Ride through the lush wine and olive valleys to the jewel of the West Coast, Darling
I woke up before the alarm and was happy to see it was 6.58am and the alarm was set for 7.00am!
After the normal routine of stretches, checking stuff for the day and packing, it was time for breakfast. The setting was by massive picture windows overlooks a beautiful valley. Really nice food too!
We got going at about 9.00am and could already start to feel the heat of the day. We are heading to a town called Darling so the jokes and sayings were flowing as you may expect!
It was a great day. Full of contrasts. Differing scenery (vineyards, towns, arable farms, beef farms), and a 2 mile climb in 30-degree heat (20 mins or so max effort!). The roads were empty and there were half-resurfaced roads with roadworks going on, undulating roads, and an endless long straight road as far as we could see. Mark said it was something like 12 miles long. The skies were clear and blue. We had funny times, hilarious moments, and concerning times.
The first 15 miles were on a busy main road (hard shoulder) then on much nicer minor roads with hardly any traffic but the occasional large truck and combine harvester. Phew!
The 2-mile climb was challenging. At the cafe before I thought it was 5 miles, then heard 5km and then it was 3km. In my mind, I prepared for 4 miles so when I got to the top it seemed like it ended very soon, which I was happy about. We ended up doing it in the heat of the day, all at our own pace. It was through a pass, which was firstly straight and then had a huge long bend. I was leading and realised we were on the outside of the bend so dropped to the other side – there was no central reservation but a wide 4 lane road with wide hard shoulders. Due to the steep camber, that gave a short respite from the constant up hill and was satisfyingly the shorter route. Mark the guide said not many worked that out so well done me!
Richard struggled a lot and was really tired at the top. It was another 8 miles or so to the lunch stop in huge heat but we had plenty of water stops when needed. When we got to lunch he didn’t fancy food or drink and took a nice long nap. He felt better when waking up and did eat. We kept a close eye on him after lunch and he recovered well to get through the day from there.
Before the hill we visited an olive farm and learned all about them – and did some tasting too! We had a coffee stop just down the road.
I was feeling pretty good and was dealing with the heat ok. (I tend to find it really hard in 30 degrees and over.) By late afternoon I was feeling good and we came to a nice and slightly downhill bit, so I got my had down and pushed up the speed. After a while I felt something in my right knee go “crunch”, which I wasn’t happy about, so I eased off and took it really easy for the rest of the day. So far (it’s now 10.45pm) it’s not too bad. Something feels not quite right but it’s not hurting or swollen so that’s a good sign. A good night’s rest and hopefully it will be fine.
Apart from that I’m happy with my fitness levels so far. I’m also happy with the way I am looking after my body. Over the years I have worked out a system of various creams and lotions for before and after the cycling that help all the various places you can imagine that need looking after! I also do more stretches before during and after the rides and, what a surprise, that helps my legs, back and neck too!!!
We arrived in Darling and were happy to see a big sign saying “Welcome Darling”!!
We listen to music sometimes and Keith often plays his. Richard fancied a change so put his player on only for it to play for a few seconds then say it was low on battery. His face was a picture, typical of his day, he couldn’t even listen to music he fancied. A funny moment. (This reminds me of when his iPod was so cold that it wouldn’t work on Kili! Richard mate, you need to break that habit!)
The guest lodge is very nice and comfortable and just after arrival Mark led a stretch session. Richard was asleep by then but the rest of us did it. I have been stretching much more than normal and I think it helps.
Dinner tonight was lovely. Chicken livers and then another steak. When we were ordering, it seemed that more was not available than was: no curry, this beer sold out, that one only 2 bottles, no sweet potato chips, another beer run out. It was quite funny. But it worked well for me as I had a lovely meal with a nice glass of red wine (with lots of water too) I rated both the livers and steak at 9.5 out of 10. Both were cooked really well and were so tender.
That’s it for today. Signing off now as I’m getting sleepy but I’m sure there is loads left out.
Follow all of my travels here on the blog. Thank you to everyone who has donated in support – I’m blown away with the amount raised so far.