Coober Pedy to Cadney Homestead
Up = 518m - Down = 442m - Highest Point = 292m
COOBER PEDY TO CADNEY HOMESTEAD - 26th August 2017
On last year's ride across USA, Sheila had specially asked to support the day we were to ride from Tupelo to Hamilton, with the reason being "Hamilton" was her mother's maiden name. I love links like that - its the way I think too!! For a combination of reasons we had to take an alternate route that day so didn't end up in Hamilton which was a shame. Today tho - that can't happen - there is no alternate route - we have to go this way!!
While we had a 170 km day scheduled for day 4 – that actually turned into one day of 102 kms and our “rest day” was the other 70 kms! Today the schedule said 151 kms – so the longest day to date. I had been checking on weather.com and it seemed as if the weather would at some stage of today come from every quarter!! But the pleasing thing was that the winds would only be light – 16 kph at the maximum. That was good news. It was also supposed to be a cloudy day with no chance of precipitation – also great news for cycling!!
We had decided to get away as soon as possible after daybreak – which meant departing around about 7:00 am. The team was ready bright and early, so once we had packed up from our van site, we headed over to Annie’s motel unit and packed her gear into the van – and we were off!!
I keep forgetting what day it is – so had to remind myself it was Saturday. The traffic was very light – excellent. It amazed me all the “diggings” and I guess small mines on either side of the road as we headed out. I wondered if these were still “working” or is that just how they get left?? If they are left like that – I feel it is a real shame for the landscape. A very stark reminder of how humans treat our earth – all about money – plunder the opals – and leave a mess!!
Our first meet up point was to be at 45 kms at a spot marked as a Dingo Fence / Truck Stop. I have to say – I didn’t see a Dingo Fence – but there was a truck stop where we refuelled and stretched our bodies. There had been a few drips of water from the sky – but it didn’t turn into rain thankfully.
A few kilometres past the rest stop there was a herd of cattle roadside – and I think we were all feeling a bit nervous as we rode past a pretty rugged looking bull who kept his eye on us at all times. I was wondering if it was going to dash out across the road and give chase – fortunately – he just watched!!
Also spotted to the right was a group of wild? horses – adults and foals who galloped off when they saw us. It has actually amazed us how wild livestock can stand still while road trains go past and yet the sight of us cyclists scares the living daylights out of them and they take off.
The first 60 kms of today had been a steady climb – not a high percentage incline, just a long, never-ending crawl upwards. Again a mixture of road surfaces - and still the shaking through the handlebars from the coarse stone chip used in the seal.
A day of riding after a rest day is always a funny one – for Annie, she was feeling better, “in the zone” and riding well. I was feeling pretty good – I have felt myself riding into better bike fitness as each day goes by. For some inexplicable reason, Liz was finding the going hard this morning, and by the time we got to our second rest stop at Pootnoura she was in a heap of pain. Annie and I had been having to hold back, which while you might think going slower would be easier – from my perspective taking me out of my natural pedal stroke rhythm made it harder not easier.
We couldn’t afford to have a long stop due to the number of kms still to be covered, but we did have a piece of fruit and a piece of the cake Liz had made the night before. I don’t know what she put in it – but along with a couple of Panadol and nurofen – Liz was off again. She was so close to giving up until the next stop where she could join back in – but we decided the next stop was only 15 kms on and we would see how she was going then.
While we travelled alongside the railway line early in the ride – it had been several kms west of us for quite sometime until we were about 80 kms into today. I spotted 2 goods trains today – both travelling north. I keep hoping I could see the Ghan again.
Roadkill today wasn’t too bad – at one recently deceased roo there was a huge wedgetail eagle getting his meal – a spectacular bird. As well we have seen many zebra finches and cockatiels. The bird life in the desert is quite prolific.
Annie and I decided we would take turns in the lead, thus relieving Liz of that task. At the 90 km point Liz was showing signs of improvement, but I wanted to get to the 110 km mark before we had a more major stop for hot drinks and lunch. Again, Annie and I alternated the lead and we pulled into the Matheson Bore stop for a good break. We had done pretty well all things considered, but in the back of my mind was a weather forecast I had seen which had shown the wind would be head on between 1:00 and 2:00 and I wanted to be stopped during that period.
I almost had an “incident” pulling into the last “rest stop”. Where the tarseal runs out and becomes dirt / metal, I had my brakes on and was slowing to stop to get off my bike. I don’t like riding through these rough areas, thinking puncture or thinking fall!!. There was a loud “bang” and then I was sort of “bucked” off my bike. Fortunately not badly as I was almost stopped. I then went to walk forward and my bike wouldn’t go!! Crewman “Barry” noticed that a large stone (small rock) had lodged itself firmly in my back brakes and locked the whole wheel. Barry worked it out (thank you Barry) – and on I went again!!! It was something similar to this (except on the front wheel) that occurred to Annie in America and caused her to have quite a nasty fall – so I was lucky!!
For the few kms prior to the lunch stop the road surface had been a very coarse stone which not only shook the bikes – also shook us, really going right through our wrists, arms and shoulders and playing hell on our bums!! It slowed progress and made riding very uncomfortable.
I have to give a huge thanks to the Gilberts truckies – their respect of us as cyclists on the road has been amazing!! In fact stock trucks and other road trains have also been fabulous – we can’t complain at all. If anything, it is the caravanners that are the ones that can pass a little too close.
The final 40 kms saw us grinding away on this terrible surface – it would stop for a few kms and then start again. So uncomfortable!! But not too long after 4:00 pm we turned into Cadney Homestead – phew – we had made it!! Bookings had been made for 2 powered sites by phone – but no-one knew anything about it. A lot of staff in these places seems to be back-packers and of very transient nature. This girl spoke very little English. However, we jammed onto small sites so we all had power, then had the most wonderful part of the day – a hot shower to soothe the weary body.
Incentive to get the day done had been provided by Bette who had bought Danish pastries from the bakery in Coober Pedy that morning and promised us one each when we got in. They went down a treat Bette – thank you VERY much!!
Pat and I cooked dinner in the van – we had bought a couple of meat meals the day before in Coober Pedy. The others had tea in the roadhouse – “mansize” meals the girls reported. There was no mobile contact or internet here. Annie was able to get a message through to Don from the phone box at the roadhouse.
Special thanks to my Scottish born, New Zealand friend, Sheila for supporting the Indigenous Literacy Foundation so generously. Sheila's love of books is legendary, and she is outstanding at her "craft" of book-binding. I always loved the logo she had for an expo she organised many years ago in Auckland. When Sheila visits next month, she will bring books from New Zealand authors that I will arrange to have distributed to indigenous children.
Sheila and I met through our mutual love of the adorable breed of dogs - the Boston Terrier!