My name is Brando Yelavich and 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 at 5:40 to call my fiancé Ngaio before she went to work. She is a radiographer and has just moved over to the Gold Coast and is loving her new job at a private clinic. I’m so proud of her and of us as a couple! We are both doing what we love and making it work. Something I do is send post cards of a letter from every town that has a post service. Sometimes i will send pressed flowers or stones that I have found on my travels. I love being able to do small things that I know will make her smile. It makes me feel good when she knows that distance changes nothing and the is still the most treasured part of my life.
Its almost like second nature for me to cook over a fire but today I made oats on a gas stove in a kitchen and just had to flick a button to heat the water for a hot milo! I packed up all my electronics and got myself organised to set off into the Gibson. Before we set off Jim and Chris came over with 5 oranges from the orchard, and from the garden a few fresh chillis, a Rock melon and a huge watermelon. I was so excited and told Dylan I would take one for the team and would carry the watermelon for us to eat at lunch. They have a few things you can buy from the station store so I got a packet of dates to eat with my peanut butter. This is the last oppuntunaty for anything for 500km so Dylan got two jars of peanut butter he eats a whole jar every two days its absolutely insane, I have never met anyone who eats it as fast as him.
The final thing we did before setting off along the gun barrel was fill up 30L of water each, two bags for the back of the bike and one in the trailer, after that we were out the gate and off into the Gibson desert! Just as we left we stopped to take a photo at the gun barrel sign. This marks the start of one of the most exciting sections of the journey for me. I chose Australia because I wanted to experience the desert and now I was finally on the edge of it. The start of the road was quite corrugated so I put a little more air in my tyres so they weren’t as soft as they had been. I also have about 30 thorns that have snapped off in the tyre, so at night when everything cools down a tiny amout of air leaks out and I need to pump the tyres every 3 days. For the first time in 18 days the wind had almost stopped blowing and the slight breeze that still lingered was from the north west. It’s amazing how much of a difference the wind actually makes to the speed you can travel. We have been averaging between 11kmh -13kmh into the wind but today we were moving at 16kmh. The lack of wind brought its own challenges though, as it was so much hotter. Firstly that meant we were sweating like crazy but it also meant the flies came back out to play!
We were both in such high sprits when we pulled off the road, under the shade of a tree for lunch. I pulled out the watermelon I had been carrying for the last 3 hours and split it open. It was sweet and juicy as anything, I mashed my half up in the skin and drank the fresh sweet liquid, it was so refreshing. It was now 1430 hours which is usually the hottest part of the day. I made the first move and started pushing my bike back onto the road. I went to kick my stand up and realised something was wrong.
This was the moment that everything flipped upside down in my head. At first glance my trailer was a bit wonky, I thought I had been a bit carless about how I had packed the 23kg of gear it was holding and it wasn't balanced properly, but it was so much worse. The trailer arm has somehow cracked and bent out of shape. I looked at Dylan for a moment, and just said “its totally fucked”. I can’t work out for the life of me how it broke. I would say it is the constant jarring it gets on the corrugations and really rough tracks. The emotions that had suddenly flooded into my head were overwhelming, I knew straight away I couldn't fix it as it was cracked at the weld and it is aluminium. A tig welder wasn't something I had in my repair kit. I sat there in the dirt stumped, I didn't know what to do. There were 3 options...1) head back to the station, but that wouldn't achieve anything unless Jim could weld Aluminium. 2) Pile all 23kgs of gear that was in my trailer onto my bike and leave the trailer on the side of the road, but that would make it very hard to ride as the weight will all be very high. 3) Give up go to the nearest town. ( I never give up, ever. )
I was in a bit of a pickle but after verbalising all the pros and cons of each. I decided to go with number 2 and build a pyramid of gear on my bike, instead of leaving the trailer on the road side I hooked it back to the bike with 2 empty water bladders and my clothes inside. Hopefully it wont cause me any more grief. With the bike now overloaded it was very wobbly. I couldn't control the direction unless I was at speed, it was like learing to ride a bike again. Right from the get go the bike was making a strange sound so I got off to investigate and just when I thought the situation was sorted, I found that my Rolloff hub chain tensioner screw had broken off. I did a temporary fix on that but will need to contact Rolloff and get them to send me a new one asap. It was ok and we could continue.
It was 1600 hours when we left the lunch spot and continued east down the road. An hour later the sun started to set, I was used to the way the bike was handling with the extra weight as we entered into a new landscape! I found myself smiling so huge because I was actually in the desert now. To the south there were red sand dunes and to the north spinfex grass for as far as the eye could see. I shouted, THIS IS WHY I CAME TO AUSTRAILA. I was in awe, it was absolutely amazing, Dylan and I continued riding into the night. I flicked off my light and rode ahead, the stars out here are the brightest I have ever seen in my life. I was in my happy place. I was looking up at the stars, using them as a guide to keep my bike on the straight road, as I watched it was as if time stopped and became irrelevant, I felt euphoric! I realised something astonishing, my spirit was completely conscious in this moment, I was me.