Monday, November 18, 2013

Good to see you

I remember a few things about Cooma.

First, the hill outside of town. You don't know you're close because the town is hiding behind it. Or maybe the next hill, or the one after that. Anyway…

The second thing is cresting a little bump just before town, and seeing a display with the words "The Snowy Mountains Scheme" across the top. Big color picture boards on the left shoulder. For a park or something, professionally done.

Giant, humongous, epic Golden Arches. I mean, grotesquely tall. My stomach is empty but also upset. If only Mickey D's looked good...

The park on the right. A sunny Monday morning, the main drag full of distractions. Easy to miss the volunteer in his bright orange T-shirt. He tries to be far enough in the road for us to notice and not so far as to get run over. It's a fine line! There's a lawn and restrooms and an outdoor stage where the control is set up.

Those blue jerseys. Mark and Rick walking around on the stage! It was a long four hours to Bredbo this morning. Passing the Bredbo Inn made me think of not so much the Man From Snowy River but brave cyclists, riding into the wee hours. Wasn't sure we'd see them again.

The control stamp on my card, 9:15 am. Not bad! Right in the middle of the time window. OK, 82 miles in ~6 hours isn't fast but it is surviving. Surviving is good.

Then without warning, a wave of heaviness. At the same time my head somehow feels weightless, empty. It's because I'm totally, utterly hammered. Lack of fuel. Pockets full of bars and gels, untouched. Lack of coffee, lack of sleep… Not human.

David comes up, thanks me for all the pulling and happily insists on buying coffee. Ah, pulling! Right. I must be blinking into the sun because he says cheerfully, "Wow, you look like you just woke up!"

(Lucky for him, no sassy left…)

Coffee it is. Yes. Meet at the place across the street. Yes.

Word is that the other cafe in town is no longer serving. So swamped was the owner by cyclists in search of caffeine…that he gave up.

The process of coming back to life is gradual, very gradual. The coffee place, literally steps away from a large supermarket, exerts a gravitational pull on my body. One banana and one bar, 82 miles. The sandwiches at the control, no go. And there will be no heading into the mountains on an empty tank. Finally, I break free to search for food.

Lucky for me, they have the drinkable yogurt. I remember the cool plastic bottles, the green labels, the vanilla and raspberry flavors, the sweetness. In just a few minutes, the way it makes me feel human.  More than anything else, I remember that.

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