After 364 sleeps we arrived home in Jindabyne and moved back into our little unit (just for 2 days until we drove to Sydney for Hayes family 2011 Xmas). What an amazing year off work Bruce and I have had! Though it’s not over yet, one more exciting trip to come.
Our latest adventure was camping & cycling 3,900 kilometres around Victoria visiting lots of friends and even completing the 7 peaks cycling challenge on our way home. The 7 peaks are: Mt Baw Baw, Lake Mountain, Mt Buller, Mt Buffalo, Mt Hotham from Harrietville, Dinner Plain from Omeo and Falls Creek. Completing all peaks has given us 8 entries into a trip for two to the 2012 Tour de France. Here’s hoping! Finally to make it home to Jindy we had to cycle the steepest, longest hills of the Alpine Way between Khancoban and Thredbo.
During our 8 weeks cycling we have explored the iconic Wonnangatta Station, a rugged cycle adventure into the remote Victorian High Country usually only accessible by 4wds, also cycling as far west as the rugged Grampians and along the spectacular Great Ocean Road. We decided it would be a good opportunity to ride a variety of Rail Trails (cycle trails on disused railways) and so in our travels we cycled the Murray to Mountains, Ballarat to Skipton, Port Fairy to Warrnambool, Craters to Coast (Camperdown to Timboon), Old Beechy (Colac to Beech Forest), Lilydale to Warburton and finally the open section of new Tallarook to Mansfield trail. All were interesting, but the Murray to Mountains was certainly the best track conditions and most spectacular. In between we visited friends in: Eurobin, Bendigo, Daylesford, Melbourne, Alexandria and Mt Beauty/Tawonga including a friend’s 100th birthday party. It was superb to catch up with so many friends, sorry to those we missed, next time.
A quick recount of our year off! New Years Eve 2010 and we boarded a plane to Czech Republic-our goal: to ski 14 Worldloppet cross country ski races in 10 different countries in 10 weekends. An awesome goal but achievable we hoped. We started off strongly: Czech Republic (50km classic), Austria (50km skate & classic races), Italy (70km Marcialonga), Germany (50km skate and classic races), long flight to Japan (50km Sapporo Marathon our hardest race), Canada (53km classic and skate races). 9 races completed, we were going really well, until in the USA Bruce broke his leg during the 10th race the American Birkebeiner.
Bruce’s Worldloppet dreams were over but he decided we would continue so I could have a go at completing my goal. So we then had firsthand experience of the difficulties disabled people face when travelling via public transport, or really just trying to live. Bruce soldiered on and became the support team whilst I skied the races in Poland, Switzerland and Norway.
Due to Bruce’s encouragement (including a kiss at the midpoint of the Swiss marathon) I successfully completed all 14 Worldloppet races thus becoming the first Aussie to be a quadruple gold Worldloppet master. By completing the Japanese marathon both of us became Global Worldloppet skiers as we had skied the Worldloppet race in each of the 15 member nations. The highlights of our skiing included: the many wonderful people we met and shared our trip with-Aussies and lots of other nationalities, skiing the magical powder, finally making it to Japan, enjoying the diverse cultures of the 10 different countries and the spectacular mountain scenery that you can only dream off.
We then had to leave mainland Europe as due to the Schengen Agreement we could only stay for a maximum of 3 months in 6 months. Cycling Switzerland would have to wait for another trip. A cheap flight from Norway to Ireland and Bruce borrowed a bike to find he could ride, even though it was only 3.5 weeks since he had broken his leg. So we bought bikes and headed south from Dublin, as it appeared to be fairly flat. It turned out to be a magical 10 weeks circumnavigating the coastline. We couldn’t believe the amazing coastal scenery. Often the narrow bitumen roads, where often the locals would stop and give way to us, would follow the coast for many, many kilometres. Cycling Ireland was an unexpected pleasure, staying in welcoming bed’n’breakfasts and hostels, catching up with my sister-in-laws family and learning the history of a much invaded country. Even though we experienced firsthand why Ireland is so green it didn’t dampen our enthusiasm for cycling Ireland and recommend it as a wonderful country to visit.
Early June saw us fly home to Oz, to drive straight to Perisher, for our Aussie Winter season managing the Perisher Nordic Shelter (a day visitor facility for cross country skiers). For the next 3.5 months we slept in the same bed which was a real novelty. We used to get up each day around 6am to compile the daily XC trail report, maintain and clean the shelter each evening, as well as organising the trail grooming. We also chose to be available for the 3 XC ski schools and so taught lots of ski lessons as well as leading snowshoeing trips into the hills. It was brilliant to be able to spend Winter at Perisher. Even though the snow disappeared early from the Perisher trails we weren’t deterred, as we began ski touring in the higher mountains until Bruce’s legs weren’t coping so we then turned to cycling.
Early October saw us cycle to Sydney via the coast to visit my sick brother who has now recovered and thanks to modern medicine, is no longer looking like “death warmed up” or a “shuffling skeleton.” We cycled back to Canberra in time to attend a MS “wellness day” where we learnt lots of interesting information about coping with MS. A week later and Bruce received an “MS Go for Gold” scholarship to return to the USA to have another go at skiing the American Birkebeiner 50km ski marathon where he had broken his leg earlier in 2011. So in a few days time, on New Years Eve, we’ll board a plane for USA via Czech Republic, (as believe it or not a round-the-world ticket is the same price as return to Los Angeles) for one more big adventure to ski 2 Worldloppet ski races before we both return to work on January 27th 2012.
It’s been a superb year full of lots of adventures travelling around the globe, trying to squeeze in so much. One day we might learn to slow down, but probably not. We certainly live in an amazing world with lots of opportunities to follow our dreams, we feel so grateful to have had the chance to follow our hearts and certainly recommend it to everyone to decide what you want to do and then work out a plan to just do it. Hope you have a wonderful 2012 and remember to do what is important for you, what makes your heart sing! Try and cross something off your bucket list. If you are in the Jindabyne area after February we’d love to catch up. 0432 339 241 Love Marg & Bruce