Day 2 - Sunday, 4th May 2008 - Clare to Melrose
Today was a solid day. It was listed at 10km shorter compared to yesterday, and it turned out being 5km less than that, but it ended up taking about the same time as yesterday. It was a cold start today, I don't know the exact temperature, but I made a last minute decision to wear the arm warmers on which I was glad of. I got away with a small group at about 7:55am once the sun broke through it was very nice, but as it was still low on the horizon, every time we passed some trees it was noticeably cooler in the shade.
The road started out with some nice rolling hills, only small so it kept the bunch together nicely, after about 20 minutes, I stripped the arm warmers off, and while it was still quite cool, I could feel that it was warming up quite quickly. As we were leaving Clare, there were still vineyards in evidence, as well as a few wineries. I was chatting to other riders in the bunch, and it really made the kilometres vanish under the wheels. The only problem was that a wind had started to pick up, and it was pretty much into our teeth. It was only about 20km/hr at a guess, just enough to slow you down. The group I was in rolled into Morning Tea at about 9:10am, we were slightly ahead of schedule, and Phil asked us all to hang around so that all the riders could regroup. Morning Tea was yet more home cooked treats curtsey of Sue, who must spend a good amount of time in the kitchen prior to an event like this getting all of our Morning and Afternoon Tea prepared.
One of the riders, Bryan, had a spill this morning and he was sporting the damage at Morning Tea, from what I gather, he was riding in a bunch and a pothole wasn't communicated through the bunch correctly, he hit it badly and went down fairly hard. His helmet is a write off, and is damaged badly on one side. Despite the accident, Bryan will be continuing on the ride.
I was last out of Morning Tea, but only by about 10 seconds or so. Just up the road, John had to stop as he had managed to collect a Bee Sting. It was about 60km to lunch, and I felt like enjoying myself. Subsequently, I quickly caught up to the lead bunch, and then at the first hill pulled away from them. As tomorrow is the shortest day, and all down hill to boot, I was prepared to push myself a bit today, and the run from Morning Tea to Lunch seemed ideal. By this stage we had left the Care Valley behind us, and I was back riding in Wheat Country, as I was solo, I was having a good look around, and I spotted a Wind Farm right on the Eastern horizon.
I wasn't pushing a huge pace, mainly because of the head wind, which did make it into a slog, even so, I was at a pretty comfortable pace. On the way to lunch, we passed through several small towns, the first Georgetown had their rainfall listed on the entry sign, 470mm, not much in the scheme of things. I caught up to Fiona on the road, who already has my vote for the guts award. She isn't the faster cyclist here, but is prepared to leave early to ensure she can meet the deadlines imposed. Considering the conditions today, she is really putting in the Hard Yakka. I rolled into Gladstone at about 11:30am, and met up with Phil and Susan, lunch was about 25km up the road at the Old Stone Bakery. Gladstone was the home of the largest inland Grain Storage Facility in Australia, yet more evidence that we are in the Wheat Belt.
I left Gladstone behind and kept going, the road was pretty flat, but there were short hills that allowed me to change rhythm. I passed through another small town, Laura, where it was evident that it was a country town, and it was a Sunday Afternoon. I only saw a few people around, but it did look like a beautiful little town to spend a few hours in. On the Northern side, I saw the Laura Golf Course, this wasn't your typical green golf course, and the "greens" where actually sand held in place with oil. It certainly keeps your water bill down.
Having left Laura behind, the road turned a few times so I wasn't straight into the wind, which allowed me to get a bit more pace happening, by this stage I was a bit in need of a toilet and I was also running a bit low on water, but lunch wasn't far away so I just kept going, not that I had a lot of choice. I finally sighted Old Stone, and I kept a very keen eye open for the Bakery, I found it on the the other side of ton and made a Bee Line for the toilets. I chatted to some of the other customers for about 5 minutes until Phil and Susan pulled in, and the first bunch wasn't far behind them. In the end, pretty much everyone had landed by about 12:30pm. Lunch was either a Meat Pie, or a Meat Pie Floater, while I was tempted by the idea of the floater, I ended up going for the pie, as I could choose the variety that way. I opted for a Steak and Chilli which I thoroughly enjoyed.
We spent a pretty solid hour at lunch and I ended up rolling out with the last group, Graeme from Tasmania, Bronwyn, Anthea and Andrew from Adelaide and Fiona from Lithgow. I was just enjoying myself again and chatting with the others in the group, at the first hill, while we were taking it easy, Fiona by her own admission wasn't super strong on the hills and she dropped of the pace. Andrew and I dropped back with her, but once over the top I rolled away and rejoined the others. Soon Graeme and I were on the front and driving a good pace, Bronwyn and Anthea kept in contact and we soon started to sweep up some of the other riders. We caught up to a good sized bunch and after a few minutes we pushed past them and as it was about 5km to go, I think most of us were pretty keen to get there.
There was a slight down hill prior to the last 5km and so we were going quite well, but we turned back into the wind and so it became a slog again. Anthea knew the area, and Melrose has increased the amount of Mountain Biking Trails in an attempt to increase tourism to the area. After a final hill, we caught sight of he town and rolled in. I am staying at the Pub tonight and it has some real character, I suspect we have booked it out. Tomorrow is only a short day, so, there is a walk up Mt Remarkable tomorrow morning before we get away for a later start.
The early bunch, heading deeper into the Flinders Ranges
Lunch at Stone Hut Bakery
The afternoon bunch, Graeme and Anthea on the front, Bronny behind.
One of the many bar stools in the pub. Extra points if you can work out what it is constructed off.
for more Photos from Day 2.