Day 122: Near Walla Walla, NSW to Lavington, NSW - Four Legs on the Slow Road - CycleBlaze

December 26, 2014

Day 122: Near Walla Walla, NSW to Lavington, NSW

The night is one of the coolest we've had in this country. Together with the constant movement of the creek, the swaying of the tree branches on subtle breezes, and the total lack of traffic on the nearby road, it's set up for deep sleep better than any place we've camped in so far. And that's what we get; the kind of sleep where we wake up at 6:30 in the morning and can't remember what happened in the nine hours that came before, where the air is just cool enough that it takes incredible mental effort to crawl out of the sleeping bag and get vertical. It's one last Christmas gift from Australia.

The source of the cool becomes obvious as soon as we clear the dirt path leading up from the creek and start heading toward Walla Walla. A strong headwind blows from the southwest, with enough chill in it that our fingers turn stiff and the one layer of clothing we each wear isn't up to the task of keeping us warm. It means that our streak of beautiful summer riding days continues, so instead of trying to guess how many liters of sweat I'll be able to squeeze out of my shirt the next time we stop I fantasize about the pizza that waits for me in Albury, sing Real Estate songs out loud to myself, and watch my mirror to make sure we don't get run off the road by the business end of a wheat harvesting machine.

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We ride with the special kind of fine focus and energy boost that only appear when you have to poop but you're out of paper towels, don't carry toilet paper, and know that the only town that might have a bathroom is eleven wind-blown miles away. On this morning Team Hawthorne rides like our lives and our bicycle shorts depend on it.

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When the decks have been cleared in Jindera, the very next thing we do is walk into the grocery store and come away with a closeout carton of cinnamon-flavored egg nog, a chocolate bar big and flat and heavy enough to use as a weapon, and a sleeve of special edition red velvet Tim Tam cookies. And then we proceed to stand in the shade just to the left of the entrance and eat them all, smiling and laughing and giggling like a couple of complete idiots the entire time. After four months on the road we're not exactly a model of high standards and good decision making when it comes to what we eat and when we eat it, but even I have to step back and ask Kristen, "Are you sure that's a good idea?" as she chugs down one long drink of egg nog after the next.

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It is, in fact, not a good idea. Packed with heavy traffic heading into the major regional city of Albury, the road starts to trend up as it climbs over the low line of hills that stand between us and town. Near the top of the climb I stop, pull off onto the shoulder, and stand looking down at the ground.

"Oooh, yeah, you know what? I feel not so great," I say to Kristen.

"Yeah, me neither. It's not so good right now."

And there we hunch over the bikes for about five minutes, a little weak and a little dizzy. Our stomachs are in the kind of place where puking isn't right at hand, but the idea that it might be coming soon makes it impossible to think about anything else.

Always lead with the fish & chips.
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Somehow we manage not to spray the contents of the world's worst lunch all over the shoulder on the short ride into Lavington and the hostel where we're going to spend the next few nights. Most places like this manage to put themselves in the downtown area of a city, near fun stuff like restaurants and bars and coffee shops and movie theaters. Not here. Here the hostel is a small two-story brick building where the rooms sit above the shower block for the sprawling caravan park and cabins that surround it, in the middle of a suburb two streets over from the mall. If it weren't for car-load full of Germans that arrive at the same time we do, we'd swear we were in the wrong place. But we're hot and tired and ready for a day off, so we shelve the complaints and set about parking ourselves in front of the air conditioner for the next hour.

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We spend the rest of the afternoon and evening and into the night doing exactly nothing that matters except eating terrible pizza. Our ride across Australia has been wonderful so far, but on an extended trip like this one there are times meant for cycling and times meant for laying around like a lazy piece of crap, and this is a time for the latter.

Today's ride: 27 miles (43 km)
Total: 3,721 miles (5,988 km)

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