2023 Indi-Pac Day 10 & 11 Report

Monday March 27, 2023: 12 hours off the bike……way, way too much, particularly as I had no decent excuse for the tardiness. The fact that it was chucking it down rain and my stomach was already creaking and groaning from the full frontal attack of the 3 curries, was moot in the context of the “race.” Speaking of which Di had already passed me and Ian was hot on my trail.

I strapped on every item of my wet weather kit and got out there amongst it. The rain was steady but no where near as bad as what it sounded like on the tin roof of my roadhouse room.

(Oh, the reason there are 2 days reports stitched together is because I forgot to turn off my Garmin at the end of Day 10, so there is only 1 Strava File. 1 Strava file = 1 Indi-Pac Report. That’s just the way I roll.)

It was a pretty bleak 4 hours on the bike to the town of Penong (Pop. 280), the first proper town, ie the first non-roadhouse settlement since Norseman 1,130 kilometres back west. Bleak that is until I caught up with Di and had the pleasure of riding with her for the 10 or so kilometres into town.

There is a nice little descent just before Penong and gravity being more on my side than Di’s I flew off to get the coffees in. Despite my still protesting innards I was also thinking pies and thought the Comet cafe on the main drag as opposed to the Ampol servo would better fit the bill.

Monday March 27, 2023: Back into it, in the rain.

Monday March 27, 2023: Back into it, in the rain. Take 2.

Monday March 27, 2023: mmm interesting.

Monday March 27, 2023: Catching up with Di, approx 10k’s out of Penong.

Monday March 27, 2023: “Morning Di.”

Monday March 27, 2023: Baaaaa.

Monday March 27, 2023: Our first photo in the wild.

Monday March 27, 2023: Rolling into Penong.

Monday March 27, 2023: The Ampol Servo on the main drag, Penong.

Monday March 27, 2023: The Comet Cafe on the main drag, Penong.

Another time warp….this one 90 minutes: (I’m really gonna have to do something about these out of control stoppage times).

Getting back to the “race” context the primary tasks to complete at a stop are; refuel, resupply, hit the porcelain if required, and take care of any required admin, eg source accomodation at the planned end of day destination. Bish, bash, bosh. 30 minutes max. However, on occasion ’tis way easier said than down….

Di and I became quite the fixture as we re-caffeinated, refueled and researched accomodation options. Di, somewhere local as she’d already put in a day’s worth of riding and me somewhere in Ceduna. As we were in the midst of all this we were sucked into conversations with:

  • The Gray Nomads that I had met yesterday….fancy that.
  • A holidaying English couple heading west.
  • A bloke that Di had come across on a recent section who was responsible for keeping his patch of the Eyre Highway rubbish free.

I say ‘sucked into’ but I absolutely don’t mean it that way. It is a lonely business out there on the road so any opportunity to decompress via human contact is welcomed. Their genuine interest in what we are doing is also incredibly charming and motivating.

Shit, gotta resupply. Options were limited at the cafe so it was back up the road to the Ampol Servo.

See ya down the road Di!

Suitably stocked up it was finally time to resume forward progress on the trusty ole’ Eyre Highway.

As on the way into Penong, there were also quite a few windmills on the way out of town. Although technically part of the arid Nullarbor Plain, Penongs location on the far west coast of the Eyre Peninsular means that rainfall is generally sufficient to support agriculture. This rainfall runoff is accessed via these privately owned windmills.

Monday March 27, 2023: ahhhhh windmills.

There is a decent sized climb out of Penong, and at the top I was met by the friendly, grinning face of my mate from the Nundroo Roadhouse, Scott. I must have mentioned during our chat last night that we were all GPS tracked and he found me via Maprogress. He came baring snacks and despite the fact that I was fully stocked, I graciously accepted a few muesli bars. You just never know when those extra calories might come in handy.

I asked him if his curry from last night was hanging around but he had no complaints. Perhaps 1 vs 3 was the sensible dose.

Any, we exchanged pleasantries and wished each other the best for our respective journeys.

Lovely bloke!

Monday March 27, 2023: Yep, respect the Outback.

The 75k’s to Ceduna (Pop. 1,960) took a bloody long time, a result of tough riding conditions, dodgy belly (2 x “Poo stories”) and 1 x roadside snooze, so by the time I finally rolled into the forecourt of the BP service station and Roadhouse, at around 2:30 pm I was ready to recharge……..everything. Mind, body and gadgets.

Monday March 27, 2023: My trusty bike having a rest.

Monday March 27, 2023: Man made signs of yonder civilisation.

Monday March 27, 2023: The Ceduna Quarantine Station where all fruit and veg must be disposed of to prevent the spread of fruit fly.

Monday March 27, 2023: The Ceduna Oasis.

The ideal plan was to do all the recharging in a hotel room for a few hours but they were all fully booked, all 7 of them! Oh well, roadhouse it is, which became my home for the next 2.5 hours. By the end of it I was on chatting / almost first name terms with the staff at Hungry Jacks.

First things first – grab a table, rest up my bike and empty everything from my bags onto it and the floor, giving it a chance to dry. A lot of my kit was still quite wet from this mornings fun times in the rain.

Then to the business of recharging:

I recharged the body by eating some fresh food and fruit of which there were plentiful options. It is amazing how the body craves natural after a week consuming the opposite………ok, there may have also been a few old favourites acquired from Hungry Jacks. It would have been rude not to. I also had a cheeky little lay down in the Trucker’s Lounge.

I recharged the mind by just switching off the constant vigilance that you feel in these rides – again the “racing” piece. I gave myself the space to just kick back, relax, eat, drink and check social media etc. However to calm the neurotic, hot headed “racer” within, I made a firm commitment that there was to be no more fart arsing, faffing, procrastinating, (what ever you want to call it), at stops.

I recharged the gadgets by plugging them into the wall in the Truckers Lounge. My heavy as a bloody brick 20,000 mAh battery pack was failing miserably in its 1 and only task, which meant that everything needed close to a full charge – lights, camera, phone and earphones.

Did someone say action……….yep, time to pack up and Foxtrot Oscar!

Monday March 27, 2023: Recharging.

Overcast when I arrived, bright sunshine when I finally left……….nice!

Out of the roadhouse, left turn…….yep an actual turn, the first in over a week…….still on the Eyre Highway though…….through a roundabout………mind almost blown, and then back to the safety blanket of a long straight road.

The plan hatched in Ceduna was to pedal for about 90 minutes or so then pull stumps and set up camp. A message relayed to me from my Aunty who lived in Ceduna for 40 years until recently, via my mum, suggested I get at least 25ks out of town before I even think about camping. Unfortunately alcohol abuse is a problem in Ceduna and there was a chance I could get harassed if camping within the town limit’s. I wasn’t too concerned, sometimes well intentioned advice from those not in the loop regarding matters bikepacking can er on the side of extreme caution. I thought I’d better heed the advice though and keep mum happy.

About 35k’s out of town I found the perfect spot. A fallow wheat field off to the left of the Eyre Highway. I set up camp sans bivy as it was a relatively clear night and I was up for a bit of star gazing.

Monday March 27, 2023: The Eyre Highway east of Ceduna.

Monday March 27, 2023: Plugging away.

Monday March 27, 2023: Plugging away. Take 2.

Monday March 27, 2023: The Eyre Highway east of Ceduna. Take 2.

Monday March 27, 2023: Snug as a bug.

Monday March 27, 2023: mmmmm, I hope those clouds don’t come this way.

Monday March 27, 2023: Stargazing. (again my phone does the view no justice)

Tuesday March 28, 2023: Of course those clouds did come my way but produced only very light rain, not heavy enough to prevent me from burying deeper into the beautifully toasty confines of my sleeping bag and avoiding at least an hour’s worth of alarms.

Finally up up and at em’ at about 1:15 am. I quickly packed up and walked my bike back to the Eyre Highway, while skillfully (if I do say so myself) avoiding any possible harm from the barbed wire fence that guarded my sleeping arrangement.

I was feeling good, in good spirits and made relatively easy going of the 110 kilometres  to the grain depot town of Poochera (Pop. 59). I was later surprised to find out that the little town is world famous……….in Entomology and Evolutionary Biology circles that is, for its proximity to colonies of a rare, primitive species of ant, the dinosaur ant. Tis’ a “living fossil” apparently.

If I’d known this I perhaps wouldn’t have blown up my mattress and laid it down under the verandah of a wild west prop looking Art Gallery for a few pre-dawn zzzzzzz’s. Although it’s hard to know what would have woken me up quickest: a nip on the bum from a dinosaur ant or the first fully laden grain truck that slowly roared past me not long after I lay down.

Tuesday March 28, 2023: My digs.

Tuesday March 28, 2023: All packed up.

Tuesday March 28, 2023: Having a quick break on the Eyre Highway somewhere between Wirulla and Poochera.

Tuesday March 28, 2023: I stopped in Poochera for a quick snooze.

Tuesday March 28, 2023: Looking across the main street of Poochera to some grain silos.

The 20 minute snooze before the rude interruption was all I really needed.

Back on the bike I noticed the toilet block of a caravan park that I had totally missed in the pitch dark on the way into town. I popped in to use the facilities, clean my teeth and then stuck my head under the shower to extract any remaining cobwebs.

Awrighty then, let’s be having it.

Dawn finally broke (quite late in the morning now given the time zone change) unveiling a water pipeline running parallel to the Eyre Highway off to my left.  This one I believe supplies bore and/or reservoir water to Ceduna.

Past the turnoff to Minnipa (Pop. 177) I started keeping an eye out for Sue Guscott’s IPWR sign which directed us Indi-Pac’ers to her campsite and trail angel hospitality of the highest order. I’d seen her Facebook videos and wanted a piece.

……but I bloody well missed the sign.

……not to worry though, she soon tracked me down further up the Eyre Highway on the way back from rescuing Matt Smith (aka “Kenny Behren”) from a wrong turn.

Tuesday March 28, 2023: Water pipeline and a grain silo further up the road.

Tuesday March 28, 2023: Past another grain silo.

Tuesday March 28, 2023: Eyre Highway east of Minnipa.

Tuesday March 28, 2023: Water pipeline, Eyre Highway east of Minnipa.

Tuesday March 27, 2023: A lovely catch up with Sue. Thanks for the Cokes!

Onwards.

Thanks to Matt Smith’s misfortune with the wrong turn I now had a target within ‘have a crack at’ distance – about 50k’s. First things first though, a good lunch and resupply at Wudinna (Pop. 549) was essential before attacking Matt’s trail over the next 100k’s to Kimba.

(No time to check out the “Big Farmer” statue. The sign will have to do.)

Tuesday March 28, 2023: Rolling into Wudinna.

Tuesday March 28, 2023: Rolling into Wudinna. Take 2.

Tuesday March 28, 2023: Lunching in Wudinna.

Despite my absolute best intentions it was another lengthy stop, circa 90 minutes. Again, chit chat the primary cause of delay. This time a truckie with the standard “you guys are freakin’ crazy” reposte and another bloke from Port Lincoln who just couldn’t get his head around what we were up to.

Oh well, fuck it……

Back at it and caught sail on a magnificent tail wind, alas for only 15k’s, before the Eyre Highway bends around to the left at Kyancutta (Pop. 79). I can see why and how Matt missed the turn. If I hadn’t been forewarned by his error I too could quite easily have careened off down the Tod Highway with the wind at my back.

I gave the pedals a good nudge for a while but common sense soon prevailed and I settled into a steady rhythm over the 85k’s to Kimba (Pop. 629), through very different country now – expansive, rolling farmland.

I finally rolled up to the Kimba Roadhouse at 6:30pm, not quite willing yet to call of the Matt Smith hunt.

Hey mate, got any rooms?

Yep.

Chase off…….for today………You’ll keep Matty boy! 😉

Tuesday March 28, 2023: Yep, I’m a big windmill fan. (pun sort of intended)

Tuesday March 28, 2023: Eyre Highway between Kyancutta and Kimba.

Tuesday March 28, 2023: I also like old trucks….

Tuesday March 28, 2023: I also like old trucks. Take 2.

Tuesday March 28, 2023: Eyre Highway just before Kimba.

The Day(s) According to Strava:

 

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