Updated: May 26, 2019
Loren and I woke up at 7, our camping spot was on the east side of the causeway tucked up behind some sand hills. I packed up my bike and started pulling the tent down. Loren was a bit sluggish this morning, I could really tell she was feeling down. I know she wants to be here but she can’t keep pushing herself as hard as she is. Last night Loren talked about her mental wellness and what she wants to do about this expedition. Once we were ready to go we sat down and had our Radix meals for breakfast both Loren and I had mixed berry, yum!
Just before we set off I did a gear check, because yesterday I left my spork behind and now I have to eat with a tent peg. I also used this as an opportunity to put some more air in the tires as we have been running them at 12psi to make it easier to ride in the deep sand. Since we have made it through the soft sand and onto a track I pumped them up to 27psi so they are still a bit soft, but not crazy soft.
I was just about finished with Loren’s Burley Trailer wheel when a rusty 100 Series Land Cruiser pulled up next to us. A woman and her dog were inside, she said “ Giday mate, I’m Emma the rangers niece. I was a bit worried about you when I heard what you were doing so I brought you some water.” She was an absolute darling, I didn’t need any water but since she made the effort to come all the way out here I topped up my bladder so we could have extra water for today. We waved goodbye, got on our bikes and started moving!
It was absolute bliss to be on a road, we followed it until we reached a corner and a small incline. I charged up expecting Loren to have been behind be but when I got to the top she was off the bike and pushing, as she got closer I realized their were tears streaming down her face. I asked her what’s wrong and she said she can’t do it. I pointed up about 100m to a sign and said can you ride to that? She said yes and started riding and then when we got there I pointed up ahead to the next point and asked her again “can you get there?” She peddled as hard as she could but I could tell she was in a lot of pain. I waited for her at the top of the next hill. I had cellphone reception so I called my fiancé for a bit of a chat, she always has a magical perspective in difficult situations. Loren wanted to call her family and ask for advice. She was on the phone for about 25 minutes. There were tears and smiles and then more tears. At the end of the call Loren told me she had decided that this kind of adventure is not for her and that she’s going to go home. She kept saying “I’m so sorry”, and I know she means it. Honestly I’m so gutted, I not only just lost my expedition partner but I feel like I have failed her and didn’t do enough to help her through. In reality there was nothing else I could have done. I checked that she was sure, gave her a big hug and told her what she has actually accomplished over the last 5 days is amazing and that she should be so proud of herself the amount of resilience she showed blew my mind! She’s one tough woman, but this expedition isn’t the one for her at this point in her life.
I made some calls and organized a place for her to stay at the Overlander roadhouse back out on the main highway. The rough plan was to ride 2km along a private mining road until we hit Useless Loop road, then I would flag down a truck and get her a ride out.
I was so excited to hit the Useless Loop Road as in my mind that was my first mini goal. (Get from steep point to the road) it was such a great feeling getting to it and also to be on the bike for more than ten minutes without having to get off!
It was almost perfect timing. I could see two trucks in the distance with a trailer and a boat so I shot off to ask them if they would be so kind to give Loren a ride! They looked like a lovely bunch of men and they immediately agreed to help. They helped load Loren’s gear and as quick as they arrived they left with Loren and the bike. It really all sank in during my afternoon on the bike, I rode 45km with a head wind on the most corrugated road I have ever bounced along in my life. I felt like I rode just as far emotionally, I’m out here in nature the place that I call home but one of the fundamental elements of my journey is gone and I’m hurting inside.
I wish it had worked out differently.