Port Wakefield to Port Pirie
Up = 413m - Down = 417m - Highest Point = 169m
PORT WAKEFIELD TO PORT PIRIE - 18th AUGUST 2017
Up bright and early – and we were keen to put in a full days riding so were off and cycling by 7:15 am. I guess we were all feeling just a little despondent about yesterday’s “effort”. There had certainly been no shortage of effort – just with the strength of the wind and then the freezing cold showers our energy levels were zapped. Combined with the danger of wet roads it all added up to the need to end the day earlier than we had expected to. But – today is a new day!!
A new thing for me on this ride is having such a large “crew”. Normally it is just Pat – who follows along behind us at a discreet distance. Her “van” has a sign in the back window warning traffic of cyclists ahead to alert them of our presence. Because she has done so many – well ALL – of the trips I have done, she is familiar with the vagaries that can occur. She is able to gauge our progress pretty well, and understand that when the going is good we can travel greater distances between rest stops than when the going is bad. Should we get a puncture, Pat always manages to show up with the big pump and encouragement while we wrestle with fixing it. When we are in areas of mobile coverage it is easy as we can ring between each other, when there is no mobile service (something that would occur frequently on this journey) Pat's job is a bit harder as she needs to "hover" a bit back from us.
This is the 4th long distance ride Annie and I have done together, and I have to say, biking with Annie is a dream! We have similar biking styles and abilities and we just seem to sense when lead changes need to be made, stops need to be made etc etc. During this trip we clocked up 12,000 kms of riding together - through good times and not so good times - a pretty good achievement I reckon - and a lifetime of fabulous memories!! I have been most fortunate that Annie and I seem to just be on the same level, as was Don when he rode with us, and I thank you very much Annie for your great companionship and support! I also appreciated that for Annie on this ride she didn't have the support of Don, Annie had to be extra specially tough mentally as not being able to share your thoughts and emotions with someone close, and as well not have Don there for his assistance with all the things that need to be done on a daily basis gave her a lot more to cope with on this ride too.
This time there were some different aspects to the ride. We had a “newbie” riding with us. I am frequently asked by fellow riders if they can ride with me, and Liz had expressed her desire to do one of these rides on many previous occasions. For varying reasons she hadn’t been able to make other rides, but this time she did. I’ve ridden with Liz quite a few times at home, and watched via facebook how she goes in various rides, and I thought she’d fit in well and enjoy the experience.
This type of riding is quite different and certain qualities are required. They are hard to put a handle on – one of course is a similar biking ability, another do we get along, another strength of character to knuckle down when the going gets tough, the ability to be flexible, and above all - the ability to put up with me!! I notice that most long distance cyclists ride solo – and I guess that is because it is hard to find people who meet these criteria.
Pat and I will normally talk through the day ahead briefly with “suggested” stopping points. Sometimes we need to stop earlier, most often we make “the target” and on occasions we ride straight through a planned stop opting to get to the destination earlier for a longer rest there!
This time with the extended crew travelling in two large caravans, I had to consider that they weren’t able to just pull over and stop as easily as the campervan could. I also knew nothing of the roads ahead as to where it would be suitable – and of course – communicating the vagaries of our stops would become an issue once we got into areas where there was no mobile service. I have to be honest, and say, this was an added "burden" to my planning, and although I had used Wikicamps, googlemaps and an old Camps8 book, the info was often incorrect and distances etc not accurate. In the early stages of the ride, I found it very frustrating that I had to put a lot more thought into the "forward" plans and the worry of "if" there would be a suitable place to stop instead of just riding my bike and enjoying the days!! The plus side of the forward crew was all the encouraging words Bette would give us as they cruised past us between stops, and always the offer of a cup of tea or coffee when we did take a break!!
The first “stop” or “meet up” we had was scheduled for today was Lochiel. Our elevation profile showed climbing for the early part of the day and then downhill.
The biggest concern when we set off was the strength of the wind. I always like to head off as early as possible as generally winds are at their lowest and increase as the days wear on. The weather forecast showed showers, and light westerly winds turning south westerly but getting stronger – certainly not ideal. It ended up being a gradual climb from the outset, with a couple of real climbs thrown in – but we got there.
At Lochiel, (32 kms into the day) we just had a toilet stop and touched base with the crew and decided to press on to Snowtown. Of course this town is well known as the home of the Barrel Murderer – as our followers on facebook all commented when we posted from there!
I had felt my bike wasn't rolling very well when we turned off to Snowtown and when I went to cross the railway line realized – oh hell – a front wheel puncture! I was only a couple for hundred metres from the coffee shop, so I "pushed-bike" – and then Des and Pat went about fixing the puncture most efficiently. It seemed a small piece of wire had pierced the tyre and tube. Luckily they could do this repair well off the road and in a picnic area of Snowtown.
Our forward "crew" had received advice by RT from truckies to take the loop road into Snowtown for coffee at a Café in Snowtown instead of the roadhouse/servo. Service was rather slow, but the food was nice – coffee only ordinary. When we came back out to continue, Annie wondered why her bike wouldn’t go forward – then she remembered she had locked it!! That was so funny.
As we had ridden into Snowtown we had seen quite a few wind turbines to the left – on Snowtown one of the “blades” was there for all to see. Seeing one at ground level you realise just how big they are!! Seeing turbines is also a sign that it is a windy area - not this cyclists friend!!
Next stop was Redhill – again to meet up with crew and take on board energy foods!! There was a cute statue of a horse and plough by the “servo”. Just a quick stop this time to snack and continue on our way. It is easy to stop and get involved in long conversations on these breaks, but there is the need to press on as they can take a lot of time out of a day. I personally prefer to keep them short so that I can get to my destination earlier in the day and spend a relaxing part day looking around the area and resting up for the next day's ride.
On we went – progress slowed as the wind had picked up – not that it really helped or hindered us – but it was there as a side wind. We had a heavy downpour just after we left so feet and socks got nicely soaked. It wasn’t too warm at all – in fact the feet stayed like blocks of ice until we finished for the day! I think we all had abut 5 layers of clothes on too, trying to keep warm!
Betty and Barry decided to continue to Pt Augusta while our stop for the night was Pt Pirie. Energy levels were low for the last 25 kms but we battled on and were thrilled to have completed day 2!
Some observations – the traffic was very courteous to us as riders. Des who has a CB radio said he hadn’t heard any “derogatory” comments about the cyclists – although many trucks had talked to others saying there were 3 cyclists on the road. That’s great!
There were plenty of "Oversize" loads – and they gave us plenty of room, and as well a wide load with a pilot truck gave us the long toooooooot – which means look out! We had prepared for this when we had seen the pilot vehicle pass us, so we went off the tarseal and stopped just as it whooshed past us.
The shoulders have varied in width and type of seal, much of which is the very coarse type metal chip and this makes riding hard work!! The continual shaking is felt right through the upper body by the end of the day. The few occasions we had smooth seal were absolute bliss!
The countryside we rode through today seemed very fertile, with lots of beef farming and a good deal of cropping in the area. There also seemed to be fish-farming going on.
We could see all the small villages as we approached them by spotting the large silos. Some areas were very “exposed” to the sea on the west, and the winds certainly picked up whipping across the plains. The fact that there were several wind turbines confirms it as a very windy area!! We were pretty much along the train line all day, but – not one was sighted!!
Our stop at Port Pirie Caravan Park was a lovely one. We were assigned a nice grassed area that we could all fit on, and not too far from the ablution block. A hot shower at the end of a big biking day in cold weather is absolute bliss and aids greatly in helping the old body straighten out and recover.
Pat and I took a brief drive into Port Pirie late that afternoon to see what was there and pick up some things we had forgotten to in Adelaide!
PORT WAKEFIELD CARAVAN PARK
PORT PIRIE BEACH CARAVAN PARK