Last night was another battle with the matt, I have looked all over it and can’t find anything that even remotely resembles a hole. I thought it’s possible that it’s leaking along the midline of the bottom as I fold it in half before I roll it. I put a strip of duct tape down the middle before I packed it, I won’t know until the evening if it worked. I was pretty slow to pack up this morning and didn’t get moving until after 10am, before I left I climbed up a nearby hill to send the daily update and some photos to Ngaio.
Ruby was feeling good, we pushed our bikes back down the narrow valley we had been camping in and out onto the road to begin our day. I put my glasses on, made sure Ruby was ready and set off!
My expectation for the day was to cover 50km but I’m not to fussed about how far we actually get. The road was like bloody corogation street, the landscape is beginning to look more and more desert like, the sand hills are getting bigger and the trees only grow on the banks of the dry riverbed. I feel as though we have been climbing since we left Alice Springs a few days ago, there definitely feels like a lot more up than down.
The wind had been blowing pretty much straight in our face for the past three days I really hope that changes soon because we had such a late start today we only rode for an hour and a half before Ruby said she needed to stop to eat. I pointed ahead to a sand hill about 3km away and told her we can stop there for lunch. We pulled off the road and used the shade from a large desert oak as our natural sun umbrella. I had my classic lunch, dates each with peanut butter. Just before we left a 4wd buggie came zooming around the corner throwing dust everywhere and as quick as it came it disappeared around the next bend.
After lunch our progress slowed even more, Ruby told me her knees and back were getting sore. When we next stoped for a rest I rubbed some tiger balm into her knees and moved her seat back to make the shape of her back more curved and not so up and down. A few minutes later a car came past towing a trailer of what I can only imagine was a butchered camel or potentially even several. It was just a trailer full of meat. As we were bouncing along the road I spotted a windmill and two huge open water tanks I stoped and asked ruby if she wanted a swim, she said YES! I turned off the road and started heading towards the windmill. I hit the dry creek bed and had to get off and push because of the deep gravel. I set my stand up on my Burley trailer striped down and climbed up the side of the tank. As I peered down and into the tank my heart sank because It was empty. I yelled back to Ruby who had just started pushing her bike through the creek that there was no water and she should head back to the road. I could tell she was a bit annoyed that we had taken that detour for nothing especially because from the empty tank there was a nice solid clay track back to the road.
Trying to lighten the mood I said “hey Ruby, it’s 2:53 pm” and she said “is it” I then followed on by saying yes and your alive and I think that’s a pretty dam good reason to smile. She looked away but I spotted a small little smile creep onto her face. About 30min later Ruby who I was now following came to a stop and asked me to hold her bike. She said her knees hurt as she ran off into the trees to vomit. I felt bad but knew there was nothing I could do. When she came back she had broken, she was crying and kept saying how sorry she was that she came out here.
I gave her a hug and reminded her I invited her because I wanted to share this part of my adventure with her and hopefully provide her with an experience and an opportunity to meet and face her demons in the most pure way possible. It was sad to watch her struggle and reach a point where she just wanted to flag down a vehicle and get taken back.
I did my absolute best to make sure I was helping her as much as I could. I took the two rear Stealth bike bags off and mounted them on the trailer. She said it wasn’t much easier without them but she was moving a few kms faster.
The hills got quite long and big towards the end of the day. It was 1630 when we reached the most random thing I have ever seen in the desert... an ATM just standing upright on the side of the road at the beginning of the old Ghan Heratage trail. I convinced Ruby to push a little harder just to get to the top of the next hill so we could set up camp. We arrived at a perfect little spot and set up before walking to a point to watch the sun set. As the light was fading I headed back and got started on damper and radix for dinner.
When Ruby came back I told her I think she should ride to Finke as ending her trip under her own power with be far more empowering than getting a ride out. I told her not to decide now and let me know in the morning..