Friday, September 29, 2017

Darling and Down

Darling to Wentworth 69km Silver City Highway.

Paul here updating our blog at 4am while the others are sleeping by the Murray river, a real milestone.

Well, after Conrads 117km day he was in no shape to ride so he took Eds place in the Troupie, and Ed rode my Greenspeed Magnum (on of the first produced) that I used in Tibet. He was so excited after a month of driving and set off like lightening. The wind was mostly favourable and we seemed to go from arid desert to the lush green Riverina in a matter of hours. We all noticed this one vibrant green field high on the left and

Wally choked up on his way into Wentworth. It felt like a real milestone had been reached. Meanwhile the tandem crew, me and Duncan where racing with Ed the last 10km into town, but we let the TAB (temporarily able bodied) win, as we were now super fit.  We had the joy of sleeping on grass for the first time in a month.

Wentworth to Robinvale 113km Sturt Highway

After some discussion over the route we opted for the Sturt Highway. We rode through orange groves and vineyards. School holiday traffic plus double container fruit trucks made conditions on the road very dangerous.

We stopped at Gol Gol Shell because my Pritchard patented Knee Bungee had begun to wear and I needed a new one. Because of my hemiplegia I have a mountain of adductor muscles but almost no abductors which means my knee falls in a full 30cm while riding. It ends up being very painful feeling of dislocation in my hip. So I connect my knee to the mirror post with an elastic bungee which keeps my knee in line.

It is hard for Duncan not seeing the traffic ahead or behind and he does have to literally put his life in my hands. Conrad thought it too dangerous to navigate and also thought that the codeine he is taking for his chronic pain might adversely affect his judgement, so he went ahead with Ed to find this free camp spot on the NSW side of the river opposite holiday campers galore on the Victorian side at the paid camp. Magpies and Kookaburras are the dawn chorus....

Wednesday, September 27, 2017

Past the 1000km mark!

Daniels trike was brought to Ricks Town & Country bike shop in Broken Hill as Conrad and Walter braved the 80kmphr gusts into town on Saturday. We were extended a warm welcome by our friendly couch surfing host Tony and daughter Evelyn and one of their pet goats.  The goat promptly peed on Duncan as we made ourselves comfortable in her house. 

On Monday Daniel and Walter spoke to the ABC in town as Conrad, Duncan and Paul fixed the trikes with spare parts that had been sent. We did our shopping, had our bikes looked at by Rick, had a few beers at the Workies club and met Greg and Di. Greg was recently diagnosed with Motor Neuron Disease and is in training for a charity ride to Menindee next month!

On Tuesday when it was clear that Daniels trike would not be ready for a while we took up Greg and Di's offer to let Daniel stay with them till it was fixed. And Greg took off with our now  short handed team to see us off for the first 20kms South along the Silver City Highway towards the Murray river! Emus ran alongside fence lines in front of us as we dodged goats and roadkill kangaroos onpy to end up at a caeefully selected  bra tree for lunch.

The wind was mostly in our favor as we beat out  a good 80+ kms to a cozy spot along the highway where Ed our World Expedition driver set up camp and cooked snags for us. We lost half an hour crossing the time zone into Victoria! 

Wednesday we had planned to ride 90+ kilometers to a Wiki Camps advertised 1 star possible camp site.  Stopped at a road house for lunch and got back on the road with caffeine (Red Bull) after spreading our propaganda to innocent bystanders. 

At about the 85km mark, just passed where we reached our 1000km mile post (!) the Tandem's chain developed issues and as Conrad was pacing for a first position in the peleton (fueled by the clandestine caffeine boost) the rest of the team tried in vein to fix the problem. 

Ed came back looking for us to say the camp was so lousy he took the initiative to continue another 25km to the Darling River crossing rest stop.  By now or was almost dusk and we had 30kms to cover with a broken Tandem the gear was loaded onto the Troopy for an emergency lift to camp.

In the mean time Conrad's drug fueled frenzy had not worn of yet as we passed him 10kms from camp where Walter was ejected from the Troopy to join him. 

And this is how we ended up at the idyllic campsite under the Silver City highway bridge. Conrad had completed 117kms today, a record for the team and a PB for himself! 

Saturday, September 23, 2017

Curnamona to Broken Hill
280 fleeces per bale!

Anual shearers records!

Day 15 Curnamona - Yunta 68km
We awoke in as if in a stage set in a shearing shed. We found the shearing shed one of the most wheelchair friendly environments we had been in so far. The ferocious headwinds had died but were forecast to return. We had a day of dirt ahead of us on the Tea Tree Road. It was more slow going on soft gravel sometimes a full 30cm deep. The occasional Road-trains engulfed us in dust. With about 15 km to go Conrad got his beer goggles on and sped off. We couldn't see him for dust!

In Yunta we had a well earned beer and counter meal  and slept in our swags by the children's swimming pool which resembled Stalag XIII-C with the amount of barbed wire around it. We drifted off to sleep with a road-train lullaby.

Day 16 Yunta to Olary on the Barrier Highway. 78km.
Even though we hit a T junction at Yunta and turned dead east the wind swung around to a cruel Easterly headwind. We battled up the 10km hill out of town and was told by Ed that we needed to get off the road when the three carriage Road Train passed us as they are wider than a lane of the highway. We pulled into Manna Hill where we met the eccentric publican Di. She warned us of the lead contamination from the lead freighters that used to pass by and had a bizarre collection of mining paraphernalia that occupied so much room in her pub it was more comfortable to sit outside. Then onto Olary were Conrad and Wally arrive by torchlight for the first time on the trip. We were now looking forward to Broken Hill (117km away) and a rest.

Day 17 Olary to Cockburn. 70km.
We had meant to ride into Broken Hill today but were hampered by an increasing and demoralising headwind. We were averaging 9km per hour up to Mingarry. On the map Mingarry had a petrol bowser symbol and a Knife and Fork symbol. So, in the heat, the team dreamed of air conditioned diners and burgers. When we got there the whole town of Mingarry had been demolished long ago. All that was left was a water tower with the taunting word TEA painted on it. After 27km more punishment we arrived at the moon of Tatooine, sorry the community of Cockburn.  Sat on the porch of the Coburn Hotel one could be forgiven for hallucinating Luke Skywalker zooming past in his Landspeeder. In fact one local with a massive beard and no shoes on, commented on how the Aliens were coming soon to Cockburn... The team split up for the night here with Conrad and Walter staying at the friendly Coburn Hotel and the others going ahead to drop Daniels bike at the bike shop. The other enjoyed the hospitality of our couch-surfing host Toni.

Day 18. Cockburn to Broken Hill. 48km.
After dropping the Dan and his hand trike at the bike shop Duncan, Paul and Ed returned to Cockburn to rejoin the group and start the day. We were all tired and emotional and Duncan had mild heatstroke. The temperature had risen to 39C and the wind was now a gale of 50km an hour with gusts of 80km. After discussion  we decided to put the Tandem on the roof and Duncan and I sat this leg out. It was now up to Walter and Conrad to brave the wildly veering Road Trains and blistering heat.
They rolled into our couch-surfing house in Broken Hill with tales of freewheeling at 25km an hour on the bottom cog up long hills. Good to have the team back together again for a much needed two day rest.

Wednesday, September 20, 2017

Going remote...

So let's have a recap. We had a very tough long ride around the back of the Flinders Ranges, up and down on a sealed road on which Walter's fat Kona bike was finally beaten by the others. Walter and Conrad struggled into the campsite and as they were looking for the team found the pub. A quick beer with the local helicopter pilot Paul, who even bought us a second beer and shared his pizza, resulted in all of us going up for a scenic helicopter ride on our first rest day. Pilot Paul even met us after dinner on the last night at Rawnsley Park and slipped us the phone number of the kind people at Martin's Well, our next destination.

Though we had our first rest day we hardly felt ready to jump on our bikes at 7am, but slowly we all left by about 830am heading for the black stump and beyond; Martin's Well.

The wind was not totally against us, but it was a tough slog all day, averaging under 10kmphr. Rice rolls for lunch in a river bed, several emus and dozens of roos later we rocked into Martin's Well just in time for sunset. 

The manager there kindly allowed us in the shearing quarters and so we had the choice of shearers beds or trusted swags. Even a hot shower and use of a kitchen, BBQ and a camp fire. Surely this would prepare us for the next day, and equipped with a Curnamona homestead contact who Norton the station manager at Martin's Well called for us we had all we needed for our next day well beyond the black stump.

After breakfast we checked out the guys doing  some crutching on the sheep, shearing their hind quarters, readying them for next week's sales.  Another sunny day for us amd with a slight breeze blowing in our backs we left with a comfortable pace along the corrugated dusty and rocky road.

Trikes bounce along hard with three tracks ensuring no rocks are missed anywhere on the road. Conrad is now on the emergency bike since the trike he was on was cannibalised to fix the tandem trike earlier in the week. Though he may be better off in general he is now forced to get used to numb fingers and a sore bum. He had to take some extra medicine with our early lunch at Erudina in a small dust storm whipped up by increasing winds.

The next 40kms left to ride for us after lunch proved to be a challenge with changing winds that not only got stronger but also turned against us.

Cycling along these roads is a constant challenge of finding a line that is smoothest and avoiding rocks and sandy/dusty bits. Rocks fly into Duncan's face sometimes as he pedals the tandem. If you do look straight ahead you often see a couple of roos crossing the road.

Shortly after lunch Dan's trike developed a serious issue with its gears, causing him to only have the lowest gear at his disposal. He had to be rescued by the sag-wagon as the rest of us battled the winds to arrive at Jeff's shearing shed at Curnamona just before sunset, broken and exhausted. 

Ed met the lady of the homestead  and asked for the nearest  shop, as it has been a few days since he shopped at Hawker... he immediately received a generous serve of lambchops, mince and eggs for  us! Ed cooked dinner and we hit the sack with no illusions of an early start the next day. Let's see what the winds have in store for us as the current headwind gales will make life tough for us .

Over and out Roger.

Saturday, September 16, 2017

Day 11. Blinman to Rawnsley Park. 80km.
One of the great cycles of the world through the Flinders Ranges. Duncan and Paul set off at 7 with the rest leaving at 8. It takes Wally one hour to nebulise so he has to follow on. He normally catches up in no time but the undulations and he'd wind took it out of him today. It was the biggest day yet with all the team putting in 11 hours in the saddle. The management at Rawnsley even built a ramp into Dans cabin at 8pm! Ever so kind.

Day 12. Our first rest day. We went for a helicopter ride around Wilpena Pound, one of Australia's great geological features, where the settlers of old used to keep their stock. It is a natural 10km square keep guarded by sheer cliffs. All the team showing signs of weariness. Early night in preparation for tomorrow's 60km of dirt.

Thursday, September 14, 2017

Up to Blinman, highest town in SA

We had a spectacular sunset at Parachilna, and after a good sleep in the container hotel option at the Prairie Hotel we headed off to Blinman, the gateway to the Flinders Range.

Day 8 - to Angorichina Station Slowly the road got rougher and steeper and we even encountered water on the road, which for the Kona fatbike was more fun then the trikes that have very low seats... We managed to get as far as halfway up the hills to Angorichina Station where we realised the tandem trike had a gear failure. We decided to stop for the night and rolled our swags out for the night, and attempted to fix the bike.

Conrad proved to be a star and after a mere four hours had the repairs under control, just needing to do the finishing touches in the morning.

The next morning, riding day 9, we headed back on the road after completing bike repairs. As expected the road went further up, corrugated and rough, emus, goats and kangaroos, a few tourists and us sweating up at a steady but slow pace.

 #OutbackCop Tiffany and offsider officer Lauren overtook us again by chance on their rounds, but without harassing us, which we all missed. Will have to ride without helmets next time to make sure they stop :)

Eventually we got to Blinman, South Australia's alleged highest township, above 600m elevation. We stopped here as it was time for a late lunch, one of their famous Cornish Pasties, of which they had just one left this late in the day. Everything else was equally delicious and staff very friendly.

Blinman is also home to the Camel your operation that supplied the camels for Tracks, the movie about Robyn Davidson trekking 1700 miles across the Australian outback with four camels and a dog in 1977. If we had spare days I'd go for a walk with the camels!

Tomorrow we have a long day ahead of us, early to bed, early to rise! Goodnite all!

Tuesday, September 12, 2017

Day 8, Leigh Creek to Parachilna 68km

After saying goodbye to Tiffany the Outback Cop and her Joeys we cycled out of town and up a substantial hill. As we crested the view of the our descent was punctuated by laughter such  as meeting Tiff and Lauren from Leigh Creek Police who posed for pictures with us.

We saw the beginning of the Flnder's Ranges slowly rising up in as low rounded hills was fantastic. The next 50km was all flat or downhill it seemed.

We arrived at Parachilna in the early afternoon . Duncan had a plate of fried roadkill at the Prairie Hotel.

We then had a decision to make. Dan had been languishing in Quorn hospital for the last few days. He said he had recovered from his bladder infection and needed to rejoin the trip. So Conrad is gong to go to Quorn and pick Dan up with the help of Steve's (an able-bodied friend from the uk) ute.  The plan is that he will rejoin the trip at Blinman in the Southern Flinder's, the destination for today...

Monday, September 11, 2017

Realising the challenge is huge

Day 4; Marree - Farina

We are a long way from being hardened outback riders we discovered. After shaking of bulldust in front of a small crowd in Marree on Friday afternoon we parked the Troopy and the trailer in the dusty square camp ground next to the pub. 

We were pretty beat and decided that the next sector could be staged from this comfortable spot. And so we had a leisurely start on Saturday morning, braving the by now mostly reasonably surfaced dirt Outback Highway to Farina. The scenery remained mostly flat and dry, with the 'flat' inclines being about one meter up or down over several kilometres. The wind was not exactly favourable, but also not dead set against us, and we managed about 7-8kmphr.  We had to stop regularly to recover from the beatings received on the corrugated dusty road. One moment we all enjoyed was passing a wedge tailed eagle feasting on road kill, as the odd emu nervously ran around the fields fleeing from our cameras.

At the end of the day, after sone actually sealed road sections, and under a spectacular sunset we neatly hid our Greenspeed trikes and the Kona fat bike amongst the thistles well off the road at the Farina turn off. Ed came in the support Troopy with Walters combination bike lock (which he had skillfully picked for us as Walter couldn't remember his usual code), and returned us to the Marree historic township where we had our swags waiting in the dirt.

Day 5: Farina to Lyndhurst

At this stage Dan had been suffering for a while and took the morning off to see the Marree nurse, while the rest of us continued South.

We rode past historic remains of cottages built for railroad maintenance workers on the Ghan railway which housed 2-3 workers every 30kms or so.

As we rode along bits of dirt and bits of tarmac with what had now become a slight tailwind Ed caught us at Lyndhurst, a truck stop with a small hotel and an 'almost grassy' camp spot with mean emus which we were warned about. 

Though not on our schedule as a stop Ed came with the news that Dan needed to see the doctors 300kms away in civilisation, and we decided to call it a day. Ed dropped the trailer amongst the rodent emus for us and took Dan to the hospital in Port Augusta. Not nice to see Dan leave us temporarily with a suspected kidney infection, but we were pleased to have a beer instead of pushing on. Dan will join us again later.

Starting to see traffic here!

Day 6: Lyndhurst to Leigh Creek

Ed appeared from Port Augusta when we were still clambering over the one seat with phone reception at the hotel and finishing coffees.

Today's ride was not that hard, another half day of riding on now all tarmac with a tailwind through undulating dessert scapes with evidence of mining in the distance on one side and beautiful hills in the distance with clearly visible 'geological features'. We stopped at a road kill eagle to salvage a feather or two, and raced past many other roadkill varieties that stank too much to stop; mostly emus and kangaroos.

The driving factor for today was to get to the Leigh Creek Area School to speak to the children there, our first public engagement! We got to the Coply Bush Bakery & Quandong cafe 5kms before Leigh Creek in Copley in time for a quick pie before heading off to the school talk.

The talk went well and we enjoyed meeting everyone and edumacating them in adventure, dispelling myths about disability and inability, the importance of helping each other and following your dreams :)

To top off a wonderful day we were welcomed  by the one and only #outbackcop from recent 'The Project' fame for the night to enjoy the luxury of a real home and a laundry!!! Complete with road rescue Joey, dogs and showers we enjoyed resting our weary bones for the night.

Tomorrow we have a massive day ahead, well for us anyways, 65km on the schedule!

Friday, September 8, 2017

Lake Eyre to Marree

Well, the first three days are over and we are at the Marree Hotel Campsite.

Day 1.
Kati Thanda to Annabel Island. 20km.
We arrived at the vast salt lake. What a sight was the shimmering dry lake. There was a monument toDonald Campbell who broke the landspeed record in Bluebird and a Dreamtime story of how Kati Thanda was formed when a a hunter killed a giant kangaroo and laid its pelt down. We could not ride on it out of respect for the Arabana people so the team set off from the car park 100m from the lake. Pauls ribs were still very sore and he was having difficulty breathing so he would not join the rest of the team on what turn out to be two days of washboard hell. We had to assemble the trikes ad bikes and so the team didn't get away until 2pm. As they rode the 15km to Annabel Island the sun set into South Lake Eyre, and the full moon rose at exactly the same time. Even more beautiful was when a dingo ran across the full moon.

Serious thorns looking for bicycle tyres...

Day 2.
Annabel Island to Moolarina Homestead. 26km.
Paul dipped out again as Conrad took his place being Duncan's eyes on the tandem as Walter made good time on the fat bike. Daniel needed his hand trike charging at the homestead so took a rest too. It was more sandy washboard and Duncan and Conrad had to resort to pushing the trike on several occasions. But they rolled into camp at 2pm.

Day 3. Moolarina to Marree. 54km.
The whole team started for this one even though Paul was still in considerable pain. We made a good start averaging 10km/hr on the dirt road. As a headwind got up this momentum was a struggle to maintain, yet we made 26km in three hours and stopped for lunch at an outback oasis (a water tank). After lunch Paul felt like if he did anymore he might damage himself and so jumped in the troupie. Conrad took Pauls place again on the tandem while they Took off for the remaining 24km. Shortly after lunch Dans battery died and he had to work hard to make Marree. One problem in the chest steering pad that is bruising his sternum on the rough road. We will have to seriously look into how we are going to address that if all 5 are going to make it to Kosciuszko.

Sent from my iPad

Monday, September 4, 2017

Only a Flesh Wound

Don't worry Paul's mother, but he fell out of the troupie and had to go to Port Augusta hospital with suspected fractured ribs. This all before the beginning of the trip. An X-ray showed there was no break or fracture even though he was in great pain. So other went with some heavy duty painkillers. While on the way to the hospital Ed the driver forgot we had our trikes on the roof and went under the low hospital arch. We bent the tandem quite disastrously and thought the trip was over before it had even begun. But we luckily found a welder In Hawker who could fix it adequately.

Paul still has some healing to do and is zonked out on painkillers for hours at a time but WILL ride the day after tomorrow. The tandem has been tested and is all good to go. But what a nail biting start to a trip!
Photos soon... One photo of Paul recovering at camp, still sporting the hospital bracelet souvenir :)


The team is close to starting the ride. Only a few hundred kilometers to Lake Eyre! Read our updates on Facebook as it it easier for us to post there. 

Saturday, September 2, 2017

Challenging (dis)ability through Adventure

An expedition comprising of 5 people with significant disabilities riding human powered tricycles from Australia’s geographical lowest point, Kati Thanda (Lake Eyre) at -15.2 metres, to the summit of Mount Kosciuszko (2228 metres), the highest point. And why? To dispell the myth that people with disabilities are incapable :)

Friday, September 1, 2017

On the Road

Friday morning we had the whole team together for the first time. Ed from Worldexpeditions was there with the Troopy and us guys were all there with our gear. Miraculously everything got packed up and we got on the road about 4pm. Trikes dialed and tested, and the Kona Wo with a new shiny taillight.

At midnight we stopped at Bordertown in South Australia to unroll our swags and collect some zzzzs. 

So far so good, rain woke us up at 530am but after we had jumped out of the swags and rolled up our gear the rain made way for  the sun. An hour or two later we had swallowed coffee and breakfast and were on our way towards Adelaide.

The rain set in again as soon as we got in the Troopy.

It's a long way to Tipperary, it's a long way to go... Ahum, to lake Eyre I meant! 

Challenging (dis)ability through Adventure

An expedition comprising of 5 people with significant disabilities riding human powered tricycles from Australia’s geographical lowest point...