June 2: Rained In, Rained On, Rained Out

I woke up to grey skies on my riverbank. City market vendors were setting up their stands and tents as I was about to take down my own. While I was packing up and eating breakfast inside my tent, it started raining. I waited it out and internetted, mindlessly blowing through some of my cell phone's little data allotment. I packed up my wet tent about 9 in a drizzle and made my way out right as it started pouring. Damn! I had wanted to buy a hat, a book, and maybe some vegetables at the market. Instead, I returned to my bbq site from the night before in full rain gear (my bike and I look like a canary). I charged my phone in their weird ceiling outlets and decided I'd walk through town a bit. I stopped at a book store and read some TS Eliot (a favorite), and, deciding Moruya had little else to offer, finally set out at about 10:30.

I rode along trying to keep a balance between warm and not sweating through all of my layers. The rain and cold caught up with me pretty quickly, though. It was around 45 degrees and raining all day with the wind in my face. I stopped in a church outside of Bodalla to warm up and I changed all of my upper layers, socks, and put on another pair of shorts. I stayed there for about an hour and a half feeling like I was on the brink of pneumonia. At some point, I moved around enough and figured I best try to make it somewhere warm for the night, so I took off towards a youth hostel in Narooma, a mere 12 miles away.

Riding on double butt pads (from the two pairs of pants) I went slowly down the princes highway. Oh yeah, and THE HILLS. THE HILLS ARE BACK. They were the worst I'd seen since coming out of Sydney the first couple days.

Around 3 pm I had an uplifting moment - I ran into the first other bike tourist I've seen! Grant (aroundthepaddock-grant.Blogspot.com) is 52, has done several tours in Australia, and was on his 49th day of making it all the way around the continent. We exchanged blog links and info on the terrain, weather, and accommodations ahead, took a couple pictures, and parted ways. Aside from how much we both complained to each other about the hills, it was very inspiring and makes my journey seem easy, hah!

I got to my hostel about 4:30 and had a really, REALLY interesting night. I was put in a 6-bed bunk room with one other guy, Brendan, a drunk "revolutionary" probably in his late 20s. He began by trying to get me into some sort of pseudo-deep political/conspiratorial/existential debate with him, which ultimately disappointed him greatly because he wasn't getting the answers he wanted out of me and I was being a smart ass for a lot of the time just to try to deal with it on my end. After about an hour, he gave up, we dropped it and went to the grocery store. He felt bad about it all, so he offered that we cook the rest of his food together (he was set to leave in the morning) and he bought us a bunch of crappy drinks (Australian equivalents of flavored Smirnoff ice, ish). I cooked our dinner - beef stir fry over spaghetti. Right as we started eating, he found some people in the common room who'd been at some conference and had a ton of leftover food, so he suggested that I bag mine up for my pack and check it out. We did and they turned out to be somewhat nice 30-somethings, two girls and a guy from Sydney. We ate and drank together, I did my best to hold conversation while they mostly played with their iPhones (why do people do that?). The guy warned me that there's a storm front coming through and I won't be riding for the next 3 days... We'll see. Maybe he was just a pessimist and I can at least get a few miles in each day. I finished drinking their beer when I had to stop my roommate from declaring war on every other room in the hostel/motel. He was getting into trouble so I put him to bed. We were supposed to watch a movie, which I was looking forward to, but it was definitely best that he had passed out by the time I got out of the shower. If nothing else, I got a pretty entertaining night, some free drinks and food, and good stories out of meeting him.

I'm a little disappointed in the distance but I guess I'm adjusting to the weather. It looks like it won't get any better until Tuesday. I'm just going to layer up and try to stay warm and dry. It's getting cooler as I go further South - probably won't get back to 60 degrees for at least a few days when this storm front moves through. From Grant's assessment, it sounds like it won't flatten out much from here either (he'd said this stretch was his hardest yet for multiple reasons). I think I've got a rough few days ahead of me. Wish me luck in the cold, headwinds, rain, and hills!


Today's stats:
Total dist: 27.59 mi
Total time: 2 hours 30 mins
Avg speed: 11.05 mph
Max speed: 34.02 mph

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