I’ve had my differences with the wind before, but the amount of frustration this large-scale flow of gases has caused me since setting out on my mission to cross Australia via bicycle trumps all my past experience.
I can now assure you with near-absolute certainty that the world offers few sufferings worse than riding a bicycle directly into the wind (except maybe Greyhound bus rides).
From the outset of my journey, all between Melbourne to Adelaide, the wind blasted me in the face nearly the entire time (I have since learned that Australian winds circulate counter-clockwise; aka I chose to ride in the wrong direction).
However, the wind encountered during those first two weeks of riding was nothing compared to what I have seen in the Outback.
Today, with the help of my friend the wind, I completed my slowest 5 mi / 8 km section of the ride: 41 minutes 37 seconds.
That’s an average speed of 7.3 mph / 11.7 kph. To provide some context, average marathon runners maintain a pace of around 6 mph / 9.7 kph; elite marathon runners maintain a speed of around 11.8 mph / 19 kph.
Basically, I can’t even ride faster than people run.
In case you’re thinking, “Okay, well Mac, obviously you’re whining and clearly making too much out of this situation,” here’s further evidence of the wind’s power.
Fully loaded my bike (including me) weighs somewhere in the neighborhood of 265 lbs / 120 kg. When heading downhill – even after fully exerting myself via furious pedaling – the wind is quick to bring me to a complete stop .
Yes, I need to pedal downhill to keep from stopping (I almost prefer riding uphill since climbs partially shield from the wind).
And what happens when we stop in the desert? Yes, even with the wind, the flies somehow find their way to me.
There’s no winning against nature’s wrath.
I am not exaggerating when I say that during many of these “ride directly into the wind” times, I want to just fall off my bike on the side of the road and just cry in the dirt.
My goal for the day is Coober Pedy, and after some hard-fought miles, I finally make it to what’s apparently the greatest tourist attraction in South Australia.
We’ll see about that.
After some pizza.
- START: Ingomar Rest Area, South Australia
- END: Coober Pedy, South Australia
- DAY’S DISTANCE: 57.38 mi / 92.34 km
- TOTAL DISTANCE: 1,037.2 mi / 1,669.21 km