I've officially completed the first week of my bicycling journey, and I've gone from knowing next to nothing to slightly more than nothing.
Today, instead of describing what it is I did or saw (pedaled and a lot of sheep), I will talk about what I've learned from being on the road with a bicycle.
And this isn't even the half of it.
- HEADWIND | Most people express concern over things like snakes and spiders when they hear “bicycle across Australia”. Nobody thinks to warn you of the wind. Yes, the headwinds (that's wind blowing in your face) I have encountered thus far have made my trip far more miserable than any snake or spider ever will. Yes, ever. Because even if the snake or spider kills me, at least I would go quickly.
- GLASS | The roads of Australia (and probably elsewhere in the world) are lined with an alarming amount of broken glass. I can't imagine where it all comes from. Car accidents? Littering? Lightning? Trying to avoid the glass requires surgical precision and Spiderman reflexes – two things I have yet to develop on the bicycle. This definitely does not do anything to help with my puncture problem. So
- FLATS | Coming off the issue of glass, we move to the issue of flats. Yes, my tubes love getting punctured (anyone else uncomfortable with that phrasing?), and today, just one day after my first, I got three more. This means that I've used up all my spare tubes and have begun the process of patching. I wonder how many patches can go onto one tube before it's lost all structural integrity.
- ROADKILL | I've honestly seen more dead kangaroos than live kangaroos on this ride. In fact, I've only seen live kangaroos once this entire trip. The amount of death sprinkled along the roads is almost as staggering as the amount of glass. Aside from dead marsupials, I've also seen dead owls, dead cats, and dead sheep. I can only imagine the amount of death that awaits me in the Outback. Did I mention that dead animal carcasses are foul smelling?
- TERMINOLOGY | English may be the official language in Oz, but that doesn't mean the locals and I always understand each other. A few noteworthy terms I've come across thus far are: push-bike (what people call bicycles – saying “bike” leaves too much room for confusion with motorbike or motorcycle), arvo (short for “afternoon”), unsealed roads (any unpaved road), stubby (the name for an average sized bottle of beer), and “How you going?” (instead of “How's it going?”).
- UNSEALED ROADS | Speaking of unsealed roads, the number of them steadily increases as you drift outside city limits. Although I've been trying to stick to the main highways to avoid getting myself, it can be tempting at times to take an unsealed road in the interest of shaving some distance or getting out of the traffic flow. The one thing keeping me in check has been the rain. Riding through mud doesn't sound like something I'm capable of – yet.
- GOOGLE MAPS | Did someone say Google Maps? Because as I
bitched aboutdiscussed back on Day 2, Google Maps bicycling directions have done me no favors over the course of this journey. If you're on a bicycle trip and are relying on our Google overlords for guidance, it's best to leave those directions on “driving” and then make sure you're not going to hit any expressways.
- EXPRESSWAYS | Expressways? (Do you see what I'm doing here?) Expressways are what Australians call what Americans (at least those from Southern California), would call freeways. Maybe they have freeways here too, but that's not important now. What is important is that (as far as I can tell), any road prefixed with the letter ‘M' does not allow bicycle traffic (and there will be signs at the entrance to let you know for sure).
- SHEEP | I mentioned dead sheep, but as far as live animals go, I have definitely seen the most sheep – followed by cows (and the occasional alpaca). The thing is, these sheep appear to be terrified of me. Apparently cars speeding past (the vehicles responsible for their dead brethren scattered across the country's roadsides) present zero threat, but me, the biker traveling embarrassingly slow into the wind, makes them all run for the hills.
- START: Lochiel Rest Area, Victoria
- END: Serviceton, Victoria
- DAY'S DISTANCE: 62.8 mi / 101 km
- TOTAL DISTANCE: 311 mi / 500.4 km