Stats for the day by Raymond "Smithers" Smith
Course: Madura to Eucla
Distance: 181 km's
Ride Time: 7hrs 52min
Average speed: 23.0 km/h
Metres climbed: 361 metres
Max Elevation: 98 metres
Temperature min: 6.8
Temperature max: 25.5
Wind direction: East 40km/h (Relentless)
Longest straight stretch of road: 35.9km/h
Longest flat stretch with no change in any elevation at all: 178 km's (Beside Escarpment that eventually ends at the great Southern Ocean. (Spectacular scenery!)
Road Kill Count by Craig "Baby Gorilla" Mitchell
319 X Skippy's
1 X Crow
1 X Snake
3 X Emu
14 X Eagles
8 X Blue Tongue Lizard
1 X UFO (unidentified flat object!)
1 X Wascally rabbit
Thanks to Johnny for giving me a night off from writing the journal. It was great as I had time to stretch and swap a leg massage with Melissa, who has recently graduated for her diploma in remedial and sports massage. She has a wicked elbow and we both took delight in hurting each other to get out those stubborn knots. To date Johnny, myself and Melissa have covered 2500 kilometres in 13 days of riding, which includes the Challenge event up to Townsville. It is no wonder the relatively fresh riders, Tiny, Smithers, Rusty, Taser (Anna) and Baby Gorilla have been doing more than their fair share of work into the wind. Which brings me to my next heading...
Day 5 and the headwinds increase in intensity
The plan last night was to get up at 4:30am, which we accomplished. Then to leave by 6am, which we also accomplished. This was for our benefit of beating the predicted headwinds. Only problem was the winds were present as soon as we pushed off. Light at first, increasing in intensity throughout the day, until the final 100 kilometres where it maxed out at 40km/h cross headwinds. Echelons were formed and we battled to hold our lines as fatigue set in. Five days in, five days straight of punishment, with today definitely the worst, (Kate and Steely, think of our last day to Esperance type winds) but still 5 unforgettable days. We will be talking of this for year's to come, although at the moment we are less talking about and more bitching about it! Sorry to go on about it, but for those reading this that are bike riders, you will understand what it is like to ride a bike into headwinds for 40km's, well try 1100km's and you can understand it starts to do your head in... The thing is you have to shout to be heard, the wind noise in your ears is so loud that it gets inside your brain and threatens to turn you insane. There is no easy pedaling, a 30 second turn on front feels like 5 minutes and at times the frustration is so intense you want to yell at the top of your lungs; "BLOODY HEADWIND"! Rusty, at the 80km mark suggested we not refer to it as a headwind but a refreshing breeze keeping us cool! Sounded good, turn a negative into a positive, kind of worked, but then at 150km's, with 30km's remaining I reminded Rusty as he was going through a rough patch, and he suggested that idea sucked and headwinds suck!
I never thought I would see the day but coming into our afternoon tea break we all witnessed an incident as rare as seeing Haylee's Comet. Tiny Dancer lost his dance step as it came to his turn to take the lead next to JL. Meanwhile JL was suffering a world of hurt as his two week sickness was refusing to leave his body. JL looked over his shoulder wondering where the bloody hell Tiny was. Eventually Tiny got up beside JL and did the shortest turn I have ever witnessed in 5 days of riding. Not 10 minutes later we pulled into our afternoon tea break and there was Tiny, trembling and reaching for his very first can of coke for the trip thus far. Tiny is very particular what he puts into his body and coke is a definite no, no. But not today, coke was all fine and mighty and the next best thing since sliced bread. Tiny later said to me; "Sharky thank you." "What for?" I replied. An excited Tiny said, "For putting me in this position where I cracked." You see our old mate relishes opportunities to physically and mentally test himself to that cracking point and I am pretty sure he thought it would not happen on this journey. Well Tiny I am glad to say, "you are welcome old mate. The enjoyment was all ours!"
Anyway time to wrap this up tonight because I am stuffed! As I said above, tomorrow will be worse than today, not only longer but more wind due to we are now right on the coast line and exposed more than ever to the wind. I am suggesting a few more cracks will show tomorrow. All the gang are tough but even today we all had our moments where thoughts of pulling up by the side of the road and having a good cry were never far from our minds. Or was that just me?
To finish just a few highlights from today:
*Melissa spotting a white horse right at the end of the day, actually in our caravan park, and was so excited that she fell off!
*Riding for 182km's with the only Escarpment of the trip beside us on the right hand side. Height wise it was just 100 metres tall but at 182km's long it held the sea back many millions of years ago before it receded to leave a landscape dead and barren and not a good place to build a holiday home!
*Seeing Tiny crack!
*King of the mountain was right at the end of the day when we had to climb back up on top of the Escarpment or end up in the ocean. No-one was really interested as all where well and truly stuffed by that stage, but Baby Gorilla got up there first and had sweat on his brow to prove it.
*Seeing the ocean for the first time since leaving Esperance
*Spotting sand dunes from 20 kilometres away, so tall that Melissa said; "Sharky aren't those clouds lying low over there..."
*Getting a text message from my beautiful Sister Kay and Kim. Figured if I mentioned it in the blog I may get another one!
*Telstra coverage finally after 3 days and riders getting excited about receiving messages from friends and love ones.
*Anna's chat's on the bike are legendary. Each rider only gets to sit beside each other no longer than a couple of minutes, sometimes just 30 seconds, and because of the wind, the chats have to be quick, loud and to the point. A chat about one subject can last an entire day but only 10 minutes of conversation ensures. The great thing about Anna is she has a chat session going with every other rider and can remember the exact word that we were up to when next we are beside each other. Thanks Anna as your chats help to keep us awake and on the ball.
*The big turns riders like Rusty, Tiny, Gorilla, Smithers and Anna are putting in. Inspirational stuff! Just can't imagine getting through these epic days without them. I surely do love these guys and gals. Melissa and I are riding well but we have to be conservative as we are definitely not the strongest.
Anyway thanks for your support out there. I really need something to keep the moral of the group high as tomorrow we are going to get smashed from the get go. My hearing is shocking, yet I can hear the howling of the wind from inside the rented cabin that we are sleeping in tonight. It will not abate throughout the night and will only get stronger as the day progresses. Getting messages really lifts the morale of the riders and crew. If you have a spare minute please think about what they are doing out here, suffering like dogs with no hind legs for most of it so far, although the stops and the nighttime antics are definitely fun. Most nights we are averaging just 5 to 6 hours sleep a night and riding close to 200km's a day or 7 to 8 hours in the saddle. A message, any message would go a long way in helping the crew. If you send them to my address at firstname.lastname@example.org I will read them out to the group whenever we are able to get coverage.
Don't forget if you wish to make a donation be sure to follow the team page and choose your favourite rider. Russell "Rusty Balls" Conway sure could use a boost to help him reach his target so please help Rusty if you do intend to donate.
Thanks heaps, take care and wish us luck for tomorrow. I am scared! Oh and a tad tired!