Phil Anderson Road Trip

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Posted on: 3rd September 2016

Gravel Riding


Next stop Foster, once a keen triathlete I was interested in a stop in the area. We stayed in the Butti Butti National Park, after a fantastic morning ride, a simple out and back training ride on the made, Wisemans ferry road. It was beautiful and the ride restored my faith in my ability to ride, a bit.

Foster was a bit sad, the camp ground was like a wind swept footy ground but the ranger was pretty keen on our rig. He seemed to be a skoda fan and was totally impressed with the way we had rigged out the car. Style icon, award hands down as far as he was concerned.

We have been observing some of the nomads and ever respectful of those older than us, we have paid attention and changed some of the packing. Originally,tent in the boot, on top, out first. Now, food box and esky at the back, open the boot and voila the pantry is ever ready. The tent is accessed from the back side door. We did forget the thermos though.

We only stayed the one night and morning in Foster. Some feint hope that it would be the destination of the fit and healthy given its iconic Ironman history left me disappointed. The best sign of a good stop is always the bread. I asked a few locals if there was a health food shop or baker where I could get a good sourdough bread. Bakers Delight, yeah no.  

This little guy liked the Skoda too.

From Foster we pressed on, a day off the bike necessitated by a fatal camping error and a requirement for repairs. 

The next destination was south west rocks Aracun. Trial Bay Jail camp ground was the goal and despite our delay we made in time to set up to the sunset and settle in before dark. We shared a campfire with neighbouring campers and went to bed content. Warned about the animals and kangaroos aplenty I woke startled in the middle of the night to a huge kangaroo standing tall in our annex, perhaps there are advantages to campers. He was well aware we were there, I had elbowed Phil hard, look look. That big guy just sat there on his tail, ears twitching as he checked out the table and annex for supplies.

The next night, I am sure it was the same guy, munching the grass around us by the fire un-perturbed by the human presence. We settled into the camp fire routine, wood supplied by fellow nomads who lived close to home in Torquay. A short time later a strange noise alerted us to the fact that boot, left open was being raided by the kangaroo. He had crept up to the skoda and was trying to get the plastic lid off our food box to access the goodies inside, Cheeky bugger

Day 3

We woke late, casual camp coffee and breakfast. Phil, ever planning ‘the ride’ had mapped out 80ks with a short cut option for me if needed. The sun was shining and we relaxed pottering around the camp and as consequence started the ride late. We explored the camp on the bikes and rolled into town, South West rocks and decided to have something to eat. Phil, ever hungry had the burger with the lot, but too early for lunch and with a big ride planned I had some date loaf as I didn’t want a heavy load in the tummy. Fatal error, in hindsight.

I guess when the first 1.5km of the 80km planned ride took 50 minutes I should have twigged this was going to be a PA epic. Silky white un-rideable sand track, even Phil had to walk most of it. We had mountain bike tires on the front but it was impossible. I decided to concentrate on my pushing skills and by now I figured I was pretty good at it. I realised I could only push from the left. I am a lefty and wondering if all that pushing was causing a sore neck I tried to push from the right and keep my core balanced. Tricky work this mastering the ambidexterous pushing. I had the time, we were going nowhere at this rate.

Finally out and onto a real road, before deviating onto what turned out to be a private road with vicious guard dog signs, back to the burbs and out to the open road. Joyous riding, chasing the great PA and trying to keep/get fit. The planned ride was out to Hat head National Park via Smithfield and turning for Hat head with home in sight life was great but admittedly I was starting to tire.

Phil stopped and suggested a short cut around the national park on a bush trail. It started well and I was able to negotiate the lanes of a 4 wheel drive track. The track started to get tricky and I was off more than on but eminently ridable. At one point a scurrying in the bush had us both stop. A huge Goanna had been feasting on a dead kangaroo and was startled by the 2 bike riders. Up a tree it went, huge. OMG.

Terrified I rode on and as the track deteriorated to silky white sand with occasional riding sections we stopped to discuss the options. A supposed short cut (it was on the map) was not apparent and time was pressing on. Light faded fast, no Victorian twilight here and there were some kms go. There was a slight sense of panic as my skills were just not up to the job. Phil was always about 50m ahead, reconnaissance or out of earshot, I am not sure. In essence I had to ride and the Slate, was put to a brutal test.

A, I am a shit rider, B, Goannas were on my mind and I rode, skirting the road over a forrest of sticks, gnarly nasty prickly branches a preferences to the white sinking sand that constituted the track. Anything was better than the sand. Some sections were so rocky as to warrant a lot of cursing, occasional riding and a lot of trying to ride. The slate has proven to be a master at being pushed, light and capable, the stiff frame works a treat when being manhandled by a grumpy old woman. When I stopped to pull a 2cm thorn from my leg to stop the blood flow my day was complete.

A happier ride

As dusk drew close the track turned to road. At tracks end I said to Phil, how far, I just want to know, set my mind to the task and to get home. No lunch, huge Goannas, I was done. 5km to go.

The sweetness of a camp ground with a hot shower, followed by the perfect energizer, a beer. Yak or something then food. 

 What a day with PA.

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