Cycling Australia Part 5: Eight flat tires in a day

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Cycling Australia Part 5: Eight flat tires in a day

Country: Australia

From Narooma to Gerringong

Lesson learned: Places with a bad reputation are often full of nice people

Laughed about: Don Charlie’s and Don Polo’s laughter

Most wonderful miracle: Swimming in Dalmeny

Food we ate: Camping food

Greatest challenge: Finding enough patches

Days on the bike: 5

Kilometers cycled: 238.09

Average Kilometers per day: 47.62

Total Kilometers cycled till Cann River: 16692.26

Total days travelled till Cann River: 886

Eine unglaublich begabte Köchin: Heather verwöhnt uns alle.

Heather is a great, great chef and Roberto and I also treat them some Mexican food

We had a great time with our hosts and friends Heather and Col in Narooma. They showed us many of their pictures from their last travel through Myanmar and we ate the most delicious food. Their house and garden were beautiful and their chicken probably the best behaved chicken I had ever seen. Dog Max loved his little cuddles and naps. While Heather went to swim and do gymnastics in the rock pools, Col had shown us the Narooma-Dalmeny bicycle path that had been built by the locals and we liked it so much, that we decided to ride it up again with all our bags.

Heather and Col from Narooma

Great times with Heather and Col in Narooma

The path ended at a beautiful camping ground and we couldn’t help ourselves – it was just too beautiful there.

Bike Path from Dalmeny to Narooma

There were plenty of spots for a little break, a picknick or just to sit and watch the waves

The price had just dropped to low season a few days ago, there was a shop next door, hot potable water and a shiny blue inlet with a little current into the sea. It had been our shortest day on the bike, when we pitched our tent after only 13 kilometers.

Narooma-Dalmeny Bike Path

Cycle path from Narooma to Dalmeny

Every morning we woke up to the sound of laughter of our neighbors Don Polo and Don Charlie, who had moved from Chile in 1975.

Mural vom Aufbau des Radweges.

This is how the bike path was created

They were still laughing when we hit the sleeping bags at night. And every time we opened the tent we had a clear view to the inlet and the sea. It was just great.

Casa Don Charlie

Don Charlie’s Holiday home

Don Polo, Don Charlie and their families had spent their summer vacation in Dalmeny nearly every year and everybody knew them.

Dalmeny Campground

So much fun in the inlet

The weather was just great, so we spent most time of the day inside the inlet. Most of the water was soaked out into the sea with the low tide and the only thing we had to do was sit in it and enjoy the ride, until the surf stopped us.

Camping in Dalmeny

What a view!

We floated forward, backward, as a combo and even rotating constantly. It was so much fun.

Great Company at Dalmeny Camping

Waiting for the low tide doesn’t need to be any boring

On our third day in Dalmeny, Roberto met another cyclist with panniers. It was the 22 year old Richard from England. He was just on the way down to Melbourne and happily accepted our invitation for breakfast.

Dalmeny Inlett

In the inlet

After a little chat, Roberto decided to ride back to Narooma, where he wanted to watch the Superbowl. We had already paid for our camping space, so Richard just put his tent next to ours and joined us.

Watching the Superbowl in Narooma

Richard and Roberto watching the superbowl

The following morning was cold, grey and rainy. That was good for us, because else we might have just stayed forever.

Dalmeny-Narooma Bicycle Path

On the way back to Dalmeny

Instead we cycled back to the Princess Highway, and – what a pleasant surprise – there was much less traffic than at the last section.

I could stay all summer at the Dalmeny Camping

I could have spent all summer here

The hills weren’t too bad either. Or had we just gotten used to them already? Just behind Moruya we found another cheap and very simple campground: Only $11 per night and tent! But the caretaker was nowhere to be seen, neither in the evening nor next morning. We took an extra while for breakfast and eventually left with a guilty feeling. If at least we had brought the exact change. .

Horse Poo for $3

Plenty of horse poop for sale

We stopped for a look in the map in the little town of Broulee, when a nice lady waved over to us from her side of the garden fence. Her name was Anita and she invited us for some tea on her deck. Anita loved her travels to Indonesia and every single time she brought rugs, arts and jewelry that she now sold in her basement (well worth a visit).

Carful Now. Roos.

Careful – roos!

We had decided to leave the Princess Highway and follow a smaller coastal street instead, that led us over far steeper and longer hills than the Highway ever did.

The fight with the hills lasts for some 40 scenic kilometers, then we reached Bateman’s Bay, where we enjoyed a longer break. We had to fix a spoke (realized too late that Roberto’s spare spokes didn’t fit anymore after he had changed his rims, so he continued with one missing spoke), leave some gear at the post office (and have some long and emotional discussions about whet to send home and what to keep) and of course visit the local Aldi.

Anita

Anita and Annika

. It was 6pm when we were ready to continue. Fortunately the sun had hidden behind some clouds and we could go quite fast, even though the hills were still long and steep. Only 30 Kilometers later we reached the first village when the sun was just about to set. The next camping possibility would be a further 15 kilometers but if somehow possible, we liked to avoid cycling in the dark. So instead Roberto went inside the gas station and asked for permission to pitch the tent on the grass next to it. Permission granted. I was so thankful, because I was more than tired.

Aldi-Break

Aldi-break

After some more hills we reached Ulladulla, where Roberto finds a place to shorten his spare spokes. Several times people had warned us about the “angry drivers”, who hated cyclists, purposely threw glass bottles on the bike lanes and laughed loudly when they managed to push a cyclist into the bushes.

Ulladulla

Ulladulla

Yes, we had quite some drivers squeezing by a bit too close, but I don’t think it was because they generally hated us for being cyclists. I believe much more that it had to do with the holiday season and that many drivers only drove far once in a year. They were tired and unexperienced and had not a clue that their big trailer (mostly a boat, caravan or horse transporter) was far wider than their vehicle, and that it behaved differently than their car, especially in curves.

Sports Power Shop in Ulladulla

We can have the spokes shortened at the Sports Power Shop

But most drivers gave us as much space as we needed – when the traffic allowed it. There had been very few drivers who only gave us a few centimeters of space and honked when they passed us. But they were the exception and in general we had no reason to complain – until we were being thrown at with water bombs, just a few days later (fortunately the throwers were aiming terribly).

But then again we believe that it is important for cyclists to respect the drivers too. That is why we always ride behind each other on the very left end of the street.

No space for Angry Drivers

No space for “angry drivers”

Nevertheless, there were more crosses on the side of the street, than ever before and we rode even more carefully and predictively than usual.

By lunchtime, the clouds disappeared and we must have left a line of sweaty drops on the road, climbing higher and higher. When we finally reached a building, we had run out of water for a few minutes. We knocked and shouted and knocked again, but there was nobody to be seen, so we just helped ourselves with the outside hose. After about half an hour there was still nobody there, so we just rode on. We stopped at a peach stand, where we bought the season’s last peaches. The owners knew all camping possibilities nearby. “But better don’t get to close to Nowra”, one of them told us. We had heard this warning several times before, but could never find out, why not. “It is dangerous there”, she added, “better don’t trust people there”. Later in the day, a lady at a gas station explained us “The unemployment rate is high in Nowra and so is the crime rate.”

There was no way we could make it to Nowra before sunset anyways. We had just passed a free camp spot when something poked a hole into my rear tire. So we walked the bikes back to the camp spot, passing another five crosses at the side of the street and a recently crashed car, that looked like it was hugging a tree. I really wouldn’t have wanted to cycle here after sunset.

Australia Rock in Narooma

The Australia rock

We pitched the tent and washed each other’s hair with a metal cup and a slow and low sink. The neighbors were nice. Matt and Anne from Poland spent the night inside their campervan, two surfers squatted for half an hour straight on little wooden poles. Three French travelers were perfectly equipped with chairs, a fridge and kitchen utensil, and a rather calm couple slept in a tent that was attached to the roof of their van.

We were the first ones to wake up. My tire was flat again! I found another tiny piece of glass and wire before I fixed it again. Flat tire Number one.

The ride to Nowra was not all too interesting. First it was hills surrounded by farmland and fields, then hills with industrial buildings and areas. Usually it is me riding in front and Roberto riding in the back, but this morning we had an argument and we both rode off in anger. Roberto – being stronger than me – was out of sight soon and did not even turn around for 10 kilometers. When my tire got all wobbly again, I tried yelling, whistling and ringing the bell, but he was too far already. He carried the tools and pump.

My tire was near empty and I had to push the bike several times, when I finally reached him. It took quite long to fix flat tire number two, because there was nothing to be found in the tire. In Nowra we stopped to fix flat tire number three, a puncture in my front tire.

We worked just were we were – on the footpath next to the subway, when an elderly lady talked to us. Her name was Joy and she lived just a few kilometers further south. We must have passed her house earlier on. Joy invited us to spend the night at her place and we were very thankful for this great offer, but sadly had to decline, because we had barely started the day. But we were happy that the first person to talk to us in dangerous Nowra, was such a caring and nice lady.

While we filled my front tire at a gas station, we realized how my rear one was half empty again. Flat tore number four. There must be something tiny in the tire. I checked even more exactly but still couldn’t find anything at all. Roberto also had a puncture to fix – conveniently it poked into his tube somewhere at or just before the gas station. Flat tire number five.

From now on we enjoyed the easiest bit of road. There was hardly any traffic and no hills at all. Just flat land. I was all excited until the street took a turn and the wind blew right into our faces. There were no hills to stop it and the wind blew with full power. I had to ride in Roberto’s wind shade.

At Charlie's and Robert's place

With Charlie and Robert

Just a bit later we entered the rain forest. The wind died down and the road stayed calm, flat and shady. These were just the most perfect cycling conditions. We rolled happily for a little while but soon Roberto has to fix a puncture, then another one and – while we were on it – I also had to fix my rear one again. Those were flat tires number six, seven and eight.

We were just sick and tired of it. We had gotten up extra early so we could be with today’s hosts early, and now it was late in the afternoon and we were slowly but surely running out of patches. My rear tire surely had some little piece of wire in it and Roberto had a hole right at the valve that was really hard to fix. Another little detail that didn’t make things easier, was that we had pumped so much that our pump had stopped working.

What could be do? Roberto called Charlie and Robert and soon after Robert came over with his trailer to pick us up for the last kilometers. Watching the beautiful flat and shady street from the car window made me sad. I wish we could have biked here. Until today our puncture record was made in Budapest, Hungary, where we had seven punctures. Back then we still rode with a trailer and had six tires to take care for. Number two had been Tashkent, Uzbekistan, with five flat tires and a few missing screws from break and front rack.

Charlie and Robert lived in a beautifully furnished house with view all the way down to the beach. Charlie was a big fan of antiques and the house was full of any kind of smaller and bigger colorful treasures and we couldn’t get enough exploring it. Five years ago, Robert and Charlie have left the busy Sydney city life and they have never regretted it.

Charlie cooked us a delicious dinner and we exchanged travel routes and cycling stories until late.

By the fillowing morning we loaded the bikes on the trailer again and Robert gave us a ride to the blowholes (where there was no water being blown up though) and the local bike shop, where we bought more patches and a new tube each. Between the three of us we triple-checked my tire for more than an hour, but nobody could find anything anywhere. Now we could only hope that the new tube would last any better than the old ones.

 

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  1. Scott says:

    So Fun to read your travel blog and hear of the great Aussie-ventures you had….makes me both laugh and cry with you..a record flat tire burst on flat paths in paradise. Thanks for the visions of tasting travel through your eyes.

    • Hi Scott, keep tuned, we will upload more entries here very soon! 🙂
      Cheers,
      Annika

    • Hey Hey Scott!
      Thanks a lot for your comment. We’ve been writing the New Zealand and Hawaii Blog entries these days and “only” need to translate them, select and edit pictures and upload that whole thing. Shouldn’t take tooooo much longer 🙂
      Cheers and hope to see you again some day,
      Annika

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