The day Mel and I parted …

My head was obviously a bit out of sorts. I waved goodbye and was rolling out the driveway of the caravan park when Katie yelled after me, ‘when do you put your helmet on?’. Whoops. Went back to fetch it, strapped it on and took off again. That was this morning.

It was like the day Gill and Paul drove off for the last time, from the Nullarbor Roadhouse to head back to Perth leaving Mel and I looking at each other thinking the only way out of this place, was on a bike. We both freaked out a bit, took a few deep breaths. We had a day’s rest to get our heads around it. Watched some great midday tv. Then we pushed our bikes out the next morning as the sun came up, literally rising before us at the end of the road we were travelling on. It was the flattest landscape we’d cycled on, the biggest sky, nothing between us and the horizon, 360 degrees around us. It was a truly spectacular feeling.

So this morning I had to say goodbye to Mel. I started to get a few nerves. Mel has cycled with me since Esperance, almost bang on 2000km. Every day bar a few rest days. What an adventure it has been and what a cycling companion she has been. We have seen some of the most beautiful landscapes this country has to offer, watched it change and shift from the back of the bike. We have laughed till we cried, we have talked and talked and we’ve sat in silence, each listening to our toons, in our own bubble as we pedalled the long stretches of highway. Mel was also there in some dark times, when I got sick and couldn’t speak for three days because of an intensely sore throat and brutal cough. She kept the focus, made me cups of tea and pulled out the tarp so I could kip at our rest stops. All my energy was on turning the legs and I didn’t have anything left in the tank at the end of each day. She brought me soup in bed and got us safely to Ceduna where we had two rest days. It was just what the doctor ordered, literally. And then, with spirits and health improved, we rolled on through the beautiful Eyre Peninsular and on to Port Augusta where we met up with my next support crew – brother Michael and his family Katie, Lucas and Sonny. It was brilliant to see them, and battle it out over ping pong at the caravan park, although getting woken up at five this morning by 1000 Rebel motor bikers leaving town wasn’t the best start to the day! I missed Mel on the bike today, she would have loved the hills I had to climb! Mick joined me for some of the ride later in the day, some very sweet riding through undulating canola fields and gorgeous old towns. We’re now settled in at our cabin at Laura, with spaghetti bolognese on the cooker. Lucas and Sonny are catching flies. Mick and Katie are having beers on the balcony. Mel is probably sitting on a plane now, heading to Melbourne. See you soon Mel, it was truly fabulous. What a ride!

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10 days in pictures …

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Thank you from the Nullarbor

Through the great generosity of so many friends, family and strangers we have so far raised an amazing $16,673. In addition to what you see on the donations page of the website, this includes a $700 donation from overseas friends who donated directly to Parkinson’s NSW.

Donations have come from all over the globe, and range from a dollar received from a truckie we met at the WA-SA border to an anonymous $1000 donation and everything in between. The youngest donor has been three day old Ned, with the help of his lovely great grandma Nell. I am inspired by such generosity of spirit and would like to say an enormous thank you to everyone. It is fantastic that we are so close to our $20,000 target and if we get there, and I really believe we can, I can’t wait to see what we can achieve.

I am also loving reading all your comments, both on the donations page and Facebook. After a long day of cycling, often feeling tired and wondering if my legs will be able to turn the next day, reading people’s words and comments gives me such a boost. They really do inspire me to jump back on the bike and keep pedalling!

Thanks also to my gorgeous nieces and nephews – Zoe, Pippa, Sonny, Jack and Lucas – who made the fabulous signs you’ll see in the pics below. The signs are great, thank you! Can’t wait to see you on the road.

The other pics include people we’ve met and who’ve donated along the way.

Am now horizontal on my bed at the Nullarbor Roadhouse after a beautiful morning at the Head of the Bight watching thirty-odd mother whales with their calves. Quite something.

Will be pushing out again tomorrow across this incredible treeless plain. See you on the road …

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Oh the mighty Nullarbor headwind

We’ve heard about it. We knew it was coming. Our invisible nemesis. The Nullarbor headwind. There’s no escape. Though you can’t see it, it bears down on you like a massive invisible wall. And today, Mel and I were cycling straight into it. All day with no respite. And the heat came today too. Probably the hottest day of the trip so far. It was the first time we used the slipstream, one bike directly behind the other. At first we were swapping positions every ten k, to give the front person a rest, but even this was too much. So we switched more regularly. We took our first afternoon stop somewhere on a straight stretch because Mel’s mascot, a miniature cow called Daisy got blown right off her perch on the back of Mel’s bike. To get going again we had a highway boogy and sing to Its Raining Men. At our second stop we got hysterical. Tears of laughter streamed down our faces as we sat on the side of the highway fuelling on Snickers and snakes. A touch delirious perhaps. Passengers in passing cars seemed to be more animated too which was very welcome. Wild honks of horns, big happy waves, we even had kids from one family throw their arms out the window to wave at us. I think they knew we were doing it tough. It helped.

We’ve just come back from dinner with Gill and Paul. We struggled to sit up and hold a conversation. My eyelids are dropping, Mel’s asleep, and the zzzzz are calling. Up and at it again tomorrow. And over the WA-SA border actually. Another big milestone and something to help keep our legs turning. Here’s hoping for a change in wind direction. Night. Sogni d’oro x

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