Saturday, 12 December 2009
The Brisbane or Bust Adventure - Day 2
Day 2 – Armidale to Brisbane – started with feelings of foreboding – the town was still shrouded in smoke from dozens of bushfires, and I had the sort of beginning to the day that, by rights, should've been how I felt on Day 1. Yep, the dithering, the nerves and the 10 poo morning. Eeeeew! At least the sun was shining!
So – my ausmoto friends had told me to look out for a one-armed cop in Armidale, and I found him right where you would expect – at the police station! Hope the shoulder mends quickly!
That was pretty much the best bit of the day. The fires got hotter, the smoke plumes got higher and the roadworks multiplied. What was supposed to be a shorter travelling day ended up being longer than the one before, only hotter. Bloody roadworks.
I'm talking serious roadworks – the sort where you're stopped by a flagman or a set of porta-lights out in the middle of nowhere. The sort where you're stopped for long enough to have to turn off the engine and sit baking inside your helmet. The sort where there's a looooong stretch of gravel that a flagman makes you stop in the middle of, and you fall off your bike and snap the brake lever and cause a big effing drama twenty kilometres outside Tenterfield because you'd foolishly decided to take the scenic route that Rob in Sydney suggested.
I hate gravel.
As always, when things turn to shite, angels come out of the woodwork. Soon-to-retire RTA worker John drove me back into Tenterfield, while flagman Dave put traffic cones around my bike and kept watch over it. Kevin from the bike shop back in Tenterfield – which is just next door to the Peter Allen Motel if ever you go up that way – retrieved my bike and replaced the snapped lever. He thought I should keep going on the scenic route and over that gravel again, but I'd had enough. I was just about ready to turn around and ride back to Canberra! Remind me again why I decided to ride from Canberra to Brisbane? 'A challenge', I think I'd said. Well I was feeling pretty bloody challenged, I can tell you!
I revised my route and came up through Stanthorpe and Warwick. By the time I got to the Shell servo in Aratula I felt like an overcooked boil-in-the-bag dinner. Amused motorists watched me pour ice cold water on my head, inside my jacket and down my throat, and my contact lenses were drying and sticking to my eyeballs again, so I did the eye-drop thing while I was at it. The things you go through!
It was a very tired, hot cross Betty who finally knocked on Graham & Deirdre's front door after 6pm, after having left the Deer Park Mottr Inn (Armidale) at 7.40am...
The reviving qualities of cider and sparkling shiraz, of course, are legendary, and before I knew it I was laughing, yahooing and snake-handling – a great end to a huge day!