Thursday, 6 February 2014

Friends, family, scenery and home

Bittersweet end

Like the last epic trip, I'm finishing off the story sitting in a cafe looking back. A bit of hindsight is a good way to finish off I feel.

1st of February: Arrived in Melbourne early in the morning on board the Spirit of Tasmania. The time on the ship gave me a moment to think of the experience from Tasmania compared to previously. It felt different, it looked different, but I couldn't pick what it was until later. Last time it had the feeling of being almost magic, it was because it was also home, and I knew how much better it was to call it home than elsewhere. This time I was a visitor, a fleeting traveller. Beautiful and fascinating, but that extra certain something special was missing.

First off was a long and epic 11km trip to see a good and witty friend from the previous mountain bike trip from South America. It was good to see a familiar and friendly face from a trip I found hard, but remember as one of those great moments in my life so far. After much conversation, too many coffees later it was time to carry on to see family. 

Onwards to see Mum on the Mornington Peninsula. I fondly call her Mother Drear. Only a short stay, and the heat that had hounded me throughout the trip was back. Her partner in crime gave me some good advice in planning my next move in the real world based on broad and successful experience, and Mum thankfully appeared healthy and in good spirits. I see them too rarely, often 2 or 3 years between visits, so I always worry about what may have changed. Mum proudly showed me her LIST of blogs, many updated daily, and the amount of visits each gets. I knew she had an online presence, but going on the the volume of what she's in the middle of, she'd be a well known celebrity if she was on radio or TV.

3rd of February: This last leg of the trip has a theme, a social one. It wasn't finished yet! There quite a number of more people I could have visited in Victoria, but I had to keep that to being in line with the trip, otherwise I would have enjoyed weeks zig zagging Victoria. I did manage to fit in one more visit. A couple that I met in South America who live in Inverloch, a short hop from Mum's. The way also happens to pass by Phillip Island GP track which I visited.. A great pair, real dynamos. They've retired, but that only means from their careers. They're really taking advantage of the extra time by having more adventures and even more time for bike riding, surfing, swimming etc etc. Get the picture? They're fitter than most people I know in their 20's. Their next trip is riding bicycles along the Silk Road a little later in the year. I'm rather envious. Add that to the bucket list.

Cruising along minding my own business, when out jumps a pair of friends from the last epic trip.
What are the chances?

Inverloch is quite a surprise. A beautiful long beach, a small town, but to cater for tourist season, many restaurants and shops. So during the off season, the residents have excellent services without the crowds and traffic. A real gem of a place. There's also a noticeable community spirit, they're proud of the town. Shown by the cycleway/footpath along the beach with exercise equipment along the way, or information boards giving information about the area, and a replica boat as a display.

4th of February. The trip home.

From Inverloch, I took myself to the beginning of the Great Alpine Road. I'd met quite a few riders leading up to this, and they all spoke very highly of this road.

When I got on it however, to me it looked too much like the Tasmanian roads where I had to be very careful on because of the gravel dragged on to the road. So I had this unshakeable trust issue with the surface. Enjoyable, but not the relaxed, lean and throw it around the corner without slowing down type of riding I was hoping for. I foresee some track days in my future.

Not that it didn't have its good points!

The view looking north from Mt Hotham along the Great Alpine Road.
My nephew remarked it looked like something out of the Hobbit movie. I sure thought so when I got stuck behind a person who drove like a drunken one down the other side.
The rest of the trip was unveventful. The villages on the northern side of Mt Hotham are quite pretty.

Then highway all the way home from Albury. Yawn.

I had a surprise waiting for me at home. A letter from Victoria! Over speed limit by 4 km/h. I happen to be on my P plates, which NSW has a zero tolerance for P platers speeding. That means if that 1 point offence from Victoria successfully transfers to NSW (apparently it's hit or miss), then NSW bumps it up to a 4 point penalty and then my bike licence will be suspended for 3 months. For 4 km/h hour over. I fail to see how these 2 nanny states are improving road safety by forcing drivers and riders to spend more time staring at the speedo than the road. I was given an option to have it reviewed which I will be doing, as the penalty I feel is very excessive. Welcome home! Oh, guess where the fine is from? The Great Ocean Road, a road I had a memorable experience on for the wrong reasons.

I have to say it's good to sleep in my own bed. To have a FULL set of clean clothes! I admit I got a little feral in some parts of the trip. Regularly showered, but only had 3 sets of clothes which can be hard to keep up with. I know I must have been feral, as I could smell the washing powder in my clothes, which means it smelt different to what I was used to. Bear hug anyone? These things have to be done so that you can appreciate the normal things in life no?

One thing I should add. If you ever do a trip like this, use Telstra as opposed to the other 2 for phone coverage unless you get satellite access. This isn't a sponsored comment. In almost all the places I stopped including roadhouses in the middle of nowhere, I had coverage. In the medium size towns I even had 4G coverage! I did a manual search and sometimes saw Optus, and usually Vodafone was missing. Telstra often costs more, but at least I could use my phone!

So now begins the next chapter, who knows where it will lead? What trip will be next finding it's way on here?


  1. Thank you for your lovely comments on your visit to us. I was a little disappointed that the extreme heat curbed any inclination to get out and about. But perhaps you needed to breathe before the next stage of your journey. Hubby's thrilled that you included his photo and glad you listened to his advice.
    Latest news - I am in the staff acapella group. We are going to record this year.
    I am also official sport photographer for school. Just did a day at the swimming carnival today. Love doing different stuff.

  2. So lovely to see your picture with mum. Im glad you are home safely Scott. Well done mum! It sounds like you are following interesting paths. ..both of you!