I got moving at 6am as the sun was just starting to peak over the horizon. After riding down a rough firebreak to get back to the road, it looked like my front left pannier had bounced off its mounting, but closer inspection revealed a bigger problem; the mount itself had pulled free of the front fork and the bolt that holds it in place was missing. Not good!
So I backtracked up the firebreak on the off chance I would find the missing bolt...and thanks to some incredible luck, spotted it in the dirt. But, back at the bike I could not get the bolt to thread back in properly...the thread must be damaged? In my tools I had a small selection of spare rack bolts, but none were long enough. Hmm...time to bring out the Magic Repair Kit: Gaffer tape and cable ties!
Inserting the bolt back in anyway to take the weight, I secured it with the gaffer tape to stop it popping out, then used a cable tie to keep the rack mount tense against the front fork. It felt solid, fingers crossed.
That all took some time, so the sun was well up when I got going East, towards the Balladonia roadhouse about 32km away. The Easterly wind was about again, but quite light so I made quick work of that distance and was looking forward to my first of 13 roadhouses on the crossing.
In the case of Balladonia it was well equipped and large, and has a 'museum' attached that focuses on the pioneer settlers and the US 'Skylab' satellite that unexpectedly came down here many years ago, making big news. Amusingly the Australian Government were successful in extracting a fine from Nasa for littering.
Meanwhile I tucked into a 'steak burger with the lot' which was better than expected as there were plenty of fresh ingredients used...and they had proper coffee here too. I hope the rest of the roadhouses are like this! (They are not).
There is a mobile cellphone tower here but its Telstra only and my sim is on Optus so it looks like I'll be totally off grid...sucks a bit, but expected. I put a payphone call through to my wife instead which felt very 1980s.
Once on the move that Easterly wind had picked up a fair bit so the riding was much slower. The big challenge today was as much mental as physical: 90 mile straight.
It's a long exposed section of road, no corners, a few undulations...and headwinds galore. I got to the start of this with 60km already done so knew I couldnt finish it today, but could hopefully take a decent chunk out off that distance.
The trees thin out here and the massive horizons start, something I was looking foward to seeing as there isn't much flat land where I come from. Its quite something to behold and makes you feel pretty small. Also very hard to judge distances. In one experiment I counted how long I could see the car that overtook me. Relative to my speed it was going at about 80km/h and I could see it for at least 4 minutes. Nuts!
At a rest stop a guy was driving round in a ute and he stopped for a chat. He turned out to be one of only two landowners whose property span the straight. It was interesting to talk to him and he must be hard as nails to live out here and look after a frankly huge piece of land in extremely dry conditions. He was at the rest stop assessing where to put some fencing up, and worried most about people lighting fires there. I can see why.
Staying postive was difficult here in the wind, it felt like I was riding on a conveyor belt, only my gps showed progress, and it was slow. With about 110km done it was time to refill my water bottles from the big bladder on the back of the Beatrice.. and I could see a group of 4 people chatting next to their big touring motor bikes...so pulled up next to them.
"Wanna swap bikes?" I asked as Beatrice trundled to a stop next to them. "Where's the motor?" They jokingly replied. Before I could protest they stuffed a muesli bar in my hand and we had a good laugh swapping thoughts about traveling in the area.
I told them about Cure Cancer Australia and without batting an eyelid they were suddenly handing over cash. Just amazing, in the middle of the outback, people would show such generosity in the briefest of encounters with a complete stranger.
So a special Thank You to Ivan, Neil (?), Lyn and Iris. Ivan had himself recently completed an epic off road motorbike trip around Australia to raise money for White Ribbon, which is a domestic violence charity, after his step daughter lost her life to domestic violence. A tragic story, but Ivan can be very proud of his response, spreading the message that violence towards women is NOT ok.
As I left them to cycle on, one of them called out "stay focused". Wise words. And I left our meeting determined not to give in today, frankly it was really tough going...the wind increasing and my speed dropping to 16km/h. I tried various mind games to keep going, and that worked for a while getting me to the 150km mark. After that the mind games stopped working so I started making little commitments like: "Just ride to that rise, then you can have some water" etc.
Finally I passed my 160km goal and the sun was very low...time to find a place to stop. Options were pretty limited with not many trees (or hotels) around but I found a spot that looked vaguelly ok and got the tent up behind a small bush just as an unexpected shower of rain came down.
|Feeling the burn on 90m Straight|
Distance today: 162km
Total to date: 1786km