Stats for the day by Raymond "Smithers" Smith
Course: Norseman to Balladonia
Distance: 191 km's
Ride Time: 7hrs 10min
Average speed: 26.7
Metres climbed: 932 metres
Max Elevation: 447 metres
Temperature min: 8
Temperature max: 29
Wind direction: North-East (headwind)
Longest straight stretch of road: 42.8km's
Road Kill Count by Craig "Baby Gorilla" Mitchell
31 X Skippy's
1 X Squirrel
1 X Emu
2 X Eagles
3 X UFO (unidentified flat object!)
Day 2 on the road and another long stage of 191 kilometres. After last year, when we were hit with 14 days of headwinds, I was ready for an easier year across the Nullarbor. So far this does not look like it is going to happen. Ray, who is our stats man, also doubles up as a very reliable weather forecaster. He predicted yesterday's conditions with pin-point accuracy, and once again he was correct today when he told us to expect 20 knot headwinds once we turned East on the Ayre Highway, which takes us to the start of the Nullarbor. Damn Ray for being good at what he does! So for 190 kilometres the going was slow and arduous, the 1 bonus kilometre we were gifted with was at the start of the day as we rolled out of the Norseman Hotel heading north.
Where is our road crew?
Roll out was at 6:45, the sunrise was spectacular, the air a brisk 8 degrees, but with the wind it felt decisively colder. As the 8 riders road out of town the road crew were left to do the last of the packing and expected to catch up with us within 20 kilometres. Morning tea was scheduled at the 54 kilometre mark. At 60 kilometres stomachs were grumbling and still no sign of our saviours. Finally at 67 kilometres Kevvy's voice was heard on the two-way that Baby Gorilla carries. Morning tea was hastily served and Jeff and Kevvy tried to fob off their lateness with a made up story, which actually had us going for a while, but the reality was they took the road bound North for Kalgoorlie and were scratching their heads as to why they had not caught us. We all had a good laugh once the real story came out.
How lucky am I?
I am about to tell you... When I first came up with the idea to ride around Australia my greatest fear was riding across the Nullarbor. I honestly thought I would be doing it on my own or with my best friend Ron Steel. I was so pleasantly surprised when 7 riders put up their hands to join me. From last night's blog you now know who they are. Well today those amazing human beings showed me why they deserve their spot in this year's 7in7. You see both Melissa and I were going through some very tough times after morning tea. The lethargy we both felt zapped both mind and body and the tiredness was enough that we were both falling asleep on the bikes. The other 6 riders were unbelievable with their support, slowing down the pace, sheltering us from the wind and nursing us through to our lunchtime stop at 125 kilometres. Words cannot describe what their actions meant to both Mel and I. It was today that I fully realised just how incredibly lucky I am to have the crew assembled for one of the toughest legs of the entire trip around Australia. A huge thank you to the boys and Anna, who really showed true mateship. Mel and I glutted out on food and Captain Kev made the call to extend the lunch break to 50 minutes, which allowed a quick 15 minute power nap. Both of us came good for the afternoon session and we are both eternally grateful for such wonderful support.
What's happening at Balladonia
Bit of trivia about where we are staying tonight; The name Balladonia came about as a conglomeration of the two Aboriginal tribes that lived in the area. There is not much here but a caravan Park and a BP service station. In 1979 Balladonia made world wide news when a piece of SkyLab, a floating space laboratory, broke up and landed in this very spot. Not a good night back then to be sleeping out in the open in swags!
Highlights and funny moments from today.
-Kev and Jeff, as mentioned above, taking the wrong road is at the top of the list.
-Tony Ganter (Tiny Dancer) Taking off 5 kilometres out of Balladonia for the sprint to the 60km sign. After redlining it for 10 minutes and riding out of sight from the group, -no-one went with him- the laugh was on Tiny as there was no 60km sign at all.
-Anna getting so deep in conversation when on the front of the group that her 3 minute turns were closer to 10 minutes. She rode incredibly strong today.
-All the other lads doing more than their fair share off the front into the headwind all day. Thanks again for looking after Mel and I.
-Rusty Balls showed amazing bike handling skills when Baby Gorilla accidentally swerved into him. Russ not only managed to stay upright but still had the fortitude to look behind and yell "TRUCK UP".
-Tonight we spend our first night of many out in the open in our swags, and what a highlight that will be. Always is for me and I am pretty sure the others feel the same. There is something very peaceful knowing that you are a thousand kilometres from any major city -in this case Perth- sleeping in a swag under the stars and taking in the solidarity of this great big beautiful country of ours.
Anyway another 180 plus day awaits us tomorrow, it is now 7:30pm and Mel and Anna did a superb job cooking up a chicken curry that was demolished by the crew. Thank you to Kev and Jeff for the amazing job they did yesterday and today. We are extremely lucky to have them onboard and this trip would not be possible without them.
We are just about to do our first blog reading, Ray, Kevvy, Tony and Craig are getting stuck into the dishes, while the rest of the crew talk and joke merrily in the background. I can't make out much of what they are saying due to my bad hearing, but the sound of laughter and friendship and good times is all I need to hear.
This blog is a bit of a record for me keeping it at just over 1100 words.
Hope you enjoy.