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

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

Perth to Adelaide - Day 5 - Alexander Bridge

Margaret River is an excellent spot for a rest day! I woke feeling pretty stiff so spent the morning stretching and then went for a walk to get a few things and look around.


In the afternoon I joined a wine tour which was quite a pleasent distraction  from turning pedals! There were some great people here, through it was very strange not to have my wife with me. Instead, a kind couple took pity on the sole traveller and babysat me for dinner. They had travelled all over the world and not to the usual places on most peoples itineraries, so were fascinating and inspiring to share a meal with. Thanks guys! I hope you dreams in Sweden and Greenland come true...

Although it wasnt a late night by any means, I was grateful for a shorter days riding for day 5. The day started with a few showers and I rode south in the rain towards Augusta. Here I stopped for coffee and had to fix a puncture...as always the laden bike attracted plenty of attention and I got talking to a nice couple who had cycle toured in Europe. They asked about the blog and I'm again kicking myself for not having a Cure Cancer shirt on or something...but anyway if the Augusta Couple are reading this: thank you and all the best to you...

After the town I headed South West...the opposite direction to home, down an undulating coastal road with some energy sapping steep sections...but too come this far and not see Cape Leeuwin...the very South West corner of Australia would have been a crime!


The Cape was wild as you'd expect, the Indian and South Pacific oceans meet here, so it is an exposed and rugged corner of the country and it had an intimidating  feel to it when you are just a bloke on bicycle. I did not hang around, for one thing I was wet and cold, but also at this point it felt very far from home indeed. Heading back East felt good...East at last! Every pedal stroke now gets me closer to home.

The goal for today was a little campsite at Alexander  Bridge. Nothing much there but a nice setting and gaurenteed water which is all I need.



I ate by the river and tried to concentrate on writing my journal but the moment was somewhat tarneshed by a family at a table near me having a series of massive arguements over a card game. Feel the serenity!

Day 5 distance: 85km
Ascent: 650m

Monday, 17 April 2017

Pert to Adelaide - Day 3 - Margaret River

Epic day. It was always looking like a long one so I was up at 05:30 and turning the pedals in the dark just after 6. No traffic and my hope was to clear town early as it's easter Monday and these roads are not great for cyclists.

Great progress for the first few hours, again pushing into a southerly though it was quite light. Out on the dual carraigeway and in the middle of nowhere, a car that had sped past pulled into the shoulder ahead and a guy got out waving me down. As a distrustful city dweller somewhat well versed in the art of Self Preservation your first reaction is MURDER... but a quick scan of the fella told me he was fine. He was in fact going out of his way to share some local info on B-roads to get to the next town.


Of course, he was an avid local cyclist and he'd ridden LeJog in the UK so we chatted roadside for a while sharing war stories as that was my first hard tour too. What a gentleman...not young by any means but looked highly capable of cranking out some decent distance and was probably fitter than most 20yr olds, though I doubt they would recognise it. So a few kms later I was off the main road which turned out to be very close to where I'd planned anyway. But the encounter lifted my energy way more than any plans.

I rolled into Busselton around 11am after having to stop for a puncture fix. 2nd breakfast was at a great location facing the truley massive wooden wharf, but a poor choice in a way as it was rammed with people and took ages to get fed and caffinated. The break was nice however.



Heading West out of town felt weird. Home, and my wife are not West. But at least no headwinds, just a climb out of Dunsborough and a pitstop for some tourism at Ngilgi Cave. The presentation was interesting with a strong focus on the first people in the region whose presence goes back an incredible 50,000 years. 50,000!! I remember visting a Dolmite in England that predated the Pyramids at Giza, but that does not touch on 50,000 years. This land and it's people are ancient.

It was a bit hard to appreciate the cave with a mob of people. When you think about it...a mineral infused drip of water that runs the same track over the limestone for thousands of years...totally untouched by us disruptive humans, to form a delicate spire of stalactite hanging from the ceiling underground. The beauty and awe of a cave is put into perspetive by time.

So anyway, I snuck off to the bottom, way ahead of my fellow tourists and there was not a sound. I've done some semi serious caving a bit off the tourist trail many years ago and have enjoyed the complete sensory depravation you can get underground, so it was nice to get a little taste of that again Plus, the guide was awesome. Back in the daylight I had a good chat to the staff about the ride, but I was too damned shy to bring up the charity which is just stupid off me. Bloody introverts.

I took lots of photos underground but can't post them till I get back as I used the proper camera which I've been hauling from Perth for such occasions.

Back on the road, the last 30kms into Margaret River were pretty hilly. I was following  an excellent suggested route from another blog...great riding so I will credit them and post the gpx files at the end of thr trip.

Tomorrow  is a designated rest day as I could not pass through this stunning area without trying local produce.  Starting tonight with this Cyclist sized portion of Bruchetta:


It was a longer day today...142 km done. My pace is way off but if I stick to my day 1 mantra, this is not important!



Sunday, 16 April 2017

Perth to Adelaide - Day 2

Mandurah to Bunsbury

Last night's efforts to fix up the bike seemed to do the job and it was a largely drama free day. After 'the breakfast of champions'



 I was rolling south with wonderfully clear sky but a bit of southerly head wind which kept me working all day. Being Easter weekend there was too much traffic for me to fully relax, but enough shoulder most of the time to keep out of their way most of the time.

I took the more coastal route and the only non freeway option but it was still dual carraigeway. Still, the area was pretty...low laying bushland, plenty of birds, the odd Skippy and some comfortable rest stops.


And a car full of people gave me the most OTT exuberant cheers as I trundled by fully laden, which put a huge smile on my face despite the embarrassment.

For other cyclists, if approaching Bunbury from the north, take Cathedral rd along the estuary to get out of the traffic...superb cycling too.


105km later I was in town and got to a camping store in time before they closed (you can't take gas for your stove on a plane of course). I will be camping soon, but took an el cheapo b&b for tonight. Camp grounds in towns seem to charge the same to pitch a tent as getting a cheap room.

For dinner I went for a walk to the beach armed with a parcel of Fish & Chips...tick one more item off the trip Bucket List!


A plaque had some information  about the indigenous people first in the area so I'm off to read up more...as thats another item on the list.

Tomorrow, a longer day is on the cards and I want to be away on the road at dawn...it should be the last day of traffic for a while too!

Saturday, 15 April 2017

Perth to Adelaide - Day 1

Perth to Mandurah

Well here we go! No more thinking about
doing it...time to actually do it! The day started with a tough farewell  to my wife and our pets. My wife was a rock at the airport whilst I was a bundle of nerves...not helped by 10/10 on the Faff scale from airport staff with the bike.

The bike turned out way to big for their boxes...which I guess I should have expected. She's  not called 'Beatrice' for nothing...


Anyway after a lot more disassembly she fit in the box eventually...albiet not padded as well as before, it turned out.


On the plane I calmed down a bit. I got out some pen and paper and joted down a few ground rules to myself:

Don't think too far ahead.
Start slow
It doesn't  matter how far youvride today, its how far you can still ride tomorrow.
Eat well
Payback peoples kindness and charity

If i can stick to those I should be fine!

The highlight on the flight was the clouds breaking at a perfect spot above Cape Arid...probably  the hardest bit on the trip. It looked very wild...cant wait to get there in a couple of weeks!


Upon landing it was time to put Beatrice back  together. The bad news was the front axel was severly bent at the end! The wheel would attach but I did not fancy being out in remote lands with a ton of weight on it....so plans to exit Perth quickly went on ice while I tracked  down a bike shop. They were awesome and had her fixed nicely but this all took a while and was quite a detour, but so glad to have it sorted before leaving town.



The plus to this was a peek at Perth and the cycle paths are top quality. Even saw dolphins swimming a few meters offshore.

After hooking up with the bike path running parallel  with the freeway running south I made fast time to Mandurah into a headwind but the sun out and great riding conditions. The delayed start meant I arrived well after dark. Campgrounds all full so I ended up in the luxury of a motel for the first night...and have spent the evening fixing up other bits of gear. A connector on the hubdynamo was loose and I was getting no power generating...so fixed that and a few other small things.

Hoping thats it for mechanicals. Nice to be moving...darn tired now...

Sorry for typos on this...posting from a phone is a bit painful!

Day1 stats:
Distance:110 I think
'Where are you going on that'? Questions: 4


Tuesday, 4 April 2017

10 Days to go...

I'm counting down the days now will I board a plane and set off to Perth to start cycling back to Adelaide. It still feels like I have a lot of preparation to finalise so it will be a very busy 10 days...busy, and exciting!

Donations to Cure Cancer Australia have been steadily flowing in thanks to generosity of friends and coworkers...I'm hoping to pay back this kindness by getting those pedals turning ASAP! So a bit about this cause: I chose this charity because of the work they do to fund research from emerging researches who find it difficult to get financial support to pursue their brilliant ideas. They look at all kinds of cancer and you can have a peek at some of their fine minds here.



I still have a fair a way to go on my fundraising target, but this should pick up once I get riding...

Training


A few people have asked me how much training I'm doing. Well, I'm relying largely on my 68 km round trip commute to work, which has been good for getting through distance on top of a busy job. Most weekends I've topped that up with other riding, so all in all I've ridden 3700km in training since the start of the year, with the longest riding being 165 km.

March was a bit more like it


I had a good test ride a weekend back, a return trip down the Great Ocean Road to Lorne to try out the bike with close to a full load, including 15kgs of water. Such great scenery along there, especially good at the crack of dawn as I had the road pretty much all too myself.

Training on the GOR

It went well in terms of a gear test. I camped out and rode back the next day...but found it so much harder with the weight and was burning way more energy than normal for 2x 130km days. I've got to be disciplined on the nutrition front for the trip itself as I wasn't eating well enough that day...lessons learned.

Weather


I mentioned the season of Djeran in my last post and it really seems accurate right now in Melbourne. Right on cue in April the wind has dropped a lot, its colder at night and with brilliant still mornings...perfect for eating up serious miles so I hope this holds for a while longer!

Early mornings in West Melbourne


That's it for now, but just a huge thank you to everyone who has read this drivel and still been willing to support Cure Cancer Australia! You all officially rock...