Bicycling South to North Across Australia May 4 to June 6, 2019
You would think that riding across the USA four months after a major heart attack would be enough and so did I, for about six months. After a summer of regular riding and another self contained adventure down the George S. Mickelson Trail in South Dakota I was not looking forward to parking my bikes and settling in to my winter recreations of hunting and cross country skiing. Spring and summer had just been too much fun. Still, I decided to make the best of it and pitched in at the hunt camp and at Opeongo Nordic where I do my cross country skiing. By the end of November the snow was on the ground and we were in full winter mode.
Then one day a Facebook post from my friend, Chris Hinsperger appeared extolling the fun and virtues of fat biking on winter roads. Hmmm, I thought a fat bike, maybe I should just take a look. I was not going to buy one, just look at one or two and gain a bit of knowledge. I already owned three bikes and a fourth would put me into crazy cat lady territory. Next came December and the Annual General Meeting of the Ottawa Valley Cycling and Active Transportation Alliance, an organization I work with as a volunteer. Across the street from our meeting site was Martin’s Cycle and Small Engine and I needed to replace a kickstand I broke during the summer. I would just drop in and buy that one little part. But wait, they have fat bikes and what? They are on sale! Discount on all 2017 models and NO SALES TAX!!! Be still my little MasterCard. Using all my will power I walked away with just the kickstand. The next day, up jumped the Devil, kicked me in my butt, grabbed me bodily and made me drive back to Martins where I smoked the aforementioned credit card and walked out the door an official member of the fat bike community.
All the above led to a winter of fat biking and turned on the cycling adventure section of my brain. This led to checking out some tours. Europe looked exciting and interesting and having tasted the epic journey fruit, nothing less would do. The exchange rate between the Euro and my canadian dollar put the cost was somewhere in the vicinity of buying a new car and the down payment on a modest house, so that was out for the coming year unless I hit the lottery. This was unlikely since I refuse to pay that stupidity tax. Then one day while browsing the grassy fields of the Internet I came across the Outbike website and their Gulf to Gulf across Australia adventure. With the Australian dollar and the Canadian dollar nearly at par, this trip was affordable. I needed to know more. Some web searching and review reading confirmed this was a good outfit, the ride looked fantastic and the trip was definitely going forward. I put my hard earned dollars on the table and made the decision to go. Let the training begin!
Training in Winter’s Grip
The good news is that through the use of a fat bike and some studded tires on my Kona mountain bike, I was able to ride outdoors in some tough winter conditions. I still needed my reconditioned, 1980s vintage Miele as an indoor trainer on occasions but no where near as much as I did getting ready for the Southern Tier last year. It still took some diligence to get out there for two or three hours on those sub zero days but on the plus side, my setter, Blaze was able to enjoy some run along trips when I took the fat bike on the bike and snowmobile trails.
April Snow Showers Bring Longer Rides
April 5, 2019
My wife and I were away in March retracing some of the Southern Tier route I rode in 2018 so I was able to get in some nice rides including one that involved wading in waist deep flood waters in Florida. This kept my legs in shape for my final push to longer rides this month. I was coming down to the final weeks before heading down under and everything was on track for another epic ride. My health was great and my physical condition a big improvement over where I was before The Ride of the Nearly Departed. I just needed to bump up the mileage a bit and physically, I was good to go!
April 30, 2019
Today was GO Day. The bags were packed, plans in place and I was off to Ottawa for the first leg of the long trip to Australia. The last month saw winter hang on with a vengeance. Most rides were with a cold wind in my face and occasionally with snow sticking to my glasses. No worries though. While they were unpleasant at times, they helped toughen me up for whatever Australia had to throw at me. Mostly it was good to be outside watching the winter slowly melt away as the miles rolled by. The next two days were be spent in the luxury of Air Canada’s lap and a tour of some fine airports. At least the overseas leg of the journey promised a sparsely populated plane and maybe some room to stretch out and see what the insides of my eye lids looked like. I closed this day with a silent prayer that my luggage and I arrive together at the same time and airport. Amen.