Spent the day visiting Prostate Cancer Foundation, CanTeen and being shown the city by the beautiful Nabina
I am staying with my friend Dipak Dhamala in Adelaide. He runs a company called Himalayan Experience, and coordinates the logistics of our Cycle across Tibet....starting in Kathmandu on 25th April.
He is very keen that all those considering riding with me on this section of my Global Cycle, make your bookings asap. The most important part of three trip for Dipak at this stage is booking the Kathmandu to Lhasa flights........so if you're considering it, perhaps you need to call the team at Adventure South, and make a deposit.........
Go on. You know you want to........
THE ADELAIDE HILLS
Strathalbyn to Adelaide 55 km
This has to be the most pretty section of road I have ridden so far in Australia. Perhaps because it seemed so familiar. Beautiful green farms, stretched along windy country roads, with hills.... The only difference to so many parts of NZ was the gum trees, and the birds.
Yep, it was uphill, for what seemed at least 40km of the 55km. But that was a really pleasant change from the straights I've been enduring lately. And climbing a hill at 5kph doesn't make for too much speed across the ground....but with only half yesterday's distance to go, I was not in a hurry.
Only trouble was, although we started in the sunshine, with a huge rainbow in the west....that's the way I was heading....and it was very cold and very wet. By the time I got to Adelaide, my hands were wrinkled sponges, and frozen. It's not a problem when you are biking, but stop for a rest......and you get cold very quick.
So the road I rode, was the old main road to Adelaide, superceded by freeway, so almost zero traffic, until about 15km out of the city. Lovely little towns, with old stone buildings, and quaint General Stores.
I didn't stop because I was too wet and cold, and didn't take photos for the same reason. But by just South of Stirling, I needed food, so pulled into a supermarket, bought two fresh bread rolls, a banana, and a bottle of fizz. Sat on the footpath outside the supermarket, out of the wind and rain, and scoffed. To be fair, I probably looked a bit rough, but not one, that's right, not one, of the twenty or so people I said good morning to, answered me.....In fact most averted their eyes and ignored me....hmmmm. Then one ol dear, cut me off as we tried to get out of the car park......I think I'm invisible......
Not long past the supermarket, I came to the Freeway on ramp. Peter, Kate and I had been doing a bit of research on this the other day, so I knew there was a route...but I needed to consult my GPS. It lead me up Big Blimming Hill. I'm sure there must be another route, but I was committed. I have to be honest.....for the first time in a VERY long time, I had to get off and push. The road was very narrow, and I was a little worried about 2kph wobble, but I couldn't manage...and I experienced just how heavy my rig really is.....HEAVY.
A short navigation under the Freeway and I was on the cycle track into Adelaide. Parts of it the old road from pre Freeway, other parts are purpose built......but what ever, other than not being able to see through the mist, it was all downhill, and totally traffic free, for almost 10km...beautiful...sorta like cycling down the Gorge heading into Wellington, with no traffic.
Portrush Road was downhill as well. Hardly peddled, and safely dodged all the traffic, to arrive at Dipak's house,(The unofficial Nepali consulate) for a very welcome hot shower.
Four days off the bike, talking to Media, Rotary and Lions Clubs, and hopefully doing some good stuff for Canteen & Prostate Cancer Foundation, and resting the body........
It's a Long Long Long, Flat Road
Meningie to Strathalbyn 90km
Long Flat straight, long flat straight, long flat straight, slight bend, long flat straight, wind in face, long straight, rain in face, cold cold cold, Murray River Ferry, hot chocolate, cold long flat straight, cold wet long flat straight, Sun? Long Flat straight, wine area, big barrels, a hill......and finally Strathalbyn.
That was my day. Cold, windy and tough. Having got to the end of a straight section, you go around a slight bend.....and there's another straight flat road ahead.......I chuckle......you're not going to beat me Australia......
Lots of bird life today, as I passed through swampy country. Saw two dead foxes....they are a real pest over here, along with rabbits and starlings. The Murray River was pretty impressive, but I was so cold I hid in the Cafe with a hot chocolate. It was here I heard the results...Chile 3 Aussie 1, Aussie 6 France 0, and the best....NZ 28, England 27.......sorry Dr John. I told you you were cheering the wrong team.
The ladies at the Info Centre were fantastic, and found the Rev David Smith for me. David and Eileen are President and Secretary of the local Lions, (for one more week), and their warm shower was oh so welcome.
This evening Wifi, and a chance to catch up with those at home. Fantastic. But must not forget the time zones....
Over 1000 km on my bike in Australia. 50km to get to Adelaide tomorrow.
A TAIL WIND
Salt Creek to Meningie 60 km
Dear Dr John, Today, for the first time since the wind farm, it has been very windy from behind. I've had a lot of rapid, smooth movement. My question is, could this be the first sign of a reaction to being near a wind farm, or is it just the Chicken Kiev and broccolli we ate for dinner last Night? Slightly Concerned.
Rained heavily over night, but at times the full moon shone through the fabric of the tent. I was camped close to the road but slept for at least 11 hours. That's what 80 plus km does for you. And then, this morning.....a tail wind. Never have 60 km gone so fast. We even had some undulations in the road, so the average speed went from 18 kph to 25kph...nice.
Got to Meningie much too early, so found the library, (at the Area School) and caught up with emails.....and after several attempts got to talk to Ju on Skype. Had to vacuum up a mess of dirt off my shoes I left in the library....at least I wasn't kicked out, and headed out to Peter and Jess's. The wind was now in my face.....and very cold.
A wonderful welcome, and a magnificent hot shower were the start of an entertaining afternoon and evening. Peter, a retired farmer, is a Lion, and President of the local Museum committee.
I had a private tour of the town and the magnificent museum. Also saw another kangaroo, Ibis, and Pelicans, loadsa pukeko, which are called swamp hens here, and lots of the projects that the Lions are doing. For a club of only about 13 they are extremely active.
Peter had all sorts of tales to share. The one about the guy who robbed folk, and then escaped through the sandhills on an ostrich was pretty cool. Apparently this guy disappeared, after being shot, with a million dollars worth of jewelry....Still to be found somewhere in the Coorong NP.
Miningie sits on the edge of Albert Lake. The lake is freshwater, and the depth depends on the flow of the mighty Murray River. Not so long ago, in a 3 year drought, the lake all but dried up. Several Dairy farms went bust.....no water, no feed, no milk.... The lake is very shallow, and if the wind blows hard from any direction, the depth can change, as the water gets blown to the other end of the lake.
The museum is amazing. So much stuff....loads a old tractors, all working, and so many things that I remember using as a kid......I must be old. Would take a couple of days to have a really good look around. I know my mate Carl would love to get a chance to tinker with the tractors.
Peter has just been awarded a State Person of the Year certificate. An amazing man. Also met daughter Karen and four year old William. Thank you all for the generous hospitality at such short notice. Your generosity is what makes my trip so amazing.
1061km cycled since Hanmer Springs. That should be worth a couple of dollars donation to CanTeen or Prostate Cancer Foundation. Two days to Adelaide. 42,000km to get home. 879 days to do it.
The Coorong NP
Kingston SE to Salt Creek 83km
So Bob is a Prostate Cancer Survivor. He went into the Dr for a normal check up, and the blood tests showed he had Prostate Cancer. He didn't at anytime feel unwell, but he went and had surgery, and is still alive to tell the story.
He is incredibly active in the community, a member of Lions, a member of CFS (Country Fire Service, same as NZ vollie Fire Brigade), and organises the local Prostate Cancer Awareness group. He works 6 hours a day at a local garage, and is amazingly social, with a wide range of friends........and able to be so, because his Prostate Cancer was caught early.
Lorraine lost her husband to Prostate Cancer. Unfortunately, it was not caught early enough. They still did everything they needed to when the cancer was first found, but it had got away
Bob's wife was diagnosed with mild Parkinsons at 60. At 65 she is in full time care. She comes home at weekends, but is incapable of doing anything but sit.......
This sort of stuff makes me realize just how important my Global Cycle is. You never know when you life is going to change. As Robin Williams said in a movie sometime ago....Carpe Diem...(.or something like that...)...Seize The Day.
Dear Dr John, The last few days I have been having daytime nightmares. I imagine that I am on my bike on flat, never ending, straight roads, with numerous Kangaroo signs. This was seldom the case before I rode past the Wind Farms, and I have still seen only two live kangaroo. Am I Hallucinating? Is this a side effect to my health because of the danger of wind farms? Regards....Slightly Concerned.
Sam reckons Australia 2 Chile 0 at World Cup. I reckon the French are going to come back and give the Aussies a fright. And I'm ever hopefull that the All Blacks kick the Poms butts. Of course the will.......
Bob took me on a tour of the CFS she'd last night. CFS fight fires, and locally they get between 30 and 40 call outs a year. Some fires might take up to a week to put out. They have two appliances, a tanker and a command car. The appliances are quite different to ours, with a working platform up behind the cab, from where fires can be fought.
All other incidents, motor vehicle accidents, rescues, natural disasters, flooding etc, are attended by SES (State Emergency Services). They have all their own gear, a rescue appliance, two command cars, a truck to tow a rescue boat(it's big), and alsorts of tools.
Both run independently. Really interesting, and would alter how we in NZ would run our training. Neither group do any medical calls. That is left to the Ambulance Service. Thanks Bob for the tour.
Oh, I'm in the middle of Coorong NP. It runs along the coast for 140km. Can't see much from the road, but the road is pretty quiet, and flat, and there are huge mosquitos trying to get into the tent....The only wildlife I've seen all day..
Kingston SE 43km
Got packed up just before it started to rain, so everything is dry....except me. So nice packing a dry tent......Its the small things in life that offer so much pleasure ......and back on the road. No idea what the time is. Both my phone and tablet show different times, my inReach I think is NZ time, and pedometer is different to them all. I know it's light, and 2.5 hours different from NZ.....but the sun looks as if it's rising in the north......?
Dear Dr John. Yesterday I had wind all day. Today no wind, and no morning movement. I am concerned because I usually have wind and movement. Could this be a result of riding past the largest wind farm in the southern hemisphere two days ago. I think I mentioned that I saw a sign saying Windfarms are a Health Hazard. Concerned.
More straight, flat roads, but what is This? A slight rise in the Road? Did I really have to change down a Gear? Oh goodness.....Some downhill. Was that a figment of my Imagination? For now the road is surely straight and flat.......and oh goodness.....Are those two hoppy things really living Kangaroos?
Yes I believe they are. My first wild, free, hopping alongside the road, running away from the scarey cyclist dressed in bright colours, kangaroos. Wooohee
The rain stops before I reach Kingston. In the supermarket the clock tells me it is 10.30am. I get a few items to last me the next couple of days....$7.50. Shopping is pretty cheap when there's only one to feed, and you've got no storage.
Hey. Last night I got to use my new MSR cooker and pots. Oh my goodness. The water was boiling for the rice in about two minutes. I put on far too much rice, and far too much sauce, and the meal was ready in under 10 minutes. Amazing. Juliet or Matthew. What models have I got, because they are Great? So now I've got another meal already prepared in the pot.....
I had a meeting at about lunchtime with Kate from the local paper, so with a bit of spare time checked emails in the Info Centre....free. Then grabbed a yummy pie....great biking food.
Bob, from the local Prostate Cancer and Lions group, turned up at the newspaper office as well. Thanks Dave Thomas. We three had a good old chin wag. Kate might even have got enough for an article.
Then Bob made an offer I couldn't refuse....a hot shower, a chance to do laundry, a bed, and a meal....With perhaps a couple of Lions members along. So what if I've only done 43km Today? This is what the whole trip is about. Meeting people, spreading the word, having a good time. Thanks Bob. Offer accepted. It's the small things in life that offer so much pleasure........
The Road to Robe 83km
It has been confirmed and verified by Fiona & Grum, that roads in SE South Australia are flat. But that didn't mean an easy ride today, with a cold wind blowing from the west, into our face all day. At least the straights weren't too long, and the traffic, what there was, was courteous....mostly.....
One lady, driving a white ute, (they are the most popular vehicle on the road, and all white) must have been late for her coffee appointment. Despite my wearing, orange, red and day glow yellow, and having my front light flashing continuously, apparently just did not see me.....and decided it was okay to pass another white ute, at 110 kph, even though I was right there in front of her.......hmmmm. Maybe she recognized me from hogging a table at Maccers on Sunday......
Why are the roads so flat you Ask? This whole area, east of Millicent, some 320,000 hectares was once just a swampy wasteland, behind the Southern Ocean sandhills. When ever it rained anywhere in the area, the swamps turned to lakes. Between 1888 and 1969 the local council dug 1,500km of drains to enable the area to be drained and farmed. Which doesn't explain why it is so flat, but shows I am stopping occasionally and reading the signage.....
The only photo I took today was of this sign. Don't know what it is (perhaps a wombat), but I think I saw one crossing the road about 200m ahead of me. It had disappeared by the time I got near. Also saw a couple of Aussie Moa....oh I think they call them Emu, once again too far distant to get a photo. Only other animal today was a ferial cat, and it was sooo cold and windy, even the birds were hiding out, except for the odd crow.
Stopped at a rest area/lookout just out of Bridgeport, and watched a couple of guys surfing.....well floating really. Why is it that surfers never seem to be able to see where the waves are Great? From the beach it is easy to see them, and the surfers are always in the wrong spot. Anyway, these guys must have been flipping crazy, cause I was really cold, and didn't go anywhere near the water.
The only reason I was cold was I had stopped. My kit is the bomb. Layers is the secret. Icebreaker inner layer, under my Icebreaker windproof layer, under my Arcteryx Raincoat, under my high viz top.......stops all the wind, but not the sweat....so you cool down when you stop. Thanks Bivouac Outdoors.
Arrived at Robe just after 2 pm and spent a couple of hours at the I Site. Most have really lovely helpful people, and many have free wifi and computers. The young lady at Robe rang a local reporter for me, I'm meeting her tomorrow, and managed to track down the local Lions President, Dave Thomas. Dave came down to meet me, and is getting the troops posted, so that hopefully I can meet Lions Clubs along the rest of my route. Now, I'm tucked up snug and warm, out of the wind, in my tent.
Didn't manage to talk to Ju today, but know that she hasn't been getting much flying done because of the weather and flooding. Hope you all are safe and dry. Catch ya soon.
A rest day. Only 15km to Millicent, where I was greeted by Host Family, Judy, Kelly and Sam. A lovely family with CanTeen connections. Time for a break from Fiona, meeting the Mayor, the media, and answering emails, followed by a wonderful hot shower, hot meal, and a warm family atmosphere in front of the fire......and my tent will stay dry.
Sam is a 6 foot 12 year old, mad keen on sport and maths. His week is all about fitting in soccer, AFL, and boxing practices. He takes up the whole room when he lounges, and is reluctant to concentrate on his homework, when it is so easy to play games on the computer. Kelly, his elder sister is passionate about languages and drawing. They are typical teenagers, except their Dad is having treatment for cancer. CanTeen steps in and helps them to learn about the changes in their life's. During the holidays they are attending a CanTeen Camp, with others in similar situations.
You can help support them, and CanTeen by making a donation on the front page of my website...www.grumgoesglobal.com.
Into SA and off the Tarmac 83km
Tent is wet again, but this time from dew. A nippy morning....not June in Hanmer after the first snow fall, but my toes and fingers can feel the cold. Get an early start after an all fruit breakfast...Two bananas, an apple, and the last of a pretty mediocre bag of mandarins, along with a yoghurt I found bouncing around in the bottom of the trailer.
Doesn't take long and I'm confronted with some pretty serious signage. What's this all about Room 1? At the deposit bin, I eat my third and last banana......I was hoping that it might have been a little later in the day. Feeling just a little bananad out, but I should have a bit of energy this morning.
Hit the road off the main route, towards Port McDonnell. I want to stay off the main road because it is the end of the long weekend, and traffic is predicted to be heavy. Seems to be a great choice. The road is flat, and I have a following wind. In no time flat I have done 30km, and am trying to find a spot to sit, out of the wind and in the sun.....yes it is sunny, and for the first time I see shadows..... Port McDonnell is really quiet. Once again there are lots of big boat trailers about. All out following the Tuna.
I am joined by a guy in my warm spot, who knows nothing about the area...he's just staying with a mate, knows nothing about my planned route....He slept on the drive in....and doesn't know whether Aussie beat France....He doesn't do sport......He does have an incredibly fat dog.....
So I head out towards Kongorong and after about 10km the seal runs out.....exciting. The surface is really hard, reasonably smooth, and with no gravel, so the pace, with the wind from the side, is still reasonable. What's at Kongorong.....a sports club with an Aussie Rules field, 20 houses, a fire brigade and a disused church.
Out to the west stretches a huge Wind Farm. Earlier I had seen a sign..."Wind Farms are a Danger to Health". Can you explain that one to me please Dr John. Want to make sure I haven't been exposed.
My route to Tantanoola took me the whole length of the Wind Farm, three stretches of dead straight road, each 12.5km long. So now I've seen the flat of Australia. Still to see the hot and dry.
Along one stretch a flock of about 50 Gallah flew with me. They took flight as I passed beneath their tree, flying just above my head. Then they would wait for me about 200m ahead. When I caught up they would take off again, once again swooping on all sides of me, just above shoulder level. Pretty cool experience for about 3km, then a vehicle came past, and the dispersed.
No Internet again tonight. I am camped in the middle of Tantanoola on the site of the old railway station. About half an hour ago I was joined by an old couple in a caravan. They've done 400km today, and are heading east. What's in Tantanoola? A pub, that's not open, a Post Office that looks like it hasn't opened in years, an abandoned railway station, and this afternoon, about ten weed eaters going full tilt.
So is it important that there is no Internet??? Yep it is. I'm on an adventure.....never really certain what's going to happen each day (it's not rowing the Tasman Sea, nor climbing a 8000 foot peak, but it is unpredictable). Being alone, and uncertain about what's happening each day, I have become very conscious of my family and friends. I think in the comfort of a normal lifestyle you become a little blasé about family and friends.....they'll be there tomorrow, or next week. Out on the road it's different.
I've been very lucky and been able to skype Ju every two or three days, but keep missing connections with my kids and grand kids. Luckily, they are all writing daily blogs, and getting to read them has already been a highlight.
Lisa and Tim have been performing in a musical production this weekend. I'm very proud of them. They have very busy lives, with three under fives, and still make time to challenge themselves.
Paul and Amber are coming to grips with being new parents. Paul suits the role of "Superdad", assisted (read directed) by Amber "Supermum", and Jess "Super Big Sister".
As I learn how to manage my available Internet time, and learn how not to be kicked out of free Internet sites, I will attempt to catch up with more of you. I really value your friendships, your support, and your encouragement. Thank You. Long straights again. I hear that the Nullabor has one straight 140km long.........
Grum, Ju or Lisa will be updating this blog while Grum is on his adventure.