Day 81 – Balladonia to Caiguna

Today has not been a good one. It started off well with a decent breakfast, but went downhill very rapidly once I started cycling. I’ve been looking forward to crossing the “90 Mile Straight” but every second of it was unpleasant. The boredom wasn’t a problem – the wind was. It was as bad as anything I faced in Europe and it lasted all day. I also had a bit of grief with my knee early on and I’m not entirely sure what was causing that.

Honestly I can’t really say much about the ride other than the wind. It was present for every pedal stroke and in the final few hours my frustration really started to get the better of me. When I reached the end, I wasn’t even happy, I was just fed up. So when I walked into the roadhouse and was told that no rooms were available I had a rather large sense of humour failure. In fact, I think that’s putting it lightly; I pretty much lost the will to live and ended up sitting on the floor next to a petrol pump for 15 minutes trying to sort my head out.

I had three options:
1 – carry on to the next roadhouse (70km) and decide what to do once there;
2 – set up my tent and try to settle down for the night;
3 – try to get a few hours sleep in the restaurant of the roadhouse (which is 24hr) and get moving once rested;

Despite the awful day, I think I would’ve gone for the first option if my Garmin hadn’t been on the brink of running out of battery. I’m glad I didn’t because that would have been stupid (obviously).

On reflection, the second was easily the most logical but it was already very dark and cold and putting up my tent was not something that appealed to me in the mindset I was in. I also wanted to get an early start tomorrow (and therefore an early finish) and I knew that packing up the tent in the morning would take time.

So I decided to give the third option a go. After half an hour and a less than acceptable meal, I realised there was no point in not setting up the tent. I had 12 hours until sunrise and I was not going to spend that in sweaty kit worrying about my bike if I fell asleep.

Putting up the tent was not without difficulties either. The ground here is rock solid so staking it out was impossible. Instead I’ve had to tie the corners to my bike and my two panniers to prevent it falling over.

I’ve calmed down a bit now and should be able to get some sort of sleep but today really hasn’t been great. The wind forecast for tomorrow does not look promising either.

Distance: 112.60 miles / 181.2 km
Riding Time: 8:47:04
Av. Speed: 12.8 mph / 20.6 kph

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9 comments

  1. Might I suggest that it is perfectly acceptable, under such adverse circumstances, for a gentleman to discreetly urinate on the ground, in order to stake out one’s tent.

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  2. Ok. Shite day. But you did it. Well done. You always knew this part of Oz would be tough. And you have 112 less miles of the dessert to do tomorrow!
    N

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  3. I agree with Neil. Nullarbor was something I was really interested in hearing about but I guess with little cover and straight roads it was going to be prone to wind. At least you made it in one piece and a little bit more of the route is ticked off. Well done and keep going, it’s really inspiring! All the best, Steve & Jude Rowan

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  4. That all sounds like a tough day Tom, but you jolly well did it, most of us would have buckled, fingers crossed for tomorrow, thinking of you matey and willing you along your epic journey.

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  5. Don’t let the desert (or is that b””””””s) get you down! You are achieving an amazing challenge…. bloody tents….. smelly, damp and hellish to fold up in the mornings….. I’d have kicked something really hard and had a good cry, so well done for keeping it together. Tomorrow is another day, as they say…… well, it already is for you I guess…. Chin up – I hear the beard suits you…
    x Angela (Newman – wife to Neil who keeps posting those lengthy stats about towns and wildlife…. !! I’ll try to keep him under control…!)

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  6. A very frustrating day for you, but look on the bright side. . . . at least it was not raining, . . . or snowing… I hope your day is a bit-less frustrating tomorrow. i was surprised tomhear that the hotel was full…is it quite busy in the middle of an Ozzy desert?!??

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  7. Really sorry to hear your day was so tough. Australia is a very beautiful country, I hope this doesn’t put you off. The views of the Great Australian Bight will be worth all of this.

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  8. The Caiguna Hilton sounds like a lovely spot! Hope the wind and the next stop are kinder today. You’ll be like the terminator when you get to SA…well done!

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  9. Tom, you’re a bloody hero for what you’ve already achieved and this is just another tough experience on this adventure. I’m a 51 year old bloke and reading your blogs every day inspires me. Keep on going, it will be well worth it.

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