day 8: Orbost – Bairnsdale

There Will Be Blood

Depart: 5:39; arr: 3:30; dist: 101km; saddle: 5h 40m; ave: 17.8k/h; ascent: 800m.
Total Dist.:473.8km; Total Asc.:6373m.

More data here, but the computer stopped working halfway.

At 101 km, it’s the longest day of the trip. We knew this was going to be tough. 100km not epic enough? Let’s make it all dirt road. Still not epic enough? OK, let’s do it in 40°C+ heat. Oh, and let’s have 5 punctures along the way. Epic.

We plan an early start and wake at 4am (that’s 3am brisbane time!) to leave at 5am. Well 5:39am is close enough.(It’s dark – tell me why I am doing this again?)

The much anticipate East Gippsland rail-trail did not disappoint with some stunning scenery. One of the many trestle bridges:
Hard to imagine that trains were going over these as recently as 1986.

The first of many punctures on the Vulcan:

James despondent:

Vinnie goes down.
Skin grows back. (This ends up as part of the “Ezekiel Beast“.)

Cracked ribs take longer:

At Nowa Nowa the cafe owner is a man with a vision. We like his ideas.

He has designed a maze of mountain bike trails that only lack a four entry bridge fly-over. He has applied for govenment funding for just such a bridge, and has so far produced a model with artists statement. It’s only lacking an up-side down tree, but these are details.

Leah goes down.

She pauses only long enough to scrawl “Hoogerland” over it and continues. Hardcore.

Scott gets a puncture, no spare 27″ tubes. But he has a patch kit. Then he gets another another puncture.

Even the handpresso turns against us. More blood:

Bruthren. Rehydrate, refuel big-time.
I am sitting in a rotunda looking at James’ bike and the Vulcan is looking back at me and then it goes: sssssss… This bike is showing some real bad attitude.

The remains of a RAAF Sabre:

The first pilot in Australia to survive a seat ejection.

The early start means we have so far avoided the worst of the heat. My bike computer has given up hours ago at only 36°C. …but it’s REALLY hot now. The long lunch at Bruthren means we are now under the suns anvil.

Not a good time to get lost. We get back on track and at the end of the railtrail is the Caravan park by the river.

I go to the bike shop and try to speak to the people there, but nothing comes out. I point, I sigh, we look at each other, I sit down. The shop owner, clearly used to shattered riders coming in, talks me down in soothing tones. Soon he has sold me a $65 tyre.

James is sick of changing tubes and also buys a $65 gatorskin. As if that is going to placate a Vulcan; in less than 24 hours another puncture. There are many ways of getting punctures. The Vulcan has managed each possible way at least twice.

We’re now off dirt roads and Scott goes to work, preening the Nishiki. In a spontaneous burst of activity, this snowballs until everyone is cleaning their bikes. Bike pride. I stiffle a sob. A crackle of static passes between me and James. A change is coming and we cower from what what must surely be ball lightning, but all is quiet. Too quiet.

We go down to the Mitchell River and swim.

This was our day in Hell.

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3 Responses to day 8: Orbost – Bairnsdale

  1. Anonymous says:

    This day was a challenge alright. Lulu and I were just getting ready to leave the campsite for a walk along the Snowy River sands when the first call for the big pump came. Then having answered the call I experience a first: I was actually standing next to a bike as its tyre blew out. Loud! Later drove nearly back to Orbost looking for my riders. As they were on the trail I didn’t find them. Found the last shady tree in Bruthen to park under. Researched cool spots. Rotunda in the park cooler than the bakery veranda. Too hot. Congrats everyone with punctures being stoic about it! Finally made lovely Bairnsdale with sympathetic bike shops and a big tree in the caravan park. We all charged our phones!

  2. Anonymous says:

    How come Leah’s legs get all the close-ups?

    • Mark says:

      These are all James photos, you’ll have to ask him, my batteries were flat. However, there’s a good backside of someone else coming up tomorrow….

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