Day 20: Landsborough to Phuong

Woke around 6am, packed up and wandered over to the food area to discover that the others had cleaned and packed up a fair bit last night. Assembled rice and powdered milk then packed everything else while that sat (to make the milk taste better). Did not especially feel like eating, felt like riding, but ate anyway. Knees a little sore, muscles very tired, would have much preferred the 30km motorway option yesterday. Such is life, but try telling my legs that.

On the road a bit before seven I think, basically grinding along local roads built by cyclist-hating morons counting the kilometres and thinking of Phuong. About 25km later I reach the showgrounds, which luckily are on our side of town. Finding officials is easier than expected, I'm kinda wandering around the markets when a PA announcement directs me (well, ok, some woman they'd misplaced) to the office where I find Bryce and he agrees to guide me to our camping spot. There's quite a lot of camping going on, but way down the far end is a clear spot that's well out of the way but has showers and toilets. This is home! And it's free. And the showers are truly excellent, being the old high-volume units with apparently unlimited hot water... bliss!

tent with tarp over itI have no idea where anyone else is, so I post windmills to guide everyone else the last 100m, SMS directions to all and sundry then just pile all my sh... gear in one place, put the fly over it, then wander into town. The quad fair flies when it's empty, definitely undergeared... top gear lets me cruise at ~30kph spinning comfortably, but any faster requires concentrated spinning effort. So 30kph it is. Town is easy except that everyone seems to be headed for the showgrounds and the markets there, so there's lots of traffic. I get directions to a supermarket (hidden in an otherwise-closed shopping centre) and buy soap, shavers and food for the day. Then on my way back... PHUONG!!

Phuong!Big grins and hugs later I grab some stuff off her overloaded bike and we cruise back to camp. Some faffing later we get the tent cool enough that we can stand being in it and have some private time. Or as Valerie calls it "being presumptuous". About 1pm the rest of the crew start arriving after their stall in the markets so Phuong gets a bunch of new names to forget and we have lunch again.

Evan being silly on Ginas bikeEvan and Gina are of course late for our 3pm meeting, I ring and they're due to arrive at the train station about 3:07pm, so rather than garble directions I take off with the empty bin and Phuong to meet them. Gina jumps in the back with some stuff and plays with the camera while Evan rides her bike. We're in camp and all ready to start faffing again at 3:30 or so. Phuong takes baby photos. Lots of baby photos.

we like meetings. Really.The meeting starts with a check-in that lasts until nearly dinner time, so we have a pee break and bike servicing workshop then dinner before we get onto the follow-up topics, most controversially the car dependence one. People have been using cars just the way they would if they were your average ecovandal, and I've been getting increasingly cranky about it. Most notably one rider who seems to want full credit for being on the ride and therefore being a hard-core cyclist, but their threshold for "too hard, use a car" seems to be "if it's slightly easier". So we talk through that a bit and decide that billeting is not the way to go because it splits us up all over town and makes us dependent on being driven back to the meeting point at the convenience of our hosts. There's general agreement that we need to lift the threshold at which cars become an option. I express the idea that people who have left the ride can do whatever they want, but that riders have an obligation to fulfill the principles of the ride, sustainability not least amongst them. Supporters can do whatever, but they don't get involved in decision making. The remaining tension is over "days off" and what counts as one, I expect that Cassie will continue her pattern of frequently visiting friends along the way, or more accurately, getting friends to drive her around.

I also point out that we as a group need to be willing to stop riding early if there's a problem, and not fixate too much on making the destination every day. Especially because the bail-to-car option is unlikely to be available to Evan and I, as either of us would need an empty van or truck and a bit of time to get our bikes into a motor vehicle. But one thing I've been doing is kind of being ready to ride back 10km or so if the group needs to stop early, but I think only Evan knew that.

It's been interesting realising that my "green lifestyle" is quite different to many other peoples. It's something I kind of knew, but I still get regularly surprised at "environmentalists" who have all the same bad habits as their non-aware compaitriots. Or often, they just never challenge themselves to meet the standards they want others to meet - it seems deeply hypocritical to me at least that anyone would claim to be a greenie and still be able to easily reduce their energy consumption by the same 20% as everyone else in Australia, just by (say) reducing standby power use, using efficient lighting (and less of it), driving less and so on.

Anyway, the meeting goes better overall than I expected, and it's even a bit shorter. Phuong cooked dinner and managed not to turn into a kitchen nazi over the messiness that some people revel in. Sleeping with Phuong kinda works, she was cold and I was a bit constrained but I think we're happy, and the cold thing is vulnerable to technical solutions (the best kind :)

Stats: 33km, 2:06, 15.8km/h, 39km/h max (on flat ground :).


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