bicycles


I haven’t been there for a while, but I am off to one of my favourite places in the world for a few days on my bicycle for some winter riding.

2010 March 011 (640x359)

Advertisements

I have become used to the relatively high cost of things in Denmark and I always assumed one would never find anything free. However, the other day we were walking through the forest and happened upon this intriguing site:

IMG_2956 (2) (640x427)

I went in to look, finding what we would call a bush camping site (right next to the ancient deer park):

IMG_2961 (2) (640x427)

It sports state-of-the-art grass, forest and … toilets:

IMG_2960 (2) (640x427)

And there’s even a place to warm yourself and cook some food:

IMG_2957 (2) (640x427)

And the best thing of all is that it is free. Next time we’re here we’ll be making the most of this Danish treasure.

That was the hottest ride I have ever done: 420 km in 4 days, from Armidale (up north) to Newcastle. On the hottest day, the temperature topped 45 degrees. On the others, it hovered between the high 30s and low 40s. That’s hot enough to melt the bitumen under my tyres. Day after day, I heard the clicking sound of tyres running over globules of molten bitumen. I saw strips and spots of the shiny black stuff all over the road. And from time to time, I had to stop for a while, when my vision blurred and I became light headed – drinking copious amounts of water and getting my body temperature down to reasonable levels. Today, on the last day, it was a cool 36 degrees, but only because of the gale-force headwind.

It began with a glorious train journey to Armidale:

IMG_6769 (320x240)

More than twenty years ago I lived in this town, a university town up north. The railway line to Armidale had been reopened under a Labor government, but I never had the chance to take the train. Now I had that chance:

IMG_6774 (320x240)

Beside the glorious railway station, the Gospel Hall (Brethren) still does its thing:

IMG_6778 (320x240)

I checked out old haunts, when my kids were little. At the house where we lived, I was blown away by the fully grown pine trees. I had planted two of them 23 years ago, knowing that they were slow growing. I nurtured them as seedlings and now they are grand trees:

IMG_6783 (320x240)

After a night in my tent in Armidale (where it is cool, even in summer), I set off through through countryside I still love:

IMG_6786 (320x180)

That’s an old signalman’s cottage on the railway line. After rolling up and down through the tableland, I had the breath-taking drop down the Moonbi mountain:

IMG_6791 (320x240)

Only to come across one of the highlights of the ride: the Moonbi chook (chicken):

IMG_6793 (320x240)

I have told stories about this chook, which adorns the park in the village of Moonbi. The village, you see, is a chook growing centre. I never thought I would see the big chook again, but it has a fresh coat of paint and sits there still, sagely surveying its fellows busily popping out bumnuts. After a stop in Tamworth, which boasts guitar-shaped pools (it is the country music capital of Australia), I was able to indulge in my fascination with abandoned cottages in the midst of nowhere:

IMG_6801 (320x180)

While coming to terms with the fact that the only thing blocking the blazing sun was my body and my bicycle:

IMG_6810 (240x320)

My next stop was the magical Murrurundi, which is almost as magical as Newcastle, only smaller:

IMG_6816 (320x240)

IMG_6821 (320x240)

IMG_6822 (320x240)

IMG_6826 (320x240)

I tend to judge a place on whether I could stay a while and write. Murrurundi is such a place:

IMG_6828 (320x240)

The next day was the real scorcher: 45 degrees over 120 km. I was busted by the end. But not before I became intrigued by the regular appearance of bottles on the side of the road, filled with bright yellow or orange liquid:

IMG_6844 (320x240)

Yes, it’s piss. Drivers – truckies or whoever – seem to enjoy pissing into a bottle and tossing it out of the window. After viewing quite a number, I came to the conclusion that they either need to drink more water or see a doctor – soon.

IMG_6855 (240x320)

On the last day, with its stiff headwind, I rode on a new section of freeway – the Hunter Expressway. While I lament the fact that the billions spent on such constructions could produce some wonderful railways, I am also fascinated by the engineering. Local Aborigines were part of the planning and construction, with place names and routes marked by song lines. The treatment of water courses means they are now cleaner than they were before. And along the route much concern was given to animals and their need to cross the road. Along here there was very little road kill, for tunnels and overhead passageways had been constructed for their passing. I was intrigued by the possum bridge at one point:

IMG_6864 (320x180)

Too soon does the ride come to an end, even if you are knackered. So I tarried long in Jesmond Brush, in Newcastle itself. I had an early dinner, lit a fire and boiled a billy for tea:

IMG_6872 (320x240)

But eventually I wound my way home.

Why is a long-distance bicycle tour always too short? A week seems way too short, since I still want to be on the road, pedalling to the next stop. Anyway, the ride to Canberra went through some serious mountains, with some climbs feeling like walls:

IMG_5855 (2)a

Sometimes we had bitumen,

???????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????

sometimes not:

IMG_5857 (2)a

But it is stunning countryside:

???????????????????????????????

At one point, the only food available in the one shop (a pub) was …

???????????????????????????????

Yes, chunky beef pies. We bought out the whole supply. By the time we arrived in Gunning, they also had bumnuts:

???????????????????????????????

Along the way, we stayed in pubs for next to nothing:

???????????????????????????????

???????????????????????????????

At the end, I decided to introduce my grandson to the glory of bicycles:

?????????????????

And then read him a bedtime story (ht cp):

?????????????????

Whoever uses an air conditioner is a wimp. As the real heat-waves of summer are upon us, many people in these parts flee indoors and turn on the air conditioner. At home, at work, in a car – wherever you happen to be, an air conditioner is available.

But then you miss the glorious feel of summer. The sting of the sun at noon, the smell of air that has been baked, the sweat that cleans out your pores, the indescribable feel of lying in bed naked at night, floating on the heat and drifting off to sleep. Nothing beats the sensation of going for a run or a ride on a 40 degree day. And if you spend all day blasted by an air conditioner, how can you appreciate the sea on a hot evening?

What happens if the air conditioner breaks down, or if the button gets stuck on hot? Having lost the ability to enjoy the heat, let alone tolerate it, you’re stuffed.

I am more keen than ever to get to North Korea in the next year, especially after reading Robert Myles’s account of his travels there. The question is what I should do, for there are many options.

I may want to cycle through different parts:

NK 01

Or go hiking and camping:

SONY DSC

Or take a glorious rail journey:

NK 03

All part of my project on Embalming Our Leaders …

The Norwegian University of Science and Technology has come up with an easy way to measure what they call your fitness age – without having to exhaust yourself on a treadmill (with the same result). They have put the calculator here.

For me, the vital statistics are:

Male

How often do you exercise? Almost every day.

How long is your workout each time? 30 minutes or more.

How hard do your train? I go all out

Age: 52

What does your waistline measure in cm? 80

What is your resting pulse (per minute)? 46

Estimated fitness age: under 20!

Next Page »