“We been through every kind of rain there is. Little bitty stingin’ rain … and big ol’ fat rain. Rain that flew in sideways. And sometimes rain even seemed to come straight up from underneath.” – Forrest Gump

Every word applied to the ride from Adelaide to Melbourne.

I arrived in Adelaide and went straight to a bar with a ‘Coopers’ logo. I have pleasant memories of sharing that beer for the first time with a close friend in Melbourne a few years ago. After spending the last 4 days on the road with minimal personal interactions, I needed those memories. I sat down and made the pint disappear.

My second solitary drink turned into an ‘interesting’ discussion with some criminal defence lawyers at the table next to me. I promised myself I wouldn’t discuss politics or religion with anyone during this trip, but I had already failed miserably in Cairns. These guys are pretty good at debating; I guess that’s why they’re lawyers. 

I hadn’t showered since leaving Albany, so I had a bit of a scrub up for the first time in five days at a $19/night hostel -I fucking stank. The bunk bed was a luxury after the five sleeps in my bivvy bag. 

The receptionist told me they’re expecting a big storm when I asked to book for just the one night. Constant thunderstorms, wind and rain battering QLD, NSW and VIC. I wasn’t keen on losing time, so decided to carry on towards Melbourne the best I could the next morning. 

The sky transitioned from sunlight to dark clouds, and it started with a bit of spitting. 

“Oh look, there it is! Better pull over and get my rain gears on!”

Then there was a bit of wind. That was fine too. But then the wind picked up. An hour later, I pulled in to a servo that was knocked out by a power cut. It was getting pretty bad; difficult, but not impossible to ride in. I topped up at the Tailem Bend Roadhouse, and did a bit of planning while I sipped on a coffee.

The south easterly winds were coming from my rough direction of travel: more burnt gas; inconsistent changes in wind speed and direction relative to road; higher mental strain trying to figure out how to not get bowled over. Oncoming road trains unleashed a jet of water from beneath, and blinded me every time. 

I had to be aware of the limited traction offered by my rear tyre with 10,000kms on it since Darwin. Average wind speeds between 30-50kmph, with gusts of up to 90kmph. I constantly kept pulling over to use the WindyTY app to forecast the wind speeds and expected rainfall at rough times I could be at a specific place. 

I planned my route to Melbourne on the fly using this method. I realised I would get thrashed by the elements no matter where I went. So unless I stay put -a temptation I did contemplate momentarily- I just had to pick my poison and choose how much of a beating I took and where. I only strayed from the A8/M8 highways a couple of times. At the closest, I was 70kms away from the eye of the storm pillaging the region (although that’s not indicative of maximum wind speeds or rainfall). I saw images of the aftermath in the news today.

I had to accept missing my chance to ride the Great Southern Ocean Rd, but I’m sure life will throw an opportunity my way.

I also realised I only spent a little over 48 hours in South Australia. It’ll be a great place to bring my parents for the wines and national parks. I only had a taste of the Eyre Peninsula by staying the night at Streaky Bay. Next time I’ll bring a net or a basket, because I saw giant crabs measuring about 20cm across just off the Smoky Bay jetty!

Yesterday’s gently reassuring morning sun was just the set up for a cruel joke that lasted the entire day: it just got worse and worse. I rode tipped over on either side for more than ten of the thirteen hours I rode. I got completely soaked, and wind-dried about 4 times. And I didn’t feel my fingers or toes all day. I can’t think of a single muscle in my body that wasn’t working overtime, and isn’t stiff today.

That was the most demanding ride I have undertaken in my entire life.  

It’s been five consecutive days of riding 483, 865, 760, 740 and 760 kms/day. I’m all for character testing, but I think I built enough character to deserve a solid pampering here. Luckily, this place has the friends and culinary offerings to do a right job of it. 

I’ve been to Melbourne many times, but I’ve never been happier to arrive in this city, or any other. Now I’m off to a buffet where I have vowed to eat my money’s worth.

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One Response

  1. Bruce

    Dude you write really well,from any rider than has ever done it hard like that in those conditions my heart went out to you. Ride on.

    Reply

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