2023 Indi-Pac Day 8 Report

Saturday March 25, 2023: My reacquaintance with the Eyre Highway resumed at 5:06am. Di must have been out very early yet again and was already 35ks up the road. I thought about it but I just didn’t have the legs or the will power, particularly into the breeze. I instead put on an audiobook (Girt: The Unauthorised History of Australia, Volume 1. Hilarious – I thoroughly recommend it), and attempted to settle into some kind of rythmn, while keeping a wary eye out for a “real angry dude in a white UTE.”

Saturday March 25, 2023: Heads up from Kenny Behren.

Saturday March 25, 2023: Out into the pre-dawn, just east of Mundrabilla Roadhouse.

Saturday March 25, 2023: Still pluggin’ away on the Eyre Highway.

Finally, after a sluggish 3.5 hour 60k’s on a very straight stretch of Eyre Highway, a change! My topographical nemesis from yesterday, the escarpment known as the Hampton Tableland, was in my direct line of sight. Instead of having the damn thing perennially off to my left, the Eyre Highway had decided to put the matter to rest for me once and for all and with a sweeping left hander delivered me to the foot of a climb.

The first climb in over 1,400 kilometres and 7 days.

Shit, I’m gonna have to change gears!

Up Eucla Pass and back onto the mighty Nullarbor Plain.

Past Eucla (Pop. 37), the easternmost locality in Western Australia and onwards to the State Border of West Australia and South Australia.

Saturday March 25, 2023: No way, a climb…….Eucla Pass just up the road.

Saturday March 25, 2023: Eucla Pass.

Saturday March 25, 2023: Getting close to the State Border.

Saturday March 25, 2023: Rolling up to the border.

Saturday March 25, 2023: 3 States to go……..oh, and 1 Territory.

Time Warp Part 1

I was very hungry and headed straight for the Border Village Roadhouse. I leant my bike up against a table out the front and went in to forage. The aim was to keep stoppage time down so food and drink for now plus supplies for the bike was the ideal purchasing scenario, but I literally couldn’t get my brain engaged to think it all through, plus I was not a little overawed by the noise and frenetic activity of the roadhouse. A madhouse of truckers, travelers, and nomads.

Alright, one job at a time.

Back to the table to knock back the results of job 1 while keeping a vigilant eye on a couple of aggressive, evil looking crows (I was later to ascertain that they were more than likely Australian Ravens), who made no secret of the fact that they wanted my food. One of the fuckers actually pierced the lid of my fruit salad when my back was turned.

And then, I somehow stumbled into a 2 hour time warp of the following:

  • I got to chatting with a couple of truckers. We conversed for a while about “you mad bastard truck drivers”, and “you crazy cyclists with a death wish”, blah, blah, blah. One useful thing actually came out of the exchange though – apparently from the truckers perspective the single red blinky (or even static) light on the back of a bike looks identical to the red reflective strip on the top of the highway guide posts. ie, to be properly visible to a truck driver at night we must be wearing reflective clothes and have more than 1 blinking red light on the bike frame and/or our person. A light on the helmet is ideal. The whole conversation was a bit shouty and almost ended in an argument – about what, I can’t even remember.
  • Di actually rocked up in the middle of all this. (she had stopped at Eucla). It was great to see her. Her plan was to get a room, take care of some laundry and grab a few hours sleep before getting back out amongst it later in the evening. She very kindly offered me her spare helmet light but I couldn’t do it – even a spare is essential out there. You never know when you may need it. Besides, I was satisfied with my 3 rear lights, hi-vis gilet and reflective tape on my bike.
  • Obtaining supplies for the next 185k section to the Nullarbor Roadhouse. Easier said than done. My head was scattered and concentrating on the variables was nigh on impossible (more than usual) – 190ks, how long will that take me?, wind?, weather?, closing time of Nullabor Roadhouse?, what is the actual time given the change in time zone?
  • Shit, Speaking of Nullabor Roadhouse, I’d better book accomodation. I called and there was a room available thank goodness. I was also very happy to hear that there was an out of hours service for late arrivals. I would be emailed details of a lock box and code.
  • “Hey guys, great to see you!” The touring motor cyclists that I met at the Madura Roadhouse arrived as I was packing up. They had also stayed at the Mundrabilla Roadhouse but obviously the motorised version of 2 wheel travel had afforced them more R&R there. More chat….

I finally extracted myself from the time warp that was the Nullarbor Roadhouse. Quick photo of the Big Kangaroo and a collection of road signs to various places in the world which was in dire need of a fresh lick of paint. I did notice that the noted distance to Sydney started with a 2………uh, not for us Indi-Pacer’s, rather a 3 almost a 4. 1,501 kilometres down, 3,973 still to go.

Onto the South Australian administered stretch of the Eyre Highway.

Saturday March 25, 2023: Looking and feeling a little worse for wear at the Border Village Roadhouse.

Saturday March 25, 2023: The irony being that I have ridden for 1,500ks and haven’t seen 1 kangaroo,

Saturday March 25, 2023: “Paint me!”

Saturday March 25, 2023: Still a long way to go to “Civilisation.”

Saturday March 25, 2023: The Eyre Highway, just east of Border Village. The Great Australian Bight just visible out to the right.

The Great Australian Bight

About 15k’s from Border Village the Great Australian Bight becomes visible.

There is debate as to whether the Great Australian Bight looks out to the Indian Ocean or Great Southern Ocean, but there is no argument to be had over the fact that it is one hardcore stretch of coastline dominated by dramatic cliff faces up to 60 metres high.

It was created 50 million years ago when the huge landmass of Gondwana broke apart, separating Antarctica from Australia.

Before the ride I had been very excited to see it but once I was there the overwhelming feeling was that of loneliness, tinged with sadness. No doubt my mood was part of the constant rapid cycling of emotions that occur on these long rides but I was also feeling lonely because I was. A week on the road and I think the remoteness was starting to get to me and that bloody road sign just past Border Village only rammed home the fact that there was no end end sight – 184k’s to Nullabor Roadhouse, 479k’s to Ceduna, 946k’s to Pt Augusta and 1,253k’s to Adelaide.

Even the small bites of the Elephant were fucking huge.

Saturday March 25, 2023: as it says on the sign….

Saturday March 25, 2023: Looking back west to a section of the Bunda Cliffs.

Time Warp Part 2

Soon the loneliness was joined by a heavy tiredness, to the point where I just had to get off the road and lay down for a while.

I was attracted to a wide open gravelly section of rocky outcrop between the prevailing saltbush, which had been flattened somewhat, most probably by cars and campervans in search of the perfect campsite with a view. I was further drawn to pile of rocks which was decorated with flowers and over I went to check it out. It was a personal memorial, complete with plaque.

Paul Tamaahi Nyman

19 July 1961 to 3 August 2010

49 – the same age as me!

I am far from a religious man (spiritual but not religious I think is the phrase) but I said a little prayer for Paul and asked his permission to lay down near his memorial, which I did and promptly fell asleep.

The wind, a cold one at that, abruptly woke me, at what I thought was about 30 minutes later. I looked at my phone……it showed 4:30pm.

What the actual fuck!

I haven’t sleep for that long surely………about 3 hours?!

I sat bolt upright and checked the clock on my Garmin which also showed 4:30pm.

Long story short (in my dazed and confused state it did actually take a long time to work it all out), the time zone change had been 2.5 hours not the 1 or 1.5 that I actually expected. My phone and Garmin had taken a while to register the large change, thus I hadn’t noticed it before.

So at best guess I had slept for about 75 minutes.

Regardless, it was time to Foxtrot Oscar big time!

Seeya Paul!

(I actually assumed that Paul must have been a local fisherman who was swept of nearby rocks, given that a fishing rod was part of the memorial.  However, I later found out that he was a truck driver who frequently drove the Eyre Highway. He was killed intervening in a fight between a disgruntled colleague and his boss at his truck depot in Perth.)

May he Rest in Peace.

Saturday March 25, 2023: A view out to the Great Southern Ocean.

Saturday March 25, 2023: Hi!

Saturday March 25, 2023: More Southern Ocean.

Saturday March 25, 2023: Paul Nyman’s Memorial.

Saturday March 25, 2023: Paul Nyman’s Memorial.

Back into it……….

The Nullarbor living up to it’s name – No Trees!

Saturday March 25, 2023: Nullarbor nothingness.

Saturday March 25, 2023: Nullarbor nothingness…..and a truck.

Saturday March 25, 2023: More Nullarbor nothingness.

Be extra careful

This section of the Eyre Highway sucks, for 3 primary reasons:

  1. There is no bitumen shoulder,
  2. There is about 2 inch drop from the bitumen road surface to the side of the road.
  3. The side of the road is made up by a deep and loose gravel.

There is not enough room for 2 vehicles and a cyclist to pass each other going in either direction. This could make the road unusable for cyclists, obviously but because it is so long, straight and flat all road users can see each other coming and make any necessary adjustments well ahead of time in order to a facilitate a safe overtake. This is even more so the case at night with all parties having front and rear lights. In fact after hours of plugging away I could easily tell what type of vehicle was approaching me from behind based on how well the road in front of me was illuminated. (ref photos below)

On the first occasion where I actually had to get off the road, ie when I could tell there was a road train approaching from behind me and a vehicle of some type approaching from in front going the other way, I forgot………..I forgot about 2 and 3 above.

I came of the road going way too fast and my front wheel dug into the deep gravel………I fishtailed to the left – I thought I was going to go base over apex into the bushes but somehow managed to correct it. As it turned out though I had overcorrected and my bike dramatically lurched right back towards the road as the road train whooshed past. For a split second I thought I was a goner.

I have never had a closer call on a bike. I am absolutely convinced someone was looking after me that night.

Please be careful!!

Saturday March 25, 2023: Off into the night. Somewhere between Border Village and the Nullarbor Roadhouse.

Saturday March 25, 2023: Its getting darker.

Saturday March 25, 2023: That’d be a car…..

Saturday March 25, 2023: That’d be a Road Train.

Piss Story

In an earlier video I mentioned “I have a good poo story for Max and Sam.” Max and Sam are my 2 boys, aged 11 and 9 respectively. Being of that demographic toilet humour is right in their wheelhouse and given the nature of ultra distance cycling and the associated absence of certain facilities at times, there are plenty of opportunities to tickle their funny bones with some grotty anecdotes.

Enter stage left, my first ever Piss Story as retold via bullet points in the interest of brevity:

  • I was still well and truly spooked following my close call above so when it started raining I thought I’d cut my losses and camp up.
  • I set up camp about 50 metres off the road, keeping a nervous eye out for snakes.
  • I fell asleep pretty damn quick.
  • About 2 hours later I woke up having to go to the toilet……..Bugger!
  • Its quite an effort extracting myself from my sleeping bag and bivy. Plus I was toasty warm and comfortable so I just rolled on to my side, unzipped the bivy and adjusted myself so I was “pointing” out to the dirt.
  • Mmmm, why cant’ I hear the usual sounds?
  • Oh fuck no!
  • Yep, I had emptied my entire bladder into my sleeping bag and bivy.

I was tired but not that tired so without further ado I packed up as quickly as possible and resumed forward progress.

4 hours later I finally rolled into the Nullarbor Roadhouse!

Saturday March 25, 2023: My temporary campsite on the Nullarbor.

Saturday March 25, 2023: Approaching Road Train.

Saturday March 25, 2023: Approaching Road Train becomes a high beaming Arsehole!!

Saturday March 25, 2023: Finally the lights of the Nullabor Roadhouse.

Saturday March 25, 2023: Thousand yard stare following a long day in the saddle.

Saturday March 25, 2023: Cool!

The Day According to Strava:

 

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