Cycle Oz Day 55 – Peloton

  • Start: side of the Stuart highway
  • End: Marla Roadhouse
  • Day distance: 124.3km
  • Total distance: 3382.51km
  • Average speed: 15.1km/hr
  • Pedalling time: 08:10
  • Total time: 10:10

The sky was so awesome last night. It was completely clear and with just a slither of moon. When I went out to the toilet at about 10:30 it was looking pretty spectacular and I managed to see another shooting star before I got back in my tent. 

I was nervous about the Therm-a-rest repair holding up but I woke to a fully inflated mat so my repair was good. With another day of northerly winds we tried to set off at 7:30am. I was ready bang on the dot, I’m pretty efficient with my packing up. I have it down to about 20 minutes when I’m hiking, it’s been a bit longer on this bike journey as I am still finding a place for everything. The boys however are faffers in the mornings and they need at least two hours to get ready!

We ended up setting off at 7:50am. I wanted to wait for them, after yesterday afternoons discovery I decided I was going to stick with the boys and have them shelter me from the wind. I’m not stupid, I know when I’m on to a good thing! And that’s what I did for the whole day. I felt like we were riding in the worlds longest peloton, just in the same formation the whole time. Poor Dominik had the most difficult job, setting the pace and feeling the full force of the wind. 

My new position comes with extra things to think about, mainly not crashing into Simon in front of me. There were a couple of times where I was concentrating so hard on his back wheel that I didn’t check my mirror and a couple of road trains came a little too close for comfort. It’s times like this when I wish they would give a little warning toot. I am not big into cycling at home, but it is something I enjoy watching when the olympics come around, I have a new found respect for the people riding the peloton, they have to be so in sync with each other. 

I was pleased to find out that the boys stop often, for a quick rest, a break from the wind – especially important for Dominik – and water. This comes with its dangers too because the front person decides when they are going to stop and I need to react quickly enough so I don’t crash into the back of them. There were a couple of close calls but no crashes thankfully. 

It was easy to keep up with them for the first 45km. I sometimes felt like we were going too slow, but I know that was just because I was being sheltered and Dominik was putting in maximum effort up the front and only achieving 10/12kph, so it must have been very windy for him. If I was on my own I would probably only be managing about 8kph. I barely took any photos at all today because this was my only view…

We made it to Cadney Homestead roadhouse and stopped for a break. It had taken us 3.5 hours to do 45km and our goal of 125km for the day was looking unlikely if this wind continued. I got a chocolate milk and the boys got some chips and then we were on our way again, back in formation. 
We had made some contingency plans in case we didn’t make it to Marla, most of which involved camping on the side of the road and getting to Marla for breakfast / second breakfast / elevenses / pre-lunch lunch, depending on the distance and the wind. I stuck to Simons back wheel like glue, I don’t want to let them get away from me and have to battle the wind by myself. The one piece of excitement for the day was seeing a large group of (flamin) Galas on the side of the road, and stopping to take a terrible picture of them. 

The battle with the wind was constant and we weren’t making fast progress. Dominik said he felt like he had cycled 200 miles today and we had only managed about 80. He definitely has the rough end of it! We stopped at a crappy rest are where we got no let up from the wind at all, it was just like sitting in a wind tunnel. With 45km still to go at 3:30 we decided we weren’t going to make it to the roadhouse. We agreed to keep peddling until 5pm and see where we had got to. It was likely that we would just set up camp in the bush somewhere, find somewhere with some trees and some protection from the wind. It was getting cloudy, which was so nice to have a break from the sun, but they were looking a bit stormy, and the thought of all that red dirt turning to mud and sticking in everything wasn’t a great one! 

But our fortunes started to turn as the wind did. We started going a bit faster, achieving 20kph with slight tail wind. I was really starting to feel it though, I was struggling to keep up with the boys and I felt like I was having to put extra effort in just to cling on to Simons back wheel. If only I had some kind of bungee cord, I could hook myself on to the back of his bike and get pulled along, I’m sure he wouldn’t notice, I thought to myself every time I looked at the rack on the back of his bike. 

When it got to 5pm we stopped and with only 20km to go they said exactly what I thought they would say, they wanted to carry on to Marla. Dominik was being powered by the thought of a Schnitzel and Simon was being powered by the thought of a soda. I really wanted to get there too but I was so tired I just didn’t think I could make it. I told them I was struggling to keep up, and that I would get there, I might just get there a bit later than they did. 

I chugged as much water as I could. I felt unbelievably thirsty today and despite drinking quite a lot I didn’t wee at all. I think all the moisture in my body was just evaporating out of my mouth as I was breathing. I remembered the energy gel sitting in my snack pouch which Yvonne my warm showers host had given me way back before Melbourne. I hadn’t felt the need for it yet but this was exactly the right moment. I knocked it back and washed it down with a load of water, turned my mindset into a positive one and set off, determined to keep up with the boys. 

And keep up I did. I think Simon was making sure I didn’t fall too far behind by keeping a steady 20kph pace which was nice. When they stopped to take a photo I took my chance and I went out in front for about two minutes doing 25kph! Simon took the lead for the last push to the roadhouse and that energy gel really did help keep me moving. With my second wind and the thought of food and soda we got there at 6pm, just before sunset. 

What a day! What a very tiring, long day!

We quickly pitched our tents before it got too dark and then went about the important stuff, eating and drinking. I got a Schnitzel again, the same as I got in Pimba. Dominik had spent so much time talking about it today that it ended up stuck in my mind too. Plus we knew it was going to be a really big portion and having not really eaten that much today it was just what I needed. That and my ‘man can’ sized soda. Australia is a bit backward like that, I don’t think you would get anything labelled like that in England now, but they also have their bathrooms labelled ‘Jills’ and ‘Jacks’!

I felt sick after eating all that food as I knew I would. Despite doing all this exercise everyday I don’t feel all that fit or healthy. I seem to be carrying a few extra pounds around my middle and I think it’s a bit unfair that I still have a rubber ring after cycling over 3000km. I feel very bloated, I seems ok in the mornings and gets worse throughout the day, and at night I’m really uncomfortable. It’s just another thing to deal with. 

After a great shower to remove all the salt (so much salt on my face, at the end of the day it’s always covered in white patches, but today was probably the worst) I had a much needed lie down and it’s so warm tonight I don’t even need my sleeping bag on. 

We do it all over again tomorrow.  

••••••••••••••••••••••••••••••

I continue to raise money for Just A Drop – they bring sustainable clean water, sanitation and hygiene projects to communities around the world.

663 million people across the globe are living without access to clean, safe water. That’s 1 in 10 people. A child dies every 90 seconds from a water related disease. One third of the worlds population – 2.4 billion people – don’t have access to adequate sanitation.

If you have enjoyed this blog, please consider donating a few…pounds / dollars / euros / yen… and together we can change lives.

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