Monday, 16 February 2015

The One Day Tour - Day 6

From this, Sue detected darts
in her underpants. Odd girl.
A less than optimum night. Sue’s sleep was disturbed by an aching knee, making it hard for her to get comfortable. Peter was disturbed by Sue.

The first few hours took her knee out to the beach for exercise and Peter organised for friends and family of Sue to have automated access to “Travels”. Sue managed to find time to gloat over the advantage she has over colleagues and proved this by posting a photo of Rainbow Beach on Facebook, along with something cryptic about her undies.

Breakfast was taken mid-morning.

From that point, the day definitely got better.

We drove north along Ocean Drive to Port Macquarie, parking above both Main Beach and the breakwall and unleashed the Dahon collapsible pushbikes for an afternoon of peddle power. Port has a lovely walking/riding track which extends from the mariner in town, along the breakwall and past most of the main beaches and it was our intention to explore it fully.

Starting above Main Beach, we road down to the breakwall and had a lively conversation with an ex-farmer who had owned several properties around Moree. He had left Moree in 1988 but continued with the last of the properties until eight years ago. In a clever wheelchair with a motorised front bike fork somehow attached, he was out for his morning “walk” when we met him near the end of the southern breakwall. It’s the nature of the road that conversations come freely and often with complete strangers - although what an incomplete stranger looks like, I couldn't imagine, let alone describe. To refuse such convrsations is not only to be rude but to exclude yourself from one of the key elements of the nomadic road life. We parted after twenty minutes, both parties a little better informed and our day enhanced.

These Dahons collapsible pushbikes are a clever piece of work. Weighing a mere 16kgs, they fold into a space which, side by side, occupies less than half the area of the space behind the back seats in the Forester. Designed and built in Germany, they are a precise, well-engineered machine but more importantly, they are also a comfortable and effective ride. Little is sacrificed in ride or effectiveness and the gearing is as good as any bike I have ridden.

Eddie and me
We rode the bike track to town and stopped for lunch near a statue of Edmund Barton - we all know who he is right? While Sue made my tuna sandwich, Edmund and I partook of a selfie as he told me a ribald joke, bold as brass and stony-faced. Even in his present state, more than a hundred years after his role in Australian history, he'd do a better job than the incumbent, Speedo Sam. Before returning for lunch, I rode my bike into the toilets. No need to lock it up outside because it fits into the cubicle with me!

Everywhere we went, koalas stood beside the track, suffering from bovine decoration syndrome, and decorated in bizarre colours and patterns by local artists. Sue cooed over most of them, photographing many. Her loving thoughts turned back to Westdale and a fibreglass cow called Brie. She recovered in seconds.

After lunch we went looking for a café but there was little satisfaction. No lactose free milk so, as usual, black tea. If only we could take Café 2340 with us around Australia.

It was back to the coastal track after lunch. Things went well until we approached Flynn’s Beach, where the track was at its oldest and more roughly hewn from the rocks and narrow in gauge. We made it as far as the southern end of Flynn’s before Sue announced she needed to call it a day. The knee, you see. Besides, to continue meant traversing stairs and that meant me carrying the bikes.

Turning back, Sue was walking her bike back up the short incline along the track up from Flynn’s. I was riding, in the lowest gear, intent on showing her how easy it was, if only she would give it a go. I was off the seat and applying maximum effort but the torque was so great that as I applied grunt to the back wheel, the front wheel leapt from the surface in front of me, throwing me off balance and bucking me - Mulga Bill style - sideways off the bike, the path and into the bush to the right of the track … and then down the steep, heavily vegetated slope until I eventually stopped in a dishevelled and embarrassed heap.

"There's a bear in there ..."
I give due credit to Sue: she didn’t laugh. She didn’t even take a photo (remarkable for those who remember the Bingara magpie incident). I crawled back up to the track, scratched and bleeding from the knee and ego badly shattered.

The remainder of the ride was more circumspect.

Returning to the car, it took less than five minutes to have the Dahons stored back in the car and us underway.

We shopped at Lake Cathie on the way back to Bonny Hills, before soaking for 45 minutes in the lesser of the two saltwater pools at the caravan park. Dinner was steak cooked in the bbq area and enjoyed with a few beers.

It’s a dreadfully tough life out on the road.

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