Of wind and water.
Two elemental influences of my journey. Too much of one, never enough of the other. Wind and water, at my back, on my mind. Not a day in the saddle goes by without the day being dictated in some way by the search for water or the avoidance of wind.
If you're in southern Australia, I'm sure you can attest to the most unusual winter we've had, characterised by blow after blow. Southerlies, northerlies, blusters, blows, headwinds, tailwinds, offshores, on. It's been a constant battle to stay upright both for me, my tent and much of the coast's built environ. Fifty-year storms, followed by a Storm Of The Century. I've endured all, days and nights wondering how much more the tent can take, yet still it remains upright. My phone, like so many fishos and surfers out here is now filled with weather apps, all trying their best to contradict each other. One thing is for certain however, the wind will be increasing, or dying, or staying the same, that much I'm sure. I'm just waiting here for the next damaging wind warning to be broadcast over the airways.
Being so close to the daily fluctuations in wind out here is a revelation, you feel the wind from your feet to your face. A whole body immersion in your world. It can be soothing, it can be terrifying. I've been making audio recordings all along my journey, but I can't help but feel that digitised 1s and 0s cannot convey the true screaming of a wind or the grumble and rumble of thunder, we will have to wait and hear.
I was changing a tube by the side of the road yesterday, a hot windy mess surrounded me, together with flies, midges and mozzies. I heard a truck approaching fast, loud then louder. I looked up to see where it was coming from, it was now a throaty growl, what I saw however was not a truck. A Dust-Devil, willy-willy or whirly-whirly had made land only metres from where I was sitting in the dust. A few metres wide and touching the sky it roared past me and careered drunkenly across the fields of wheat leaving me scrambling, the noise was ferocious, the sight amazing. I'd seen them before, but only from the comfort of a car, never had I been there for the inception and so exposed.
Fresh water on the other hand is never around. The bain of the long-haul cyclists crossing the Australian landscape. Gaining access to fresh running water, legally or otherwise occupies much of my time. Fresh, brackish, trough, bore, I carry as much as my body allows, usually only two days worth. The third morning finds me knocking on caravan doors, empty bottle in hand, asking please sir, can I have some water?
Water tanks out west are usually well secured, communal tanks in towns are few, stores are fewer. People regard you with suspicion (rightfully so) when you skulk about town, water bottles clanking. I've found churches to be an untapped resource, it's probably blessed too.
Things are looking up now that I'm on the Yorke Peninsula though. The good folk in the local council have put together a magnificent walking and cycling trail, over five hundred ks of marked trail and rain-water tanks only half a day's ride apart. It has made my life so much easier, and my ride so much quicker. No more doubling back to a town I passed yesterday, no more fretting before bed as to whether I can make a coffee in the morning, no more having to wave down retirees and explain why they should swing me a litre or two.
I was riding along a few weeks ago on the Eyre Peninsula, water bottles dry as a dead dingo's donger when this skit came on the radio. I had a laugh, I hope you do too. My thirst was satiated only a few minutes later by a poorly secured rain water tank on just out of Baird Bay (thank you).
See you on the road!