week 36...
food for thought
The Nullarbor, Part II

Metres, actually. But any way you slice it, WHAT A FEAT! Somewhere between Norseman and Balladonia, the nines finally rolled over to reveal... a single zero. Not nearly as impressive as a row of zeroes, but as long as everyone knows what it represents we'll be fine. Would have been cooler to have one of those 'E's like on a calculator when the number is just too damn big.
somebody call
the time police!

The only clock we've got on this trip is that fine Sigma Sport time-keeping specimen pictured above with all the nines on it. Every four seconds, the digital readout rotates through Total Distance, Daily Distance, and Time. We set the clock in Queensland, then promptly threw away the instructions. So, the clock is on Queensland time forever, or until we take the batteries out.

No problem, we thought as we set out on this trek eight months ago. We're good at math. We'll simply make the adjustments in our heads when we change time zones. When it's 5:00 Bike Time, it's 3:00 Perth Time. Easy stuff, right?

I mean, Canadians are no strangers to time zones. Travelling across Canada, you go from Pacific Time, to Mountain Time, to Central Time, to Eastern Time, to Newfoundland Time. Aside from the quirky Newfies, the clock goes forward one hour, one hour, one hour. Nice and simple. Nobody ever goes to Newfoundland anyway.

You'd think in Australia it would be even easier: East states, Central states, West state. That's how I would have done it. Except, Aussies haven't quite caught on to the fact that time zone changes are supposed to be nice and simple. Sure, Victoria, NSW and Queensland are all on the same time, and that's where 75% of Aussies live anyway, so the majority never has to change its clocks anyway. Here's the rest of the country:

   1. Going from Queensland to NT, you lose a half hour.
   2. Going from NT to WA, you lose an hour and a half.

Seems fairly simple? Not bad. But here's the weird bit:

   3. On the Nullarbor east from Caiguna, you gain 45 minutes.
   4. At the SA border, gain another 45 minutes.

So, what they're saying is that Kununurra and Halls Creek, which is on the same longitude as Eucla or Mundrabilla, is the same time zone as Perth, but 45 minutes behind Eucla and Mundrabilla. For the sake of about four roadhouses, or 19 people, Australia has this extra "Central Western Time Zone", which pretty much makes everyone driving simply say, "What time is it here? 2:45, or 3:15, or is it... Aw, forget it. We'll be at the border in two hours anyway, so not like it matters."

Ridiculous. But, what can you really expect from a country that installs its heaters on the ceiling?
On Your Mark:
Name: Marcus
Origin: Sri Lanka
Home: Adelaide

Trip Start: Adelaide
Trip End: Perth
Avg Distance: 120km/day
Best Day: 206km

Cycling History: 30yrs
Previous Trips: Victorian Alps, Up the Red Centre, Alice Springs, The Grampians, West Coast
meet another nullarbor cyclist
It's only happened to us four times on this trip, but it's always a treat to look up at the other side of the road to see another slow moving lump on the horizon and say, "Is... is that another cyclist?" Today, that lump was Marcus.

Where ya headed? Perth. Started in Adelaide where I live, and went overland to Ceduna and started the Nullarbor. I'll probably head up to Kalgoorlie from Norseman and get to Perth a few days later where I'll kick my feet up and read a good book for a week, then fly home to Adelaide.

How's the terrain from here out? You should be alright going your way. Most of the time I've been hitting crosswinds, but a couple of days gave me a wicked headwind. Usually I go about 120-150km a day, but with this 80km/h wind I think I did 38km the whole day. And I was buggered.

What's the water situation like? There's a few tanks along the way. The cars'll say don't drink from them, but I didn't find any problems. By the way, don't ask for water at Caiguna. They weren't nice there, so I treated myself and booked a hotel room, had a good sleep and filled up all my bottles before I left.

I know you probably get the same questions everywhere you go, goodness knows we have, but what do you carry for food? Before I leave on a trip, I air-dry a bunch of food. Carrots, zucchini, capsicum, even eggs. 20kg of veggies dry down to about 1kg of packed food, then I just need water and heat to puff them back up again. It tastes pretty good and keeps well.

Well, good luck on the rest of your trip! Thanks guys! Send me an email when you get close to Adelaide. I should be back home by then.

these are the people in our neighbourhood...

Everyone's been telling us all the way along about the crazy Japanese bikers all over Australia. And just when we think we've met one, he turns out to be Korean! Park's going from Sydney to Perth, and still the only cyclist we've met in Australia wearing jeans.
Seika & Sally
Nothing makes your 10,000th kilometre better than having two hot Canadian chicks pull over and take your picture! Seika and Sally, from the West Coast, have been in the country for a couple of months and loving every minute of it! Oh yeah? Try it on a bike!
Children of the Water Tank
The oldest is Karista, the youngest is Crystal, and the middle child with the slingshot is Rye (not Ryan, but Rye, like the bread). They've been travelling Australia since before Crystal was born... 4 years! I think the puppy's name was Tucker, but I can't be sure.
Bike Baby
Isn't she cute? Her dad absolutely loved the bikes, but didn't want to take them for a spin. He did give us some fresh oil for our rusty chains, though. On this trip, we've tried grease, wax, dry lube, WD-40, and now this Singer All-Purpose stuff. Hey, as long as it doesn't squeak. Maybe next we'll try dish soap.
wally's amazin' facts!
The karat number of gold represents the purity of the metal, out of a possible 24 points. 24 Karat gold is 100% pure, where 18K is only 75%, and 8K is a paltry 33%. But where does the word Karat come from? 'Carat' is the Greek word for 'Seed' One of the first systems of measurement evolved from using seeds to measure small, precious objects. Hey, I wonder how many seeds a small, precious wombat like me would be worth! A lot, I reckon!

This Week's Amazin' Fact: Anybody out there remember SkyLab? Me neither. I was too young, and us wombats spent too much time and money investing in the Soviet Space Program to care about what the Yanks were doing. Anyway, SkyLab was an early US space probe that fell out of the sky into the South Pacific, and scattered bits of jagged metal all over the Australian desert. A big bad chunk of it landed just up the hill from Balladonia Roadhouse and is still on display in their Nullarbor museum. You can even touch it! It's cool!

One of the side effects of the satellite crash landing into WA was that the magical space dust it was collecting for study caused the wild desert camels to multiply at an astounding rate. Guess how many camels are out there now!

Don't forget to look for Wally this week!
Distance this week: 572kmDistance since Day 1: 10481km

What is Bikeabout? Click here to find out!

Day 247: Kissin' Cousins
Distance Travelled: 71.0km Temperature: 18
Time on Trikes: 8.0h Water Left: 5.0L
Terrain: Uncommonly Hilly
End Location: 40km short of Balladonia
just plain wrong
Our first thought on cycling through this section of the Nullarbor was "Where is it?" From the way people talked about the Nullarbor (as they often did) we could only assume it consisted of wide, vast, empty desolation and absolutely NO TREES, hence the name (as pictured in the cartoon on the top of this page). What is it really? The same old gum trees and rolling hills of yesterhighway.
   Harumph. This Nullarbor is a sham, I tell you. An outright sham.

"You look like a grey jelly bean. Ash flavour. From the Jelly Belly Third World Collection."
- Aimee.
Day 248: 10,000! Maniacs!
Distance Travelled: 71.2km Temperature: 22
Time on Trikes: 8.0h Water Left: 7.0L
Terrain: Long Troughs
End Location: 30km past Balladonia
party like it's 9999
Wow! What a celebration! Today we hit our 10,000th kilometre! (I find it difficult to say 'Tenthousandth' out loud. Do you?)
   I remember when we hit our 5000th kilometre (much easier to say [and do]) when we were crossing the Kimberley. That's was really exciting, but this one is even more exciting - doubley so! This is also the moment we've been curious about... the mileage when our spedometer turns over to zero again. How COOL is that? It's like we've exceeded the manufacturers expectations of how far you're supposed to go on a bike. That's so frickin' awesome.
   As a side note, why is it that we never hit a significant milestone outside of a Wooley's? It's always in a spot where we're forced to pretend that some portion of our normal supplies are a 'celebration treat'? "Wow, Aim! We made it to 10,000! We're going to get TWO tunas tonight. Good work!" Where's a broken-down refrigerated Arnott's truck when you need it?

"Boy, when you pass away I'm going to marry the dumbest hunk..."
- Aimee.
Day 249: Going Straight
Distance Travelled: 88.9km Temperature: 19
Time on Trikes: 11h Water Left: 4.5L
Terrain: Flat
End Location: Rest Area 71
as the crow flies
I guess the 146 Kilometre straight just didn't have the same ring to it.
   Today we roll onto the longest straight stretch of road in Australia! It's nice that they put this here, because it makes the road much more exciting - makes you feel like you're accomplishing something.
   We're feeling great today. Contrary to what a lot of people have said (never listen to naysayers, they're not very positive) we're having a blast on this highway. It's a great confidence booster to be making some good distance and some real headway. The Nullarbor is ours for the taking! Hyah, camel!

"Mmm! Good Bean Day!"
- Aimee.
Day 250: Blow it out your hole
Distance Travelled: 72.6km Temperature: 16
Time on Trikes: 9.0h Water Left: 4.0L
Terrain: Flatter
End Location: Caiguna
It has dawned on us, after somehow missing yet another water tank, that the Official Nullarbor Road Map put out by the Government of Australia is one big official piece of crapola.
   I don't know who is giggling behind their bureaucratic desk in Canberra, but the water tanks, rest areas and parking bays posted on this map are either missing entirely or are 20-100 kilometres out of place. What'd ya do, play Pin the Water Tank on the Nullarbor game after a few drinks on Friday night, boys?
   Honestly, I think they drove the Nullarbor in an afternoon, and said, "Okay, what was that? Rest area? We'll put that about... here. And another one here... how many? Was that a water tank? Looked like a water tank. I'm putting tank here. And there were five rest areas between Madura & Mundrabilla... I'll just space them out equally to make the map easier to read-- was that another tank? I think it must have been..." I think all map makers should have to do their section of the route by bicycle. Then they'd understand why accuracy is important.
   Jeez, it's like it was created by a blindfolded Schiffer.

"It's an obstacle course of carnage!"
- Aimee.
Day 251: Mine already is
Distance Travelled: 69.7km Temperature: 16
Time on Trikes: 8.5h Water Left: 3.5L
Terrain: Headwinds & Crosswinds
End Location: Cocklebiddy
captain's log
Stardate 251: Realized today that we have enough food to reach Eucla, but no further. Should exhaust supplies within 500km of the nearest Foodland. Begin rationing tuna.

   Considering eating Aimee's leg for sustenance. Not like she pedals anyway.

"Listen. If the Food Boss had wanted you to have a scoop of Milo, Food Boss would have given you a scoop of Milo."
- Kevin.
Day 252: Veggies?
Distance Travelled: 85.7km Temperature: 16
Time on Trikes: 8.5h Water Left: 6.5L
Terrain: Awesome
End Location: Madura
timtation island
Fay: "I don't know if you'll want them, but I've got some Tim Tams."
A&K: "Gasp!!"

Little did this innocent traveller know that she was giving us the Nullarbor equivalent of pure gold. The seven Tim Tams she gave us lasted two days, under strict rationing. We split the last one by sharing it at 3am when we couldn't sleep because of the cold. Never has Arnott's done so much good for humanity.

"You're just singing that because the Queen likes it."
- Aimee.
Day 253: What a view!
Distance Travelled: 113.3km Temperature: 19
Time on Trikes: 9.5h Water Left: 7.5L
Terrain: Ideal!
End Location: Mundrabilla
rational thinking
A little bad planning goes a long way. We've put Kevin in charge of food rationing since Friday and it's working out well (except he insists on being called Food Boss, and refering to himself in third person). Contrary to popular belief, a person can exercise for ten hours a day on only six cherry tomatoes and a can of tuna.
   All this talk about rationing has made us think about what we're carrying... things that we probably could have trashed and replaced with food.

Things we're carrying that are useless:
- Champagne from the wedding. We may starve, but darnit, we'll have a bit of bubbly on the way.
- No less than eighteen books. We are a veritable library of secondhand fiction.
- Twenty fashion magazines. As if Aimee wasn't fashionable enough.
- Road Atlas of New Zealand. We plead insanity.
- Charcoal Face Mask. A girl's gotta look good.

   In a lesson in irony (stupidity?), since the beginning of the expedition, we've been carrying a Hot Pack in our emergency kit. Canadians know these: you mush them up and put them in your mittens or wool socks to keep your extremities warm when it's freezing outside. The fact that we carried them throughout the Kimberley summer was funny. The fact that right before we hit the south I mailed them to tropical Brisbane is downright hilarious.

"Was someone dropping kangaroos from a plane last night?"
- Aimee.

Wherever you are in WA
The stars come to say...
.......Goooood Niiiiight.
Next Week, South Australia! We'll miss ya, Baz!
nullarbor nymph: (n.) There's an old Aussie legend that tells of a beautiful, naked woman who roams the Nullarbor desert, occasionally wandering near the road before disappearing back into the saltbush. If you ask me, those truckies have been reading too much porn.

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© 2003 Kevin & Aimee Beimers. And then the Queen whispered: "Smoove."