Fat Bike Odyssey: Day 5

18 02 2012

I slept deeply although briefly and awoke around dawn after 5 hours sleep. I was still feeling pretty wrecked but we needed to get moving since we weren’t far from the side of the road and my tent is a beacon for anyone passing.

The night before had pretty much confirmed that this would be our last day. Brad’s knee was ruined and we were still close enough to home to self rescue rather than pedalling further along and then needing someone to bail us out. We had planned to ride a long way further but things don’t always go like you had planned and our immediate problem was going to be sourcing tubes to get us home. We knew there was a bike shop of sorts in Anna Bay but it was a mixed surf, skate, ride store so who knew what he had in stock. In fact, if he had standard tubes in stock, we were going to need 4 or 5 just to get us back to Newcastle judging by the rate of failure the night before. The chances of them having a puglsey tube in stock were significantly less than zero.

The fat bike wheel barrow

Next to the bike store was a takeaway store so we waited out the front for it to open. When it finally did, I gorged on bacon and egg rolls along with coffee as I needed to find some energy from somewhere. Chatting to the store owner, he confirmed our suspicions that the dive, skate, ski shop didn’t open until 11am on monday’s but he also said that same shop sold motorbike tubes…. interesting. There was nothing for it but to grab the paper and a fresh coffee, settle in and wait for 3 hours.

Going nowhere fast

Talking to another local who showed up and had a history of motorbike touring, he confirmed that the largest motorbike tubes came in 21 inch size – there was every reason to be hopeful we could stretch that onto a 26 in fat bike rim. Of course, they run schrader valves and Brads bike had only been drilled for presta. We obviously weren’t packing a makita drill (although you’d wonder if you tried to lift up my bike) so the most obvious solution was to buy a cheap rat tail file from the hardware store around the corner and enlarge the whole.

When the bike shop opened, we bought his only motorbike tube in stock and a thornproof 2.2; 26 inch backup tube and set to work fitting the moto tube. Needless to say, it looked, felt, smelt and tasted exactly like a factory surly tube and with a little tinkering to get it to accept the new valve size, the whole thing inflated without a hitch and left no void which had been the source of all the friction. The 21 inch size was no issue whatsoever, it just slotted straight in.

Of course, since we were heading home and it was now blazingly hot in the midday sun, we weren’t going anywhere fast. Instead, we rolled around to fishermans bay where we passed some time flicking lures around a likely looking set of reefs to no avail. I then had a quick nap under a tree before we grabbed some pies and did some more waiting by the beach. I finally got to put up my hammock and laid in the shade waiting for the sun to set far enough that we wouldn’t cook on our ride home.

Finally using my hammock - yes that is a swimsuit photo shoot going on in the background

Finally, around 5:30-6pm we got moving to correspond with the bottom of the low tide. The beach was like a superhighway. It was pancake flat, the sand was rock hard,it was over a hundred meters wide and the wind was at our back. To be truthful, you could easily have ridden a road bike along it which suited me just fine since it was exorcising some of last nights demons. We reached Lavis Lane (about 2/3rds of the way home) in just over an hour and we were giddy with excitement at how quickly we were motoring along. So much so, that we decided to again stop at the Sygna and throw some lures around in a gutter just to round out the holiday.

The wrecked Sygna

A sea eagle perched on top

As I was feebly throwing lures into the ocean, some dark, dark, dark storm clouds approached. One of them had a strange finger like projection from the underside and I joked to Brad that we might get a water spout. Low and behold, a couple of minutes later it touched down and I ran for the camera while Brad took emergency action – he put on his rain coat.

Fat and skinny

Ground zero

Changing of the guard

Getting close to shore

Better put a raincoat on....

Dying gasps

It was an awe inspiring site. It started with a pencil thin twister which eventually faded away and was replaced by a much larger version. It couldn’t have been more than a few hundred meters up the beach. We were far enough away to be comfortable and still be able to get some great photos. It crossed the shore line and continued up into the dunes where you could see it throwing sand high into the sky. The sand cloud grew larger and larger before finally climaxing and the whole thing disappeared and the cloud of dust fell back to earth. It was simply amazing to stand there in the cold wind on a hot day, watching the sky darken, the rain start falling and a twister coming towards you on the beach, it couldn’t have been a more perfect end to the trip. Thanks Huey!

The post twister storm - this one has to be viewed in full size to do it justice

The sand after the Sygna was again soft but quite manageable and in short order, we were back in Stockton headed for the ferry home. As we rolled down the main street, we watched as the ferry pulled away from the terminal so we made a b-line for the pub for a quick beer. We kept and eye on the ferry and as it approached, we rolled onboard where we bumped into the same ferry drivers as the day before. They were amazed that we had been up to Anna Bay and back and we had a grand old chat before the driver invited us upstairs to view the crossing from the drivers cabin. I’m pretty sure we had him convinced to buy a fatbike by the time we reached the far side of the river.

It was without doubt one of the most fun tours I have ever ridden and it was a horrible shame that it had to end early but those are the breaks. We saw some amazing things and we didn’t even have to travel further than a few hours from home to see it. You can spend big money on fancy equipment and overseas trips but it’s amazing what’s in your own backyard. With a fat bike and a little imagination, you can open up a whole new world of riding.

Just as soon as Brad’s knee comes good, we will finish the rest of the trip as crossing Port Stephens was where things were really going to get interesting. In the mean time, I have an ITT of the HuRT coming up that will consume some of my focus and some more mapping for the Big HuRT. Then there’s the Snow to Sand on the June long weekend and the Berra Brev-it. There’s also the Paterson Kona 24 and the rAD100…….. man i’m going to be busy.




2 responses

18 02 2012
Dr Rob (@doc_robert)

Best. Write-up. Ever.

18 02 2012

Believe it or not, I was following this day and planning to join you when you got to the bay and shout you a beer before (I assumed) you crossed the bay on the ferry.

Couldn’t work out what was going on with all the dots staying in Anna Bay.

Its all clear now, I should have driven to anna bay.

Can’t wait to read part 2 of the trip, and I can still shout you the beer before you hit the ferry.

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