Australia Blog 11
I’d left 30 miles (to go) as a brief saunter into Coffs Harbour for my day off. Some saunter! I thought I’d leave the soulless motorway and take the Old Pacific Highway. My reward for this decision was lots of climbing. It does go to show that there is only really one route around here.
Coffs Harbour made me immediately think of the USA (except for the uniquely Australian brutally hilly entrance and exit). This town or should I say city, according to my hosts, is again a classic settlement that services the surrounding large area with a Law Court, specialist medical services including surgeons, a library, accountants, lawyers, local government offices etc. The city’s layout is a long straight affair either side of the Pacific Highway with shops and even a mall in the centre and your car dealerships, exhaust replacements, sanitary ware distributors, car washes etc on the long drags at each end of town.
I spent the next day and a half doing usual chores but also getting out and about. I also noted Master Blake’s instruction to eat loads. I did.
In the mall I came across Mel from ‘Morden, at the end of The Northern Line’ working as a sales assistant in a sports and leisure wear store. She helped me find a shirt to buy and when she declared she was a Londoner it was quite a surprise. She’s only been here a few years but has the Aussie accent. This was an out of season job as she and her partner grow organic ginger and turmeric. How cool? Inevitably I had to ask what the draw was to come over here from frantic yet ‘happening’ London. Obviously her partner was the reason but she did volunteer that a previous busy job in TV production had taken its toll on work life balance and she preferred this different lifestyle.
Dave, from a local bike shop, gave me some advice on routes north. It seemed the Pacific Highway was the easiest. He looked like a cyclist and it turned out he was a mechanic on the Australian Triathlon team in Beijing 2008. Again very cool. Less cool was the discovery that my hotel basin didn’t have a plug. I approached Michelle, the hotel manager, to seek one only to be cast a sceptical eye. They got nicked and could I be trusted not to secrete it about my person, leave the hotel unsupervised and then disappear to Blighty with said stopper?
She relented and this was handed across. Needless to say it was too small for the plug hole and useless. So I dug out my wondrous folding travel bowl.
Next day cleaning the bike is a rest day priority and donning my rubber gloves I removed the wheels, inspected and cleaned them. I cleaned the frame and chain with a rag and then restore the bike to its assembled state. All was well and a tribute to Cycle Heaven in York. I then directed my unladen stallion, over a humongous hill, to the other part of Coffs Harbour: the beach.
This part of Coffs Harbour was the coastal residential holiday part of the town. It was beautiful with lots of parkland, cafes, walkways and beaches. Frankly a world away from the busy hub.
Walking round the city I came across a gallery. They were exhibiting two artists. The fabulous paintings below are by Guy Gilmour:
Next to the gallery was a library. I well recollect when crossing the USA how finding a library with its magic broadband was a real find. Today coverage is so much better around the world. Other rest day treats included cranking up Netflix on my iPad and finding a film to watch.
I had researched my next day’s riding. It seemed a demanding run up the motorway. However my mind was put at rest by another early riser at breakfast. He was one of the adults with the Under 16 and 18 Country Rugby League team The Titans. These folk were stopping over before some Saturday morning games in the area. It seemed an expensive outing to accommodate these boys at a hotel. They also looked pretty zombie like heading for the team bus at 7am. Not a teenager time of day is it!
Anyway one of the coaches discussed the route and thought it was straightforward. He then went on to say he was in a York in December touring with the boys. He could live in a York apparently. How kind.