After deciding to splurge a bit and check into a nearby motel I showered,changed and went for a little wander around the small street that serves as the center of downtown Forster.Nothing much had changed at all during the ten years I had been away and the charm of the small seaside town was intact.Another thing that had not changed was the beautiful scenery surrounding the lakes and beaches next to which the town is built.I had myself a quick walk up to the viewpoint atop Flagstaff Hill and as the sunset over the lakes behind me,watched the surf roll in on Forsters Main Beach.The increasingly chilly air drove me indoors though and after picking up a sandwich at Subway I headed back to the warmth of my motel room.
I will admit I was feeling pretty despondant that night after seeing the old hostel in such a bad state and my mood wasn't helped by the fact that it looked like the effort required to keep my blog going was pretty much in vain as interest in my ride seemed limited.My confidence had been bouyed a few days earlier when I'd found out that some donations had come in for my "Athletes in Kind" cause,courtesy of some of my Ultra-runner/triathlon friends but I'm guessing a lot of that came from feeling sorry for me after I'd dropped so many hints about my disappointment on Facebook.That night ,however,I recieved a really nice email that certainly perked me up.
The mother of Pete Southern,the young motorcyclist whom I told you all about had emailed me and thanked me for taking an interest in his ride.Apparently Pete's uncle Peter had died suddenly from an agressive cancer and the anniversary of his death was fast approaching.My blog had helped Pete's mum Lynn deal with the pain of rembering his loss by reminding her of how much her son reminded her of her brother.It was her brother who introduced young Pete to motorbikes and instilled a grand sense of adventure in his young nephew.He was in many ways keeping his uncles spirit alive and I had,by my own trip,had given Pete the moral support that he needed to make him realise that he was capable of more.A grand trip of his own was in the making.I was very happy to know that I was able to be a positive influence on a young guy like Pete and even more so to think that in some way I was able to turn the pain of the anniversary of a loved ones death into a celebration of a spirit that lives on in a new generation.
I spent most of the next day just wandering around the headlands and beaches of Forster quietly enjoying the views and remembering happy times from the past.I just loved that lazy day and it made me realise just how much I was looking forward to finishing the first leg of my trip and spending time off the road at my parents place in the Blue Mountains.I also began to wonder if my trip was worth it,I mean it was great to see the country and all that and I was really starting to feel the old fitness returning but really what was the point.Maybe I was just tired,I don't know,but I started to think that maybe I should just give up the blog and the attempts at fundraising as both were beginning to seem a huge waste of time.Hardly anyone seemed interested in my writings and even fewer had made a donation to Athletes in Kind even though I'd advertised it to hundreds of people on Facebook and the hugely popular triathlon forum Slowtwitch.I have been saying for a few years now that I don't think most people take me very seriously at much of what I do and my inability to attract donations and sponsors for what I believe to be an amazing journey aimed at raising money for a really worthy cause seemed to confirm that theory.I went to sleep thinking that once I get to Sydney I would re-evaluate my trip and decide if it was worth the huge effort for such little interest or stay with the belief that out there somewhere was someone who may find inspiration or motivation in my little adventure.
I did spend a lot of the second evening in Forster reading up on some of the bike trips that I'd seem through a link on my Facbook page.One guy in particular, Peter Gostelgow, was in the first few weeks of his London to Cape Town trip which I though was madness.He had already ridden 50,000k in a previous trip from Japan to London and is quite famous in the long distance cycling world.His exploits renewed my enthusiasm and I started to think about how I should think more about enjoying the world around me on my ride and less about trying to fit my schedule around others.I may even leave the old laptop behind at my parents place and just vanish into the countryside documenting my trip the old fashioned way,with pen and paper.
The next day I saddled up and rode back out the way I came,north toward the highway.There is a southern route which is actually part of the old Ironman course but that road is famous for it's potholes and lack of room for cyclists.I didn't fancy struggling on that road for 60k to Bulahdelah so I opted to backtrack for 25k to the highway near Nabiac in order to make the best of the awesome highway surface.Thankfully this was one plan that paid off and before long I was rolling happily toward Newcastle some 150k to the south.I hadn't decided when I would pull off the highway and hop on a train for the trip through the big city but the increasing traffic certainly gave me an indication that a train trip wasn't too far off.
That days ride was pretty uneventful but most certainly enjoyable as the wind blew me southward under a bright blue sky through Bulahdelah and past the Hawkes Nest turn-off.I was making pretty good time with 100k in the bank by 1pm and figured that there wasn't much point in trying to push for Newcastle that day so I stopped for a late lunch break at a rest area just south of the turn-off.It was during that lunch break that I noticed that a couple of things didn't seem right.The first problem was that my front pannier rack was loose had started pointing to the right.That didn't take log to fix as it had just lost a bolt connecting it to the front fork and I relaced it with a spare bolt that I had for my cleats.The other problem was a lot worse.I noticed that my rear wheel wasn't tracking straight and had a obvious wobble about it which had me worried no end.I'd had trouble with my trailer hitch during previous bike tours and was hoping that history wasn't repeating itself here.I unhitched the trailer and took off my wheel to find that I had broken the axle that I found bent a couple of days earlier.Bugger!I did have a spare one that was the stock alxe from Scott but the trailer required an extra long axle and the standard Scott axle was just a few millimeters too short.The end cap would not catch and was pretty much useless.I put the old broken axle back in and started to limp down the highway hoping that I would not do too much damage to my wheel.
After a usless trip into the little fishing village of Karuah to find a bike store or workshop of any kind I hit the highway again and crawled into a big rest area where I found a nice hidden spot to camp for the night.I'd done 138k for the day and was happy about that effort but the pressing problem of my broken axle had me too worried to feel statisfied with the day.One good thing though was hat this particular rest area was one of the few with power and after setting up camp I took all my cooking stuff over to the tables under the rest area shelter and cooked dinner while my laptop fired up and connected me with the world again.It was after I had eaten dinner and was finishing another time-wasting session on Slowtwitch and Facebook that a car rolled into the rest area and parked close by.The driver of the car made a short pitstop in the toilet before coming over to find out what the guy with no visible means of transport was doing out there in the middle of nowhere tapping away on a laptop.I pointed toward where my camp was and told him my tale of woe.He asked to see the bike and wanted to check out the spare axle as he had a toolbox full of stuff that he thought for sure would get me out of my jam.I wheeled the bike over and showed him my spare axel which he took over to his car.He dug around in his toolbox for a couple of minutes and came back with the axel in hand and a smile on his face.He had found a nut that fitted and asked me to see if it would work.I pushed the axel through the hub and very gingerly started to thread the nut onto it and after a little coaxing,it took hold.The nut was a thin flat one as opposed to the thick recessed one that came standard on my skewer and that allowed just enough purchase for it to take hold.I was very happy and after a thank you coffee for Ian, my roadside angel,I went to bed happy that I'd be able to get back on the road the next day and finish the first leg of my trip.The next night I would be at my parents place and with a new final destination of Gosford only 100 or so kilometers away I closed my eyes a very happy boy.