So if yesterday was easy, today was definitely not. We got off to a great start from Perth where a few of the locals came down to wish us well and give us some very generous donations, but things quickly got more challenging from there.
We knew that today was going to be the longest ride with the roughest stretches of road, but we didn’t know we’d encounter storms, gale force headwinds, swarms of relentless deer flies, tick gravel biting at Andrew’s legs and flash flooding on the trail about 15kms out from Sharbot Lake, our planned lunch spot. The foot of water eventually rendered it impassable, so Andrew had to turn the bike around and head for the highway, something we’d wanted to avoid for obvious safety reasons.
As Andrew and Max battled through the tough conditions, the support team waiting in Sharbot Lake was experiencing a terrific welcome by Mayor Frances Smith, some district councilors and very friendly municipal workers bearing gifts for Max. The local media were also gathering to welcome our party to town.
A call from Andrew came through and for the first time we sent Grandma to collect Max from the bucket of the bike – it was approaching lunchtime and we wanted to get our little guy off the shoulder of the highway. But Andrew carried on, stuck in first gear as he battled the brutal headwind, and our Sharbot Lake arrival party slowly thinned out to a couple of committed individuals from town council and Metroland Media. It was a happy group that eventually celebrated his arrival however, and it was a tired looking Andrew who sat down to a picnic lunch before completing the second leg of the day. Yep – we were only half way through.
The ride from Sharbot Lake to Arden was less dramatic, but not a lot easier. Grandpa geared up and rode alongside Andrew and Max for moral support – if it was needed, today was the day. Max was given the option of spending the afternoon in the car, but there was no way that was going to happen. He happily hopped back into the Bakfiets with his whistle and kazoo, and off they went.
At around 5pm the riders pulled into Arden, a tiny town with a post office and not much else, with wet shoes and a sighs of relief that today’s leg was over. We took the long and scenic route back to our hotel (thanks Google Maps), cleaned up and set off for dinner.
We’d been invited to a barbeque at the home of Tweed resident, Chris Lindsay, and what a barbeque it was! As we sat on their beautiful deck enjoying the best meal we’ve had since leaving Hamilton, we were all blown away by the family’s magnificent display of hospitality. A huge bucket of superheroes supplied by Chris’s son Rowan was awaiting Max’s arrival, and when it came time to leave he did so with a tub of homemade ice cream, an ice cream bubble blower, a voucher to the local ice cream shop AND one of Rowan’s Transformers. It was the perfect way to end a tough day, and we can’t thank Chris, Tristan, Grace, Riley, Rowan and Elisha enough for our wonderful night.
So with day 3 under our belts, we got some rest in preparation for whatever day 4 will throw our way. Bring it on!