Sunshine and quieter roads
It rained in the early morning and we awoke to grey skies. We had planned to camp in Bridport, but the threat of another day of rain had meant that we had booked a mixed dorm in the Bridport Youth Hostel. But by the time we rode out at 10am, there were patches of blue, and we were hoping for a fine day's riding.
Getting ready to leave the cottage at Lowe Head
Patches of blue sky in the west
After consulting with the campsite managers, we decided to head out along Soldiers Settlement Road to Beechford, then head to the highway via Lafroy. This meant that we would miss at least one big hill, as well as a few kilometres of highway traffic. The road to Beechford was largely gravel, but it was easy riding through farmland with views of the ocean as we neared the coast, with few cars to be seen.
Ocean glimpses on the road to Beechford
The gravel road from to Beechford
We had a quick stop in Beechford, which had a lot of holiday houses but no facilities beyond a toilet block and a BBQ with a rustic wind protector built behind it. There appeared to be a free camping area which was very exposed to the wind. The road to Lafroy was sealed, and we headed out of Beechford, stopping to wait whilst a car meandered from one side of the road to the other. We decided it was better not to be on the road till he passed us.
Riding out of Beechford
We sought the advice of locals at a crossroads in Lafroy, and were pleased to find that they suggested we continue straight, avoiding that aptly named Big Hill Road. As we approached the highway, a tanker passed us, but this was one of only two tankers we saw for the next 40 kilometers to Bridport. Even better, being a Saturday afternoon, we didn't see any logging trucks.
Heading into Lafroy
We sped down to Piper's River, and the convenience store that had some picnic tables out front and a llama out back. There was nothing between Piper's River and Bridport except 33 kilometres of undulating highway. We shared out the chocolates and topped up the water bottles and arranged to meet at the Youth Hostel.
Lunch outside the Piper's River convenience store
I'm a llama
Truck free roads into Bridport
There was noone at reception as Jonno and I cycled in, but our name was listed against dorm 1, so we unloaded and made ourselves at home. Simon and Georgia arrived not too long after, and once we were all showered we headed off to shop for dinner.
Bridport proved to be a lovely town, and though we took the direct route to the supermarket, we came back via the very scenic coastal walk. Enjoying our biscuits and cheese on the front deck, we got talking with Murray, the hostel manager. He suggested we consider cycling to St Helens via Gladstone. Apparently another guest, Rob, was doing the same. We had a good look at the map, and a good chat to Rob, and decided that sounded a good way to travel, cutting out around 1100 metres of climbing over two days.
The rain that we could see in the distance passed us in a matter of minutes. We enjoyed our BBQ pork chops, and the baked potatoes even though they took ages to cook, as we struggled to get one of the two ovens to work effectively.