Calumn and I headed off down to the Sunday markets in Alice Springs to get breakfast and then deliver the second bike to the shop to get a service. I picked up my bikes new frame that Surly bikes had sent to replace the one that was damaged from the corrugations.
I was a bit worried about how much it was going to cost for everything after getting a quote for a $210 service! To be fair that’s probably pretty standard for a bike? I wouldn’t have a clue, this is the first bike I have ever got a service done on. I was siting down on the grass with Calumn, deciding what to do about my frame and if I was going to install it myself or if I just paid and got it done. I spotted a familiar face of another cyclist and called him over to eat with us. While we were eating breakfast I got a message on my phone from a local guy who said he had heard about me from a guy called Seth who met me in Yulara. He said he could help me put my frame together.
I rode my bike around to his place on the north side of town and we got into it. The workshop we were in looked a lot like a bike shop. His wife Beth and child drove up the drive as we were pulling the bike into bits. Beth made us camel burgers for lunch, they were so good! My new friend called up the owner of Smith St Velo (another local bike shop) and asked him to come round and see my Surly setup. A few minutes later a happy looking man named Shane wandered up the drive to see the bike. We all stood around the bike with a beer in hand marveling at the beautie of my new sand coloured frame. Once the bike was all done I said thank you and left to go find Calumn.
On the way home I passed a BMX track and couldn’t stop myself from doing a few laps, I raced around and around before heading back to John and Sues house to hang the washing out. Calumn had been looking at art galleries all morning but had managed to beat me home and had hung out the washing and was cleaning some of the Stealth bike bags. Calumn told me he had purchased his flight and was leaving the following morning just before the next expedition partner Ruby lands. We had dinner with the cyclist that we had met that morning, I had a mushroom pizza and an ice cold beer.
The next morning Calum left and I started trying to figure out where I was going to get all the spare parts for the bikes from. Every time I come into a town I seem to start getting clouds in my head. It’s just so overwhelming being around so many people who seem to be rushing. I got some lunch and by the time I had eaten Rubys plane had landed so I went to greet and meet her. I have never met Ruby, in fact she reached out to me on instagram only last week saying she would love to help with the expedition if she could. So I asked her if she wanted to help me get the bike to Birdsville across the Simpson Desert. She thought about it for a night then bought flights the next day, now here she is!
We went and picked up the bike and on the way home got a burrito from Loco burrito ( the best Mexican restaurant in Alice Springs) we used one of the many bike tracks around Alice to get home to Johns place. He made the most delicious pasta with homemade pesto it was a fantastic end to the day.
The next day the replacement dynamo was meant to arrive, but it never did...the post out here isn’t exactly reliable! I was done with being in a town and knew my mental state was deteriorating. I decided that I have waited this long so I will wait one more day. I organised for my wheel to be picked up and taken out to Shane’s Bike shop to prep it for the new gear that I thought would be here the next day for sure. The next morning I was on so many calls trying to sort it out where it was and how long it was really going to take to get to me because I needed to leave as I was running out of money. That’s when I found out it won’t be here until the sixth. I was so annoyed and had let it get to me. I was letting it make me feel miserable. I called the bike shop and told them I wouldn’t be needing that wheel built and that I was sorry for any inconvenience I may have caused. By the evening I was so worked up because of my hard day I just needed a break from things going breaking and sucking my bank account dry. I tried to explain how I was feeling with my words below.
Lost in my mind everything is overwhelming me because mental illness. it’s my invisible struggle with no real cure. Im sat in the garden of Johns house balling out my eyes feeling so trapped by something I can’t even describe it’s like an invisible straight jacket custom made for my mind. I know the steps I could take to help move forward but the longer I sit in the garden the deeper down the rabbit hole I go.
I wish I didn’t have to feel like this I constantly destruct the positive mindset I create. Overwhelmed with nothing more than nothingness. I was on the phone to my darling partner Ngaio who is the greatest woman I have ever met. She was doing everything she could to help me back to a positive place in my mind. She told me I should go and ask Ruby for a big cuddle but I was in such a negative place I just lay on the dirt with my head on a rock watching the stars, she stayed on the phone with me for hours. In hindsight I really wish I had listened to her and just gone and done it. I missed dinner, so ordered a pizza, (my favourite food) to help calm my mind. I waited a whole hour and it never showed up! I was so annoyed and after calling the pizza place about 10 times I got a call from the owner who was very apologetic and offered to make me my order the next day and give me a refund. I ended up in bed that night feeling hungry and worn out.
1 August 2019
I was woken up by Ruby’s voice saying “Brando, Brando John is leaving if you want to say goodbye. I got up still feeling quite emotionally drained but knew it was a new day and I didn’t have to feel like I did yesterday. I went and said thanks to John and then ate breakfast with Sue. I wanted to give them a gift so I cut a small round of sandal wood off my branch that I have been carrying for the last month, I could tell Sue really appreciated that.
I got into job mode as today was the day Ruby and I were heading out of Alice and into the wild. I needed to send some stuff in the post, pick up my wheel buy two spare tires. It didn’t take long to do all of that and head back to the house. On my way back I met Sue coming the other way and gave her a big hug and said thanks and goodbye. Back at the house Ruby had filled all the water bags we needed for the next few days and packed all her bags for on the bike. Together we loaded everything onto the bikes and pushed the bikes out to the road. I could tell Ruby was nervous about trying to ride the bike with all this weight. The first few times she tried to get moving she wobbled all over the show and nearly fell off! It reminded me of what it was like for me at the beginning of the journey! I gave her encouragement as we moved slowly down the road.
I personally could not imagine a worse place to go for her first ride than in a busy town centre, the cars were everywhere it was actually making me nervous for her. We went to a supermarket to get food for our lunches and a box of beer for the guys at the bike shop for their help with the bike. On our way out of town we called into the pizza place and got my money back and a free pizza that we both demolished on the side of the road. It was 1500 hours when we rode though the gap and south towards the old Ghan railway. We were following a path and it led to a dirt track that we followed. After following it for about 10 minutes it came to a wire fence. I have a complex about going backwards so I pulled out my pliers and undid the fence so we could go under it. I made sure i left it better than I found it. We continued on past the airport along maryvale road.
As the sun began to set Ruby and I stopped to have a snack and watch the night sky become clear the stars began to twinkle as the light disappeared. The road was tarsealed for about 15km, as I ride along I make sure I’m ahead of Ruby because she has the torch mounted on her bike. As we approached the edge of the smooth road I said welcome to corrugation-land and sure enough a moment later the bumping began. Ruby was having a really hard time so we stoped and I re-weighted her bike and tightened up her front wheel because it was a little wobbly. We continued on into the night for about an hour, then we pulled of the road and set up camp. I got the fire going while giving Ruby directions on how to begin to set up the tent. I came and helped once The fire was alive. I had noodles and cooked fresh vegetables for dinner before slipping into my sleeping bag for the night.