Bike ride or bike bounce?-Expedition Dust day 40
My name is Brando Yelavich. I’m currently cycling self supported from the most western point to the most eastern cape across the centre of Australia to lead by example and empower others to take care of their own mental wellbeing.
I woke up to my alarm at 0550 with the intention of climbing the big hill and watching the sun rise, but when I woke up the wind was strong and cold so I rolled over and went back to sleep. To be honest I needed the sleep more than I needed to watch the sun rise. I woke up two hours later, got up and covered some flatbreads in peanut butter for breakfast. I stoked the fire and chucked some water into my pot with some rice and lentils to have at lunchtime. Dylan was up so I asked him to keep an eye on the pot while I raced up to the top of the hill to take some photos. The rock was quite loose but I found a safe way to get up. Once up on top I walked over to the edge and looked down on where we had travelled the day before, the view in every direction was magnificent. I could see Dylan had started to pack down the tent so I zoomed back down to give him a hand.
Just after we had left our camp the track took a sharp right turn and started heading to the south east, on the corner there were two camels eating the trees. I wanted a closer look so I got off my bike and very slowly approached them, I’m pretty sure camels aren’t trusting by nature but these two females let me get about 15 metres from them before meandering off into the bush. Dylan and I reached an opening in the track and everything changed again. The corrugations were back and the sand was soft and really deep. The hot sun and south east winds were making it even tougher, the small prickly shrubs kept brushing up against my feet and legs. I ride in sandals because my feet breathe better but now my toes are cut and completely full of prickles. Negatives aside, the landscape was absolutely stunning. The Spinafex grass was taller than us on our bikes, riding/bouncing through it was like being in a wheat field. The soft sand is an interesting challenge, it’s not impossible to ride on in most places but its defiantly very hard on the body. For every one full rotation you only move half as far as if the ground was solid.
After lunch there was about 1km of good hard clay to ride along. I was riding a fraction ahead of Dylan, the track was relatively smooth here so I was making the most of it and trying to get some speed up. All my focus was directed roughly 2 meters in front of the bike and I was zooming! Out of the corner of my eye I spotted some movement but it was too late... I rode right over a small blueish gray snake. It’s the first snake I had ever seen. They are meant to be hibernating this time of year, the little guy was probably just coming out for a stretch and a bit of sun. I felt so bad, I stopped and rushed back to check it out but it was gone, I hope the little guy is ok.
Dylan and I reched the Gibson Desert sign just after 1500, it looked like it had seen better days, it had completely fallen off its original stand and had begun to rot. This section of Australia was always one part that I was really looking forward to. I expected it to be sandy, dry and hot, I just didn’t think that it was going to be so fucking bumpy, it’s beyond a joke.
I was running my tyres really low to try to help reduce the bouncing but I think I may have let a too much out! I hit a rock on the track and instantly lost all my pressure. The tubeless sealant began to come out of a hole in the tyre side wall, I quickly stopped and tried to figure out what was going on. When I had hit the rock it had pushed gravel into the side of the tyre and was compromising the seal. I got out a tool that I could use to scrape out the gravel and thankfully after that it worked again. There was a good 10 minutes there where I thought I had actually stuffed it up and made a hole in the side wall. The corrugations have already broken the putty the soldiers put on my trailer, I just really hope it lasts a few more days.
The tyre ordeal took about half an hour to fix and the sun had begun to set when I was ready to go again. We had both hoped we wouldn’t have to ride in the dark again but sure enough we did. Dylans bike light is out of battery so we just ride next to each other and use mine. My light is connected to a dynamo on my front wheel so it will never go flat, the only problem is I can’t ride fast enough on the corrugations to get it going properly so it just flickers like a strobe. The best things about the night riding is you can’t see how far you have to go and the temperature is much more manageable.
Eventually we made it to camp, but we were both totally zonked. I don’t know if it was me or Dylan who had the stupid idea to push the bikes to the top of the mountain, I would say it was probably me, oh my gosh it was so steep and rocky, the whole time I was thinking to myself we have to ride back down this same track tomorrow...
As we sat down to cook and eat our dinner I woked out we have enough water to drink 4.2L per day for 3 more days. We are 3 days from Warburton but tomorrow there is a bore marked on my map so if it is operational I will definitely be filling up just incase something goes wrong-water is the last thing we want to run out of in the desert!