Day 1, pumped, I am all packed and ready to cycle to Scottsdale, 68 kms, about 4 or 5 hours, I can totally do this. No matter how much inner talk you can find to push yourself along, sometimes it just doesn’t work …
I think it took me about half an hour to pluck up the courage to even get on my heavy bike, that had been constantly tipping over. I have smashed my ankles and calves a few times, I might’ve wept even. But on it, I got and cycled to my first stop, which was about 20 kms away, it was really tough (just 480kms to go). I felt ok, exhilarated even. I think the reality has really started to sink in now.
I had no idea, that around the corner was not just a hill, but a mountain to climb, physically and emotionally. The brochure did not mention, that there’s no hard shoulder, and log trucks, a lot of log trucks, that do not slow down, fly past me. To cut a long story short, I had to walk up a lot of those mountains, because my legs could not peddle anymore, with my bike on the road, I was walking on the gravel, slipping and sliding, I kept thinking, there’s a town somewhere further down, I can stop and have a coffee and some lunch, but nope, nothing. There was literally nothing. My phone had no signal, at all. At my lowest point, I found a little bit of grass that I could sit down on, and I cried. I knew I had no choice but to go on. A car slowed down, pulled over, a woman walked over to me, ‘are you ok, do you need help, have you had an accident’, and the way she was talking to me, she must’ve thought I may be there to end my life, I cried through all this questioning, embarrassed but exhausted. Her name was Rhonda, the first of many angels sent to help me on my journey. Turned out she was an angel to many lonely souls, because Tassie is so remote, there are a lot of very lonely, depressed farmers that need company, or help. And there was Rhonda, the perfect person to talk to, right at the perfect moment. She offered to drive me to the next town, with my bike packed in her car. And I said, ‘No, I am ok, I will get there’.
It took another few hours, to limp and ride into the next town. A trip that was meant to take 4 hours (according to Google Maps), took about 9 hours. I knew that the next day was going to be the hardest part of the journey, because it was the longest distance, through forests and mountains and not much else. I was warned that it was steeper and there was a possibility I was not going to make it to my next stop. That night, I was no longer in denial, I was scared shitless and really worried about how I was going to push my body even harder the next day.
Day 2 – I set off a bit later than I had hoped because I stopped at the only bike shop I saw (until I arrived in Hobart, 500 kms later). The owner was an ex Olympian cyclist, he gave me tips and suggestions on how to continue on this journey, he could only advise me on the physical side of things, he said my biggest challenge was the mental side. He was impressed at my bravery. He told me that the vast majority of people, that make it from Launceston to Scottsdale, usually refuse to go further, and ship their bikes back home. This was not an option. Just to give you an idea of the hills and mountains, the guys from the Tour de France use Tasmania for training …
Back on the bike I get, facing a huge hill and a journey that would continue to test my deepest strength and determination. The roads are windy and steep, dark under the cover of trees, tourists fly past me, probably wondering what the hell I am doing, I am even wondering what the hell I am doing, I struggle to cycle, it’s too hard, the terrain is unbearable. Once again, I have almost reached my edge. But I keep pushing on.
I managed to get about 30kms into the 80kms set out for the day and that’s it, I have reached my edge, and I am done. Something I know about myself, once I am done, I am done. There’s no convincing me otherwise.
Luckily I find myself at a little town, and I have to swallow hard and find the courage to ask anyone who stops, if they are driving to Pyengana. I don’t know about you, but I find it really hard asking anyone for help. Especially as people try and avoid you, or not meet your gaze. And I feel so out of my comfort zone, not only location wise, but also wearing weird bike clothes and a helmet. My confidence often comes from what I am wearing, and I am not feeling it!
Finally, a man stops to talk to me, and he says he will give me a lift to the next town, about 10kms up the hill, and he’s let me know, there’s no way I am making it to Pyengana, perhaps over the course of a few days, but not tonight. Shit!
I have phone signal (not much signal in this part of the world), and contact my partner to let her know that I have accepted a lift to the next town, and would call her from there, I quickly take a photo of his number plate and send it to her, because god forbid anything should happen to me.
We arrive in Derby. There is no phone signal. I can’t call Michelle. Desperation sets in, I am walking around the town, asking anyone to give me a lift, but no one is going that way, the weather has closed in and I am advised it’s too dangerous to continue on. This is when I am forced to let go of my plans and find another bed to rest my body. And then, I find another angel, who takes me in and looks after me, runs me a bath, pours me a glass of wine and bakes me a potato.
I can’t help but think that the obstacles that have been put in front of me, are there to teach me how to ask for help, to teach me how to let go of the control I place on most aspects of my life. It’s teaching me lessons on how to face a situation and make the best of it. I know that I am not done learning, I know that I am going to have to use more of my courage to ask this woman for her help. So I ask if she will drive me to Pyengana. I have no idea how I am going to make up for the lost time and get to my next destination.
Part 3 in a few days