Wednesday, November 20, 2013

Drugs of choice

We pass a turn for Alexandra, ancestral home of David. The first David, from Day 2. He lives in Melbourne now, but was born in Alexandra. He got an even later start from Mansfield and caught us at a mini-mart on the Goulburn Highway. 

We pass a turn for Lake Eildon, where I once spent a relaxing week on a houseboat. My family at home did not relax, so this was a new experience. There were no smartphones, but even then it was a relief to leave the phone and TV behind and do jigsaw puzzles and play cards by the light of an oil lamp. The people were the focus, and I remember Rob and Margo and Megan and Suzanne. I do not remember what we ate, or whether I brought a book. Probably I did. One of the rare times we went onshore I remember buying a white V-neck T-shirt with the words Lake Eildon on it. No one from home knew what it meant.

A volunteer at Mansfield, a kind woman who kept handing me delicious food and making it harder to leave, warned about a hill just before Yea. She calls it a "bitch of a hill" before apologizing for her language.

This photo is a marker because the hill has to be coming up... this might be the last place I'm known to be alive. Now I'm documenting my whereabouts for the search and rescue operation.

At the time I thought she might be exaggerating for effect, but no, it's a steep, exposed sucker. About 2 miles total in a couple of segments. We can see it rise up in front of us and then we're climbing it. My legs are telling me they don't have that many of these left in them. They want the granny gear, and they get it.

I'm so glad to be approaching Yea. At 77 km (50 mi). And then, it's a town that's trying a bit too hard, with a main drag but not much worthwhile. The control is just a control, meaning we have to seek food on our own. I'm not hungry. But I happen to land at the same coffee shop as Hamish and David. It's filled with locals. Ordering seems to take forever, and this seems quite funny. All the rushing and panic and effort and urgency to get here, stand in line and wait.

And the young woman says "cup or mug?" when I order my coffee. "Cup or mug?" I still don't understand. It seems like a bad movie. She shares her exasperation with a coworker, using facial expressions, and eventually just gives me coffee and some kind of cake. Gluten be dammed, it's fuel.

Back at the table I ask David and Hamish, "is that a standard question, cup or mug? What does that mean?" David confirms it is standard and they're both laughing. It's a way, apparently, of saying small or large. Or if you're into Starbucks lingo, tall or grande. Like Starbucks, I'm looking for the "I could care less" default option. But it doesn't exist. You can't have that. I'm grateful to just get coffee.

David is teasing me about medication. He's showing me that he's taken some ibuprofen.

Somehow I made the mistake of offering what is in the US over-the-counter medication to David, at some point on Day 2. And I'm never going to live it down. I carry this little packet on every brevet, containing Zantac, caffeine, Advil, melatonin (for sleep after a long day), and caffeine. Oh, and for pain emergencies, one sample packet of a COX-2 inhibitor that was at some point banned by the FDA. And some echinacea, in case I'm getting sick.

This stuff weighs almost nothing and it rides in the handlebar bag in case I need it.

So I made the mistake of letting David know that I had these in stock, should he need them. Just as a friendly gesture. Hey, sometimes the right harmless drug can mean the difference between finishing and DNF. And he's turned it into some kind of running joke. The American with the portable pharmacy.  I forgot that other cultures don't really have OTC medication and David, a principled person, views this as, well, pushing.

He's showing me this in the photo to say "even I, a tough Aussie who plays by the rules, have taken some painkillers at this point".

2 comments :

  1. From David... This photo and you comment have put a smile on my face that no drug could ever emulate with pride. I really dont believe in medication and I live by this simple principle. I feel that if you are too quick to grab for it, when you may not really need it, when you do really need it, it wont work the way it was intended as you body is used to it and the effects are less. Yes, it was a running joke, but just because it made you smile and I always think that a smile takes away the pain ! Im not really a tough Aussie and as I said above, I really needed it.. Great to share some moments in time with you. You inspired me, even before I knew your story.. Compared to you, I'm definately not very tough !! Keep up the good work. PS. I rode through a town called Elaine ! Its between Meridith and Gordon !! True.. North of Teesdale and Maude !!

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  2. On Medication. I am very lucky I dont need any daily medication and I feel sorry for anyone who does, who has a condition that can only be controlled by medication. ie. Diabetes - Insulin, etc. That is tough ! In Australia, they hand out broad spectrum antibiotics to anyone who will take them and I think this is wrong ! I plan to do the PBP next year. My first and I am so looking forward to it.

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