Monday, May 19, 2008

DAY 205: Bush camp to bush camp 13km E of Barkly Homestead

158 km @ 18.1 km/hr
Fri 16th May 2008
Sunny, 30-ish deg C
Elevation of destination 232 m
Distance to date 12387 km (7742 miles)

Having planned an early start for a long day I overslept until 8, so after muesli (with soya milk, not bad) it was 9 before I was packed up and away. It had been pretty cold towards the end of the night and I was awake for a while trying to get warm, but must have dozed off once warmed up with extra clothing and socks donned.
A light SE tailwind was a good start, with the usual scores of caravanners passing and some tooting, but certainly nowhere near as busy as the Bruce Highway for example. The road is rough and bumpy for long stretches though, but (touch wood) the saddle sores are OK at the moment so that didn’t trouble me unduly. I have been wearing 2 pairs of shorts for 2 months or so and that has definitely helped by reducing pressure and abrasion. I have to wear the old, knackered and ripped Assos ones underneath for appearances sake.
The scenery is....well...absent really - flat all the way apart from very gentle undulations between 280m and 320m when speed dropped from 20 to 16 km/hr so no big deal. The E/SE wind persisted all day except for a curious 30 minutes when it strengthened and turned right around to NW, which was just the direction I was heading in, and I thought I was in for it, but it didn’t last.
At a rest area (Wunara) at 50km I put the billy on and had a nice mug of coffee and muffin, and looked forward the the next RA but not when I realised it was another 82km! There’s really nowhere else to stop to lean the bike in the shade, so it would be a long hop. Having said that I did think I might try lashing up the shade cloth across 2 trees for shade - maybe I’ll try that soon.
I kept plugging away for the next 4 or 5 hours then without a break, and was pretty tired when I arrived at the rest area. There was water here as at the previous 2 RA’s I passed today, for the record, but I only topped up my ‘beige’ bottle which is for either using to wet my water bottle sock (cooling water) or emergencies after boiling, just in case. It’s probably OK to drink directly though. I keep trying to get some of those little water purification tabs but no-one seems to stock them. I did consider camping at the last RA but (1) it was pretty open and dusty, and (2) it was only 1700 I was covered in flies and it was over an hour until flies’ bedtime, and that made me decide to carry on.
There weren’t many good spots to camp and not be seen, but eventually, after the sun had gone down (and taken the flies with it poor sod) I picked my way through the grass and shrubby clumps right up to the fence, about 200m from the road. I made dinner right away as I was very hungry, and managed that with only a minimum of headtorch light since the moon was burning brightly, so attracting even less attention - not that there was much traffic anyway.
Tomorrow will be a nice short 13km hop to the Barkly roadhouse where I’ll probably have a cooked breakfast as a reward for today’s efforts! After that I’ll eat into the further 211 km to Tennant Creek as much as I can. A definite factor for me at the moment is the problem of flies between camping and darkness - as I did today I’ll probably continue to ride until dusk to avoid the confrontation...I have worn my fly net again today, all day.
The 13 litres of water I took on at Camooweal has lasted me 248 km and 2 overnights, and with just the 13km to go to Barkly RH I still have about 3 or 4 litres left, this on quite warm days too. I only ‘acquired’ 800ml from the nice lady caravanner yesterday that gave me the coke and cold water. I have taken on a litre or so of tank water but haven’t consumed this - just used it for wetting and cooling my drinks bottle.

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