I love riding in the Mallee country, it's such a vast and interesting landscape, so very Australian: long straight empty roads and red soils and massive farms punctuated by small towns with a pub and a shop and not much else. There is plenty of history and in spring there are of wildflowers and the long plains dotted with sparse trees lend themselves to a rather meditative state of mind. Today was another wonderful day, blessed by good luck and good winds.
We caught the train north from the delightful Pyramid Hill to the border town of Swan Hill were we were to start our ride. I braved the heavy traffic to cross the Murray River into New South Wales for a few minutes, for my own amusement. After a spot of lunch we stopped in at the Visitors and Community Comfort Centre for a wee break. What would have been a short stop took nearly half an hour as we chatted to the delightful older ladies who keep it going and were interviewed by a reporter they summoned to meet the intrepid long distance cyclists. The Comfort Centre is a wonderful facility which every town should have, long may they prosper. Travelling by bike is such an easy way to meet people, who are often keen to chat and share their stories and hear ours. We have some new friends in Swan Hill.
Back on the road for our 72km zap to Sea Lake it was apparent our luck with the wind was holding and we barreled along at speeds not normally reached by cycle tourists. We punctuated the ride with sprints for the crest of anything resembling a hill, something in pretty short supply in these parts. An hour or so saw us in Ultima, where we enjoyed an ice cream in the general store before the final push to Sea Lake - a town I've not visited before and which is close to our goal of Hopetoun. Another push of 60km tomorrow and we'll be at the home of the Mallee Routes with a rest day in hand. Apparently there's 50 riders expected for the various distances. Even the weather forecast seems favorable. Here's to the weekend.