Saturday, July 28, 2007


Rain fronts were moving from the west one after another. Most of them unloaded their cargo onto me during the night and the mornings appeared clean and cold. The wind works still in my favor, mostly I might add, as I will disregard the few exceptions when the road turns toward west. In the last days the sunny intervals are interspersed with light showers, spraying me without permanent damage. The sun is warming my back, and making this final stage a pleasant ride filled with flash back memories of what I had experienced. From Wubin to New Norcia and Perth there are some hills, resulting in a roller-coasted type of road, undulating up and down with the frequency of 1 or 2 km and requiring frequent gearing changes, cuddling in fetus position on dowhill, a little bit of standing on pedals on uphill and alike cycling folklore which was absent and forgotten so far. Nothing to worry about, except possibly the road itself which at this leg would might be aptly renamed to Great narrow highway instead of Great northern highway.
As I came to the sign "Perth 46 km" I become a bit sentimental. I remembered a moment on the opposite side of time and space, the end of the first day (Day 0) just outside of Darwin. I was at the kitchen of a caravan park and a young fellow asked me where I was going to. "I'm cycling to Perth", I said. I had a sum total of 41 km under my belt at that time. The other camper, preparing the meal at the kitchen, looked at me bewildered, thinking probably "What is this lunatic talking about?".

Day 30: 117km. Day 31: 153km. Day 32: 141km. Day 33: 110km. Total 4681km.

Monday, July 23, 2007


The ride down the #95 to Mt. Magnet was a piece of cake, again blown by tailwind mostly. The places were flying by: Newman (a bit of headwind here, though), Capricorn RH, Meekathara, Cue, all of them entrants, finalists or even winners of "the most tidy town" competition. I however discovered another thing: hunger. I don't know if that was because I didn't take rest days or something else, but I felt hugry like never before. During previoust days I must have lost 4 kilos; I was at the summit of my ultra-light-weight cycling career, I might say that was giga-light cycling. But the food was not easy to find, especialy the cheap options like supermarkets were missing.
After Mt. Magnet I turned right on #123, towards Geraldtown, with the intention to change the scenery and to cycle a bit along the ocean. The first day went along just fine, low trafic and not much flies, due to shortage of roadkill. That night there was considerable rainfall and in the morning the wind picked up, but now blowing from the west. That day was the the hardest one of the tour. A 100 km against the cold headwind and without food, not having eaten enough the day before, I could almost see through my stomac. The vision of the great town of Yalgoo with its aboundance of food kept me going. However, the first thing I saw as I came to this somewhat dissapointingly small village, was the sign that the restaurant was closed, with the optimistic side message that it will open in about a week. I almost fainted, more so as the opening hours of the only store had passed too. Hopefully the grim looking motel/hotel had an "Open" sign, and as soon as I entered I ordered a lunch and a take-away dinner. I was hungry as a wolf and thin as a toothpick, yet, everything dissappeared into me without trace.
The next day continued with strong headwind. 30 km before next village a rain storm started at it made me change the mind: I turned and cycled back to Yalgoo with tailwind and rain pleasantly and undisturbingly spraying me from behind. At Yalgoo, which now became one of my favorite Australian towns, a huge skyscraper-styled local goo-burger waited for me to slam it down my system. I took a room in the hotel - first time after 25 days of camping - and in the morning filled myself with assorted items from the breakfast table. With pleasant feeling of fullfillness I sailed back to Mt. Magnet, barely aware of the huge wind that I had in my back.

Day 26: 140km. Day 27: 101km. Day 28: 148km. Day 29: 150km. Total 4159km.

Saturday, July 14, 2007

Karijini National park

From Port Hedland I turned left, inland on the road #95. Expectantly, it was now pedaling against the eastern wind for about 80 km. Then suddenly the road turned south, climbed a little pass (yes, there are passes in Australia) and my dearest tailwind was with me again. Not only that, the scenery became amazing, now there were gentle hills all along, with little Ulurus and Olgas doting the horizon. This stretch through eastern Pilbara range was the most beautiful part of the road so far. Some 100 km further I veered right toward the Karijini national park and its famous gorges. I practically fell through the first 35 km to the Visitor centre, but then a hell of the dirt corrugated road started. I really didn't expect to find the worst imaginable road in one of the most beautiful national parks. The traffic is quite high here, much more then on Gibb river road, lifting clouds of red dust, so at the end of the 100 km trip both ways to and from the gorges I was looking like an Indian. I also devoured a record number of chocolate bars, as that was the only food available at the N.P.

A day after the visit to Karijini, as I looked down my back tyre, I saw a wobble in the wheel. That can't be, I thought, this rim - despite its slim look - is strong as a rhinoceros. I set out to true it, and discovered that the problem was in the tyre, the sidewall of it had cracked and it bulged at the most severe place. Bad news; it was 3000 km mark then and still some 1500 km to go. The tyre may blow out and it will be the end of the trip, as I don't have a spare. I made a tyre boot with duct tape and hoped for the best.

Day 18: 157km. Day 19: 130km. Day 20: 93km. Day 21: 142km. Day 22: 100km. Day 23: 147km. Day 24: 203km. Day 25: 164km. Total 3620km.

Wednesday, July 11, 2007

Derby, Broome and Port Hedland.

After 7 days bumping on dirt roads I thought that 70 km asphalt  before Derby
would come as heavenly change. But it wasn't entirely so, there was nothing magical in this transition and I soon started missing the good (I mean bad) old red dirt. In Derby I made a quick raid of the local supermarket, washed the clothes and did an inspection of the bike. In chain stay I discovered something that might be a crack in the frame. It's still 3000 km till the finish of the trip so, if it really is a crack it will certainly show. Ride to Broome was just too easy with magical tailwind. There I again gorged myself with supermarket food (an item I particularly favored was Greek-style yogurt with blueberries), took a stroll on Cable beach and moved on. On day 15th I made a record breaking ride on the longest stretch without facilities - 286 km from Roebuch to Sandfire roadhouses. I started at 6:00, which wasn't particularly early but still bloody cold, so I didn't get into right pace until 7:00. From there on it was pedaling, pedaling, mostly with tailwind, until sunset when I reached 250 km mark and an further hour on night ride lightning my way with a small torch and being careful not to run into a dead kangaroo or a cattle grid.
The following days were marked by tailwind almost all the way to Port Hedland. The scenery changed too, instead of the bushes by the side of the road which obstructed the view, there was now dry grass stretching to the horizon. The flies became more active. On one ocasion when I tried to chase them away, I hit my glasses with the hand and sent them to the ground. In the panic glasses-rescue operation I stepped on them and crashed them. Jesus!!! I felt like Mr. Bean in one of his best roles. I had a spare pair, but I was really pissed-off: can't just one tour end without some similar embarassing event happening?! On the other hand, if there were no such events I would not be able to tell anything interesting about the trip, would I? Something like this:

They (people expecting a fascinating tour report): "So, we heard you cycled in the Indian Himalaya. That must have been an amazing trip!"
Me: "Yes, it really was."
They: "So, what was the most memorable moment?".
Me: "I fell through the hole in the stairs and almost killed myself."

Day 12: 156km. Day 13: 115km. Day 14: 145km.
Day 15: 283km. Day 16: 155km. Day 17: 168km. Total 2485km.

Friday, July 6, 2007

Gibb River Road

In Kununurra I found out that Gibb river road was opened to all vehicles less then 15 t in weight. I'm light weight, so I fall in that cathegory. So I went. It's about 640 kms of dirt road, and final sealed 70 kms to Derby. The quality af the road changes from smooth hard beaten earth where you float almost like on the pavement to terrible washboard across all the width, soft gravel and sand and stones - the surface which makes you yell and curse after an hour or two riding on it. The scenery along the way is a bit more changeable then so far, the view frequently opens beyond the trees bordering the road on cliffs and eroded mountains. The road is mostly flat or gently undulating, but there are several "jump-ups", steep short paved sections that leed you up (dozen of times) for a couple of tens of meters or down - if I remember orrectly only twice - when you've got the chance of reaching more then 50 km/h, a rare occasion in Australia.
But the real beauty of this road are the river gorges which are 2 to 20 km away from the road. I visited only two Calvin gorge and Lennard gorge, but the last one is one of the most beautifull places I've ever been to. It's a wide pool of dark turquoise water, encircled by black and orange rocks and fed by three waterfalls. It's a place you just can't leave, especialy if there's a young naked woman swimming, sun bathing and walking about.
There are many river crossings, most of them narrow enough to cycle through. Few are wider, namely Pentecost river (100 m wide) and Durac river (50 m). There are signs that saltwater crocodiles inhabit these waters, which makes crossing all the more exciting.
There are few facilities along the road, at kms: 26 (Emma gorge), 50 (El questro, 12 km turn off), 69 (Home Valley, 2km t.o.), 156 (Ellenbrae, 5km t.o.), 341 (Mt. Barnet), 380 (Iminji store) and 430 (Lennard river snack), where you can get water and food. It's hot during the midday hours, but even so I cycled throughout the day; I drank from 3 to 3.5 liters of water a day. I had water filter, but never had the chance of using it, also because two times some nice drivers gave me 1 or 2 liters. Sun gets high quickly after the sunrise, and the shadows indicating holes and corugations are disturbingly lacking, until just before the sunset. I had two occasions close to falling off, which also reminded me of resemblance of this road and the Chinese road 219 in Xinjang.

Day 6: 103 km. Day 7: 102 km. Day 8: 110 km. Day 9: 118 km. Day 10: 100 km. Day 11: 110 km. Total 1462 km.