Desert stories.

Australia - Posted On

After the 372kms performance in a day, I went for a few days of rest playing the normal tourist in Coral Bay and Exmouth, famous for the coral reef and pristine beaches around. Of course I made sure to pass by Beno’s place in Coral Bay since he invited me in his place. Biggest ‘mistake’ ever. From day 1, Beno took me on a crazy wild party for ten days non-stop! This guy has got the Fire Energy. He never stops. That fits me perfectly... And puts my plans away straight away. I just wanted to stay one night and leave, but Beno gave me a caravan, a kayak, some snorkelling gear and a beer. I was lost.

One night, we were experimenting his 4WD maximum speed through the sand dunes in a remote place and were going to a magic surf spot. We were laughing hard as always about kangaroos jumping off the way one after the other. Suddenly we spotted a guy in the light. That was a complete nonsense as we were so remote from anything, and it was the middle of the night. We stopped, asked him what was going on, and he told us he was fleeing his stepdad who was mistreating him and wanted to walk or hitch back to Perth from this holiday camp they were having. He had been walking for 5 hours already. The only thing he had was a knife and a bottle of Jack Daniel. This last made him the mate of our little adventure. Plan was to drive him back on the main road the next morning. 

It didn’t end up so well for him as in the next early morning, while we were driving crazy back to town through the sand, he urged us to stop and threw up all he could. While I was filming and we were laughing hard about that poor kid, he took his bags, and threw himself out from the car telling us to go and leave him alone, in that crazy desert. Beno had to go fast to work, and other cars were in the area. We threw him two bottles of water and left him. It was at about the same place he started to walk the day before… Some weeks later Beno found out he went to the hospital for dehydration. Poor and crazy kid!

The road takes me again after that, for the next mission: Karijini National Park, famous for its pools and canyons, right in the middle of the arid desert. But the real destination is often the journey to get there. As always, I didn’t have expectations and I enjoyed it just as any other place I passed by. 

At Minylia roadhouse, I have the pleasure to meet Fisher, an Australian touring cyclist turning around the country on the opposite direction. When I talk to him about my latest best performance in a day of 372kms, he comments it with a “complete nonsense!”. Some weeks later I get a message describing how he covered 390kms from 8am to 3am the next morning with his 40-50kgs equipment, tailwind, in the Nullarbor plain. It’s not midnight to midnight, which is harder, but it must be graded as an excellent performance and that definitely puts the pressure on me to beat the 400kms.

It’s apparently the time to meet crazy cyclists as I meet also Ralph from Netherland, professional adventurer who tells me a crazy story while drinking together bottles after bottles of wines and smoking a whole packet of cigarettes, after his 150kms of riding. The next morning he wakes up with two small bottles of whiskey and gets going for the same. What’s special also about his adventure is his bike. It’s a rowing bike, like a recumbent but a rowing system instead of pedalling. Ralph has done Brisbane to Perth via the south coast with it last year; he’s now doing the other half passing via the north so that to circumnavigate the whole of Australia. Until late at night we kept talking about adventures and challenges rivalling who was crazier. He deserves a medal after having crossed twice both Atlantic and Pacific Ocean rowing solo, and attempting to cross the Indian as well but he got rolled over by two oil tankers in a row. He barely survived this time. He also crossed all Asia three times on a bike. Fully sponsored for his adventures, he’s a bit of a model for my career, except for the drinking and smoking part. For more information about him, look for “Ralph Tuijn Adventurer” on Facebook.

Tom Price, little mining town in the middle of the desert. 

Linda, the manager of the caravan park, passionate cyclist, had heard of me from the article on RideOn magazine and invite me as a special guest to stay for free there. She’s also a passionate climber of the local mountain the Mt Nameless and we break together the local record to climb it within 25min to the top. Of course I brought my paraglide and I end up flying from there with David, a Swiss pilot also travelling around here with his wing. 

Riding to Broome isn’t easy as from Port Hedland the main wind starts coming from the South East, and I get now the Trade Winds in the face. For the next 3000kms I will have to endure that. I also get on the busiest and most dangerous road I have been on for the all trip. Huge road trains, the longest they can get, always with four trailers each, pass me every few minutes. Often they come 4 or 5 at a time, I count sometimes 20 massive trailers that pass close to me at 100km/h. I feel so small, so weak in this crazy mining world! 

I manage to use my kite on my bike on some quieter area with endless treeless landscapes, and a perfect cross wind for some time, but whenever comes an obstacle for the wind, I get strong turbulences and I end up crashing on the sideway, the kite flying away like crazy. I better be cautious!

Broome is now reached, I’m at Fleur and Max’ place, a family all fond of touring bicycles. Ilona, Belgium backpacker I met both in Coral Bay and on the road decides to join me for the last bit to Darwin, meaning 2000kms of headwind. Good luck! Max and a local cyclist maniac named Smicko from Broome Bicycle Recycle foundation help us to find an old frame that we recycle as a beautiful touring bike fully ready to hit the road! Smicko is leading a local project for aboriginal kids to recycle bikes from old frames and bike scraps found all around the area. He tells me one day: “- We must change the world, one bike at a time!”. This is so true that I decide to try some fundraising on the way to Darwin to help him out. If you feel like helping this brilliant idea, feel free to go on the ‘donate’ button on my website and put “For Broome Recycle bike project” in the comments.

In Broome, I go straight to Cable Beach to fly my paraglide. It’s a good sand dune to fly the westerly breeze. I get lucky when getting perfect conditions a few days in a row. As sunset is the best to fly, I get also all the people coming to take pictures od the famous local sunset with the camels on the beach. I think I have never been photographed that many time before, I even appear in the local news! Two other pilots live in the area but we miss the opportunity to fly together. I like meeting the local pilot in these remote areas. This is where I can really feel most the happiness of sharing the rare passion of flying. It becomes incredible to find a fellow pilot as this sport is really magical and kept marginal in most areas. 

With Ilona we form now a team, ready to hit the road and the terrible headwind to Darwin. Leaving tomorrow!