IP Day 7 – Widgiemooltha to Norseman

Friday 25th March, 2022
89.4km, +399m
moving 3:41, elapsed 5:05*, avg 24.3, max 50.2

* adjusted elapsed time, didn’t end ride till about 45mins after stopping

Well, that was… a night. The compound for the roadworks was right next to the roadhouse, and it seemed like they were working through the night, with vehicles coming and going – as well as, I suppose, the regular road trains. Noise. Headlights. Roadhouse lights and signs blazing through the night. Ugggh.

We then ‘woke’ up (if we had slept much at all) and packed up to … this:

We finally headed off at about 9am. We weren’t in a super hurry to get going given we had another ‘shorter’ daily distance. ‘Shorter’. Hahaha. The packing up took longer than it should have – thanks to the ‘help’ from the ‘girls’ as well as it being our first time doing it in ‘the field’. And we opted for a roadhouse breakfast in the daylight (ie. at a time I could actually stomach eating.) Noise, lights and interrupting chooks aside, Widgiemooltha Roadhouse got a thumbs up from us for the friendly and helpful staff. And being able to camp on grass.

Strava note: Finally, a bit of a tailwind, and some good stretches for tandem. Freaking out a bit on the shoulder-less sections 😭

So, over the past couple of days, we’d technically left the ‘Wheatbelt’ region, and depending on what regional classifications you want to use, we’d been riding through the ‘Goldfields’ region (with lots of mining), or, ecologically, the Great Western Woodlands. (<-That link is a really interesting read.)
And from around Widgiemooltha, we were in Ngadju country.

(Also this is interesting reading. ‘This region is nationally and internationally significant for its large, relatively intact expanses of eucalypt woodlands, shrublands, salt lake systems and mallee.’)

The day was warming up. We stopped, as usual, a few times for a break, and we ate rolls (that we had bought back at the roadhouse) for lunch at about 68km. By now I was using the Wikicamps app to choose rest areas/camping areas, and it was extra helpful because I could keep refreshing our location to give a countdown of our distance from the likely spot I’d selected. A ‘camping’ area meant we could get off the road a bit and hopefully find some shade. No picnic tables at this one, but we found a log to sit on. It was hot, and what little shade there was moved really quickly.

Apart from my very unhappy backside, the past few days I’d been struggling more and more with pins and needles in my left pinkie finger and running down the side of my hand. Marc started experimenting with ‘tweaks’ to my saddle – with the tension – and also with the height and tilt of my handlebars. (I’ll leave a more detailed rundown of our saddles – Selle Anatomica – for a planned gear review post at a later date.) Marc had similar pins and needles issues with his left thumb – and was trying to consciously not hold on as tight to the handlebars with his left hand.

There was a servo/roadhouse on the northern outskirts of Norseman – on the junction of the Coolgardie-Esperance Highway and the Eyre Highway, and I was pretty happy to see that. While we inhaled drinks and food, we realised that they had a motel out the back. We weighed up the choice between there and other accommodation options in town and decided that we simply could not be stuffed getting back on the bike and riding the 1.5km into town. It still feels like a shame not to have actually seen the town of Norseman, but this was quickly becoming the reality of this Ride.

Again my tentative planning was going by the wayside. I had pencilled in Norseman as a good rest day option before setting out on the 190k to Balladonia, but with the next day’s forecast saying that the easterlies should be easing, the logical choice was to keep going. Damn.

FB post: …physical and emotional energy reserves are running on empty after finishing riding for the day, even with the shorter ‘hops’. This is well beyond our usual touring M.O. and there won’t be much checking out things that are more than about 100m off the road.

We took the opportunity, with a laundry on-site, to wash clothes, hang them out, and then have a dip in the motel pool.  It was still really warm, so the clothes dried quickly. Dinner in the roadhouse it was then, too.  Oh well, may as well start getting used to roadhouse meals. We chatted a bit with a roadworks guy in the room next door, and he gave us some tips about what to expect on the Eyre Highway (good news, there was a shoulder most of the way?)

Taking stock of the snacks we had on board.

Psychologically at least (if not geographically/ecologically) tomorrow we were setting off on the next stage – across the Nullarbor.

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