Day 54: Narrabri

Day 54: Friday September 2
Narrabri (151 kilometres)

I left Warialda in the dark just before 6. Two and a bit hours took me about 40 kilometres to Bingara in gently rolling country. The first 10 kilometres out of Bingera is a constant 3-9 percent climb. I got off for 500 metres at the 9% end!

After the 10km climb out of Bingara, I had a fast run down the plains and then a long gentle rolling climb across to Killarney Gap. It is the prettiest country I have seen for the whole trip. I stopped for first lunch at the glacier site at Rocky Creek, which is wild and magnificent, and then began the ride into Killarney Gap.

Yet the whole ride was quite disconcerting because of the wind. Even when I opened the door in the motel at Warialda this morning I had flashbacks to the ride across the Barkly Tablelands. The noise of the wind in the trees was the trigger factor; testament to the beating I took in that week of constant wind. The wind today was forecast as 25 to 30 kilometres an hour with patches of 40, which it got to, but it was behind me, and made for a fast trip. And I like(d) stormy weather out in big gumtree territory.

But today, going past the big gums in the wind raised deep non-rational discomfort in me; I was afraid. This was safe ride, well within my capabilities, with a motel at the end, and lots of farm houses on the way. But in the growing cloud over the range -- at 12:30 it was darker and it is now at 5:30-- and at other times, I had to fight off moments of panic. If a week of headwinds can do that to me, no wonder months or years in a war zone, or refugee camp, or violent marriage can cause triggers that make people meltdown. It was a sobering experience. I knew exactly what was going on... and that knowledge made no difference at all!

Rain was forecast today as almost 100% certain. But long before the rain, I was crossing creeks running across the road. Rocky Creek which runs through the glacier site and seems to spring from Killarney Gap crosses the road 2 or 3 times. I was well past pedal deep on these crossings. There were 12 Creek crossings in all I think.

At Killarney Gap it began to rain, so I pulled on the wet weather gear, and began a lovely 3 kilometre climb to the top. It was made the better by the gentle rain. There's a picnic top spot at the top complete with a roofed over table so I stopped for a second lunch. This, although a lovely place to stop, proved to be a bit of a mistake because I then had 4 kilometres of steep windy downhill where I had to ride on the brakes, and couldn't pedal to keep warm. From there it was then downhill or flat almost all the way to Narrabri, so I made a very good time, which was just as well, because it was some of the heaviest rain I've ever ridden in for about 40 kilometres.

The motel owner was quite anxious to discover that the bike was in the room. I've assured him everything is on the tiles, and he won't know I've been there. I won't open the trailer until the morning, and I'll do that out on the path. Despite my care I think the smell of the excellent Domino's Pizzas will linger behind me!

I cruised into Narrabri at between 20 and 30 kilometres an hour, and couldn't help but remember an hilarious David Niven story about skiing down the mountain from a film set without thermal underwear. The faster you went to get there more quickly to stop the cold, he said, the colder you became.


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