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Despite me peeing about four times during the night I survived the Azaria Chamberlain fate. We had been explicitly warned about possible packs of nocturnal dingos looking not just for babies but we all woke up to a beautiful rainbow and sunrise at 530am without even hearing a single howl.
Marilyn was determined to pack her seat full of foam so as not to get a Megasorarse today as she was intending to ride 100kms of the longest straight road in Australia (Jordan to Dubai is 670miles apparently!). Excitedly we left the campground while Jo was going through the pre-departure checklist for the caravan. It was overcast and drizzling and we soon put on our raincoats.
Quick stop at the official sign indicating the 90 mile straight, a quick stop at the Caiguna blow hole, a cave entrance that blows air out from the extensive Nullarbor limestone cave system, and we were off in a straight line (small ups and downs).
Jo met us about 35kms up the road and later again at about 60kms where she fed us noodles. Next we ran into a lady walking the Nullarbor with a man on a bicycle and a support vehicle with her dog :) Particularly few roadkill along this long straight stretch (not counting the snails I rode over) but we did see a lot of car wrecks including an abandoned vehicle with an Arabic note on the dash.
Marilyn wanted to test her battery on this straight, so we carried a fully charged one with us. At full throttle I made the usual (impressive) 70kms before changing and Marilyn did 80 before changing to a fresh one. By then I was cold as following Marilyn on her last charge was slow going for me with a spritely new battery. And then later with a fresh battery Marilyn had the advantage on me requiring me to put in a good pedaling effort to keep up (a fresh battery zooms along)!
We stop at the only two resting areas 65kms apart and no sign of Jo. Instead of getting cold we decide to push on on the last remaining battery charge to stay warm. Eventually Jo finds us, surprised we'd gone this far!
Marilyn decided to continue her marathon effort and finished the 90 miles and continued on to the Balladonia Road House, located in the Western Woodlands (end of Nullarbor). Enormous downpours along the way, we were wet, cold and sore at the end. Marilyn got her leg caught in bike cables on her final dismount at the caravan and fell over. Jo had made spaghetti and got us a nice WA wine and was waiting for us all set up. It was a dramatic day of 182kms still at a 25k average! Wow, what a way to cross the Nullarbor :). Thank you ProElectric for the Aseako bikes!
Tomorrow another 191kms to the end of the A1, to Norseman! There we can get water and food again. Some roadhouses on the Nullarbor even collect water from air-conditioning units, and certainly none is available to connect to caravans. Roadhouses sell Timtams, beer and meals, but even lip gloss was not available. Certainly no veggies or other regular shop items.
After Norseman we think it might be easy street with phone and Internet for me (thanks Telstra for not giving ALDImobile customers coverage along this major highway section of 1000+ kms)!
7pm. I'm sure it's bedtime somewhere!! Nite :)
Another super early start. Amazing what a sunrise at 530am does. We were out riding at 730am again! Marilyn and I crossed another cattle grid, we've past perhaps one a day. Then we ran into Tobias who was Geocaching, and we joined him to find an old XW Falcon wreck 200m off the road with a hidden Geocache which we found without too much trouble. I haven't done a Geocache for a long time!
We continued to Cocklebiddy for lunch, saw about half a dozen roadkill eagles, which is nothing compared to the 494 pipes of bones in the 60kms that Marilyn counted just on one side of the road... Quite sad. And than there is 1080 bait all around the place for the wild dogs (dingos) and foxes apparently who attack stock (haven't seen any!!). A happy camper told us they control the dingos for the safety of campers at road houses! Anyways, leave that topic.
Jo and I cycled to Caiguna, the start of the record breaking longest straight and flat bit of road which we'll ride tomorrow. As if we hadn't gone through enough time changes...here at Caiguna was a sign to change clocks back 45 minutes for some bizarre reason. And next Sunday is end of daylight saving too... Sigh.
Than we thought we'd get one beer in the road house, something that we rarely ever do, and we are recognised by a person there! Neville Bingham and wife Patsie are staying here. He remembered me from an Order of Australia dinner 7 or so years ago! And he is also Jo's group training organiser for the Barrington group fire fighters volunteers! Small world isn't it....
Then Sam and Lauren we met at the cliffs in WA appeared and Sam took some nice pics of us which we'll post later.
Today we rode 153kms of the A1 Eyre Highway from Ceduna to Nundroo. Turns out the dreaded Road Trains were nothing as I had expected, just trucks with two or three trailers. Ok, two of them carried helicopters and some had 40 wheels, but none threatened our safety. The radio of me coughing and spitting to trucks is about 10 to 1 according to Jo who keeps count. In other words there was little traffic and with our mirrors we could see traffic well in advance.
Some roadkill on the side included a couple of wombats and roos, birds and one feral cat that looked very much like a massive quoll (had spotted fur).
At the one road stop at Penong for lunch I saw a caravan pulled by a car with a road bike on it. I barged in to give the occupants my propaganda and immediately we were offered delicious fresh quarantine-bin destined fruit (SA border) and asked if we take donations. We received a record donation!
Again the road was gently undulating up to say 70-80meters, none steep enough to gear down more than one or two below top gear. We arrived averaging just over 28kmphr with the wind mostly in our back (awesome) at the Nundroo Cabins before 6pm. Powered sites but without internet, phone or water, but we have three showers and a loo!
Sitting here without internet and phone gives us time to talk and think. Made me realize how lucky I am to be healthy enough to cycle all this way, cycle each day. To have medicine that stays cool thanks to the solar panels provided by Tristan from PowerCom and enough medicine thanks to Ree's help in making sure I counted everything twice before leaving home :) .... Actually special thanks to Ree for being there on the phone to me each day and worrying about us, sending us the reflective vests which we wear each day, and nibbles and sweets. Actually we also got a care package from Mark and Karina in Adelaide which we are still enjoying too.... All these people that stand behind us, message us, help us, really motivate and encourage us, especially when we are tired and hungry at times.
And I must mention the special email the team received from one of my besties from the past. Here it is;
Dearest Heroines and Heros,
Well done! I'm really enjoying following your journey. Over the border already. Wow! Yes Jo Jo, the body is an amazing thing with a few hundred million years R&D.
Sorry if this is TOO MUCH INFORMATION, but I'll share anyway. It seems saddle/bum soreness is a major point of discussion among you all. Saddle soreness is serious, especially for new riders, and could end your enjoyment or even your ability to ride. As a former bicycle rider/courier (inspired by living with Walter and my darling wife Noni) who averaged around 1000km per week at times may I suggest some prophylaxis? 1. Always wear clean knicks with a padded gusset. 2. Daily apply either isopropyl alcohol or even meths to a tissue and dab and rub it over the affected area (i.e. your arse, perineum, ball sack if applicable etc). This may bring a few tears to the eyes at first but it helps toughen up the surface skin in your nethers and reduces their chafing. 3. Daily before riding apply some anti-chafing gel, the best use silicone but vaseline will to. Reapply pnr. 4. Thrush or jock itch can also be a problem and is best dealt with using canesten liquid following the alcohol. 5. A snifter of some regionally appropriate booze will also help reconcile yourself to the madness of your Quixotic adventure.
Whether you self administer these procedures, or have someone else do it for you it total up to you.
Again, I hope this personal and detailed message aint breached too many social taboos, but I'd hate for any of you to have to pull out of the trip due to some misapplied friction.