Cycle Oz Day 73 – the heat though

  • Start: Bush Camp
  • End: Telegraph Memorial 
  • Day distance: 114.4km
  • Total Distance: 4665.4km
  • Average Speed: 20.7km/hr
  • Pedalling time: 05:30
  • Total Time: 10:30

I had planned to gaze at the stars for a while but it hurt to keep my eyes open and I was asleep by 8:30pm. I had the most wonderful deep dreamless sleep and didn’t wake up until 6:20 when I heard the germans moving about. I think I must have barely moved all night. I felt so terrible yesterday and I was worried what today would bring but I felt nice and refreshed after a good 10 hour sleep. 

I got up at 6:40 and I was ready to go at 7:20. They boys weren’t ready of course but we still managed to get away on time. We got half an hour of riding in before the sun intensified and by 8am it was already oppressively hot. My earphones were completely buggered and they now made no sound at all so I played some music out of the speaker, not really a long term solution so I just kept some hope I would find some at the next roadhouse. 

It was only 40km and we got about an hour of good wind and an hour of bad wind which made the last bit a bit of a slog. Elliot is a bit more than a roadhouse, there are actually a few houses around and some people living there, so the store is one of those places where you could find anything, even if they only had one of it. To my absolute joy they had earphones! I bought some and tested them straight away to make sure they worked. The sound quality is exactly what you would expect from a pair of $12 earphones, but at least they were making sound which is a 100% improvement on the old pair. Now I could get back to listening to Harry Potter (I’m finally on the 7th and last book). 

We bought some hot chips and I made short work of a 1.25 litre bottle of Mountain Dew, a steal at only $3.50. I felt considerably better than I did yesterday, I wasn’t finding it hard to breathe, nor was I getting lactic acid building up in my legs, but I thought the 5 servings of caffeine in the soda might give me a little boost anyway. We stayed at the roadhouse for a while, about 2.5 hours, sitting on the floor to find the small patches of shade, I used the opportunity to update the blog. It was so hot, and it was a bit more humid today, noticeable because our mouths weren’t so dry all the time. I was also starting to sweat a lot more profusely, I definitely sweat a lot less than the norm, but even I had sweat rolling down my back, just from sitting still. 

Eventually we carried on and stopped against a rest area just 25km up the road. All the time I am just desperate for shade. There were a lot of Grey Nomads there and we were hopeful from some cold water but we weren’t in luck today. My water is so hot it makes me feel sick when I drink it, it’s not at all refreshing and I’m sure it just heats me up from the inside. We ate some lunch and I was an effort to force down a tuna wrap, I was hungry but I think I may have come to the end of my days with the tuna again. And I could taste it all afternoon which was rather unpleasant. 

I dropped a bit of wrap on the table and there was also a bit of oil from the tuna which the ants set to work on and completely cleaned the table. They were going in and out of the big screw on the top so I imagine the inside of the table was full of ants. 

We waited out the hottest part of the day and left at 3pm to complete our 51km to the rest area and our camp for the night. It was hot and arduous, and we passed Newcastle Waters which is supposedly where you start to feel the tropical heat, but I think they need to move that marker a little further south! I learnt that the Tropics of Cancer and Capricorn mark the furthest points north and south where the sun can be directly overhead. 

Newcastle Waters is a modern day ghost town, it was on three stock routes so it was probably bustling at one stage, but I imagine the advances in technology mean that it became no longer necessary. Although I can’t see why anyone would want to live out this way. It’s winter and it’s already too hot, all the plants are hostile and there has been a significant increase creatures! The town was a 3k detour one way and we were too hot to be bothered with it. This is more what I imagined Australia to be like and I’m so glad it hasn’t been like this the whole way, those cold days at the beginning seem like a dream now. 

We were making good time and although there was a bit of a headwind, it meant it was a bit cooler. We saw a guy on a bike heading towards us and we stopped and had a brief chat. He was Daniel from Germany and is cycling Darwin to Adelaide with a side trip to hike the Larapinta trail. We didn’t talk for long as he seemed keen to keep moving and get some real food at the next roadhouse.

We also saw a very strange man heading the opposite way, he was pushing some kind of homemade stick with wheels contraption and when we stopped to chat to him he wasn’t interested in talking at all. I tried to get out of him what he was doing and eventually he said he was hitchhiking to Cairns. A very strange man indeed. 

One thing we have noticed in the last day is the increase in the amount and the size of the trees. it’s starting to get a lot greener again. And this is good news because we will have more opportunity to find shade, although it will still be difficult in the hottest part of the day because the sun is so high and directly overhead. But now, at around 5pm the sun starting casting long shadows from the trees and for a few blissful moments at a time we rode through the shade. 

We stopped briefly under a tree to cool down a bit before getting the last 27k done and arriving at our camp spot at 6pm. We have been discussing starting riding much earlier, and maybe riding later into the evening to escape some of the heat of the day. 

When we got there we saw Max and Audrey, who we had been hearing about along the way, and Max had reached out to the boys via Facebook, so we knew we were going to catch up to them at some point. Max is Austrian and Audrey is a little Quebecois! Max is pretty distinctive as he has a very long beard and a very unusual bike. He has a cargo bike with a huge box on the front, which has 30 litres of water in it, the capacity for about 45 litres, a huge plastic box for food, and when they set up camp they got out camp chairs and cooked a pretty gourmet looking meal. They had also done what I have been lamenting myself all day for not doing – they had put their water bottles in the freezer overnight at Banka Banks and their water stayed cold all day. Next time…

Some nice Grey Nomads filled our water bottles for us, unfortunately it wasn’t cold, but it was considerably better than any of the water we were carrying. We also got a little military history lesson about the Darwin area, bombed worse than Pearl Harbour – a little known fact. 

We all had dinner together around the picnic table and exchanged stories. Max has been all over and is a bike mechanic, good person to know! They are travelling a bit slower than we are, averaging around 80km per day, but we plan to arrive at the same place tomorrow so I can show you his crazy bike. We eventually retired to our tents as the bugs are out in full force tonight.

••••••••••••••••••••••••••••••

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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