A blog about cycling...especially the long distance stuff

Thursday, 27 April 2017

Perth to Adelaide - Day 13 - Esperance rest day

Ah a day off...and a much nicer place to relax in than the last (sorry Albany). First priority however was to decide route options. One of these is to head directly east from town and camp at Lucky Bay, then head about 280km up a difficult 4WD route which connects to Balladonia on the Eyre Highway. But the cyclist I met way back at Northcliffe gave me some good current info on road conditions, describing 40cm wheel rutts, sand and general harshness. This conforms with advice on the BNA forum.

This feels too risky to tackle alone...even if I get get through I'd then be starting the Nullarbor in bad state...maybe a damaged bike and exhausted.

So, that was an easy decision in the end. Instead, it's 200km up to Norseman which I can split into 2 easy days, provided I ensure I get there well before the IGA supermarket shuts as a major food shop will be on the cards.

With that all sorted, the bike was next with a clean and check up...Beatrice has been amazing, so very little work was required.

The downside with the change of route plan was that I'd miss seeing Cape Le Grand NP...so I figured I'd try get on a tour out there as a day trip. Its the off season here but in a huge streak of luck I was able to tag on with a group thanks to Jeff at esperanceexplorer.com.au and...well...just wow:

And Jeff also happened to have worked on The Nullarbor so while enjoying some spectacular scenery I was also able to get some great advice.

So, tomorrow morning its time to ride North. Today was brilliant but I am keen to keep moving and not loose momentum.

So far I have cycled 1259km
About 2300km to go.

Thanks all so much for the donations to Cure Cancer Australia...I think I may have to increase the target!!

Wednesday, 26 April 2017

Perth to Adelaide - day 12 - Esperance

After the sun went down last night at my hidden campsite, the mozzie swarm attacked. Dealing with insects that bite is sadly not my strength...whilst I dont get freaked out (too much) by snakes and spiders, mozzies and sandflys tend to dine well on me and I am Afraid. So, I did the manly thing and hid in the tent!

Whenever I moved or switched on my torch, I could here them buzz with excitement and the pitter patter of insects against the tent sounded like a shower of rain. Lets just say any toilet stops went on hold...all night. Lessons learnt: don't camp near flooded farmland!!

Despite that I slept very well, albiet, cross legged. But in the morning, I was completely covered in bites and they clearly targetted the hand holding the defensive bedding.  There was also a heavy dew so everything was wet....best way to warm up? Hmmm how about some cycling?

20km up the road was the Munglinup roadhouse where I grabbed a coffee and a toasted sandwhich. This was the only supply point all day so I took a best guess at how much water I'd need to get to Esperance, then headed East.

Thanks to nice weather and 2 massive days riding perviously, today I only needed to cover 130km to hit Esperance. The sun was out, just, and it was still and cool so I decided to do the 130km in one big hit, and get to town hopefully  around early afternoon. A good plan but the legs were now heavy from the previous days so I was a bit off pace, and was getting through a bit more water than planned. It was also really dissapointing not to see any stunt Kangaroos jumping over a cow!

As I got closer to Esperance a sea breeze headwind cropped up, the lightest of winds and my pace dropped a bit...but it was just tired legs that was the issue. Some relief came in the form of encouragement  as I hit the edge of town: a bloke in a railway service vehicle saw me coming and wound his window down yelling out 'jeez you've done alright mate'...he must have passed me earlier. And it felt bloody good to hit this town...a major milestone...game is ON folks.

So good to get to Esperance...first impressions: what a town! Full of character, natural beauty and warm people. I am staying indoors and have just laundered my clothing after a 12 day stint on the road...what a luxury! And so now its time to get ready for the next leg of the trip...

Distance: 130km

Tuesday, 25 April 2017

Perth to Adelaide - Day 11

Last night I was talking to a couple hitching their way round Aus with no fixed plan. They were far more free spirited than myself...in a rush to hydrate, eat, update blog and get ready for another days cycling!

No mist this time this morning and a beautiful still morning as I set off east from Jerramungup at 7am to the sound of bagpipes from a nearby Anzac day ceremony at the war memorial in town...surreal!

The plan today was just to try and get within riding distance of Esperance by the end of tomorrow. But, there are big gaps between towns around here so that limits sleeping options.

The riding however was beautiful, and not easy...barely a flat section to be found, and in places the road just seemed to go on forever.

Supplies were also very scarce, which I had expected, so I was carrying enough food and water for 2 days. About 80km into the day I was on the lookout for a picnic spot for a lunch break but there wasn't much appealing so I ended up crawling into Ravensthorpe totally drained of energy, the only town all day, with 115km done in one hit. Far too much without a fuel stop!

The town was totally shut down for Anzac day anway, only the gas station open.

I got to talk to my wife while I stopped which was nice. She filled me in on some of the comments on social media I'd missed when off grid. A friend of ours who is from this very town had put a shout out to people she knew here, which may have explained the honking and waving around that area today...really nice.

After a late feed I was off again and bumped into another long distance cyclist heading the opposite way. Wow this is always so uplifting...and the vital info you get from the perspective you need is super useful. He looked shattered...but was on day 40 of his epic so that was understandable.

He had revealed that the next wee challenge ahead was the final set of roadworks repairing flood damage. It meant a detour and an extra 15km to Esperance which I really was not keen on as I was already riding to pretty much my maximum daily range. The sun was also getting low and I was pondering options as the place were the works started got closer. Either way I knew I'd be sleeping roadside tonight, as there is nothing close by.

At the turn off for the works detour, there seemed to be no one around...so, I made a break for it and rode straight on past the barrier...not fancying 15km extra!

This turned out to be the highlight of the day! The whole road traffic free, and some interesting  sections through floodplains.

Once through to the other side I felt very much done. Another big day riding and it has been a while since I've tried riding 2 centurys (cyclist talk. A century is the cyclists marathon and is 100 miles, or 160km)in a row. But; great to get through the roadworks safely with no one around, and tomorrow if my legs are still working, Esperance should be the target.

Total distance: 172km

Monday, 24 April 2017

Perth to Adelaide -Day 10 - Jerramungup

The weather has been pretty bad in Albany so I was grateful to not be out riding in it. Though the town seem all but shut down...barely anything open and all the accommodation  somehow still full? I found a place but had to move on the 2nd night.

Still, the time was spent eating, resting, and updating the blog...so I was recharged and ready to roll again this morning.

This whole trip as a whole can be broken down into different stages, and in my original plans I'd budgeted 4 days to cycle the 480km from Albany to Esperance.
It's also a good opportunity to retest water and food needs before the Nullarbor, as this stretch is also quite sparse in terms of supplies.

It rained hard again overnight and a thick mist blanketed the land yet again when I set off at 7am

But, there were no headwinds unlike the last few days, so a big day looked possible. The road wound its way North East, heading inland from the coast and was quite undulating still. Thick scrub lined the road on both sides with a lot of stagnant water around, remnants of the floods in summer no doubt. The scrub seemed to go on forever as well. I was thinking how difficult it would have been to travel through here before roads.

Also I had my first experience of big road trains to share the bitumen with. They were very good drivers and no problem so long as nothing was coming from the other direction at the same time. When that happened, I'd pull over fast. There is no shoulder on this road but it felt much safer than previous days (between Denmark and Albany).

I got to a small roadhouse, the first possible water point 92km NE of Albany in really good time. So had some food and fluid and a bit of a walk around to stretch. It looked like a tough place to live so I take my hat off to the locals who all must be pretty hardy!

As the road continued, scrub eventually gave way to farmland and there were some flatter sections which were some relief. I ended up just keeping on riding till I hit Jerramungup, where there is a camp ground, and to my surprise a small IGA that I had missed when route planning.

At the camp ground the staff were full of tales of failed cyclists in the area...they had story after story to reel out:

- The girl who collapsed on their porch with heat exhaustion before giving up 4 days later
- 2 Scots who thought they could do the route staying in B&B's the whole way
- The couple on a tandem who were blown off the bike in a crosswind
- The Korean on an ultra expensive racing bike (but again, nothing to survive a night out)

It was a healthy mix of truth and banter, I was just surprised there were no snake stories thrown in!

Today was a long distance to ride as a tourer, but it was good to take advantage of much better weather conditions! Provided I can still move well tomorrow, this was a success. Now I need to eat...a lot!

Distance: 172km!
Hills: 1199m

Saturday, 22 April 2017

Perth to Adelaide - Day 8 - Albany

Late last night the rain came down hard. I couldnt sleep, worrying about whether I'd pitched the tent well enough. It was fine in the end but not a great night.

Today was just hard. Quite a stiff headwind and was getting regularly spooked by vehicles way too close. A highlight at Denmark was the best muffin I'd ever eaten in my life...but the less said about today the better...just couldn't find any energy.

Making Albany was pure relief and I've got enough time to take another day off to sort myself out.

Enough about ME. The support and donations coming through have been amazing. One friend sent me an awesome message a few days back about his own brush with Testicular Cancer, which he survived. These words mean a lot to me and make it all worth while...expecially on the days that don't go do well.

We have now raised $4382 for innovation in Cancer Research. How cool is that!!

Tomorrow, I need to prep for another remote stretch out to the 'frontier' town of Esperance, work on the bike, and contact Cure Cancer Aus who are after some promotional material.

In the meantime, a big thank YOU!

Distance today: 95km, slooowly
Hills: 593m

Perth to Adelaide - Day 7 - Bow Bridge

Packing away the tent early this morning I had some extra motivation to get moving quickly as a nasty looking weather front looked likely to cross my path in the days ahead. Whilst I'd promised myself not to look too far ahead, it makes sense to ride harder when conditions are good, and take it easy when they are not.

In the meantime there were some more hills to climb before descending down to Walpole on the South coast, and the goal for today.

It was more stunning riding, no traffic for the first few hours and I pushed hard making some good ground. In the end, covering the 90km just after lunch with some fast descents in the mix, after all what goes up must come down!

There was a great little cafe in Walpole called Phillipine Magic owned by an Aus/Phillipino couple who donate heavily (including all tips) to a food charity in the Phillipines. The place was lively, helped by the razor sharp wit of the guy serving me who was something  of a stand up comedian...it made for an entertaining  lunch. Entertaining also because it was my first coffee in 3 whole days so I was getting a bit twitchy!

The next town, Denmark was still 68km away and a bit of a stretch by the time I'd caffinated myself...but there was a camp ground on the map 32km away which looked like a good target so off I rode.

The road all along this South Coast is not great for cycling...barely any shoulder and the cars roaring past far to close. Evasive action into the gravel was needed a couple of times.

After passing this sign:

I wondered what made them so conspicious? Were they wearing frilly underwear? I spent the next few kms making up silly placenames using similar alliteration to help distract myself from riding pains. These are the things you do when riding alone...

So a relief to pull into a beautiful spot on the hills, Ayr Sailen. As I turned into the ground I was busy giving myself a pat on the back for a big day, and failed to notice the Tiger Snake sunning itself on the red earth driveway! Only just missed it, we both got a fright.

Jo, the owner here gave a brilliant warm welcome. It seems she somehow runs a farm and a private camp ground at the same time...who knows how. Definitely the best campsite so far.

Whilst brewing rehydrated bolognaise for dinner some dark clouds were forming, doesn't look like that bad weather is far off.

Distance: 127km 
Hills: 1297m

Friday, 21 April 2017

Perth to Adelaide - Day 6 - Northcliffe

Due to going to bed at 8pm last night I was awake and on the move before the sun came up, riding east on empty roads before 6am. There was almost zero traffic but a heavy fog and really quite cold...I had the bike lit up like a xmas tree and kept a catious eye out for following traffic who would not be alert for nutty cyclists.

I made great ground for the first 50km, gradually  climbing  the whole time, and as the sun rose, the morning fog burnt off to reveal beautiful forest.

This forest got bigger and better the further East I rode. Karri trees are the most impressive, towering up to 90 meters, and the Beedelup National park was full of them

A lot more climbing  followed and the sun came out so was burning through the water..and there were no shops or towns anywhere for resupply today. Old Vasse Road was a nice off road detour and pretty easy going...just the odd car here, a very pretty spot.

Just short of Northcliffe I ran into the first cycle tourist on the trip...he was heavily laden and cranking up the hill in the opposite direction. But he'd ridden all the way from Brisbane and it was great to get some first hand info on the route ahead from the Nullarbor. The winds were still backwards and Easterly when he crossed, so riders going the other way were taking up to 2 weeks to get through.

Great character...he was completely in tune with touring and probably escaping the world for quite some time.

My day ended at Northcliffe and I camped with 2 mtn bikers on a trail ride to Perth so had great company.

Distance: 127km
Hills: 950m