cafe across the road serving hot fried food but it shuts down at 6pm.
Nonetheless it is our only option. Either that or we’ll be singing for our supper in Bowraville. Straight away, I negotiate my way through the long cavernous hallway to ﬁnd the bathroom. I’ll be ready by 5:45pm, don’t you worry. We are all dressed and ready by 5:30am and set off across the road in search of dinner. It’s my ﬁrst venture outside in Bowraville minus pedals. It’s darkening quickly and those street lights could do with a few extra watts.
Inside the cafe, we get a very friendly greeting from the proprietor. He’s the ﬁrst person I’ve seen smiling in Bowraville. We sit at the table in the back garden. Our repast of ﬁsh and chips are helped down by the only unusual item on his menu — chicken satays. The cans of coke are a dollar a can. Is everything dirt cheap in Bowraville or have the world markets revalued the dollar today while I wasn’t looking? We stay well past the supposed 6pm shutdown.
The proprietor chats with some local kids and no-one seems put out by our presence.
We stew over our day and despite the many attractions of this town we award naming rights of the day to Bellingen. Today is Bee Sting Day. Right now, I wished I was staying the night there. But cycling bedouins can’t be choosers.
We feel a thirst building and its time to do a pub crawl of town. All two pubs worth. We walk down the dark wide street and are immediately confronted with some local drama. An old lady is driving a jalopy slowly up the street when Bang goes her tyre. I know exactly how she feels. We walk across the road to inspect the deﬂated damsel’s damage. She’s not too big on changing tyres and doesn’t know where the jack is “you see, its my son’s car, I’m supposed to be playing Bingo in Macksville”.
We ﬁnd the jack and the spare and change the tyre. She walks to a phone box to alert her son who lives nearby. The spare tyre is almost as ﬂat as the one it is replacing. I advise her she shouldn’t consider going to Bingo or anywhere else until she gets the tyre inﬂated. Not to worry, she replies, “My son will be here soon and he’ll sort it out. Thank you very much for your help”.
I’m not entirely sure what sort of sorting he will do but we leave the scene and walk on to check out our pub’s only competition in town. It has imposing high-roofed dark timber interiors, a relic from a bygone age of a wealthier Bowraville. The story was told in all the pictures dotted around the pub. Turn of the 20th century timber cutters pose proudly in front of monstrous trees they have just culled. Mud roads through the rainy town centre carrying huge logging trucks pulled along the wet streets by drenched but genuine horsepower. Lumber was in the blood of Bowraville. But now the lumber industry has moved on and in its deaththroes it has bled the population dry. There is no money left in town.
The pub is daunting but quiet. A half handful of tired people sit quietly by the bar. It feels rude to talk too loudly here. We ﬁnish our beer and head back to the other half of the crawl at our home pub. Here, there is an equally imposing two people at the bar. The Aboriginals outside have mysteriously disappeared and we take their spots on the balcony. It’s a newer looking building and not as imposing as the other pub. That’s probably why it seems more welcoming. But the signs on the walls of this pub point to less friendlier times. “Persons found spitting on the premises will be banned for life” one warns harshly of the etiquette demanded. “People stealing glasses will not be welcome back” states another as I try to ﬁgure out the difference between being banned and not being welcomed back. Most intriguing of all is the sign that states “Please do not ﬁght on the premises. In the event of a ﬁght, we will close the pub for the night”. Drastic stuff.
I ruminated that in the event of being caught expectorating, I would steal a glass and start a ﬁght so not only would I be banned and not welcomed back but also I would cause every one else to go home thirsty on the night. I put this rebellious notion back into the dusty barrio of my brain from whence it came and suggest we retire to the pool room. With the aid of an unprecedented ﬁfth schooner of beer (we were really splashing out tonight), my hand to eye coordination is unusually good and I manage to judge enough straight lines to see off the Mudster in the opening encounter. But then Hurricane Grunty blows us both away in quick succession to claim to be the undisputed holder of the Bowraville Bowl. All too much excitement for one night.
There doesn’t seem to be much prospect of a ﬁght here tonight between the two remaining tacitum customers at the bar. Its time for us old men to wind our way up the stairs and sneak in another early night. We need all the rest we can lay our heads on this week as we know the drinking pace will pick up on the weekend with the arrival of the Fourth Man.
And so as I drift off to sleep, I am confronted by a basket. A basket I had made in Elementary Weavery. There was crumpled paper inside it. The basket asked me a question “Is this scrap?” it said. “Pardon?” I responded. “Is this scrap?” it repeated. I was dumbstruck. Finally I said “I don’t know what you are talking about”. I looked around, dived into the nearest letterbox and hid on the ﬂoor. As I crouched there, a voice whispered into my ear “Pink is worth six”. I closed my eyes and pretended I wasn’t there. As indeed I wasn’t.
When I wake around 6am, there is a minor tweak of stiffness around my knees. Despite this, the body and legs are holding up well so far. The arse end is tender and saddle-sore but is hardening by the day. The only real health worry comes from an unexpected source. The big toe on my right foot. For some reason it was being crushed in my cycling shoe in a manner not mimicked by its partner on the left foot. It was a minor armoyance that grew as the cycling day wears on but quickly disappears as soon as I remove the shoe.
Tomorrow we are looking forward to our ﬁrst rest day at South West Rocks but we have to get there ﬁrst approximately 90kms south of here.