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craig_foster

Australia (Brisbane) (19)

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Hey Shelias and Bruces,

 

Well I'm in my first city since Singapore which in all honesty feels like a

lifetime ago. I'd forgotten how unwelcoming and difficult city riding is

for a guy on a 50kg bike. I'd been in Brisbane maybe 30 min before someone

told me to "f**k off and ride on the pavement". It's strange but you can

sense when you approach a city. You go from being the all conquering hero

of the outback into an obstacle costing people their precious 30 seconds.

Suddenly signs start appearing telling you when and where you can't ride but

they offer no alternatives. Just "NO CYCLISTS" plastered everywhere.

People stop talking to you and questioning where you've been. Ah well,

quick internet break and I'm out of here.

 

What's happened since I left Mackay? Surprisingly little. As the

population density increases so the opportunities to meet people seem to

decrease. One of the great mysteries of modern life. More people, less

contact. The day I left Mackay the weather took a turn for the worse and so

after 50 miles of riding I decided to find cover and rest for the night. I

found the only dry spot for miles under a bridge. People ask me how I can

sleep under a road bridge with the cars and trucks passing overhead but I

guess the sounds of trucks and cars are pretty much a constant in my life

now.

 

3 days riding got me to the town of Rockhampton, back over the Tropic of

Capricorn and into the sub-tropics. It was a tough ride as I had my usual

South Easter blowing 30 knots right in my face. I did some calculations the

other day and since I left Cape Tribulation 21 days ago I've had a headwind

everyday except for a 4 hour break I got a few days ago. It's my fault as

I'd checked the prevailing wind directions before I cycled Oz but then

changed my route and didn't recheck. I should have headed down to Adelaide

from Alice Springs and then headed North up the East Coast. A positive was

when I met a Swiss professional cyclist coming the other way and he said he

doubted he'd have the motivation to face that wind everyday. I felt pretty

honoured to be complimented on my motivation by a guy who cycles for a

living.

 

From Rockhampton I headed to Bundaberg. I decided to take a different route

and leave the highway as I knew the route would have more hills and when I'm

getting hammered by a headwind I find the hills tend to negate the effect to

some degree. I pulled off for the night into a small town called Rosedale

looking for some water and a place to camp for the night. While there I got

talking to the a couple of locals. A bloke on a motorbike explained he had

100 acres of land just a few kms out of town and I was welcome to set up

camp there. He introduced himself as Bill and I followed him out of town

and onto his land. He'd bought 100 acres of bush land with no buildings and

lived there on his own in an assortment of shacks and caravans. After

cooking me a much welcomed meal we sat talking over a bottle of wine and his

story was one that's become a familiar one to me now and always seems to

start with a woman. If I had a fiver for every eccentric who's story starts

with a woman I'd be able to cycle round the world indefinitely. Why is it

that women just get some crisps, dips, a bottle of wine and hire out

Bridgette Jones yet men feel the need to withdraw from society or get pulled

round Oz by a pair of camels? Actually I think I know that answer to that

question.

 

I headed south out of Bundaberg and got my 4 hours of tailwind. I'd

forgotten what tailwind felt and how much of an impact it has on my mood.

Sometimes when I've been up against a headwind for a few hours I'll turn

back on myself and cycle the other way just to feel a tailwind for a few

metres. Sad I know. I guess every silver lining has a cloud though and in

this particular case it was literal. As I climbed up a hill towards the

town of Tiaro I noticed what looked to be some pretty ominous dark clouds

ahead. I figured that with the wind behind me I'd be able to stay in front

of the storm but man was I wrong. As you enter Tiaro from the north there's

a sizeable mountain beyond the town and in the space of a few seconds the

mountain just disappeared and I was looking at storm clouds which normally

appear in Hollywood blockbuster movies. I took shelter in a servo and a few

minutes later the storm hit town and after taking out the power managed to

provide one of natures more awesome displays. I haven't seen anything like

it since I lived in South Africa and it was pretty exciting with winds that

took trees down and hailstones the size of golf balls. Of course all the

Aussies told me that was NOTHING and normally they have hailstones the size

of New York but I was impressed. I left town after the storm had cleared

only to get 20 kms before getting hammered by another storm. I've never

cycled in anything like it and the weather was severe enough that I had

people stopping and offering help. Luckily I knew there was a rest area a

few kms up the road so I battled through and arrived at the rest stop to a

rousing cheer from the people who'd gathered in their cars for protection

from the storm.

 

I arrived in Brisbane last night and camped in a place called Nudgee Beach

just to the NE of the city. My intention now is to leave the city and begin

the 1000kms or so south to Sydney. Based on my average mileage I should hit

Sydney around the 29th/30th December. I have no idea where this puts me for

Christmas day but I'm not sure how relevant it is. I have a feeling this

will be the time of my journey when being alone has the most impact on me.

Christmas is a time for family and friends and so I reckon my chances of

meeting people are seriously reduced and with this in mind it's probably

better that I spend the time on the bike. It's not a big deal as I knew

this would be the case and it's a fair trade for all the wonderful

experiences I've had so far. On a positive note I expect to be exactly half

way round the world on Christmas day. I'm quite curious how it'll feel as

from that moment I'm technically on my way home.

 

For New Year I may spend a few days in Sydney and check out their world

famous celebrations. It depends on the time really. My visa runs out

January 13th and I plan to fly from Melbourne which is another 1000kms from

Sydney. This equates to about 10 days riding time so I'd need to leave

Sydney pretty much on New Years Day or maybe the day after. I'm now flying

to Christchurch instead of Auckland as these were the only flights I could

get. Not sure what this does to my route plans but it won't be the first

time my route plans have changed nor the last I suspect.

 

I'm expecting to spend 3 months in NZ but as with everything so far, we'll

have to see. I'm going to see if I can take a little of the pressure off

myself in NZ. I set myself a pretty difficult target for Oz of 5000 miles

and based on my current progress, my round the world would take just over 10

months. Since I started I've wanted to do it in less than a year. Round

the world on a bike in under a year has a nice ring to it don't you think?

This means I could take longer on the second half of my journey and still

make it under a year. I don't know. Sometimes I think I just love to keep

moving and so I'll keep this pace going. If I get home and I want to start

moving again then I know the answer.

 

Anyways guys and gals best go and see if I can get the hell out of this

city. If I don't get to fire off another email before Christmas have

yourselves a merry one and have a few drinks for me.

 

Lot of love as always,

 

Craig.

 

XXX

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