The last bit

‘The Day Of 1000’ was an empowering one. On the 29th December Doris and I smashed the 1000 kilometre mark and more importantly the generosity from all of our supporters meant that the £1000 fundraising target for the Albert Kennedy Trust was reached!
http://www.justgiving.com/Connorquill
A truly great day! And Mother Nature sent a reminder that she is on our side, showing her LGBT support.

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And gifted us with this beautiful sunset to put us to bed.

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The last cycle day took us through the Royal National Park, a fantastic forest ride with some insanely steep and bending roads.

After exiting the beauty of the national park, we discovered that the road hand ended where we thought there was a bridge. Doris, as we know, doesn’t do well with bodies of water and cannot swim. It was time for a little ferry ride.

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Off the ferry and another 2 hours of charge to get to the finish line, we raced through Sydney City hungry for adrenaline and not ready for the adventure to end. The furious peddling fuelled the preliminary planning of our next adventure; America, UK, Europe, where can we go next. I don’t want to stops
This feels like it is only training for a much bigger adventure that awaits us just around the river bend…

Through this journey one thing that has kept me going has been music. And in particular lyrics from Disney songs. Can you name the movie these remarkably poignant lyrics are from?

“On this journey that you’re making, there’ll be answers that you’ll seek. And it’s you who’ll climb the mountain, it’d you who’ll reach the peak”

“Tranquil as a forest, but on fire within. Once you find your centre, you are sure to win”

“Don’t lose hope when you’re alone, just keep your eyes upon the skies”

“Should I choose the smoothest course? Steady as the beating drum”

“I know every mile will be worth my while”

“There is no one here to guide you, no one to take your hand. But with faith and understanding you will journey from boy to man”

There has been a sense of self reflective maturity developing along this adventure. And I realise that I have been travelling not only with Doris, but with the 5 year old boy inside me; the little boy who never wanted to grow up and was always ready for an adventure. He has always been a part of me and has enjoyed every moment of this. I’m glad to have done him proud.

The 1199km from Melbourne to Sydney gave us worthy blood, painful tears, ridiculous laughter. There was plenty of ecstatic screams, determined growls and necessary sweat. And no amount of lactic acid, relentless wind or fearsome rain was going to stop us form conquering those epic inclines and glorious descents. It was an incredible adventure that will stay with me for a long time.

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P

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I wonder what adventures await me in the new year.

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“To live, would be an awfully big adventure…”

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Tom Daley & Colin

We were off to a winning start today thanks to our neighbours from Leeds providing a champion breakfast.

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We salute Australia’s road safety precautions. This ‘revive survive’ stop offering free tea & coffee for travellers along the highway, gave me an extra little boost, after accidentally spilling one cup and scolding my hand.

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We pass many of these signs which are also a pleasant reminder that we are welcome on the roads, sometimes.

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This sign, however, was an unnerving reminder that although this adventure may feel like total freedom, it is all an illusion.

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After a moderately challenging ride of 70km in 3hrs 30mins, we arrived to a our campsite for the night. The vibe of the local town is a clear indication that we are getting closer to a big city; frantic drivers and signs of a capitalism everywhere. But I don’t care, sunbathing by the pool got me feeling like Tom Daley.

As the end of the cycle adventure nears, Colin (the tent) is erected for the last time as tomorrow I will sleep in the luxury of a youth hostel.
Here is a tired attempt at an introduction to Colin’s interior as we say goodbye for a wee while.

M.A.M.I.L. & E.T.

The Boxing Day traffic was quiet, despite warnings of mass Aussie exodus for the holidays.
I did however pass two backpackers walking down the highway, carrying what looked like enough gear to get last a year. In good spirits I gave them a whistle and a wave as I sped past, unaware that I would meet them again In less than five minutes when I would have to stop to re-attach a broken pannier bag.
After the sweaty and infuriating logistical master-plan of attaching the pannier was complete, the couple had caught up with me. Laura and George had left Melbourne just over a year ago and were exploring their vast homeland; working on farms, camping in the bush and taking in the scenery at walking pace.
During our exchange of sweets and dried noodles, I was educated on the particular breed of cyclist ‘MAMIL’. It’s an acronym for Middle Aged Man In Lycra. MAMILS are ugsually followed by a support team in a car and can be found in groups or alone. They are often unsightly, antisocial creatures, struggling with a constant battle with their ageing physique. Laura and George were pleased that I did not belong to this species (of this I was also glad, but am now very weary of my potential evolutionary path)

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Only 20 minutes after leaving the self acclaimed aimless wanderers, Doris and I fell into another spot of bother.
The back tyre, replaced only days ago, couldn’t handle pressure and gave up on us . Repairing the puncture wouldn’t do it. We needed a replacement tyre. The closest bike shop was 15km behind us and there was less than an hour until
It closed.

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Yet again, we were saved by the kindness of strangers. A phone call to Batemans Bay Cycles, explaining the unfortunate circumstances, resulted in one of the two female owners of the store driving out to the middle of the highway to deliver new tyre.
On their website http://www.batemansbaycycles.com.au is brandished their mission statement.
“Our aim at Batemans Bay Cycles is vet simple: to get people out in their bikes.” Keeping true to their motto, they went above and beyond to help Doris on our way.
And what a tyre we now have! Unparalleled handmade German quality.

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We eventually made it to the very fancy Kings Court Holiday Village (complete with jacuzzi and spa), where barbecued bagel pizza was on the menu.

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A Quill special that was very delicious.

After a rest day full of sleep, chocolate, coffee, laundry and yoga ( in that order) I’m now settling into an outdoor cinema screening of E.T. Whilst Doris rests up for tomorrow.

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The Lead Up To Christmas

The last few days…

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After saying goodbye to the inspirational Artist As Family, we began the 100km battle from Cann River to Eden.

Not before a very quick face time with the mums to say hello for the first time since landing.

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The tree is up and it was all go for Christmas at home. Here, apart from the odd bit of tinsel dotted around, I struggled to find anything that I identify with as Christmassy. This is not the Christmas season as I know it. Sun, heat and dehydration.
By shaking my empty water bottle at the passing traffic on the ride today, three kind Australian drivers showed their Christmas spirit and stopped to fill me up. Pleasantries were exchanged, I was extremely thankful, and encouragement was sent my way. Each interaction ended in “Merry Christmas”.
I guess that’s what Christmas means to me this year – the kindness of strangers. This Christmas ideal becomes more predominant as the Just Giving goal for The Albert Kennedy Trust is getting closer every day.
https://www.justgiving.com/Connorquill

Crossing the state border of Victoria to New South Wales felt like a significant marker, more than half way to Sydney. There’s still plenty to go and the hills are becoming relentless.

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The campsite at Eden wass full of pink bellied parrots and cockatoos. There were even two magnificent eagles. Flapping beautiful, but very loud…

The next was a well earned rest day which, amongst many things, deserved a lie in, two coffees and walks along the beach.

The aptly named town of Eden, is seven kilometres away from the campsite where I was staying. Set on minimalising the use of my legs, I managed to hitch a lift to and from the town. More kindness from strangers.
Taking advice from Artist As Family, I headed to the recommended Sprout Cafe, where I found free WIFI and some real tasty local produce.

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The nearby beach, although riddled with debris from a recent storm, provided the perfect setting for an evening walk.

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And even some terrifyingly recognisable wild life.

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Predator anyone?

The locals, whilst proud of their little town, can’t help but enjoy the puns provided by it’s name. My favourite sign was “welcome to Eden, please refrain from eating the apples”

Of the 60km I had planned for the day of departing Eden, we managed a mere 20 before Doris’ rear tyre tired. As its tread wore thin, so did my resilience. As the inner tube deflated, so did my spirits…. a flat.
The nearest bike shop was 15 mins walk (and push) away. A passing group of sympathetic cyclists on my way, they assured me that they would meet me up ahead with a coffee. And so they did.

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These lovely people helped me to fit what was the only tyre of its size left in the shop, all whilst I enjoyed a free coffee. Cyclists are a fantastic breed of people, I’m glad to be welcomed into their family.

Low in spirits, low in energy and covered in bike grease, I decided to break my itinerary and book into a hostel. This would mean however I would have to make up for the extra 40 kilometres the day after.
With a depletion of intrinsic motivation, I had to call on the friends and family of Facebook for support. The response was overwhelming. Pictures, videos, and messages of support all encouraging me to keep going.
None more than this video however.
If I am ever laking in motivation again, this will be my ‘go-to’ pick me up.

With a little push from my loved ones and two 6am coffees, we began the 110km day from Merimbula to Dalmaney. Blessed with what John Agard would refer to as ‘half- caste weather’, it was as though we were cycling in the comfort of the home country. A comfort that could only be topped off by fish and chips for dinner, which attracted this seagull who was also channeling John Agard.

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If you don’t get the reference, you can read the poem here. http://blogs.warwick.ac.uk/lucasbento/entry/halfe-caste_by_john

Christmas Eve was spent drinking Tasmanian red wine around the campfire with the lovely French travellers Max and Matt.

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They have been in each other’s company since before birth and the quality of their companionship shines through in their taste of wine. They are travelling around Australia with their van Jean Paul, but slept in a tent that night to avoid the giant spider that had taken up residence inside of Jean Paul.

Christmas morning was celebrated with my favourite breakfast ever – eggs and coffee. Courtesy of Max, Matt and the heaven sent, Australian coffee providers who were campaign by next to us. Topped off by an excellent view of the Tasman Sea.

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My Christmas present to myself was an invigorating yoga session, preparing my body and mind for the day.

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Undoubtedly one of my favourite things about this trip so far has been yoga outside, on the grass, in the sun with a sea breeze filling my lungs. It’s just devine.

The Christmas Day cycle however was not so devine. All was going smoothly until we took what looked like a shortcut… turned out to be hell. The road was treacherous, with fist sized rocks littering the way. To avoid any more misfortune with Doris’ we reduced our speed to a 3km/h trotting rate. Then, like an over anxious horse, Doris fainted at the sight of water.

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After coaxing her through the river, which resulted in me getting one very wet foot, we were greeted by this monstrosity.

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Doris is not a mountain bike, she is a road bike. One with 30kgs of baggage on her rear. There wasn’t a chance in hell of us riding up this together. For the first time I was going to have to take a blow to my pride and push.
Doris was my crucifix and this ascent was my Golgotha. Merry Christmas indeed.
But there were no nails, no punctures, no crown of thorns and no dying for anyone’s sins. Only a slightly broken pannier and a very dirty Doris.

All is well on Christmas Day in Oz.

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Artist As Family

Today was filled with fantastic forest and abominable accents.

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When I arrived at the campsite I was greeted by a man called Patrick. He and his family have been cycle touring around Australia for 14 months, practicing permaculture travel. With him are his partner Emma, their sons Zephyr (12) & Woody (2), and their little jack russel, Zero.
Roadkill possum stew, freshly killed this morning, was being cooked along with some dampa, a basic bread made from flour and water cooked on an open fire. I was invited me to share a meal with them.

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Zephyr, Woody and I skimmed stones and swam in the river. These boys are two of the most beautiful and adventurous young people I have ever met. I spoke with Emma about her travels round the world, and Patrick enlightened me on what you can eat out in the land.
This family are a true inspiration and are writing a book sharing their knowledge and their story. They are known as Artist As Family

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You can check out their blog here
http://theartistasfamily.blogspot.com.au/?m=1

The highlight for me may have been reading a bedtime story to the unimaginably beautiful Woody. Something that awaits me when I return to unclehood back in Leeds

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Families come in all shapes and sizes. This I know. It warms my heart to be reminded of the power that kindness holds and how inspirational love can be. I miss my family, so to be welcomed into the lives of these beautiful people has been the best gift I’ve received so far.

Thankyou Artist As Family.

Crimson Rosella

We’ve left the coastline and headed inland to the forest!

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As I reached my top speed of 54km/ph down a long straight hill, two beautifully coloured birds (which I later discovered were Crimson Rosella) flew out of a tree toy right and flew along side me. Brief though it was, this truly magical experience that will last a life time.

After all that excitement I stopped for a chia latte and a ‘corny’ which is a biscuit with raisins and corn flakes in – bizarrely satisfying. Jake the dog obviously knows how delicious they are .

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We left the highway to explore the East Gipplsland Rail Trail. An old railroad that had been covered over and made into a pathway. Scenic though it was, Doris didn’t like the rugged terrain and my bottom didn’t enjoy it either. We had to leave the flurries of butterflies and return the the road that we have grown to love.

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Today is postcard day, finally. Some lovely people will be getting one of these in the post, hopefully before Christmas.

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Rest Day

A lie in today meant that I woke up at 7am instead of 5am. I woke with the urge for a meaningful conversation so I went looking for wifi in order to Face Time my family. As it turns out, there are no places in Lakes Entrance that have free public wifi. Even the Starbucks empire doesn’t reach this far. However, In the search for wifi I found a friend.
In a shop that sold candles, crystals, incense (all things good for the spirit) conversation flowed with the German lady who owned the store. We spoke about having children, why people are so ‘busy’, capitalism, politics, and Russel Brand. All of this over a cup of tea and biscuits. Something I’ve never encountered in a UK shop. Perhaps because I’ve always been too ‘busy’.
From her I purchased some incense & candles. These provided the ultimate yoga experience in the campsites recreational room.

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I also spent 3 hours cleaning Doris. She didn’t half pick up some dirt from the highway. As I removed the gunk and grit from her unmentionables, lyrics from Christina Aguilera’s ‘Dirty’ sprang to mind.
“If you ain’t Dirty, you ain’t here to PARTAY!”.
Well Doris was certainly up for a party, and she got one.

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…Then this happened….

It’s been like this for 1hr and I’m stranded in the recreational room with Doris guarding the tent at the other side of the campsite. Whilst risking my life running through the storm to check that everything was keeping dry (It wasn’t) I lost one of my flip flops in a huge puddle. Now I just have a flop. I really hope I don’t end up riding in something like this….

Connor and Doris take on Australlia for The Albert Kennedy Trust