week 18...
riders on the storm

Centre of Tropical Low

Aimee, Kevin, and their poor little tent were whipped, whomped and walloped all night long by a wicked windstorm that fell just short of a Category One Cyclone. Did they survive? Barely. Their very existance hung by a thread weaker than that used to mend Kev's pants.

It was all thanks to these two. Marta and Oliver. Without these two generous, spontaneous, hilarious, beautiful people, and their magical minibus, Jacaranda, we probably would have been three days behind, and camped in the path of the flash flood that washed out the road between Pardoo Roadhouse and Port Hedland. Without them, we would have been battling the primal forces of nature with a thin sheet of plastic tarp and a prayer.

We owe you, Marta and Oliver. Big time. You've achieved beimers.com hero status.

If you'd like to write to Marta and Oliver
to thank them for saving our lives,
Just click here!

(Or write to martatavlats@hotmail.com and swoliver22@hotmail.com)

: Team A :
Better than the Beatles
Kevin and Marta set the expectations high on their first run together on Monday night. 10km within an hour is a personal goal that Aimee and Kevin strive for, but only occasionally achieve... but 20km? Unheard of. But, strip the bikes down to two water bottles and two tough cookies, and you've got a deal!
   The crazy part: they hardly noticed! They spent the hour gabbing about politics, current affairs, race relations, national history, and belting out My Sharona, Bohemian Rhapsody and Hard Day's Night, when suddenly... "Hey, there's the 20 sign!"
   The bar was set.

: Team B :
99% Persperation
While Team A took a comfortable candlelit coffee break, Aimee and Oliver shot off like a bullet. After all, thought Aimee, if flabby old Kevin and a thin little Spanish girl could break twenty, then surely Powerhouse Aimee and Front Gunner Oliver could knock it out without any trouble. Then they hit the hill.
   They climbed, and pushed, and climbed, and pedalled, and as Jacaranda crested the top, its headlights illuminated their goal... the 20 sign! Faster, faster! Jacaranda's gaining! Marta and Kevin caught up in time to cheer Team B over the finish line. Whew!
these are the people in our neighbourhood...

Oliver, Eva & Steve
What are the chances that we meet two Olivers in one week? Crazee! Actually, Kev spent some time talking to Steve, who usually travels by bicycle around Europe. He saw what we were doing here in Australia and asked, "Don't you get bored? Australia is so big!" Hey, when you're on an adventure, life is never boring!
Here's what happens when you ride around on Australia Day with a Canadian flag hanging out the back of your bike... you get invited to a BBQ! The teachers of St. Cecilia's all live on the same block, and had lots of food and drink to share with a couple of hard working travellers. Thanks Sean!
Ang & Andy
Ang is another teacher from St. Cecilia's. Port Hedland's kids sure are a lucky bunch. Andy's a welder.
Peter & Jen
And still more teachers! It's like hanging out at one of my dad's Selkirk High staff parties!

Christie, Tobin, Clinton & Mary Lou
When we asked a couple of eight year olds what was going on for Australia Day in Port Hedland, they mentioned Hermit Crab Racing, McDonalds and Go BZirk. What's Go BZirk, we asked. They're kind of like High Five, they answered. What's High Five, we asked. They shook their heads and pedalled away.
   We went that night, and found out that Go BZirk is a two-boy, two-girl kids entertainment group. A little like S Club 7, and a little like A-Teens, but not so much like Sharon, Lois and Bram. Talented, though. One sings lead, one does flips, one does crazy juggling stunts, and the other one looks like Christian Castellano!

tug on this!

How does an industry town celebrate Australia Day? By partaking in feats of stupidity! Look at these big, tough dockworkers, hauling with all their might on this rope. The only question we have for you is...

What's on the other end?
Correct answer wins!
Most creative answer wins too!
wally's amazin' facts!
What does kangaroo mean in Aboriginal Language? I don't know. No, that's what it means! Kangaroo means I don't know or I don't understand. It was named when the English first settled on Australia, but asked the natives, "Now see here, what is that silly, bouncing animal over there?" "Kangaroo!" answered the Aborigines!

This Week's Amazin' Fact: Down in the South, where most wombats like me are from, we don't get many cyclones. This was my first! A Category One Cyclone is classified as having wind between 63-90km/h! But that's nothing... The highest winds ever recorded in Australia was 290 kilometres per hour! Holy Frickin' Crap!

Luckily, the wind died down so we could all celebrate Australia Day. But, have you ever wondered what we're celebrating? What exactly happened on January 26th?

Don't forget to look for Wally this week!
john forrest, and the emu bitter guy...
separated at birth?

Distance this week: 444kmDistance since Day 1: 6245km

What is Bikeabout? Click here to find out!

Day 121: Team Spain
Distance Travelled: 87.9km Temperature: 37°
Time on Trikes: 6.0h Water Left: 15L
Terrain: Awesome
End Location: Sandfire Truckie Park
viva espaņa!
Tonight will be remembered for two things: the blackest cloud ever to cross our path; and the nicest (and first) Spanish pair to do the same. It all started around midnight, when a cloud started to make it's way towards us from the horizon. It's full-moon time, so it's nearly as bright as day out here. This gave us ample to to watch the cloud approach. Actually, calling this cloud a cloud isn't proper. It should instead be called a menacing source of darkness. As it passed over us, we couldn't resist the urge to duck, it was so purely black and hanging low enough to touch. We'd never seen anything like it. It could have, in fact, been the very Axis of Evil we've been hearing so much about.
   Adreneline got us pedaling faster and we started talking about American Politics. Very loudly. It was only about ten minutes later that we realized there was a camper van parked by the side of the road with a couple enjoying their dinner. Since they had already heard our views on Bush and Iraq, we thought we'd stop for the soup and Coke offered. By the time we left, the axis of evil had passed and we had the beginnings of a beautiful friendship.

"I need to go to sleep before I lose all my social skills."
- Kevin.
Day 122: They said it couldn't be done...
Distance Travelled: 48.3km Temperature: 48°
Time on Trikes: 5.0h Water Left: 8.0L
Terrain: Pretty Flat
End Location: 26km South of Sandfire, on a pile of dirt
standing outside the 'fire
We were able to convince Marta and Oliver to ride out the day with us yesterday, putting our heavy gear in their Jacaranda so that we could really make the distance. It was a full-fledged victory when we made it to Sandfire a full day early with their help. Sandfire, technically, is even more isolated than the Barkly Homestead, so you might think the prices would run high. On the contrary, the prices ran medium. We got breakfast!

"I hate all those reality shows, like Porno Big Brother...
You have that in Canada, no?"
- Marta.
Day 123: Grey skies are gonna clear up!
Distance Travelled: 100.1km Temperature: 36°
Time on Trikes: 14h Water Left: 14L
Terrain: Rolling Hills
End Location: Truckie P of Destiny
the big wet
It's 10am. The lightning is getting increasingly worse and we're starting to count the beats. One-one-thousand, two-one-thousand. Ka-ka Boom! The sky rocks and we instictively put our hands over our heads and try to blend ourselves molecularly into our bikes. Perhaps it's time to stop until the storm passes? As we look around for lower ground, we realize that, at the moment, we are the highest point for miles. All vegetation in the Great Sandy Desert doesn't rise above our knees. We spot a ditch that seems to be a few inches lower than everything else and pull the bikes over. Within moments, the Ka-Booms had gotten even louder and more consistent with a shuttle blast-off. The ditch was looking pretty good. We lay face down in the mud and laughed at our own fate of finding ourselves face-down in a ditch in the Great Sandy Desert. Luckily for us there was still the odd bit of traffic, so if things got really bad, we'd have help. Or would we?
   We really don't like to think bad thoughts about people, but while we were lying face-down in the ditch, not less than three different vehicles passed us without stopping. Now, tell me: if you saw two people lying in a ditch in a thunderstorm, with no shelter, wouldn't you stop? Maybe they didn't see us (doubtful, what with our huge bike and all) or maybe they thought we'd mess us their upholstery. One thing's for certain: they probably weren't Spanish.

"Maybe he thought I was George Michael."
- Kevin.
Day 124: Loaded
Distance Travelled: 90.2km Temperature: 31°
Time on Trikes: 6.5h Water Left: 5.0L
Terrain: Easy with sprinkles
End Location: Memorial Farm Drill
magic jacaranda
So we walk into the Pardoo Roadhouse after being wet, cold, and awake for a solid 36 hours.
  What's the first thing we see? Huge photographs on the wall of what last year's cyclone did to the place. Not reassuring.
  What's the second thing we see? A current satellite image of Australia that shows a huge swirling mass directly over us.
  What's the third thing we see? Jacaranda! Here to save the day! Our gear goes in, we hop on the bikes and, using the wind generated by the approaching cyclone, burn rubber towards Port Hedland. Will we get there before the tropical low turns into a tropical blow? I'm so nervous!

"I'll tell you the truth: Your mom sent us. I have to report in to her tonight."
- Oliver.
Day 125: Hit the Road, Jac!
Distance Travelled: 85.0km Temperature: 26°
Time on Trikes: 11.5h Water Left: 4.0L
Terrain: First 70 fast,
last 15 slow
End Location: P.Hedland Big4
nick of time
Pardoo to Port Hedland in 24 hours? Ask us 24 hours ago and we would have said, "Pardoo to Port Hedland in 24 hours?" Ridiculous. But with a little help from Team Spain, it's a snap!
   We had set aside 3 days to do this next stretch. 50km a day, fully loaded, would have made for a smooth, relaxing ride into the nearest grocery store (and solid shelter). But thanks to Jacaranda, we knocked off 70km last night, and another 70 in the morning before Oliver and Marta even got up!
   We were thinking of camping next to a pile of gravel next to the train tracks, but judging by the sky, logic prevailed over money and we ended up at site 112 of Cooke Point Holiday Park. Thank goodness we did. The storm ripped through the caravan park that night with a deep-seated vengeance. Pounding rain, searing wind, flapping palms, falling branches. By two o'clock in the morning, we used the calm eye of the storm to run from our near-flattened tent and take refuge in the laundry room. But not for long...

"I just want to call somebody and say 'Hey, I'm in the middle of a cyclone on my bike but don't worry I'm safe.'"
- Kevin.
Day 126: The Boys in Mauve
Distance Travelled: 0.0km Temperature: 21°
End Location: P.Hedland Big4
a word about our sponsor
Not 15 minutes after we took shelter in the laundry room, from the window we saw two flashlights approach our tent, and then the laundry room. It was the Jack and Darryl, the managers of the Cooke Point Big 4, worried about our welfare since we were the only people in the park without even a car for shelter, and the storm was about to get worse. A lot worse.
   "How'd ya like a nice double room with a queen-size bed?" How could we argue with that?
   We collected our wet gear (twenty trash bags couldn't have kept out this rain, let alone two), ripped the tent pegs out of the ground and dragged the pile -- poles, fly, clothes, food and all -- over to the backpacker lodging area. We'd sort it all out in the morning. Right then, we were just happy to be dry.
   In every town we've stayed in that has a Big4 Caravan Park, we've always been greeted with a high level of quality, cleanliness and friendliness, but these boys at Cooke Point, Port Hedland, they went above and beyond the call of duty, and saved a couple of poor, wet rats from drowning.
   And so, if you're ever stuck in Port Hedland (God forbid), spend a night at Cooke Point Big4 and say hi to Darryl (on the left) and Jack (on the right. I don't know who that guy in the middle is, but I'll bet he works damn hard).

"Yesterday does not count as a day off."
- Aimee.
Day 127: I claim this Lamington for Australia!
Distance Travelled: 32.3km Temperature: 32°
Terrain: Nice Bike Path
End Location: P.Hedland Big4
in a barbie world
On any normal week, a holiday like Australia Day might have received top billing. Apologies in advance to all Australians for not giving the day its due credit.
   At the very least, we were happy to be in a city, even if that city was Port Hedland. After spending Christmas in a deserted contruction camp with Wyatt, then New Years at Goanna Central munching on Spam (all of which were very nice in their own way), we very much wanted to be around people for Australia Day, to experience the national holiday with the countrymen.
   On our way to the scheduled festivities, we were side swiped by other festivities! St. Cecilia's Primary School was having a BBQ to welcome the new teachers, and as we pedalled by with our Canadian flag waving, they shouted and waved and beckoned us back. Now tell me, what do you think is more Australian: Hermit crab racing and Doopa Dog, or being invited for beer and a barbie because you look like you might have a good story or two? We thought so too.
Myth: 'Shrimp on the Barbie' is a trademark Aussie treat.
Fact: Not a single Aussie at the barbie had ever put shrimp on it. In fact, they don't even call it 'shrimp'. They're prawns here. Origin of the Myth: Crocodile Dundee.
morbo: (origin: Spanish) sexuality added to something to improve its appeal, marketability or ratings. Essentially, the noun form of the expression "Sex sells."

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© 2003 Kevin Beimers & Aimee Lingman. That is one big pile of salt.