I set off from Rathdowney just after 8:30. I knew i had a huge day ahead of me so i made myself a Radix mixed berry breakfast and had a cup of before you speak coffee. l set off and began making my way out of Rathdowney up a valley to the south. It was busier than i had expected so i put my headphones in to drown out the sound of cars zooming past.
The valley floor was lush and green. Being at the base of the mountains meant the was no shortage of water. There was lots of farmland with friendly horses, cows and lots of sheep. The road eventually intersected with a creek and the then slowly followed it up. When i got to the lowest point there was a bridge that crossed over to the south side of the creek. It looked like a beautiful spot for a swim. I leaned my bike up on a road sign, striped off and lay down in the cool clear water. The feeling of it running over my skin gave me goosemps, it was like silk. I lay in the water until i was cold and had started shivering, it felt nice to be cold.
After giving my clothes a quick wash i was ready to go. The climbing began on this side of the creek, the first hill wasn't actually too bad, i even rode it twice so i could film it, but then they got steeper. My shirt dried out so fast and almost just as fast was wet again as the sweat was pouring off me. To counter the loss of fluids i was consuming my water much faster than i had in pervious days, just as i finished my first bottle i spotted a sign that said VERY STEEP CLIMB 18%, i stood at the bottom looking up in disbelief that there was even hills like this here. I started spining my legs as fast as possible and very slowly started climbing up. I couldn't keep straight and was wobbling all over the road, i had become quite the road hazard, half way up the climb i got off and started pushing.
At the top i felt so tired, my body felt used, and somehow I felt unfit. I got back onto the bike and kept moving up the valley. When i got to the next sign and looked beyond it up at the hill, i just dropped my bike and said “what am i doing?” “this is mental” it said VERY LONG STEEP CLIMB 19%. There was a short down before the up so i gathered as much speed as i possibly could and as soon as i stoped rolling up i was off and had started pushing. I checked my map and it was 2.4km to the top of this hill, with an altitude gain of 370m. I pushed my bike for an hour and a half before i reached the top. As i was pushing the cars would toot as if to say well done or keep it up. There was one freindly man who stoped and asked if he could take my gear to the top to make it easier. I thanked him but said i was determined to push on.
At the top i was totally wrecked my legs were shaking, my heart was beating out of my chest but i had done it! The lion road hill had been tamed and will forever be known by me as at the hill of doom. The treeline at the top of the hill marked the border of NSW. As i crossed over i entered into lush rainforest. The road started heading down slowly, and suddenly i was in the middle of the lush forest. I took out my headphones to hear the sounds, it was like a wave of emotion hit me. The smells, sounds, the trees, birds, bugs and skys were so incredibly beautiful, i burst into tears. This was the first time i had been in a living rainforest in a very long time. When I say a living rainforest I mean I could feel all of the living things, it was a self-sustaining environment with no human interference. Almost felt wrong for cars to be allowed to drive through this special place. I spent half an hour just looking, breathing in the air appreciating this nature.
I was crying for a few reasons. Firstly I was disgusted that we could destroy something as beautiful as this. To build houses or to make room for farming. And secondly I was in total shock from the beauty. This point of the top it was pretty much all downhill to the bottom of the valley I started zooming down being cooled by the wind. I tried to slow down but realised my breaks were too hot. I had no way of slowing down. I just committed, getting faster and faster hoping that there were no sharp corners. At the bottom there was a sign that said one way bridge. An image flashed into my imagination of a truck zooming towards it from the other way with no breaks. Thankfully as i came around the bend there was no truck just an empty bridge and a nice gradule uphill on the other side, perfect for slowing me down.
I stoped on the side of the road and peeed on my breaks to cool them down before continuing to the bottom of the hill and started making my way along the valley out towards a main road. Along this winding section of road there was more lush fields with the first healthy cattle i have seen in a long time. Thay had all the food they needed and lots of water. As i passed through a small town i waved at a friendly family who were playing in the front yard with their children. It made me smile because they were out enjoying the world rather than bundled up inside!
On the last bridge before the main road i found a dead snake that had been hit by a car, i stoped to have a closer look and eat some food, you guessed it, peanut butter and dates were on the menu. Once i hit the main road i put my headphones back in and picked up my speed so i could get into Kyogle town before it was dark. I had a curry before finding somewhere to sleep for the night. It had been such an emotional day full of so many lesions and beauty. The plan tomorrow involves more hills…