Day Five: Walla Walla – Culcairn – Henty – The Rock – Wagga Wagga 119km, 254 m ascent
I am keen to get underway today because I’m headed to Wagga. I know the place well and look forward to seeing how it has come along. But its a long ride, and the forecast is talking 35 to 40 degree heat. So I am away by 6.30am.
It’s a very pleasant ride in the morning. The road up to Culcairn has no traffic on it. Big sky. Even the Olympic Highway, which takes me from Culcairn all the way to Wagga is pretty good, with a decent shoulder for most of it and not an excessive amount of traffic. I had been worried that the trucks would be a pain. Maybe I am getting used to them, but I think it was more that the road was good, especially early.
A word on drivers. Over the month of the Epic (Narooma – Melb) and then Post-Epic (Melb – Canberra) I found drivers generally considerate and cool. I spoke to lots and lots of people at rest stops and everyone was great. I think on the whole trip there was maybe twice where I felt someone had done something unspeakably dangerous, where we were all us one decent gust of wind away from everyone having a really fucking bad day.
So there were only a very small number of Knobheads. In fact, on average I came across only one Fucktard every three days or so. And just one Total Fuckhead in the whole trip. So that’s not bad after a month on the road: a few Knobheads, a sprinkling of Fucktards and a single Total Fuckhead. I feel blessed.
Not that I approve of labels being applied to any of my road-using brothers and sisters.
The Henty Man. The Vulcan is nonplussed.
I get to The Rock at about 1pm and it’s stinking hot. Seriously hot. The Rock is worth a visit though, for its junk shop alone. It’s massive. I walked through the door and immediately found an awesome set of vintage Honda leathers on a one-legged 70s porn star mannequin.
No-one can walk past an opportunity like that, even if the leathers don’t fit me and it’s 40 degrees outside, and they weigh about 50lbs and I still have 20km of riding to do on the already overloaded bicycle.
So I bought them, and rode straight to the post office in Wagga to send to Jonathon. In hindsight, I guess its possible that I was delirious from dehydration, but I think they will fit him or one of his kids and go well with the late sixties Honda CL350 he is restoring.
The Rock has a great memorial. Slouch hat, barrel up.
And so now to Wagga. Wiradjuri land. It’s big – certainly one of the biggest inland towns in the country. You wouldn’t call it a Defence town, but Kapooka has an influence. There’s some airforce here too.
The older part of Wagga has its huge, tree-line streets and big Federation type housing. Its a very nice town, although it does get a bit punchy on a saturday night.
Wagga Beach is waaaay better than it sounds. Sitting on the Murrumbidgee, its is cool and bewdiful, although gets a little rowdy in the evening of a stinking hot day. The bidgee is full and flowing fast compared to last time I was here during the drought. The caravan park backs onto the beach.
I spend time in the Wagga library using the computers and airconditioning. When I arrived in town I was wrecked – because of the heat – so I decide to rest here for an extra day. Which means more movies.
The Girl With The Dragon Tattoo is a shoo-in for an Oscar in the Most Unnecessarily Graphic and Violent Rape Scene category. But it will also win the Best Retro Motorcycle category (incidently the same Honda CL350 model that Jon is fixing up), so that helps even the ledger on trashiness somewhat.
Not a bad movie, but why does the bad guy need to come up with such a complicated and diabolical plan to kill the hero? Why not just shoot the prick and be done with it? It worse than the Bond franchise for that particular fantasy bullshit.
I also saw Tinker Tailor Soldier Spy. I can only agree with the InterWebz on this one; Gary Oldman is not only badass, but he also has glasses. I have seen most of the nominees’ films now and would be surprised if Oldman doesn’t take Best Actor. Best George Smiley eva.
The riding was brilliant over those few days through the flats in northern Victoria and into in New South Wales.
It’s a very different experience riding on your own compared to riding in a group. I really enjoy that in a group over a couple of weeks because you have so much time to talk.
No topic is too shallow to explore in great detail. Like, does the Abed character in Community really have arseburgers or is he a pop culture savant (and whatever happened to Judd Nelson anyway?) Is Alec Baldwin mainstream or counter-cultural? Or is he so mainstream that he’s transcended culture altogether? And what is it with those sausage rolls that have a hot dog frankfurt down the middle? Really Victoria? Really?
Riding a touring distance on your own is certainly different. And while I can find shallowness anywhere (not least inside my own head) during a long day in the saddle, it is surprising how many random conversations of substance you can end up having with strangers. People are not shy about coming up and talking to you when you’re on your own, and they’re interested. It’s quite nice.
The ride from Wagga to Tumut, which I’ll write about tomorrow, has an ascent of more than a kilometre. Really hot. And has a segment on the Hume Highway.