This past weekend we were very spoilt with Ox organising a practice rally for us. As usual we had a busy work week leading into it, but for a change it was a good thing as it meant we were operating under a bit of pressure before we started and had an opportunity to really test ourselves and how well we work together when the heat is on.
Happily, things went pretty well! Our coding process worked (after a few teething issues) and we slipped back into our routine on bonus collection fairly seamlessly. We weren’t pushing too hard this weekend – we both had to show up to work on Monday and it’s not long before we leave for the states so this wasn’t the time for us to go 110%, crash and burn, and then be down on our confidence going into the real deal.
So how did we go? Pretty well overall… This is the story of leg 1. Legs 2 and 3 will follow later in the week!
Thursday night after work and dinner we opened up the files and went through the puzzle solving and coding process. Within about an hour and a half we had a route planned from home to Tamworth that allowed us a decent sleep, a good start on points collection and some wiggle room to make sure we arrived before the penalty window. Kiwi packed up the bike and we packed down for a good night’s sleep.
Friday was a regular work day, though I ducked out about an hour early to make sure everything was sorted at home for our puppy-sitter! By 5.30ish we were on the road and heading for Berowra where we would pick up our starting receipt after the allotted time of 6.30pm.
Since we arrived a little early, we purchased sandwiches for later in the evening and had a light-hearted discussion about who had more space in their pannier and why. Can I state for the record that I fit two sandwiches, a box of snap lock bags and a packet of peanuts into my pannier without any concerns. The assumption that somehow females can’t pack light is so undeserved!
The first few bonuses were pretty hard! The big dinosaur was at the top of a hill, behind some trees, and with the wind and the dark there was no way I was climbing up there: it took us a good 10 minutes to get a photo we were both happy with. The frill neck lizard at the wildlife park just up the road was also a bit of a stretch since they’d locked the gates to the entrance on us… We took the obligatory ‘we can’t get there’ photo and headed off back up the freeway to Maitland.
At Maitland we picked up a big mosquito, some big Ugg boots and had a bite to eat, then headed for Kurri Kurri and the big kookaburra, Pokolbin and the big wine bottle and finished up with the world’s largest sundial in Singleton. Then at roughly 9.30pm we hit our hotel and some zeds.
All too soon the alarm went off and it was time to keep going north to Muswellbrook for the big blue heeler and then finally Tamworth and the big golden guitar in the country music capital of Australia. It was on the chilly side but mostly because it was so darn windy! I was pleased to be wearing my thermal leggings and plenty of clothes because it’s definitely not summer here in Oz any more.
Fuelling up before leaving Singleton
I don’t have many photos from Friday night – taking photos from the back of the bike in the dark is a recipe for blurry fuzz and the expectation that I will drop one of my gloves somewhere along the road. We hit all our planned bonuses in the order we planned, booked accommodation in Singleton on the road, got a good 6 hours’ sleep and then kept moving towards Tamworth early on Saturday morning, arriving early enough to grab a coffee and a bacon and egg roll in town before the check-in time. Deeeeelicious!!
Arriving at the checkpoint, we were greeted by Ox (doing his best to distract us from our mission) and Simon who had also signed up to do the rally: keeping us company out bonus hunting and providing some friendly competition to keep things interesting. We checked in, scored without losing any points at the table and got our extra bonus info for Leg 2.
Legs 2 and 3 are for a different post. For now, I want to reiterate my thanks to Ox for organising and taking the time to both put the rally together and head to Tamworth to score and provide guidance and assistance as needed. Many thanks also to Simon for rallying with us. It wouldn’t have been the same to be out there alone and having a bit of friendly competition on the road was excellent. And of course thanks to my pilot and partner in crime Kiwi! I literally couldn’t do it without him for all sorts of reasons.
To be continued…