If you’re looking for a definitive day of Ride2Cure, no, park that: if you want THE definitive day of Ride2Cure, look no further.
This. Is. It.
I give you the remarkable tale of stage 13.
Leaving aside Wagga, which was fantastic for a whole bunch of different reasons, stage 13 from Tooleybuc to Murrayville had it all, and in particular it had bucket loads of the same spirit that saw LCFN through five winters in some really atrocious conditions.
Of everything that happened out on the road on Ride2Cure, I am most proud of stage 13.
We got out early, very early, predominantly because of those bloody roosters. I was clusterfuxing at 6am and that just translated itself into a super early, super cold start on the road, bang on seven. Golly it was cold, but at least I’d had the forethought to pack the winter gloves and the long johns before I left the UK.
First up, it was decision time, but that had been made the night before after we’d sought counselling from the ladies in the petrol station. We plumped for the Mallee Highway. Shorter than the A20 Sturt route by roughly half a day’s riding, that was a critical factor with a wonky knee. We’d also seen a road train coming off it yesterday afternoon which suggested tarmac for its entire length, but we needed the ladies to confirm it.
The first 40km was uphill, not nice but I got used to it. A long straight road that just keeps on climbing is no one’s cup of tea, but you know what, you deal with it: Ride2Cure was my Tour de France and I wasn’t going to let some tinpot climb (or six) get in my way, not today nor any day.
Manangatang came and went by 9am. A good start. A very good start.
Ouyen came and went by 11:30am. Even better.
100km in the bank by half eleven. I was started to get a wee bit excited.
While we were in Ouyen, Paul got a message from Deanna that the Boinka Country Women’s Association had seen the story in the North West Times newspaper (there’s that awareness weaving its magic again!!!) and they had a donation for us.
“Could we stop by to collect it?”
Boinka was 50km further up the road.
Too damned right we could.
“How do we find them?” asks Paul.
“There are two houses in Boinka” says Deanna. “You’ll find the CWA at the one on the right.”
If only everything was that easy!
Paul had Boinka on the SatNav and when we got there, he pulled off the highway: there was only one road junction.
“It has to be round here somewhere…”
We wandered off down the wee tarmac road and spotted a house on the left.
“That’s a good sign” he shouted. “It must be the other one once we find it!”
And there, 50m further down the road, were five old people sat out in the garden at this lovely old house. We waved and they waved. We had indeed found our fans.
Three old ladies and two gentlemen. None of them under 75. Does that qualify for the Country Women’s Association? It doesn’t matter. They made us so welcome. The ladies had baked scones, they’d baked cakes, they’d baked malt loaf, and they’d made biscuits. All for our arrival. And they served us tea in china cups.
For a few precious minutes, we were treated like royalty.
However I was more than a little concerned at being so well looked after, because as much as I really, really, really appreciated their hospitality, the competitive animal in me still had unfinished business out on the road.
We stayed for half an hour, had a right good scoff and a lovely wee chat, accepted five sealed envelopes then we were on our way again.
40km to Murrayville and the next caravan park.
Did we clog it!
By now we’d got drafting down to a fine art on a flat road and we were sailing along at 45km/hr. We were in Murrayville at five past four: 206km in the bag and despite the all-round pain, it was the perfect riposte to that stupid wee fall.
Strangely enough, when we got to the caravan park, the lady who ran the place knew all about us, she knew all about the CWA ambush and she knew all about the donations. Even though it all took place 40km back down the road, she knew the entire story!
Who said the jungle drums don’t beat in the outback, eh?
Stage 13: 206km. 1952km done. 270km to go.