Tuesday, May 17, 2011

Mawson: Aftermath

After three nights of sleeping in my own bed, things are beginning to return to normal. I am still trying to shake off the cold, so periods of feeling like a wet rag are common. I'd be lying though if I denied that some of the general feeling of fatigue was due to the ride itself. Apart from these minor maladies, I am just about back in the fold.
I haven't attended to the bike or the camping gear yet, but all my washing has been done, as well as the various other administrative tasks. Maps, blogs, emails, notes, ride guides, journals...
I am keen to keep my fitness levels up, and to learn more about my bike. Once my head clears, and if the weather is kind, I hope to be traversing the trails at Eagle Park. It's right on my doorstep and I am embarrassed to admit that I've never ridden there.

For now though, I need to turn my head back to being a musician - After a couple of weeks away, there's much to be done.


Saturday, May 14, 2011

Mawson: Day 15 - Reflections

I'm on the bus. All around me, people are sneezing and coughing, and I wonder how healthy the next eight hours are going to be. I try and snooze...
My mind is filled with fast-flying recollections. Kangaroos hopping across the trails only metres ahead of me, emus lying dead on the road, and a giant wedge-tailed eagle skipping out onto the path in front of us. Arriving at the top of ascents, stopping to breathe, sweat and swear. The crash of the bike as it smashes its way through another creek bed, the speed of some of the crazy downhills, and my screaming, screaming legs. Cold mornings, warm afternoons, cloudy days. The ice-cold Pale Ale I'd enjoyed at Laura. Crowded dinner tents, vegetarian lasagna, salad. Bloody salad. Seeing old friends and making some new ones. Feeling good, feeling sick, feeling tired. Feeling ecstatic upon arrival at Blinman.
That's four times now that I have done this trip. Is that enough? Will I be back? Who knows, ask me in a few months...
What I do know is, that I am ready for a hot bath and my own bed. I smell like a camel and look worse.
Home, James.


Mawson: Day 14 - Job done!

Another early departure. Start early, finish early. It's a pretty good plan. Let's get this done.
The singletrack section through Rawnsley is a beauty. Crashing through the creeks at speed is a lovely way to make sure you are awake, and the fast section into Wilpena is also fun.
More singletrack, the best of the whole ride, waited for us the other side of morning tea. Breathtakingly fast and scary.
I'd decided to try and ride the entire Razorback climb, and I'm happy to report that I succeeded. Yay me! I was, of course, breathing heavily at the top.
The arid, red dirt sections that have to be travelled before and after lunch were a chore, but (again) I managed the climbs without having to stop - except for when I got to the top. And there are some beauties - especially the uphill to the top of the ridge around Red Hill.
The bitumen into Blinman was a breeze. A sealed road all the way. We rode fast, intent on making a good time. We were 4th/5th into the finish, a lovely way to end our great ride.
Beer o'clock!


Mawson: Day 13 - Full steam ahead!

After the joy of the previous day, I was hoping for good riding and rude health for the Rawnsley leg. I'd slept OK, and Ray and I blew out of town a little earlier than usual. The penultimate day is a pretty tough gig, and I wasn't sure how it would pan out.
The no-man's land section outside of Hawker is a beautiful landscape, filled with great scenery and good riding. There's a big climb up around Mernmerna Hill before travelling across the top and then contemplating the huge downhill at Mt Little. I generally don't contemplate it for very long...
The erstwhile sandy section was relatively easy to traverse this time around; the creek beds were forgiving. Kangaroos hopped about the place, almost oblivious to our presence.
The Moralana Scenic Drive might be a nice way to spend your afternoon if you are seated in your 4WD, listening to music and drinking Coke, but it remains a pain in the backside to ride. Literally. Having said that, it improved after the first eight kilometres.
The dirt road into Rawnsley is a horrible way to finish the day, definitely the worst last leg of the trip, so I was happy to make camp.
Last day tomorrow... almost there.


Wednesday, May 11, 2011

Mawson: Day 12 - The longest day

A really good ride. We woke up in the rain; at least it wasn't cold. Baked beans for breakfast and we left camp after most had set sail for Hawker. We rode like trains for most of the day. It was the fastest I've ever done this leg. There were a couple of stretches into the wind around Simmonston, and we also had the lung-bursting climb at Yarrah Vale Gorge, but the wind was at our back for most of the journey. Even though it is the longest day of the odyssey, it is probably my favourite. We arrived in Hawker on the coat tails of the first two riders to get in; very satisfying. Despite the snot, my headcold has almost disappeared. Two days left, and big ones at that. Let's do it.


Tuesday, May 10, 2011

Mawson: Day 11 - Quorn

I'd slept horribly. Dreams filled with frustration and anxiety, cold, half awake... Something I could have done without. I packed and had breakfast in a bit of a daze, and the haze continued through the first section of the morning's ride. Luckily it was pretty fast and flat. I seemed to wake up a little on the next stage, and three of us rode pretty well over the hills to lunch. Richman Gap wasn't half as daunting as I remembered; maybe I am a better rider this time around. We rode into Quorn via the most fantastic downhill, on the other side of the gap, arriving around lunchtime. My day had improved significantly as the hours passed. I think (hope) that my cold may be on the way out of my system. Here's hoping.


Mawson: Day Nine/Ten - Remarkable Melrose

Laura to Melrose is pretty good ride. It's reasonably short but includes a fair bit of climbing out of the Wirrrabara Forest as well as some uphills closer to Melrose. I made the trip in good time, arriving around lunchtime. It was a coolish day and my headcold was holding me back, but I just kept on pedalling. It tried to rain as I set up camp in the early afternoon shadows of the impressive Mount Remarkable, but it was relatively light.
Apart from doing some washing and replacing my thorn-resistant inner tubes with a thinner variety, I took the rest day literally. It didn't seem to do much good - I was pretty knackered and a bit down most of the day - probably the headcold. Come on body, get your act together.


Saturday, May 7, 2011

Mawson: Day Eight - Channel surfing

A pretty tough day. I woke up tired, and everything was an effort from there. Headcold. We rode the Bundaleer Channels in the cool morning sun (not too many did), and made the refreshment break in good time. The ride up into the Never Never Range was the highlight of the day - steep, rocky and quite tough. Bundaleer Forest was good fun, but the last section was a straight up grind. By the time we made camp I was finally feeling a little better, I suspect the cold is waning. We celebrated by having a few beers in the Laura Hotel. The evening is forecast to be a lot warmer; maybe we are on the way up.


Friday, May 6, 2011

Mawson: Days Six/Seven: Even nowhere is somewhere

Burra to Tooralie was a pretty good ride. We left on time, and rode pretty well through the ups and downs to morning tea, and onwards via the detour to lunch. Some sections of the Mawson were impassable so alternate routes were necessary. The afternoon section was great - real riding through real off road territory. Middle of nowhere stuff. It was another coolish, but not unpleasant day. We got to Tooralie homestead around 12.30 and spent the afternoon in the company of Mr Pale Ale. Dinner was the usual affair but I was starting to crave some solitude. Human beings en masse can sometimes prove tiring. It was a very cold night but I was toasty warm in my tent - I was wearing about a hundred layers of clothing. I did wake up sometime in the night with a sore throat - I hope it passes quickly.
I'd expected that Friday morning would see the campsite freezing and immersed in mist. I was only half right - it wasn't foggy. The ride was fun. It was only 55 kilometres, with some good riding along the way; a little bit of work without breaking me in two. The stiff climb up between the giant wind generators kept me honest. We rode along the Bundaleer Channels on the way into Spalding but we didn't suffer the hardship of punctures. We arrived before lunch, did our chores and then visited the local pub. A bigger day tomorrow, after a fair-sized feast tonight I think. Today has been a warmish blue sky day - long may it continue.


Wednesday, May 4, 2011

Mawson: Day Five - Day of rest

Even though there's no riding today, some folks still feel the need to get up before dawn and have their shouty conversations about nothing. I got up around 7.15, and enjoyed a leisurely hot shower before sitting down to a leisurely hot breakfast comprising scrambled eggs, tomato, mushrooms and four slices of toast. And two cups of tea. I finished my washing, changed my tubes in preparation for the Spalding run, and lubed and cleaned the bike. Chores done, I went to the bakery for a coffee and a custard tart. We walked around for a while, then went back to camp, before revisiting the bakery for lunch. The Burra Hotel was a pleasant stop; a couple of pints and some affable chatting. Tomorrow will be an interesting ride - a slight detour as the Mawson is impassable in parts. Bloody weather. Next stop Tooralie Homestead!


Tuesday, May 3, 2011

Mawson: Days Three/Four - Burra beckons

The ride from Tanunda to Riverton was competed under happier skies. So many highlights! The fast, marginally dangerous passage just out of Nuriootpa was a hoot. The beautiful landscape between there and Kapunda was enjoyable for different reasons. The technical, scary ups and downs just out of Kapunda, the rocky creek bed climbs and the fantastic sweeping downhills into Riverton made the day a beauty.
Riverton was cold and misty for the start of day four. Riding through the fog as we made our way to Auburn, cycling meditation en route to Clare via the Riesling Trail, and the climb up Camel Hump followed by the huge descent all helped to make the ride memorable. Not to mention the great up & down section on the way into Burra. I am feeling good. I have done loads of jobs this afternoon (washing etc) and it is a rest day tomorrow!


Sunday, May 1, 2011

Mawson: Day Two - Happy in Tanunda

Most importantly, I slept really well. Warm and comfortable. Up early, and my morning routine worked a treat. Cup of tea, listen to The Clash, pack up. Breakfast was brief, and adequate. The ride was a good one, but it was its usual slog in parts. Overcast, occasionally drizzly, but OK. I was a little tired in the legs but managed to punch on through without too much trouble. Lunch at Steingarten was welcomed, as was the breathtaking downhill that followed. We made it into camp, quite early at 1.20, and set about the usual tasks. Ray and I wandered into town and had a couple of beers in two of Tanunda's pubs. Dinner was at Chateau Tanunda, which is where I am now. Bring on the food!