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Looking into the mirror at Sandfire Plain, WA

 

Stories

Tour 9: Broome to Port Hedland

Fellow Travellers…

When we were in Broome we met a 19-year-old cyclist, ‘Taka’. We knew the next section was going to be tough and we asked him if he wanted to ride with us. He accepted our invitation in broken English. The three of us left Roebuck Roadhouse together. Taka soon left us behind so we thought ‘oh well he rides much faster then us’ and let him disappear over the horizon. We were a little worried though because in the 35-40?C heat, he was wearing a singlet shirt and no hat or sunglasses. Later we came across him lying under a shrub. At first we thought he was just having a break, but he was exhausted. We got him to drink some water and after a bit he perked up and rode with us, much slower this time.

That night he was too exhausted to cook dinner, so he just had a cigarette and went to sleep. The next day he went to leave without eating any breakfast either, so we made him eat some of ours. As the day went on he got slower and slower and at each break he would fall asleep. His lunch consisted of a packet of M&Ms and an apple. That night, at least he had rice for dinner, with a cigarette. The third day he couldn’t keep up with us, we waited but we were in a bind too, not having enough food to do this section slowly. Then Taka’s tyre blew. He didn’t have a spare and he refused to take mine. We tried several makeshift repairs, but all to no avail. In a way it was a godsend for him because he had little choice but to take a lift to Port Hedland, and stop torturing himself like this.

In our conversations with him, we had managed to find out that he didn’t really enjoy the cycling. That amazed us because at this stage we were completely addicted and couldn’t think of a better way to see this country. From riding with him, we realised why he wasn’t having fun. He didn’t protect himself from the sun, he didn’t pace himself, he didn’t refuel his body with nourishing food and he didn’t plan his riding around the heat. No wonder he hated it. But it was easy for us to say. At this stage we had been on the road for 8 months. We had slowly been able to work out the best ways to deal with the conditions. This was the start of Taka’s ride in Australia. Talk about throwing yourself in the deep end!

When we tried to get a lift for him, quite a few cars passed by, which was disappointing. Finally a real Aussie couple stopped, and squeezed Taka and his bike in. Taka was very thankful to us when he left. A month or so later we got a joyous email from him, he had made it to Perth and he was happy.

The message from this is that you can make riding as hard or as easy as you want to. You can do it as a challenge and be happy at the end if you succeed, or you can do it as a journey and enjoy the ups and downs as you go.

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Daintree | Great Barrier Reef | The Gulf Track | Kakadu | Kimberly | Gibb River Road | The Pilbara | Ningaloo | Shark Bay | Rottnest Island