Saturday arvo rolled around and Al and I had planned a bike packing trip with our new Revelate Bags. We got home from a school function late in the afternoon (Orbost Secondary College turned 100 years, rock on!) and quickly set about packing everything to hit the road.
By the time we left darkness had set in, we rode along the road for a couple of k’s before jumping a gate and riding through a boggy marsh cow paddock. It reminded me of riding through sand in Alice Springs, bottom back and push the front end forward, the only difference being this was making my feet wet and my bike very dirty.
About seven minutes into the ride we had to stop and make some minor seat adjustments to make sure I was comfy, a bit harder to do when its dark and freezing cold. We rode for about 2 ½ hours, up and over some steep climbs. One climb in particular was pretty relentless and I felt like my back was going to snap in two. I had whinged to Al during a test lap about the 32-20 setup for being ‘too easy’ yet I was mighty thankful as my legs were shouting out for more teeth! I don’t think I would have gotten up the climbs in any less of a gear. The fire trails were either up or down making it interesting and never dull. We had a few gates to jump and also had to cross a massive puddle. I gave Al some ill-advise about where to cross and he managed to sink ankle deep into a slosh.
Headed down the highway to Cabbage Tree and headed out to Murrengower, going by Dave’s directions we thought we had headed down the right track. Alas, we had not and we shortly found ourselves on a slight downhill in the middle of the scrub setting up camp. Al got the fire cranking whilst I set about putting out the bivvys and cooking dinner. Rice and tuna on the Jetboil was on the menu and after a solid ride and having started cooling down I was looking forward to it. Al had accidentally packed the wrong type of gas canister for the Jetboil, so instead we dined on a can of tuna, a stale muffin and split a small can of soup. We managed to put the soup into the fire using a stick and retrieved it with little dramas.
At about 10.00 we crawled into our bivvys and set about getting some shut eye. That’s about the same time it started raining. And raining. And raining. It kept raining continually for the next 2 ½ hours. I had taken my under garments/base layer/jersey off to dry from the sweat that had dampened them on the ride there, and decided to use them as a pillow. At some point in time I realised I had slipped down my mat, as we were on a slight downhill, and those clothes along with the top of my mat were soaked. I think I managed to doze off slightly at some stage but kept waking up with wet bivvy stuck to my face and not being able to breathe. Combine this with the mosquito net Al suggested I put over my head equated to feeling like I was not getting the required amount of oxygen!!
At 12.30am Al said “Courts are you awake” to which I replied “yep, pretty sure I haven’t been to sleep yet.” We decided the rain seemed to be fairly set in for the night and there wasn’t much point laying there awake the entire night. Lesson Learnt: Take a lightweight tarp next time, oh and a gas canister that actually fits your cooking device!!
As it was raining we had to make the pack up fairly quick. Firstly I managed to get my contacts in, in the rain, dark and with no mirror!! Then quickly deflate mat, pack clothes, sleeping bag and bivvy. Ensure there was some food easily accessible as well as water in my frame bag/cage. Check. Things I didn’t do which would have been very handy – get gloves out. Get raincoat out. Wear a bra. Don’t have a thermal top on. Make sure your lights are fully charged before leaving on a night bike packing trip.
My lights had gone dead, and we weren’t sure how many hours left Al’s had in his. We were fairly certain they didn’t have 2.5 hours left in them which is how long it would take us to get home going the way we came. We had a rough idea of an alternative quicker route home (quicker only if we got it right), and we were fairly certain if the lights went out we would freeze to death in the bush.
We had a long steady climb out to the road and as I was wearing a head buff, thermal long sleeve top, arm warmers, and my Giant long sleeve winter coat by the time I got to the top I had overheated and needed to stop to adjust my clothing situation. I took everything off, except for my bib knicks. I hope no cars were going to go past, and Al’s only comment was “Well that’s a good way to attract some more sponsors” All I put on was my long sleeve Giant top and then we made the descent down to Cabbage Tree. It didn’t take long for me to REALLY regret stripping off only 5 minutes prior. Now I was on the opposite end of the temperature scale. By the end of the descent I was wet, freezing and could barely feel my fingers or toes. We made some educated guesses about which tracks to take and fortunately for once we were onto it. Some muesli bars and dark chocolate were downed to try to keep the spirits up, but there wasn’t a whole lot of talking going on this time. I went into a zone like state where all I thought about was each pedal was taking me closer to a hot shower and hot bowl of porridge.
About 30 minutes from the end, Al handed me a spare battery he had been carrying! Could have done with that an hour ago!! It took us a bit over 2 hours to get home, and I was pretty relieved once we did. Al’s only comment was “My foot feels like a stump” Into bed at 4am, to have a solid 5 hours sleep before a knock on the door 9, it was Finn and James asking if we would like to go to Nowa Nowa for a Mountain Bike ride. Sounds fun but we decided to pass on that one. Napped in front of the heater for most of the day before venturing out to Dave and Lu’s house. Al thought it would be good to take a short cut through a paddock, where we once again misjudged the deepness of some puddles and ended up with wet feet once again, as well as getting caught on a few barbed wire fences. We never seem to make things easy for ourselves and it was quite strange to see Al rock up with only 1 sock on, having left the house with 2. Those that have been running with Al may have an idea of where that 1 sock may have gotten to. It wouldn’t have been quite so obvious had he not been wearing my tracksuit pants which only reached his ankle.
Let’s see what next weekend brings shall we!