"Oh, that'll be a challenge," said my mother, when I told her I was planning to cycle to Meeniyan on the back roads today. What she should have said was: "Do you really want to cycle all those hills?"
I thought she was simply referring to the distance. "It's only 9km," I replied. "I'd rather go the back way than cycle along the highway."
And so, not really comprehending the terrain of my planned route, I jumped on my bike and took to the road. Within 10 minutes I was already struggling up the first steep incline. The sun was beating down and even the cows were sheltering in the shade.
Later — after I'd walked up one hill, cycled hilariously fast down the other side and then laboured ever so slowly to the crest of another — I spied cows swimming in a dam. How sensible of them! What the hell was I doing trying to cycle on dusty gravel roads in this kind of weather?
Fortunately, the next 4km into town were on bitumen and it was downhill all the way! Honestly, it was the most fun I'd had on a bike for weeks — so free and liberating to be cycling so bloody fast on such a great surface!
I had a rather delicious lunch in town, where my mum joined me for a coffee, and then I was back on the bike. The next 2.5km was on the rail trail, heading back to Koonwarra. Really pleasant, if a little hot.
I then turned onto Armstrong's Road and was pleasantly surprised to find the road well shaded and very flat. It was easy cycling. But I should have known it wouldn't last. This sign (below) only proved it.
Yep, the next 2km was up, down, up, down, up, down. Occasionally it was fun, particularly when I was able to gain enough momentum that I could barrel down one hill and then get to the top of the next without pedalling!
But for the most part it was bloody hard work. It was far too hot and still. There were flies crawling all over me, and I was now rationing my water as I clearly hadn't brought enough with me.
I was relieved when I finally hit the Meeniyan-Nerrena Road again, except this time instead of cycling 4km downhill I had to cycle about 2km uphill. I swear it nearly killed me. But the views were spectacular.
I eventually got home about 3 hours after I'd set off. I was absolutely bloody knackered, but the sense of achievement was wonderful!
Total distance cycled: roughly 25km.
Tomorrow I think I''ll stick to my usual 16km flat route. (It will be my last Aussie cycle: I head back to wintry old London town tomorrow evening.)