• Start: Monalena Lagoon Rest Area
  • End: Spuds Roadhouse, Pimba
  • Day distance: 83.7km
  • Total distance: 2783.61km
  • Average speed: 14.8km/hr
  • Pedalling time: 05:39
  • Total time: 08:00

I fell asleep around 10pm which is a much more reasonable time to get to sleep, and I was woken up a few times by the trains, but for a camp site sandwiched between a railway line and a major highway it was pretty quiet. The air was so dry and I felt incredibly dehydrated, I felt like I had absolutely no moisture in my mouth, or in my whole body.

I felt terrible when I woke up. I had been woken by a pain above my right eye. I felt what I thought was a massive spot. It feels like I have grown an extra head. It is so painful, it hurts to touch and it throbs when I don’t touch it. But when I looked in the mirror there is nothing visible, it’s under the skin and it’s making my whole eye socket hurt.

I am having a bit of trouble my my bum and my fanjita too. They are sore. I’ve cycled for the last 4 days with no padding and it has been fine, but now I am starting to feel a little bruised on the bum. I’ve also got a couple of skin sores on the crease where my bum meets my leg. The fanjita feels a bit bruised and like it needs some air. I decided to put the padded shorts on today.

I am also having a problem with my knee. It hurts on the edge of the kneecap. Later when I was riding I noticed that my knee is twisting inwards towards the crossbar and I don’t know whether my knee hurts because of this or this is because my knee hurts and my body is compensating. Either way, it’s not very nice.

It was about 70km to the roadhouse, but unfortunately I couldn’t wait that long and had to have my first bush poo. At least there is no problem with digging a hole in the soft red dirt. There wasn’t a lot of cover and I’m pretty sure one of the caravans copped an eyeful, but I am past caring about stuff like that.

It was another beautiful day without a cloud in the sky, but the sunglasses rather inconveniently pressed onto my second head growing above my eye. The wind wasn’t as strong today, it was still blowing from the north but I was managing to get about 20kph and even got over 35kph on one of the downs! It is a much, much more pleasant experience without the wind. We passed a couple of lakes, one completely dry with a salt residue left, and one with a bit of water. I’m guessing all these lakes are salty which is not much good for me!

We follow a very long pipe that brings water from Port Augusta to Pimba, and maybe to Coober Pedy, I can’t remember. I guess I will find out tomorrow.

There were so many dead kangaroos along the road, and they made themselves known by the smell. And I saw a dead emu which wasn’t quite as good as the boys saying they had seen a living one run across the road. They were stopped up ahead looking at something and Dominik had spotted a Eagle. A great big beautiful bird, hanging out in the shade on the other side of the road.

Look closely, there’s a eagle in the air

I was making good progress until a couple of long uphills really slowed me down. The hills happened at the same time as the wind decided to pick up which of course made it even tougher. At the almost-top there was a lookout where I found the boys eating lunch. We continued on the 18km to Spuds Roadhouse, the wind was increasing and it wasn’t turning into a southerly as the forecast had suggested. It did become a bit more westerly so I was being blown into the road a bit. Luckily the road was fairly quiet.

The boys are faster so they always arrive before me, every time I find them they are stuck talking to someone, normally an old caravaner who has passed us on the road. It’s quite nice for me because they have done all the hard work, repeating our story over and over again by the time I get there, so I don’t have to say anything. Other than answering questions like; are you mad? (no), are you regretting doing it? (no), don’t you want to give up? (no).

It was only about 2:30 when we arrived at Spuds Roadhouse and when we found out we could camp there, there were showers and toilets and food, we decided to stay there for the night over the other plan of continuing another 40km to a rest stop with no facilities. I was pleased because I didn’t think I had another 40km in me today.

I chugged a surprisingly reasonably priced Fanta immediately on arrival, and as it was still early we decided to do a side trip and cycle on to Woomera, a little village (pop: 136) 6km to the east. We had been told about it by a couple of Grey Nomads who said it was worth a look. The ride there was great, the wind was behind us and it was my first tail wind, it felt strange. The wind doesn’t rush pass your ears like it does in a headwind, the temperature feels like it rises a few degrees, and you don’t have to pedal!! It’s great. The road was also on a very gradual downhill. I was trying not to think about what it was going to be like on the way back!

The town is a military town and when there is no-one there (like now) it’s like a ghost town. The biggest attraction, other than it being the only thing of interest for miles and miles, is that it is a testing site for weapons and rocket launches. Everything, including the museum, was closed because it was a Sunday, but there are a lot of outside exhibits – rockets, bombs, remnants of satellite launches. Most of it was launched in the 60s and recovered in the 90s. I wonder how much more space junk litters the outback?

While we were there we loaded up on water from the tap outside the public toilets. We asked about water at the roadhouse and we were told there was a tap next to the ablution block. We had a good look around but we could only see a tap which said ‘not suitable for drinking’. I’m sure the roadhouse would have filled up our bottles for us if we had explained there was in fact no drinking water tap next to the ablution block, but we thought this was easier.

What wasn’t easy was the 6km ride back to the roadhouse. Uphill, headwind and a heavy bike with 5.5l of water. I also chugged a litre while we were in Woomera and all the way back I felt like my bladder was going to burst open. After a very slow and agonising ride I pulled up right next to the toilet and ran inside. I didn’t lock it properly and a woman opened the door. All I could do was wave and say hello.

We pitched our tents in an area we hoped was out of the wind. I didn’t bother with a shower, I don’t think the boys did either, and instead I used a baby wipe to get the grime off my face, changed into my sleep clothes and went to sit inside the roadhouse.

It was busy in there and rather than eating any of our increasingly unappealing food we chose to eat in the restaurant after seeing the food other people had. It was Schnitzel night so I got chicken schnitzel with a mushroom sauce, chips and salad for $16. The boys got beef and when they arrived my first thought was I’m never going to be able to eat all that. Well, I did! I ate it all (apart from the tomato and the pasta salad which Simon polished off, and it seems no-one likes raw onions). The lady seemed genuinely pleased and simultaneously surprised that we had all cleared our plates. I think my German friends were also surprised at how much food I ate, after seeing how little I eat for breakfast and lunch.

The roadhouse is quirky and I’m looking forward to seeing the rest of them as we head north. This one has licence plates all over the walls and cabinets full of patches. I love patches and there were some seriously cool ones here that I would loved to have had.

I am now too full to move and desperate to go and lie down, but we are trying to stay up so we don’t fall asleep too early. I think the boys are still hungry.

The good news is that the claw hand seems to be improving a lot and it’s easier to hold my cutlery normally again. The not so good news is that my knee and my undercarriage are still very sore. And, my face is burning up. I’m not sure if it’s from the sun, the wind or the baby wipe.


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