October cycle tour map

October cycle tour map


Wednesday, August 6, 2014

Alice Springs to Erldunda

 Alice Springs to Erldunda = (day 1 = 56km; day 2 = 66km; day 3 = 75km)
Cummulative totals = 6349km and 26,350km
Desert Oaks/Erldunda roadhouse = $22 unpowered

Day 1 - to Polhill rest area

What a shock to the system having to get up at 6am this morning - it was dark (just beginning to get light) and it was cold ... so cold that we couldn't sit on the metal benches at the table!  Just how cold do you think last night got ... well according to ABC radio Alice Springs had a low of minus 1.7 degrees and while we were eating brekky our thermometer read the following ...
 So obviously it had warmed up 1.5 degrees! We had the door on the fly closed last night as with the door flap so that made the tent nice and warm ... although Neil is starting to feel the cold and tends to sleep in clothes and also completely under the sleeping bag so you can't see his head at all!
So despite getting up early we didn't exactly get away early!  I think it was due to the fact that the fingers just kept freezing up and wouldn't work when dealing with all the small buckles, zips and the like, so the going was slow.
Upon leaving it was cold - I had so many layers on - even my woolen arm warmers, thermal and vest and yes I had my socks on with my cycle sandals - yep a good look that is and I still had my beanie on under my helmet to keep my ears warm.
Just up the road on the Stuart highway we see one of the old Ghan engines ..
 and I wouldn't be surprised if that train engine is not still in use!
Once at the airport turnoff we head south west for the rest of today ride.  Not much traffic around at 9am in the morning just a few caravaners leaving like us.  We expect more later on as they come back from Uluru and Kings Canyon (locals that is as it is a long weekend here in NT - Picnic Day).
At about 9.15am the wind picked up and dropped the temperature severly.  It is still coming from the south and it is strong and bitterly cold.  Even on the bike - the fingers and toes took well into the morning to thaw out.
As the day wore on the wind was blowing stronger coming from the south and I have to say that despite all the pedalling I wasn't warming us up fast enough.  My face is severly wind burnt and for most of the day I couldn't feel my face at all for all I know I could have had snot coming from my nose and not realise as I couldn't feel it!  Probably today was the most uncomfortable days ride I have had.  The scenery is still the same with the occassional range coming into view and giving us something to look at!
Despite the headwind we kept a constant comfortable speed - although I am a little heavy in the front panniers (heaps of food - 12 days worth!) that I may have to reshuffle some and put it in the back panniers.
We are seeing more and more wild flowers now and this one we see in huge clusters in a bit from the road 
 We get to Polhill rest area around 1pm and it is a small rest area with water and toilet.  The area is fenced off except where the water tank is and we can fit the bikes through.  Usually we don't stay at rest areas - mainly because the riding days have been warmer and when washing you can hardly stand out, strip and wash in a rest area - hence the bush camping.  But since today we hardly built up a sweat there was no reason to stand out and pour cold water over you - what with the wind blowing that would turn us into icicles!!  So we found a reasonably sheltered spot with an area big enough for the tent.  By the time we set up and had the water boiled for a cuppa it was around 2pm so we had lunch and I have a new designer sandwich ...

 it is Nutella and banana chips .... it is yummo - have to be careful of my teeth when biting into it as the banana chips can be hard!  I am calling it "the fat cruncher" simply because both nutella  and banana chips have a great deal of fat in them and the cruncher because that is the sound you will hear when you break a tooth!!!
So after a weeks break we think Kouta became a little soft and was quickly in the basket and asleep when we stopped and even after that power nap he couldn't help but have another one ... like I said previously ... any lap will do!
 here is the photo of our camp spot - note the importance of NO shade today!

Day 2 - to Finke River RA
Well it was a really cold cold night last night - I had to put my t shirt, woollen jumper and pants on in the middle of the night!  We woke up this morning and the water had to begun to ice over and poor Koutas' water had a ice seal over it!  So at around 7am this was the temperature ...
 yep you are reading right it was minus 3.7 degrees when we had our brekky so I am guessing that during this night it was cooler than that and probably around minus 5 degrees.  We listened to the radio this morning and they said it was 0 degrees in Alice Springs - it is funny what a big difference between us and Alice and we are only 70 odd kms south of Alice.
Despite the temperature the sun was quickly on the tent and we soon warmed up so by the time we left to do a few kms before the cold southerly comes up we were warm.  Still wearing all the socks and arm warmers but we were in the sun for most of the ride.
So we didn't get as much kms in before the wind picked up as the wind was a little early this morning.  It is still a strong south easterly that is very cold so it is coming across us as we are still going in a south west direction.
We are in such lovely surrounds as there is always some sort of range in the distance that we have to go through (just before Stuarts Well) or on the sides of us so we always have something to look at ...
 One thing we have learnt is to ignore the road signs with distances too as most are incorrect - in fact it has been like that as soon as we got onto the Stuart highway, some of the distance variations are very big - there was one just before Alice that said one distance and a further 100m down the road there was another sign and there was a 7km difference!  The only accurate signage are the small green 10km markers - they are almost spot on.
Just out of Stuarts Well as we crossed the Hugh River I looked down and saw a phone on the side and pointed it to Neil, since this is a long bridge I carried on to the end and Neil turned around and went back to get it, here he is coming to meet up with me
 Neil claims this as my find but I think it is both of ours but it was a Apple iphone!  The screen is quite severly cracked and breaking off and 3 off the 4 corners are grazed.  We fiddled around with it at our cuppa break and I managed to turn it on - it only has 10% left in the battery so we will leave it til Erldunda and google it to see if we can remove the sim or to try and see whose phone it is.
So it is a very big find and Neil informs me it is a very expensive phone!
We get to our rest area at Finke River and there was only one other couple in a mobile phone here.  It is a nice rest area next to the dry river bed and has plenty of area off the side of the parking area.  We find a nice spot that has bush to the side and sort of behind us so we can have a bird bath.  The wind has sort of lost its' sting and is warmer compared to this time yesterday so we are in shorts and t shirts.  Tomorrow we will make Erldunda and will be able to use the internet to post this.

Day 3 - to Erldunda roadhouse
Last night was our first warm night for a while!  We woke and it was partially cloudy hence the warmer night ... probably around 6 degrees, so no having to get up and put warm clothes on!
I didn't take a photo of our campsite at Finke river rest area but it is just like any other rest area!
So we set off and it is another 41km to the next rest area and along the way you are winding your way through various ranges (no going up and over them!).  We don't know the names of these ranges and I don't think they are national park ones just normal looking pieces of rock sticking out of the ground!  The meteorite craters are near here and Neil was trying to convince me that the protruding cliffs are the real meteorite craters and we are riding in the middle of one - he must think I am an idiot to fall for something like that - I mention that the surrounding hills and enscarpments are not uniform and a meteorite crater doesn't have a hill in the middle of it ... I said more than likely the meteorite 'bounced' here before it landed in the official meteorite craters that tourists go to see ... see my crapping on is far more plausible than Neils crapping on!!!
So the wind is a little stronger today and since the road is now heading south the south easterlies are more in front of us.  It was okay up to the Desert Oaks rest area at 41km where we had a cuppa.  This is a nice rest area - better the the Finke River rest area and has toilets and drinking water.  I think I may have camped here before - as it seems familiar.
After our cuppa you go over a slight rise and then out into open land where you really noticed the wind - there is no Mulgra bushes to protect you.  It is like this for about 14km, then there is more flora to protect you until Erldunda roadhouse ... but before we get there in a space of about 20km we have 2 similar events ... the first Neil says car overtaking in front and I look up and see a car towing a caravan is coming towards us and is over taking another car and we have to move as far left of the lane as we can (keep in mind we are going south and the overtaker is going NORTH!) so technically he is running us of the road, we get this sort of thing quite often but what peeved me off is that it is on a straight road and nothing behind us so he could have waited that 100m until he was passed us to over take the car!  Not long after that I was struggling into the wind and I am not sure where I was looking  I think straight in front of my wheel as the road is quite rough and Neil says car overtaking so I look in my mirror and I can't see the car behind us overtaking and I am thinking what is Neil talking about! then I realise he means in front of me and I look up and see this black 4WD coming towards us! so I try to squeeze over and I watch the woman and there is no acknowledgement from them that they are forcing us off the road and they are in the wrong etc.  Really I need Neil to say something else as when you hear someone say car over taking you automatically look in our rear vision mirror but when you cycle it could mean also that a car is oncoming and the overtaking is occuring in the other direction!
We get to Erldunda roadhouse around 2pm  so we have made good time and averaged around 15km per hour which isn't bad with a 20km per hour headwind!

 We have both stayed here before and we are a little disappointed that the unpowered section has been relagated to the rear of the park and in one of the most crappiest positions you could get!
 there is no shade (just a few scrawny trees) and the powered section is nice, shady and has a little grass
 where the unpowered section use to be is now for the tours that may stop over night here and there are a few pre-erected tents there
So a little disappointed but we will stay here tomorrow, even though we weren't meant too but we have looked ahead and there is a southerly wind again tomorrow but with a northerly change on Friday (which was meant to be our rest day at Kulgera) so we are sitting out the southerly wind and will wait for the northerly wind on Friday to continue south.  The northerly winds are light (but better than headwinds!) and will last for 3 days - in time for us to get to Marla! Which will be my next posting.

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