Tuesday, November 19, 2013

Running on empty

Well, this is what happens when I'm behind on sleep. Trying to crawl out of the black hole of an epic bonk. Hoping one little muffin will help. Washing it down with instant coffee.

It all started when I had to stop two-thirds of the way up a hew-mongous, steep roller coming into Jingellic. Lose the vest and roll it up, force down something from a back pocket, note that I haven't been drinking enough. Give myself a little pep talk there by the side of the road. All while applying a messy dollop of Lantiseptic to what we'll call the affected area.

Thereafter resolving to be a tourist today. Rebel against the death march. Take photos, with abandon, no matter what expression the subject might be wearing.

Riding solo is great, liberating and scary at the same time. Stop for photos. Ride at my own pace. Stay inside my own head. The problem with all this is, on Day 3 the body needs constant tending.

For example, I've burned through a large breakfast in under 3 hours. Fallen seriously, seriously behind on fuel. The clues, in order of arrival: 1. Stomach so empty it hurts 2. Lightheaded, in a stupor 3. No power in the legs 4. Not thinking straight. Left alone, it's a downward spiral. Putting the whole tourist thing on hold.

Jingellic is no more than a crossroads, really. A store on one corner, hotel on the other. A big, hot breakfast, unfortunately not in the cards.

In fact, cyclists are the only thing there's plenty of! At the moment we outnumber locals by a wide margin... On a warm spring morning, you might expect the mood to be upbeat. It's weirdly quiet around the camp chairs. Faces are not eager. People are having trouble sitting down and standing up.

I manage to choke down a muffin. One muffin, nowhere near enough. Nothing looks good. Can't look another banana in the face. As the market opens its doors, Wayne from Perth heads over to pick up some Mars bars. Yuck! Plenty of food in my pocket. I'll be fine as long as I eat that. Want to keep moving.

Around the corner, onto a sturdy low bridge and...

...even someone in an altered state can tell it's the Murray River. Has to be, the border of New South Wales and Victoria. Can hardly believe it! Like us, the water has tumbled out of the Snowy Mountains and slowly wound around, landing here. A moment of euphoria visits me, like a fragile soap bubble. Then it dissolves. Time to press on.

The route follows a road along the river. It looks easy but with a decent headwind, progress is slow. Wayne motors by. We ride together for a minute, then he hops on the rear wheel of a guy who's going even faster. They seem so happy! Like they're on a different ride.

Wayne drifts back for a moment and says something like you should eat something. Nibble, nibble, nibble all day long. Want a Mars bar? Then like a character in a dream, he takes off.

Rebel no more, I reach back into a pocket and wrestle out a baggie of potatoes. It was a good move, cooking these in Orlando's kitchen. Dousing them with olive oil and salt, stashing them in my duffle. You never really know when there will be a need.

Now is the time.

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