Date writ­ten: 2 Octo­ber 2019

Date post­ed: 7 Octo­ber 2019

This post was writ­ten by hand in my diary on the road, and entered into the blog when I got home.

Today’s ride was by far the tough­est, most gru­elling bicy­cle ride I’d ever under­tak­en, and pushed my body to lim­its I had­n’t exceed­ed for more than ten years.

I packed up camp and left Mur­ray Bridge ear­ly this morn­ing, know­ing how far I had to ride, and sus­pect­ing I’d be in for a rough go. I had a GPX route I’d received online from an Ade­laide-based cyclist loaded up in my Garmin Edge 520 GPS bike com­put­er, had plen­ty of nice cold water in all four bot­tles, plen­ty of bananas and a full tub of fresh scrog­gin from the local IGA.

As I head­ed out of Mur­ray Bridge, I noticed the GPS on my iPhone was try­ing relent­less­ly to get me to join the M1 free­way, which is off-lim­its to bicy­cles, so my ‘back-up’ to the Garmin was essen­tial­ly use­less with­out stop­ping. Nev­er­the­less, I head­ed up the Old Princes High­way, past the Monar­to Zoo, and towards Call­ing­ton. And that’s where things start­ed to go wrong…

The GPX route I’d received took me through a cop­per mine. A min­er, on his way into work, gave me some direc­tions to pro­ceed along the high­way to Kan­man­too, where I could stop and plan my next step. I got to Kan­man­too, which was a very beau­ti­ful lit­tle her­itage town nes­tled at the foot of the Ade­laide Hills. The iPhone GPS still want­ed to take me to the M1, and I had the wrong topo­graph­i­cal map for this area, not being able to source the right one before I left (as an aside, Geo­science Aus­tralia in their ‘infi­nite wis­dom’ will soon stop print­ing these maps entire­ly, rely­ing on dig­i­tal maps only — what could go wrong?).

The local gen­er­al store in Kan­man­too told me that pret­ty much any road except for the main high­way would lead me astray, so I decid­ed to stick to the high­way and press on through Dawes­ley, to Nairne and then Hah­n­dorf. By the time I reached Nairne though, I was absolute­ly bug­gered. It had been 2.5 hours since I’d reached the cop­per mine and turned around, and I’d been aver­ag­ing a pal­try 7 kilo­me­tres per hour. My water was com­plete­ly con­sumed in that time and I still felt dehy­drat­ed as the sun blazed down and the mer­cury kept ris­ing. It was­n’t so much the steep­ness of the hills but the unre­lent­ing, slow ascent over many kilo­me­tres, just sap­ping my ener­gy. I arrived in Nairne and stopped at the ser­vice sta­tion to replen­ish my water bot­tles — a cou­ple of awe­some blokes at a road­works just before Dawes­ley gave me some water as well — and smash down a Pow­er­ade sports drink, before head­ing up to Hah­n­dorf. Nairne was a very beau­ti­ful lit­tle town full of nice old sand­stone cot­tages, and I vowed to return for a bet­ter look around one day.

Hah­n­dorf was a kitschy lit­tle place, a Ger­­man-themed tourist town that on first appear­ance was kin­da inter­est­ing, but the traf­fic and the crowds were just relent­less, there were heaps of idiots on the road and I received a lot of honks and screams to get off the road and out of the way, to which I yelled back, “You want a Euro­pean expe­ri­ence or not?” I could­n’t even stop to post an Insta­gram update, opt­ing instead to ride just out of town where it was slight­ly more peace­ful. In the end I was­n’t very impressed with Hah­n­dorf, it seemed over­ly touristy, and just remind­ed me of Lorne in the Christ­mas hol­i­days — i.e. an over-run, over-rat­ed and over-priced cir­cus. It was inter­est­ing to pass the Beeren­berg farm though, being a very well-known brand of jams and such that we eat all the time at home.

From Hah­n­dorf, I real­ly start­ed to get lost. The GPS was use­less. There was no sig­nage to help cyclists nav­i­gate their way towards Ade­laide, no lit­tle blue signs with a bike icon and an arrow, noth­ing. I crossed under the M1 and head­ed up Mount Bark­er Road, through Bridge­wa­ter and Aldgate, at which point I was final­ly on my topo­graph­ic map. I weaved through the lit­tle streets and towns, beyond exhaus­tion as I faced hill after hill.

I was a few kilo­me­tres short of Crafers when I could­n’t ride any more, and pulled over to dis­mount and push my bike by foot. I fell over and must’ve passed out, com­plete­ly ‘bonked’ as the cycling ver­nac­u­lar puts it. A won­der­ful bloke by the name of Andrew Gor­don had seen me strug­gling and helped me sit up, get some more water and scrog­gin into me, and helped me get the bike up and going. He then spent more than an hour dri­ving in front and behind me, as a sup­port vehi­cle, ensur­ing I reached Crafers. We stopped at a café in Crafers where I bought him a Coke and a cof­fee and we had a quick chat whilst I replen­ished my food and got a breather. Then he resumed his adopt­ed role as my sup­port vehi­cle and showed me where the ded­i­cat­ed bike track along the old dis­used free­way, down the hill from Crafers into Ade­laide CBD was. Dur­ing this time, Andrew missed an appoint­ment with his daugh­ter, but was unwa­ver­ing in his insis­tence that he help me out and ensure I got to the bike track safe. This guy was a bloody leg­end of the high­est order, a true and kind Aus­tralian gen­tle­man, and I doubt I would’ve found the bike route with­out him. He even donat­ed $20 to the char­i­ty, as if he had­n’t done enough already. Wher­ev­er you are Andrew, thanks a bun­dle mate, you’re a star.

Hav­ing reached the bike track, and hav­ing long since sur­passed the lim­it of my endurance, both for this day as well as the accu­mu­lat­ed ten-day jour­ney in gen­er­al, fly­ing down Mount Bark­er Road along­side the free­way, hav­ing to ride my disk brakes the whole way to stop my trail­er from wob­bling too much from the sheer speed, was beyond exhil­a­ra­tion and I fist-pumped the air as I realised that I’d done it — I was com­ing into the city of Adelaide.

I rode along the city streets down Glen Osmond Road and then Pul­teney Street like a con­quer­ing Roman cae­sar as I beamed with pride, appre­ci­a­tion and sat­is­fac­tion, stop­ping at Run­dle Mall and achiev­ing what I’d set out to do six months ear­li­er, with noth­ing more than a rough sketch of a plan and a crazy idea to ride to Ade­laide in a school dress.

So many months of plan­ning, so much hard work and so much pride. I want­ed to show my chil­dren, Declan and Anneliese, that even ordi­nary ‘old’ and fat dads can do some­thing to help, can do some­thing big­ger than them­selves and push themselves.

I think I did that.

How I’d rate today’s journey:

Beyond my limit

The Journey

The stats

1
Distance ridden
0h 0m 0s
Riding time
1
Elevation (climbed)
1
Average speed
1
Average heartrate
1
Calories burned
1
Max speed
17ºC
Temperature
1
Pedal strokes
Down­load file: bikeit-day7-murraybridge-adelaide.gpx

This post first appeared at bikeitinadress.org

I’ve post­ed it here as well as it’s rel­e­vant to my blog.

Category: Bike It In A Dress, Cycling
Tags: , , , , ,

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