Instead of leaving home at 3am I didn't wake up until 3:45am and didn't actually get on the road until about 4:30am. A very nice hour for cycling but not quite as early as I would have liked. I have always found the best way for me to leave all my troubles behind... is to get on my bike and leave all my troubles behind! With the thought that I might just keep on riding and not look back... (I always manage to get it out of my system by the end of the day, after a long ride)
I have thought a lot about cycling at night without lights but realistically this would only work on outback roads where there's no traffic. This morning there was no moon to ride by and I really needed my headlamp. The dark path between McMillans Rd and Howard Springs has all kinds of potential dangers if you can't see where you're going! The main hindrance to riding without a lights is the traffic. Riding on the Stuart Highway without a taillight could lead to a very short journey interrupted by a cattle truck. The other issue the problem of oncoming traffic... Even though much of the road is divided, headlights still pierce the night and any oncoming traffic will ruin a cyclists night vision. At least with a head light I can see something once the initial glare has worn off.
It was a beautiful morning for a ride, the sky was clear and without a moon I could see all the stars... for company I had Tom Petty on my music player and Jupiter and Venus to watch over me as I peddled. These two made powerful companions.
Light finally began to filter through the sky just as I was leaving Noonamah, I was really starting to like riding at night and had hoped to get a bit further but was happy with my progress. Riding by torchlight is actually really nice, it made it much easier for me to stop anticipating what might be around the next corner or how far I had come. Most of my attention was focused on the tiny portion of road that came into the beam of my headlight, nothing more. As I rolled on my mind began to unwind, I pondered some ideas and gave them up to the road. Free at last!
|Hard to breath, hard to see!|
|Berry Springs CFA, have their work cut out for them!|
Approaching Berry Springs I cycled through a think haze of smoke, which lasted almost all the way to the Blackmore River. There were several tree trunks burning in the scrub by the side of the road and the silhouettes of dead trees all over... everything was blackened right up to the canopy. It was easy to see how quickly the bush was being thinned out by successive fires, this is Gamba country and it is copping a pounding! So were my lungs!
|Blackmore River Bridge|
|Blackmore River Bridge (posing with bike again)|
When I got to the Blackmore river bridge I stopped for my second breakfast and the obligatory photograh. I haven't done much riding over the past month... Too busy. My legs and arse were starting to feel the strain of this ride. After sitting by the river for a while I inspected my bike. She's pretty rough now. I really only ride this bike on long road trips and the rest of the time she's sitting around gathering cobwebs, with vines growing through her spokes. I did nothing before leaving home to make sure the old thing would make it all the way around except put some air the tyres. On closer inspection I realized that the rear tyre had vertually worn to a completely flat surface, it was becoming thin, and covered in small cracks! Maybe a new tire would have been a good idea... and the chain had started squeaking... I can't remember when I last oiled it! Oh well off we go again!
As usual by the time I reached the Blackmore river my energy was spent! I pressed on regardless (thank goodness it was a cool day!). The panier was full of food and I pulled up at 20km intervals to eat. Everything tasted amazing! My energy was so low and muscles were exhausted so I tried to compensate with food! So much for improving my stamina and condition... When in doubt Pig Out!
Here's what I ate on the trip:
2 x Pink Lady Apples
6 x Museli Bars (the sweet sugary type)
1 x box of shapes biscuits
3 x liter water
As usual the second half of the ride was less fun than the first. My shoulders and wrists were aching from the riding position, knees were unable to bear heavy peddling (they don't want to bend at all now!) and my feet had gone numb from having to wear shoes! Oh yeh and the toe I'm pretty sure I'd fractured a few weeks ago was telling me it didn't want to do this anymore and puffed up a bit causing more numbness and pain in my feet.
|The sea was a milky blue but clear beside the Mandora Pier.|
Arriving in Mandorah the sea was incredibly flat, no wind. I collapsed in the shade of the shed on the pier and waited for the ferry. Within moments I'd drifted into a semi dream half sleep. Soon the ferry arrived, full of tourists headed for the pub. I dragged myself and my bike down the stairs and boarded the vessel... by now my body had given up the fight and I just wanted to lay down somewhere and have a nap! It was a grueling journey, yet again, but somehow the physical punishment does something good to my soul!
The trip home from the ferry was very slow. I'd read that Kris Larson was manning his mobile caffe, 'Brown Sugar', down at the yacht club and I was craving a cup so headed off that way but must have missed him by a day or two... Bummer! Dragged myself up the hill to Fanny Bay and then laboured along the bike path to a shady spot near the beach on Nightcliff foreshore where I lay down and dozed. I eventually made it home just before two, had a shower and collapsed... completely spent.