Wednesday 27 January
Difficulty - Shanna 9, Sam 8
Distance - 75km
Weather - Hot and windy, cooled with a storm in the afternoon
This was the day that Shanna cracked. The day she exclaimed "I want to go home now!"
We left the caravan park 6km north of Coffs a bit later than planned and hit the wind and hot sun straight away. Shanna was struggling with tired legs and the knowledge that the road surface was slowing her down drastically. After one too many hills she yelled at Sam when he filmed her reaching the top of the hill. Why would anyone want to see her huffing and puffing to the top of a hill with sweat dripping off her?? After a small (middlesize) tanty she got back on the bike and they kept struggling towards Grafton.
At about midday at the summit of one of the biggest and steepest hills we had yet climbed, Shanna got a piece of wire through her tyre and the tube went flat. In the baking sun Sam repaired the hole, sweat pouring off him while Shanna decided not to complain any more that day. When the tube was patched and the tyre back on it wouldn't pump up, so it all had to be done again with a new tube put in.
The tyre reinflated, we stopped at the next servo, which was luckily only a couple of kilometres away, and enjoyed some cold drinks and simple meals of bacon and eggs and ham and cheese on toast at the restaurant.
While we rested the wind remarkably shifted, and to just to top it all off the sun went behind the clouds. Now was the time to move, quick said Sam, lets get out there while the wind is in our backs! Back out on the road the better conditions allowed us to ride the final, very hilly 30km to Grafton much easier than the first half of the day, when at lunch we'd thought we couldn't make it.
As we arrived in Grafton the heavens began to crack with thunder, and the rain, preceded by lightning started coming down just as we managed to push our bikes up the stairs at Maccas. At th McDonalds we met some really nice people - including a Belgian couple who gave us their details to meet up when we get over there, and a Gold Coast couple who invited us to stay with them when we get up there.
It was still raining when we finished in McDonalds but we decided to ride a bit further. Leaving Grafton behind with the idea that we'd find a place to camp beside the river we rode 10km through the rain with no luck. We were both wet and tired, so Sam (after feeding Shanny a oie to try and cheer her up) asked a lady who lived on the road if there was anywhere to set up camp (hoping that we could set up in the community hall yard next door). Fortunately (as it was getting dark) she suggested we camp on her front lawn. We did that, and then stripped off into our underwear to shower ourselves under her hose, rubbed cream on our sore parts and enjoyed a delicious dinner of peanut butter and jam sandwiches inside our tent.
The house was right on the highway (although further back than many others), and the passing trucks during the night were SO loud they often woke us up. We're not sure how people live there... or how they get any sleep there, and we reminisced about how quiet good ol' Bayswater really was...
Sam and Shanna Evans are from Melbourne, Australia