The Outback is not a very hospitable place for bicyclists (mostly thanks to the flies and wind), and you can be assured that I would not be bicycling across it were it not the middle of Australia's winter.
Until now, the sun and the heat have not been too great of obstacles (the rain has had a far more detrimental effect on my morale).
I have waking up late and riding through the hottest hours of the day without much difficulty. But that was, strangely enough, in the middle of the desert. Now that I entering the tropics, adaptation has been forced upon me.
Despite my love for the beaches of Brazil and beautiful summer days in the Sierra, the sun and I have never been the best of friends – especially when that wretched fireball brings on bouts of uncontrollable sweating and burns my fair and fragile skin.
The average winter temperatures for where I've been until now are:
The average winter temperature in Darwin (where I'm now only 198 mi / 318 km away from)? 87°F / 30.6°C – with about 70% humidity and an average UV Index of 8 (very high).
In other words, the last days of my ride will likely involve a lot of night riding (something I've only done once until now).
This change in climate has seen my shirt being taken over by salty strips of dried sweat, and my nipples, my poor sensitive nipples, beginning to chafe.
My current plan to combat nipple chafe is to ride in the nude. I wonder how it will go over with the locals.
Regardless of my biking garb for my journey's final stretch, I'm becoming confident that I will be making it to my destination in Darwin.
I already completed a 126 mi / 203 km day, so theoretically I could be finished the day after tomorrow.
But then what?
I've reached the moment I dread in every adventure – the moment I know it's going to end. The entire time I've been on the road I've had only one goal: cross the Outback and make it to Darwin. But now, the likelihood of me accomplishing that goal is increasing exponentially with each passing day, and soon the journey will be over.
There's nothing waiting for me in Darwin except a return to the life I've been riding away from for the past two months.
I wonder if we end up feeling the same way about our lives should we somehow come to know when we're going to die.
Best to not dwell on these questions.
- START: Larrimah, Northern Territory
- END: King River, Northern Territory
- DAY'S DISTANCE: 87.01 mi / 140.03 km
- TOTAL DISTANCE: 2,197.45 mi / 3,536.47 km