Day 21 SA Mains Road facility

Distance today 77.16km Ave 15.8km/hr

It’s 730pm on Saturday the 22 May 2021

Hi everyone. I’m typing under the light of the moon and stars and it’s a big sky night. There’s a notable silence without the wind (and dingos) howling 🤣 broken occasionally by a distant bird screech and cow moo or two 🌵😀

Stefan suggested to camp here on our first night at a facility used by mains road in SA when they’re out this way grading the track.

It was a welcomed sight this afternoon when we arrived at about 5pm. I was expecting it to be another 10km or so according to a couple who stopped for a chat towards the end of the day. Great spot to tuck ourselves away from the wind which was blowing for most of the day but has eased off now for a stunning evening.

It’s still pretty chilly but I’m super cosy rugged up in the new layers and down jacket that arrived in the Birdsville post. Thanks Mum 😘 it makes a huge difference and I’m confident I’ll be toasty warm over the next months. I’ve got my heavy duty gortex jacket, pants and gloves now to pop on when the air’s got some attitude.

I’m enjoying a cuppa while posting and it tastes particularly delish with a dose of appreciation having carried every litre that I’ll use over the next days. Water’s precious!! Stefan mentioned there was likely water here but no guarantees. I made sure I had enough water for the next three days and two nights and thankfully as there’s a tank but she’s very empty.

I’m working on 2L during the day and 2L overnight. That basically adds up to 4L for everyday on top of the 2L I start with. Ie 6L for 1 night/2 days, 10L for 2nights/3 days, 14L for 3 nights/4 days and so forth. It was late this morning by the time I figured a system to carry water whereby I can increase/decrease the litres as needed.

Basically I have a foil bladder that moulds in the bottom of each pannier and can carry up to 4L each without stressing h seams. I also have 2 x 5L heavy duty bladders that can be attached to the outside of Banjos front/rear racks. That’s makes a total of 26L I can carry for up to 7 days if needed. I can use the same system for shorter distances by putting less water in each bladder to distribute the weight evenly across Banjos frame.

When I arrived this afternoon I worked out how to easily attach the outside bladders and super chuffed that it’ll work a treat. They’re such great bladders donated by Liquid containment, but they’re very robust and not flexible enough to mould inside the shape of the panniers. A combination of both systems is where I’ll start and adjust as I learn along the way what works best.

I left this morning just after 11am and popped into the roadhouse to see if they had any Vaseline or lip balm delivered over night. The lips are very dry with the air and wind. Unfortunately no go, so plan B is the bum cream. That sounds so wrong on so many levels 🤣 but it works and uses what I have on board until the next parcel in Marree.

The Birdsville Track was easy enough to find and we were soon under way and excited to embark on this next stage.

10km on we gave way to a truck first and crossed over the cow grid into SA.

About 45km into the ride the road cuts through the Sturt Stony Desert. Our first desert crossing and boy is she sparse.

There’s a lot less traffic on the road which I love and adds a real flavour to the remote feel of the desert country.

The first road train passed later this afternoon with no surprises; I could hear it coming ages before with heaps of time to pull over and hate the event.

I find a beauty here in the desert and another side to mother nature to appreciate. I can see why so many people are drawn to the experience and cycling puts the senses front row centre to savour.

The road conditions were good to start with a hard sand base but it soon became quite soft in parts and corrugated and was harder to ride. the average has dropped but as long as I don’t try to push against the conditions it’s all good to navigate in a lower gear. AAA got a good work out accepting, adjusting and adapting to the change that will surely amp up over the next days. I had mostly a headwind today, not too strong but it also made the going slower.

After setting up camp I was able to send a tweet and Facebook post using my Inreach mini paired with the phone. I more so appreciate this kit now knowing there will more days in between cellular service. How nice was it to also share messages with my family and feel that connection. This counts and keeps the happy hormones warm and content staying close to those who matter most in my life. Love my family!!!!

So that’s us for day one on the Birdsville Track. The body has responded well getting getting back into it with the boy!! Im feeling good tonight and ready to tackle tomorrow. I prepared dinner earlier and the tummy says it’s time to enjoy the oats and seeds while I paw over the maps to see where we may end up tomorrow. Nice sharing our inaugural day of desert bike packing. Night and talk soon xxx

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