This will likely be the shortest post on my Around Australia Ride blog due to one thing. Rain. It’s also the post with the fewest photos due to the camera being buried in my bags to avoid any moisture. Day 27 of the Around Australia Ride from Ceduna to Port Augusta started in the rain, had rain in the middle and was still raining at the end. It just did not let up all day and to top things off, it was very, very cold. Stops at petrol stations where an exercise in frustration trying to get out of wet weather gear and fishing out wallets with fingers that were quite literally numb. Numb for those of us without heated grips, gloves or jackets that is (looking at you Donna). I was cold, freezing and soaking wet. My body felt like it had taken a beating from being tense all day and mentally I was trashed. As far as riding conditions go this has been the absolute worst day of the whole trip – but it still beats working.
Riding in the rain is physically very exhausting, especially in really adverse conditions as today with blustery winds and cold. Additionally the road trains were a huge challenge causing whiteouts every time they pass. As the trucks came towards us with headlights blazing we were unable to see what was behind them. When they go by, a wall of water would be thrown at the riders obliterating all vision for a second or two. I was following Chris all day, as you don’t ride solo in conditions like this, and even his taillights would disappear from view in the wash of each road train leaving me to hope he would still be upright when I pop through the other side as well. Sometimes there would be two road trains, one straight after the other. Sometimes three, or even four, constantly slamming each bike with turbulence and wet stuff. Mentally it wears a rider down as well with the continuous need to be hyper-alert and vigilant. No daydreaming, even for a moment, otherwise you might miss that huge pool of standing water and start to aquaplane, or find you’re going too fast into a corner and loosing traction, or you might drift off the coarse middle of the lane into the shiny slick part of the lane and suddenly the bike rides like it has flat tyres. The almost 900km day to Carnarvon was a breeze compared to this.
Road weary and tired, once we got to Port Augusta there was probably not a single rider who hadn’t sprung a leak somewhere with their wet weather gear. A person could be forgiven for thinking that “wet weather” clothing should be waterproof, but consider the following. Imagine a wild storm where the rain never stops, the air temperature around 6oc, the winds are blowing at a constant 120kph and every minute or so the storm gusts to well over 220kph. Now imagine you are in these conditions for a minimum of five hours. Welcome to riding a motorcycle in freezing rain getting continuously blasted by road trains. A lot of people’s rooms had the heaters on full-ball with gloves, jackets, shirts, pants and just about anything else you can imagine drying in front of them. I think it might have been the first time anyone turned on a heater for the entire trip. The subsequent car park party was one to remember (or forget depending on your point of view) as the bar at the hotel wasn’t going to open until the evening. So we were forced to content ourselves with a quiet sophisticated drink under the hotel eaves with friendly and cheerful banter to get over the day’s trials. Please let the weather clear up for tomorrow.