Friday, June 27, 2008

DAY 244: Adelaide River to bush camp 12km N of Pine Creek

Tues 24th June 2008
102 km @ 13.5 km/hr
Sunny, 30 deg C
Elevation of destination 162 m
Distance to date 14537 km (9086 miles)
I really should have got an earlier start this morning, since I would like to ride the 202km back to Katherine in 2 days, and the wind is strongly against me, but on a cool early morning the sleeping bag was just too cosy and it was 0915 when I hit the road. I did manage to ring Lyn before I left though, who was glad to hear from me after a long spell with no e-mails. NT is a bit of an internet desert - outside the few big towns it’s difficult - so the blog will just have to wait.
As expected progress was slow with the SE wind fresh to strong right in the face. I wasn’t too pleased to be back in the traffic again either - the Stuart Highway is busy here, and there are lots of road trains to dodge. Weather was good though; I’m getting to like it hot now; 30-33 is perfect riding temperature for me, even going slow and uphill. The flies couldn’t stay on me with the wind direction, but snatched a feed of sweaty nutrients whenever I went through a sheltered cutting. The road wound slowly between and around low red broken mountains, and rose and fell gradually, with one or two longer, steeper climbs. I took these at around 6 or 7 km/hr in the headwind. Scenically, very nice, though partially lost on me as I plodded slowly along.
Hard rides like this are a mental challenge, and one of my strategies is to break the day up into chunks, and reward myself after completing each one.
First bit was the 34km to a rest area, which had table and shade - and another touring cyclist! Glen, from Sydney, came to greet me, having stayed here last night. He’s riding from Sydney to Darwin and then hoping to catch a ride on a boat to Indonesia to start a tour of Asian countries, and hopefully the Himalayas too. We had a good old chat for longer than I intended to stop, but recognising that he and I have a lot in common - he would like to work for a charity like WaterAid for example - I lingered. What a shame we will be living so far apart, but we exchanged details and will keep in touch I hope. His website is, and I look forward to checking it out - Glen has some great ideas about life ‘n stuff.
I dragged myself away knowing I still had a long struggle with the wind yet, and went through a bad patch mentally, not helped by a psychopathic road train driver who clearly didn’t mind killing me, he came so close for no good reason. This got me very angry, and it took a while for me to settle after that. This second stage was to the Hayes Creek roadhouse, where my reward was not only a Barraburger and Snickers bar, but also another touring cyclist! This time it was Oliver, a Frenchman and retired policeman from Lyon, who is cycling from Uluru to Darwin. He is around my age I think, and he’s here for 3 months all told. He spoke good English so I didn’t get a chance to practice my French with him. He had met Glen at Edith Falls, and like Glen said it was very beautiful, so I may pop in for a look before I get to Katherine - the side trip is 20km off the Stuart Highway. Oliver was staying at the CP at Hayes Creek, and I was tempted, but really needed to get more km in today otherwise I’d be forever battling against this wind - I just want to get it over with! So I headed off again.
The next ‘chunk’ was to another roadhouse, however I discovered it has closed down. Luckily I had enough water to wild camp, since I couldn’t reach Pine Creek before dark. The colours deepened as it got later, and if anything this enhances the beauty of this ancient landscape; I always enjoy riding after 5 or so - and there was a bonus since the wind dropped around this time, and my speed nearly doubled. This helped get me over halfway to Katherine, so I was well pleased with that. The sun was down, but still plenty of light, when I found a secluded site hidden from the road my huge rock formations - only trouble was the bush has been burnt here so everything is black - including me now. There is plenty of wood though, and I have a lovely fire going which I don’t think anyone can see, and the smoke is heading away from the road too. It’s gone very quiet now the wind has dropped; the stars are out in force with no moon yet, and there’s the odd rustle of leaved as some unknown creature is moving about near me - ah, the wonders of the bush! And now I’m off to put the billy on, then early night and earlier start tomorrow.

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