6 – 12 November 2014
Sue was very kind to take me to the airport despite the crazy early hour. We left at 4.30am and arrived at the airport half an hour later, around 3 hours before departure and still already about 100 people were in line – I don’t recall experiencing that before in all my travels… Anyway, my bags (there was no special charge for the bike box) were right on the weight limit and even better I was lucky to get a first row seat, which was nice for the 10 hour flight despite being told there would be many infants on that row. To me legroom is more important that sleep – I usually don’t get sleep on transportation anyway so it was not a great loss. A long waiting time until we left an hour late at 9 and despite being very tired I didn’t get any sleep mostly because of the noisy infants… Nothing was free on this Jetstar flight – not even water or coffee - so I was happy to have brought lots of food and water. We arrived at 16.00 only 15 minutes late. I quickly got my bag but had to wait a long time for the bike. The box had been opened by American customs and they had done an embarrassing job trying to tape it up again but fortunately Jetstar had handled it much better than Alaskan Airlines the week before, so nothing seemed damaged. It took a while to assemble the bike and then a 45 minutes bike ride to my host Wyatt’s house in Annandale.
The following days the weather was great so I headed the 10k into town to take care of many practicalities before starting my bike trip and to do some sightseeing. I’ve been to Sydney several times before so there was nothing special I wanted to experience, but it’s one of my favourite big cities in the world (not particularly liking cities) mostly because of its gorgeous location. However, with few unconnected bike lanes it's not a very bike friendly city despite public websites stating so. Thirty years ago the government made it mandatory to wear helmets - a cynical decision to save money on infrastructure at the expense of safety. As a consequence very few people bike despite the year round good weather conditions. The following days it was overcast so I spent most of the time fixing my bike and many other practicalities as well as having many interesting conversations with Wyatt - we’ve both given up corporate life for a simpler and happier life style so we had a lot in common.
Before heading up to the Blue Mountains, I surfed a couple of nights on Donna’s couch in Crows Nest in northern Sydney. We had great conversations in the evenings and during the day I did a bike ride up the coast. My initial idea was biking the 40k (25 miles) up to Palm Beach but it was overcast in the morning so I postponed my departure until noon trying to time it with the better afternoon forecast. It worked out perfectly - still overcast when I rode up the boring and busy highway A8, but when I reached Dee Why Lagoon an hour later the sun came out. I rode the 32k (20 miles) back through residential areas and past many beautiful beaches including famous Manly - fortunately it was Wednesday so it was not as busy as I had expected. I had no map but instinct and an open mind was all I needed. I ended up carrying/pulling the bike around 8k (5 miles) up and down hills along narrow, overgrown trails - once after 20 minutes in a dense forest I got stuck at a dead end and had to return… strenuous but I like that kind of “adventure”…
21 - 24 Novermber 2014
Back in Sydney Donna had a dinner appointment with a couple of friends at an Indian restaurant. Good food and company though I was knackered and happy we broke up already at 21. Donna and I had many interesting conversations and when she went to the beach Sunday I took the opportunity to hike around the area for a couple of hours. Otherwise my time went with practicalities including fixing my bike, patching my tent and updating my website since the next chance most likely is Melbourne in some weeks.