Night riding

Yo dudes,

Thought I’d do another update mainly because I’ve decided that I am heading down the east coast and also because I did my first night ride (one for Dan) last night and I thought I’d get the results down on email.

I set off from Katherine last night at about 7 after spending a day recovering which consisted of just hiding in a dark room with the aircon on full and drinking gallons of juice/milk/water. I also stocked up on more provisions and was thrilled to find BOWL NOODLE SOUP!!! in the supermarket. As part of my plans to ride at night I also bought some spare lights and back up batteries. I met a few Aussie blokes yesterday who kindly donated a hi-vis jacket to the cause as Aussies are just convinced that the guys driving the road trains will just run over anything that gets in their way.

As I said, I set off at 7ish last night. I’d noticed when I was cycling the other night that the wind seemed to die down at around sunset and sure enough I had less of a headwind when I set off. The pace I was setting was around twice that I’d managed during the day on the way from Darwin which felt great. Whereas previously any hill had me leaking like a teabag and emptying my water bottles, I was now dancing lightly on the pedals and having to force myself to drink as although the thirst wasn’t the same, the night temperatures here are still around 25C so I still need to keep hydrated.

The road trains turn out to be less of an issue at night than during the day. For one you can see them coming miles away. The Oz outback is a dark, dark place and anything producing any light is easy to spot. I’ve installed a mirror on my bike so if the sky starts getting lighter behind me, I know I’ve either been cycling too long and the sun is coming up, or there’s a road train coming. I usually just cross over onto the other side of the road when they come up behind me as this means they don’t have to move and the wind doesn’t buffet me around and blow the various things I have dangling from my bike all over the road. They appreciate the gesture as well and usually give me a wave as they trundle past.

Another added bonus which I didn’t mention in my previous email is the lack of flies. The flies in Oz are a different breed to their European counterparts. Faster, smarter and generally more annoying. In Europe anything above 10 miles an hour and the flies can’t keep up. In Oz I’ve been sailing down a hill at 20 miles an hour and there’s still a swarm following me. They also seem much more friendly than European flies and try and get in your nose, mouth and eyes and ears which added to the immense heat and the headwind can get annoying quickly. Couple of times I’ve just stopped and unloaded a stream of expletives but the flies just take this as a chance to get me while my mouth is open. Anyways, cycling at night removes this problem. Hey presto, no flies. Brilliant. Granted I now just keep running into moths attracted to the only light for miles but moths I can handle. They just bounce off my face instead which I’m cool with.

Life saving fly net

By 11:30 last night I’d managed close to 60 miles which is a pace I haven’t managed in a long time. This is with a headwind so hopefully if it ever turns into a tailwind I can up the pace. Having said that I haven’t had a tailwind since Macedonia so it’s best I just learn to live with it. More importantly I’d only used around 2 litres of water. I’m carrying close to 10 litres at the moment so this gives me a pretty good range which far exceeds any of the distances between water I’ve seen on the map. On top of this, I feel a lot better today. The ride from Darwin to Katherine I just didn’t enjoy at all. When I stopped, I was in no fit state to speak to people or to enjoy the country around me. Today I’ve made it to Mataranka by 7 in the morning after camping just outside town last night. After writing this email I’m heading out to the Hot Springs for a swim, some breakfast, a cup of tea and to try and make some inroads into War and Peace, the perfect book for cycling through the Oz outback. Then I’ll do the same tonight and head off down to the next roadhouse which is also around 60 miles away.

Mataranka Hot Springs

I feel much more positive today. Now I have a way of cycling Oz, enjoying the cycling and still having time during the day to enjoy the country. I still have some pretty tough stretches ahead and it’s another 1300 miles before I hit the east coast at Townsville, which will be around 3 weeks away. I also have some friends down the east coast who I’m really looking forward to seeing and may even get to see Jason and Shel so all-in-all I feel a lot better. I was pretty worried a few days ago and it’s a load of my shoulders that this all feels possible again.

Anyways, some Craig time awaits before I get cycling again.

Lots of Love Again,

Craig. XXX

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