June 10: Burnin' Without Turnin' / Another 100+ km

Lots of things fell very nicely into place today - I had a great ride (even more mileage than yesterday), great weather, and a fair share of memorable occurrences. I was slow getting out this morning and the only reason I can find is that I was still tired and sore from yesterday. My first recollection of the day is waking up to my assistant professor roommate being startled, even frightened, by his own alarm at 6 am. Comical, but I went back to sleep for another hour, made a big breakfast, and took off around 9:45.

My knees were in pain after about a half block, clearly upset with their expected performance so many days in a row. I pushed through it for awhile until I came to a steep hill with bad shoulders getting out of the town area. While walking the hill, I noticed a bunch of people lined up with cameras ready at a car pull-off area. For me?! Before I could even answer that rhetorical question, a parade of vintage cars about 150 long started coming past. I had no choice but to stand and watch as these old machines wound their way up the mountainside. Most were from the 40s-50s, I'd guess. I took pictures and some video, of course. The whole convoy lasted around 10 minutes.

From there, my legs woke up and I got back into the dreamy, flat straightaways. They were so fantastic that I didn't even stop for another 20 miles - I rode straight into Bairnsdale for my lunch break. On the way, I hopped on 10 km of "rail trail" - same principle as the prairie path through the western suburbs at home. It was here that I had my first negative encounter with an animal! Ironically, it was someone's pet dog. Their yard backed up to the path and before I could even see it coming, the dog was alongside by back left pannier and nipping at my ankle. He never got me but I was still plenty annoyed.

At lunch, I DID buy the aforementioned two hamburgers, but I pocketed one for down the road. After talking about my post-highway-split route with kind info center workers, studying maps, and lounging in a park, I departed around 1:30.

What followed was nothing but long, straight, and flat farmland. There isn't even much to say that would be a deviation from elaboration on the length, straightness, or flatness! Sure, there were rolling hills and turns here and there, but compared to the first week and a half, this was easy. Respiratory-wise, I felt like I could run a marathon. I was limited mostly by my sore knees and aimed to give them a break every ten miles.

Along this stretch I had one of my favorite encounters yet, although brief, with a potato farmer. I was on a break across from his driveway checking my maps. The exchange went something like this:
Him: "Hey! Hey you!"
Me: "Uh, yeah?"
"You lookin for a place to stay tonight? A place to rest your head?"
"Oh, thanks, but no. I'm hoping to make it a little further today."
"Ah, ok.  What are you, German?"
"Well, I'm from around Chicago..."
"AH! A Yankee! Well alright!..."

I got a couple more minutes of banter and advice out of the friendly, old, big-bearded guy before he "sent me along on my journey." It was encouraging that someone has actually sought me out and offered up their place; I was bummed that I didn't get to as I'm sure it would've been more interesting than it initially sounds to stay with a potato farmer. The point will remain that I got called a Yankee by an Australian potato farmer.

I had less than ten miles left to my destination, another small town called Maffra. I exited the princes highway for potentially the last time (so sad! So many memories!) and found country roads. I rode another rail trail for a few miles before deeming it uselessly soggy and returning to the pavement. The idea from here is to cut across country roads and avoid the princes highway, which, although it's been very faithful, now becomes the princes freeway as we approach Melbourne.

I'm at my campsite now in Maffra and it's pretty bad. It's just a spider-infested RV park next to some kind of plant that's still operational at 11:30 pm on a Sunday. I think there are only two tenants here right now. There's nobody even working the office today, so I had to call the guy and I'm on the honors system to leave $10 under the door on my way out. I didn't feel much like setting up my stove and cleaning it, so I took an old hint from my friend John in Sydney and bought an entire oven-roasted chicken at Woolworth's, already warm and on sale. Eating about 3/4 of it in my tent without splattering it everywhere remains my biggest victory of the day, no matter what distance I covered.


PS I will post a tutorial on "how to eat an entire chicken inside a backpacker's tent without getting it everywhere" if my readers may deem it potentially useful.

Today's stats:
Total dist: 64.88 mi
Total time: 5 hours 30 mins
Avg speed: 11.78 mph
Max speed: 25.13 mph


  1. Oh, it would be sufficiently useful alright! I'm a bit of a messy eater, so any tips (especially if they include some of your humor you work into your entries) would be greatly appreciated.

    Sounding good, mike!

  2. Mike, I would read it for humor [ humour ;-) ] content alone! - UT

  3. Congrats! It has to feel great to have done it...and to be done with it. Now you can relax and be tha explorer. Sue and I are at grandma's; she had a tooth pulled today -grandma, not Sue. She's doing fine.

    We're all very proud of you. - UT