Ride time 7:34:39
Avg speed 25.5
Elevation gain 899
This morning was the coldest start to a days ride we have had on this trip. With the cold freezing Mel’s legs and lips it was a slow, quiet start to the morning. Even after the sun was up and we stopped Captain Kev with instructions to get the bloody kettle on,the chill was still there.
We had a Wolf Creek moment when a car full of people drove past us at a 130k and in a cloud of dust screeched to a halt a couple hundred meters in front of us. To our surprise out jumped a Smiddy tee shirt closely followed by the camera of Denise Barnett. Hugs and pics taken we hit the road again, heading to Elliott for lunch.
Just north of Newcastle Waters we stopped to talk with, the trolley guy, who we thought was suspiciously poking at some roadkill.
Christian is a Swedish documentary maker walking from Darwin to Adelaide pushing a modified shopping trolley weighing in around 100kg. And we thought our wheels over the grids was hell!! You can follow his journey on Facebook https://www.facebook.com/Global-AV-Produktionen-Andreas-und-Christian-Zimmerman Global- AV.ch
So inspired by the trolley guy, Connor jumped out of the van and onto the bike only to challenge Mick to an unexpected expression session until Mick could take no more and radioed breathlessly to Kevvy to drive ahead to pick up the young swag lord and buckle him back in his seat.
Day Six Dunmarra to Mataranaka
Ride time 8:33:31
Avg speed 26
Elevation gain 625
Today was the Longest day of our trip, we added a few extra by taking a detour into Daly Waters. A pie from the pub for morning tea and a look around was well worth the extra distance. Mel donated a pair of Smiddy knicks (clean ones!) that now hang proudly from the roof beam in the bar.
We met one of the more colourful locals, Fran from Larramah. Fran runs the local tea house so I figured I could get an long overdue espresso. We rolled in only to be told in no uncertain terms that we are closed. I enquired with my best country manners if I could just grab a quick double espresso. Yeah righto came the reply, but you have to wait outside. The worlds longest espresso was produced as she told me I have given you a double but have only charged you for a single, and I handed over my six dollars.
The day ended with the swag lord once again throwing out another expression session challenge. This time at Mel, where the best she could do was attempt at hanging on the wheel of her youngster. Finally rolling into the Bitter Springs caravan park we find the much talked about hot springs and spend the late afternoon soothing tired muscles floating around in the warm spring water.
Day Seven Materanka to Katherine (Plus a little bit)
Ride time 5:45:18
Avg speed 27.6
Elevation gain 640
We rolled out of Materanka to a smoke haze hanging in the still morning air. Today was to be our shortest day to Katherine. But with a 204k day tomorrow we decided to ride on an extra 50 past Katherine. With the promise of real coffee and a whole chicken when we got back, the deal was signed. It was a long 50k in 37 degree heat and some rolling hills, but we got it done. A quick shower and with chicken and coffee quickly devoured, we headed out to Katherine Gorge for some sightseeing and sunset photos. Such wonderful scenery but so little time to take it all in.
Back into town for a quick restock of groceries (read beer) Kevvy went to the bottle shop counting on his fingers to work out the correct number of cans we needed to get us through the last couple days.
"What a deal" Kevvy announced as he arrived back at the camper with a 20 pac of gold tins. It was only when we cracked one to watch the State of Origin that he realised the cans were only 330ml. Gnome size, maybe?
Day Eight North of Katherine to Adelaide River
Ride time 5:28:38
Avg speed 27.8
Elevation gain 729
It was a little different driving to our departure point while sipping on a real flat white. Coffee before riding is ok, right?
Today was our hottest with the Garmin hitting 40.5 degrees
It was an epic day for our road crew with Kevvy showIng skills beyond his years when he overtook a triple road train
We rolled into the show grounds, only to miss the camel races by a couple months.
The hilight was a visit to the Adelaide River War cemetery. We have seen so much history this trip.
Connor went croc hunting and came away with all limbs, some great pics, but no crocs.
Day Nine Adelaide River to Darwin
Ride time 4:17:33
Avg speed 26.5
Elevation gain 555
A day of lasts
A day of mixed emotions
As we rolled out of Adelaide River at 06:30, the first time we have been on time all trip, there was a silence on the bike as I took time to reflect on the last nine days and the realisation that the adventure was coming to an end.
The cold, the rain, the wind, the heat, the crap moments are part of what make these rides what they are. Without those times would we enjoy the white knuckle descents, the 60k sign sprints or the time trialling to the next coffee as much as what we do?
By this time it was so hot my eyeballs had sweat leaking out of them. We had come a long way and endured some tough conditions but it was so, so worth it.
I had my 2nd flat tyre for the trip about 15k out from the city and Kev was out of the car, with a new wheel faster than a Tour de France mechanic and I was back on the road within seconds. My only concern was my Garmin wasn't picking up the satellites, would it be on strava? Did it really happen?
A quick stop for a photo at the welcome to Darwin sign and then we rolled into see the ocean at the top of Australia. It was hard to imagine that 19 days ago we stood for a group photo at the edge of the Great Southern Ocean at Glenelg beach and now here we are in Darwin some 3400k later.
Thank you all for the messages of encouragement, you don't know how much they meant to us
Thank you to our wonderful friend Kate Warren. Kate's cards that we opened and then carried with us each day gave us strength to draw on during some of those tough times, you were riding with us each day, thank you Kate.
To our fantastic road crew of Captain Kevvy and his Lieutenant Connor. This trip would not have been possible without your support, advice, encouragement, cheesy eggs, cold beer, swag rolling skills and hugs.
It feels that thank you is somehow not enough. But, thank you.
Words from the Swag lord himself...
- I enjoyed our time at the Mataranka hot springs and looking over Katherine gorge from --- lookout the most.
- There wasn't much to see on the road... But I did get to sleep quite a lot, so that wasn't to bad.
- My least favourite part would be the heat of the past couple of days. It's been too hot for winter.
Until the next crazy adventure.
Get on your bike
Mel, Mick, Kevvy and Connor.
"If all difficulties were known at the onset of a journey, most of us would never start out at all."