Nov 17 2018
Dani had been with a pain in the achilles tendon for at least one month. We kept pedaling but we talked about that constantly. Franco and I trying to make Daniel realize that sooner or later we had to stop. We were talking about HIS tendon, not ours, but, knowing Daniel, getting him off the bicycle was one of the most complicated challenges.
In the previous days before arriving Paynesville, we happen to meet plenty of new people and the places where we slept were really different from the usual ones: the house of an Indonesian girl who invited us to spend the night after a brief talk outside a shop, the floor of an empty apartment which a stranger gave us the key after a chat in the street and a public restroom in the city of Stratford. I remember this night in Stratford more than any other because we met an exceptional musician named Willy at eleven o’clock in the evening in this public bathroom. He invited us to go to his van, where he lives, and we played music until late at night. It was crazy.
The point is that after so many places where you had to sleep and get up at dawn to leave no traces, getting to a town like Paynesville was a hug for the soul. Even more, when we met again with Bernie and Ruth Ryan. We knew them in South Australia, when we were playing at the Wirrulla Hotel. Bernie, a man of about 60, tall and robust, approached us after our little big concert (which lasted about three hours) and asked me to join him to the table where he was having dinner. There he was reproducing a YouTube video where I could see a kind of tin house floating in the lakes of Gippsland, southeast of Melbourne, about 2000 km from where we were sitting that night at the Wirrulla Hotel.
_“You and your mates have to come to play in the lakes. I wait for you in my house”
_”We will definitely go”, I said between laughs and after having a couple of beers”.
_”Here is my phone number for when you are close. You have to come”.
I gave him a presentation card from the The Bikings Project and told him that he could track our location on the GPS on our website. I said goodbye very quickly and joined Franco to continue entertaining the pub with more music.
Life kept going and we were again on our bicycles. I never thought of the meeting with Bernie again, which was very quick indeed and I did not fully understand what was all that floating house thing about. Was he the owner or that was just something crazy that had place in his hometown and wanted us to see it? I did not understand quite well so I never spoke of it again.
The interesting thing is that a long time after this fast encounter had happened, and to our surprise, we received an email from this man from Paynesville, Bernie. He told us that, according to what the GPS on the page of the Bikings said, we were about 700 km away from his house and he was waiting for us. Going to Paynesville to meet Bernie and Ruth again was now a must! These micro-objectives in this type of adventure are the best thing for the mind. A new place where to go and another reason keep on traveling. Paynesville, that’s the place.
We arrived Paynesville after having slept in the public bathroom in Stratford, as I said before. We meet Bernie again, the same tall and robust man, with completely white hair and eager to share. Ruth, a loving and extremely warm woman, invited us to enter what would be our new house while our stay in town. All the construction of their house was done by them with their own hands. Where we slept, it was a small apartment inside a big shed where Bernie works his projects. It was the place where they lived during the construction of the main house, which has a very particular, daring and incredible design. The TV even recorded a program with the process and the years it took to make the house. A very interesting documentary you can watch here:
In addition, they took Daniel to the doctor and helped him in his recovery.
These videos, photos and moments are a small piece of the many of things, we lived in this town called Paynesville, south of the state of Victoria, where we shared our music floating in the lakes in countless opportunities, witnessed different lifestyles and share with the local people who always teach us something new.
Many thanks to Bernie and Ruth!
Jun 17 2018
We tell the story of a different Nullarbor Plain. In truth, we are not yet within the Nullarbor Plain itself. Many Australians call the stretch from Norseman’s exit to the arrival at Ceduna, but the reality is that the Nullarbor Plain National Park extends from Eucla to Yalata, 400 km. approximately.
Why do I say it’s different?
This section is one of the most desert places in all of Australia. Little rain and a lot of heat, especially at this time of year that it`s summertime. We are in February and we are pursuing an anticyclone with permanent rains that allow us to advance a few kilometers apart from a cold temperature that forces us to wear a jacket. We try not to pedal too much down the water because we can not afford to get sick, the trip continues and a fever could delay us too much. Anyway, that’s what I mean with a different Nullarbor Plain. I understand that these rains must be ideal for these dry soils where a bit of green is admiration for anyone, but it definitely has us a little tired. We had to wait for a whole day sitting inside a bathroom and today is another day where you just have to sit, wait, read, write or just contemplate. Depending on the perspective on how you look at it, this situation can be beautiful too. We rest, the trees cool and the moment of writing appears surrounded by nature and kangaroos. Nothing bad.
We thought that this route covered 1200 km. without any trees, but the first days we were surprised to see some vast and beautiful trees. With an intense and clear green color in their glasses that bathed with the orange of the sun achieved a mixture that looked like a painting. Thus we managed to sit on the long bikes almost without feeling it. We were able to ride a lot and in a very enjoyable way. The places where you can find provisions or a telephone signal (or at least some people) are separated by 200 km. one of the other, but that did not matter. Pedaling became easy and our bicycles carried everything necessary to be independent of these places where, obviously, things are very expensive. We thought that walking this way was going to be very easy. We were even surprised to hear that many Australians highlight how lonely and hard this stretch was, too simple for us.
Suddenly, nature took out these airs of greatness with which we had been carrying and showed us that not everything is as simple as it seems. The rains started and all our clothes along with our sleeping tents got wet. The looks in the morning, in silence, showed that little by little things were getting difficult. The confinement in the bathroom bothered someone and the impotence of wanting to move forward and not being able to despair a little. Thus between talks, silences, readings, fugas appearances of people who came to talk, we spent the day and night came. As always happens to us, there is no harm that does not come good. An elderly couple living on the road 11 years ago came up and gave us the richest dinner of our lives. A hot stew to raise our spirits. The next morning of that day “lost” another pair of divers walked towards us and kindly gave us water (the most precious), fruit and sweet cakes that made us good to the soul. That way we started pedaling under the rain because waiting in the bathroom was not a valid option. It was 27 km. faster since our trip began. We made them very motivated with Aleix constantly shouting “Come on, come on, come on !!!”. It was a special day, where, for the first time, we went together and with the same rhythm during the whole day of pedaling, besides fighting against the rain and against our own limitations.
We arrived at Caiguna, another of these stations that are in the middle of nowhere and where things go three or four times more expensive than in any commonplace. We were happy and motivated. It should be noted that this trip is subject to constant changes of mood. It is like a roller coaster where in the morning you can lift badly, without desire, dejected and at night you can be the happiest person in the world. In Caiguna everything was good humor. We had achieved our goal of the day and we thought we could rest, take a shower, engage in some conversations, make new friends. But sometimes people complicate things. The owners of the station were not at all kind and all they wanted from us was the wallet. If not, we bought. The surprising thing was that despite having bought a bread, two snacks, some cookies and having paid for two showers they wanted to take us out. We left thinking that they were two bitter of life, but in reality, everyone does what they can and probably in other circumstances we could have had a good conversation. Who knows.
Why do I tell this?
Because I believe that good and bad situations have the same essence. They put us to the test and let us see that the perspective with which one looks at these encounters will determine our mood and our character. If one does not get angry and try to be empathetic, there was never a conflict because one of the two parties did not get into the problem. I have been told many times when in a fight one of the two does not want to fight there is no such fight. We try, or that we seek, that these situations serve us to learn because we know that all the people we come across want the best for our trip and we hope that all our expectations are met.
We are still on this route that is not as easy as we thought. We are below a canvas that covers us kindly from the rain and gives us a space to think and reflect. On our side, we have trees, ants, kangaroos, spiders, flies, which are sure to be grateful for this water falling from the sky that provides life and growth. We thank the reader, the one who is interested and the one who looks for new ways of seeing good and bad things from another perspective.
Jun 17 2018
The Great Ocean Road is for sure one of the most visited spots in the country. Both in winter and in summer, the coast of Victoria receives hundreds of tourists, mostly Asians. They rent a car or pay for a one-day trip bus (you can make it by bus leaving from Melbourne to the 12 Apostles and returning the same day). It is a short stretch of just 243 kilometers and borders the south-east coast of Australia. It goes from Torquay to Allansford. Lush forests, beaches, and viewpoints overlooking millenary rocks that emerge from the sea. Home of the famous “12 Apostles” and other magnificent stone formations such as “Loch Ard Gorge”, “The Grotto” and “London Bridge”, this road crosses several coastal towns and all of them are prepared to receive visits from all over the world. It can be done by car, bus, walking, cycling or whatever you want.
Riding the bicycles was a unique way of
THINGS TO TAKE INTO ACCOUNT BEFORE STARTING
1- Beware the cars! We got tired of listening to this recommendation, but on this road, we had to have more than attention. As mentioned, there is a lot of tourism that comes from China where the cars go in the opposite direction than Australia. There are signs written in Mandarin but there are several people who forget to drive in the correct lane. There is a high number of accidents and you have to be aware, visible and then enjoy.
2- There are steep climbs. We recommend doing it with the least possible weight on the bicycle. We carry instruments in two trailers so our weight is exaggeratedly heavy and some hills were really hard. So in more than in some sections, we had to go down the bike and carry them walking. Anyway, it can be done and it is not an extreme effort at all. There is water, people and food, so if you go with a lot of weight have a little bit of patience and pedal!
3- Enjoy the way. It is truly one of the most beautiful and attractive bike roads in the world. Being there was a very pleasant sensation. Take notice of the place where you are and understand that it is a unique opportunity.
I WARRNAMBOOL TO PETERBOROUGH
Warrnambool is a big city for what we were used to. We just spend the night to start with fresh energies.
On the outskirts of the city, we began to feel the landscape to come. Small houses up in the hills, a lot of climbing and beach vegetation. The first day we did a short bike ride of 53 km on the “Princes Highway”. It was cold and raining since we did it in the month of May. The beautiful thing about this day was that we were able to grab a bicycle trail along the coast that took us 5 km, little but ideal not to be constantly next to the cars. We arrived at a tiny town called Peterborough where we had to spend the night in the bathroom. It was very cold to sleep outside and being inside with shelter was the best solution. Eating early and having a good sleep.
II PETERBOROUGH TO PORT CAMPBELL
Here we began to acknowledge what great stones that appear in the middle of the ocean are like. While you are on the road, you see entrances to the different spots to see the rocks. This day we met “Bay of Islands”, “The Grotto”, “London Bridge” and “The Arch”. We decided to stop at all the entrances. We knew it was once in a lifetime opportunity and took advantage of each place we cycled through. Something we always try to do. These stones are incredible and in “Bay of Islands” we had a beautiful experience. We arrived very early, we were alone and we had breakfast there. We drank some “mate” and enjoyed that silent morning. The sound of the water was amazing and we stayed quiet for a long time. Afterward, we met several people who came to talk to us when they saw our bicycles. Finally, we arrived at Port Cambell after 16 km.
When we arrived in Port Cambell we spoke with Will and Fabiola, the couple that runs the Port Campbell hotel. She is from Peru and he is Australian. They invited us to eat and we played with Guampas del Sur at the bar. A luxury!
III PORT CAMPBELL
While we were playing at the hotel we met Railey. She is Australian and lived 6 months in Argentina. We talked for a good time and had a great night. Having no place to sleep, she invited us to spend the night at her grandparents’ house. It is the only house with an ocean view in the town of Port Cambell. A perfect and beautiful location. Railey told us that she had to go to Melbourne but we could stay there without any problem. We woke up we went to the place where her mother works to thank her for the invitation and saying goodbye to this beautiful town. Railey’s mother invited us to stay two more days in the house and we enjoyed it to the fullest. We got to know Port Cambell in depth and also, in a house overlooking the sea. We did one of the walks that takes you bordering the sea and the views are amazing. We couldn´t have had a better time.
You can discover the place through this video:
IV PORT CAMPBELL TO LAVERS HILL
Despite being comfortable in the dream house, we started a new cycling day again. Sometimes the beginning is hard, but once the legs start to warm up, there is no turning back. This day we were going to see the “12 apostles”, the great attraction of the Great Ocean Road. Honestly, the other stones have nothing to envy to the 12 apostles and can even be enjoyed more because there is not so much conglomeration of people. Before arriving you find the stones of “Loch Ard”, one of the most beautiful for us. As usual, we drank some “mate” while we talked with different people who came and got interested in our story. We took out the guitar, the box and sang. We made a video of the song “Y vos de mí” from Guampas del Sur and many tourists came curiously to see what we were doing.
You can watch the video here:
We decided to continue on our way to the “Otway National Park”. A bit of gravel road and we enter the forest. We saw a sand road and had the brilliant idea of pushing the bicycles 200 meters, believing that the road would then let us pedal. In total, we made 400 meters, 200 to go and 200 to return because it was impossible to walk around for 30 km. When returning and stopping a while in the national park, the night began to fall. We got on the bicycles and went in search of a farmer who let us camp in his garden. So it was then when we met a man of few words but generous enough to allow us camp in his old dairy farm. The terrain was irregular but we could sleep and eat very well.
V LAVERS HILL (where the forest meets the sea)
This is the description of the sign on the road that describes Lavers Hill. This small place is, generally, a place where people just stop for a coffee, eat something and continue. There is a motel to sleep in and a store, nothing more. It was a day of intense cycling going uphill. Up, up and up. Again, due to our weight, it became difficult but cycling inside the forest made it unique and unrepeatable. In Lavers Hill, we arrived at the store and they gave us food that was not going to be sold as they were about to close. We talked to the owner and she invited us to set up the tents in a garden that was next to the store. It is a specially designed garden and it was full of flowers and colors. We set up the tents, ate a lentil stew and went to the hotel. We ordered a beer and then went to sleep.
VI LAVERS HILL TO APOLLO BAY (Through Beech Forest)
It was a very wise decision to go through “Beech Forest”. The question was the following: go to Apollo Bay by taking the sea or entering the forest. The forest required more uphills and the sea seemed to have a less “hard” path. We decided to go towards the forest and we did not regret it. In fact, it is obligatory to do it! The road is pure forest, fresh air, tall trees, animal sounds. It seemed to be a movie. Many climbs but many downhills too. The Great Ocean Road constantly borders the sea, so climbing here is different and special. Fortunately, it was a weekday so it was not full of cars. In this section, you have to be very careful because the road is very winding and there is no place for bicycles. The cars pass very close and you always have to be visible. It’s worth it, if your idea is to do this route YOU MUST to go through this place.
Just before arriving at Apollo Bay we called the hotel and they invited us to play that same night. Food, beers and a good bed. People got into music and we had a very fun night.
We stayed one more day and we also played in the Brewhouse of the town, they gave us food and accommodation as well.
Apollo Bay has some amazing beaches and people. Another must go!
VII APOLLO BAY TO LORNE
This section is extremely beautiful. You are cycling along the coast and the whole visual is unique. As in all the Great Ocean Road, there are long climbs, but there are also downhills to breathe a bit. We cycled all day each on their own peace and the day was great to enjoy the sport. The clear blue sky, the bays that can be seen in the distance, the joy of being in that earthly paradise.
Arriving in Lorne we found a group of Argentines who lived all together in a house and invited us to come in. We played some music and called the Lorne bowling club. They were waiting for us with dinner ready and the sound system ready for our arrival. So we arrived and met Luke, Tobi, and Christy. They are very kind and generous people. Tobi told us that after closing the place we could sleep at his house. Luke and Christy prepared an exquisite meal for us. Again, a night to remember and with the news that the following day there would be a “jam session” at the venue. We had to go, so we decided to stay the next day too.
VIII LORNE AND THE JAM SESSION
Lorne is so nice. The streets of the town have plenty of hills, a lot, and all the houses are hidden among the big trees. On the terrace of Tobi’s house, we could see and hear all kinds of birds. The house welcomed us and all the people who lived in it also. We took advantage of the fact that we had internet and we received a call from a radio station in Argentina. We answered questions and it was a productive morning.
In the afternoon we walked the town and at night we went to the bowling club for the Jam Session. We played for around 4 hours between everyone. There were many people and we talked to several locals and people from nearby towns. Again, great food.
IX LORNE TO AYRES INLET
We saw the lighthouse in the distance. At the end of the bay, it stood majestically waiting for us. The road is similar, almost identical to the one we traveled from Apollo Bay to Lorne. Once you’re immersed you normalize the road, but every km is even more beautiful. The Great Ocean Road is amazing from start to finish.
Our goal was the lighthouse, we did not know the name of the town we were going to, or how many people lived there or where we were going to sleep. That did not matter, we just wanted to get to the lighthouse.
When we arrived we took out the instruments and decided to record a song in that beautiful location. We were so happy that we did not want to miss the sunset from that location, but we had to be sure we could find somewhere to sleep before the sun came down.
You can watch the song here:
We went to the village store, the only one to buy some vegetables. We tried to talk to some people to give us shelter but without success, we decided that we had to set up the tents.
The local employee, Gill, asked us where we were going to sleep. When we answered that we had no idea, she invited us to spend the night at her house. She cooked for us an amazing risotto and we enjoyed the great company.
X AYRES INLET TO GEELONG
Gill, uploaded a photo to her Instagram about us and our trip. A friend of her, Sue, commented on the post and said that she was welcoming us at her house in Geelong. The city is passing Torquay, which is the end of the Great Ocean Road.
We started pedaling with the idea that someone was going to host us so the day started with a lot of motivation.
In Torquay, we only stopped to buy a fruit and rest a little. From there, only 20 km remained to reach Geelong. It was raining and the cold was increasing. When we started cycling that last stretch we found two cycle tourists. Arith, from Sri Lanka and Johann from France. Both were pedaling long stretches through Australia and one of them was a bicycle repair technician. Although the weather was not the best, the meeting lasted about two hours under the drizzle. We shared many stories in common and they helped us repair some things on our bikes. With a hug and wanting to meet again in the future, we continued our way to Geelong. We finished the Great Ocean Road!
We arrived at Geelong and the doors and life of two more people were opened to us. Sue and Justin. It would be necessary to write a book on how this couple treated us and the moments lived together with them, but it is for another story. The important thing is that we complete the route and lived one more incredible experience.
If you are thinking about doing this route, stop thinking. Just go for it that you will find beautiful landscapes, people, smells, sounds, and unforgettable places. Surely this is one of the most beautiful routes through which we will travel in our life. We thank all the people who gave us their trust and support to continue making this trip a story for our future life. Let’s travel and discover places, trust and open ourselves to people, that life is only once.
Abr 19 2018
First I imagined, desired, created, idealized, projected, materialized it and now I write from the sensations experienced. The best time investment is the one used towards the realization of dreams.
Since I was little, Adventure has been special for me. I come from a numerous family ( seven siblings ) in which I am the fourth one out of seven. We used to spend two complete months on our holidays in the mountains of Córdoba province in Argentina. Almost daily and sometimes, forced by my father, we woke up at early morning to go for a hike. There were hikes of all kinds and in every direction. Some were short, in which we took advantage of the water/waterfall and spent the whole day there and other, quite long ones, that took us all day of pure walking. In both cases we packed with food, distributed water equally and ended up exhausted. I remember the sunburned faces and the hunger everyone had. This childhood is responsible for the delirious sense of adventure that I got now. Locating the north with a homemade compass, pointing out the south with a cross at night and knowing that you always have to follow the river when lost, were the first lessons.
“Contact with nature provides some sensations that you won’t find anywhere else.”
The silence. The flora and fauna. Watching the horizon. The immensity. To be sitting on a stone, almost two thousand meters high, boiling water to have a soup that you will enjoy while watching the sunset is addictive. Prioritizing these experiences, living in the city is complicated. Personal time is rare and time perception is over accelerated.
Adapting on the way: sticking to the plan.
Being in Spain doing a working season, the idea of working in Australia, to afterward travel around with a van came to mind. When doing the last minute paperwork, already with my ticket in hand, I realized that I had lost my driver’s license. It is one of the few procedures that you can’t do overseas and which takes time, so until I will return to Buenos Aires, Argentina, I won’t be able to drive. And now what? My eldest sister planted a seed that now sees its fruit. She gave me a book of a cycle tourist that pedaled through Australia. Before reaching the new destination, I had already read half of the book. The HOW changed but I still had the fixed idea of traveling around the country.
“I still feel young. It is now when I can do it”.
Little by little I started planning the structure of the trip that I am in now and from which I am writing. It took almost two years to prepare it.
Once in Sydney, I got a work as a hotel receptionist. As soon as I earned some money I bought myself a bike. Not mountain nor urban. Rather a simple and solid: a touring one. With some few kilometers ridden, I got a second job as a delivery guy with my bike and for over 9 months cycling around was my every day job. I needed to equip myself and have enough money to be able to travel. Panniers, camera, solar panels and camping gear ( tent, sleeping bag, burner, headlamp and many more ). It was then when I met @aleixpinadella. Born in Catalonia, he also spent his hours working with his bike and as a bartender in a bar. It didn’t take long till he decided to join the adventure. Two months before our visa expired we organized a pilot trip to the Northern Territory, center of Australia. We were in great physical condition and wanted the trip to be extreme. We needed an experience like that. And so it was and for 21 days we cycled from Alice Springs to Uluru, going through the Mereenie Loop, an unsealed road of around 120 km in the middle of November.
The traced route was 1200 km long. We went for holidays, hobby and as an experience. I had already the idea of a longer trip in my mind so we took advantage of the trip to generate content freely. There were no brands involved. It was a hard trip because of the heat and the gravel.
The daily distances were close to 100 km. Between us, there were no complications. Dividing tasks in an equivalent way is easy being just two. Two days after having finalized the trip, I was back in Buenos Aires, Argentina after 2 years, with plenty of content and wanting to keep on traveling.
Solo Bike Touring Experience
Costa Rica was the next destination. I worked there for 6 months in an ad agency. The bike obviously traveled with me. I haven’t given it a name or nickname yet. I pictured myself surfing and living near to the beach. San José, where I lived, is the capital and located in centre of the country. Except in summer, it rains almost every day and work took up most of my time.
“I think it’s the pressure of knowing something is about to end, that drives me to make certain decisions”.
In this case, I asked for a few days off in the office and went for a ten-day travel to Cuba with the bike. For the first time alone. Almost six hundred kilometers and a few postcards in memory. I like the silence. Loneliness too. It is in the immensity where my thoughts flow positively. Of course, movement as the main motor. All decisions are personal and there is no one to interfere with it.
“By cycling alone, delegating tasks does not exist and laziness disappears”.
Humor shifts to the background. Nor there isn’t anyone complaining. And if that was the case, I would then grab my bike and leave. It’s a simple plan. Serenity is key and having a clear mind on what I’m doing, even more. Going flat eight times in a couple of hours can become annoying or not. It is the present situation and the only thing what matters then is to solve this situation. It’s all about that. When being in contact with nature and facing adversities, one is resolutive. I could then think if things could have turned out differently but it’s not the case. I adapt easily to the circumstance.
“Traveling alone for a couple of days is an experience that I recommend to auto-gift yourself”.
Group bike touring around Australia
I find myself now in Norseman, Australia. A month ago, together with three friends, we started cycling from Perth. The idea is to cycle all around Australia. We were expecting to find a really hot climate, but January in the Westside surprised me. Several cloudy days, others rainy and very few extreme heats.
This trip with The Bikings Project is different. We have to generate content. There are several brands involved and the group harmony is required to be able to transmit something beautiful and genuine.
Understanding the extension of it is what makes it complex. The goal is almost a year away. In kilometers, it is about 16 thousand but I already learned that this number does not mean anything. Sleeping in the outdoors and being in the sun all day is exhausting. Sharing the breakfast, lunch, and dinner too. The minimum complaint can be the cause of many hours of mind thinking while cycling.
“Easing against situations becomes obligatory. An art that you have to master or to learn on the way”.
Losing the perspective can be very easy. Also the notion of where we are and what we are doing. We are used to something totally different. Consuming, competing and being constantly “connected”. There are many times when I find it hard to enjoy the present moment and I realised it is because my thoughts are not aligned with the big picture. Looking after each other and being attentive to keep our words steady, when cycling at four is sometimes challenging. What an experiment! The mental work goes up first in the list of priorities for us to be able to continue with the trip.
“In every group there is a natural leader”.
In this case, I am the eldest of the four and bearing the work position, I work towards the group wellbeing. Below is a series of organizational tools that help the team and we have been applying them for a while now.
To begin with: Security
Having and following a protocol is essential. Knowing how to act in front of different situations is not random. We must always contemplate the integrity of the four of us. Easing is the mother norm. There is always someone crazier than you and being on a bicycle in the middle of the route makes us vulnerable. Easing by perspective. Each one carries a walkie-talkie. They have a range of 60 kilometers which we have not tested yet… The wind usually generates a lot of noise. Knowing that channel 40 is the one used by trucks gives us some security. They would be the ones who would intervene in the first instance if we had a problem ( hopefully we never have to contact them). Rearview mirrors were our last acquisition. Really important when facing one-way routes full of trucks that pull almost 120 tons of cargo. Stopping and standing aside is the most sensible and responsible thing to do. The sun in this country is very strong and in many sectors the shadow is null. Using sunscreen in the morning is vital to avoid risks. A sunburn would not only be painful but would delay the whole group.
“No one can afford to be irresponsible”
When traveling alone the responsibility is not delegated and attention to things is bigger. I trace the route previously and do a really deep research of the place. I try to contact a local to have where to sleep the first days and from there, finish organizing the trip.
“Planning does not reduce the sense of adventure”.
Fuel and fire. In Australia this is the main issue. It rains very little and the landscape becomes super flammable. In fact, setting up a fire is fined with about a thousand dollars all around the country. Our kitchen goes with gasoline. Through air pressure, the fire that is generated is very controlled. We turn it on once a day and is due to the time it takes us to cook. The fact that we are a group ubicates yourself. There are times when the voracious appetite leads to bad decisions in a supermarket and that one of the group making us stop, means a celebration for the economy.
I´m not a great cook and in cases of need I don’t freak myself out. @francobicicleta is a cook and his culinary experience enrich every meal. Many tasks are divided by the mere fact of predisposition. In this case, spices and techniques are more than useful for the group’s diet. Calculating quantities, cooking times and alternatives. Having sixteen panniers and two trailers allow us to carry ingredients that if traveling alone wouldn´t exist. We have oatmeal with raisins, coconut, honey and cereals for breakfast … A luxury.
Cycling in a group without being a bunch
At times we ride altogether. Cycling at 30 km per hour fully loaded and screaming with happiness is something beautiful. If we divide ourselves for many kilometers, we know that we will meet at a scheduled point. Waiting is something that exercises patience. However, many times it is a cause for discouragement and negativity. When you go flat it is pleasant to have a team that encourages and helps to change the tyre. Otherwise, it could mean a delay, slowing of cycling rhythm, cooling down and losing attention.
Cycling in a group has these types of dichotomies when facing a situation. The same with breakfast, dinner, etc.
Pedaling alone is something beautiful. FREE WILL is present at all times and the HOW as well. It can become a bit arduous on long trips. Not for the fact of making all the decisions by yourself but rather because of loneliness. I get along well with myself and enjoy my company. I spend time reading, making videos and photos.
Give yourself the opportunity!
Movement is something unique. So unique that people greet, smile and encourage us when overtaking with the car or from the same sidewalk. Of all the ages and in any situation some curious people approach us in search of hearing a little bit of the story. It is simple and primitive. Riding a bicycle requires a bicycle and the desire. I recommend traveling like that. Both in a group or alone. For some days, months or for a couple of years. The route is just an excuse. Being at nature’s mercy, exposed twenty-four hours a day has its consequences. Purple necks, slanted eyes, and a hungry smile. Along the way, the number of people you get to know is something that only happens because of the circumstance. Because of asking for directions, shelter or for sharing a dinner.
“I learned this way to be present. Understand that time goes by and instants are the stories that I later have to tell”.
writen by @francobicicleta and @rechtdaniel
Abr 11 2018
If you haven´t had the opportunity to read “Week I”, you can do it through the following link:
Day 8 :
From the moment my eyes opened, I could audibly listen to the drops falling against the tents’ walls. Rain had poured all night and didn’t show any signs of stopping. We had breakfast under the cover of a roof and our long, weary faces expressed our little will to continue. We then decided to wait. A short while turned into hours, and suddenly, we had spent all day in. We read, we wrote and sometimes we sat by the fire to discuss and connect. Around 2 pm some of us thought it wise to go to a gas station. They believed last days episode had probably been the product of a bad day and went with the idea of drinking some beers together. I chose to remain alone in the camp and enjoy my solitude. I pondered on astronauts lives and how they spend whole months in small, isolated cubicles. I thought about their dinners and the stability they need to have. Not one hour had gone by and the boys had returned. Something inexplicable had happened. They weren’t allowed to drink it inside and had to buy some and drink it outside. Drops were falling without mercy and without any type of beer, they furiously returned to the camp. We ate rice with cans and decided that we definitely had to continue moving the next day. As dessert we had some chocolate cookies and with their sweetness came a change in character. We went to sleep motivated.
Day 9 :
The beginning of the journey was, for lack of a better word, epic. Determination.That was what we had. As we devoured our oatmeal, we pumped up ourselves to leave. It was still raining. We undid everything at an incredible speed. The closest gas station was 66 km away.
Pedalling was thrilling: we were all pleased, all wet, everything was wet. The rain ceased and thanks to the last 10 km we were able to arrive safe and dry.
We were ridden with excitement. We had made it. In order to celebrate the sun’s appearance, our riding and our attitude, Daniel bought the four of us a beer and ordered a plate of fries. As he waited for his fries to arrive, Daniel recounted the last days situations to the man who was serving us.The man showed tremendous interest and he even wrote down our complaints. Once he was finished he shared his dislike for the couple who ran the place we were in. Finally, when the food was done, he came up with two plates instead of one. With a smug wink he left us happily swallowing our fries. The price of water here was much more reasonable: 2 dollars for 2 litres. We charged our computers and batteries and around 4 pm we resumed our journey. We rode 20km as the sun set. We settled down and ate pasta with tomato sauce. The famine generated by such exhaustive exercise adds an extra flavour to any food we eat. For dessert we all had some piece of chocolate and we agreed upon a new goal: 70 km. Our rhythm had been good and the last few days had been an emotional rollercoaster. As I laid down I reflected upon the beauty of it: Determination.
Day 10 :
We were almost about to leave when a puncture added on 30 minutes. The sky was cloudy and the morale was high. We were all looking forward to pedalling. We began at about 8 am and without any stop we reached our first goal: 70 km.
We ate some couscous we were able to cook thanks to some hot free water they offered us at a gas station. The team was almost absurdly hungry. The woman in the gas station was very generous, she gave us access to the bathrooms and showering was beautiful. We packed all the equipment and then went on to wait for the food and the sun to go down. Working within a bathroom sure was unprecedented and seemed funny and amazing to us.
Before starting up again we loaded some gas for the kitchen and while doing so I remembered we were out of salt. In searching for the kitchen I bumped into a piano and was unable to resist the urge of playing. We then bought some eggs and some bread, and with a load of salt in hand, we entered the route again. We achieved a feat: our first 100 km. The wind did not tumble our state of mind; we were delighted, energized and the sun was looking down on us. The arrival was magical. Before I was even able to get down from my bike, I noticed a man who lived there had left a bottle of bourbon and 4 cokes out for us. We were overjoyed and rather emotional.
It wasn’t merely the gifts they gave us but rather the notion of the sacrifice and effort that is needed for those to even exist. They offered us whiskey as well as unlimited water, paper towels, rice, and many other delicious foods. For dinner we had rice and for dessert some chocolate they gifted us. We slept thoroughly and spiritually complete.
Breakfast was different this day. We had some eggs left from the previous day and we decided to fry two for each of us. Last nights dinner had been more that we had bargained for and nonetheless we found ourselves hungry for even more. We had some bread and butter and we were ready to face the trail, our objective this time was 80 km.
Aleix shot forward like never before, he was excited to meet the goal. The rest of us decided to keep a slower pace and at one point we decided to stop and observe an abandoned car. As soon as we started up again, rain started pouring like we’d never seen before. We had to act quickly and so we covered everything we could as fast as we could.
From time to time the sun mocked us from the cracks in the clouds and then some drops poured again. During the last 10 km the wind blew against us and grew to become rather violent. We were now extremely tired and hungry. We reached our goal at around 2 pm having pedaled for around 4 and a half hours. Whilst I was cooking up some ‘polenta’, two cars approached our improvised campsite. One of them belonged to a young German couple and the other to an Australian man whose job partly consisted of taking this van to whichever city he was going to. Before even striking up a conversation, the man took out four ice cold beers from his trunk: a beautiful welcome. As we drank and cheered, we realized our day was over. After 15 more minutes of interesting conversation, they decided to go and left behind a kilo of rice and some bread.
In the afternoon we collected some wood and at night we lighted our first fire.
We all sat around and contemplated the crackling of the flaming wood and understood the moments uniqueness. As we absorbed the beauty of it, we ate some rice with canned champignons (not that tasty by the way). We then proceeded to sleep happily and full.
The sky was still dark as we awoke. We could sense the day ahead would be extremely hot and with little to no shade. After having breakfast, we decided to take some shots, some angles, we wrote for a while and we started the journey. We found a tank of water 8 km into the road and roadhouse 10 km in.
As soon as we hit the road we felt a sort of unforgiving wind against us. After loading up with water, we headed towards a gas station. Our only intention behind going there was to take a little break. As we got near our first goal, a sympathetic man stopped us and after some questions asked for a photograph. Thrilled by our accounts, he gave us some food and we continued onwards. These types of encounters are morally enriching and provide us with an inexplicable gratitude.
Due to my mental and physical exhaustion and little will to pedal that day, I arrived last. Upon arrival, Daniel tried to motivate us with some homemade cookies and inspiring words. Nonetheless, the group’s unwillingness to continue grew stronger and spread like a virus.
I suddenly remembered: we needed oats. We had fallen short of them and we still had 8 days to go. At first, the shop’s personnel told us they didn’t sell any. I must have gone to the counter about 4 or 5 times without meaning to buy anything. I talked to the two women who were standing behind it and to the fellow in the kitchen. I told them about my lack of enthusiasm to continue with that days journey and about the project. As I talked to these people, a growing desire to stay there developed in me. Each time I went out again I said goodbye and we all laughed together. Finally, the last time I went in I gifted them a sticker. Then I noticed they were holding two great bags of oats. A smile appeared on my face. We haven’t had any kind of problems with stock yet. I didn’t want to leave the shop… I was at ease, calm. The conversation continued and the idea of staying to play some songs in the bar at night rose to our encounter. No one opposed this idea, we all knew it was a good option. The locals let us use the installations and camp there. I had the keys to the showers and bathrooms and also to electricity.
We had moved 10 km and as with everything in life, the issue on whether those kilometres were a lot or very few is relative to the perspective one decides to take. I believe it’s worth noting that all this happened before 10 AM. Once we were settled, we decided to gift ourselves the beauty of a warm shower. In this time, we decided to trade traveled distance for hours of editing and material selection. After some well deserved leisure time, we got together and organized the tasks. This is where Matthew, a Liverpool native, enters the narrative. He was a boy scout or something of the sort. In any case, a born adventurer. He had been working some periods in national parks and had been around the world climbing mountains, kayaking and observing birds. He had a thick and luscious mustache.
He paid close attention to our conversation and meanwhile swallowed a bag of homemade chips and a litre of cold milk. He had come to Australia with a partner in order to walk around the whole country. This partner, after suffering from a stroke when he was 27 years old, decided to invest himself in the cause. He decided to raise funds for research. Matthew then explained how the relationship between his partner and himself had become too strained due to differences in personalities and ethical issues and had to part ways. Without getting into much more detail, he then revealed to us that once he changed paths with his partner he decided to meet up with his sister in Perth, 3000 km from where he was now. He had been able to find most of his equipment for free basically and with a bike from the supermarket he sat in front of us placidly enjoying his chips. After a while, the guy felt as part of the crew and we all shared some couscous.
At 5 PM Maxo and I started playing some songs in the bar. During the first song, a couple of bikers and the personnel looked genuinely happy. Slowly, the bar started filling up and my sobriety started falling down. At one point, we were all singing, or rather, shouting some classics a french guy started playing for us. Seeing and being a part of all this was a beautiful experience. French fries were passed around. The good thing about starting early was that before even reaching 12 AM we were already arranging the bar and getting ready to sleep. We slept soundly and happily.
On this day we woke up late and feeling tremendously lazy. Around 9 am we all finished our breakfast. I had a terrible hangover and the rest of the boys were extremely tired. After a brief meeting, we came to the agreement that we were going to stay put, no one could continue in such poor conditions. We had electricity. During the course of the previous day, due to a variety of reasons, we hadn’t sat down and worked on the material. Giving back the keys of the restrooms marked the last step before resuming the cycling. When we went to return the keys we realized the locals hadn’t noticed we were going to leave. We could tell thanks to the fact that when we gave them back, the manager met my gesture with the gifting of a whole cake. Given the circumstances and the fact that we were allowed to stay one more day in the parking space in exchange for some live music that night, we decided to stay and work while eating carrot cake.
We went to play in the afternoon and the place was rather empty and the staff looked weary from last nights hangover. The gig didn’t last for too long.
Dani and I stayed up arranging the bar once again while Maxo and Tito prepared dinner: some pasta with sauce. Dani brought some banana bread the staff had
Once again, we went to sleep with our bellies full and our hearts at ease. The Western was keeping us at bay in the best way possible. The following day we would have to cross to the southern state of the country.
We woke up hungry for cycling. We had left our bikes ready the night before in order to make the departure as efficient as possible. Breakfast was served. We undid our tents, bid farewell to the personnel and hit the road.
The weather was perfect: a bit of wind hit our backs and some kind clouds hid the sun from hurting us too much. Having rested for almost two full days, we mounted our bikes and with an incredible average speed of 30 km per hour we stopped at 55 km.
We were now facing the reality of having to climb the only ascent and waiting at its end was Eucla: the last station before reaching the frontier. The crew rushed on forward whilst I stayed behind and contemplated the view. When I climbed back on the bike I was faced with a bizarre situation: the back wheel was moving from side to side and bumping into the frame. Luckily, even though the probability was high, I didn’t suffer any blows. Most of the spokes were loose and two of them were broken. I disassembled the saddlebags and I put my finger up. After around 5 minutes give or take, a car stopped and helped me. I went on to load the bike on the roof of the car and they kindly gave me a ride to Eucla where the guys were waiting for me.
We weren’t carrying neither the tools or enough knowledge to be able to fix the situation. This is how I was then left to carry on a new mission which consisted in taking the bike to the nearest Bike Repair Shop. This was located in Port Augusta, 1200 km away. During his new mission, a new character entered the scene: Steve. Steve, an English explorer showed all possible willingness to help but was faced with the reality of lacking the tools. Steve was with a production company. They were filming an episode on caves in the Nullarbor cliffs and Steve was the guide.
Steve the explorerThanks to this encounter the sound engineer of the production gave me a ride up to the frontier (12 km) place in which the trucks tend to park. Since childhood, I’ve always held a strange and profound interest for survival reality shows. This man had been working 20 years for this type of adventures. During conversation revealed to me the following declaration “…they (referring to the “explorers” he worked with) travel in business class and eat better meals than us…you, on the other hand, are real adventurers”. I got out of the car feeling terribly motivated. I found myself standing on the frontier and heading towards an incredible mission.
While talking to every truck driver I encountered looking for a ride, the boys arrived. It took two hours to get the final lift. After a group hug I sat on the truck, excited for the upcoming adventure.
In the next blog, I will write about everything that happened in the 2100 km I made to fix the bike and meet the boys again.
Writen by @francobicicleta
Mar 31 2018
This time we had decided not to go to the Roadhouse and to camp 10 km. before in the “bush”. We know that in the stations they charge 20 dollars for setting up the tent and we could definitely avoid it. It’s literally the same thing to go to sleep in the middle of nowhere than in the middle of nowhere but with 6 persons near you. Then we slept and for the first time we set a fire for dinner. It was a different night where we all felt trapped by the flames and the silence became present in an atmosphere of joy. I could assure that we all felt good and confortable that night.
We were being happy, which is always an instant moment and we tend not to notice. This time, I’m sure we did.
Our first bonfire.
Waking up was a thing of every day and the discipline of getting on the bike and pedaling too. Oatmeal with cereal, some honey, and water to start what would be a hot cycling day under a brilliant sun above our helmets. We started slowly so that the legs got into the rhythm and little by little they remembered what they would to do for the rest of the day, except that this time something different happened.
10 km after starting we came across the Roadhouse, which, as I mentioned before, we were not going to stop because we did not need anything and didn´t want to spend any money. Dani, who was ahead of us, had the interesting idea of entering the station and buying cookies for everyone. Once we have eaten them, we would follow the course.
We found the place beautiful. It had a different energy to the other Roadhouses where we´ve been and we could hear a very cheerful music. A kind of summer reggae. The intense sun felt beautiful.
Mundrabilla´s Roadhouse from the outside.
We walked a few meters in and saw a grass that invited us to rest, some tables to sit down and some people that were interested in our story. Franco was the first to take a step forward and started a conversation with the manager of the place. Her name was “Mari” and she gave us 2 bags of oatmeal because we were running out of them. We told her about the project and she empathized with us straight away.
¨We are 4 young guys riding our bicycles all the way around Australia. We film, we like to play music and talk with people. We would like to play here today and generate a good atmosphere. You can see what we do. Here you have a sticker. The Bikings Project, search us on the internet. “
Something like that is what introduces us to people (not always obviously) and makes them interested in our project. We arranged with Mari that we could play at night in the bar and that we could camp for free. With only 10 kms. done throughout the whole day we embraced happily with the fact of staying one day in that roadhouse.
From there on everything was crazy.
We met Matthew. An English cyclist who stayed with us to camp and enjoy some songs. He told us that he started with a project of traveling all over Australia by foot. The trip presented some complications of “human relation” level that made him chose to continue alone on a bicycle. He is a very interesting person and with a humor very similar to ours, so getting along was easy. Inside the Roadhouse the employees were very good people. They gave us food and a few beers as a gift. Many people arrived and the atmosphere was improving more and more. A truck driver was very happy with everything and clapped loudly and bought beers. Later, 4 young people arrived. One from Portugal with his friend from Germany who traveled together making music, a situation identical to mine with Franco. They were with two friends, one from Sweden and one from France. Everyone joined in the singing and a couple of musicians played a few songs. It was very good to listen to them and they did it very well. They also played songs in English and that got people to sing and dance. It was awesome. We all congratulated ourselves for being good, kind and making others have a good time, despite not knowing each other.
The name of this Roadhouse is “Mundrabilla” and it is very close to the border between Western Australia and South Australia. It is in a very remote place where the people who live there relate to each other every day. It is a very dry and desert place. They constantly receive Australians, tourists, cyclists, travelers and other many people from all over the world. I would like to highlight an interesting thing. Without knowing each other, we decided to give ourselves a good time with each other. And what a good time. Unique and authentic. Full of interest, especially open to receive and give.
FULL of music, like always.
writen by @maxocadel
Mar 19 2018
From Perth it was the Nullarbor Plain that got all the attention. They told us we were mad, that the heat in this instance of the year was a real deal, that there were tons of dangerous trucks and all kind of stories. Its infinite length, the lack of resources and the little car circulation. Oh, and many Japanese going solo at the same time … Of all the traced route, this was the only part people got stressed with. From hearing so much it generated a lot of expectation in the group. From the very beginning, we knew that in the second month of the project, we would come across an interesting challenge. Nullarbor means “no trees”. The service stations are about 200 km from each other. The total extension is close to 1200 km. This and that the temperatures would be around 35 degrees average, was almost all we knew. Some said that we would have the wind behind us, others in front and without knowing we kept on with our routine.
Nullarbor means “no trees”. The service stations are about 200 km from each other. The total extension is close to 1200 km.
In Esperance, we stayed three days. We had the intention of visiting its beautiful beaches but the weather was not favorable. The only afternoon when the sun came out we could enjoy two hours of its white sand. A black cloud anticipated our departure and back to the camp we finished organizing everything. There we stock up for almost 24 days. Three days before Norseman, that is to say, 200 km, we loaded ourselves to our maximum capacity. We re-organized all the panniers and distribute the weight. 50 cans of all kinds, 7 kilos of oats, 1/2 kilo of grated coconut, 8 kilos of nuts, 10 kilos of rice, 12 kilos of pasta, 8 liters of tomato sauce, 4 kilos of polenta, 4 kilos of cous -cous, 4 kilos of pressed cereals, peanut butter, honey and olive oil. With a maximum capacity of 70 liters of water, we put ourselves and the equipment to the test and with great patience we left.
The last town before entering the mythical route is called Norseman. There Theresa received us in her hotel and I will not tell much more since she deserves a whole paragraph. I will only anticipate that for our farewell dinner she cooked us pink salmon in papillote that I accompanied with mashed potatoes and broccoli.
We left around 9 am not before taking our classical group photo with the hotel staff. Saying goodbye and dividing the provisions took more time than expected. We had a champion’s breakfast, like every day. Oatmeal cooked with raisins and a grated coconut crust on top with some cinnamon and honey.
After a good rest, we smashed the first 80 km. To everyone’s surprise the landscape remained the same as the previous days. Accompanied by the sun during the whole day we arrived at 4 p.m. to the rest area. A table with two benches. Some bins and nothing else. A curious person approached willing to talk and invited us some very cold beers. Beautiful welcome. We dined rice with two cans of beans and as soon as we could, we went to sleep. I arrived exhausted. I had no strength and I think I got insulated. It was the fourth day that I carry with the trailer and Maxo accompanied me the last kilometers, lifting the mood. When I arrived, I armed the hammok and after two hours I could not lower the heart beats. With a stomachache I went to sleep hoping that tomorrow I would wake up better. 85 km were waiting for us.
Up at 5:30. Luxury breakfast and we disarm the camp. We don´t leave a trace where we camp. Although I was better in the morning, I felt a little weak and propose Maxo to carry the trailer. (Aleix carried it for a whole month and Dani pulls it since we left Perth.)
People always said it was flat. Evidently, they go by car and do not recognize what a hill is … The day did not give us a break. As soon as we went up a hill, before going down, another hill showed up. We finished the day with cycling over 87 km. Satisfied with the kilometer counter we had a kilo of pasta with tomato sauce. We should be a little more cautious with the speed when eating. The appetite is voracious and the pan empties in half the time that it is cooked. About eight we went to bed. A little bit of reading and to sleep.
Day 3 :
Routine is already deep into the group. The time to wake up is the one settled and the only change we´d made over the time was to disarm the camp once after having had breakfast. Cycling with a full stomach is not pleasant.
After 25 km we find the first roadhouse. (Gas stations that have accommodation and their prices can be a bit extravagant.)
This roadhouse was only 150 km far from Norseman and for a liter of water they charge $ 5. Dani tried a to haggle the prize through a solo talk with the boy at the counter but he showed zero empathy and we went back to the road without the desired water. In the supermarket a can of beans rounds a dollar and a half and in this place they dared to charge it to 9 ! … We ate some fruits (each one for 2 dollars) and with a bright blue sky we started to cycle again. 25 kilometers after, we found an abandoned house. It was located in the middle of nowhere. The only trees of the region were next to the house and we decided to stop and wait for the sun to go down a bit.
Nap in the shade
We lay on the ground and with some nuts, we distracted our appetite. At 15, still with the sun on top, we went back to the route. We were 27 km away from the goal when a car stopped. Aleix was behind me. Dani and Maxo were a little more motivated, ahead. A brunette girl that seemed 20 years old, more than happy, came out of her car. “Are you the Bikings? I’ve been following you since Perth!” We posed for the photo and she gave us each one a banana that was like Popeye´s spinach. We met in the mythical sign of the “90 mile straight”. We had entered the longest straight route in the country and I suppose it must also be the longest in the world … 146,6 km without any single curve! We took some photos there, obviously.
“We entered the longest straight route in the country and I suppose it must also be the longest in the world … 146,6 km without any single curve!.
We rode the last km. together. What happened next was incredible. I arrived with Maxo a few minutes later than the boys and stopped where a man was smoking a cigar. Stan, native of Scotland and saturation diver, invited us for some beers until they ran out. He gave us words of wisdom and encouragement and had dinner with us. Rice with beans of all colors and tomato sauce. Sleeping costs nothing more than lying down. The fatigue and being from up from 5 a.m. makes it easy and pleasant.
Day 4 :
We woke up a little bit later than normal because of the beers. We ate the oatmeal and Stan shared some dried figs that we still remember. Aleix had a flat tire and as soon as he fixed it and we were about to start cycling, it began to rain. A cyclone from the North was bringing rain to the driest part of the country. And plenty of it. We moved our camping to the only table that had a little roof. We mounted the tarp to protect ourselves from the rain and spent the day reading.
Expecting to find ourselves under 40 degrees every day we looked at each other’s faces with all the coat we had on and we laughed off the situation. It didn´t take long for it to vanish. In the afternoon we were all wet. Everything was wet. I went to a caravan in search of hot water with puppy dog eyes. The couple gave us also a fruit cake that we enjoyed very much. With the water I cooked a kilo of cous cous and in the afternoon something magical happened.
The rain had stopped and it was the first time in my life that I´ve seen something like that. A complete rainbow! The four of us standing side by side. Stunned. The sky was partly cloudy and the sunset was a gift. The range of colors returned us the smile. We went to bed with the fixed idea that the following day was going to be a beautiful day.
Day 5 :
With breakfast prepared from the night before, one starts well predisposed. Opening the tent and finding a massive fog was demotivating. Even so we disarmed the camp and decided to wait. We had the theory that as soon as the sun rised, the fog would dissipate.
It is a bit dangerous to ride like this because we lose visibility. Trucks and cars can`t be prudent.
We made the most of the morning and made a video of Guampas del Sur . Band we have with Maxo and have been playing for the past five years.
At 10 am we had already made all the necessary shots and we were super motivated. Packing things takes more time than expected. We were ready around 12 noon and before leaving with the stomach empty, we decided to eat some pasta with tuna and tomato sauce. We postpone the departure for 2:00 pm. The plans in this type of trip are extremely tied up to the circumstance so they tend to change a lot. We always discuss them together and we consider all possibilities.
We were putting on the sun cream, almost ready to leave, when a caravan stopped in front of us. I have never seen a similar one. A hotel on wheels. On the back, they had a closed trailer in which they had two Harley Davids. They gave us water and we faced the road again more than happy. We had made the most of the morning.
We cycled about 60 kilometers and stopped at a camping area. This one did not have any tables or anything. We ate rice with beet and peanuts while thinking ideas for the project. We love the movement. It makes us happy.
A couple of Germans appeared while we were having dinner. Being in the middle of nowhere, at first we became alert and as soon as we saw they were two young travelers, we relaxed. Before sleeping, we shared a few words with them.
Day 6 :
It was cloudy and as soon as we started packing, it began to rain again. This made everything go faster. We started cycling knowing that at 30 km there was a stop with a roof. We arrived at 10 am and luckily there were still two caravans parked there. We asked for water and the man took a 20-liter tank. He filled all our bottles. It turns out that he was traveling with his whole family. It is legal in Australia to do homeschooling. The children would travel around the country for a year, learning about it while on the road, national parks and meeting people from all the world. As soon as the last bottle was filled up, it began to pour. The only shelter was the rest area bathroom. The scene was funny. We didn´t know whether to laugh or cry. Being all day in such a small space is not pleasant. Even more, being wet and next to a hole full of shit.
Every now and then a car stopped to make use of it and we had to remove all our things from the bathroom. A couple who has been living for the last 11 years in their caravan gave us hot water. With it, I cooked a cous cous with some cans and we had lunch. Chatting about life we spent the whole afternoon.
The day turned exciting when a traveller stopped to throw the shit out of his caravan and gave us a beer for each one. We had a toast and with some cookies, also gifted, we started to laugh. Aleix went in search of hot water. He came back with a proposal that was a caress to the soul. The septuagenarian woman of one of the caravans parked in front of us, offered herself to cook dinner for us. At 1 8:30 as agreed, we presented ourselves at the door of the caravan. Shredded beef with boiled potatoes was waiting for us! With two bowls full of it, we sat next to the bathroom door under the roof and had dinner. I made some rice to make it bigger and satisfied, we went to sleep, with the illusion that the next day would be a beautiful one. The few 35 km cycled were somehow discouraging but the day has its surprises. Accepting that we are conditioned and enjoy the little things.
Day 7 :
Again, rain. The cyclone made us witness a very strange phenomenon. Three consecutive days in the driest area of the country. With the fixed idea of pedaling whatever the weather, we quickly dismantled everything. In the process, a couple that was leaving the camping stopped and offered us water. They were two cave divers. It was beautiful. They gave us kilos of fruit, nut muffins and some stories. It changed our mood completely.
We left super exited. We agreed to stop after 35km were we knew there was a rest area with a roof. It was the first time we cycled all together and at a very fast pace. Aleix was first and cheered us all up every thirty seconds. Like a coach, effusive and energetic, he shouted words of encouragement. With an average of 25 km per hour, the stop appeared fast. We enjoyed the apples and oranges like kids.
It’s hard to find them in this part of the country. The next gas station was about 40 km away. We arrived in Caiguna at around 15 in the afternoon.
We had finished the “90 Miles Straight”!
Dani, as a good leader, happy with the work of the team bought two showers. 20 minutes of hot water. We sat down to eat some bread slices with peanut butter. A thin layer of honey makes this meal a unique one. The texture and taste are addictive. The people in charge of the place were more than unfriendly. They asked us to leave, accusing us of harassing the few travelers that came into the road stop. We were a little bit angry with what had happened and tired after the 70 km. cycled, analyzed the situation. Upon a possible rain, we distance ourselves 300 meters from the place and camped in the bush. We set up the tents and tarp. As soon as we finished assembling the chairs, it started to rain. Under “the roof” and protected, we dined pasta with tomato sauce. One kilo to celebrate the day and without talking much about what happened in the afternoon so as to prevent getting into the bad vibes.
Writen by @francobicicleta
Ene 04 2018
The wait was a bit long. Not for the number of days. Rather it was the cold and the anxieties that tensed the atmosphere quite a bit. Christmas made things lighter and was one of the few moments in which the talk did not fluctuate around the bikes and the journey. We ate without stopping. We pause chewing with wine, beer, champagne or water. (That was the order by quantity.) Sepia, pork and a thousand canapés of all colors and shapes decorated the long table. We were almost thirty. The dessert was my perdition. I do not know how much Spanish nougat I ate. Surely it was not because of hunger. Soft nougat, jijona one, semi-hard and hard. The chocolate one was also present among the others, camouflaging its little Catalan authenticity. Not being on the road yet the hypotheticals are always on the table, leading to banal discussions and in a senseless conversation, we talk for hours. The equipment assembly motivated us, calmed us down and was the beginning of the end of the wait, stage. I would call this one a “contact” phase. Between us, with the technical equipment and with the bikes. Disassembling and putting them in boxes was not an arduous task. The airport was our major fear. The overweights and the amount of luggage. The next paragraph is dedicated entirely to Mona Lisa. The woman behind the counter that made it possible to arrive in Australia.
The Mona Lisa
Impossible to forget her. Blonde, with blue eyes and from Albania. Data that we resolved after asking. We ask a lot. She was the only one who showed interest in helping us. We arrived at El Prat airport, Barcelona, 5 hours before takeoff. We had planned a tactic. Dani would show up alone at the counter and after he resolved, the rest would approach the counter with the remaining packages (if he could get an agreement, they should accept the same for the rest …) We wanted a viable negotiation and knowing that we were with weight excess we had on some dollars just in case. Dani showed up at the counter and after a while we all got nervous. He spoke with one person, then another one appeared and we, taking turns, got closer in between times to visualize what was happening. We had four bicycles, two trailers, two large bags, a Peruvian box, a guitar case and four backpacks. Not wanting to tense the story I will anticipate that we traveled with everything and in the end, cheaper than calculated. The company allowed 30 kilos per person and a handbag of 7. Each one of us had 30 kilos on the bike, the bags weighed the same and the trailers were around 26. The backpacks had an extra of 3 kilos each and there was also the Peruvian cajon. It is curious to thank this woman that much but without her it would not have been possible. They wanted to charge us 80 euros per extra kilo resulting in a quirky and ridiculous amount of money (the website was not so clear on the policies and when receiving the information from one of the airline operators we thought she was mistaken. We usually pay 150 dollars per bike under the concept of sports equipment. Even sometimes we took the bikes for free).Dani was more nervous than ever and came back to us with the two boxes (trailer + bike). He had not been able to negotiate anything. The bikings were in a hard situation. We decided to appeal to “touch fiber” as we use to say. The four of us decided to approach the counter with the confidence to travel and the good intentions of our project. There she was. Beautiful, a little nervous, besieged by questions. To our amusement, she began being admissible. Without looking at the weights she accepted everything and in no time showed herself rigorous. We left half of the backpacks along with the trailers that we already knew were not going to travel with us. Once checked in, Dani and Aleix went to the other terminal to send the remaining bags and the two trailers as cargo shipment (we are still waiting for them but hope they will arrive the day after tomorrow.) Maxo and I waited with the certainty that the leader was going to solve in time. And so it was ! On their way back we ran to the gate . The last warning had already been given. With the Peruvian cajon in my left hand and flight ticket in the right I present myself to the last control. There she was again, Mona Lisa! She looked worried. To her left there was her supervisor (the one who did not want to help us in any way). Making a fast twist taken from a movie scene, I got into the airplane without even giving anyone time to ask about the Peruvian cajon and with a victorious shout I exclaimed: Happy New Year!
“The company allowed 30 kilos per person and a handbag of 7. Each one of us had 30 kilos on the bike, the bags weighed the same and the trailers were around 26. The backpacks had an extra of 3 kilos each and there was also the Peruvian cajon”.
We made it! Sitting next to each other we flew to Dubai. The plane took off with two hours of delay. Once in Dubai, we were escorted, with a bit of rush, to the plane that would take us to Australia. With another two hours of delay, we arrived in Perth around 7 pm instead of 11 am as we were meant to.
Hello Perth, hello Australia
Through an application, we rented a house outside the city. Here we will spend the next week acclimating the bodies and assembling the bikes. Perth is the most isolated city in the world. The next town with a million inhabitants, Adelaide, is more than two thousand kilometers away. I have never felt something so strong like the Aussie jetlag. I feel like a plant, sleeping all day and without appetite. I am the only one in the group that has this feeling and they are surprised about the near future that awaits us.
“Perth is the most isolated city in the world. The next town with a million inhabitants, Adelaide, is more than two thousand kilometers away”.
Jun 27 2017
How did the idea of the expedition came up?
It all begins back in Christmas 2016. Actually a little bit earlier … I was in Spain doing a working season in Ibiza. Already with a ticket to Australia in my hand and with the fixed idea of crossing the country with a motorhome as soon as I could.
Still in Spain, one day I forget my wallet on the beach, losing so, all my documents, including my driver’s license. While organizing everything to fly to Australia I made every effort to be able to process a duplicate license but every attempt was in vain. It had to be in person and in Buenos Aires, Argentina.
The idea of the motorhome faded. I knew clearly that I was not going to sit for an exam to get a new license in Australia and that this, was a sign that life was giving me. I had to think in a B plan.
That same Christmas I receive as a gift from my sister a book called “Australia sobre ruedas” ( Australia on Wheels ), written by Ivan Faure. A Spaniard who tells his experience traveling by bike from Perth to Sydney.
I had already made a first bike tour experience back in 2015, traveling almost 400 kilometers along the coast of Uruguay. This ended up giving sense to all and made me arrive Australia with the new idea of wanting to cross the country by bike.
Australia always caught my eye. As a kid and as many of my age for sure, influenced by the NatGeo. Later on, I was attracted by the idea of knowing what it meant to live in a country where things supposedly worked. At least that was the perception I had from close friends personal past experiences. I ended living 9 months working in Sydney and I had the opportunity to corroborate this.
At first, the idea was to travel from Perth to Sydney. Then the route lengthened and reached Cairns until it ended up being the whole country. This was because while doing my research, I realized that there were more and more places I wanted to visit and because people started to join, which gave me, even more, confidence for going for the big adventure. First it was Aleix, whom I met while working. We both did food delivery by bike back then and met in these strange life encounters doing a drop to the same person at the same time from different restaurants. Then Franco, my brother, who was always a bike addict. We talked a lot to catch up and in many opportunities, he told me he was not having a good time in Argentina. He just wanted to ride his bike around the world. Obviously, I convinced him to go for it together. And finally Maxo, who one day surprised me with a Skype call and said he loved the idea and wanted to join to help document the trip.
Another reason why is that I consider Australia to be still little explored. Infinite roads and landscapes that call for a constant state of reflection and to finding yourself.
The historical fact is also a reason. Australia as such is barely 116 years old. Before the colonization, it was inhabited for more than 40 thousand years by the Aborigines that today live in a really adverse scenario. I experienced this throughout our first bike tour experience in the Northern Territory. Learning and get to know more about their history and culture is something that also drives me to cycle around the country.
On the other hand, the Australians are very friendly towards tourism. On the road, one is constantly meeting travelers willing to help. In our first experience in the Outback, where we pedaled under extreme temperatures and had little access to water, this was something that attracted our attention. Cars stopped, even without receiving any signal from us, to ask if we were well or needed something. Being this our first long-distance bike touring experience, this is not minor fact.
Franco always repeated me: _ “we have to start somewhere” and I agree, so I like to rephrase the question … Why not Australia?
What are you looking for with the project? What is your role?
Many things. I will start with the personal ones … I contemplate it as a spiritual retreat, a journey to learn from life and its simplicity. Make me stronger by overcoming the adversities that will appear every day. Learn to live happy with the minimum and indispensable and reach that connection to the world that while working in an office I can’t get to.
As for the project itself, I see it as the gathering of everything I like. I spent my childhood in the mountains. Our holidays were always hiking, camping and adventure. This made me have that adventurous spirit always present: the desire to travel and explore the world.
On the other hand, I formed myself in communication, that is what I am passionate about. Thinking of ideas and creative pieces is what I like to do.
That is why for me it is not just a trip, it’s a project. A desire to adopt a lifestyle to achieve the ultimate will that is to travel the world.
With Bikings I seek to live the way I like, doing what I know how to do and I am passionate about.
My role is everything that involves the communication of the trip. From design, text writing, social media, creating new communications during the journey and talking with the brands involved.
What kind of preparation do you carry out?
I arrived Australia in 2016 knowing already what I was wanting to do. So the first thing I did was finding a job that would allow me to make money and train at the same time. I worked for 8 months doing bike deliveries. Basically, I spent more time cycling than walking or doing anything else. In my last month and before returning to Argentina we did with Aleix a pilot trip in the Australian Outback, the Northern Territory.
After a quick visit to Argentina, I flew with my bike to Costa Rica. I lived there about 6 months where I did a work experience in a digital advertising agency. Changing my routine from cycling every day to doing so only in the days that didn’t rain (the rainy season lasts 8 months in San José and it is a daily fact, with no exceptions ) and I left the office, made it quite more difficult but I always kept on training whenever I could. Being there, I had the opportunity to travel to Cuba for 10 days and do another bike-touring experience of almost 500 km around the island.
Today, settled again in Argentina, I cycle almost every day to keep up with training. I think the most important issue towards the endurance of the expedition is to be mentally healthy and have the ideas clear. It will be very important to start cycling consciously and be patient towards the body: listen and respect it.
What sacrifices does such a project imply?
Like any new project, there are many stages. Today we find ourselves sharing this interview but there was a big work behind it until we got here. From the planned route, communicating daily with brands, the website and social media account design, copies, etc. Many months of hard work and effort. Being 4 involved, all effort is double. Besides, we spent plenty of time each of us living in different parts of the world. Arranging video calls and meetings was always difficult.
As for the expedition, I personally don’t contemplate it as a sacrifice. I only dream of being in Perth and feel the freedom when making the first km on the road. I don’t feel like I’m leaving something behind. On the contrary, I feel that I am going towards something: something new and full of magic.
What would be a successful trip?
You can plan and predict plenty of things but in an adventure of these characteristics, there will always be new challenges and situations where you will have to learn from scratch and in that same moment to be able to overcome them. I figure success as being well with myself, the group and always being faithful to the conviction of doing this because it is at this moment what I want and makes me happy. If at one point I feel the opposite, it will be time to rethink things.
Do you have fears towards the project? Which ones?
My fears today are logistic issues more than anything. All things we solve in the day to day. But personally and towards the trip, I would say I don’t feel any kind of fear. Well maybe yes, fear of snakes.
What will be the key to complete the trip?
Being well-prepared physically is really important but I think the main issue is the head. We are going to be at nature’s mercy and its random changes every day and we must be very strong to prevent falling mentally when facing the adversities.
Many months of getting up every day and give our maximum. Physically and mentally. A day to day that can sometimes be routinary, facing quite monotonous landscapes in very long stretches.
The team union and support will be key. We need to be on the same page at all time. If someone falls, do everything we can to get him back to positivity again. I would say that the human spirit and unity of the group will be the most important thing.
What expectations do you have towards the group?
The best ones. I value each one of the members of the project: as individuals and as professionals. It is not easy to find 4 friends that yearn with the same desire to face a challenge of these characteristics together. That means a lot and is beautiful. All three have their own personal light and incredible human values and I feel that next to them I will learn a lot.
What do your peers think about the decision?
For sure many think we are crazy. What makes me happy is that when sharing the project with others, they tend to get even more excited than us and many want to join. I have plenty friends I made in Australia and friends from Argentina that tell me they will join in a certain stage. That would awesome and a dream.
What is the future of Bikings?
We need to make the first step first, that is to live the adventure. Everything else is just fantasy, which I have obviously, but today I try to focus more on reality and in the near future. In giving the best of me towards the group and do everything as I can to make this project possible.
Mar 05 2017
How did the idea of the expedition came up?
A telephone call released the adrenaline for the adventure. It was a simple, honest and a clear proposal. Pedaling regardless where or when; rather together and for a while. It all happened in the table of that bar. My pulse increased and my dreams came to life. I was full of adrenaline, euphoric. Nothing was settled. The idea was forged and since then we started developing it.
As months went by, several routes were evaluated. Having cycled in routes of the European continent I wanted to explore others. Dani was fascinated by his visit to Australia. Low population density, animal diversity and aboriginal culture. An island that is inhabited more than forty thousand years ago must have much to teach if attention and time are available.
What are you looking for with the project? What is your role?
Generate content. Draw attention so that we can transmit. I want to be a source of inspiration through our daily effort. Generate movement through the example.
Raise awareness when it is necessary and assure that food is NEVER missing. I think the role will change according to the needs of the group along the trip. Quoting Plato “Music is for the soul what gymnastics for the body”
What kind of preparation do you carry out?
The bicycle is the means of transport that I have by excellence. Only days of rain and storm are the ones that make me take a bus. Since the trip was proposed I started swimming weekly and I ventured into running. I even had the courage to run an adventure marathon in Tandil, in Buenos Aires province. The mind is the engine in this type of travel. Muscular memory and the support of Esteban (brother and personal trainer) make the routine work go unnoticed. The biggest sacrifice is the one I make when traveling 4 hours a day to get to and from the office to my house. Patience is key and I practice it from dawn.
What sacrifices does such a project imply?
Absolute devotion, attention. Make one hundred percent focus on the steps to follow in order to make the project feasible. Pedaling under the sun and the night spent in the tent is one more thing within the structure. Hours of dedication to the body, mind and spirit after working days. Leave aside other musical and work proposals. Changing eating habits.
What would be a successful trip?
Landing in Australia all together The mere fact that the idea is materialized fulfills all my expectations. Years of conversations, living in different cardinal points of the world breaking with structures. Everyone did what he had to do, left everything and that’s why we landed.
Do you have fears towards the project? Which ones?
At school, I participated in musical comedies. During the rehearsals, there was no adrenaline or even “scenic panic”. The last rehearsal that used to be in the theater was already full of emotion. Nowadays I am not afraid or hesitant, however, when I’ll be in front of the plane ticket, packing the bicycle, or doing of last-minute paperwork, the adrenaline appears. In fact, as I write these lines, a tingling in the spine becomes present and the smile immediately arises. Fear is a friend.
What will be the key to complete the trip?
Perseverance and discipline. Honesty and patience are just as important when it comes to putting a halt to the body, force rest and empathy above all things.
What expectations do you have towards the group?
Absolute dedication and a unique connection. We all have sport as nexus, music as a link and as human, brothers. By sharing principles and values, development takes place harmoniously. It will certainly be an experience that will shape not only our physicists but also our personal relationships and as a group.
What do your peers think about the decision?
From that phone call onwards my speech has always been “I’m leaving”. I have never given place to think about time, health or money. I had a non-linear thought. I want to do it. When your best friend and brother cooperate in the mental process, there is a strong push. Their questions-constraints are taken as problems to solve instead of questioning. It has been a great help sharing and openness to dialogue is key.
What is the future of Bikings?
An audiovisual production agency that encourages young people to carry out altruistic projects. The Aconcagua is a documentary that I have in mind when finished this first one and the Andes mountains is a place I want to visit.