“Momentum is your friend”, I was told multiple times by multiple people over the past week. “Keep your weight on the pegs on the corrugations, and steer by distributing weight on them in dirt”, Patrick the Canadian rider at Lion’s Den had told me the other day. Yet for some reason, when I hit my first patch of baby powder in the second stretch of gravel after Laura township, I threw those gems of wisdom -and myself- onto the road. I reactively slowed down, got in my seat, as the front wobbled and went flying over the handlebars after losing a tank-slapper battle with the handlebars.
I was quite calm as I got back up on my feet, but picking the bike up was no easy task. I grabbed the pannier rack frame with one hand, handlebar with the other. Then employed the same deadlift technique I used as a competitive power lifter: feet shoulder width apart, neutral spine, shoulders locked back, obnoxious powerlifter groan, engage glutes, drive through hips, hip thrust once wrists were past the knees. I just had to take a step forward as I rose with the bike, so it was more like a really heavy tyre flip. I gave a thumbs up to a passing truckie who didn’t witness my single repetition maximum for the day.
I got back on and within 30 minutes, had a minor incident with one of my battery terminals coming loose from the rattling on the corrugations. The check engine light had come on earlier, so I pulled over and turned it off, thinking overheating might be the issue. The dash wouldn’t fire back up when I spun the key. Luckily, it was a 5 minute fix.
I left Cairns at 0800 this morning. Any earlier would’ve meant risking saying an unexpected hello to kangaroos hopping across the road on my way to Mareeba. It’s been a scorcher of a day, and even the wind felt hot as I rode.
I decided to make my one meal a day a pie and sausage roll with a coke from the Lakeland Roadhouse. So that means no dinner tonight, and I haven’t really felt the need for it.
I kept the advice I didn’t take earlier in mind and stayed upright to get as far as the completely dry Moreeba River, where I’ve set up camp in an apparently croc free zone. Although there’s pig sign peppered everywhere, it seems quite old, so I’m hoping there’s no unwelcome visitors at night.
Tomorrow will be another long day that will take me further north. I am hearing various soothing sounds of insects and birds, some of which are new to me, so I’m going to put my phone away and drift off to sleep thinking about how to keep the bike upright tomorrow.