Friday 7th March
Madura – Cocklebiddy
“Rob, wake up mate. It’s 5am.” I heard from outside the tent. I had slept solid. My legs felt like tree stumps and didn’t want to move. I gave a groan and a mumble but eventually got out of bed.
There was no sign of wind at this hour, and the moon and the stars were the only light providers. The temperature was still warm enough to not have to wear a jumper, which made it easy to pack everything up around the camp, and not worry about it later. It took me a little while to pack all of my gear up because I had been fixing my rear wheel before bed. But we got it all done. We were told the water from the toilet block was drinkable so we went and filled our water supplies in the laundry. It has been really important to fill our supplies everyday. Harv carry’s two 6ltr bags of water, and I carry one big 10ltr bag.
We were off to our first good early start. No problems yet, and it felt good. We had a vegemite sandwich each, and a Powerbar, and left the caravan to tackle the first hill for the day.
After 1km of hill climb, it was all cruising from there. We set a good pace and we’re averaging about 23kms an hour. Riding in the dark was nice, because it kind of takes your mind away from looking at the speedo on the bike, or looking at the signs on the road to see how far you have left to get to the next town. I had my headphones in and listened to some music, and enjoyed the stars around me. Feeling good. Our water was cool, and we drank plenty of it. The sky filled with shades of violet and blue, and the sun rose at our backs. With only 20kms to go I started noticing small amounts of flies starting to creep their way into my nostrils, but it was bearable. Breakfast was on the way.
We turned up to Madura roadhouse after about 4 hours of riding. We sat down and hopped into a big breakfast. It was so great to get some riding out of the way early, and have everything run smoothly for once.
Outside the temperature was rising, and the wind and the flies were getting out of control. After breakfast we got changed out of the bike gear and made the decision to stick around at the roadhouse for the day, as it was pointless to try and get any more riding done until it cooled down.
The staff at the roadhouse were cool with us to sit inside at the bar and chill out for the day. I spent some time updating the tour diary, and for most of the day we spent our time sharpening our freshly discovered, not to flash dart-playing skills. And by the end of the day I think we managed to get some sense of accuracy, until we got sick of playing darts all day. My appetite was back, so for most of the day all I wanted to do was eat, and it was hard not to be tempted by the roadhouse menu. I think by the end of the day we both ended up racking up a bill of around $70 each. It was quite entertaining hoping into some good tucker, but proved an expensive exercise.
We had planned to wait for the heat to calm down, and then ride another 65kms to Caiguna. We spent some time studying the map, to see what kind of challenges await. We noticed that after Caiguna the only stop before Norseman was Balladonia. The ride either side of Balladonia was around 180kms. The only way to ride this section comfortably would to ride at night. On such a long ride, its important to stay hydrated, and riding night is the only way to keep the water cool enough to drink. So we decided to stay the night in Cocklebiddy, rise early, ride to Caiguna, and then sleep through the day to try and charge some energy for a long ride in the night to Balladonia.
Eventually the temperature cooled down, and after deciding to stay the night, we actually had a bit of time to sit around and play some music. We sat out the front of the roadhouse and had a bit of a jam on the guitar. The heat had thrown the neck of the guitar all out of wack, so it wasn’t sounding to flash, but it was still fun to play some tunes.
The tents were set up the tents to the side of the roadhouse so that we didn’t have to spend any more money for the day. We had a shower before bed so we didn’t have to waist any time in the morning. I set my tent up so that I could lie down and look at the stars. The night sky was amazing. It was tempting to lie there and look at the milky glow all night, but sleep was even more tempting and eventually I drifted off.