(October 1, 2020 – written by Nancy)
Today was on the nose, as in the wind was on the nose, all day long. It made for a bit of a grind but honestly the Bylong Valley Way is so scenic that as long as you don’t let the wind get you down, it’s just a head space challenge. The Bylong Valley Way is a wonderful back country road, no centreline and fairly light traffic. We loved it.
Roman survived in his teeny tiny bed last night, though it may not have been quite the relaxing sleep that he was anticipating after a long day. I didn’t sleep great either, given that I was on Dave Snorer duty to make sure he didn’t keep Roman awake all night and several interventions were required. Despite all that we were up relatively early and started the day with brekkie in the motel room, which came equipped with a kettle and cups and glasses that made it easy to make our porridge and coffee. Roman is very efficient and is carrying individual bags of porridge for each day and he wasn’t to be denied relieving himself of an addition 150grams of porridge – and we also used his coffee to make our Aeropress coffee to reduce his load even further.
We rode into the Denman town centre where we found an open cafe for supplies for the rest of the day. Everyone came away with chicken sandwiches, with mayo. The mayo is worth noting as by lunch the sandwiches were steaming in our panniers – mayo doesn’t travel too well in the heat, but nobody seems worse for wear, so far at least. After an additional stop at the local grocer to pick up some things for dinner we headed out into the headwind. Thankfully no rain, but the wind was pretty tough and, but for a few short sections, was headwind the whole day.
It’s a pretty lumpy ride, so even before we got to the two significant hills of the day we were already feeling the ups and downs. The first big hill is not until about kilometre 48, so we agreed we’d regroup at the top and have our lunch before heading down and tackling the second big hill. When we rode this route in February we did a really long day (151k) in some pretty hot weather and I remember those two hills as being really tough. The bottom of the first hill is actually quite pleasant and as we started up I thought, well maybe it was just the circumstances last time that made it hard and Roman will think we are weaklings when he starts up the climb. Well, it only took a few turns before the road gradient moved to the 8-10% level and it was just as hard as I remembered! Pretty ride though, very little traffic and some shade from the trees lining the road helped lessen some of the pain.
Lunch at the top of Cox Hill was a welcome rest, and the chicken sandwich went down a treat. I actually only bought one, thinking Dave and I could just share it as we had a huge sandwich from that same cafe yesterday and I knew we didn’t both need a whole one. Well, when it came out of the kitchen at the cafe it was relatively small so thankfully I added in a muffin, so we had that to share also at the top. Dave was eyeing my half of the sandwich so I had to assume a defensive position to make sure I got it eaten before he could grab it. I had a hold of the muffin so I could split it fairly in half, not a ‘Dave half’ as he likes to do. We rested a bit and Roman arrived to eat his whole sandwich – we both had a bit of envy but then were happy not to have a full stomach when we headed up the next hill.
We arrived at the Bylong store about 2:00, and sat in the picnic tables outside with a coffee and an ice cream bar to reward ourselves for a good day. We have set up camp across the road at the community park ($10/tent), though we had to move the tents from our initial spot as a magpie took offense to our location. We moved down the way a bit, way from him but as we were setting up the tents he came swooping down again. So, it seems he is claiming the whole of the back line of the park. We gave up and just set the tents up and have all had to deal with his swooping us multiple times, both at the tent site and as we walked over to get a shower. He seems to have taken a dislike to all of us, and has just swooped me as I sit at a table in the children’s playground typing this. I know these are supposed to be protected birds but at some point you have to protect yourself!
We’re cooking dinner here at the park and I think it will be an early night once we have eaten. Roman is trying out a very light bivvy sack for his sleeping quarters. And I mean it is really a sack, a bit like a coffin really. But, it is longer than his bed last night so he is hopeful that he’ll get a good night’s sleep tonight.