2023 Indi-Pac Day 5 Report

Wednesday March 22, 2023: Up just after 3:20am. I was feeling good, the big meal and good nights sleep had worked miracles again. Yep, there was a bit of a theme developing here – the warm bed and associated comforts of a room at a roadhouse was producing a better nights rest than a picnic table at a truck stop. Mmmmm, I wonder why?

My Raison d’être for the days play was to replicate the warm bed by days end. Norseman was too close at 90k’s. Caiguna Roadhouse was too far at 460k’s. Balladonia Roadhouse at 280k’s was just about right. To this end I had tried to contact Balladonia Roadhouse by phone over dinner last night but I couldn’t get through, the line just rung out. My guess was that the international number was spooking/confusing people and they were erring on the side of not answering. I had sent an email instead but as of 4am this morning, nothing.

Better make tracks.

Armed with a purpose, damp kit (due to last nights shower laundry session) which put a fresh spring in the step, and 3 heavily caffeinated and sugared instant coffees I packed up and wheeled my bike out into another cool morning.

It was 4:24am.

Yep, the omnipresent easterly was all present and accounted for but less of an impediment as the route trended south now. Plenty of tree cover from the left too.

I made relatively easy work of the 90ks to Norseman (Pop. 562), yet another town ripe with Goldrush history, and the last major town in Western Australia before the South Australian Border 726 kilometres up the road.

It was by far the easiest 90k’s of the ride thus far, ably assisted by my playlist and yet another childhood favourite – Allen’s Snakes Alive. 2 packs to be exact.

(The Snakes Alive show bag was an essential annual purchase at Sydney’s Royal Easter show, back in the day).

Wednesday March 22, 2023: Road companions….

Wednesday March 22, 2023: Loving me some Snakes Alive.

Wednesday March 22, 2023: The Coolgardie Esperance Highway to Norseman.

Wednesday March 22, 2023: As it says on the tin….

Wednesday March 22, 2023: Coming up to Lake Cowan.

Wednesday March 22, 2023: Lake Cowan. Take 2.

Wednesday March 22, 2023: Mamil and Lake Cowan.

Wednesday March 22, 2023: Mamil and Lake Cowan. Take 2.

Wednesday March 22, 2023: Lonely tree and Lake Cowan.

Wednesday March 22, 2023: Rolling into Norseman.

Wednesday March 22, 2023: Rolling into Norseman. Take 2. The limited water warning signage would absolutely be heeded.

Stocking up at the Norseman Truckstop

The route actually avoids the town of Norseman, diverting left on the northern outskirts of town from The Coolgardie Esperance Highway to the Eyre Highway, the road that I’ll be on for the next 1,664 kilometres. At the intersection is a BP Truckstop, the last oasis before the Balladonia Roadhouse 190ks away.

As I parked up my bike out the front of the Truckstop, I thought to myself:

How the fuckity fuck am I going to pack enough supplies to cover that distance?

The short answer was that I wasn’t going to be able to with my current bike set up and with the temperature forecast to nudge 40 degrees Celsius, but I could damn well ensure that I was well armed for the battle –  ie be well fed and watered before I hit the road again.

Which I did.

As I was tucking into a table full of food and drinks I hooked into the wifi to check my emails, hopefully someone from the Balladonia Roadhouse had responded to my email request for a room.

The good news was that they had responded and indeed a room was being held for me:

The bad news was that they closed at 8:30pm with maybe a 30 minute grace period before the building was locked and shut for the night at 9pm, after which there was no after hours service:

Shit, now I have a deadline……………I’m not a big fan of deadlines!

Wednesday March 22, 2023: Loading up!

The Race is on!

Armed with 6 litres of water (3 on the bike, 3 on body in a lightweight backpack), 2 x 500ml of Coke (in backpack), sausage rolls, Crunchies and Snakes Alive, I hit the road.

It was a 90 minute stop.

The time is now close enough to 10am.

I have 10.5 hours plus a possible 30 minute grace period to ride 190k’s.

Doable but it will all come down to the wind.

The route was now heading in a north easterly direction, into a……………block headwind!

FAAAAAAARRRRRRRRCK!!

150 Kilometres to go…

By the time I passed the 150ks to Balladonia sign at around 12:45pm, the road had bent around to more of an easterly trending direction, thus the wind had become a pesky, yet manageable crosswind.

7 hours and 15 minutes to ride 150k’s.

Doable.

Wednesday March 22, 2023: 150k’s to go….

Wednesday March 22, 2023: A truck….

Wednesday March 22, 2023: Business time…

Wednesday March 22, 2023: Business time + a passing truck.

Wednesday March 22, 2023: Heading east on the Eyre Highway.

100 kilometres to go…..

I passed the 100ks to Balladonia sign at around 4pm.

4 hours and 30 minutes to ride 100k’s.

Doable.

Wednesday March 22, 2023: 100k’s to go….

Wednesday March 22, 2023: Lengthening shadows on the Eyre Highway.

50 kilometres to go……

Night had closed in and the cross wind had died down substantially. I was in the drops, giving it some, very close to full gas. My attention was equally divided between looking ahead at the road and slightly down at my Garmin to watch the kilometres to destination tick down:

2 hours to ride 50k’s.

Doable but at a stretch.

As I crested a slight rise in the road I noticed some taillights about a kilometre further on which didn’t seem to be pulling away from me as you would expect a moving vehicle to do in relation to a cyclist. As I got closer it became obvious that a car was parked up on the side of the road.

Broken down perhaps?

A dot-watcher?

Regardless, I wasn’t going to stop. Nothing or no one was going to get in the way of me getting a warm bed.

I came up alongside the car and 2 people yelled out…………”Pie-muncher?”………..Shit, dot-watchers!

I slammed on the breaks and I skidded to a stop, just past them.. My conscious got the better of me. These guys were parked up, in the pitch dark, in the middle of bloody nowhere to support me. The least I could do was to stop for a brief chat.

Which I did….

It was Lesley and Gavin who were driving across Australia, from Perth (they were at the pre-race function I think), to their home in Bundaberg, Queensland. A massive journey, the first part of which they were breaking up by tracking down each rider in the Indi-Pac, and offering all manner of drinks and snacks.

I was so glad I stopped, lovely people.

We chatted for about 10 minutes during which I necked a couple of well needed Cokes (thanks guys).

1 hour and 50 minutes to ride 50k’s.

Mmmmmmmm………I think I’ll need that extra 30 minute grace period.

25 kilometres to go…..

At 7:45pm I still had 25ks to go.

ie 45 minutes to ride 25ks.

No chance, but if they don’t close til 9pm, I’m in with a shot…….Hopefully no more high beaming road trains though….

Oh yeah, baby!!

Long story short I pulled up to the Balladonia Roadhouse at 8:46pm and Raewyn who I had been emailing with was still there thank freakin’ goodness…………I let out a massive sigh of relief!

She was closing up so there was only chips and chocolate bars available for purchase so I bought and armful of both for dinner and took it all to the room.

What a day!

 

The Day according to Strava:

 

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2 Comments
  • Mike K
    Posted at 19:59h, 19 February Reply

    That block NE headwind out of Norseman got me on a ride last year as well. Enjoying the blog. 👍

  • Jim Gahen
    Posted at 07:44h, 29 February Reply

    Mark, I’m lovin it and I’m hatin it.
    Thanks for taking me along

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