What a day. With heatstroke hopefully in the rearview mirror thanks to mum, hydration tablets and medicinal-grade Vegemite on toast, I set off early to get a head start on the sun. Complete with my new long sleeved SPF30 sweat-wicking ultra-dork shirt and 11 litres of water on board, I was set. Also, note to self: get a rearview mirror.
It seems when cycling down the eastern seaboard of Australia, one is presented with two options: Open Google Maps, choose bicycle as the mode of transport and let it whip you against coastal hills until the pulpy messes where your legs used to be don't even care that there isn't a discernible shoulder on the road in which to ride OR choose the car route and opt for the Pacific Highway, a relatively flat and well maintained road that gives the traveller an unparalleled view of absolutely f**k-all.
With time now no longer an unlimited affair and my fragile flower of a body still a little wilted, I chose to make my way down the Pacific Highway, a 7 hour ride from Port Macquarie to the picturesque* Nabiac Caravan Park.
For the initiated, cycling the Pacific Highway goes much like this:
1. Frantically and constantly dart eyes in the oncoming 30 metres to check for sticks, discarded tyre retreads, road cracks and dead echidnas (n=5 so far).
2. Ensure optimum gear is selected for the slight incline currently being battled. Too low and you're short changing yourself. Too high and you stop and are forced to think about what you're doing with your life. Abandon gear and start again for slight decline. Repeat.
3. Enjoy the wide range of manoeuvrability afforded by a sum total of 60cm of highway shoulder. Remember, too far left and you lose control into the road barrier, too far right and you are at the mercy of the Tarago travelling along at 110km/h.
4. Keep an ear out for trucks. When one is approaching, hold a tight line to communicate to the meth-riddled driver that you aren't going to play Frogger with him. Ensure both hands are on the handlebars and brace slightly for the ensuing wind buffet. It will initially knock you to the left, don't overcompensate your steering too far or you'll swerve into the Lancer tailgating aforementioned truck. Finally, enjoy the brief moment when you are in the truck's slipstream.
5. Experiment with various methods of acknowledging the rare appearance of other cyclists. Initially I would have recommended the two-fingers-raised-from-handlebar method, but having transitioned through the subtle-salute, head-nod and knowing-smirk, I've finally settled on the Overly-excited-to-engage-with-another-person-wave-like-an-idiot approach. Your mileage may vary.
6. Curse Reginald T Pacific IV for deciding to put his highway through the path that actively avoids anything to look at. Then thank him, because if there was a view, it would certainly complicate the previous steps.
It has certainly been exciting seeing various milestones passed. Crossing the state border, transitioning from businesses claiming to be North Coast then Mid North Coast, passing the half way mark and today I've seen signs to Newcastle. Even the Newcastle Herald was stocked in the Nabiac IGA where I stopped to pilfer their air conditioning - I must be getting close. Today was the first day that I really missed being home, but I'm sure that it's nothing that sleeping on a rock by the side of the Pacific Highway can't fix.
Onto Heatherbrae tomorrow, followed by the Central Coast and then Syd-ah-nee!
Today's soundtrack: gave Serial podcast a second try, promptly discarded it again - It's like a parody of NPR. Switched to music by Kill it Kid, Oscar Peterson Trio and the /r/listentothis best of 2014.
Thanks for reading!