Indian Pacific Wheel Race – Part Two Adelaide to Melbourne

Up until now racing had been quite relaxed, if you can call 300kms a day relaxed. The course was flat and navigation had not been an issue, let’s face it, for most of the race so far there had only been one road to follow.

The tempo of the race was increasing, through Port Augusta and Adelaide I had leapt a number of riders and was now in the top 10. It was time to start attacking and in my sights was Callum. This would become the epic battle, right to the last day.

Day 10 – Adelaide to Kingston SE

It was a later start to the day, starting at 0600h. This was in part so I could say goodbye to my mate, rather than sneaking out at some ungodly hour. It was also self-imposed time penalty, in order to stay with my mate I had gone off course and cut about 30kms off the ride. So delaying my start by a couple of hours was a fair penalty, of course, some would argue getting another couple of hours of sleep wasn’t really a penalty. However this late start came with another penalty, I now had to navigate down Port Wakefield road in heavy traffic to get to Adelaide and this was not for the faint-hearted. It was dark, trucks, high-speed limits, poor roads, no shoulders in part, in short, it was about as bad as it gets when it comes to commuting on a bike.

Conversely, the ride out of Adelaide was good, mainly because I was now going against the flow of traffic. The climb out of Adelaide over the ranges was enjoyable, I still had concerns about my leg muscle, but it felt ok going up the hill. Being peak hour there was still a fair amount of traffic on the roads meaning I had to pull over a few times on the climb to let the cars through.Navigation was now becoming a factor as I started to work my way around the roads in the Hahndorf region. I wasn’t using my Garmin for navigation, so I didn’t have access to turn by turn directions. Instead, I was using a set of maps on my phone, this probably slowed me down a little as I was constantly pausing to check I was on the right track. The Adelaide Hills was a lovely region to be cycling in. Traffic was probably a little heavier than I would have liked but it was a Friday morning, but could certainly see the appeal. It was also a fair bit cooler up in the hills compared to the city itself.

It was a day of ups and downs. I arrived in Murray Bridge feeling good and was being assisted with a tailwind. Managed a quick stop and good feed before continuing on to Tailem Bend. Then I turned south into a head/crosswind, and just like that, it almost broke me. Travelling south down along Lake Alexandrina there is minimal cover, and you are very exposed to the crosswinds. I remember stopping multiple times through frustration and exhaustion, then one of the stops I checked the race situation on Maprogress, which I had never done before during the day up to this point. I surprised to see I had made ground on Callum, I guess we were all doing it tough. But this provided me with the motivation I needed to get me going again. So it was a quick stop at Meningie for food and resupply before turning south-west and catching the wind again. The chase was on again.

I arrived at Salt Creek at dinner time, in early days of the race I would have stopped for the night, but the tempo of the race was building. It was still light so I wanted/needed to push on, it was another 84k to Kingston SE. I knew it would be dark when I arrived, I called ahead and managed to secure the last cabin at the caravan park, this gave me a sense of security as I knew I had somewhere to stay. So it was a quick burger at the roadhouse and then back on the road. The roadhouse was itself was quite bizarre. Quite austere on the outside and then an eclectic mix of fishing rods and mounted deer heads on the inside.

With 84k to go I was in full time trial mode and feeling strong, I smashed through the first half but then run out off puff and progressively went downhill and not in a good way, the last 5kms was a struggle. I rolled into Kingston SE around 0930h straight into the roadhouse and was able to resupply, I must have been tired because I made some poor choices with my food, it was good enough, just not enough of it.

I found the caravan park but is close to 2300h before I was settled and in bed. It had been a long, but I was happy to make it to Kingston SE, given the late start I had in Adelaide.

 

Day 11 Kingston SE to Portland

I started the day without enough food and struggled, I stopped frequently through exhaustion even for a lie-down once, which attracted the attention of a passing motorist who was concerned for my well being. I thanked him for his concerned but assured him I was alright. Breakfast finally came when I reached Beachport after 88kms. Breakfast wasn’t what I was hoping for, but a couple of pies and sweet treats from the local bakery got me back on top. It had taken me I while, but it was this stint that finally made me realised how much I should be eating. From this point on, I vowed to stuff my face at every opportunity.

My mates at Beachport
Lunch at Mt Gambier

 

 

 

 

 

 

As I rolled through Millicent I had my first encounter a first dot watcher. There was a man on the side of the cheering me on and streaming the moment live on Facebook. To say I was surprised was an understatement. I just wasn’t prepared for any sort of attention, I really didn’t think it was that big a deal. Maybe for the leaders but I was just another rider in the pack.

The road into Mt Gambier was unpleasant, busy and the shoulder was in terrible condition, forcing you to ride on the right-hand side of the white line but this required constant checking for cars coming up from behind. It was mentally draining.

I was feeling motivated thanks to my overly enthusiastic cheer squad sending me regular updates. So it was a quick lunch at McDonalds, it was also from this moment McDonald’s became my go-to place for food, it was fast, cheap, high in calories and I knew what to expect. I’ve previously visited Mt Gambier a number of times, so I knew the town and its lakes. I was keen for a photo stop but couldn’t find the right opportunity, and I was becoming too focused on the race to waste time with photo stops. As I was leaving Mt Gambier I hooked up with another dot watcher who rode with me for a while. It was great to have some company, importantly he was able to give some great intel on Callum and his condition, it was good to be the hunter.

The section from Mt Gambier to Nelson was good. A combination of favourable winds, quiet roads, being fuelled up and newly acquired intel on Callum had me fired up. It was clear I was in better condition than Callum, and I was keen to press home the advantage. It got a little trickier from Nelson to Portland. The roads were tight, rolling twisting roads with very little shoulder. This would have been okay except the logging trucks. Unlike the Nullarbor where the trucks had a good line of sight to the riders, because of the twisting, rolling roads it meant there was little warning of approaching trucks. On numerous occasions on this section, I found myself just getting off the road as a matter of self-preservation.

I was making good time as I arrived in Portland only to discover two things. The first one was how accurate the Spot Trackers devices are. I had just arrived at the Woolworths to resupply when Shannon, the King of Portland and avid dot watcher found me. This lead to discovery two, that I had made a navigation mistake and cut off about 15kms of the course. This lead to a dilemma, what to do as I was closing in on Callum and taking the shortcut didn’t seem fair. Strictly by the rules if this were an official race, I would have needed to go back to the point I left the course and start again. But given this was an unofficial race so Shannon and I agree the best thing to do was rejoin the course part way to make up the 15kms to ensure I at least didn’t gain any advantage.

To help me out, Shannon rode with me to show me the way, this culminated in Shannon taking me to his place. He had set up the most fantastic rest stop for the IPWR riders, food, water, beds, whatever we needed. Apparently many in the town had contributed to setting it up. It was a welcome gesture and certainly appreciated. I considered staying there for the night, but I was keen to chase down Callum, so I kept going. However just as I got to the edge of Portland it started raining, and it was getting dark, this was enough to convince me to call it a day. So instead of staying the relative comfort of Shannon’s stopover I was now sleeping on pine bark at the caravan park, it was as close to sleeping rough without sleeping rough.

Day 12 Portland to Geelong

Thanks to the pine bark I didn’t have a great night’s sleep and ended up making it an early start. Callum had ridden long into the night and built up a good lead on me again. As I made my way to Warrnambool, I passed a number of places that would have made a better overnight stop than the caravan park I had stayed up, but them’s the breaks when you’re racing. I arrived in Warrnambool in good shape, in had been a good morning, I had quick breakfast at McDonalds, a resupply, and I was on my way again.

A howling tailwind was picking up, and I knew it was going to be a good day, I hit the Great Ocean Road and started to crank it up so there was no time for tourist stops or photos. The one exception being Martyr’s Rock, only because I didn’t have to leave the course to get the photo, it’s also probably the least spectacular of rock formations. Shortly after Martyr’s Rock, I had another encounter with some dot watchers. As I was motoring along, I sensed a vehicle coming up behind me, I didn’t think much of, it was probably just another passing motorist. To my surprise, it was a white van with a couple of guys hanging outside, one with a camera and one starting asking me questions, interview style. It was all quite surreal.

Lavers hill was bigger than I was expecting and probably steeper but I so fired up at this stage it really didn’t matter. I stopped in Lavers Hill for lunch, there wasn’t much on offer, but it was enough to keep me going. I suspect I stopped at the wrong place, a tip for future riders, don’t stop at the first cafe at Lavers Hill, it looked like there were better shops up the road a bit. Still, I did find out upon my arrival Callum had only left 20 minutes before my arrival, if I made it a quick stop, I could limit the gap to under an hour.

The descent from Lavers Hill was the first long and steep descent. On any regular ride this wouldn’t be a challenge, but when your bike so loaded up, the weight distribution really throws handling off, meaning you need to pay a little more attention going into those corners. I arrived in Apollo Bay, it was all about catching Callum now, so this was the formula one of the pit stops for the IPWR. I literally ran into the shops for food and water, and I was back on the bike. This was not a day for sightseeing or long lunch breaks.

I was making good time along the Great Ocean Road, but I could not catch Callum. There were numerous road works along the way, which meant forced pauses waiting as the road was reduced to one way traffic. At one of these stops, I was talking to the traffic marshal who was able to provide me with another update on Callum. He described him as being somewhat agitated because of all the road works and had expressed his frustrations at being held up all the time because I was catching him. Once again, this was good intel because it gave me an insight into Callum’s state of mind. In comparison, I was quite relaxed, enjoying the ride and catching him. I was in no rush to catch him, there was still a long way to good, but by my estimates, I had reduced the gap to about 10kms.

The plan had been to get to Torquay for the day, but the chase was on so there was no way I was stopping when it was still light. Which is unfortunate because Torquay looked really nice compare to Geelong. By the time I got to Geelong though it was getting dark, while I was keen to catch Callum, there was my golden rule “Don’t overextend yourself”. It was about 1830h, being a big town I wasn’t keen on sleeping rough for security reasons. I was tired and probably wasn’t thinking too clearly but finding a place was harder than it should have been. In the end, I found a rather seedy looking motel which was close to the course, and when I say seedy, it was the sort of place where the owner knew the “working” girls on first name basis. By the time I found shops, food and got myself cleaned up it would be pushing 2230h.

The last thing I did for the day was to check on the progress of Callum, he had pushed on Lara. I was quite impressed; it had been a long hard but satisfying day, and Callum had withstood my challenge. Overall I think had reduced his lead marginally. I knew he had ridden longer into the night and would probably start later the next day, but I was planning the same. I planned to pit stop in Melbourne for a tyre change, knowing the shops didn’t open until 0830h, there wasn’t much point to super early start, so an extra of sleep would do me good after the hard day we just had.

Indian Pacific Wheel Race – End of Part One

It is fair to say,by day 6 we had reached a new normal in our lives. Bodies and mindsets were adapting to life on the road.

 

Day 6 – Mundrabilla to Nullarbor Roadhouse

I got off to an early start, sneaking out the room so as not to disturb the others. In the process, I forgot my toothbrush which had lived in my jersey side pocket so I could brush my teeth while riding. It would be another four days before I could replace it. Breakfast was a simple affair, consisting of a bacon and egg slice and a coffee, it was surprising good quite filling and another I liked the Mundrabilla roadhouse.

 

 

 

 

 

I was the first to leave the roadhouse, it would be the last time I would see Joseph, Ben and Phil. Phil suffered some sort of reaction, something caused swelling in his face, and he would withdraw from the IPWR in Eucla. Ben would pull the pin on the IPWR in Melbourne but continued touring around Tasmania and New Zealand before retuning home to the Isle of Man. Joseph, on his fixie would continue on riding all the way up to Cairns.

My leg was recovering, but I still had to be careful with my movements and not push it too hard. The climb up the hill to border village was at a deliberately slow pace to make sure I arrived without hurting it. The next few days I had my knee warmer doubled up, which worked as a compression bandage to support the muscle. For the rest of the ride I kept my knee warmers for most of the time, I just found it reduced the muscle and knee pain by keeping it warm.

 

 

 

 

I arrived at Border village to find Pawel there, he had ridden long into the night to get there and so was only getting started for the day. We had breakfast together and chatted some more about the conditions and how the body was holding up, this was reasonably standard conservation for the riders. In my eagerness to get going I didn’t really think through how far it would be to the next stop and how much food I would need. I had a reasonable breakfast and was feeling good, which lulled me into a false sense of security. The result was a cold roast pork, three potato cakes, 2 muesli bars and 2 bags of lollies would be all I would have for the rest of the day. I was going to pay for this.

I was finally in South Australia, a huge milestone in the race, no other border crossing would be as significant. The one noticeable change was the quality of the roads, gone was that nice shoulder on the road which offered us some semblance of security. I stopped at the Bight for a few selfies, I think this was the last time on the ride I would do the tourist thing, but I am pretty sure all the riders did, it is a pretty special place. I was there, by myself on the cliffs to the southern ocean, the first contact with the ocean since leaving Fremantle. It was one of the moments it felt great to be alive.

 

 

 

 

I wish I could say the same for the rest of the afternoon. Still pushing a headwind and with no food, the rest of the day was rather torturous. The leg was holding up so I guess I should have been happy. It had been slow going with numerous stops through fatigue. The one thing that kept me going was the race notes had said the Nullarbor roadhouse closed at 2030h and even from a 100kms out, I knew it would be close. This wasn’t helped by losing another 45 minutes because of the change in time zones. We had lost the first 45 minutes in Cocklebiddy, but I had other things on my mind that time.

As I approached the roadhouse, even from about 10kms away, it was lit up, shining like a rescue beacon against the dusk skyline. I arrived at the roadhouse at 2025h only find I had plenty of time, it didn’t shut until 2200h, it was the kitchen which closed at 2030h. Even then they were very accommodating, I had a great burger, and after being so hungry all day, it made me feel a million times better. Pawel and Brad who arrived closer to 2100h, they still made sure they got something to eat, even if it was only fish and chips. I remember Pawel ordering a double serve and after being hungry all day thinking “so that’s how it’s done”.Pawel would continue on, riding into the night, as was his preferred MO, Brad and I would stop at the roadhouse for the night. Brad, being made of much tougher stuff than me, there was no way he was going to have 2 nights in a room and given it was $140 for a room I couldn’t justify it, for a few hours of sleep. So here it was day six, and I would finally be sleeping rough, as it turns out, it was semi sleeping rough. Thanks to the newly established camp kitchen we had cover, benches to sleep on and amenities nearby, so all up, it was pretty comfortable.

Overall I found the Nullarbor roadhouse pretty good. Friendly, helpful staff, good meals but expensive accommodation and limited provisions for the road. I remember struggling to find anything decent for breakfast or for the road for the next day.

Day 7 Nullarbor Roadhouse to Wirrulla

I awoke to water dripping on my head and Brad shuffling around, getting ready to depart, it was 0130h. I rolled around trying to get to sleep for another hour before getting up myself. The winds were now favourable, and I started the day with the objective of getting to Ceduna.

It was a start slow, I was tired but still managed to catch Brad, he had started before me but had also stopped for another nap. We rode together for a while, talked a bit, but I got the impression Brad prefers to work alone, I can respect that so I increased the pace slightly and left him behind. I was tired and wanted to stop for a rest, but it was cold, so I didn’t see much point in pulling over and trying to sleep in the cold.

Arrive at the Nundroo roadhouse before Brad, we had breakfast together and then I left, it would be the last time I saw him and it was the last time I would see another rider for six days. Nundroo roadhouse was very helpful. Limited hot food because the kitchen wasn’t open, so it two rounds of toasted sandwiches which still hit the spot. They did have plenty of deep-fried treats for the road, so it was dim sims and chicko rolls for the road.

With a favourable tailwind now picking up and my leg better (about 90%) I was really put the power down and ride away from Brad. It was also the first time in days I could access my favourite sports drink, Maximus and I don’t think it was a coincidence but I was certainly feeling stronger than I had in days. I’m not saying there is anything special about these drinks, they contain a lot of calories and in these circumstances, it is exactly what the body needs.

It was also these dam bottles that lead to my next injury and I’ll blame the environment again. I was just pulling at a rest stop to unload some rubbish at the bins provided when unclipped my right foot and managed to strike the back of it with the pedal. Usually, this is the sort of tap to the back of the leg you don’t think twice about, but when your body is so run down small injuries can quickly become serious. This was not on the scale of the quad muscle injury, but effects of this one small pedal strike would remain with me for the rest of the ride and for weeks after. The main impact was it affected my peddling technique, not overly problematic, just an annoyance and it also impacted me off the bike while walking.

By the time I got to Penong, I was flying and feeling really confident. I was motivated and wanted to make it a quick stop. The Caltex roadhouse was just the stop I was looking for, plenty of food and fast. It was also getting pretty warm, and I remember being coated in salt from all the sweat coming me.

It was still light by the time I reached Ceduna, Wirrulla was still another 90kms away but I was keen to press home my advantage over Brad, I was quite sure he would make it to Ceduna. While was faster than Brad, you could not underestimate his dogged determinedness. He was not going to let me ride off without a fight. I knew there was a pub at Wirrulla, but it was unclear what it had to offer and what time it would be open to. So as a precaution I bought a 12-inch subway roll and carried it my back pocket for the next three hours.

The next three hours to Wirrulla were ideal riding conditions. It was warm, a tailwind and the roads were quiet. With the setting sun, it was a wonderful time for personal reflection and what an awesome adventure I was on. By day seven the body was now adapting well to ultra-distance cycling. I remember pulling over at a rest stop on this leg to find the tell-tale signs that riders before me had slept at this location. It just made me smile still knowing I was sharing this great adventure with others.

It was Friday night, and the Wirrulla pub was in full swing, in a good way. Country pubs like this always seem to centre of the communities. Whole families were there, with kids running around the pub playing, mums and dads inside having dining and a chat with other locals. I arrived to some strange looks, clad my hi-vis armour, I was not the first two-wheel warrior they had seen recently. I headed straight for the bar and ordered a beer, after 380kms and a hot day, that beer went down really well. It was also I good icebreaker with the locals, If you drink beer, apparently you must be a half decent bloke and not some stuck up cycling git in hi-vis.

The kitchen had closed, but this is where I played my trump card. I pulled my subway roll from my back pocket, which was now damp and squashed from the sweat it had collected for the past 3 hours and threatened to eat it. The barman and the local sitting next to me were somewhat horrified by the thought me consuming this roll. The barman quickly announced he could get me something from the kitchen and there was no need to risk my life eating this hotbed of salmonella seasoned salad and meat.

 

 

 

 

 

The stay the Wirrulla pub was the stand out the best night for me on the ride. Great locals, a few beers, a good meal and warm bed. It was a great finish to a long day. To top it off, the cook had made me a few rounds of sandwiches and snacks for the morning so I would have something in the morning. What an awesome pub this was.

The last thing I remember as I turn out the nights, I noticed my charger for lights were indicating that they were already charged. “That’s odd I thought, meh, she’ll be right!” ummmm……

Day 8 Wirrulla – Port Augusta

I was a little annoyed with myself for sleeping in however I figured I must have needed it. The result was I was well rested and making good time on the bike. Unfortunately, my lights had not charged, and the main battery was now quite low. I was ok for the moment as I still had my reserve battery, but my immediate thoughts were the battery charger was failing. There was nothing I could do about at the present time, so I continued on. I arrived at Poocherra, the roadhouse would not be open for hours, so I continued on.

I arrived at Minnipa, still nothing open but I needed water. It was about 0600h as I rolled through the streets looking for a tap when an old man in a wheelchair appeared in front of his house. I stopped, asked for water, and he happily obliged. He suggested I use his rainwater because the tap water had high levels of calcium and tasted liked crap. I stayed about 10 minutes talking to the man and playing ball with his dog. It’s hard to describe, but I wondered what set of circumstances transpired for this old man to end up here, in the middle of nowhere after his working life. Was it by choice or was it just the way things turn out? It was a moment to reflect on, just how lucky was I that I could be racing across Australia and thankful for every person I met along the way, each one quite unique.

By the time I reached Wudinna the world was started to awake, and the roadhouse was open for business. Breakfast!! Oh, I was looking forward to a good feed, and the roadhouse didn’t disappoint. I was also able to charge lights and determined it wasn’t the charger at fault, but rather it was the double adapter I was carrying could not pass enough charge to charge lights and power bank at the same time. I left the roadhouse feeling I now had a good lead on Brad, but there was no time to be complacent, He was not going to give up that easily.

The day had started with a tailwind as we reached Wudinna we started turning northeast, meaning this was now more of crosswind and coming from the northwest meant it was going to be a hot day. The roads to Kimba were slow, it was that real course grade that just made it feel like you were riding through molasses. It was also a deceptive climb to Kimba, a false flat for most of the way. I remember looking at my power numbers, I was averaging 250 watts and only doing about 15 km/hr, I was sure my power meter was faulty, I checked my brakes, nope, they were not rubbing on the rim, it was just a hard slog into Kimba.

I arrived in Kimba at 1430h only find I had missed the IGA by 30 minutes and so with it any chance of a good resupply. I had a solid feed at the roadhouse, including a serve of butter chicken, a little out the ordinary but it was good to have something different and little bit more taster than the usual roadhouse food. Provisions for the road were crap, they had nothing, I ended up with a buttered bun, some salami sticks and lollies and this had to last me for the next 160kms.

The lack of food, heat and crosswinds were making me quite irritable, and I was not enjoying the ride; still, I was now seasoned enough to know you just had to keep pushing through and things would change. I arrived at Iron Knob needing water. As I arrived a car pulled into a driveway ahead of me. Not being shy about asking for help now, I approached the man asking for water. I was happy with tap water, but he insisted on bringing me chilled water from the fridge. It was a bit pointless because with the current heat, the water heated up so quickly it really didn’t matter. BTW, you haven’t lived until you have consumed your favourite sports drink when it has been sitting the hot outback sun all afternoon. Anyway, he returned carrying a 5 litre plastic bottle of water. As I started to refill my bottles, I noticed his plastic container had what was the makings of a great science experiment growing inside the bottle, with black specks of mould all over it. After filling my bottles it just got better, I returned the container to the man only to see him take a great big swig from it. “Great!! So you drink from it as well”, I was sure I was going to end up with some sort of diseases from this episode. But I was too tired, and it was getting too late in the day for me not to take the water, so I pushed on to Port Augusta.

Even though it was a downhill run to Port Augusta, it still felt like a long hard slog, and I arrived just before 2100h. Having heard one of the riders had been involved in an incident from sleeping rough, I was pretty keen to find a room for the night. The accommodation was expensive and only after checking in did I check my phone to see a message from Ryzza saying he was in town and I could share his motel room, bugger!! I guess it was Ryzza who had been involved in the incident. Ryzza would stay in Port Augusta for a few more days before continuing. I never did find out exactly what happened.

After finding a room it was time to resupply, the first Woolworths since leaving Perth. Food, glorious food and finally a reasonable price. Muesli bars, fruit, Up and Go’s, oh the list was endless and pretty happy about it. Plenty of food for dinner and breakfast.

I had been keeping a close eye on the forecast, and it wasn’t looking good, the prediction was for strong westerly and for those of us turning south this was going to become a problematic crosswind. Because of this, I had thoughts about pushing on through the night while the going was still good, but it was still my lack of experience in true ultra-distance cycling holding me back, that reservation of not knowing where I would sleep was still haunting me.

 

Day 9 – Port Augusta to Adelaide

With the concerns of the forecast still on my mind I was determined for an early start. Following a substantial breakfast which now was the familiar tinned fruit, Nutrigrain breakfast bars and UpnGo drink I started well and reached the biggest climb of the race so far. The climb up to Wilmington was straightforward, enjoyable even, but when the body was feeling good, most things like this were enjoyable.

After nine days on the road you start to develop a good appreciation for what makes a good toilet block, and I must say the one at Melrose rated pretty highly. It was clean, well insulated and even had power. It looked so good I was ruing my decision not to push on, this would have made quite an acceptable camp-site.

It had been an early start, and by the time I got to Laura I was spent. I arrived at 0820h, so I didn’t have long to wait for the local cafe to open. Even after breakfast I was still shattered, I had reached the point where no amount of coffee or No-Doz was going to keep me awake. I had no option but to take a break, I found a sheltered park bench and managed about another 40 minutes of sleep. The sleep did me a world of good, I was back on track. The rolling hills along the range make for wonderful cycling country, scenic and the roads are quiet, I was lucky to make it to Clare before the winds really kicked in. It was slow going so it was a quick for a resupply and lunch.

From Clare to Adelaide was just pure misery. Making things worse the condition of the roads, poor shoulders, potholes and a lot of rubbish meant you had to stay focused. It was wind however that was the real killer. It was nothing short of gale force now, and it was a fight just to keep the bike upright. The saddle and frame bags exacerbated the problem. While it was aero set-up front on, the side-on profile meant it was really catching the wind. It was so bad, I had to stop to eat, it was impossible to ride one handed and eat the same time. Similarly, there was no coasting, even downhill was a struggle, and it was just a continual grind of the peddles to keep the bike moving.

I was hating it, under normal circumstances I would have pulled over and called it a day. I think many riders did, Brad had a bad day, only achieving 146kms. The only thing keeping me going was my plan to hook up with an old mate based in Adelaide. To finish off my miserable day, it rained for the 40 minutes. I was cold, wet and thoroughly pissed off, it had been a tough day.

Reaching Adelaide was big milestone, halfway. It was good staying with a mate, it was a chance for a reset, good meal, a friendly face, a glass of wine, washed my kit and recharged all my batteries.

Indian Pacific Wheel Race – The first five days

If I had to sum up the IPWR, although I didn’t know it at the start was all about pushing myself to limits I hadn’t done since I was in my twenties. To break out of my comfortable life and routine as a middle age man and really challenge myself, not knowing where I would be sleeping or where my next meal would be come from, it was good to know I was still alive,

So by the numbers. this is what it looked like

Part One – Perth to Adelaide
Part Two – Adelaide to Geelong (Closest stop to Melbourne)
Part Three – Geelong to Sydney

Time Daily avg Distance Daily avg Elevation Daily avg
Total 17 days (9,5 on the bike) 13.5 hrs 5475 kms 322 kms 39,827 m 2,342 m
Part 1 9 Days 12:05 hrs 2776 kms 308 kms 12,721 m 1,413 m
Part 2 3 Days 12:54 hrs 1013 kms 338 kms 6,891 m 2,297 m
Part 3 5 Days 16:10 hrs 1686 kms 337 kms 20,215 m 4,043 m

Day 1 Fremantle to Merredin

As a child I remember standing on the edge of the 10m diving board at Beatty Park, confident I could do it but not knowing what to expect, Some 35 years later, I’m standing on the South Mole in Fremantle, bike in hand, with the same feelings of apprehension. After all the training and endless research we were finally here, at the start of the IPWR. It was a cool morning and a light wind coming from the ocean, perfect conditions for the start. I was somewhat surprised by the crowd which had gathered for the start, not sure why, I guess I wasn’t expecting any sort of send off. For me, I was just happy to have my father there. This was a special moment for me and to share it with my father, who is now 77, was all I could hope for.

Navigating our way through Perth seemed fairly mundane, maybe it was because I was stomping over familiar ground. As expected the field stayed together until the first climb at Crystal Brook. As we made our way through Lesmurdie, I had the opportunity to chat with the untracked Polish rider Ricardo Deneka that would come back to haunt me on the final day. Ricardo being a veteran of the Race Across America and the Trans-Continental said it was tradition to ride through the first and last night. I certainly had no intention of doing this and frankly never thought I was capable of it. My race plan was always to finish early in the evening, start in early in the morning to make sure I could get enough sleep and stay in control.

We had favourable conditions with a tailwind coming up from the south-west. First stop for the day was in York. Building on my experience from my training rides I was keen to make this a quick stop. So rather than being sociable and stopping with the other riders at the roadhouse for lunch, it was a quick stop at the local IGA for a resupply and a meal, which was had on the road. After York, I felt like I was struggling a bit with a number of riders passing it to me. It wasn’t until reaching Quairading I discovered my rear brakes were hard up against the rim, effectively meaning I had been riding for 185kms with my brakes on. I’m guessing I had knocked the rear brakes out of alignment transporting the bike to the start line in the car.

There was another quick stop at Quairading for food and water, were the food wasn’t too bad. I had another stop at Bruce Rock, to be honest there wasn’t much happening at Bruce Rock. A bunch of other riders had stopped there so I thought I would be sociable, so it ended up being a stop for an ice cream and coke.

After turning north at Bruce Rock we had a strong tailwind, making the final k’s for the day easy. I arrived in Merredin just in time to find accommodation and get to the shop to resupply before it shut. The accommodation was a one-man donga at the caravan park, commonly used by the fly in, fly out miners. This one was luxurious compared to what was to come.

I was feeling good and was torn on whether to continue riding or call it a day. The main thing holding me back was not being confident to sleep rough and knowing the next place on the map was about 3 hours away, and I was unsure of the amenities there.

Day one had been good, and it was no different to my training rides, so I was feeling pretty confident.

Day 2 Merredin to Widdgiemooltha

The day started well, I was up on time, and the legs were feeling good. The leg to Southern Cross was uneventful, I remember passing a few riders and must have been a bit tired because I was sure happy to reach Southern Cross for my second breakfast and a resupply. Of course, this was followed shortly after by another stop at the Yellowdine Roadhouse when I discovered it would be about 145km to Coolgardie. This threw me a bit I wasn’t expecting such a long unsupported section until the Nullarbor.

At the time I remember thinking the leg to Coolgardie was a hard one, it was mostly an uphill drag with a slight crosswind coming in from the north, but in reality, compared to what was to come, it was easy. Coolgardie was smaller than I was expecting and being a Sunday, the heavily fortified IGA was shut so I had to resort to resupplying at the Roadhouse. Thankfully they had a good supply of deep fried foods which travel well, So loaded up with Dim Sims and Spring rolls and headed off.

The rest at Coolgardie did me good and knowing Rowan was just up the road was all the motivation I needed. I stormed off in pursuit, I was still very much in the normal race mode, racing for the day and passed another 3 riders before the end of the day.

There was quite a coming together at the Widdgiemooltha roadhouse of six riders, some would stay, some would push on. I was still feeling good and considered pushing on, but I had already done 370km and didn’t want to push myself over the edge. After having a shower and washing my kit, I wandered down to the bar. The other riders were all looking fatigued, some worse than others, while I sat there clean, comfortable with my burger and beer. Sure some of these guys would be ahead of me by the morning, but I was confident I would be better rested and ready to ride. I was playing the long game.

One thing I was getting sick of was the amateur forecasters and their paranoia about the impending headwind, for two days all I had been hearing was how hard this headwind was going be and when it would arrive. Frankly, I was getting board with this obsession, mainly because there was nothing we could do about it, it was just another challenge to face.

Day 3 Widdgiemooltha to Balladonia

Because of training rides I had always built up in my mind that day 3 would be my crunch day, If I could get through the day I would be set and far enough away from Perth to consider not turning back.

It was a cold start to the day, and I needed all my layers to keep warm. I had very little for breakfast at Widdgiemooltha and was feeling lethargic, despite this I still managed to catch Brad and Phil before Norseman, and for the next few days, we would stay in close contact. Oh and the sunrise was awesome, something I would come appreciated over the next few weeks, sunrise was a good time of the day.

Upon my arrival in Norseman, the only thing open was the BP roadhouse. That said they put on a good breakfast spread and I remember being able to get a fruit salad. I was craving fresh fruit, and it was already getting hard to get hold of, I think this would be my last fresh fruit for about 3 or 4 days. I was keen to keep moving to maintain my lead over Brad and Phil, so I  missed the IGA by 30 minutes and loaded up with crap food from Roadhouse. In hindsight I should have waited, it was my last opportunity to get any decent food for some time.

The ride to Balladonia was to be the longest unsupported stretch of the ride, it wasn’t too hot, so water wasn’t a problem. The ride to Frasers range was long drag uphill and slow going. Once again that competitive spirit kept me going, knowing that Brad and Phil were on my heels keep me going and I only stopped once just after Fraser’s range. After the Frasers range, the road tilted down, but this was countered by the headwind which was starting to build. A lack of food was also beginning to take its toll and I was  feeling fatigued, That said I arrived at Balladonia in pretty good shape, just in time to see the group the of riders like Rowan and Ryzza just leaving.

For me it was another one of those conundrums, I arrived at 1630h, I knew by the time I had something to eat it would be around 1730h, I was feeling reasonable, I could push on but I was on schedule and knowing if I pushed on, there was no support for the next ~180k but stopping at 1630h in the afternoon felt wrong. In the end, I reverted to rule #1 “Don’t overextend your yourself”. I ended up wasting a fair bit of time chatting with Phil, Brad, and Joseph, who was riding a fixie and is a vegan and if I thought it was tough getting food for a normal feed, Joseph was pretty much living on hot chips. I remember he took off from the roadhouse with not much more than a packet of lemon cream biscuits for the next 180k section, “good luck with that” I thought.

I retired for the day and stayed at the roadhouse, the accommodation was now very basic. A bed in a small donga and that was it, no air-conditioner, TV or running water but it was still more comfortable than sleeping on the side of the road, something I was yet to do. Phil and Brad continued on to another stop about another 40k down the road.

Overall the Balladonia roadhouse had reasonable meals but poorly stocked for takeaway food for the road. Friendly staff, the accommodation was basic but did the job and was cheap.

Day 4 Balladonia to Cocklebiddy

My first observation for the day was I no longer needed an alarm to wake me up, I was naturally waking at 0200 – 0230h. Overall the conditions were still good, the headwind was picking up but the early hours were fine, and in hindsight, it probably wasn’t that bad.

There is also something special about this stage as you traverse the 90 mile straight. There is no doubt this section generates a lot of interest from riders and dot watchers alike but honestly, it was just another bit of road. When the roads are rough, pushing a headwind and only doing about 25km/hr whether the road is straight or has a slight be in it, doesn’t really make much difference.

Phil and Brad must have got off to an early start as they were already on the straight before I started, despite the headwind I was feeling strong and passed them before the end of the straight.

I remember also passing Joseph, he had basically passed out, face first on the side of the road. It wasn’t a good look, I thought “hmm those lemon creams didn’t really do the job”. That said I wasn’t fairing much better. I had a reasonable breakfast thanks to my emergency stash of oats and sugar and a rather awful protein bar. For the road, all I had was the last of my muesli bars, a packet of pizza shapes, two bags of lollies and a tub of sugar (this went into my drink bottles and when combined with the High5 zero tabs made a reasonable sports drink).

I arrived at Caiguna roadhouse in good spirits and feeling strong, both Phil and Brad looked like they were struggling into the headwind and I was ready to put the hammer down to get Madura roadhouse. As a sat down, I received a text msg from my cheer squad, Jim, “beware the chair”. It made me smile that I was getting hassled from so far away. I had a good feed at the Caiguna, the food seemed reasonable enough, but once again limited provisions for the road and the staff seemed really grumpy. But going by the many signs about stealing water and other things I guess the staff also have to put up with a lot of crap. Phil arrived at the roadhouse just as I was leaving and Brad was still on the road.

As I left the roadhouse, I noticed a slight niggle in my left quad, initially I put it down to just being cold from the stop and I would ride it out. After 20kms it became clear I was not going to ride this out, the pain was now severe and pedalling almost impossible. I was at the point of do I turn back to Caiguna (about 20kms) or push on to Cocklebiddy (~40kms). At this point I was struggling, the painkillers I was knocking back were not doing anything, I feared the worst that my IPWR was going to come to an abrupt halt. I was determined if my race was over I wasn’t returning to Perth, so I pushed on to Cocklebiddy, peddling a lot of the remaining miles with one leg.

I still can’t sure what caused the “spasm”; clearly, it wasn’t a tear otherwise I wouldn’t have recovered. My only guess was while I was refilling my water bottles, the wind blew some the empties away, trying to be good to the environment I gave chase to the empty bottles, and I suspect it was this sudden sprint which may have set my leg off. There are morals here, No good ever comes from running (but all cyclists know this) and the environment needs to come second when you are competing in the IPWR (just kidding).

I arrived at Cocklebiddy pretty sure my race was over, the pain was off the charts, and I was feeling pretty dejected. I got a room and rested up, there wasn’t much else I could do. I figured I would rest up and then reassess in the morning. I watched all my good work unravel as a bunch of riders arrived and then departed, leaving me behind to face getting caught by the touring class in the field. I considered the touring class to be those riders who were still doing decent miles but stopping for photo opportunities, updating social media and appeared to be enjoying themselves and travelling in a pack.

Cocklebiddy seemed like an odd place, there was a small local population who were gathering at the roadhouse for drinks. Food was ok but the staff not overly welcoming, but I guess it was the same situation as the Caiguna roadhouse. Budget accommodation is excellent, for $50 you get an air-conditioned room with en-suite.

Day 5 Cocklebiddy to Mundrabilla Roadhouse

So overnight I had taken a good dose of non-inflammatory drugs in the hope it would help my muscle problems, Painkillers certainly were not having any effect. I got off to a late start (0530h), if nothing else, it just to give my leg a few more hours of rest. It was still painful and to add to my misery the headwind was now pretty strong. As Strava will attest to, my average speed for the day was a lowly 17km/hr, it was a terrible day. My confidence was pretty low, my only motivation was to keep pushing on so when I did pull the pin, I would be closer to Adelaide and not have to go back to Perth.

I pushed on to Madura, it was painful and slow, but I was coping, and that was about as good as I could hope for. Madura roadhouse seemed a little odd not overly welcoming, limited provisions, and nothing really good to eat, I ended up having a sausage roll and coffee, and that was about it. Of course, I did score a free packet of pizza shapes, they were so old, they were out of code and couldn’t sell them. Hey, rule number 32 of Zombieland, “Enjoy the little things” and this place was like Zombieland.

Shortly after I met my first road angel after pulling over for a rest. I had probably only done 120kms, and I was exhausted. While sitting on the picnic bench, I got talking to some grey nomads travelling west for a conference. I got brave enough to ask for some ice; unfortunately, they had no ice but had a bag of beans which they were happy to give away and that provided some welcome relief for my poor quad. After some more discussion about the race, I showed the woman what we were eating, i.e., pizza shapes and she was horrified. Quick as a flash she disappeared back to the caravan and reappeared with a sandwich, coffee and a danish. I can’t describe what a morale boost this was, someone actually cared.

As the winds died down in the evening and with about 20k to go, I suddenly realised my leg was feeling better, without explanation, I was able to put pressure on the leg again. I was still sore, but I could pedal properly. As I pulled into Mundrabilla roadhouse spirits were on the rise, and it only got better when I entered to the roadhouse to see, Phil, Brad, Joseph, Ben and Pawel. Pawel was from Poland, great bloke and was the other fixie rider. Ben was one of the other untracked riders.

Mundrabilla roadhouse would be my pick for the Nullarbor roadhouses. Friendly staff. Great meals, good portions and enough other good food for provisions along the way, I felt like I had my first proper meal in days.

The only downside to the roadhouse was there was no budget accommodation, and standard rooms were somewhat pricey. I was resigned to having my first night of sleeping rough when to my surprise I heard Ben and Joseph were getting a room and I was able to to to buy in and share the room. It was a great night of sharing experiences of the race so far. It was funny because while we were riding independently, we were experiencing common issues. It was also here Ben showed us a great trick for getting your kit washed and dried overnight.

Overall it had been a really tough 206kms, but I was on the mend, the leg was still tender, but I was able to pedal reasonably normally. The test would come tomorrow when I had to climb to Eucla. It wasn’t a big climb, but I was worried how my leg would cope.

IPWR Q&A

While I gather my thoughts on the IPWR, I thought I would share some interesting questions about my IPWR ride posed to me by a friend and avid dot watcher Justin B.

I am also planning three articles on my IPWR adventure and another one on my tips and tricks for the IPWR. So stay tuned, more to come.

Physical

What preparation/training did you wish you’d done more of? Equally, was there any area that you felt you wouldn’t focus on next time?
Overall I felt my physical preparation for the event was about right. Over and above my regular training which consists of approximately 270 – 300k a week, I conducted a couple 700 – 800k weekend training rides and a couple of Audax rides. These rides were completed with a full load so I could test what worked and didn’t work. The improvement to this would be to do a 3-day ride because by the third day your body starts adapting more to requirements of ultra-distance cycling. I would have also spent more time sleeping rough and getting used to how to handle it.

What surprised you most in terms of how your body felt/responded as the ride progressed?
I suppose it was the lack muscle soreness. After the first day my muscles were quite sore like you would get from a typical day’s riding but quickly your riding style adjusts, and the muscle soreness goes away. Of course, this was replaced with knee, tendon and Achilles soreness.

What issues/injuries/niggles did you encounter and how did you manage them? Did typical issues like Achilles and knee issues present themselves? Was there ever a point where you had concerns about doing some permanent damage as you pushed on?
Day 4 was a bad day for me. Up until then I had been travelling well and feeling good. I suffered a muscle spasm in my left quad which just about stopped me, it certainly slowed me down and hurt like hell, not even Panadiene forte would ease the pain. When it happened, I was forced to peddle 20k on much one leg to get to Cocklebiddy. The next day was slow going but it came good. For days after it was sensitive and I couldn’t put much pressure on it, but I was able to ride.

I don’t think I was ever concerned about doing permanent damage. Sure the body was in pain but the nothing that bad to cause me concern. Post ride, however, I am suffering Ulnar Palsy in my hands, it’s worse in the left hand which is still numb, and I have noticeable lack of fine motor skills and strength in both hands.

The oft-non-discussed saddle sores?
On this, Bepanthen is your friend, applied early and often, and saddle soreness was never an issue. I also used a “touring saddle” as opposed to a flat racing saddle which increased the comfort, in my case, it was a Brooks C13 Cambium saddle. That said, in the first few days there was some mild discomfort while the body adjusted but after that, it was never a concern.

Do you think that end-of-day leg compression helped with recovery and would you do anything different next time in terms of end-of-day recovery routine (such as stretching, timing of food intake etc.)?
I would tentatively say yes to this even if it was mainly psychological. I will say on the nights I slept rough I didn’t bother putting on compression leggings and still seemed to perform at the same level, so I guess the jury is out on whether they actually did anything but like I say, mentally it made me feel better.

The biggest thing for me at the end of the day was to get a least of a litre of milk into me post ride. Both for hydration and the proteins contained in milk to aid my recovery. Because time off the bike is limited, I wasn’t doing any stretches but then I’ve never been one for post ride stretching. Likewise, there was no specific timing for food. It sort of depended on where you were. For instance, in small country towns, you pretty much knew where you would sleep so you could eat then work out where you would sleep. In bigger places like Geelong or Port Augusta finding a safe location was the priority then you would eat.

Aside from the last 25 hours, what was the most challenging segment of the ride?
Without a shadow of a doubt, Day 16, the climb over the Snowy mountains. Since leaving Melbourne, there had been a lot of climbing, and I had a lousy start to day 16. By the time I reached Adaminaby I was smashed physically and mentally if I wasn’t so close to the finish, I may have pulled the pin. By the end of the day, I really hated the bike. I will say it was the spirit of competition that kept me going, which is a nice way of saying I wasn’t going to let Callum beat me 🙂

Do you think your body composition changed much from start to finish (overall weight and lean body mass)?
I was curious about this one myself, thanks to my Garmin smart scales I can report no real change in my overall weight and my body fat went from 14.2% to 13.8%.

How much sleep do you think you were averaging? Did this change much from start to finish?
On average I was getting 4-6 hours sleep a night, and this remained pretty constant throughout the event. After day 2, I stopped using my alarm, I figured I would just let my body wake up when it was ready, as it turned out, this was about 4-6 hours and at around 0230 -0300h in the morning. On some occasions when I had a bad night’s sleep, I would also have a 15 -30 minutes power nap mid-morning.

What if anything would you change in your race plan? That is, would you start harder/easier next time, now that you know how your body will react over the totality of the ride.
Not much, my mantra was always not to over extend myself and stay in control. So while my start may have seemed a bit slow, it paid dividends in the second half of the race. While others were struggling, I was still feeling strong. 

Nutrition

What was the food plan?
We all start with lofty ideals of eating well, but the realities of roadhouse cuisine soon smash this. Even what I would consider basics, such as muesli bars and pre-package fruit can be hard to come by. From Merridan to Port Augusta it was a case of buying what ever food you can get your hands on that will keep you going, Pizza shapes and lollies such as snakes or frogs became a big staple in my diet. That said, some of the things I tried to stick by, as previously mentioned, I was big on milk post ride and in the mornings. Eventually, I developed a liking for about a litre of UpnGo and a tin of fruit as my first breakfast. I found this worked well because you could buy it the night before and carry it for as long you needed and this was enough to get me through to second breakfast.

Did you have any issues managing glucose/energy peaks and troughs?
Constantly and I was a bit of a slow leaner in this respect. It wasn’t until after Adelaide when I had awful morning I gained an appreciation of how much food I needed to be eating. It was always worse in the mornings until I started having the UpnGo and fruit in the morning.

How did the caffeine intake work out? How did you balance the need/timing to ingest caffeine with making sure you weren’t too wired when you needed to sleep?
I was relatively conscience of my caffeine intake; I pretty much stopped my caffeine intake around midday except for a couple of cokes in the afternoon. My primary source of caffeine was No-doz tablets, I just found it convenient, and it was easy to measure my intake. That said, I still found getting to sleep problematic, which you wouldn’t think would be the case after the early start and long miles each day.

How happy were you with your ability to carry enough food and especially water between the multiple 190km distances between services in the first half of the race?
Completely happy, that said,  given this was a primary concern of mine before the race I had put a lot of time testing my set-up. Besides the standard two frame mounted bidons I had two modified cages on the forks which were capable of carrying 1.5l bottles of water, plus I could carry up to 3 one litres bottles in my jersey or back-sack, so that gave me a total capacity of 8 litres.  As it turns out, that was more than enough. Likewise, the back-sack proved a good way of carrying extra food those long stints.

Did you ever reach a point expecting to find water/food only to find this was unavailable? How much emergency reserves did you carry?
No, but came close, sometimes you just need to be a little creative. Racing over the Easter break certainly made things harder as many shops had reduced trading hours. When I say creative, there was one instance when I arrived in Noojee to find all the shops closed and the pub didn’t start food service another hour. This would mean giving up an hour day light to wait for food when I still had another ~60k to ride for the day. Filling up on bar snacks like chips and ice cream wasn’t going to cut it given I was already hungry.  Then I noticed the kitchen hand preparing what I can only guess was to be rice puddings but at this stage was just tubs of rice. So after some surprised looks from the bar staff when I asked to buy some of the tubs, I managed to secure 3 tubs of rice for dinner. It was rather basic but did the job and was better than waiting around for service to start.

As for reserves, I did the start the race with some extra protein bars and zip-lock bags of oats and sugar, which did prove useful across the Nullarbor but after Port Augusta there was enough towns and shops, that with a bit of forward planning would ensure you didn’t run out of food.

Bike and Equipment more generally

What (if anything) would you change with your bike setup?
Not much, overall the set-up worked well. Naturally, there would be some tweaks to the set-up, but I’ll cover this in greater detail in a separate article on my set-up.

Was there any piece of equipment you wish you had/didn’t need and would consider leaving home next time?
No, about the only thing I didn’t use was a small travel towel and a spare tyre. I was always aiming to travel light, so I had put a lot of thought into what I needed. In regards to clothing, instead of carrying bulky warm weather gear I relied on the principle of layering a number of light layers to cover me from cool to cold conditions.

Would you take a bike lock next time, of could you get away without one?
I actually took a lock with me for this ride, and yes I would take it again. It’s like insurance, sure you might not need it, but it does offer peace of mind when you are in a populated area. Not to cast dispersions on Geelong, but for instance, when I went to the Woolworths in Geelong at 2100h, I was sure glad I could lock my bike up.

Navigation

Any issues with navigating the course? Did you have a hard-copy of the route with you in case your electronics failed?
No real issues, I did take a few wrong turns, but this was more due to me not paying enough attention to my nav system, rather than the system itself. I didn’t carry a hard-copy backup and must admit almost came unstuck because of it. Would I carry a hard-copy? Probably not, I would probably look at how I could carry a backup navigation device.

Any part of the course/towns that were more challenging in terms of food/water resupply?
The first half was challenging because of the obvious distances involved, but at least the supply was predicable. The second half was made challenging because of the unpredictable trading hours of the Easter break, which probably more challenging.

 

IPWR Bike and set-up

Firstly a big tip for anyone considering an ultra-distance cycling event. Before you do anything and from the very first moment you start thinking about the idea. Build yourself a check list of equipment you plan to use and then refine it with every training ride you do. Why? Because on the day you start packing to leave, you’ll have a million things running through your head. The check list will be your friend and make sure nothing gets left behind. Trust me on this

The Bike

Right off the bat, my bike set-up is probably a little different to that of the seasoned ultra-distance rider, this is partly driven by cost and part by my race strategy. Firstly I was not willing to fork out for cost of dynohub and wheel building for something I was not likely to use again. Also I’ve read a number of accounts of a dynohub failing leading to the rider to have fall back to charging their devices. So I’ve skipped the failing bit and will look to charge my devices along the way. The downside is I am then forced to find nightly shelters that have power available, so the local toilet block is probably out of question. That said, I don’t plan to ride through the night, so I am carrying enough charge for three day of riding before I need to stop and charge up.

Also the gearing is not standard, no compact crank-set here. My only concession to my standard set-up is an 11-30t cassette versus the normal 11-28t. With a short cage derailleur, the 30t is really pushing the limit, even then back-pedalling while in the 39-30 seems to catch the derailleur. So no back pedalling while climbing up the Great divide, good, got it!

Bike Specifications

  • Frame: 2017 Ridley Noah SL
  • Group set: 6800 Ultegra Di2 11-30t
  • Crank set: Sram Red 175mm 53-39t
  • Wheels: Vision Trimax T42 Clinchers
  • Tyres: Continental GP4000s II
  • Saddle: Brooks Cambium C13 158mm wide
  • Handlebars: 3T with aero bars and Di2 controllers
  • Stem: 110mm Easton 70
  • Bidon cages: Two in the standard location. 2 mounted on the forks. The fork cages will only be used for the longer stints where more is required. Otherwise they will be empty to reduce the aero drag.

Equipment

Tools

  • Multi-tool
  • Vulcan patches and instant stick on
  • cable ties (various lengths)
  • Chain quick link
  • Various Spare bolts
  • Tyre levers
  • Chain Breaker
  • Replacement spokes
  • Chain lube
  • Brush
  • Small rag wipe
  • Valve core remover
  • Emergency boot
  • Pump
  • Tape – wrapped around pump
  • Tubes x 2
  • Presta valve converter – so you can use petrol pumps
  • Spare Tyre – yes at 240g well worth it, as a discovered on a training ride
  • Sealant – applied to the tubs prior to the ride
  • Bike lock
  • Water bottles 950ml x2

Personal care

  • Sunscreen – Seems obvious but remember, this is a check-list
  • Lip balm
  • Anti-inflammatory medication
  • Pain relief medication
  • Anti-rash cream (Bepathan)
  • Insect repellent – in the outback there are lots of things that bit
  • Caffeine tablets – where you’re going there won’t always be a post ride coffee available
  • Toothpaste & Toothbrush
  • Razor and shave oil – personal preference
  • First aid kit – basically some band-aids and beta-dine swabs

Electronics

  • USB wall charger x 2, one of these is a high speed charger
  • Spare 2032 & AAA batteries
  • Ay up front light
  • Ay Up charger
  • Ay Up front spare light
  • Ay-up Batteries x 2
  • Garmin edge 520
  • Garmin varia radar and light – beats having a mirror
  • Wired headphones – I’ve got enough things to charge
  • Heart Rate Monitor
  • Mobile phone
  • Phone holder and case – Personal preference as I will be using my phone for navigation and it up front
  • Powerbank 20000 mAh Qualcomm quick charge compatiable
  • Spot tracker Gen 3
  • Topeak rear light
  • USB cables x 4
  • Garmin VivoActive watch – primarily as an alarm clock
  • Charge cable for Vivoactive

Clothing

  • Jersey
  • Knicks
  • Socks x 2
  • Sun Sleeves
  • Rain jacket
  • Cycling Shoes
  • Helmet
  • Mitts
  • Gloves
  • Leg Compression – Personal preference to aid leg recovery at night
  • Shorts & T-shirt for off the bike
  • Reflective ankle straps
  • Hi-vis vest
  • Gillet
  • Knee Warmers

Other stuff

  • Travel towel
  • Bivvy bag & Silk sleeping bag liner
  • Scrim – A mesh type cloth, useful for many reasons including as a mossie net
  • 2 x credit cards
  • Backsack
  • ID
  • Coins for vending machines