Today is the day Michelle, my girlfriend, and I fear. It is the 5th time she has come to meet me somewhere along the trail and spent a few days with me. We are getting used to the goodbyes, but we both know that today there will be tears.
After five days in the warmth of Brisbane, it is very challenging for Michelle to get back to the cold Victorian winter alone.
For me, things are different. I’m going back on my big adventure, the sadness of leaving her is mixed with excitement. The more I progress though, the harder I find it to be alone and go against what part of me wants: some rest with loved ones.
I compensate for that by interacting more with people I see on the way, seeking interactions. The other part of me wants to continue. Even if I was stopping, I would not know what to do and where to settle anyway. I believe there is still a lot to discover and explore. I’m still learning to let go of my previous life, in Sydney, and feel more time and patience is needed to open up to new opportunities.
This afternoon, once again, Michelle’s warm tears trigger some sadness in me but also some happiness. It is a beautiful gift to receive, someone’s honest expression of their longing.
In another dimension, I have to deal with the reality of leaving a city with a bike fully loaded via public transport. I can only wish that I was already away from it. It’s easy to get in, and hard to get out.
After I get Michelle to hop in a taxi, and after she gives me this last look of despair that makes me break in tears, I get back to the train station. I make myself feel better by getting a hot drink, even though I know I will have to get it down some steep stairs with a heavy bike. As I’m about to proceed, the lift which was closed reopens. That helps but it’s too late, I spill a good portion of my drink in my water bottle holder.
Once I board the packed train, I spend the next hour and half repacking a few things, looking at the maps, changing shoes. Slowly becoming again a trekker. I laugh silently when a naughty kid presses the emergency button instead of pressing the door opening button. I laugh a little less when an hour later the handlebar of my bike presses the same button on the next train.
After a couple of hours moving the bike around, in and out of busy city trains, and dealing with getting a refund on my public transport card, I finally arrive at the last stop.
I know that it will get dark before the next town but I’m determined to get there today so that I achieve at least one thing today.
I get off the main road and ride on an unsealed rocky road uphill, just as the sun disappears. The uphill goes well, and then commences the downhill. My contact in Brisbane told me to be careful with the downhill.
I’m not used to the new cycling shoes I’m riding with, and I’m not confident at all using them on such a rocky road, let alone in the dark.
I meet a snake on the trail, it’s rather cold so it’s not moving much. I’m delighted that I was able to spot it instead of running over it. My attempts at taking pictures of it in the dark fail though, only afterwards I remember that this is what selfie sticks are for. Too late for that fella, he won’t make the headline of my blog.
I stop for a reason I can’t remember, and lose balance with my shoes clipped in the pedals and fall over. Fortunately I’m laughing, no damages, probably just a bruised wrist tomorrow.
Once I’m on the downhill, I remember my rear brake has become weak since I checked the pads yesterday. This is confirmed when I actually hear the brake pad falling and bouncing on a rock. I was braking on one pad, and that one just fell. This is when I realise I must have forgotten to put the pin back in place. I laugh again, it’s not a big issue. A few months ago, I would have been hard on myself. But today, I’m feeling happy to be riding again, and nothing seems to matter much.
Although I just bought flight tickets to Europe in a couple of months, and I have to stick to a deadline, I feel the need to slow down. I believe that my happiness has something to do with how much rest I have. Maybe I should stop forcing myself to wake up early or start going to bed early, or even ride just enough everyday.
I’m glad that the campsite tonight is in a caravan park. It’s the cheapest I’ve come across, attracting backpackers working in surrounding farms. It has a swimming pool I’m contemplating trying tomorrow. It’s been a long while since my last swim.