May 30th: Progress

Had another really enjoyable and productive day today. The views weren't as scenic (still picturesque and beautiful!), but overall it's getting less hilly. I started out in the small city of wollongong (although probably the biggest I'll see for awhile) and made my way out and down the coast a notable distance! I'm getting a ton better at navigating. One of my main snags is having to ride a mile, stop to check or double check my map or phone GPS, ride a mile, stop, etc. I felt like I was doing that significantly less today.

I stopped after mile 27 in kiama to eat, rest, and check maps from around 12:30-2. I found a couple of prospective campsites online and left.

Outside of kiama, I had some roads that weren't all too pleasant. I rode the bike lane/shoulder of the princes highway for awhile, including a multi-mile backtrack in order to get going the right direction upon getting on. I also rode through a 100 km/hr, one-lane road with a terrible shoulder. It was the alternate route from the highway, but I can't decide which would've been less safe. If anything, it pushed me to keep a better pace. Lunch hit me around this time, too, so from about 2:30 to 5:00 I was pretty much cranking constantly at 16 mph and feeling great. Maybe it was slightly downhill? Maybe there was a tailwind? I'm still not sure whether it was the elements, roads, food digested, or sheer motivation out of fear from the cars whirring past my elbow, but I was really in the groove at the end. For the last 8 miles or so, the shoulder came back, roads were smooth, and I was riding through an agrarian valley, the air thick with the South farms fragrance I know all too well from urbana-champaign. aside from the massive mountains to the West, it was nicely reminiscent of my training.

At 4 I called the campsite I wanted - nowra wildlife area, right on a river, not too far off of my route, and $10 a night with a hot shower. They were really nice and assured me I'd still be able to get a spoot if I showed up after their office closed at 5. I found a little grocery store on the way and bought what was probably too much. Oh well, the more food in me, the better! I'm eating about 4-5 meals a day to keep up with my body.

The campsite guy was nice - he opened the office a half hour late and even suggested I save the $2 on power and charge my phone from the outlet on his RV. There are only two other people camping here from what I can see. There's a Canadian guy whose friend showed up a little later and a van with at least one person, I think Australian but they didn't say much. I spent the night cooking on my camp stove, - an exciting first! I made 4 sausages and spaghetti with pesto and mixed veggies on a single 6"-diameter pan. All turned out well! The camp stove really makes you appreciate cooking from home and the simplicity of turning a single knob on an already.usable surface. The flame went out a couple of times but I think I've got the hang of it now.

I hung out with the Canadian guy and later his friend, too. He had a campfire (essential - I'd say it's about 45 degrees here at night) and we exchanged stories and plans. He's been living at this campsite for a month! Apparently he wakes up every morning and takes a canoe across the river to go rock climbing. Surprisingly (the woman in the hostel specifically told me, "don't stop in nowra. There's nothing there") this town has some of the best rock climbing in Australia and is one of the first sites that started doing it. Cool to be going upwards, I'm sure, but I need to keep going horizontally!


Today's stats:
Total dist: 56.28 mi
Time: 4 hours 50 mins
Avg speed: 11.64 mph
Max speed: 38.11 mph

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