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Perth Western Australia–Week 1

Week 1 Day 1 – Bike has been cleaned and packed. Next clothes and drink bottles and shoes and helmet and. . .. .   so much stuff, so little space. But it did all fit and off to the airport in Palm Nth. William met me at home and we were on our way. Nerves had kicked in early in the morning.  What the …. was I doing?  I had done the training but I was always riding on roads that I knew or at least what the towns around me looked like and how the roads all linked together. I knew what the traffic is like in NZ.

At the airport – Bags checked through to Perth. Waiting upstairs in the glorious Manawatu sunshine. And a few of the girls, Averil, Christine and Possum showed up to see me off – much appreciated. Or perhaps they were there to make sure I didn’t chicken out. But as I went out the door (yes out the other door ) my nerves were forgotten about. Until I sat down and we waited and waited and waited. Passengers being driven from Masterton to Palmy were the cause of the delay. And I would get to Auckland on time but only just.

So on to the next plane and we were off. Can’t tell you what the movies were. It might turn up in one of the questions for quiz evening but I did watch an interesting doco on Mark Cavendish. I did let out an exclamation when the terrible crash at the end of a stage took him out.

Arrived in Perth at 6.10pm local time – 10.10 pm NZ time to a balmy 17 degrees. On to the shuttle bus and off to our hotel for the night right on the edge of the Swan River  and Kings Park. Restaurant closes at 9pm so a quick meal before going to bed at 1am NZ time. Did I get much sleep??? Did Maree get much sleep???  For those who know the story about the girls trip to the Graperide 2008 you will remember my roomie. No names mentioned, but she was an amateur compared to Maree. Lyndsay, brother in law, Maree’s husband is in for a restful 2 and a bit weeks. Maree will return to a revitalised Lyndsay as he will be able to get a descent nights sleep at long last.

At least we  are still laughing about it now. Maree will get to write in this blog sometime so I had better watch what I say. Perth 015

Morning of Day 2 Thursday 13th – Awake very early for Perth’s standards but remember the time difference. Awake! Did I even sleep.

Breakfast in the restaurant when it opened at 6.30am and off for a walk up Jacobs ladder.242 steps straight up to Kings Park.

Some mad people were actually doing reps up and down and back up again. There was a lovely view from the top over the Swan River and Perth skyline. Perth 010

And yes there were hills in the distance that needed to be crossed today on my way to York.

Saw quite a few cyclists biking around Kings Park. Obviously that is the place to go to do hill reps whether you are running up Jacobs Ladder or just cycling the block. Perth 012Back to our hotel and packed out bags ready for the next step of the adventure. Booked a taxi (extra large) to take all of our bags (and bike ) to where we were going to pick up the campervan.

By the time we did all the paperwork and got the running details on what everything does we had got rid of another couple of hours. Now 10am and we headed to the nearest shopping centre to stock up. Midland Gate had everything you could imagine. First stop Vodafone and Telstra. Then onto shopping. If only we had time we could have spent a lot longer there. But as it was after a coffee and a trolley load of supplies from Coles it was still 1pm by the time we got back to the campervan and stored everything away in a little cupboard. Oops I had planned to be on the road by now and we still had to find a bike shop. After receiving directions and going round the block several times we finally arrived at Midland Cycles. Thanks Tim for the RocknRoll and Shotz.(I don’t think Tim believed me when I told him where I was going.) A quick trip down a side road and I assembled my bike, took it for a test ride before I went too far away from some guys who could help if something wasn’t right. But there were no problems, so we bundled back in to the campervan and headed out of Perth on the Great Eastern Highway. When we got as far as the Great Southern Highway turn off, Maree  threw me out. No only kidding. Perth 016

She did pull over to the side of the road and stop.

But by this time it was getting close to 3pm.

Time difference was still being felt. It felt like time to have dinner.

And I wasn’t as well organised as I normally am when I go for a ride.

I did have my 2way radio in my back pocket and a banana, 1 drink bottle, but forgot my cellphone and gloves. I had left my camera with Maree.

So if anything went really wrong and somebody found me on the side of the road I had no identification with me. I’ll be more prepared tomorrow.

Perth 018Perth 019And yes first up a hill…. oh I love hills!!! Not!!!and on this part of the trip every 5kms there would be a sign 500m to passing lane – oh no that means another hill. A bit like Halcombe Stanway Rd. And I had a head wind all the way.

First day thoughts. I don’t like the Aussie rumble strip. Or the sound of crows.  ( I keep thinking about what Murray (husband)said to me about being crow bait) Road drivers are very courteous and give me lots of room that I wasn’t expecting. I have even had a couple of friendly toots. Do like the road markers that say 50 Y then 45 Y then 25 Y. Nothing in between until 5 Y which had me really excited.

Called up Maree on the 2 way. “Yes can hear you” Followed the signs to the camping ground but it was 4km out of York so was getting a bit worried that I had missed a turn off.

So the end of day 1 on the bike – not far but at least I started.

DAY 2 Friday 14th York to Bruce Rock. Overcast Cold. Dress requirement shorts and long sleeve jersey. On the bike and a quick u turn back to the campervan to retrieve my helmet.  P1010612

Next stop planned for Quairading 75 km and quite a few hills so anticipate that it will take 3 hours.P1010613

Maree was planning on having a look around York. The grand old Duke of York,  He had 10,000 men, He marched them up to the top of the hill. And he marched them down again.

P1010615York is an old town and it has a hill 2km out of town. P1010616P1010617

And there was another one after that, then anotherP1010618Final destination for the day was going to be Bruce Rock.

This is where the hay on the truck is coming from. It is all being exported P1010619

and just down the road I saw a paddock full of emus so had to stop again and take a photo. P1010620

Unfortunately at about this point the wind started to pick up and the direction was straight in my face or 11.00 on a clock dial. So my expected arrival time of 11.00am was going to be a bit out.  5 km out of Quairading it started to rain and I was starting to get a bit worried as Maree hadn’t gone past me yet. She had my dry clothes, food, money. And then just on the outskirts of Quarading she went past and pulled over.  3hrs 20 mins I was wet to the skin so jumped into the van and had a hot drink and something to eat. Put on my rain jacket as it was still raining and headed off again. I wasn’t sure how far it was to Shackleton but thought it would only be about 20kms so said to Maree that that would be my lunch stop. Unfortunately Shackleton was more like 45 km from Quairading so lunch was 2.30pm. By this stage I had hit the wall. For anyone who knows how I cycle, I spend a lot of time in my big chain ring. But today I have spent nearly all day in my little chain ring. At Shackleton I had my lunch and went for a walk down to the Shack Club to see Dicko. Was greeted eventually with a hug and had a bit of a chat about what had been happening in Shack. In the shelter of Dickos house there was no wind  but when you saw the flag flying straight out from the flagpole you knew just how windy it was.  So back on my bike for the final leg. 32km to Bruce Rock. All during the day I had had people giving me a friendly wave as they went past. So wasn’t surprised as a person heading in the opposite direction flashed his lights at me. Thought he looked slightly familiar. Into Bruce Rock and knew that Janine Cosgrove worked at the IGA and was planning on calling in to say a quick “gidday mate” but couldn’t see an IGA so biked straight past the campervan that Maree had parked on the side of the road. She wasn’t in the drivers seat so thought she must have gone in to one of the shops. Called her up on the 2 way and said that I was carrying on. Out of Bruce Rock heading towards Merridin. Talking to Maree as she went past me I was giving her instructions as to make it much further I needed some assistance in the form of motor pacing. But as I was nearly had it was only able to do between 25 and 27km/hr. That only lasted a km as when I saw a roo jump in front of the van I knew it was time to give up on the bike and jump in the van for the final few kms to Murrays abode. So jumped in and reached Crampthorne Rd and there was Murray waiting on the corner for us to arrive. He informed me that it was him that flashed his lights at me between Shack and Bruce Rock and he was also in the campervan with Maree when I went past at Bruce Rock and he also drove past as Maree was motor pacing me.  Anyway you can sort of imagine what I said to both of them.

Total 8 hours on bike. Hard day at the office. image

Saturday 15th Day 3 of biking (hope it is a better day today) Temperature colder than the day before so I resorted to 3/4 pants and my fleecy shirt.  Saw this bike at Flick and Stephens and couldn’t resist hopping on. Perhaps with a bit of work on it, it could do the rest of the trip with me. Don’t know who would ride it though. Murray took us on a quick tour of where he has been for the past short while and showed us his big boys toys – just a LITTLE bit bigger than the tractors we have at home. Thanks Anne and Ian for a marvellous meal and your hospitality.


So I was on my bike at 9.00am heading to Southern Cross. First stop Merridin. Murray and Maree (M & M) went  back to pack up and say final goodbyes to the Doltons.

This is what the back road to Merridin is like, hill in the distance. Got back to the main road and looking back along the road I see M & M approaching. So the final few kms in to Merridin they were able to motor pace me as there was more wind again today. Stopped in Merridin for a coffee and muffin. Off the bike for exactly 30 mins.

P1010632P1010633P1010636DSCF9483Another long straight climb.

Back on my way to Southern Cross and next stop was scheduled for 1pm for lunch which just happened to be at a road house which had a sign out the front “Half way between Perth and Kalgoorlie”


Final stop for the day was at another roadhouse not far from Southern Cross. Just a wee stop to gobble down an orange and give instructions of what I would like at the end of my day.

Thoughts for the day – NO rumble strip made it much easier but disappointed to see the amount of rubbish on the side of the road.image

Finished riding today at exactly 4.20pm. TOTAL RIDE TIME TODAY 5 hours 53 mins                                                                             

Sunday 16th June Day 4 of riding –Southern Cross to Coolgardie Approx 187km according to the sign but in reality from the point where I started to the point where I finally got off my bike it was a bit more.

perth  2 001Another cool morning but it looked as if it might get nice. I had my music in my ears as I knew it was going to be a big day. perth  2 002

You do see some strange sights on the side of the road. The first thing I saw was the motorbike then the hay bale and as I went past I saw the gumboots going into the hay bale and the head coming out the other side with the sign that reads Haylp. Further along the road there were more to keep me amused. The grain country was gradually giving way to mining country and thankfully there was no rumble strip again today. As the day progressed more and more trucks were giving me a wave as they went roaring past in the opposite direction.perth  2 004

Certainly liked the feeling of them as they went past going in the same direction.

A couple of big loads even had pilot vehicles.

And although it may look flat you will notice that there is a horizon, just another hill.

On the right hand side of the road is the big pipeline that carries water. This was a really big day and I would have liked someone to have met me on the outskirts of town to take my photo as I arrived but M & M were no where to be seen.  perth  2 005A bit further up the road they were parked and had made plans to pick me up and drive into Kalgoorlie to see the super pit before it got too dark.  And although that wasn’t my plan I went along for the ride. Jumped in the back of the campervan and lay on my bed trying to do my stretches and put compression pants on as we were driving along. If anyone was following behind they would have been wondering what on earth was going on in the back of that van. Arrived at the Super Pit on Kalgoorlie just on sunset. Had to have the photo in the bucket like everyone does. murrays perth 020murrays perth 021

Then it was off to find somewhere to stay for the night and in to town for a meal. Murray had been to Kalgoorlie a couple of years ago with William (eldest son) and so knew where to go. Went to the Balcony Bar and after dinner went downstairs and walked through the Wild West Saloon. A pity the establishment doesn’t pay the bar maids a bit more so they can afford some descent clothes.

Monday 17th June Day 5 of riding Kalgoorlie to Norseman

My original plan was to ride from Coolgardie to Norseman which on “map my ride” measures 170km.

But Murray had changed things and now as we stayed in Kalgoorlie for the night I will end up riding 190km.

This sign was after I had already riden 10km. That extra 20km may be a big ask, especially with the way my legs are feeling. perth  2 009

M & M were still having breakfast as I hit the track. Their plan was to go and do some shopping in Kalgoorlie  and see me at morning tea time in 2 or 3 hours. They finally pulled over just after  and the coffee and last of the muffins was very welcome.  M&M had purchased a round of golf at the longest course and although they missed out on playing the first hole due to needing to catch up with me they did head back to play hole 2 which was at Kambaldaperth  2 007imageperth  2 010

In this photoperth  2 008 you can see in the distance another lot of hills that I have to go over and this is at the top nearly of another hill. perth  2 011perth  2 012I could smell these well before I saw them and I thought if Maree saw them she would think she was back in Wairoa. perth  2 013Don’t even get off my bike now or stop pedalling ,just whip the camera out and snap as I am riding along.perth  2 016The day has clouded over, the wind is picking up again and it is not a tail wind. Note the lake off in the distance. perth  2 018And more lumpy hills before reaching Norseman. Who ever said Australia was all flat. perth  2 020Once again no one to meet me as I entered my destination for the day so I had to take my own photo again. I’ll try and look a bit happier tomorrow.

From /To Day Distance Ave Speed Top Speed Time Climb  
Perth /York Thurs 13th 47.6km 23.9 52.6 1hr 56 233  
York/ Bruce Rock Fri 14th 154km 19.6 38.2 7hr 41 648  
Bruce Rock/Southern Cross Sat 15th 137km 22.8 43.5 5hr 52 497  
Southern Cross /Coolgardie Sun 16th 186.2km 24.1 42.1 7hr 32 536  
Kalgoorlie/Norseman Mon 17th 190.9 23.1 43.7 8hr 04 442  
Norseman/Balladonia Tue 18th 190.7 25.8 51.9 7hr 14    
Total  to date   906.4 km          

Tues 18th June Day 6 Norseman to Balladonia

What a great day – Started off with the sun shining. But that was soon to change.perth 3 001 perth 3 002Over the first hill 5 kms out of town and the weather closed inperth 3 003Although not apparent in the photo that is black sky which lasted 20km. It was freezing. M&M who were off playing golf (or should I say retrieving lost balls) were speaking to a local who said that there was a frost on the lawn this morning. I would have taken a photo showing my breath as I breathed out. and Unfortunately I had left with no leg warmers on. But the day did get better but it took me a long time to warm up as I was forever biking in the shade of trees. perth 3 006Fraser Range was where the next golf hole was. And as it was around smoko time the campervan pulled in to the side of the road just before 10.30. My coffee and chocolate chip cookies were ready and waiting. Half an hour and then back on the bike. Aussies don’t seem to be able to do hills and corners at the same time. There are either corners in the road or hills, never both. So around a corner and surprise of my life was Dan. perth 3 004

What an awesome guy. All the way from the UK. Had biked all the way from Cairns. He told me tales about a few other cyclists that he had come across on the trip from Adelaide. He is not writing a blog, the reason he said is he wouldn’t know what to write about Quote from Dan “ Today was amazing – my left leg went up and at the same time my right leg went down. Then you’ll never guess what happened. My right leg went up and my left went down and then it happened again and again and again …..”  He told me about where he stayed last night and how he was posting ahead any items not required. We compared notes on what we had experienced so far. He doesn’t ride with music in his ears – just yells at the wind when it gets to him. He said that if I biked fast I would be able to catch up to a guy on the straightest bit of road which is where I will be tomorrow. He passed him 2 days back. If you are reading this Dan – safe travels. You put a smile on my face all day and will be thinking about you again tomorrow when I have a tail wind. (hopefully)

perth 3 009I started counting trucks and cars today but realised that there are still too many of them so then I started counting dead stuff.

There is a certain criteria to get in to my count stats.It has to be either on the road or just to the side, it has to be still intact not just a skeleton.  So todays count is 3 roos and 1 camel. perth 3 012

See what I mean about no corners just hills.perth 3 015

And this is the end of another day and at long last Murray got the message and was waiting for me to take this pic of me on arrival. Tomorrow I might just get him to zoom in a bit so you can actually see the sign.

perth 3 016

Wednesday Day 7 WHAT A DAY. Balladonia to Cocklebiddy.  When I was previewing my planned rides with Averil at Palmy airport we both agreed to do the Balladonia to Caiguna option was a better bet than the longer ride. perth 4 001However Murray who thinks he knows me and my capabilities said that I should go all the way. First stop in 3 hours whilst M& M went off to play another hole of golf. Balladonia made world fame back in the 70’s when part of the space lab fell to earth and landed nearby. A large chunk is now on display in the museum. marees 002

This part of the ride contains the longest stretch of straight road as well as a landing strip for the Royal Flying Doctor service

perth 4 002perth 4 003perth 4 005perth 4 007

They must have had a bit of rain through this area as there appeared to be a lot of grass around.See below It all seemed very familiar as the side of the road has been mown.

And I have been riding for 2 days and haven’t come across the mower yet but he is still going.

perth 4 008perth 4 009perth 4 010

So my day started at 7.30am first stop to be at 10.30am for 1/2 hour.  Back on the bike at 11.00am with lunch stop at 1pm. Again a half hour stop, just enough time to have a few stretches and fill the back pockets and change drink bottle.  The next stop would be at 3pm and at this point I would let Murray know whether I was going any further. At 2.50pm I was biking past the entrance to Caiguna, where M & M were playing the next hole. Radioed them and told them I was just passing and they would have to catch me up. A bit further down the road another sign indicated I was changing a time zone. So 3pm now became 3.45pm. My afternoon snack consisted of cheese and crackers and were rushed across the road to me on a plate along with a handful of jellybeans. Grabbed the crackers but asked for the jellybeans in a zip lock bag.

As I knew it was going to be a big call to make it to Cocklebiddy I kept biking and the campervan pulled up beside me and a hand reached out with my bag of jellybeans. NO STICKY BOTTLE HERE. They were off.

Around a couple of corners and here was the campervan parked up on the side of the road. Just as I drew close to it they took off again. And the same happened another 10 kms up the road. But they were parked on the wrong side of the road. I biked straight past and kept pedalling. When I saw the sign CY 20 and my shadow was stretching across the road I knew I was going to be in trouble. Called up Murray on the 2 way. No reply. 5 mins later called again- no reply. Waited another 5 mins – no reply. My next comment was “ If this is your idea of a joke, I’m not laughing”. The sunset just as I passed the CY 10 sign. I had a back light on but no front light. “I DON’T BIKE AT NIGHT”   With tears welling in my eyes, I was panicking. Where were they. I had biked 240km and had another 10km to go. I know that for me to bike 10km from Feilding to my place it can take anything up to 20 mins. And the next 10km wasn’t going to be fast.The sun had set.  perth 4 012

With 3 km to go I heard a crackle on the radio.

“Where are you?”

“We are coming up behind you – we can see the lights of Cocklebiddy now”

That is interesting as even I couldn’t see the lights yet.

Around the next corner and there was Cocklebiddy and I pulled over to take the photo of me arriving again.

perth 4 011

M & M dashed off to check in.

Thursday Day 8 Cocklebiddy to Maduraperth 4 013

Funnily enough I wasn’t really feeling like doing a big ride today. It should really be a rest day. So as M & M were off playing the next hole at Cocklebiddy I headed off on my bike.

First stop at 3 hours. But in the meantime there was this grid to get over. perth 4 014perth 4 015I had to get off and walk across it as it was a man eater.

There was only one stop today ( and it was raining at the time so I was thankful for the campervan in sight)  as I was nearly at the end.

perth 4 016Madura is at the bottom of this hill. In fact as it had been raining I didn’t make the turnoff in to the roadhouse and went flying past. marees 019

Nothing like a couple of extra metres when you’ve only done 93km. marees 020

After a shower we all jumped in to the campervan and headed off to the lookout which showed the road that I would head along tomorrow and looking back along the hill I just biked down.

perth 4 018perth 4 019perth 4 021

perth 4 023Finally figured out how to use the timer on my camera so I could get in the photo.perth 4 024Notice the rainbow.

perth 4 026



Thursday Partly cloudy. Isolated showers in the east. Winds SW 15 to 20 km/h becoming light in the evening.

Click here for chapter 2