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Tuesday, June 22, 2021

Temora 600, 3 strikes and you're out


Temora from the Shamrock Hotel balcony, early afternoon

Dilapidated, Temora

Abandoned bike shop, Temora

Flywire door has stood the test of time, Shamrock Hotel

Outdoor bar area, Shamrock Hotel

Late afternoon, Temora

Paleface Adios was a famous local trotting horse and this small park is named after him.

Shamrock hotel, looking onto Hoskins Street.




Stop for a pie at Gooloogong before Forbes


Over the last few days, I have been in Temora, New South Wales. This was to complete the Temora 600 Audax ride, a qualifier for The Great Southern Randonnee (GSR), a fully blown 1200k ride.  The Temora 600 was made up of 3 rides, the Temora Forbes 400, Stockinbingal 100 and Trungley Hall 100.

I didn't finish the first part of the ride,  so didn't qualify for the GSR. Given a bit more training I could have made this ride by keeping up with some slightly better equipped riders, and given determination and some basic equipment upgrades, I think I could qualify for the GSR by doing a 600k ride by the end of September. But given I've had 3 bad experiences in the last 3 rides without actual disaster, I feel a bit knocked around so have given up on qualifying. There are others who will want to take my place!

In terms of training, I didn't do any of the tougher 100k local rides, only several 50's and 60's on the same track. But I didn't know that Victoria's local  coronavirus lockdown would be over until a few days before the ride, and that was a bit of a psychological barrier to more training. As it was, I left Melbourne for Temora only hours after we were able to travel further than 25k from home.

So I needed a permit to travel to New South Wales which I applied for online, and the required email came through no worries. I was up early and got to Temora about 2pm, in plenty of time to walk around the town to get a feel for the town. And its nice, and as a relief from Melbourne there was no mask wearing!  There are art deco buildings and its quiet, and rapidly escalating rural real estate prices don't seem to have reached Temora just yet. Not much has changed in years at the Shamrock Hotel where I stayed. At $70 a night it was quite a bargain. I had to move my trike upstairs as it was Friday night and kids were beginning to play with it and sit on it but that was not a problem.

I met Pete Heal and the other Audaxers at the Ex Services club, and was briefed for the ride and had a good dinner. Early next morning we were off, and I couldn't keep up with the leaders, even with a bit of drafting, but I caught up with them at the service station at Barmedmah where they had had a brief break. I was with them for a while after that but fell behind again. Eating biscuits helped, and at one stage I ran out of water. There was plenty of roadside water in puddles and small streams which I was prepared to use but was topped up by a passing farmer in a car.  Thanks!

Other riders were leaving Grenfell just as I arrived, and I had a pie and milkshake there, saving another pie for a pleasant snack at Gooloogong.  I was in Forbes at about 6:40 and going quite well and fuelled up and rested at a Domino's Pizza place.

Somewhere south of Forbes I missed a turnoff and went straight across a railway line where I should have turned left. That lead me onto a narrower road and I didn't realise I was off course for about 6 or 7ks as my gps was not illuminated at the time.

Then followed a series of text messages to Pete Heal who was very helpful with his support, and I ended up on Wirrinya Road after the road had become dirt. Despite a text message effectively saying go right from Pete, I went left onto Wirrinya Rd. My phone and gps were running out of battery by this stage and I didn't receive his message as my phone inbox memory was full.

Eventually I turned round on Wirrinya Road and went in the correct direction, but short of the train line Pete had told me to head for I stopped and rang Pete to say I was ready to sleep for the night by the roadside, as I was tired but had plenty of food and a spaceblanket for warmth. But by then Pete was not far away, having come to get me from Temora. 

This was a great relief, but the drama wasn't quite over yet. Pete had left Temora with not much petrol, and we headed to West Wyalong in his small Suzuki to fill up. But the pumps were out of order at the 24hr service station at West Wyalong, and we were forced to sleep in the car for a few hours (about 3 to 5am) while they were repaired. Pete took it all in his stride, he has travelled round Australia and through floods on his recumbent bike, and this was probably a 0.5 out of 10 on his hardship scale.

We were back in Temora by about 6 am and I crashed very comfortably on the floor in Pete and Dome Deli's motel room as previously arranged. After breakfast and farewells to Dome and Pete I headed home.

If there's a woulda / coulda / shoulda from this ride it would be

* More training! Because of lockdowns this was a bit hard, at least psychologically.

* For long night Audax riding, significant battery backup is required for gps / battery lights and phone, and the gps should be kept on full illumination at night. For others who have smart phones (almost everybody) the battery backup is a completely standard and known technology, so in this aspect of life at least I am in the digital dark ages. 

Although I still have time to qualify for the 1200k GSR by completing a 600k Audax ride before the end of September, I called it quits and will not go in the GSR this year. I have had 3 bad experiences over 3 rides and to continue trying just seems to be inviting unwelcome danger, many thousands of times more risky than a covid astrazenica jab or a shark attack while surfing.

Thanks to Pete Heal and Audax for their support!

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