IP Day 10 – Caiguna to Cocklebiddy

Tuesday 29th March, 2022

66.7km, +87m
3:26 moving, 5:50 elapsed*
avg 19.4km/h, max 30.8
*another case of not stopping the ride when we arrived. Actual elapsed = 4:15

Message to my sister: Only going to Cocklebiddy today, I’m struggling with everything, can’t get saddle right, nauseous every morning, guess we’ll kind of stay with it, try to make it to Adelaide but slower only because the logistics of pulling out now are too big.

8am start – but about 1km down the road we actually jumped 45 min ahead. This section of the Nullarbor (essentially between Cocklebiddy and the WA/SA border) runs on its own unofficial time – Central Western Time. It’s unofficial in that your phones won’t automatically change, however, there is a sign on the highway advising to adjust your clocks, and, interestingly, timeanddate.com/aka ‘World Clock’ acknowledges it.

ABC article about ‘Central Western Time’
Another article

Along this stretch somewhere we met a westbound cyclist, Ismail (Ishmael?) We stopped and chatted across the highway, interrupted by the odd road train. He was moving to Perth from the east coast, and decided that he would use the opportunity to take himself across by bike. He was in a pretty good mood (well, you would be with the tailwind he was experiencing!) and a really positive, encouraging guy. By now I was very much qualifying the ‘where are you headed?’ question with “Well, it’s supposed to be Sydney, but I dunno.” but Ismael was all ‘you can do it!!’ Nice guy.

We were running out of trees to lean the bike on when we stopped for a break:

But at least the bins were always clean.

We arrived at Cocklebiddy around lunchtime. Only 4 hours since leaving, but it was a slog into the wind, barely ever hitting a speed of over 20kph. We’d barely gotten off the bike when this friendly big bloke approaches us. (He was so friendly, it felt to me for a bizzare moment as if he was the representative of Cocklebiddy Roadhouse welcoming us there! Haha – I was clearly getting a bit delirious.) He was actually a truckie, and he’d seen us on the road few days back, and knew we had a radio, and thought that was great, and we were doing great, and we had quite a conversation. We asked his name, and he told us that, because of his size, and his head shape, everyone called him Shrek.

We hadn’t been able to get hold of the roadhouse before leaving in the morning, and guess what? No accommodation. Damn. We could camp there – there was a ‘caravan park’ with powered sites, but it was basically a windswept, gravelly, dirt parking area – and when I say ‘windswept’, in these current conditions, on the eastern side of the roadhouse, I really mean ‘windswept’. We decided that we would hang at the roadhouse until later in the afternoon, have a shower, eat dinner, and then ride a bit further to one of the free camping areas shown on Wikicamps, which seemed to take advantage of any pockets of vegetation for a bit of protection. I’d identified one about 20k up the road, so that would take about an hour.

We dallied over lunch, chatting to people who, seeing us in our cycling outfits (then connecting us with the tandem parked up not far away), would ask us about what we were doing. We chatted with a family travelling in a caravan. I love talking to the kids and asking them about what they’ve seen. This family had camped on the cliffs along the Great Australian Bight, and the dad had drone footage of it that he showed us. Really cool!

Despite the short day though, I was really struggling.

Post to TwoUp while sitting at the roadhouse: I’m struggling physically and psychologically with it all, and at this point we are probably just going to try to make it to Adelaide, taking short hops between accommodation whenever we can. (And that’s pretty much only because ‘Beam me up Scotty’ isn’t an option.)

I don’t even know if I even discussed this ‘just get to Adelaide’ announcement with Marc, or whether I just laid it out there and he surmised that he’d just humour me and go along with it. In my post, there was probably a sub-conscious element of ‘don’t judge us for the short day’ despite us getting so many supportive comments from dotwatchers on FB. And the short day was not because we were playing tourist. Someone on the dotwatcher group had suggested the wedge-tailed eagles in an enclosure here at Cocklebiddy as an attraction to see. They are, apparently, rescue eagles, but it was pretty sad to see such magnificent creatures in – for their size – a pretty small cage.

Somehow the afternoon started getting away on us. The showers apparently needed tokens, so I bought some. Then, apart from the need to keep an eye on the bike, we had to take turns in showering because Marc had decided on the weekend before we left home to save 32g of weight (“death by a thousand cuts!” he would say!) and to not take his airlite towel (even though we had bought two.) I wasn’t very happy about this because these towels barely dry one person. He promised that he’d always let me go first – not reckoning on the fact that this still impacted on me, because, not being a complete sociopath, I didn’t want to hand him an absolutely sopping towel to dry himself with and would try not to get it too wet.

Anyway, I get into the shower cubicle in the Ladies. Strip off. Go to put the token in – it won’t fit in the slot! Wtf? The towel was too small to wrap around me, so I needed to get my sweaty bike clothes on again (to be decent) while sussing out shower cubicles to find one where the token worked. Then shift. (I still don’t know what that was about – was there an option to just use coins after all?) And then there was the fun after the shower of putting lycra back on while not exactly dry… It was still better than going without a shower for the day, but it wasn’t easy getting dressed again, and it all took time that I was already suddenly in trouble for wasting!

Marc’s turn – and he found he could get into the disabled bathroom, and it didn’t need a token. I decided to give it to someone nearby setting up their camper trailer (what would we use it for?), and then I got into trouble from him for wasting time talking! We had suddenly gone from killing time mode to hurry mode, and I wasn’t keeping up.

Right. Hurry. Dinner! And then we need to get out of here, hup hup! We then kept getting interrupted while trying to eat by other diners wanting to talk to us about where we were riding from/to. Then he got cranky with me for taking too long/not looking like I had any recognition about what time it was, when it would get dark, how long it would take to ride to this spot, and to work back from there! To be honest, he was probably right about me having dropped the ball on that. At this point, despite it having been a ‘short’ day, I was only barely holding myself together. He was having to manage/strategise/think for both of us – but geez, this was all his expletive-deleted idea wasn’t it?!

Before we left we needed to buy water from a dispenser which turned out didn’t have an on/off tap or pause button. You were supposed to select the quantity for a (large) size bottle or water container, stick it under and fill it up. It didn’t take account of cycle tourers needing to fill multiple smaller bottles and camelbaks! There was sudden panic to unstrap empty bottles in time, and there was spillage. Gah. There may also have been some tears during that debacle.

We set off, starting to stress about whether we’d get there before sunset. Just over 1km up the road I spotted – on Wikicamps – a camping area called ‘Big Van Turn Around’. It had a dirt road leading off the highway and into a pocket of trees. We decided to check it out, and decided it would do. There were enough trees to get some shelter from the wind, but not so easy to find a spot that was not on top of litter (broken glass, wire, you name it) or ants nests. At least we were the only ones there.

Other people cross the Nullarbor and camp nearly every night, never mind many Indipac riders bivvying in ditches or under/on top of picnic tables after riding 15 hours or something, and then getting up after a few hours sleep and doing it all over again. This was looxury, mate. We’d had a shower, and hadn’t even gotten too sweaty again. We’d eaten – so didn’t have to sit in the dirt to eat. Early night, and then only 90k tomorrow to Madura. Sweet. (Gah.)

5 thoughts on “IP Day 10 – Caiguna to Cocklebiddy

    1. It’s both cathartic (and good to remember together) but also a bit traumatic 😂. I have days when I can’t face it. But a bit like the actual ride, I started it, now I have to finish it 🤪

      Liked by 2 people

  1. Marc

    Re the towel thing. I said it then, and still say, that it’s just like the Olympic Games divers that use the little chamois thing to, sort of, dry off. The thing can be completely wet, you wring it out and it works enough to get more or less dry-ish. 32 grams is 32 grams, right? 🙂


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