July 24, 2001
Overland Australia - Update 1
Day 1: July 24, 2001
Current position: 15'06.S/145'03.E
Overland Australia is finally underway! At 08.45 this morning we posed for a departure photo with our rear wheels in the Pacific Ocean before wobbling off across the sand in the general direction of Darwin. The plan was to christen the journey with a bottle of champagne, but a last minute flash of inspiration - in keeping with Australian culture - meant a can of "VB" (Victoria Bitter) was cracked open on my Cannondale frame and passed down the line instead. The next time our wheel bearings will feel the soothing effects of salt water will be when we ride our bikes off Darwin pier, 86 days from now.
It's been a long time since I've ridden a land-bike: almost four years
ago in 1997 on the overland bike expedition through Central America to Peru. Back then I was riding a 1968 Raleigh 3-speed with well over 150 lbs. of kit stuffed into 4panniers lashed to each corner of the bike. I walked more hills than I could ride up and spent many, many hours sitting by the side of the road repairing punctures to hopelessly inadequate tires. Today the majority of us pushed away on spanking new Cannondales mountain bikes (Jekyll 600's + 700's) with both front and rear suspension. And boy did we need them!
The road-leading south from the mouth of the Starcke River, where the Pacific leg of the circumnavigation officially ends, can only be described as dreadful. During the wet season the existing road is completely washed away in places and vehicles have to find alternative routes to keep moving. The result in the dry season is a mish-mash of hard, compacted wheel ruts that wind and weave their way through the bush. For our Mitsubishi support vehicle this presents challenging terrain that John (the driver) has to negotiate at a slow, controlled pace. For the bikes it's great fun. Much of the 55km we pedaled today were on this uneven but engaging terrain. Unlike pedaling on a metalled road we found ourselves having to concentrate on every piece of ground immediately ahead of us, responding as best we could to bumps, ruts, rocks or fallen branches lain across the track.
Dog tired - must send this before I fall asleep at the keyboard….
Posted on July 24, 2001 4:58 AM