Archive for February, 2010


Bali

Sunday, February 28th, 2010

After a $100 taxi ride to the airport, we went to check in for our flight, a bit worried about the weight of our luggage and bike boxes, especially now that we had the trailer. The guy at the check-in desk asked for our onward flight tickets from Bali, we said we didn’t have (or need) and onward flight, explaining what we are doing. He explained that there was no way he could let us board the flight without an onward flight, or a visa / letter declaring that we had permission to enter the country without an onward ticket. Bugger. He suggested that we go and buy a flight from Indonesia or postpone our flight for a  couple of days and contact the embassy to arrange a letter. To postpone the flight would have cost 225, plus accommodation and no guarantee of a response from the embassy. So we headed to the flight centre and explained our situation. We booked the cheapest flight we could find from Indonesia to Malaysia that was fully refundable, only it wasn’t full refundable as none of the airlines do this. Explaining our situation to the guy helping us, he said he could cancel the flight tickets as soon as our plane took off and refund the money asap, but that from a $900 flight we would only get back $700. With no other choice and very little time, we paid the money for our non-existent flight and headed back to the check in desk with the flight confirmation in hand. This was turning in to an expensive morning!

Our luck changed though and the lady weighting our bags seemed not to notice that 2 of them were 2.5kg over and even when the bikes came in at 30kg each she didn’t say anything. She even checked her guidelines on the weight allowance, for what seemed like a very long time – both of us holding our breath waiting for her to change her mind and announce that she had made a mistake. But no, were were not charge any excess baggage fees. I for one was pleased -  I’ve lost a stone in weight on this trip,  so surely that counts for something! So we made the flight and arrived in Bali at 1.30pm after 6 hours.

The humidity hits you as you step off the plane. Woo, it was hot and sticky. After wrestling with bags and bike boxes into the centre of Melbourne, we had already decided that this time we would build the bikes at the airport and cycle out. I did a bit of a recce and found a shady spot on some grass, away from the main exit/entrance. It took us about 2 hours to build the bikes, with a range of spectators throughout. One guy was watching Chris, puzzled at what this third little wheel was a all about. When Chris attached it to the bob trailer and then attached it all to the bike, the penny dropped and he clapped his hands, smiling, he came over to have a closer look, grinning from ear to ear. It made us laugh too, he’d obviously been sat there wondering what on earth Chris was doing.

By the time we loaded all the bags on we were both dripping with sweat and thirsty. Nearby was a little place selling drinks and food to the bus and taxi drivers. We decided that we would go there rather than the tourist stalls right outside the airport doors as we would get a better price. We immediately got chatting to two of the bus drivers (driving tourist buses) and one of the guys spoke good English. He said he wanted to go to England to see the snow, because he has never seen snow! We got a few tips and practiced a few phrases before his Chinese passengers arrived and he had to dash off. Chatting to him put us both at ease and we relaxed. We got on the bikes and headed for Kuta, just down the road…

Cycling into Kuta was an adrenaline filled experience! Zillions of scooters, cars, men on bicycles with large bins either side of them, people everywhere – it’s a complete free for all. The roads are narrow and bumpy, people just ride on the pavement if the traffic stops, everyone beeps their horn all the time, it’s crazy, but exhilarating! The scooters/mopeds are the crazy thing really, some wear helmets others don’t; small kids, really teeny tots sit in front of their parent holding on (or not!) – I saw 4 people on one, toddler, dad, mum and baby, amazing. Yet no one goes very fast as it’s too busy – we can cycle at almost the same speed, so the danger is reduced. People come alongside waving saying ‘hi’, how are you?’ ‘ where are you from?’.

We managed to find our way to Poppies Lane II and find a place to stay for a couple of nights.

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Cunningham’s Gap

Sunday, February 28th, 2010

Leaving Warwick, with a forceful headwind, knowing we had a big hill to conquer, we were both feeling a little uninspired. For the first morning in a long time I was wearing a fleece as the wind was cold. However 10mins on the road and I was warm!

As we came out of Warwick the landscape started to change and before us were flat fields, full of bright green crops growing in each one. In the distance were flat topped mountains, surrounding the valley in front of us. Cunningham was one of the first settlers to cross the great dividing range from the coast to the inland, finding a route that is now used as the main way to Brisbane.

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So as we got closer to the mountains, I was wondering whether there was an actual gap, or whether it was just a wiggly route through. We seemed to climb up and then drop down, then climb up and then drop down for quite some time, but I couldn’t see a big hill ahead or a gap.  Although there was a fair amount of traffic it felt quite peaceful and I stopped to watch an eagle circling, looking for his prey for a couple of minutes. After climbing for a while we stopped for a tea break, both a bit tired from the wind and the heat, and hungry, but we didn’t have anything easy to eat (without cooking). The wind wasn’t actually as bad as it had been that morning and there was no reason to stop, despite the temptation of a ‘farm stay’ sign.

2010-03-22 001 012We set off and before we knew it we came to a garage, truck stop that said it was ‘the top of the Gap’. We were really surprised as we’d both been steeling ourselves for a mighty climb, but it seemed that our hard work was already done. Pleased with ourselves we stopped and had a truckers all day breakfast. I was more than delighted to find that they had HP sauce. And with two perfect fried eggs, I was in heaven.

The lady in the cafe said that we still had a little more to do to before the downhill. Another guy said that it was 9km of downhill. So after a leisurely lunch we reached to top, through some lush and large rainforest, housing some rather rare endangered species. The forest smelt lovely and the plants along the wayside seemed large than life, like something out of Avatar.After a brief stop to appreciate the top of the gap, we set off downhill. The views were spectacular and I was keen to get a few photos on the way down.

At the first stop as I turn to get my camera out a huge lizard, 2mtrs long scampered off into the bushes just to the right of me, making me jump – he was huge! Unfortunately i wasn’t quick enough to get a shot of him. I saw an equally large one a few stops later, but again he was took quick for me, very cool though. I’ve never really been into wildllife that much, but Australia has certainly caught my attention what with lizards, eagles, snakes, funny looking beatles, birds that sound like Jurassic park raptors, kookaburas, big spiders that jump rather than walk… the list goes on…

2010-02-18 001 030 Anyway, after stopping lots to indulgence my need to photograph this lovely place, I finally got down the hill, where Chris had been waiting for me – with the Bob trailer and the extra weight, his speed downhill is faster than me. We reached Aratula together, pretty tired and ready for a rest.

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Aratula is a lovely little place, with nice cafes, a bakery and big fresh fruit stall. We treated ourselves to a motel room and a big bag of grapes. One of the lads in the shop was intrigued to know more about what we were doing. After buying the grapes I went back in and gave him one of our cards. Chris was chatting to someone outside and as we were about to leave, the lad from the shop ran out with a piece of paper and pen and asked for my autograph! Chris thought it was funny, I thought it was sweet and I guess I was also flattered that anyone would even want my autograph, how nice to be asked!

So all in all it was a pretty good day. Next stop: Brisbane.

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Stanthorpe and Warwick

Saturday, February 20th, 2010

We knew that it was pretty downhill to Stanthorpe (800m) and Warwick (400m), so the next couple of days should be a bit easier.

It was downhill mostly and we enjoyed a good ride to Stanthorpe, crossing the NSW /  Queensland border, getting to cycle in the rain for the first time in ages, which was refreshing. We managed to stop early and drink tea, talk about happiness, religion and all that jazz. We also made friend with a dog called Abby who lived nearby and came to see us. We cooked sausages on the BBQ, made mash potato and through in some onions, carrots, leeks, brocolli with gravy to make a yummy dinner  – heaven. We set up the tent in the dark due to the large NO CAMPING – $1500 FINE signs everywhere and got some sleep. We woke at 5am and took down the tent before anyone came along to tell us off.

We had a leisurely breakfast though as no-one can fine you for sitting around eating porridge and drinking tea!

We set off for Warwick and enjoyed about 60km of downhill and flat cycling. I was listening to Queen on my ipod, man that’s a great album to cycle fast to… Killer Queen, Bohemian Rhapsody (moshing whilst cycling, Wayne’s World styley), Don’t stop me now, It’s a kind of magic, I’ll stop there but i don’t think there is a bad song on the album!  Blissfully, we were averaging 20km an hour and made it to Warwick by 12.30 (noon). We managed to catch the 1pm showing of The Lightening Thief at the Cinema, where they kindly looked after our bikes for us while we ran into the catch the start of the film.

We then had fish and chips and headed to the park to find a camp spot for the night. Due to the crazy rainfall in Queensland lately, the river had burst it banks 2 days ago and so there were lots of children playing in the water. Four little boys had an excellent mud fight for about half and hour and were covered from head to toe, it was great to watch them play – ah the joy of being boys!

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To Tenterfield

Saturday, February 20th, 2010

An early start was planned and we awoke to a misty morning, but by the time we hit the road it was already getting hot, yikes. We had a long day ahead of us,that much we knew – at least 80km, with a big hill to climb some where along the way. We had a place to stay in Tenterfield, so we needed to get there.

At Deepwater, 40km in, we got some more water. Then we reached Bolivia Hill which climbed up, although the downhill was much longer and we were glad to be going in this direction, not coming the other way! But aside from that hill, there were also lots of others and they rolled in like huge tarmac waves.

rippedtyre Chris’s tyre got ripped somewhere along the way so we stopped to repair it, gluing it back in to place. The tyre looked pretty worn on closer inspection, so maybe it was good that it happened so that we could see this.

With all the hills, heat and stopping it was turning into quite a long day, I was exhausted after 65km and we were running low on water. At the first river we saw we stopped again to fill up. It needed to be pumped and we dropped some chlorine tablets in too, just to be on the safe side. We continued on, up and down more and more hills. My legs were like lead and I really felt that I couldn’t cycle much further. I reminded myself that I had cycled 62 miles through the Yorkshire dales in the wind and rain and the dark, and that was when i was  a lot less fit. It helped a bit, mentally if not physically. We stopped at about 5pm for some more food, we were both drained of energy and needed fuel.

tenterfield

We pushed on, with about 10k still to go and for the first time in months, I felt myself welling up. Sometimes when all you can see is a wiggly, windy road ahead of you and no obvious end in sight, it’s really hard to stay positive and keep cycling. Even though you know the tiredness and pain is only temporary, it’s hard not to cry when you’re feeling exhausted. But the best thing to do in that situation I find, is just to have a little cry, let the emotion out and then somehow you feel a bit better. That’s what I did and then carried on pedalling. To our relief the road started to go down and the last 7k was downhill into Tenterfield, phew!

86km in total and about 86 hills to match!

We had a lovely bed for the night, staying with Phil and Amanda and their three children, Abby, George and Isaac, having kindly agreed to put us up. Their hospitality was wonderful and we enjoyed a hot shower and a lovely meal before collapsing into bed. Hard days really do make you appreciate a shower, food and sleep like nothing else! Thanks guys!

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Guyra – Glen Innes via Glencoe and Stonehenge!

Saturday, February 20th, 2010

We got up early and bought some fresh bread at the bakery for breakfast before heading off. Despite Guyra being the highest town, it wasn’t the highest point and we climbed up further to Ben Lomond at 1410m and it was up and down for miles.

benlomond But as we headed down to Glencoe we had lots of downhill and it was fun to speed along knowing that it would continue for ages. In Glencoe we sat in a bus shelter and ate our lunch in the shade whilst watching the big ants below us scurrying around – they really are amazing creatures. The last time we cycled over Glencoe (Scotland) it was certainly a lot harder, although having cycled over so many hills now, perhaps I have just got used to it.

flowersJust like Scotland last time, I have an ongoing love affair with the wild purple flowers growing by the side of the road. After 2 months of seeing very little colour along the road, to see so many purple, yellow and white flowers all blowing around and being lit up by the sun, is wonderful!

 

We passed though a place called Stonehenge, due to the huge rocks there, however it isn’t a visitor attraction as such and so I had to make do with taking a few photos from the highway.stonehenge Chris stopped ahead of me at a rest stop and got chatting to a couple from Brisbane.When they found out what we were doing they gave Chris $20 for our charity – amazing the generosity of people we meet on the road.

gum treeThis area also has lots of trees other than Eucalyptus and at times looks very much like the English countryside. Although there are still many great gums too – like this one!

Our aim for the day was a rest stop just passed Glen Innes. After an uninspiring look around Glen Innes we bought food and continued on to the rest stop. About 80km in and we found the rest stop at Yarraford, which was a great place to camp.

To top off an already good day, we met another couple here, who just stopped for a tea break and they also gave us $20 towards our charity!! We couldn’t believe it, 2 donations in one day, how fantastic.

Thank you kind people.

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