2023 Indi-Pac Day 7 Report

Friday March 24, 2023: I wheeled my bike out into the crisp morning at about 3:45am. I may have stayed in bed longer but I had made a loose plan with Ian last night to ride out together on the morning. He had the room a couple of doors down and I rolled over to where he was making some adjustments to his bags. I waited for a little while but then decided to hit the road solo, back on the Eyre Highway again.

“See ya down the road Ian”.

It was a beautiful, clear morning. Perfect riding conditions…………..no wind………….can you bloody believe it………no wind!

Motivation and excitement hit 11 almost immediately.

Lets be a huntin’ me some dots. Who we got?!

When I arrived at Caiguna Roadhouse last night it was not just Ian who had holed up there. Diane Humphrey (aka “dibbear”) was also overnighting, although I use the term overnighting loosely as when I glanced at Maprogress she was already 60 bloody kilometres down the road!

Holy crap! She must have been out around 1am.

Wow!

Di, I’m comin’ for ya! ūüėā

Friday March 24, 2023: Back on the Eyre Highway again.

Friday March 24, 2023: The Eyre highway, eastbound towards Cocklebiddy.

Cocklebiddy Roadhouse

I flew to Cocklebiddy Roadhouse (Pop. as per photo below), the 66k’s taking only 2 hours and 26 minutes.¬† It was so freakin’ good to give it some in cycling friendly conditions.

The lady that served me my Pie and Paddle Pop breakfast was most definitely not from around here. A beautiful, melodic, Western European Accent…

“French”?

“Bloody oath mate!”……..kidding………..”Oui”

Mid 20’s, from Lyon. She was travelling around Australia for 6 months and was earning some money working at the roadhouse before continuing the adventure.

“Wow, do you like it out here?”

“I love it!”

As I tucked into my breakfast outside, joking with a bloke who was tending a rock and cactus garden out the front of the roadhouse – “You need some more rain mate?” ūüėā, I started thinking about what attracts people to the wide open nothingness of the Outback. Raewyn from the Balladonia Roadhouse was also from Europe (Italy I think), travelling Australia. Here were these 2 young ladies, by themselves, in a very remote, quiet, rough, at times hostile, male dominated environment and loving it………………..why?

More thinking required………..I’ll take this to the bike……….I have plenty of time.

I kept the stop to an expedient 20 minutes which was exceptional by my usual faffaboutalot standards……ūüėČ

I had knocked about 25k’s off Di’s lead but I wanted more!

Friday March 24, 2023: Road sign to the Cocklebiddy Roadhouse.

Friday March 24, 2023: Rolling up to the Cocklebiddy Roadhouse.

Friday March 24, 2023: Breakfast…..

Reality Check

The next 90k’s to the Madura Roadhouse, another roadhouse community (Pop. 0 according to Wikipedia) took a decidedly slower 4 hours and 20 minutes. Cycling conditions had taken a turn for the less hospitable. The wind had picked up a bit and the temperature was rising to bloody hot status.

Of course, there was also the matter of paying the price for getting a little over excited this morning and pushing too hard.

Will I ever learn?

Probably not.

I have there abouts 60 ultra endurance racing days in me by now, during which I have pushed way too hard on countless occasions………. This is how I roll…….literally………smash it when cycling conditions are friendly and I’m feeling good, struggle and complain about it when not.

Surprise, surprise the highlight of this section was the descent down Madura Pass to the roadhouse, a decline which comes out of nowhere because there is no tangible preceding ascent. The first substantial free wheel for 1,200 odd kilometres.

(I was to learn later that this descent takes you from the Nullarbor Plain down onto the coastal, Roe Plain).

Friday March 24, 2023: The Eyre Highway, east of Cocklebiddy Roadhouse.

Friday March 24, 2023: G’day Nomads!

Friday March 24, 2023: The view from Madura Pass down onto the coastal, Roe Plain.

Friday March 24, 2023: Some free speed down Madura Pass………….oh and G’day Nomads….

Friday March 24, 2023: The Madura Roadhouse turn off.

Friday March 24, 2023: Rolling down to the Madura Roadhouse.

I avoided the restaurant and went straight to the adjacent service station which was on the small side, but I assumed they would have all the necessary food groups. I was only 20k’s behind Di now and wanted to keep stoppage time to a minimum.

The best laid plans eh…..

I got to chatting with the servo lady…..

Then I chatted with 2 blokes (one Aussie, the other an Englishman) who were riding across the country on massive touring motor cycles. They had met 40 years ago in Argentina, touring the route made famous by Che Guevara. They had kept in contact, remained mates but hadn’t seen each other since then…….magic stuff.

Then there was the call of nature but I had to line up behind a family of 5 that had just arrived to use the one at a time toilet around the back. No special treatment for sweaty, hairy cyclists.

And then my Dad rang from Sydney, keen for a chat. There is no better – he can converse under wet concrete with a mouthful of marbles.

So all in, t’was an hour off the bike, not bad considering all the above.

12pm – back at it!

Friday March 24, 2023: The 2 touring cyclists that I chatted to…….can’t remember their names – Aussie on the left, Pommy on the right.

Friday March 24, 2023: The Aussie guys chariot…..

The Roadhouse Hoppin’ Continues…

Out into the midday sun onto the Eyre Highway, the next roadhouse already top of mind – the Mundrabilla Roadhouse, 116k’s down the track.

It was tough going, even more blustery on the coastal plain. I battled away using the escarpment off to my left (Hampton Tableland – the topographical feature that divides the Nullarbor Plain to the north and the Roe Plain), as a means of measuring progress, but it bloody well never seemed to end.

Another call of nature, the type which requires a little more time off the road. As luck would have it I soon came across a turn off to a camp ground.

Straight to the toilet block which was quite a good set up actually. The sort of bathroom block that you would expect at any campground anywhere in the world, that is with the exception of the pit toilet and no running water.

Speaking of water, post taking care of business I went to rotate my water bottles on my bike – 2 of them are accessible while riding, the other under the downtube is not.

My heart sunk……….Oh No!

I had forgotten to fill up the bottle under the downtube back at Madura.

You silly prick!

I had been getting through water pretty quickly too and had just under a litre left.

I checked my route notes to see how much further to the Mundrabilla Roadhouse………….shit, it must be over 90k’s.

Fuck, Fuck, Fuckity Fuck!!

My panicked mind came up with 2 options:

  1. Just bite the bullet, get back on the road and hope for the best, or
  2. Walk over to the adjacent campsite where a large group of Gray Nomads were kicking back in the shade, and ask if they could spare some water.

I chose option 1.

You silly prick…………rather you freakin’ imbecile!¬†

I started rationing water immediately but at the bare minimum, ie tiny sips to avoid my mouth drying out, it became glaringly obvious that I was going to run out of water hours before I reached Mundrabilla.

I’m gonna have to flag down a car or a road train.

Stubbornly I battled on though….75k’s to Mundrabilla.

Not long later I came across a road train that was parked up in a lay-by on my side of the road.

This is it……..my chance!

I tentatively rolled up to the cabin of the massive vehicle.

“Excuse me mate, sorry to interrupt. I’m pretty much out of water and battling. You haven’t got any spare water by chance”?

“Here you go mate” said the truckie………a tiny little fella which seemed ridiculous in the context of the road train he was captaining, as he proceeded to drop down from on high a full 1.5 litre bottle of water……..a fresh, cold one at that.

I almost burst into tears.

“You’ve got no idea mate………thanks very much” as I scrambled to get some cash out of my wallet.

“No need for that mate.”

“Thanks man……..that you so very much. You saved my arse.”

I got out of the way of the truck and took one massive gulp…………..Wow!

Friday March 24, 2023: Not something you see every day. Hampton Tableland off to the left.

Friday March 24, 2023: Plugging away.

Friday March 24, 2023: Nomads and more Hampton Tableland.

Friday March 24, 2023: Still plugging away.

Friday March 24, 2023: Fingers crossed!

Friday March 24, 2023: Off he go’s, My saviour!

Friday March 24, 2023: Another Eyre Highway airstrip and more bloody Hampton Tableland.

Long story short I finally got to Mundrabilla Roadhouse at 6:45pm. They had a room thank goodness, the restaurant was still open, and I got to meet Di who was tucking into a dinosaur sized steak.

All well that ends well but a serious lesson had been learned.

Friday March 24, 2023: Still plugging away…..

Friday March 24, 2023: 5k’s to go!

Friday March 24, 2023: My digs at the Mundrabilla Roadhouse.

The Day According to Strava:

 

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