Tuesday, July 24, 2007

Starting to develop a schedule

My initial estimates are approximately 56 km per day for 340 days = 19,000 km approximately - this is the distance including many side trips. Whilst I have a broad idea of where I want to go and what I want to see, in no way am I planning every day out – this would take away the sense of freedom and spontaneity for me – however I have to get back to Perth by mid-September 2008 so need some pointers as to how I'm progressing. Not least I have to be back at my desk in early October 2008. I'll be keeping a tally of how much distance I am covering daily and comparing that to a 'notional schedule' of the number of days since the start multiplied by 56 km. The aim would be to keep ahead of this 'schedule' so that when I arrive at somewhere pleasant, or when I need to recover, I can stay a while before moving on.

If I'm lucky and the prevailing winds actually prevail, I should be able to make time up on the long remote outback roads where there's less to see. Not that I am not looking forward to such roads, I am indeed looking forward to the feeling of isolation and peace in the outback, not to mention watching wildlife and the stars. My friend Rob Gray, who admittedly is a lot stronger than me, told me he could cover over 200km on a good day on the flattish roads of the outback, and I can see how a good 6 or 7 hour day's cycling at 30 kph or so could produce such a distance. A good day of some 160 km (100 miles a day is not an unknown distance to me in much hillier places) would mean a gain for me of 2 days into the schedule.

There are some sections of the ride that will be much slower – for example the 700km 'Top End' track from Normanton west is one option I've earmarked as a possibility, where I would be unlikely to cover much more than 56km, given the probable corrugations, bulldust, sand and river crossings. I also have the Gibb River Road through the Kimberley as another option, which is of similar distance. I definitely will be spending a few days lingering around Kakadu National Park, and another few in the amazing rain forest area north of Cairns and around Cooktown, N.Queensland. I will get a good 'taster' using rough tracks in the 50km or so unmetalled road between these 2 places.

photos by the amazing Tilman Waldthaler - his website here

One worry I have is that, in April and May at least, the river crossings may be pretty deep, since the 'wet' season has not long finished (usually in March). I should be OK later on and further west though, for example when I get to the Kimberley. I'll have to just suck it and see as they say. I will have to look out for salties – huge Saltwater Crocodiles that since being protected by the Australian Government several years ago have multiplied in number. It seems that they are spreading out travelling upriver further as a result. It is ironic that although travellers are hot and dusty they can't risk taking a dip in many places due to the crocs – although a few people every year ignore this and get a nasty surprise!

On that sombre now I'll sign off for now….

Alpine cycling tour 2006: http://www.crazyguyonabike.com/doc/?o=lt&doc_id=1914&v=9d