October cycle tour map

October cycle tour map


Friday, August 15, 2014

Marla to Coober Pedy

 Marla to Coober Pedy = 237km (day 1 = 75km; day 2 = 56km; day 3 = 54km; day 4 = 52km)
Cummulative totals = 6843km and 26,844km
Oasis Inn hotel/motel and caravan park = $18.00 unpowered (with $2 top tourist discount, also showers are 20 cents for 4 mins)

Day 1 - to bushcamp (just before Cadney Homestead)
Somebody forgot to enable the alarm this morning (namely myself!) so we ended up getting up later than what we wanted.  We looked on Elders and saw that there will be strong southerly winds until the end of the week so that means hard days to Coober Pedy.  Generally we can get an hour or 2 in before the wind really picks up - this makes the day easier but alas we got up 30mins later than we wanted.
We had a good rest day at Marla and it is a full moon now so moonrise in the evening was much better than sunset!
 On the road just before 8am and it is cold this morning and I don't think the day itself is going to be very warm once the wind kicks in.
We got to around 9.30am and then the wind really kicked in so we dropped to around 13km per hour and sometimes down to 10km per hour when there was a slight long rise in the road or when there is no shrubs on the sides of the road to protect you from the wind ... which was like that for most of the day!
Before you all say that we should be use to it by now ... which is true, we can cope with these days alot better now we are stronger compared to when we first started out but for most cyclists head winds are very debilitating (I think that is the word I am looking for!) we say we go at 13km per hour and so we will cover 13km within that hour but when you are on the road for 6 plus hours and are going at that speed and all you have to show for it is 75km yet your legs feel like they have covered more than 100km then it feels like a real bummer and then you have to do it all again tomorrow - that is why cyclists dislike headwinds!
A few people we have spoken to have noticed that there is not much road kill or even wildlife around and they are in cars and even we have noticed it that we haven't seen a kangaroo, camel, dingo, or even cattle for that matter in ages!  (Since coming across to Normanton)  However we did see 2 wedgetail eagles - our 2nd lot since we joined the Stuart Highway and obviously there was road kill around as this one stayed on the ground and refused to budge - it was massive

 We think we have seen camel poo and prints but have yet to see a wild one which we know are around.
So plodding along and the scenery is pretty much the same  throughout the day 
 We have gone back to drafting again - 15mins in front then 15mins behind since there is very little traffic and the wind is basically front on.  So we are going up the rise that you can see in the above photo and Neil is in front and next thing you know he is veering of the road and my wheel is overlapping a bit so I have to go as well - I am cursing him as I don't look ahead but concentrate on the back wheel of his trailer as Kouta has anxiety attacks during the 15mins I am behind Neil and so he tosses about in the trailer and so I have to be careful that my wheel doesn't knock Neils as Koutas movements affect my steering especially when we are going at these slow speeds ... anyway after cursing him that I nearly knocked his wheel he says that he put his hand out to indicate that he is pulling over so I tell him he will have to say it as I don't look at anything but his wheel when I draft!  So after a few grumbles I see why he has pulled over - someone has left a bag of oranges hanging on one of the roadside pole reflectors.  Of course we take them!  After many a discussion I firmly believe that someone left them there for us as there are 4 large and 4 small oranges, they were hanging there and not tossed out the car and I think someone saw us and decided to take pity on us and further up the road found the opportunity to pull over and leave the oranges for us.  We don't know how long they have been there but they are greatly appreciated - we don't carry oranges as they don't really go with weetbix (for brekky or dinner!) so they are a luxury food so we carry apples which go with weetbix and so are an essential food!  We had an orange each at the next break with our muesli bar - they are so sweet and delicious, I will carry the other 6 and that will be our treat each day on the last break!
 So we decided to pull over around 3pm or the 75km mark - about 5km before Cadney Homestead, originally I had us down for just over 80km past Cadney Homestead but we will try to make up the extra 5km tomorrow and if we can't because the winds are just too strong then we will have 3 long days and a short 4th day into Coober Pedy.
Our bushcamp is a good one and is right next to the train line as it is very close to the road - about 150m from the road.  We can categorically say there won't be any trains tonight as we saw 2 (1 in each direction) go by between 1-2pm.  I thought the Ghan passenger train might go through but Neil said that is on Thursday.  This train line follows this road to Pootnara which is about 80km away.  

 look at that train line wouldn't it make the best rail trail!!!
So as some of you may know we are on our Vita Brits dinners now and we have 4 each, small handful of dried fruit and nuts and yoghurt - we bought yoghurt at Marla 2 x 1kg pottles at $7 a kilo!  It is so cold that we don't need a fridge to store it and we eat so much of it it doesn't last long enough to warrant the need for it to be refridgerated!
 Neil is yet to put his yoghurt on when I took this photo.
I think we may try to get up early again to do some kilometers before the wind.  But I  suspect this wind will be stronger tomorrow as it is meant to be even colder than today!

Day 2 - to another bushcamp!
Okay we didn't manage to get up earlier this morning as it was too cold to get out of bed and we have found that it is pointless getting up early when it is so cold as we pack up slower than what we would if we waited until the sun creeps over the horizon to warm us up!
But once up we were quick to have brekky and pack up and be on the road around 8.15am - the wind was just beginning to blow gently at that time.  It didn't really start blowing until just after 9am and from then on it really blew hard all day - we knew todays wind would be stronger than yesterdays but we weren't quite expecting just how bitingly cold it was - we rode in all our layers all day and never built up a sweat!
We resumed our drafting ritual and just plodded along.  We passed Cadney homestead and it is a small place and there were a few caravaners there.  From here the landscape resumed its usual sparsely vegetated state and we chose a good camp spot last night, no trains last night!
Not much to see today just a couple of horses at our coffee spot 30km down the road.  Not covering much distance at the moment - sitting on around 13km per hour -sometimes up to 15 and sometimes down to 10km per hour.  The wind is coming from the south and is about 30km per hour, it is a full frontal wind for most of the day.  We realise now that we will not make Coober Pedy tomorrow but instead will make it Friday.  We discuss that we will try for 5 hours and see how far we get.  
Around lunchtime the clouds building up in the south reach us and our sun disappears so it begins to get really cold now!  Riding along and Neil says there is a dingo ahead and I manage to just see it as it gets of the road and into the bushes, it is not running just jogging along and it did glance down the road at us - that is my 2nd wild dingo ever - I think I saw one up with you Dad at Kakadu?
Unfortunately it was impossible to get a photo of it as a truck was bearing down on us and it wasn't an ideal spot to pull over.
At the end of every 1 hour of drafting we pull over and take a break and upon this one we let Kouta run around as there was alot of red dirt and bushes rather than stones which is common around here.  We said we would go for 1 more hour or until this bushline ended (whichever came first) - this is good bushcamping area with plenty of space for the tent and mulgar bushes for shelter from the wind.  
You could say Kouta chose this spot to camp as he refused to get back in the trailer, while Neil and I stood at the bikes telling him to get in the trailer he steadfastly refused to budge and stayed by the bushes, when Neil went to get him he took off and started to play and dart about (it must be the steriods he's on as we have to give him some tablets as he didn't like the grass at Marla!).  We ummmed and ahhhhhed and said oh well we are 100km from Coober Pedy we will do another 50 odd tomorrow and then another 50 into Coober Pedy on Friday - Kouta was happy with the decision - lets hope we can find a spot tomorrow - as we get closer to Coober Pedy the landscape gets really barren and not many places to bushcamp!
As soon as we moved the bikes off the road Kouta is dancing around, running ahead, looking back to see if we are following - he was very strange indeed.  I think today was just too windy and cold for him and he just didn't want to go any further!
Here is the bushcamp site he chose ...

 Day 3 - to yet another bushcamp!
Okay day 3 and it is getting harder and harder to get out of bed and start the day when you know what is ahead of you!  So after yesterdays cloudy afternoon we were rewarded with a sensational sunset as there was still cloud around
 This morning there was only a few clouds around so it promised to be a sun shining day but as the day wore on the clouds got thicker and more of them.  By lunchtime the clouds took up most of the sky and it was cold, now (4pm) the clouds have broken and there is intermittent sun ... enough to warm you up.
Again the wind was coming from the south and around 25-30km per hour.  The road is swinging towards the south east more now so the wind is coming on our right which means that as trucks coming in the opposite direction to us their turbulence at the back of the truck as it passes us creates a situation where you feel like you have just hit a brick wall and momentarily stop while riding your bike!  LOL really you drop from 12km per hour to around 7km per hour and have to restart again.  Fortunately not too many trucks around today!
We did see something we have never seen before and that is the machine that creates the rumble strip on the side of the road that is suppose to wake you up if you start to drift off the road, well it is not very high tech just a small slow machine that blobs out some special thick paint mixture to create the lump - it must dry very quickly as cars can drive over it.  This little machine is driven by someone who is continually looking down a small gap so he can see the existing white line to put the rumble strips on and then in front and him is a truck that has pulled over and the driver is putting bags of this special paint mixture into a machine that must do something and then that is transferred to the rumble strip machine and there is also another truck that follows behind to warn everyone that there is line marking ahead - he also must have been carrying the pallets of paint mix as he had empty pallets.  So far they have only done the north bound side - glad he hasn't done the south bound side as I detest those rumble strips!
So today we tried to draft but gave up after the first hour - I was fed up trying to control the bike whenever I was behind Neil as Kouta is a mover and it is just too hard fighting with the steering of the bike with him!  
Most of the day our view was this 
 a good title for this photo is 'looking for a bushcamp!'
Not much out here but scrub and stones! We had a cuppa at Pootnoura rest area (29km south of our bushcamp) and picked up a little bit of water as we don't need much as we are not drinking as much as it is cold and we are not sweating.
At about 55km north of Coober Pedy we saw our first 'danger' sign - in fact these 2 were close together ...

 For the red and white one we expect to see alot more and I suspect some of the pictures and words will be altered so I will keep an eye out for them tomorrow!
At the 53km marker to Coober Pedy we start to look for a bushcamp and there is not much choice around!  We can see ahead that there are some scrawny shrubs that are a little taller than us so we head for that.  The trick is to find an area that is relatively clear big enough for the tent and we finally found this one
 you can see we are not far from the road but there is not much traffic and generally people don't look.
Glad to get the tent up and to climb in out of the wind.  We have a good wash as our last shower was on Monday and it has been a bit cold the past few nights so our washes have been somewhat brief!  My hair has not seen daylight since Tuesday morning - it has been under my beanie so I had a serious case of flat hair syndrome so I quickly washed it with water and while I was washing myself with my back to the wind my hair dried and I ended up with what I call a 'tail wind' hairstyle (the wind blowing from behind) so I am not sure which is worse flat hair or tail wind hair ... here is a selfie of the tail wind look
 crikey it looks like I have had an electric shock!
Tomorrow is another 50km day to Coober Pedy - we will endeavour to get up early to make the day easier - I have been saying that for the past 3 mornings and have never followed through - looking forward to the Geelong vs. Carlton game tomorrow night! (Friday)

Day 4 - to Coober Pedy
we just have the worse luck with weather - we set the alarm for 5am and it goes off and we both wake and what do you think we can hear outside - wind and rain!!! can you believe that!  The one morning we DO manage to get up early and the wind also decides to get up early!  The rain wasn't so bad just the odd shower or 2, so we have brekky in the tent and when we think the showers have passed we finish packing up.  Here is Neil on our rather gloomy grey morning around 7.15am
 Coober Pedy is 50km away and will take us over 4 hours to get there.  Again the wind is blowing from the south and is about 30km per hour so I think we will be sitting on around 10km per hour!
You begin to see the first signs of opal mining about 35km north of Coober Pedy
 if you look to the left of the photo you will see the miners 'duncan'!!!  At about 20km out you really start to see more mounds closer together and basically they take up your panorama view both sides of the road ...

 you do begin to wonder why don't they take the mound from the second hole dug to fill in the first hole they dug when looking for opals?
At the 20km mark I had had enough I was over this wind, sick off going 10km per hour and feeling like we are getting no where!  The wind is cold, my toes are numb, my nose is running, basically I am ready to pull over, set up the tent and stay put until this wind blows out (next week apparently!).  Poor Neil, had to listen to my ranting and raving as I pulled over for a break.  I think he is feeling it too!
 To make matters worse the road is wiggling its way to Coober Pedy (if it went in a straight line it would be less distance to Coober Pedy!
So basically for the final 2 hours into Coober Pedy I spent cursing everything - I cursed the road engineer that allows you to see Coober Pedy at 15km just east of you and he decides to put the road west ward and south and makes you do extra kms instead of a straight road into Coober Pedy, then I thought it has to wiggle due to the mines so I started cursing the miners and why didn't they back fill their holes so it is not a massive area of holes and then the road can just go straight.  I then began to curse the wind and mother nature and why does it have to blow so damn hard, and then this led to cursing the council and why don't they plant trees along the roadside to block this wind and then I started to curse the road makers as to why didn't they use smaller gravel to make the roads smoother instead of the large chunks of gravel and then I am back to cursing the road engineer who has told the road makers to use the large chunks of gravel and then I just cursed Tony Abbott simply because I can!!! Ha, Ha, Ha ... it was a tough day!
Just before the turnoff to Coober Pedy there is a working mine that you can take tours on or just walk through (for a price) or just do some noodling in the pile of dirt they have left there (this part is free!)
As you get closer to town there are alot of, what I call, salt and pepper shakers that the miners use ...
 a few small diggers are around and I suppose they do the bulk of the hole making ...
very relieved to get here and we are staying at the caravan park we both stayed in previously.  The showers cost 20 cents for 4 mins and since I haven't had a shower for 4  days I sort of couldn't wash in 4 minutes so I used 40 cents.
Looking forward to Geelong game tonight!

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