End: Kurow Holiday Park
Check out the rest of the trip here!
I got an early start on day 3 after a comfortable night sleep in Johnny’s bunkhouse. I knew I was already behind schedule, so I hoped to make up some serious ground. As soon as I rejoined the gravel roads, I realized that was unlikely to happen. The route was somewhat uphill towards Dansey’s Pass. The looser gravel and uphill grade; combined with my 75 lbs of bike, gear, and water; made progress slow. I realized how long my day was going to be as I hit the lower slopes of the climb.
The climb was steep and the day was very hot. At times it was all I could do to go about 3-4mph as my wheels would slip on the steeper grades where the gravel was loose. Every time a car came by – and I would like to emphasize the surprising number of cars that seemed to fly down the mountain – I had to dismount and pull over. The track was just too narrow for me to feel safe riding by. I would then have to push the bike until I hit a section that was “flat” enough for me to attempt restarting. By the time I had summited the first peak, it was nearly noon. I descended down to the saddle between the two climbs and sat down to have lunch. I cooked some couscous and vegetables to give me some power for the rest of the day. I had it down to a science at this point. Simmer the vegetables in some water. Add a bit more water and then cook a full pot of couscous. Eat half, and snap the lid shut to save the leftovers. They tend to keep for a couple days with no refrigeration. I realized that I was fairly low on water that was meant to last me most of the day. Luckily a farmer drove by on the way to his property. He topped me off and wished me good luck.
The second climb was shorter, but I was quite tired. Eventually I made it over the top and onto the descent. This was a lot of fun as I got my gravel on. I have to say, my Kona Sutra handled beautifully down the gravel switchbacks, even while fully loaded. Around 2 or 3 pm I passed the campground I was supposed to stay at the previous night. Holy smokes. Thank goodness Adrian found me when he did, or I might have been out there all night. The gravel turned into pavement on a hill that was quite literally too steep for gravel to stay on it. I crested this hill, THRILLED that I was out of the rocky stuff, only to realize I was now fighting strong, gusty headwinds. F*CK I yelled into the wind. I was already way behind schedule, and this was not helping. I fought the wind for another couple hours until I saw the most beautiful thing so far this trip. My turn off.
As soon as I made this left turn the wind was now off my right quarter. I went from fighting to go 7 mph on the flats, to about 15mph as I trended slightly uphill. I had hoped to push as hard as I could for as long as I could. Instead, a nasty looking line of clouds started to follow me with the wind. I saw a campground about 15 miles from the turn and decided to shelter there. I got a patch of grass next to another bike-packer! We both cooked in the little kitchen and chatted about our days. I went down to the local Speights pub to have a pint and shoot some pool with the locals. They were a…rowdy…bunch. I tucked myself in early to get ready for the next day. 95 miles with 2000 more feet of elevation gain than loss. It was time to get back on schedule.