Monday, 20 July 2009

Day three: Shepparton to Wangaratta

Tuesday July 7, 2009, 107 km (67 miles) - Total so far: 334 km (208 miles)

I slept quite poorly in the small Woolworths tent but managed to drag myself and the others up at a reasonable hour. James and I ate breakfast together at the caravan park while the others went to Maccers for coffee, and in hindsight, we both made errors of judgement. James burnt his tongue on some hot porridge and I, eager to use up all of my bananas, cooked myself a mash of bananas, dates and prunes, that would come back to haunt me.

Braving the chilly air, we packed up our tents and hit the road. It was very pleasant with the sun shining benevolently down on us and the little traffic there was sharing the road very amicably. As we rode past a farm, this cute little pony came sprinting towards us, seemingly intent on jumping the fence and bowling us over in its excitement. Luckily for all of us, it stopped just shy of the fence, and while we gave its neck a pat, the owner came out and had a friendly chat. This incident epitomised country life for me. People were actually interested in what we were doing (though they were all disappointed to hear we weren't raising money for a charity or anything like that), and were eager to talk about it and offer us help.

Sadly, the enjoyable atmosphere was shattered when the bolt connecting my pannier rack to the frame sheared off for about the seventh time. I was very annoyed and concerned, because the fix up job I did with wire really didn't look that stable. We rode on to Benella, hoping there would be a bike shop there. It was difficult to find, but there was one. The grumpy, old guy behind the counter didn't seem very confident at all that he could fix it, but eventually managed to get a new pannier rack to attach to the bike, complaining all the time about these men invading his bike shop and scaring the customers away (yeah right). By the time it was all fixed, it was 4.30pm and we still had 40km to go.

There was a tail wind behind us, but we were still a good 20k away from Wangaratta when it became necessary to turn our lights on. I further delayed us with a rush for the rest rooms from what I shall politely call a 'fibre overload' incident. Needless to say, the others were a little bit miffed and talk of beer-reparations was rife (I bought a six pack and a round of icypoles the next day:P). Still, it wasn't all bad, because about 20 minutes later, we met up with Justin, whose house we were going to be staying at that night.

Matt Morris and I only knew him vaguely from the running website but he turned out to be the most welcoming, generous and friendly person any of us had ever met. He and his wife Sharon gave us the run of the house and served us a fantastic dinner of pasta bake and salad with golden syrup dumplings for dessert. Over dinner, he and Sharon awed us with their tales of ultra-running (Justin ran 182km in 24hrs two weeks before we arrived and Sharon is likely to be selected for the national Ultra running squad) and cycling (Sharon had just completed a 1500k ride up to Qld in 7 days!).

It was exactly the kind of experience we needed to forget what hadn't been the best of days.

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