Fri, 19 Mar 2004

RTA Big Ride, day 0: Preparation // at 23:59

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  Today: 0km
  Trip: 0km

Seems strange having a day or two holiday before I go away on a bike trip. Usually I've finished work one day, gone home, packed up, got to whatever transport is required, got to the start and got on my way... it all seems very relaxed this time!

Tried — and eventually succeeded — in getting Telstra to change over the phone numbers from my old SIM to my new one. For about ten minutes the guy in the shop repeated the same procedure over and over again, swapping SIM cards in and out of the reader, all the time while the software kept stating "no reader attached to computer". Eventually he gave up, disappeared into the back of the shop, then came back with a fancy model phone that can read and write SIM cards, and did it that way. Maybe the ancient unpatched Windows 98 PC with IE 5.0 had finally died, maybe it was a victim of the latest Bagle computer virus.

A long and lazy lunch at Kojo Brown; eating, drinking, watching the world go by and reading a bit of Reflections on a Marine Venus. The book is Mediterranean, the weather and my mood feel Mediterranean, the people near me all Mediterranean, but I'm here in Melbourne, and noisy traffic and bad architecture bring me back to reality.

Australian Geographic seem to have sorted out our subscription woes — issues #72 and #73 never turned up, but I got home to find #74 sitting in the mail box, which reminded me to phone up and ask for a copy of to be sent out — I couldn't do this back in December when I called about #72 because at the time it was too “soon.” No problem, #73 will be on its way on Monday.

An article on the 1000km Bibbelmun track in West Australia — Perth to Albany — took e back to our honeymoon last year. A 6 to 8 week walk, maybe two or three weeks cycle trip — it would be great to combine it with a trip over on the Indian-Pacific train. There was even mention of Gary the mad ranger from Walpole Wilderness cruises!

A fascinating and disturbing article about death in there too. At first I didn't read it, then started to and put it aside, then read it fully. All part of the whole “avoiding death” thing that they were speaking of. It's come up before — I've never been exposed to death, no elderly family nearby, no experiences in it. So strange, but maybe quite common with families being spread out over the countryside in the 20th century.

Evening time and its finally time to leave for the start of the bike ride — and nothing is ever simple. Spencer Street station looks like a bomb — or maybe a bulldozer — has hit it, only about a quarter of the station is open, the rest is site-sheds and hoardings and construction works. Tonight's train to Albury has been replaced by a coach — due to track-work caused by a derailment last week, so there goes any chance of having some leg room. I took one glance at the soggy sandwiches in the dingy café and asked for directions to the nearest edible food — two blocks away on King street, but well worth the walk for a tasty, hot, falafel roll.

For reasons known only to the railways, they insisted that the bus leave half an hour early, consequently it arrived in Albury half an hour early, so us passengers had to spend 45 minutes standing around on the platform before the XPT finally departed for Sydney. This departure seems to have been carefully designed to occur after the 11:30 closing of the dining car, a car that is only open when the train is moving, resulting in no food or drink being available to the passengers!

At least its a train that I'm on for the rest of the night's travels up to Sydney and not a coach. There's a reasonable amount of leg room and I can stretch out a little to get some sleep — something that seems hard to come by in the economically-rationalised designed-for-legless-midget busses.

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