June 9: 62.1 / Full Spectra

What an eventful day! I saw both sides of things in a lot of different respects.

First of all, I completed my first metric century - 100 km in one day! It wasn't exactly in the plans when I woke up, mainly because I didn't know exactly where I was or where I was going! I slept well on the back porch of The Bellbird Hotel, feeling especially accomplished that my tent stood all night rigged up with only two strings (it's not a freestanding tent). At 9:15 I left and realized I'd forgotten which way I'd come in the previous night. Luckily the Sun was out and, even more luckily, it tends to have risen in the East pretty consistently since, uh, the dawn of time. I rode West towards a few potential destinations (but not many, as towns are still few and spread out). By my calculations based on previous research and the prior day's distance, I thought the town of Lakes Entrance was about 80 km. The hotel guy said it was 100. I decided to go for it anyway.

Morning was beautiful - not a cloud in the sky for the first two hours of riding. However, hills were relentless at the start. I had the rude awakening of a 1 km steep, consistent climb straight out of the hotel, during which I yelled at my legs that it was time to wake up. After that, there were the normal ups and downs through forested territory followed by a 6 km climb and 5 km downhill at some locally-notable mountain/hill that I'd been warned about. It wasn't all too bad but I was happy to get it over with early.

I came into a town called Orbost at 11:30, my scheduled lunch point. I had a much-needed burger, fries, and milkshake. Orbost was pretty cute and might've been cool to look around a bit more, but I was on a schedule and probably saw most of it just by checking out all the different diners anyway. I left at 1 pm to overcast skies and got hit with a little rain. This was only a minor setback for a cyclist on hamburger fuel! Seriously, I've had my best days when I stop and get the cheapest, greasy burger I can find at lunch. I think there is no amount of calories that I wouldn't be able to burn off with this lifestyle and I've gotta take advantage of it more! Maybe two burgers next time...

From Orbost, I had some of my favorite roads yet! The landscape flattened out significantly and turned into farmland, completely contrasting the morning ride through forest. This brought a little more headwind because of the lack of tree cover, but no matter. The flat, straight roads were a total blessing. I think I was on the longest, flattest stretch yet - probably about 20 miles! The shoulders were nice and wide the entire time and clean since there were minimal branches above which would've become storm debris. I even saw my first emus! Two of them were running parallel to my bike at about the same speed for a quarter mile or so. Vic highways, you get a gold star for this stretch. I was able to blaze through it comfortably at 15-20 mph with minimal stopping or slowing.

I did have my first breakdown somewhere getting into the beginning of the flat region (post-lunch, pre-emus). The screw holding in my left front rack snapped clean through at the fork. There's a lot of stress on that point since the front holds more weight than the back and also connects the front fender. Fortunately, I had a spare screw in a neatly organized spare parts bag and it only took twenty minutes or so to get it put back together.

Of course, in the last few miles before Lakes Entrance, I got completely nailed by a sudden downpour. Soaked to the bone yet so close, I didn't even bother with rain covers on my front panniers, frame pouch, or sleeping bag. I made it to the hostel and my odometer read 59.something, so I did a couple of laps in the parking lot and just kept going into town to get the last couple of miles. I made it to a grocery store, grabbed supplies for dinner, and headed back. Sure enough, as I pulled back into the hostel's lot, the odometer read exactly 62.1! What I felt at that point was a confusing mix of joy, relief, knee pain and general "jello legs", and cold. Feeling I'd earned a shower and a bed in the $25 hostel and only being reassured of my decision by the freezing rain, I went inside and snacked on groceries while I warmed up.

I believe I even had a normal night in a hostel! My roommates are a soon-to-be associate finance professor at Cal Poly (alright, but shouldn't you be in a hotel, by now?) and a guy from Belgium. I talked to a couple of British guys in the common room and got to do something that I've missed more than I like to admit: mindlessly watching TV. They were watching some really bad movies, so I zoned out and watched The Nutty Professor 2 and all three of us fell asleep on respective couches to Alien vs Predator. After all, it's the only room with actual heating (space heater in the bunk room) and the couches are probably more comfortable than the beds.

I saw steep, forested hills and flat farmland, 3-mile ascents and 3-mile straightaways, totally clear skies and total downpours, hamburger super strength and frustrating breakdowns, and everything in between today. Everything's playing out alright. Only a few more days til Melbourne...


Today's stats:
Total dist: 62.19 miles
Total time: 5 hours 2 mins
Avg speed: 12.35 mph
Max speed: 29.84 mph

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