Many of the towns we visit on Pollie Pedal have a connection to federation. Our starting point, Albury, was an early selection for the national capital. Under the agreement between Victoria and New South Wales, the capital was to be in the latter state, but more than 100 miles from Sydney. As a consequence, many towns and areas of New South Wales were considered.
The residents of Albury were aghast at the idea of their city becoming the capital. Along with their local Members of Parliament, except Isaac Isaacs, they voted against the proposal.
Our destination for the first day, Wagga, was also considered, as was Tumut, which we cycled through on Tuesday. The House of Representatives favoured Tumut, but the Senate preferred Bombala. In the end, a sheep station on the Molongo River was the chosen compromise.
Tumut is home to vast pine plantations, and the Visy Paper Mill, one of our major sponsors for the ride. After passing through the town, we began the final leg to our destination for the day, Talbingo. The small town, nestled on the banks of the Jounama Pondage, was moved in 1968 to make way for the water storage. We are at the gateway of the Snowy Mountains Scheme, the great infrastructure and energy project of the 1950s.
This small village was also the birthplace of Miles Franklin, the author of My Brilliant Career and other great Australian books. Australia’s premier prize for literature carries her name today.
Day three is the toughest – and most remote stage – of this year’s ride. It is a day to remember the golden rules of cycling: Brake before you corner, change (gears) before you climb, eat before you’re hungry, and drink before you’re thirsty.
It is a day to count the blessings of the modern bike. Built from carbon fibre – or titanium like mine – complete with 20 plus gears, and weighing less than 10 kilograms, they are a far cry from the heavy, single geared bikes that were ridden a century ago. The modern racing bikes are so light that the governing body, the Union Cycliste Internationale, mandates a minimum weight of 6.8 kilograms for competition.
The climb from Talbingo is a steep, winding 6 kilometres up to the high plains and crossing the Great Dividing Range at 1,490 metres. We stop at the old gold mining town of Kiandra, before cycling on to Adaminaby. Close to Lake Eucumbene, it is the home of the Snowy Mountains Scheme.
The road is constantly up and down all the way to our final destination 140 kilometres later at Cooma. Tomorrow it is on to Canberra.