Difficulty- Sam 6, Shanna 6
The air was cool in the early morning as we packed up and prepared breakfast. We were sticking to our plan of cycling to Kew before it got too hot – and as long as there were no big hills we were confident we could do it. It was tempting to sit out the hot day, we we decided that we couldn’t stay still, we had to keep moving towards Brisbane.
We were on the road at 7.20am and managed a good pace. The air was still cool and the road was flat. Within an hour we’d made it 25km and it looked like we’d get to Kew well before 10am!
But that’s when the roadworks hit.
For a couple of days people had been warning us about the roadworks up ahead but conditions had been so good on the highway so far – large, sealed shoulders to ride on – that we didn’t think the works would effect us much. We figured they couldn’t really slow down cyclists so we’d cruise through.
But it seems that as part of the Pacific Highway upgrade they didn’t think too hard about providing facilities for cyclists during construction. When we had a kerb to ride on it was narrow and often covered with gravel. On many occasions the kerb was completely non-existent and there was nowhere for us to ride except in the narrow single lane with the trucks. Sam often rode behind Shanna to keep an eye out for the trucks behind us and to yell at Shanna to move as far left as possible between the concrete barrier and the fast-approaching semi when a big truck was rearing down on us. On these occasions when there was no shoulder for us to ride on the trucks came mighty close. But we won’t go on too much because our parents might read this and we don’t want to worry them…
Needless to say our skills steered us through 26km of roadworks and we arrived in Kew shaken, but still alive...
Our legs were tired and the temperature was approaching 40 so we felt lucky to have arrived fairly quickly following a relatively easy morning.
We pulled in at the first road house to buy a cold drink and asked the owner about accommodation options in Kew. He unenthusiastically said there were none, and we were better off either heading 15km to Laurieton (to the coast, and away from the highway) or another 50km or so up the highway to Telegraph Point. Not very good news for two cyclists who were hoping to be finished for the day! We could see a motel up the road but didn’t really want to spend a heap of money on a dodgy room for one night in a hole of a town, and Shanna wasn’t particularly looking forward to finding somewhere to spend the day (and night) in 40 degree heat!
But luckily, the night before we’d briefly read part of the crazyguyonabike’s blog from when he rode this way less than a year ago, were he mentioned staying at the pub and getting brekky included for a reasonable price. So we headed there. While we did pay more than him, we reasoned that there were two of us. And it seemed that $35 for both of us was a good deal when it included checking in at the unusually early time of 11am, continental breakfast in the morning, showers, a safe place to store our bikes, a TV in our room and power to recharge batteries etc. We decided it was well worth it and felt grateful for somewhere to get out of the heat for the day.
On all our maps Kew appeared on the road, but as we’d approached it during the day it became clear that the town had recently been bypassed as part of the works that were threatening our lives. While we were in the town many of the locals spoke about how the town had been bypassed a week before Christmas and businesses were closing or had already left. We could see three service stations had closed – leaving only one left – and many cafes had shut their doors. Everyone was wondering who would close next. Except the pub, they were doing a roaring trade with the locals and road workers.
Later in the afternoon we realised we’d picked the worst day of the week to come – a Friday. The pub was very busy and noisy with people enjoying the end of the week. Around 9pm we decided it was time to sleep – another hot day was predicted and we set the alarm for 5.30am to get up and ride 72km to Kempsey. The heat was stifling and we fell asleep wrapped in wet towels.
(We just went to upload this and some of the text was deleted... very annoying!)
Sam and Shanna Evans are from Melbourne, Australia