Rest day in Ceduna

Wednesday 6th April, 2022

It was a relief to not have to get on the bike today and to sleep in a bit. I can’t remember now whether we used the motel laundry last night or this morning, but this was, by now, our typical motel room drying set-up. (We never put our bike clothes in a dryer, for fear of shrunken bike kit. That would be a bit of a disaster in the middle of any tour, never mind in the middle of this! Aircon overnight usually did the trick, and there was no problem with it all drying on a rest day.

There’s a bit of technical expertise involved in surveying each motel room and then being creative with which fixtures will be suitable to use. I mostly left that up to the technician in this partnership. He had suggested we make do with bringing one of those twisted elastic lines, but I had won that argument. Two lines were definitely needed for 2x people x 2 days of riding clothes.

We decided to use the walking muscles again, heading downtown on foot for breakfast. It only took 15 minutes, but it felt extremely slow compared to riding. We rode down there again for lunch (only 5 minutes on a bike!) Chemist (small tube of moisturiser desperately needed for my dry, cracked legs!) and then Foodland to stock up on snacks for tomorrow.

On the way back we rode around to Kalari Transport and knocked on the door of the demountable office. (Chicken legs here let Marc go ahead on that – he’s a lot more used to rolling up to company site offices than I am!). There was a manager guy and a woman (maybe OH & S manager, or HR?) At first, they looked a bit apprehensive – ‘uh-oh, have these guys come to complain?’ – but they warmed up instantly and were very appreciative when they realised we’d come around specifically to tell them how fantastic their drivers were. They told us that they have multiple cameras on the trucks that monitor the truck and both mirrors. Big company drivers vs sole contractors (aka cowboys!) They told us how they are aware of IPWR each year, and give a regular reminder to their drivers as to when the participants are expected through. When one of last year’s riders came off somewhere across the Nullarbor (ending up in hospital :() they scoured their camera records (obviously wanting to make sure none of their trucks had been involved.) All too often the only feedback companies ever get is a complaint, but we are big believers in the power of positive reinforcement in helping to improve the relationship between cyclists and drivers – especially drivers of humungous road trains! It was good to be able to use a rest day to be able to do that.

During the afternoon we decided to make use of the motel pool. Look! It’s a full one! It was a cool day (20 degrees plus wind chill), and the water was not warm. The motel manager thought we were nuts. Going with the cold water therapy theory – for the leg muscles, as well as the chafed bits.

In between all this, we (or rather, Marc) used the time to strategise the next leg – getting us (ie. me) to Adelaide without getting destroyed. He decided to break down the days into less soul-destroying/more manageable distances of around 100km, working around the wind forecast, and accommodation/food options, particularly with this next stretch of the Eyre Highway to Port Augusta. If there was a choice between 90k and 150k, we would make it the shorter distance.

Since the start of the ride, on various days I had been fielding phone calls from my dad, who, in his mid-eighties, was now on the dementia pathway. While Marc had set up the MAProgress site on his laptop, he no longer had any concept of the distances or the average time it was taking us, or the fact that during the day when we were riding I wasn’t going to be in a position to answer his calls. I was really struggling enough with myself, I really didn’t have anything left in me to deal with him, or to explain why Adelaide was still a lot more than a couple of days away for us.  Explaining how we were going to him (and trying to show him our photos) was another burden my sister carried for me throughout this ride, and today, in Ceduna, I got Marc to call him back (after another missed call).

By now the dotwatcher community had pretty much got the picture that we were doing this thing our way – probably the slowest it had ever been done! – and we were getting lots of encouragement. It was, however, a bit daunting to know that pretty much as we rolled into Ceduna last night, Otters was rolling over the ‘finish line’ at the Opera House. Yep, we hadn’t even reached halfway, and he had finished!

By evening today, Todd (Willie Maykit) was in Beechworth, Chris (Caveman) and Luke (Beetlejuice) were in Omeo, and Jimbo was in Geelong.

Closer to us, Derek had reached Adelaide two days ago (and then flown out to attend a family wedding, intending to resume his IPWR quest in a few days’ time.) Scotty and KP rode into Adelaide yesterday (and that was where KP was signing out for this year.) Scotty’s wife, Greta, was flying in to join him in Adelaide and was going to ride with him to Melbourne.

Brad, aka BJ-55, had pulled out when he reached Murray Bridge a few days back, so all up, that was going to leave only 8 bikes (9 riders) from 16 (17) starters. (Plus Greta.)

As I wrote on our TwoUp FB update, my butt was coping better than in the first two weeks, and we seemed to have finally tweaked my saddle set up to an ‘acceptable’ position. “I’m struggling most psychologically and in that respect Marc has to deal with not only himself but me too”. [Yes, he deserves a medal for that alone.] “There is no doubt I would have called it quits by now if it was just me – but then again if it was just me I wouldn’t have started.”

We walked back to the bistro for dinner (it was easier than figuring out a safe place to leave the bike), and I had the same meal again as I had enjoyed the fish so much the night before. I tell ya, King George Whiting in Ceduna is the go!

Then, early to bed. It had been another windy day (south/south-easterly 26kph to 35kph in the afternoon, gusts at 52kph), so it was good not to have been riding into that. Unfortunately tomorrow the forecast was much the same, so, you guessed it: a pre-dawn start and around 90km to Wirrulla, with accommodation booked at the pub.

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