Le Tour de Parkes


We had only a few days to spare and decided to go to Parkes just to do some day trips on the trikes. This was to be Fran's first 'country' trip on the trike as she has only had it a few weeks. We bought the relevant maps and took off early-ish on a thursday morning...

Day 1

Arrive in Parkes by car at about 13:30. Have something to eat and check the local road maps and the head off along "The Bogan Road" - what a great name for a road. Better still it does NOT lead to Bogan Gate, that's on a different road.

Beautiful weather, cool afternoon but sunny, very little traffic, and it was all polite. The countryside is green. We hope the Nth NSW floods don't reach here, but we do want SBS reception on the TV to watch that other "tour". The TV guide listed SBS, but alas we could only get stations which reported the machinations of various football codes rather than any real sport!

Dinner at what we judged outwardly to be a better pub (none looked too good in this town) was quite acceptable, and the people friendly. I was accused of looking like Billy Connelly, see photo, for which he, my accuser, later apologised saying he didn't mean to be rude...all quite confusing really, and neither my accuser nor I was drunk!

Day 2

We decided to ride to the most obvious place in the Parkes environs, the Radio Telescope. At a little before 9:00 after an excellent breakfast we set off along the quite busy Newell Hwy. Luckily the shoulder was for most of this trip just wide enough for a trike, but due to the quantity of traffic we could not ride 2 abreast as we prefer to do out here...The weather was glorious, if cool and the terrain mildly undulating, long slow climbs followed by long, not much faster descents.

The Telescope is enormous, a 64 metre dish weighing 1,000 kg including its mountings and drive. We sat through a 35 minute presentation in the 'theatre' at the visitors' centre. Amazing...a high tech, world leading facility and we get a 1981 produced multi-projector show - yes that's right, all stills - no digital video. OK, we all know that the research is much more important than the public image, but...It was however a good production and well worth seeing, even if only to add a few more dollars to the scarce few in the CSIRO coffers. Check out the Parkes web site.

We bought a book on the history of Mathematics and a set of twenty 35mm slides - images from the Hubble Space Telescope. After eating the sandwiches packed for us by the motelier we headed back to town, same road because the others are dirt and we'd been advised that they are not good even for cars after so much rain. About halfway back there is a turn off to Goobang (who dreams up these names?!). As the total trip was neither very difficult nor very long we decided to go down the Goobang Rd as it joins the main road into Parkes from Wellington. Having successfully crossed 2 dips we arrived at one which was just a bit too deep for us (flowing very fast and more than 1 metre deep, and 5 metres or more across), at least in the cold weather when getting wet is not advisable!

We turned back, rejoined the main road and were soon back in town ready for a second lunch.

The afternoon was spent reading and hoping for another fine day as we plan to ride into the hills back toward Manildra tomorrow. Dinner was at the Motel restaurant.

Day 3

I rose, dressed optimistically in my riding clobber, and went outside. It was cold with a slight breeze blowing and there had just been a few drops of rain. Now I had to wake Fran and give her the news. Breakfast was soon over and we again collected some sandwiches just in case we should feel hungry on our ride. The wind was picking up and it was still chilly at 8:40 as we descended through town to the Orange Road.

I had not slept well and felt that I was not riding to my best ability, Fran seemed OK, but somehow we could not maintain even 20 k/hr on most of the flat sections. Surely the wind was having some effect, but this!

A loo stop was required so we stopped and snapped a few photos, taking advantage of a rare sunny moment. Aware that we were now 20km from town and at the foot of the hills be kept our pace reasonable, not pushing too hard. It still seemed like hard work even on the flat ground, though we were now going up most of the time. A long slow climb gradually became steeper until we felt justified in describing it as a hill. Now this was going to be fun coming back, but there was still plenty of hill left to climb. Over the top, and wow - a downhill into the next valley...we deserved this! A sandwich was required so we took a 15 minute break trying to keep out of the howling gale. By now the wind had reached such strength that it could push a trike along by itself.

Rested, we turned around and began the climb to the top of what we knew would be a great downhill. At the top we took a deep breathe and...yippeeeee...

My fastest to date - 78.4 km/hr and Fran also at 62.9 And it was a good 5 minutes of pedalling before I realised that I was still going downhill and maintaining almost 40 km/hr. I stopped and waited for Fran, who zapped past me a few minutes later. I pulled out and caught up, we sere still doing a comfortable 30 - now we knew why we had a slow trip out - the flat bits were actually uphill! No wonder I felt tired. Naturally we both felt great now and found that the trip back in was really quite easy. The wind had dropped too.

In town we were stopped by a local who could not believe the trikes and just had to have a good look at them. This guy was in his 60s and felt that the trikes were one of the best things he'd ever seen. Not content with this he later tracked us down in our motel (he had to do some searching) so he could show his wife! Naturally I gave him a Greenspeed business card (Brownie points please Ian)

Lunch - we had a beer and chilli chips in one pub, but it didn't do a lunch on Saturdays, so we found another which did. Guiness and a good meal (much better than the usual overcooked veges and burnt steak) made us feel human again. After lunch we walked the kilometre or so back up the hill to the motel, stopping only for some well deserved yummies at the French Patisserie, one of the few city-style shops in town. In fact I have to say that while Parkes is pleasant, neat and tidy, it is also a little dull, perhaps ordinary. The people are however extremely courteous and friendly.

As you may have deduced, we regard food and drink as almost as important as cycling, and now its time for dinner. It seems Chinese is the only choice of restaurant other than those in the motels, so Chinese it is. The usual country thing, you have to ask for chopsticks, and they seemed a little surprised that we wanted to have a pot of green tea with the meal as well as a bottle of white wine, but then I suppose we are weird!