Thursday, July 24, 2008

DAY 271: Bush camp to bush camp 1km SW of Sandfire RH

Mon 21st July 2008
115 km @ 14.6 km/hr
Sunny, 25 deg C
Elevation of /destination 14m
Distance to date 16510 km (10319 miles)

My watch alarm woke me at 0620 but for once I didn’t go back to sleep, determined to get off earlier. It was pretty cold mind, and I did what I could without getting out of my sleeping bag. I’d left the food pannier by the ‘door’ so could just reach inside and get the milk and muesli, which I had with a banana. The macadamia and dried mango muesli I bought in Broome from the health food shop, and although it’s very nice it has no sugar, and doesn’t quite hit the spot. S’pose it’s more healthy for that though (:-<). I also packed all the stuff away that I could reach and then reluctantly braved the cold. It was still very windy from the SE, and although the wind often drops at night it hardly reduced at all last night. The fresh to strong SE-er kept up all day too, and was in front of me for the first 40km or so - which I knew would be the case having studied the map. Knowing it’s going to be tough helps me accept the hardships better I’ve found, and I was quite focussed, and got through this bad stage OK. After 40 it improved slightly, but not that much really, and the wind was still right on my left side and blowing me around with frequent gusts. Saddle sores were pretty awful today; they’re getting worse again. I should have kept one of the old pair of cycling shorts that I chucked, to wear as a second pair. I tried but failed to get a pair that fit in Broome. The road was in good condition with a shoulder for some 50% of the way, and the vegetation was half dense and half thin - in fact non-existent for long stretches, which slowed me down a lot as I was buffeted around with no attenuating cover. I had a nice treat after 80km when a 4x4 stopped to ask if I wanted a cold drink - YES PLEASE said I - and I had the choice of beer, coke or water. I was sorely tempted by the beer, but I don’t ride well with alcohol inside me, so was more than happy with the coke. The donors were Ash and Debbie from Perth, and we had a nice chat for a while about places to visit on the way down, and other stuff. Nice guys, and the gesture was very much appreciated. During the last quarter of the way today I saw lots of ‘roos (I don’t know if they were really ‘roos or Wallabies, or Wallaroos - they’re like trees; unameable they are so similar to each other - as well as a couple of large flocks of Corellas, and a few Red-winged parrots. Not to mention the ubiquitous Kites, hovering over me checking my survival rating and eating potential. With 20km to go things got easier as the vegetation entirely disappeared (see pic) and the road turned further to the west and out of the wind, and my motivation took me right to Sandfire Roadhouse, which I had not expected to reach today. The roadhouse is the first building seen since Roebuck roadhouse 4 days and 289 km ago - there is nothing at all between these places. I have been a bit surprised that this stretch wasn’t a bit more ‘desert’ like though - in fact it’s just more Savannah thin woodlands to various degrees of density. It has been very easy to find a bush camping site though. On arrival at Sandfire RH the sun was just about to disappear, but I pushed it to the limit to get set up, and went for a shower at the RH instead - after 3 nights in the bush I was pretty grubby and it felt really good to get clean again. By the time I was showered though it was getting dark, so I even skipped my iced coffee and rode straight off 1km down the road where I found another decent bush campsite. No point in staying at the dusty caravan park at the roadhouse and paying for the privelege! I was fully set up in time though, then flopped down in my Thermarest chair with mug of red wine, watching yet another fantastic orange sunset. There’s something so Australian about the sky after sunset - truly beautiful. I set to afterwards and used the rather stale last 2 muffins by frying same in canola oil, then lavishing them with curry-flavoured tuna - quite tasty actually. But it will be wonderful to live in a house with a fridge again, fully stocked with lots of fresh food!! In the morning I’ll pop back up to the roadhouse for an early iced coffee and some more petrol for the stove, before heading for 80 Mile Beach, and hopefully a couple of days of sunbathing and sea swimming if the road is rideable.

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