Day 13 – have I made a mistake?
As soon as I turned left onto the Barkly Highway on day 11 I knew I was in trouble. I was met with a constant head wind that slowed me down to just over 10km per hour. With 190km to go to my next water stop, and the bike loaded up with 10 litres of water my mood deteriorated hour by hour as I slowly ground out miles. After five hours and only 50km I was in a particularly bad mood and wondering if I have made the correct decision to turn down this route. Darkness was approaching and traffic was very light – one car every 15 minutes or so when a beaten up white station wagon passed me slowly and stopped a few hundred metres in front. Oh dear I immediately thought. I am about to be confronted by some bogans in the middle of nowhere. To my surprise a young Taiwanese guy and his girlfriend got out and waved me down to pass me a can of energy drink. This random act of kindness changed my mood entirely and I cycled on until I reached a rest area in the darkness with a pretty pathetic distance of 70km in over 6 hours.
I ate a cold can of spaghetti for dinner in the dark and jumped into my sleeping bag and bivvy sack, setting my alarm for 4am. There were ants everywhere and massive spiders were living in the fence above my head so I sprayed some bug spray around the outside of the bivvy bag and zipped it up tightly.
I wanted to start early in the morning to check if the winds were less during the darkness. So at 4am I was up, rolled up my bivvy and sleeping bag, and for breakfast had a pee and a full body scratch. By 4:20am I was off and Cycling and to my relief there was no wind. I made excellent time in the darkness – averaging 19.5km per hour until the sun rose and the headwinds immediately started again. I would like to say I turned the other cheek to the wind and whistled my way through them however they really frustrated me. They slowed me again to 10km per hour and I had to use so much effort just to make this speed. It feels like cycling with the brakes on. I yelled and screamed and swore, stopped and kicked rocks and sticks all the while making sure no vehicles were approaching to watch my tantrum before eventually getting back on the bike and peddling on. After 120km I rolled into the Barkly Roadhouse at 1pm – pretty happy to arrive and be out of the wind.
Today I start a 260km stretch without water – once again I will carry 10litres with me and will try and split it up into 2 x 130km days or nights depending on the headwinds. These long sections without water are not the places I wanted to be battling massive headwinds but such is life. It is not as if I have much choice anymore!
Cheers for now,