Its before noon and you’ve already cycled 50km and been on two boats. Smooth sailing everyone!
Its before noon and you’ve already cycled 50km and been on two boats. Smooth sailing everyone!
I arrived in Canberra late this morning after a bit of a difficult day yesterday. I thought I was going to have plenty of time yesterday leaving around 930 having 115km to do. I was more climbing still to do. I had been led to believe it was relatively flat, with about 300 meters of elevation difference. Turns out I did 873 meters of climbing and didn’t make it into Canberra.
I ran out of light 35km south of Canberra. I’ve had a tactic for a while to find a decent camping spot in these pastoral areas. Find a drive was, ideally where the house(s) cannot be seen. Ride up it until I hit the property line fence. There is almost always a path leading off one direction or the other. Find a hidden place to camp. This went really well last night. I was a bit close to the path but usually this isn’t a problem. one or two cars will usually drive in after work, I haven’t been notices so no big deal. There was an exception this night. Apparently there was a party going on this night and there where calls coming and going for hours. Normally I’d just join a party, but these folks sounded like…. no my type. Anyhow I wasn’t able to sleep and people where parking pretty close to me, yelling, pealing out in the gravel and generally doing what…. not my kind of folks… do. Once the neighbour (must have been a big fella) yelled at the top of his lungs “Shut the *FRONT DOOR*, people (like me) are trying to sleep!” the party died down. This didn’t help the sleeping situation as it was friggin’ freezing! I woke up to ice in my tent, frost on everything outside and generally cold ass misery. When I arrive at Tom’s house I learned it had been -3.8C! I cannot ever think of a time when I was in anything colder. Snow boarding in Tahoe? 48F. January in Karlsruhe, 0/-1C. -3.8C! I pushed on quickly so to get warmed up. Started riding around 9am (no alarm). Had some delicious pies and catching up on stuff and things now.
In just a couple of days I will arrive in Sydney. Around 300km to go. And with as much fun as I’m having I’ll be glad to be done. It will be nice to get some other things done and get back to playing polo. This will also give me the opportunity to document the whole journey and finally upload all my pictures. Another big post in less then a week. Brook, you at the beach with my beer? Sorry I’m late.
The last couple of weeks have been a bit on the nitty gritty side. Basically since leaving Port Augusta I’ve been riding on the highway. I decided on Sunday I would head east rather than back up north to Adelaide. I wanted to camp at the Gampians but the thought of going further from Sydney wasn’t a very desirable one. After I picked up a map of Victoria I discover huge amount of parklands to the east. East it was then. I’m in Orbost, Vic now and about to start heading north. Sadly the nice weather didn’t hold out and I will be seeing rain in the next couple of days. Maybe even snow at the top of the climb. Over the next couple of days I’m going to ride a meager 170km, riding short days then camping and hopefully some hiking. Next major stop is Camberra sometime next week.
I’m on my second day of rest and loving it. I did absolutely nothing yesterday. Total distance: 0km. Barely looked at my bike. Did some updates to the site, trying to fix a problem with uploading pictures but haven’t quite figured it out.
Day 17 (178.57km)
I made a big mistake yesterday. With all the running around getting the bike sorted out and figuring out where I would stay (and paying too much for it) I let the Foodland close before restocking on supplies. I still have food for cooking dinner but my lunch and snack food are pretty much depleted. Despite winds I had a pretty good roll today. I rolled into Poochera in the afternoon pretty hungry. At least I was thinking about food before rolling in. I turned into town thinking I would find food. The pub wasn’t serving food yet but I stopped for a beer. Chatted with the lady for a while and had a couple more beers totally forgetting how hungry I’d been. Unfiltered Pale on a hot day can easily feel like a meal. Once I started rolling again I saw the roadhouse just after the turnout I’d taken. Grabbed a couple toasties and kept rolling. Really hit me now how hungry I was. Inhaled them but it was too late. About 20 minutes later I had my first total bonk. Seeing spots, legs shaking and chugging water. I had restocked snacks at an earlier stop and ate about half of them right here. Cookies, cheese on crackers, couple of tomatoes and I was rolling again in 15 minutes feeling a bit better. Lesson? Stopping at the pub is okay, just make sure to eat first.
Day 18 (144km)
Started off really well this morning. Winds where not too bad and the legs felt good. I have been noticing that I tend up slow down about an hour to hour and a half into a day but usually I pick up speed again an hour later. Today I didn’t seem to come back. The legs felt sluggish and I had trouble pushing on the small hills. Wind never got that bad but was coming from all directions. There are a lot more flies again, tiny little fuckers that love landing on my face. Even up to 20km/h they’ll be flying around me. Taking breaks is getting hard because when I stop I seem to accumulate 4-5 flies per minute until there is a swarm around me.
I arrived in Kimba fairly early and decided to stop. My legs where not cooperating so I figured I’d give them a rest as I’d already had a pretty good day. Grabbed some food and headed to the pub to ask about parks to stay. I knew there where 2 or 3 free camping spots. I was going to do the first one I saw right near the road but several people recommended I go 2 blocks to the north and camp there. “It will be quieter” they said. Checked it out and it was quite nice, even had a grass area I would camp on. There was a small lighted area where I cooked a nice dinner, taking my time and reading. Went to bed around 830. About 30 minutes later I heard a couple of people outside my tent then heard an all too familiar sound. Breaking up bags of ice on the ground and the clang of bottles. Fuck. More and louder voices amassed by the minute. Within 20 minutes there where a dozen or so people for a sausage sizzle. Normally I would have joined them and mooched as much beer as possible but I was so tired I didn’t want to move. Put my headphones in and did my best to get back to sleep. An occasional yell would wake me but I managed to sleep. As far as I can tell they packed it in around midnight. Quieter my foot. I’ll take the road trains next time.
Day 19 (170.45km)
Pretty warm day rolling today. Stopped in Iron Knob for lunch and took a couple hours off in the hopes in would cool down a bit. It did but wind picked up a bit too. Got into Pt. Augusta around 6. Couldn’t find any decent food. I really wanted a giant plate of cheesy pasta but just couldn’t find anything. Settled on what should have been extremely cheap noodles. Good but not what I was hankering for. They also messed my order up once and took longer than it should have. While looking for a park to camp in I checked the rates of a couple small motels, one was really cheap so decided to grab a room so I could shower and wash some of my cloths.
Day 20 (117.59km)
I simply could not get my head on straight this morning. I was done with breakfast at 730 and had next to no packing to do. But for some reason I just kept lagging. Putting something in the wrong bag, or looking for something else, closing all the bags are realizing I hadn’t put something in. Over and over again. Didn’t end up leaving until 830.
Leaving town things where not looking good already. Crossing the windy Nullarbor I kept telling myself the wind would not be as bad once headed south. I’d seen the weather reports for weeks. High pressure zone over Melbourne with counter clockwise winds pushing south out of Pt Augusta. At least that was the case until last night. When the wind changed direction and was head N-NW. 16th day of headwinds. On top of that this was the worst traffic I’d had since day 1 leaving Perth. A lot of fast traffic, not will or able to give me room forcing me to riding entirely on the very bumpy should all day. I’d bought another roll of bar tape back in Ceduna and around 930 decided to stop and add another layer to the tops of my bars. My should was killing me already, just an hour into the day. It was more comfortable after this but I was still in a rotten mood, traffic sucked, roads sucked. Generally not having fun. I stopped in Pt. Germein for lunch. Got a nice lasagne again and briefly chatted with the guy next to me. I then overheard him say on the phone “…. no I’m with my friend skateboarding to Adelaide ….” I FOUND THEM! For weeks not I kept hearing about and seeing old wheels from ‘The guy skating the Nullarbor.’ He was leaving a legend in his wake. Just about everyone had seen or heard about him. I’d already seen one news paper article on him back in Ceduna. This dramatically changed my mood. It was very unexpected at that moment and took my mind of the road conditions. They where all super nice, we swapped complaints about the road conditions and they shoved off. I figured I’d see them again as we where pretty much on the same schedules into Adelaide. Saw them again at a roadside shop a bit later.
Pulled into Crystal Brook to get groceries and rested for a bit. Decided as I wasn’t going to make Adelaide the next day as it was I’d finish for the day. Went back to the caravan park I’d seen back on the road and stay there. Setup camped, cooked dinner had some beers and wine with the Skate The Nullarbor crew.
Day 21 (128.07km)
The winds started howling around 4am. This wasn’t going to be a good day. I thought I was going to be totally in for it. Luckily it was due to the little valley we where in. Once back on the main road I had… wait for it… A TAILWIND! I’m about 200km for Adelaide and was shooting for 150 today to have an easy roll in tomorrow. My knee started to hurt a bit today so I backed off a bit. Finished with 70km to go. Could casually do that in roll in early after noon.
Day 22 (91.49km)
This distance is actually about 73km into Adelaide and the rest rolling around in town. Basically arrived at the Exeter Hotel pub at 230 and stayed there until 900 or so. Weeeee. Ate a bunch of food too.
Day 23 (0km)
Restiest of rest days. Didn’t even go outside until after dark.
Going to stay in Adelaide until Saturday morning at least. I could push until Sunday and still make Melbourne by Friday but I’d be under pressure to do 150km a day without a lot of room to spare. Will decide in the next days what I’ll do. Off for some downhilling now.
I’m up to day 15 now! After a couple of really trying days, followed by a couple more really trying days.
Days 8 (169.24km) & day 9 (107.53km)
The first troubles I ran into I touched on in my last post. Basically I kept getting flats. I think it was 7 the day before Norseman. Not punctures, that I could have dealt with. These where slight leaks all over the tube. Inside, outside, side walls, everywhere. I still don’t think I’ve actually had a single puncture beyond the blown sidewall on day 2. I took the day off in Norseman to calm my head before heading into the hard section of the start of the Nullarbor. Things started well but about 2 hours in the flats started. And kept going all day. I think 8 in total. I got to the point I would not even bother taking the tire off, just pump as high as I could and keep riding. I was ready to give up, jump on a train in Balladonia and call this one a failure. Luckily there was no train in Balladonia. I camped out maybe 80km from there and road in the next morning, arrive around 1100. Slowly, frustrated I started cleaning and repatching tubes. These things where toast. Only 2 out of the 4 I think where even able to be patched. After about an hour some bikers mentioned there was another cyclist behind me about 80km. Another tourer? Maybe with spares? My savior? Sorta. He was riding supported on a road bike so all he had was 23c tubes. But they where patchable. He gave me one with a tiny leak it in. I cut down a patch as small as I could to it would rip off and its held since! 958km without a flat! Its also meant I’ve been running low tire pressure to keep the patch from ripping off but that is better than a flat any day.
Day 10 (162.28km)
Mostly uneventful day. Winds have started to change direction coming towards me but still mostly a cross wind. Made it to Cocklesbiddy where I met Jeff. Jeff helped me break several federal laws in a matter of moments. It was part of some holiday celebrating bunnies? And I thought American holidays where weird. Anyhow they said I had to order dinner to get a beer, but there was nothing vegetarian on the limited menu. But the pub was serving food…. okay… anyhow in the confusion Jeff sold me takeaways when he shouldnt have. I was grateful.
Day 11 (172.41km)
Accidently reset my computer this morning. Lost my odometer for the trip so far. Crap. It was at 1220km I think. This is another reason I hate timezones. I had to advance my clocks 45 minutes going into Central Australia Time and the button got stuck resetting the whole computer. Winds where heady today but not that bad in general. Until around 4 at least it really picked up. I stopped riding right before 5 as I was totally beat. Earliest I’ve stopped to setup camp yet. Sunset was just after 6 at this point with useful light up until about 630. It only takes me about 20 minutes from the time I put the bike down to having the tent up and the stove priming. I realized today my solar panel doesn’t charge the Kindle so I cannot read now. derp. I had a really bizarre dream this night, but I will right about that later in the detail post.
Day 12 (119.00km)
Fwump, fwump, fwump. There where Roos hopping around my tent last night. I peeked my head out a couple of times and couple see there silhouettes against the moon light. Big ol’ Roos. Think they where after my water…. Didn’t want to get up this morning, it got pretty cold last night. Coldest night for sure. Winds really started to pick up around 900 today. Hard to keep above 20km/h for more than a couple minutes at a time. After a long tiring day then there was the climb into Eucla, not much of one but with tired legs it was enough. Stopped at Eucla for some food, think it was around 2. Not much going on, bar did not open until 4. Jeffery, who I’d met in Cockles told me Border Village had the only draught beer on the Nullarbor. Only 12km past Eucla and reason enough for me to go. Just before Eucla was my first sight of the sea. I was hoping for a nice view from up on the range but the bush pushed out again quickly cutting a little of the wind making the short right to Border Village pretty easy. Grabbed a backpackers room here and headed to the pub. Best dinner in a while too, nice veggie lasagnas. Just as I was ordering my second beer, “‘ey Morgan, how ya going?” Jeffery and a couple of other come in. I think I may have, dare I say, drank a bit too much that night. I was feeling pretty crappy in the morning and got a bit of a late start. But I did get the best bit of info in a while from the bar tender. Ceduna has a bike shop.
Day 13 (188.27km)
I AM THE BEAST! I decided early on I was going for it. Nullarbor Hotel. 186km. Tomorrow was going to be the worst headwind of the week (according to the weather report in Eucla) and I was going to get the jump on it. I am not sure when exactly I realized this decision wasn’t such a good one but I feel it was at a point I was commited. Close enough to the end I should push through. Just had to stay above 15km/h and I could make it. With 4 hours ahead. It. was. brutal. Everything hurt so bad by the time I finally made it. But the calculation was dead on. I arrive 2 minutes after the sun dipped behind the horizon. The plan from here was to do a short 93km into Yalata, 140km to Penong, then 70km to Ceduna for a rest day.
Day 14 (128.73km)
Parts of this day will get an in depth post of there own as part of the social observations I had where extraordinary. That’ll be later..
So apparently I crossed another timezone and no one had bothered to put up a sign. I think from now on I should keep to North/South tours. On top of an already late start, I was actually an hour behind because I didn’t advance my clocks. derp. So started riding at 1000. Weeee. The wind was blasting. Full. Blown. HEADWIND. This in a section called the Treeless Plain too. Doing about 13km/h. Quick math…. nope. I couldn’t even make my short 93km if I wanted. Luckily things changed about an hour and a half in. I saw something I love to see on a windy day. HILLS! When ever a discussion of hills vs wind comes up my statement is the same. I’ll take a hill over a headwind any day. You can see up a hill. They don’t change on you have way up. They don’t get steeper, then shallower, then fuck off steep just to piss you off. And…. They block wind. I also started riding a lot smarter today to, using my triple a lot more. Was cruising up hills at about 15-16km/h, winds on the crest where pushing me down to about 12-13km/h (1 minute tops) and was frequently doing 30km/h down the backsides and trough the trough. Ended up having a really good day. Yalata though turns out does not have a roadhouse anymore and I (thought I) needed water. I didn’t think I would have time to make Nundroo before sundown to get more water as I was down to about 1L. This might not be enough to cook and get into Nundroo in the morning. Talking to a guy he said my best bet was to go into the Yalata Community and ask if I could buy water from their shop. Ended up using up and hour 15 on the endeavour. Shorty after being back on the main road I ran into Mike from Japan. I had ended up in the unique situation of having too much water. I had about 11L at this time and it was heavy. Mike and I chatted a bit and bitched about the poor water available. Well Mike you are in luck. I offered him some of my water, he was hesitant at first but when I told him there was nothing at Yalata and the community shop was closing in 10 minutes he was grateful. I have him about 3L. We where both quite happy with this. A few minutes after starting to ride again I noticed the sun was quite high in the sky, especially for sunset being in 45 minutes….. oh forehead slap. Fraking timezones! I could have made Nundroo without any problem. In fact I could have refreshed my water and done 10-15km beyond! Sunset was at 7 now! I kept riding and camped about 40km before Nundroo.
Day 15 (145.77km)
Pretty average day. No more hills, so the winds kickin up again. Getting into the farm lands now which will be presenting a problem with selecting a camping sight. The fences are close to the road. Some places as close as 15m. With very little cover from the road noise. Stopped in Penong for lunch, the pub didn’t have much so I ended up staying longer than expected after going to the cafe across the street. When I left around 345 I thought for a moment I might make Ceduna that night. The winds disappeared the the beers had invigorated me. Was sailing along at 25+ for 45 minutes. BBBBBBooooooooossssshhh! The headwinds came back furiously. Nevermind on Ceduna. Ended up stopping just before 7, less than 30km from Ceduna. With a really shitty road side camping spot. I finally had my first little mousy visitor. I baited with with some peanuts to try to get some pictures.
Day 16 (so far)(32.76km)
Rolled into Ceduna slowly this morning. Slept like shit. Trucks blasting by most of the night kept me awake. It was calmer in the morning so I decided sleeping in was a good idea. Rolled into town around 9, found the bike shop, got some breakfast and had my front hub repacked. Been at the visitors centers since working this all out. Booked my flight to Christchuch for the Winter Whack in June. Started putting my team for Melbourne together and looks like I’m on target to get there in plenty of time. Next I’m going to grab lunch and figure out where I’m going to stay tonight. Looking for a backpackers, hostel, roadhouse or such. Cheap and with a shower basically.
Now that I’ll have full pressure tires things are looking easier ahead. Cannot do much about headwinds but I hope once I turn south things will be a little better. Will get to Adelaide about this time next week, then Melbourne the following for some POLO! After that I will do no more than 80km a day. I feel like I’ve missed an amazing amount of things riding this fast. I feel this way because I have. I’ve thought a lot over the last week about how I tour. I have these left over ideas in my head from how I used to tour. No camp gear, minimal food and water, needing to hammer so I could get to a hostel or end up sleeping in the cold. I am self supported now. I do not need to hammer to my destination. Only reason I will continue fast now is to make the tournament. In the future I’ll be planning tours differently. Plan a block of time. A big block and nothing else will change my schedule. Anyhow, still having a blast. Off to the beach for a swim.
Last night went pretty well. The tent went up easy enough. The stove was being tempermental. Not sure if this was due to burning vodka, the wonky surface (eucalyptis sticks and bark) I was cooking on or something else. I do know the stove doesn’t like soup spilled on it and is now in need of a good scrubbing. The tent broke down and packed away without problems even wet. I slept fairly well and wish I would have purchased a Thermarest years ago. I’m going to get one of their pillows today too. And a kettle.
In all I feel pretty good about the setup. To my surprise my new ‘rear’ Ortliebs where the same size as my old ‘front’ ones. Turns out I’ve always had the Back-Roller Classics up front. This just means I have a lot of space and I can distribute weight nicely. Last nights trip I manage to pack everything except the tent poles into the pannies. This leave the tops of both racks available, say for boxes of water on the Nullabar?
Next post, breakdown of everything I’m taking and packing my bike.
This coming year is going to be packed full of exciting events. I hope to visit at least two new countries this year (China and Russia). Play a million games of pickup. Organise some intercity challenges in Australia. Do several big tours. Get back into racing alleycats. Kill it in CX in Australia this year. Race on the track a lot more then I have in the past 3 years.
Alright, here are things I’m defiantly doing. Feel free to throw some suggestions out in the comments.
Really excited for this one. I played in the AHBPC in 2009 in Melbourne and had a blast. This is going to be a hectic week. I’m flying from Los Angeles about 15 hours after the Wolfpacks Crash Race to Sydney then flying to Perth the next day.
After this I will be on my bike for about 1.5-2 months (no hurry) touring from Perth back to Sydney. Once back in Sydney it will be lots of pickup and not really having an agenda.
Next major event I’m definitely in for would be WHBPC 2012 in Geneva. Dates are not 100% yet but it is looking like middle or 3rd weekend of August. One of the loose plans for this would be visiting my brother in Yunnan, China in July as he is finishing up work there. We’d travel together north through China and take the Trans-Siberian Railway from Nokhodka, Russia to Moscow. Where I would likely tour to Berlin or given enough time all the way to Geneva.
What have I missed? I will be in Australia through July at least so will hit any polo event in the region. What is in other people plans post Worlds? I am still in consideration if I will head back to Australia then, maybe head back to Germany for a while or something I have not even thought about yet.