Long time without posting… Sorry for that. I’ve been more than 8 days without phone service on the plenty Highway but here it is! enjoy!
26/07/2016 – first young travelers met on the road!!
Trip dist: 65.32km
I know from many people I spoke to, that’s going to be a hard crossing from Boulia to Alice Springs. 800km of dirt road without any shop where to find groceries. Just some takeaways in the few stations along the road. There is 2 of them, on 800km. The water will be hard to find as well. So to be ready for this crossing, I’ve been shopping. Food and water for 8 days…on 1 bicycle. My bike never weighted that much.
I’ve got 14 liters of water.
6 cans of beans.
6 cans of tuna.
3 cans of corn.
1 can of lentils (the last one of the shop)
2 cans of cream rice.
1kg of sultanas (raisin)
1kg of carrots
750g of milk powder
500g of chocolate powder
1 tablet of chocolate
500g of biscuits
200g of lollies
I’m feeling that I’m taking time before to leave town. A bit stressed and excited at the same time by the unknown to come…
For today it’s been all right as the road was still concrete most of the time. Then came the dirt road. Really good condition.
A couple of young Germans Flo and Ada overtook me then stopped a few meters further. We guessed you are German! Nop I’m french. Should we set up the camp together tonight? Yes sure!! I told them that I’m gonna meet them in 15km. When I arrived the camp was already well setup. Big fire place, half a tree cut down. Flo is 21 and already got some good outdoor skills maybe due to his “survival” summer camps in the USA in California then Alaska.
We spend a really good night speaking about NZ (they met each other in this country) around the fire and Flo cooked some delicious pastas his sauce with melted cheese, mushrooms and garlic was maybe the best part of it!!! We as well spoke about the min min lights which is a local unexplained phenomenon happening randomly. It’s a ball of light appearing from the ground and following you. Then we spoke about wolf creek. Urban legend or true story we don’t know and here no internet to check. It’s damn good!
Tomorrow will be my first big day on this stretch of dirt road called highway. Even four wheel drive can’t go fast on it.
It’s been the first time I saw backpackers travelling since I left Brisbane. A month ago. It felt so good!
27/07/2016 – a funny meeting
Trip dist: 132.59km
This morning, waking up after the sunrise. It was such a good night! I didn’t even woke up in the middle of the night as I usually do. We are having breakfast together with Flo and Ada, we exchange our details to keep in touch say goodbye to each other or rather see you in a few km, then I started cycling.
15km later I can hear their car in my back. They adjust their speed to mine and Flo is imitating a journalist interviewing a cyclist of the tour de France, giving me water and asking me questions through the UHF radio of the car. Funny then they kept going and I was alone again but boosted.
In French we have an expression saying never twice without a third time. Well while cycling, as usual, a car came in the opposite direction. They stopped. I stopped. Guess who it was? Do you remember in my precedent post this guy asking in the Pub “who is this French guy cycling through Australia?” The ex mayor of Bundaberg. It was him, Ray and his friend Gavin. They crossed the Simpson desert and were on their way back to the east coast. We took a photograph, they offered me an apple and 3 cereal bars, have me their number if anytime I go to Bundaberg and we each kept going in our direction. Such a great meeting again as they are so joyful, it’s contagious!
A few km later, I saw a car stopped on the side of the road wondering if it’s Flo and Ada then I can see it’s a wrecked car. The bumper is by the road and Flo, as a graffiti artist tagged on it “Go Alex!” And on the back of the wrecked car a big “RUN” such a good booster again! I made 10 more km and setup the camp by the road in the middle of nothing. There is one tree 200 meters away, that’s it. But it’s the first night without any mosquito!!
28/07/2016 – Northern Territory
Trip dist: 124.28km
This morning I tried to make a sail from my tarp. The wind wasn’t consistent enough and i missed some parts as well to make it work. I’m still thinking about it. I need a kite that I can manage with just one hand. Not too big and maybe with a handle. My tarp is way too big for this.
Not too long after starting, i discovered another “Go Alex” on the back of a sign. Flo and Ada are fueling my trip with their encouragement!
Around noon I left QLD and entered to NT! Not a big change yet. It’sy first time in Northern territory. I’m looking forward to discover this state! I had to adjust my time as it is now 30min earlier then a few meters before.
Just before the sunset, a lovely couple slow down to my pace and asked me if I wanted a break for a drink. Sure! I met Michael Bernard and his wife Alison. They offered me some fresh lime juice and snacks. It was exactly what I needed to keep going for the last 10km. Unfortunately, I don’t have a photographs of them.
I’m staying at an area spotted on wikicamps. It’s nice i find a fireplace with wood in it. Thank you to the person that made it! I’m guess Flo and Ada might be the ones 😉
Tonight i saw three shooting stars! I’m usually very bad for this.
29/07/2016 – Tough day for the gear!
Trip dist: 81.74km
When I woke up before sunrise, i made everything ready to cook breakfast from the tent after a few minutes I realised there is a huge road train parked 50 meters away. It wasn’t here when I went to sleep. I haven’t even heard it… am I sleeping that deep?
I started cycling. The road is very corrugated. It makes it hard for me and even more for the bike. 6km after I started, the screw of my right front rack broke down again. No mechanic to help me get the screw out this time. Ok I must find a solution. I used my Leatherman to remove it and it took me 5 minutes. Luckily I have some spare screws from the box I bought at Birdsville. Seriously, a Leatherman is the must have tool for your trip in addition to a bike multitool. I use it every single day. The best investment ever. Before I started again, Michael and Alison stop by me. Asking me if everything is ok I say yes and before they keep going they give me a little bag with raisins and a cereal bar. They made it for me in advance. I’ve been so touched. Such an awesome couple. I started again and stopped a few hundreds meters while I was thinking that I’m really lucky to be surrounded by so many kind and amazing people. There was a sign paint on a car bumper by the road saying “Go Alex Go!” Flo and Ada! They rock! Thanks so much guys to fuel up my days!
I kept going, the road is hard and it’s climbing. The front rack broke a second time… two screws gone this time. At this pace I will run out of screws before reaching Alice Springs. I will now make sure to check it out every mid-day and evening or morning. Those corrugations are really bad for the bike.
On top of a hill, I met a couple coming back to Bundaberg after a bike trip. They offer me a coca cola. I haven’t drink a coca cola since… I don’t even remember…. at least a year if not more. It feels great with this weather anyway. They told me to go to their friends in Alice Springs they are on the website warmshowers. I will do. Then while having lunch in the shade of a tree, Mary passed and turned around to have lunch with me. He is going to visit his sons. We check the map together, he shows me where they live and explain me what they do. A nice guy.
This afternoon, while I started a really good conditions parcel of road I felt that something was weird and the bike was not as usual. Stopped check everything and nothing wrong. Weird maybe I’m not used to cycle on good roads anymore. Then I realised that my rear tyre is totally smashed on its side. This is really bad. If the tube goes out of the tyre it will explode and even with a new tube it will be the same result.
The best solution to be able to cycle the last 400km to Alice Springs is to swap front and rear tyres. Less weight on the front tyre it should work. I will monitor the evolution of it tomorrow and if it’s getting worse then I might cut a piece of plastic out of one of my bottles to put in the tyre to make the pressure of the tube on the tyre more dispersed.
I hardly reach 80km for the day. It was a hard day and I will have the same kind of road tomorrow as I’m just half way of the 150km long climb to the top of the plateau.
I learnt to accept what happens and find solutions as it comes. No need to be angry as it won’t change anything anyway. Now, I think that I will sleep very deep again tonight.
30/07/2016 – Tough day for the gear… bis
Trip dist: 77.03km
Now that I meditate before sleeping, I sleep much better. However last night I woke up at 3am and wrote the timetable of my book. I realised as well that my mattress is flat. I’m not surprised, the bush here is really spiky.
I realised that I just have room for 21 more photos in the camera so I decide to transfer them all on the computer before to go. Anyway I’m physically tired and finding any reason to delay my start. Especially because I know it will be worse than yesterday. I finally start at 10. The road is really tough. So many corrugated parts. I can’t go faster than 12km/h. Suddenly I hear a metal noise my trash got a hole and there is cans all the way for 300meters… ok I collect them all find an other bag with a hole as well. With the two bags it should work. Then I saw a new message from Flo on a wrecked car on the side of the road. So many wrecks everywhere. Seriously, don’t take it without a four wheel drive. It’s hard out there.
No braking things!! Just 5km left before the Jervois station! And…. flat front tyre… ok this time I sacrifice one of my plastic bottle to create a wall in the tyre so the tube can go out of it. It seems to work.
Arrived at the station i wished to be able to buy some food… only things for sale: lollies and chips. I will take some lollies. I have enough food left for tomorrow and might be in Alice springs in three days but if the road is good I can reach Atitjere tomorrow and hopefully buy some food there. I should survive.
The good thing at the station is the shower! I’m now clean after 5 days in the sweat, dust, sand, grease…
Such a good feeling! I always sleep better when my body is not sticky.
By the way I made it to the top of the 150km climb! I wish tomorrow to reach Atitjere! 130km away.
31/07/2016 – it thought it was finished… but not
Trip dist: 83.02km
Working on being persistent and patient. This is what this road taught me more than any other one. Third day on a corrugated and sandy road. I want to give up this part but I can’t. I must keep going. Water bottles are falling from the bike, everything on top of the rear rack is flipping on one side or another. I have to stop every 5km to sort out everything again. When will this end? My goal for today was to reach Atitjere, an aborigines community where I could buy food because I have nothing left. With this road it won’t happen.
Every time I’m in trouble I meet awesome people on my way. They give me so much energy to keep going! Today, it was Brian, Leandra and George, their son. They passed me a couple of days ago and they were on their way back. Leandra wanted to take a picture to put on Facebook. No worries. They seriously saved me this time! They gave me food for two days, a couple of beers and a homemade beef pie plus some fruits. I was stoked! So much kindness! Leandra said “I am a a I feel a bit guilty to not have had enough food for the whole trip. Or maybe I’ve had some trouble to manage it wisely. We took a picture together, exchanged our details and we both kept going on our respective direction.
A bit later I reach some black rocky hills. I needed to climb them to take a picture! Just at this time two toad trains came. I took a picture where you can see the difference of size between them and my bicycle. Impressive. Later on I faced two other ones. It’s terrific the cloud of dust coming towards me. I needed to stop because of all the dust.
More and more corrugated patches. When I will see bitumen, it will be a relief, I seriously think I will stop to kiss the ground!
Another awesome sign on the road, “Go Alex!” Thanks Flo and Ada! This time I just took a quick photography as I didn’t have the energy anymore to do better. I set up the camp 1 km after that sign. Opened the tent ate cold beans with a beer, cold milk and chocolate and straight to bed. No energy to cook anymore. It’s 7.20pm when I’m writing this and I’m sure that I will be asleep in 30 min if not before.
Hopefully, the road gets better tomorrow…
01/08/2016 – Atitjere!
Trip dist: 87.27km
This morning I woke up well decided to finish with this shitty road. I pack everything super quick and at 7.30am I’m already on the track pedalling. Most of the time standing up on the pedals. I give all my energy into it. The bike fly on the corrugations the rear wheel even drift on top of it after 10km I gave all I had and the road is still the same. Corrugated as hell. Well I just have to accept it I guess.
Then a funny meeting. A guy on a motorbike stop and we start to chat. I quickly realise he is a witness of Jehova and he tries to give me his book about the bible. I decline saying that I’m not a religious. Then a discussion about god and the bible starts. His point of view is that anything out of the bible is wrong. I asked him what he was thinking about the Quran. He told me that muslims are following the wrong path. Well, that’s when I started to explain him my point of view about religions. I truly believe that there is as many religions as there is humans on earth. It is something so personal. You can’t try to convert anyone to your own point of view. What makes life rich, it’s the variety of points of views and beliefs. That’s when you can start to exchange with others. He kept trying to convert me with another example and finally realised that he couldn’t get anything from me and left. Anyway, it was a funny meeting in the middle of nowhere.
A few kilometers later, bitumen!! I’m so happy!! And far away I can see a cloud of dust coming… ok it was just a 40meters long patch of bitumen then dirt road again where I encountered the first alive snake of my trip. I almost cycled on it and it was as afraid as I was.
Another message from Flo and Ada on another car wreck: A bit further Alex! Hah this is a good wink to our conversation on the first night on the plenty highway! Flo used to travel in NZ by hitchhiking and we spoke about the best hitchhiking signs. I told them that the one that worked the best for me was “a bit further please” people doesn’t feel engaged too much and even 5km lift is always a good progress!
I finally reached Atitjere an Aboriginese community. The only store is closed until 2pm. So I’m waiting outside. Some kids are coming asking many questions about my trip! They are really nice! Then the guy of the store is coming. He sees me and tells me it won’t be open today because it’s public holidays. Picnic day. What?! So what can I do? I just need some food for tonight. He was actually open until now. He just said next time opening is tomorrow morning and left.
The kids were so funny saying this guy is cruel! Every time he doesn’t want to help tourists. Then they told me about the takeaway. I asked them if they can show me the way. And we started all together to bicycle to the takeaway shop. On the way one kid said hey I’ve got bananas at home if you want. I thank him and we finally arrived to the take away…Closed. the kids didn’t gave up and realised there is someone inside they go to the back and start to knock on the door.
Haimonia and Jason two brothers around their mid twenty opened the door. I asked them if they can make some food as the general store is closed. I must was looking terrible because it took a second to Haimonia to watch me, give me a bottle of water and said, I’m gonna cook you something and made me a burger. An awesome burger! Then they incited me to eat in the kitchen of the take away. We started to chat. They didn’t accept my money. Then I asked them if I can buy some food from them for the next couple of days. They started to make me a big bag of cans, bread ham and cheese, fruits… they even offered me a magnum and didn’t want anything in exchange. I was amazed by their kindness. I’ve actually got food for more than the next two days! Those guys are two legends! I hope to see them again to offer them a beer or a meal!
I received so much from so many people on this trip! I’m infinitely grateful and thankful to all of you guys!
02/08/2016 – Stuart highway
Trip dist: 135.70km
Such a great night under the shooting stars! I saw 7 of them. In the morning it was really cold and windy. The effect of the southerlies. I started cycling at 7.30 for 20km on very bad condition road. Deep sand and corrugations. At least I know I’m on the end! It motivates me so much. Then Bitumen!! I was so happy! I kept cycling as long i could. I stopped at service station for a late breakfast around 11am and a policeman asked me if I am the guy on the bike. Yep. He said ” I saw you yesterday and I thought, this guy has balls!” It was funny.
Then I saw the first alive dingo! And kept cycling until I reached the Stuart Highway. I’ve made it!!
I kept cycling for 10 more km south with a really strong headwind. Got another puncture. Set the camp. 50 more km to Alice Springs tomorrow morning.
03/08/2016 – Alice Springs
Trip dist: 59.26km
This morning it was cold, very cold. The winds from the south are very strong today and they carry all the fresh air. As I pedal, I can’t feel my hands anymore. I didn’t have breakfast and I can feel the lack of power in my legs and in my mental.
Those 50km are very tough to cycle. In addition, my tyre got a last puncture 10km before reaching town and at the same time, my kickstand broke down. It was too much this time… I felt very angry but this doesn’t help at all so I sat down and breath then got things fixed. Contacted on the app Warmshowers Daniele and Simona from Becycling.net. No reply yet when I reached town. First mission, finding food. I’m starving and need energy to keep going.
Second mission, as I haven’t received any reply finding a backpacker, Alice’s secret looks the best rated one. I’m going there, and find Simona. They are working there. Such a great coincidence. She offers me to stay at the hotel and to share a caravan with Klaus, a German bike tourer. 68 years old, cycling around the world since 22 years now. He is such a great source of information and stories from all his adventures. Here is a documentary about him
We’ve had dinner all together it was really nice! Four members of the family of cycling around the world are there, in the middle of the Australian desert.
Tomorrow, I’ll go to check the bike shops to see if there is any chance to get a new tyre for my bike and a new kickstand but now it’s time to sleep, inside, with a heater.