Due to my actual position in very remotes areas, it’s hard to charge my laptop and find wifi, I’m recordeing my journal on my phone. I decided for now to post week per week instead of day by day. I will do my best to post one picture a day on Instagram though. You can find me on Instagram with this tag: @agphotofr
20/07/2016 – Big red
Trip dist: 53.22km
Everyone is telling me it’s crazy to have the idea to cross the Simpson desert on a push bike without any assistance vehicle. Even the motorbikes are crossing with a backup. There is a bicycle race across the desert every year in September but it is mandatory to drink at every stop located every 15 to 20km. As well they have big fat tyres and no load to carry. This race is now on my list.
Before to give up I wanted to check out by myself how it is really. So I’ve been cycling to big red. The biggest sand dune in the desert. It’s located 40km from town. I don’t take too much risks. The ride has been good. I’ve reached little red. Met Dean, Mel and their 2 kids. Dean offered me a cold beer that I really enjoyed as it is 30°C and there is no wind.
I’ve been drinking 3 liters of water on my way. I never drunk that much water in a so short distance. That’s crazy. I sweat a lot as well.
I headed to big red which is supposed to be a couple kilometers away from little red. I followed a track. Saw a cool sand dune took a picture of it and kept going without noticing that it was big red. The track obviously stopped but i kept going in the bush until my front wheel got stuck in a hole. I didn’t had the time to unclip my shoes and felt down in a spiky bush. I’m covered of spikes but it doesn’t really matter. What matters is the screw of my front rack broken in the fork. I fix this quickly with plastic rings. And keep going by walk through the desert. It’s hard the bike is heavy and it’s really hot but I’m motivated to find this big red. I check the topo map. I’m near a track. Let find it. After a hard km walking i finally find it! Cycling to big red and where it is spotted on the map there is definitely nothing.
I decide to turn around on the track and after 6 km back i can finally see it. I can’t believe I was at its base more than 1 hour ago…from the base you can’t really see it. That’s the reason why i missed it. It’s sunset in 15 minutes and I must be on top of the sand dune before that or all my efforts will have worth nothing.
The bike is heavy and the sand deep. But after 10 minutes of strong efforts I’m on top!! Just the time to take a pic with my bike and the sun is gone. I want to sleep there but there is so many people! They look more focused on their car than on myself. Yes it’s forbidden to camp on big red but I decide to move all my stuffs behind a big sand dune. Last effort before the night.
As soon as the sun is gone there is clouds of mosquitoes around. I must eat in my tent to avoid their bites. After a couple of hours while I felt asleep I decided to get out and take some pics. The light of the moon is clearly the best for photography.
21/07/2016 – Big red, the way back
Trip dist: 40.96km
In the morning the sunrise was beautiful! Especially with all those flowers in the desert sue to the heavy rain of the last weeks. I must pack and move early before it gets to hot to cycle.
On the way back the corrugated due to rain on the road are so bad that my solution to hold the front rack doesn’t work anymore. I tight the pannier on the back of my bike and keep pedalling to town.
I finally made it!
It’s so hot and I have headwind which in this case was great as it keeps flies away and refresh me a bit. First thing to fix. The rack. I’m going at the road house to see if they have some screws that could work to replace the broken ones. Found it. Next, removing the screw broken in the fork. For this, i asked to the mechanic of the town. Seriously this guy is a genius. He fixes all the cars broken from the desert. He removed the screw in 5 secondes with his drill I can put back the rack on.
After that laundry and shower. With this heat everything gets dirty very quickly. At the petrol station a guy with an Australian hat comes to me. “Are you the guy crossing the desert on his bike? I heard about you yesterday at the pub!” Well we realised that we were both french and spend one hour exchanging good tips on where to find wifi or real ham on the way. He and his girlfriend are going where I’m from and I’m going where they are coming from. I realised that their truck is wearing a french plate! Weird but funny! They put the car in a container to use it in Australia. 40 days of boat.
I ended up at the pub to have dinner with a friend T but she is in the desert till late so I had dinner by myself and met two Argentinian who work here as well and T joined us a bit later. That night the electricity turned out in half of the town. I decided to go to sleep after that as I will have a big day tomorrow. When I left I met Kayla, an aborigines, she asked me about my travels. When she realised what I was doing she looked very concerned about my safety. She never left Birdsville because it’s dangerous outside. She said that she will pray for me. She actually started to pray for me in front of me. She hold my hand, and one of my shoulder very strongly and started to wish that nothing happens to me during my travels. It’s weird but I felt really good after that and actually had a very peaceful night.
22/07/2016 – is it really winter? 38.6°C…
Trip dist: 83.54km
In the morning there is still no electricity. I needed to get some cash out as I only have 10 dollars left. Well, impossible without electricity. I bought beans and cream rice cans for the next couple of days.
The sun gets really hot very early. In the hottest time of the day the temperature reached 38.6°c.
The wind is coming from the front. It makes it harder to pedal but it gives a “fresh” breeze. Well it’s just a sensation . it’s the first time that my water gets really warm. I will have to buy some peppermint tea in the next town to make the water more drinkable. With all the corrugated shaking the bike everywhere on the road I lost a 2.4L water bottle. I didn’t even realised it. I still have 2 other ones. I made a good decision to fill them all because I’m now drinking 2.5L of water per day.
On my way I found weird rest areas without anything to create shade. As there is absolutely no trees I can’t even rest in a fresh spot. I started to have a headache. I don’t want to have a heat stroke. Luckily I didn’t.
I finally found some ruins on my way. I set up the bike inside and got another puncture. Right at the ruins. It’s a big one. The back tyre is really tired. I have so much weight on the back of the bike.
As soon as the sun was gone as usual millions of mosquitoes are coming. Just by clapping hands in the air I was sure to get at least 3 to 4 of them each time! I’m full body covered to avoid them even if it’s still very warm outside.
I decide to go take some nights pics of the ruins with the milky way on the back. I’ll look like a knight fully covered to go in an endless battle with all those vampires.
23/07/2016 – An oasis in the middle of the desert
Trip dist: 150.87km
Today winds are southerly. It means I’m gonna fly! Well this is exactly what happened. I started around 8am and after 700 meters I realise that there is natural hot springs! If only I discovered that last night… but I’m happy to stayed at the ruins as I got great photographs and anyway as soon as the sun is gone million of mosquitoes are out and I would not have enjoyed it. When I was 20km to Bedourie a car coming in the opposite direction stopped and waved at me to stop. “Alex! Comment vas tu?” What the heck! Who is this? How does he know my name? It took me a few secondes to finally recognise him! I met him a few days ago. He is running the Australian Desert Exepdition. It’s a research company about species and he crossed the desert with camels with the 3 other girls. Good to see him!!
Then, after 110km, I arrived to Bedourie. It’s been almost 5 days that everyone is telling me to go to the hot springs. It’s free, you just have to give $50 in exchange of a key to access it. They refund you the $50 when you give back the key. And this pool is seriously the best reward after cycling in the middle of nowhere by 38°C without any tree at the horizon. I loved it!
In Bedourie, except this pool, there is nothing else. I decided to buy some food and keep going. My diet is now really strict. One can of beans and on can of cream rice for each meal. It’s cheap, I don’t need to cook it, it feels me up, I don’t use water. It’s been 2 days that I’m eating this and for now I still like it.
I cycled 40 more km and stopped by the road. I had to make the most of this wind! It’s done.
24/07/2016 – Glen, Sue and their 5 Camels
Trip dist: 120.58km
This morning, early start. 7.30am I was already on the road. The temperature is only 28°C and it seems worse than when it was 38°C maybe because there is no wind today.
After a few days of eating just cream rice and beans i feel quite bad. Too much sugar I guess. I’ll need to find alternatives.
In the afternoon I stopped for a nap of 2hours in my hammock. Yes the can food makes me feel bad.
A few kilometers later, is it a camel that I can see? Yes! My first camels! I met Glan and Sue. They are travelling since 10 years with their camels in a gypsy camper. It looks really cool! Glen offers me a glass of wine and we have a chat. They travel 25 to 30km per day. Their camels can spend 2 weeks without drinking. They have 200 liters of water with them and 6 solar panels. They can spend 2 months without seeing anyone. That’s an impressive setup! Glen showed me every camel and let me take some pics. They are a really nice couple! He is a welder and find jobs in every town he is going through. That’s a great way to live. I must keep going for 10 more km before to setup the camp. I want to be in the hammock before the vampires appears.
25/07/2016 – Boulia, last town for the next 850km…
Trip dist: 34.97km
I made the most of it the last couple of days and I’m now very close to Boulia. I haven’t cross the desert through Birdsville but I will do it through the plenty Highway. Which has highway just the name as it’s a dirt road on more than 800km. It was closed a few days ago because with the rains it was flooded.
Last night I slept in my hammock. It’s great to be able to change between tent and hammock and this morning I was almost ready to go before the sunrise.
I just stayed a bit longer to get this pic:
Made it to Boulia after a hard pedalling with strong side wind! Now… “relax” for the rest of the day.
Week 3 total progress: 483km