Rubys alarm went of at 6:30 am. The plan was to get onto the bikes before the sun got too hot but when it went off I apparently rolled over, made a few grunts followed by me saying it’s toooo eaarrrllyyy, Ruby just agreed and we went back to sleep for another hour. When we got up and out to face the day a biker on the most beautiful, custom built Fatbike came riding towards us. He had ‘fat bike mongrel’ written on the side of his bike and looked like a ninja on a bike. He had just crossed the Simpson Desert alone. I picked his brain about what it was like and when I told him I was going to cross he said “you won’t make it with a trailer and those skinny tires will be hell”
I just told him I live for that kind of struggle. We chatted for about half and hour about all things adventure, just before he left I gifted him a beef and spinach Radix meal and he gifted Ruby and I with two little packs of red lollies! I never caught his name so this adventure legend will forever be known as the fat bike mongrel.
When I set of into the soft sand I was so jealous of the fat bike tires. I could see his tire tracks and they were actually on top of the sand unlike mine which, with all the extra weight I’m carrying, just sink. When I go downhill I fishtail when I go up I push when I’m on the flat... hold on, let me rephrase that last one, it’s never just flat...when I’m on the corrugations I bounce. Our water situation wasn’t looking good when we left our camp, but there is a water tank marked on my map so that’s where we are headed. The morning was slow and painful but we both pushed through. Every hour we would stop and have a little rest. Just after our second hour I was riding ahead and the bush bus came past, the lovey lady driving was called Yvonne she stoped and gave me a frozen drink bottle, what a treat to get out here! I gave it to Ruby as she needed the water.
We headed west to try and intersect with the cattle yard and water tank that was marked on my map. Water was my priority as Ruby had 1.7L left and I had 5.3L, we were really relying on there being water in that tank. We found the huge concrete tank I lay my bike over and rushed towards it, I climbed up the side with my bottle ready to fill but the tank was bone dry. I was gutted and looked at Ruby and gave her the big thumbs down. The mood had changed in that moment, I was now a touch concerned I was going to have to convince tired ruby to push into the night so we can make it to Finke.
Just as I was starting to think about how I was going to approach the subject of water, A herd of cows spooked and started running away from a big green watertank. I don’t think I have ever been as happy as the moment I clambered up onto the top of the tank unscrewed the lid and found that water! I started yelling to Ruby get your bottles get your bags we have struck liquid gold! I went back down to get my bottles and spotted a cow trough in the yards. My clothes were off and I was in, shortly followed by Ruby who thought it was a brilliant idea too.
Ruby got out and went and drunk pretty much all the water she had left so she could fill it with the water from the tank. Once I was done in my outback tub I rigged up a well bucket using my camp billy and a strap. I climbed back onto the tank and filled all the bottles and bags we needed to get to Finke. Ruby and I felt so good about everything that had just happened we were cool, clean and had more than enough water. Just before I jumped down from the tank I filled the billy up one last time for a big drink! As I started guzzling it back I realised something... It was Salty bore water! Ruby fipped because she didn’t have any other water left because she just drunk it all! I told her not to worry because it wasn’t like drinking sea water it was just like like drinking sailine. Probably the perfect water for us in our current position with all the salts we lose from sweat every day. To make it even more consumable I mixed my 5L with 10L of the tank water. Thankfully It wasn’t the end of the world or of life as we knew it so we put our clothes back on packed up and started moving again.
The riding was ridiculous, I was all over the track swerving from left to right and often next to my bike trying to push. It sure was tough this afternoon. I found myself dreaming that I could fit 4.3 inch tires on the bike as I struggled through the sand. We were actually on the Ghan railway, there were old bits of train track and the steel pins that hold it all together literally everywhere. It was pretty cool to imagine once upon a time there was a train right where I was riding!
I looked back at Ruby and could tell by the way she was dragging her feet in the sand that she was exhausted. Once she overcame the urge to give up and completely committed to the idea that leaving before reaching Finke wasn’t an option she turned into a bloody trooper! Ruby really struggles to ride the bike in the deep sand and as a result spends most of her day pushing the bike I am unbelievably proud of her for pushing through all the physical and mental aspects of the journey up to this point. I waited for her to reach me and we made a plan to ride 2.4km more so tomorrow’s day into Finke is only 20km. I told her I was going to ride ahead and get the camp fire burning.
It was about 6:40 pm when the sun slowly set, I pushed my body hard to keep moving through the deep sand so I could make it to the top of the dune I wanted to camp on before it was to dark. I made it up and got a huge fire started. When Ruby arrived we put the tent up and made our last dinner together. I made a tasty damper to eat with dinner. We were both pretty tired so we went to bed not long after.