When you get a chance to take a break and go on a road trip, it’s worth considering a different location once in a while…
– A blog and video, by Rob Arnold
This week there were more kilometres in the car than on the bike. That hasn’t happened for months. The tank of unleaded was still two-thirds full when I set off for my drive into the country and the last time I filled it was back in June. No, we don’t drive much in our family. Still, our Skoda Octavia was ready and soon it would be put to use again.
I pushed the button on Saturday morning and finally committed to a road trip I’d been planning to do back in June. Alas, back then, I hesitated and then lockdown came and put a pause on my intentions.
An old mate of mine, Peter Teschner, lives in Glen Innes, a smallish town on the northern tablelands of NSW. We met in the 1990s when he was building bikes under the ‘Ti Sports’ label. Before long, the name would change, and the logo simply spelled out his name: ‘Teschner’.
If you’ve got a bike with that decal on it, chances are you have fond memories of many kilometres passing under your wheels and fine rides on a quality frame.
Pete had invited me to his place around a year ago. I should have gone the moment he explained that there was “an entire end of the house that you can call home if you need a break from Sydney”.
I’ve been to Glen Innes a few times before but I was in no desperate rush to go back there. What a fool I was. Initial impressions be damned; this town that sits at an altitude of over 1,100m up on the Great Dividing Range is actually a great place to visit. I know that now. I’ve finally done my road trip and got a taste of cycling in the country. And I’ll certainly be going back again this summer!
Next time I visit, however, I’ll fill the roof racks with a full collection of bikes – one for every occasion: road, MTB, gravel… and maybe even nostalgia.
“There’s some great riding up here,” he told me. And I nodded along to his suggestion thinking, I’m sure there is… but Glen Innes? Surely, if I get the chance to escape Sydney for a few days, there’d be a collection of other places I’d go instead. It’s not a fancy destination and my memories of the place are of cold days on main street, pie in hand, waiting for the bunch to speed by for the intermediate sprint during the Grafton to Inverell. Otherwise, I’ve not really thought much about the town.
But Pete is no mug. If he says “you’ll enjoy it”, I know to listen. Of course it helps that we have a lot in common and once conversation starts to flow, it can easily go on for hours without a pause. Even if it was for no other reason, it was worth the effort to make the ±650km drive north to catch up with my mate.
The window of opportunity to travel was open, and so I put some fuel in the tank and set off. This time I kept it simple. I popped one bike in the back of the car, packed a bundle of cycling kit, my shoes, helmet, and a few other items and got back in the driver’s seat.
There’s much more to say about the journey of discovery than what you’ll read in this diary entry. I could explain the rather extended western route I selected for the trip there, via the Blue Mountains, onwards to Mudgee, Tamworth… and a few flooded causeways. Or I could tell you about the glorious food and hospitality in towns that, not too long ago, would have only had pastries or beer to serve. Of course, I could write about the rain, the rain, and the more rain that fell this week and how that added some extra drama to an otherwise relaxing drive in the country.
Instead, I’ll just say: I went to Glen Innes, saw a mate, had a few rides, explored a little, and eventually returned to Sydney feeling a little more human.
Pete was right. Of course he was. It is a great place to ride. But there’s more to this road trip than a few adventures on my bike. Watch the video attached to this diary entry and get a little taste of the area – and stay tuned for more stories from my trip to Glen Innes. There is a shed full of memories up there in the high country and I’m looking forward to sharing some of the tales told by Teschner as he delved into his collection of bikes that he’s built over the years.
You don’t have to go to places with a reputation as holiday towns to have a great break from city life. I’ve discovered a bit of my state that I’d ordinarily not have considered visiting, and I’m glad about that.
– By Rob Arnold