A long and lonely day in the Outback – basically what I have come to expect from this ride.
One hundred fifty-five miles (250 km) of desolate Outback road sits between Glendambo and Coober Pedy, and I have guessed that this trip will take me three days (based on the distances I've been riding until now).
Yesterday, day one of this stretch, was plagued by massive headwinds and as a result, I saw a massive drop in both morale and mileage (55.6 mi / 89.48 km for the day).
Today I am lucky enough to find that the wind has disappeared; so I take advantage.
The result? My longest ride of the entire trip (so far): 91.75 mi / 147.66 km.
Today I see more of what I've come to expect on this ride, a couple eagles and dozens of dead kangaroos (I've yet to see one alive in the Outback).
Despite the lack of conscious wildlife I've encountered, the eagles (or hawks, or falcons, or pterodactyls or whatever) are massive and glorious (and usually feasting upon their fallen animal brethren). I remain optimistic that the frequency with which I encounter live animals will increase as I draw nearer to the center of the continent.
As the sun dips to meet the horizon, I make it to the Ingomar Rest Area.
There's nothing particularly special about this place – just an emergency phone, covered picnic tables, and oversize vehicle parking. Two caravans have already set up for the night when I arrive (I've come to realize that the caravaners really take their time driving across the Outback).
The two caravans are soon joined by a train of three more. Three more whom I would soon learn to be “the party people”.
And so begins my second encounter with the Grey Nomads.
One of the crew steps out and loudly announces their arrival to me with a “You decided to camp next to the party people tonight!” Technically, they decided to camp next to me, but I suppose I can overlook this minor detail should they prove to be all that they claim.
After filling my belly with candy and cheese (the fuel I've been living off for most of this trip), I head over to their encampment to make contact.
They generously offer me not only an assortment of cheese (more fuel!), crackers, and dips, but also bug repellant (good for mosquitoes, does nothing for flies), wine, beer, and – wait for it – a (cooked) steak dinner complete with salad and cake for desert.
As my dinner gets grilled on a trash can lid atop a fire built in the guts of an old washing machine, I enjoy friendly conversation with my six newest friends. These people are incredible.
They began their day today where I left four days ago, and they are heading east to take a flight around Lake Eyre – the lowest natural point in Australia and the country's largest lake (on the rare occasion it happens to have water).
It would seem that my making the extra effort to get here today was a wise decision.
Now if only I could somehow replicate this every night.
- START: Lake Ross, South Australia
- END: Ingomar Rest Area, South Australia
- DAY'S DISTANCE: 91.75 mi / 147.66 km
- TOTAL DISTANCE: 979.82 mi / 1,576.58 km