I am definitely not a bike mechanic and after have tried an hour to fix it myself I gave up. I couldn't get missing link to click in. We were lucky to get help at a tire store and even if time were late now, around five pm, we decided to cycle out of Dungog again and look for a camp spot. Already then it felt like the movie Groundhog Day- where Bill Murray finds himself living the same day over and over again...and in our case, how hard we tried we could never leave Dungog.. And it turned out to be more true then I could imagine.
When we had cycled a handufl of km out from Dungog a car stops and asks if we have a place to stay for the night. It's Steve and we happily accepted his invitation. We had a lovely night with drinks and BBQ in his and Jen's house. They live in on fantastic place with an amazing view. It was a very long and steep last kilometer to get there, but worth the effort :)
Continued the cycling later on afternoon and the next day we arrived in Glouchester. A minor town, and tidy town winner. We liked the city, a nice little town with a main shopping street, nice park areas and a supermarket. Got supplies there and headed on.
Soon we noticed that the road was getting steeper. But we pushed on and just before it got dark we came to Bretti Reserve. A free camp site with big grass fields along a river.
Was really hard for Phim and she was soon very far behind me. I continued to climb but was struggling in the heat. So warm and the cycle felt so heavy. And no places at the side of the road to stop at to have a rest too.
Eventually I could pull a side and park my bike and walk down to see where Phim was. She was a couple of km behind and was really tired. No chance that she would be able to make it. We considered our options and came to the only conclusion that we had to turn back. The Thunderbolt way was to hard to cycle, given the gearing we now had. Prior to the trip I thought a 26th chain ring in front would be small enough. But with all our packing we needed lower gears and we could only get it if we turned back.
A bit disappointed that we start to cycle back to Bretti reserve. Could enjoy some downhill now but it was not worth all the previous struggle to enjoy it. The weather was really hot now but we found some shade where we could cook our lunch. +30 degrees so early in spring, and we had been worried about that it could be a bit cold cycling NSW in September.