Wednesday, 24 August 2016

Leg 2: Alice Springs to Port Augusta

This update is on the phone, so it will be rather brief and somewhat free of pictures, I'll do a proper blog in the near future.

Here's the breakdown of the 7 days since Alice Springs:

Total kilometres: 1251km
Average per day: 178.71km

Leg 1 and 2 total: 1520 + 1251 = 2771km
Total average: 153.94

Day 1 Alice Springs to Erldunda - 205km
PB day with an unbelievable 205km. Combination of fresh legs, a downhill section to start and a tailwind to finish.

Met a woman in the campsite at Erldunda with a pet Raven that was just sitting on her shoulder.  She rescued it when it was young and it was too dependent on her to be released. Lots of people travelling with pets in their motor homes, usually dogs though, who normally look like they are having a whale of a time.

Day 2 Erldunda to Rest Stop Camp - 135km
Brutal day of headwinds from start to finish. Actually did really well to do 135km.

Crossed into South Australia which immediately had a different feel to it as the road signs and rest areas were of different designs. It seemed less organised than the Northern Territory. Very cold night was a sign of things to come in South Australia.

Day 3 Rest stop camp to Bush camp (passing Marla) - 187km
The 120km to Marla was a long way with absolutely nothing in between. The surrounding scenery was becoming increasingly baron.

Day 4 Bush camp to Coober Pedy - 175km
If the heat was the problem in the Northern Territory, it was becoming clear that the wind and cold was to be South Australia's challenge. It was amazing how quickly it turned cold once in South Australia. This day was really windy and a little rainy as well, which made it very cold. With no shelter whatsoever for 175km, having a rest was extremely difficult. The wind was making things very cold and stressful.

It was so windy that the crosswind was making riding in a relatively straight line a tiring challenge and my left side and shoulder were aching at the end of the day as a result.

No bush camping today.

In the end I had to make it to Coober Pedy because I forgot about the fact that the surrounding countryside had all been mined at some point and was dangerous from open mine shafts that were unmarked. A wild camp would've been pretty risky.

My underground hostel in Coober Pedy was creepy but comfortable. The town itself was quite unique and famous for opal mining.

Day 5 Coober Pedy to Rest stop camp - 172km

More relaxing day with light winds and good weather. So much nothingness for one day however, that I had to put some music in my ear. Miles and miles of nothing, it's sort of a wonder in it self. So vast and uninhabitable is much of the land in Australia.

Met a young Finnish couple in a rest stop. They had an interesting mechanism for camping; a tent that attached to the  top of their car which they climbed a ladder to get into. It looked very comfortable.

They had just come from Port Lincoln where they had done a Great White shark dive.

Absolutely amazing night sky. I have never seen the stars and the Milky Way so clearly. This is the benefit of being part of the nothingness.

Day 6 Rest stop camp to Pimba - 202km
Coober Pedy to Glendambo was the longest stretch without any people or services at 253km. I had done the majority of it the day before, but still had 84km to polish-off.

The nothing of outback South Australia.

There was an outside chance I could go right through and make it to Pimba -another 115km further on - and I managed it in the end. It was a painful last 40km, mostly uphill.

Day 7 Pimba to Port Augusta - 175km
Met another interesting character on the road, a chap from Switzerland who came to Australia to push a shopping trolley full of his stuff from Darwin to Adelaide.  Very nice guy, but couldn't get away from him, he obviously was starved of people to talk to.  He told me that since he started that he met about 30 cyclists doing the route.  Considering how much earlier he would have had to start, this is probably the number riding the Stuart Highway this year.  The majority would have been going from Darwin to Adelaide or vice-versa, I wonder what percentage were Japanese?

I really suffered from the day before (and probably from the whole week of silly daily distances). The last 15km into Port Augusta was straight into a stiff headwind, a cruel sting in the tail. However, I made it! Coast to coast, North to South through Australia in 19 days (including one rest day). It's now the home leg to Melbourne to go. Let's hope for a smooth journey back with some westerly winds.

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