Bike Odyssey
Sydney to Darwin 2001

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Journal for 4-Jul-2001 : Gulargambone
Date: 04/07/2001 (Location=Gulargambone, Dist=79km, Total=655km)
Today was one big stuff up from start to finish.

It was ambitious enough with 120km scheduled including some stupendous climbs and 15km of dirt road.

We were pretty pleased with ourselves climbing the toughest of the hills almost as quickly as we did without the panniers on the previous days. I went flying down a short but steep descent leading to the next climb. Linda set off to follow. After just a couple of bumps one of Linda's front panniers hopped off it's rail. This happens to us occasionaly (once every few years), but this time the pannier got caught the edge of her bike's ultra light front mud guard. This ripped the mud guard, snapping it at
it's support and into multiple pieces.

As Linda was removing the remains of her mud guard, I was around the next bend allowing my momentum to carry me part way up the next hill, all the while looking over my shoulder worring about what had happened to my partner going down the hill. I came to a stop and vowed to wait a full minute before back tracking. Ten seconds later I was out of the saddle powering back down the hill as fast as I could at maximum panic level. I was in top gear and at top speed when my front pannier leapt from it's rail.
The pannier caught the mug guard, the mud guard caught the wheel, the mud guard snapped in three, the struts supporting the now ex-mud guard lodged in my front wheel spokes. It felt like the front wheel had just imploded, as it locked solid throwing me at 50km/hr head first onto the bitumin. I'd just experienced the very thing I was worried had happened to Linda. Linda found me limping vaguely down the road carrying a water bottle leaving a trail of blood back to the remains of my bike.

An hour later (after I patched up the bikes with a spanner and Linda patched up me with the band-aid kit) we were back on the road, minus one water bottle cage, two front mud guards, a segment of my helmet, one seriously deformed front pannier rack (which seemed to take most of my the impact) and a rather damaged ego.

When we reached the dirt (30km and one serious downhill later), I deflated our tyres. This allowed us to cover the stretch of dirt road in half an hour less than otherwise. This was about half the time it took me to re-inflate the tyres, and replace the tube in Linda's bike after the valve exploded into our pump.

Quick riding along the first bit of flat road since Sydney saw us at Galabones Gargleblood Gulargambone, with almost enough time to reach todays target of Coonamble before dark, thanks to 5km of roadworks. Reaching Coonable seemed a prudent move as some of my injuries were showing signed of requireing at least an X-Ray. Just as we were about to set off I noticed my rear wheel had popped a spoke on the cluster side (~a 1hr repair job). We gave up and checked into the opto
msitically named "Hotel Motel". I was "lucky" enough to arrive on the only day there is a doctor in town, and managed to get myself properly cleaned and patched.

Even dinner was a bit of a farce. We chose the takeaway with the most people waiting for food (usually the best indicator) as no-one seemed to want to eat at the pub. It turned out the usual propriator was away, and the replacement was having just a little trouble coping with two concurrent orders for hamburgers and chips. For three quaters of a hour we joined the waiters for our "fast" food dinner.

I'm writing this feeling very sore and sorry from a freezing shoe box (a bit like the tent, except it has single beds and isn't quite that big), hoping tomorrow won't be quite as eventful as today.

David F

P.S. Linda asked me to add that the riding in the Warrumbungles was very nice. And it was too.

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