Bike Odyssey
Around Australia 2003

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Journal for 21-Jul-2003 : Cairns

Innisfail kept raining on us. We decided to try the tourist route along the old highway. We haven't deviated off the Bruce Highway much at all since Mirium Vale, but we took a punt today. After 5ks riding towards the coast, we found the old road. We had to ask someone, and were warned there was a stretch of gravel too. Gravel we were warned of, the steep little hills and all the mud added to the surprise. Then it started raining. This road lead through a very nice rainforest by the Nth Johnson River, but I didn't get to see too much of it as I was constantly dodging the rocks and mud puddles.

Once back on the bitumen the riding was a bit faster, and a bit wetter. At one point I was pulled over by someone thinking I was her son. No one has ever made that mistake before!

After more rain we needed to clean out the brake pads. This was when I discovered my front tyre had a 3cm slit in it and was within 5ks of failing. We found a spot to change and put on one of the spares. This spare has seen almost as much of Australia and New Zealand as I have. The bead was very bent, and once straightened out, it was so stretched it could not be fitted to my front rim. Of course I didn't discover this till I'd half finished pumping up the tyre. At this point is started raining. Linda hid her bike and herself under the groundsheet, and I set about fitting our second spare tyre (a folding version of our old favourites).

Just as I finished playing with the tyres the rain stopped, so we cycled off. 4km later I noticed a suspect noise from my front wheel and a sudden loss of steering. In less than the time it takes to scream a panicked "f$#@ me" a huge bang and clunk as what was left of my front wheel it the bitumen as I swerved all over the wrong side of the road to an uncontrolled stop. This wheel has the only non-standard rim, and had always been loose fitting. Too loose for the folding tyre, and it just rolled off mid flight. To get back on the road I had to switch Linda's rear tyre to my front tyre and put the second spare tyre (mercifully undamaged) to Linda's rear wheel.

After four hours we'd covered just 27km.

When we finally got back to the highway we found the best tailwind of the trip so far. We were flying along when we had clear open road ahead of us, but that wasn't too often as we hit the traffic approaching Cairns. Bike lanes all the way in, but still very difficult to negotiate Cairn's eclectic cycling rules (best summarised as: do what you like, just don't get in anyone's way).

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