Wombat…. Arrrgghhh run away
Hey, another meeting in Canberra. And hey once again, riding there seems the most convenient option (and again, the most fun!). And the weather is looking perfect, no rain predicted, well for ages. Awesome. Looking at the weather though, my lesson from last time (you know, where I didn’t read the temperatures) I almost didn’t learn. Hmm Canberra is going to be -3 at about the time I’m arriving. That’s going to be cold. At 120kmh that’s going to be downright frigid!
The plan was a straight run down the interstate early in the morning to the meeting. Arriving early so I could iron my uniform, shower (warm up!) etc. Meeting all day, then dinner and maybe catch a movie (something that has been really hard to do whilst the kids are little), then the next day sleep in (another bonus) and a enjoyable ride back along some of the more interesting roads I’ve been discovering between Canberra and Sydney.
So problem one is the cool temperatures, problem two is that I caught some kind of cold when I was on my last trip there and it’s still sorta hanging around, so I’m not 100%. Problem three developed on the eve of my departure, the kids had both came down hard with the same cold.
On the plus side, Mrs was happy to handle the kids, they were mostly sleeping anyway. I wasn’t too worried about the cold as I do have some reasonable gear that I have used in similar conditions (though only for an hour or so, not 4), and my cold wasn’t too bad.
Leaving at about 3.30am I rode out in about 4C. Down the freeway out of the city I was getting cold. But it was bearable. But don’t imagine a steady even drop across the journey. It basically dropped to 0 as I passed the city limits and quickly headed below that. Until I spent a couple of hours at -2 and hit -4 about 6am.
I stopped several times, mostly to hang out in a warm building (petrol station) to eat breakfast. The worst part was the last 20 mins, when I knew I was almost there, the sun was up but my knees were cold and my little fingers felt like ice blocks.
It was uneventful, except for the WOMBATS. Now I’m sure you all know about kangaroos and koalas down here in Australia, and maybe crocs, tassie devils, sharks and snakes too. (and spiders and sea snakes and…) Do you know about wombats? Pretty uninspiring solid little fellows about as big as mid sized suitcase. Oh did I say solid, these guys are built like main battle tanks, and have a reputation of destroying vehicles that they cross paths with, shaking it off and carrying on (not sure about the last part). Riding through the dark at freeway speed the road is suddenly smeared with black marks and at the end is a dark lump slightly to my left on the road. Looking like a large rock, I realised I was headed towards a wombat carcass. I swerved and managed to clear it – I’d rather hit a rock, it’d do less damage! This would occur twice on the way down, but the second one I moved as soon as the streaks appeared on the road.
Sunrise happened as I rode alongside Lake George. It was gorgeous and made the insanity of the ride worthwhile.
I spent about an hour warming up, showering etc and was still cold by the time I got to the meeting. Not my smartest idea. I’m now fairly certain I was on my way to hypothermia when I eventually got in.
The meeting went all day and I was nodding of towards the end, so much so that the chair basically begged me not to head home that night. After the meeting I crashed into the bed, sleeping from about 5pm, to about 7am, only rising for a late dinner at about 7pm (when my eldest rang me to say hi). Mrs was struggling with the kids but I was too tired and it was too cold (and would take me about 4 hours to get home).
In the morning I awoke to a pleasant -1 and a bike that was coated in a layer of ice. But I wasn’t too worried, it was already morning, the day was warming up, slowly, and I was headed back to Sydney, which would be at least 15C or so by the time I arrived. It sure wasn’t going to be worse than the ride down.
Cold Start: This is what happens to a bike left out in -3C
I set off at about 7:30 fuelling up in Queenbeyan as I headed off to retrace my route from my last trip, up through Tarago, towards Bungonia and the freeway. I figured this wouldn’t take much longer than getting through the city then up the Hume to about the same point. It would be a lot more enjoyable and less taxing.
This worked well and I hit the freeway only a little later than I would have ridden past the same point. I remembered the route pretty well and my only complaint was the angle of the sun made vision ahead sometimes a difficult proposition unless I put my hand up, even with sunglasses on. This also affected the contrast between the shaded areas in some points where I literally couldn’t see the condition of the road. I can see a sun visor (like dirt bike helmets or the more adventurer type helmets) being useful here.
Also passed a couple more dead wombats. I’m no longer convinced of their indestructibility, however still no need to run into one! Anything smaller than a semi still tends to need some serious repair work or even towing from the scene of the impact.
I hit the freeway – did some quick maths and ducked off onto Highland Way. I could make it through here and still be home as promised.
Another hour or so of cruising along this favourite road before I was taking the shortcut out from Sutton Forest to the freeway. Avoiding the Moss Vale stretch which only adds time and not fun. Less than two hours for home, I twisted the wrist and settled in.
Sorry no photos this time, all talk. Home safe, very sick. I probably shouldn’t have ridden, though only because my gear probably wasn’t quite up to the task (though not by much) and I wouldn’t have had to leave quite so early.
[EDIT] I’ve since worked out that with wind chill, those -4C temps, were more like -17C. No wonder my gear wasn’t working. Lesson learnt there…. hopefully.