Keeping in touch with my roots, I read Tim the Yowie Man’s column from the Canberra Times on local history of the Canberra area. I’d bookmarked The downhill daredevils who conquered The Clyde – two cyclists riding from Canberra to the coast in 1943 – and read it this afternoon, prompting almost a stream-of-consciousness of memories of a similar trip.
There aren’t many routes to take so it almost parallels the trip Richard & I made after the end of year 12; the road much improved from 1943 in that article, but for us two eighteen year olds quite an adventure, and given how long ago it was and that I can’t find anything I wrote about it, strong memories.
Canberra, Queanbeyan, Bungendore, Braidwood and down the Clyde, whose peak comes as a surprise, as you don’t seem to climb much from the inland side. Flashing downhill past a car climbing the other way with a friend of my mum’s driving, amazing that I thought I recognised her and she managed to recognise me, then she met mum later that week and casually tried to raise the question of “Did I see your son descending Clyde mountain on a bicycle?” Caught in torrential rain, sheltering on the verandah of the Mogo shop. Staying in a caravan park in Broulee and being allowed to sleep in the annex of one of the permanent resident’s vans “They’re not here now, you’ll be right”. Spending an hour or two watching clothes tumble around in the laundromat, trying to dry things out. Down to Moruya and up the Araluen valley, miles and miles of empty dirt roads in the forest, dropping down a descent into a creek crossing and flashing past one each side of an angry black snake in the middle of the bridge. Not a car or a house to be seen for hours, then Richard got his wheel caught in a rut and fell off in front of not only the first house for hours, but a house that had a woman lying on a sun bed in the front yard, watching us pass! Up the hill and struggle in to Braidwood, keeping our selves going with the thought of big juicy hamburgers … only to find that the shops were shut. Camping by Kittyhawk creek in the abandoned caravan park and waking to find that someone had brought their dairy cow down early in the morning and tied it to the tree 2m from our tent, so the first thing we saw on sticking our heads out was a large cow looking in. Then the hot dry ride back to Bungendore)}}} and bodies and bikes trying to give up on the final stretch, eight punctures between us on the road between Bungendore and Queanbeyan.
I can’t quite remember anything of us getting home to Canberra, it all seems to peter out in that endless stream of punctures…