Today we are in Maryborough. With a trek of 86+ km from Biggenden, this was our biggest day so far, and it was an up hill and down dale kind of day.
My little turbo is in fine form today, and is delighted to claim a new milestone - his longest ride yet. Now I'm sure a lot of you are thinking that really he just sits in the back and turns the pedals over, but honestly he is as much a contributor to our workload as I am. And on some of the hills he is even moreso.
We receive great encouragement every step of the way. As one of the slower riders (we average about 19.8km/hr), we get on the road early to get as much time up our sleeves as possible to get to our destination. That means a lot of the faster riders pass us - a lot! But most always greet us with a cheery hello, good morning or great to see you each time they come up the outside. Today we even copped a few "you guys are an inspiration" type comments, and my personal favourite - "here they are, Supermum and WonderBoy!"
I am loving the time on the bike with my boy. He is chatty and funny and inquisitive and clever and I find out more and more about him each day. And for those who are in the know (Jane) - he is practicing SMILE everyday and is becoming more confident with every encounter.
We encountered sugar train trucks loaded choc a block with cane today, enjoyed the feeling of being sandblasted by the dirt that follows in the wake of a 100km/hr B double travelling past you and a fully operational saw mill at Brooweena that had him gaping at the size of the logs and delighting in the smell of fresh cut timber.
Last night we shared our dining table with a lovely bunch of Canberrians. There was a couple riding an Appollo tandem as well, and it wasn't until we had been there for about ten minutes that we realised that the gentleman was visually impaired. I had mentioned that Hayden gives me running commentary on the scenery and the wife asked if we could swap. I readily agreed, as long as her husband's legs were as capable as Hayden's!
There are some great stories to hear along the way - there are many people here who could just curl up and wish their lives away due to disability or age but instead they are out here everyday living their lives on the bike. There's a mum and her intellectually impaired son, the couple I previously mentioned, a number of hearing impaired riders (it's quite scary when we come up alongside them, cos they can't hear us call that we are passing and sometimes we are travelling at a great rate of knots) and too many older riders to mention.
Yet all of them are out here each day enjoying life on a bike. I think this week has consolidated a love of riding in Hayden that I hope will be a joy to him all of his life. He constantly talks about next year's ride and is already planning rides when we return to Brisbane.
Admittedly he was very quiet this morning after passing another accident scene - two riders had a slight altercation which left one heavily concussed and bleeding from a large gash to the head. Hopefully she is ok, but it was quite confronting, and he was certainly more subdued until we talked over how he felt about the scene.
But enough of the somber stuff. Tonight we are both getting a pre-dinner massage, followed by a ride into town to join in a singalong Mary Poppins show. Maryborough is the birthplace of Mary Poppins author PL Travers, so what better way to spend our only night in this grand old town?
As for the massage, I know when they ask me what areas they want me to focus on, it will be shoulders, calves and butt. Hayden's response will be "just my bum cos it is sooooo sore". I have to remember there isn't much padding there and it must get a lot of jarring on these roads.
Tomorrow we find our way to Hervey Bay, where we have a delightful campsite on the water's edge and an even more delightful day of rest. Until then, cheerio, pip, pip...