Fifty-five days and 2,290 miles (3,685 km) without serious incident – my bicycle trip across Australia appears to be going smashingly.
That is, until today; because today, I was forced to roll the “Days Without An Accident” counter back to zero.
Yes, today I fell off of my bike (while it was moving).
And what was responsible for this disastrous twist of fate? Apples.
Paul and his apples.
While taking one of my now traditional mid-day breaks to escape the horribleness that is Australian tropics, I met a fellow cyclist: Mr. Paul.
Paul is only the sixth person traveling via bicycle I've met in my near two-month journey across Australia; he's only the third who has demonstrated any interest in interacting with his bicycle-touring brethren (that's me).
This happens to be quite fortunate for me since my rear rim has been rubbing against my brakes and I cannot figure out how to fix it. Turns out I need to tighten my spokes. Do I know how to properly do this? No. Does Paul? You bet your ass he does.
We find a grassy roadside patch to retire to and go about repairing my bike. Our efforts are met with success and I am immediately and forever indebted to this wondrous man.
But what happens next calls into question everything I've ever known about Paul.
“Hey, let's ride down to the pub and see if they're still open,” Paul suggests.
“I knew I liked you, Paul. Let's do it.”
And so off we go – down to the pub – on our bikes.
Paul leads as I watch the reusable shopping bag on the back of his bike bounce up and down with each passing imperfection in the road. The bag looks secure, but as we gain speed and the ride becomes increasingly bumpy, said bag takes on a life of its own and now appears to be attempting an escape from its prison on the back of Paul's bicycle.
Suddenly, before I have a chance to instinctively shout something to the extent of “YOUR BAG IS ABOUT TO FALL FROM YOUR BICYCLE!” (which wouldn't have changed anything), the bag leaps from Paul's bike and lands in front of me, spilling a dozen apples all over the road.
I hit the first one head on, and as I try to maintain control and maneuver out of the oncoming onslaught of fruit, my front wheel catches another and it's over.
In true slow motion fashion, I fall backward – feet still clipped into my pedals – and absorb the full impact of the road below me with the right side of my body. I then proceed into a three-second slide across the ground to ensure I fully appreciate the meaning behind the words road rash.
Luckily, the street is free of cars and I am wearing my helmet.
I can't help myself from laughing at the image of what has just happened, and after a quick shake of my extremities I appear to be relatively unscathed.
The worst part of the whole thing (besides the huge loss of fruit)? The pub is closed.
I guess there's always the next town.
- START: Katherine, Northern Territory
- END: Pine Creek, Northern Territory
- DAY'S DISTANCE: 65.98 mi / 106.18 km
- TOTAL DISTANCE: 2,294.96 mi / 3,693.38 km