There’s nothing out here except the roadhouses, usually 120 miles or more apart. The roadhouses are basically a gas station with a little café and a few aged motel rooms tucked in behind. They need to supply their own electricity (diesel) and water (collected from rain). All the roofs are connected to tanks.
Belladonia’s had a little museum in it. Like most of the roadhouses, Belladonia has gone from a failed sheep ranch to an obsoleted telegraph relay station to a way-stop for people crossing the Nullarbor. However, Belladonia, like Esperance and a few other towns around here had pieces of skylab fall on them. They displayed a piece along with some rather well done exhibits on the history of the place in a little side room off the café.
Here’s where thing go awry. The Scandinavian tour group offered to let me ride with them today, and I took them up on the offer. There are 15 riders, 4 women – one of them the chief of Police of Norway’s 3rd largest city, and two blind people. Ages range from say 30 to 72. Most of them are in spectacular shape. A couple are distance competition riders. At least two have ridden across America. One has ridden with Lon Haldeman (famous American distance rider). Here’s the team fairly early in the morning.
They started out as a team, but quickly broke up into various groups. Some people took the support bus up a couple stops to get ahead of the group. One 55 year old lady just took off and never looked back. A couple hours into the day we were down to 9 riders, and after lunch just 7. But these are 7 in great shape riders that don’t stop for anything but they’re every 1 hr or so water break (5 min) and lunch (sandwiches, 30 min). What that means for you and me, dear readers, is precious little of this.
I can pull over anytime and take a picture, like this one. But note the bicycle “road train” heading up the hill off into the distance. It only took two such instances (bike group and sign photo’s above) for me to realize that if I took any pictures, there was a real good chance that I wouldn’t be able to catch up at all. They ride fairly fast, and just 2 minutes later they’re a kilometer ahead. And they have all my stuff in a bus up ahead somewhere, that probably wouldn’t even think of waiting for me. So all the pictures from the rest of the day are water breaks and lunch. Here, for instance, is a close up of a “Road Train”. You can tell so because it’s written on the front and the back of the truck.
These semi’s have 2, sometimes 3 trailers, and they barrel down the dusty highway (often without shoulders) at 110kmph. No matter which direction they’re coming from you need to put your head down and hold on tight. Sorry I didn’t get more of this. My time delay digital camera isn’t good at photographs of quickly moving objects. Anyway, here is a typical break scene. People are milling about, drinking water, waiting to ride again.
And here’s a road shot from a later break. No trees. 95 degrees, big cross wind. I got less than 20km per Gatorade today, and would have had big problems without the endless supply of water provided by the support bus.
I planned to leave them at the Caiguna Roadhouse and head to the Cocabiddy Roadhouse 66km down the road, where I had reservations. However, the high winds were blowing dust all over and contributing to a slow ride (would have been much slower with all the gear on my bike), so I stayed at the John Eyre Motel at the Ciaguna Roadhouse with the Scandinavians. Here are shots of the roadhouse, of the dust blowing in the parking lot, and of my quaint little room (no TV, no phone) in an aluminum pre-fab.
I need to figure out what to do here with the Scandinavians. Break away, let them break away, or ride with them. I’d rather not ride with them, and I actually plan longer distances each day than they do (they only ride until 2 or 3 – so I think I’ll break away.
(10/17/02 5:45P Ciaguna)