- Distance: 500km
- Dep: 8am
- Arr: 2pm
- Temp: 27-33°C
After spending the night in a tent covered in frogs, I woke up to the sound of crows having some sort of worldly discussion about the universe. In my ear. To date I've given very few animals a dirty look but today was one of them. My tent was on the only patch of kept grass for ages, and I think I unknowingly crossed into their territory. Sighing, I started the daily ritual of packing my gear onto Sheba.
It was the hardest repacking since leaving Melbourne because of the flies. A huge swarm of them came at me when I left the toilets and stuck onto me. They were attracted to the fact that I didn't shower last night (because of the frogs in the shower) and Australian flies are not like Canadian flies.
Canadian fly: "oh hello how's it goin eh? Just going to hang out and get a taste of your strawberry and I'll be on my way cheerio!"
Aussie fly: "GDAY MATE HOWYA GOIN, YOU GOIN GOOD MATE HEY WHATS THAT ON YA FACE COME HERE LEMME TAKE A LOOK ATYA OI STOP WAVING YOUR HAND AT ME YA TOSSER"
And so on and so forth. Basically, if I had a flamethrower, I'd use it in a heartbeat.
As fast as I could, I was on the saddle and sprinting away from Nanutarra. The scenery in this area reminds me of that song Karma Chameleon.... red gold and green. It keeps the eye stimulated with ever changing landscapes, going from flat and straught to slightly bendy and around the base of hills. I didn't sleep well lay night because of the frogs (they creep me out) so I had a very low key first leg.
At Roebourne, the dark clouds started to drip sharp daggers of rain. It wasn't heavy rain, just painful when flying through it. Water collected on the sides of some floodways. I even found a car bumper in the middle of the road from when someone slammed into a puddle at speed. Knowing how water works is a good thing; speed going through puddles can be fun but dangerous. You have to hit the right amount of speed that the water doesn't bog you down, but it doesn't become cohesive and make your front end catch. When force is applied to water, molecules stick together.
So at 120km away from Port Hedland, there was a red car in the distance with what seemed like fire-hydrant-level water pressure coming out from both sides. He seemed to know what he was doing and the car didn't submerge too much. I passed him, gave him a nod, then it was my turn. I slowed down and entered the floodway at about 70kph instead of the 110kph limit and kept the throttle pinned at 7000rpm. Not too hard at all. The water was dyed pink from the iron in the soil so it was impossible to see exactly how deep it was.
As Sheba's front tyre entered the puddle, a wave that I shall refer to as Anti-Gravity Waterfall engulfed my body and most of my gear. The car behind me probably gave an audible gasp as I David Copperfield-ed right before his eyes. This upsidedown torrential downpour continued for a few seconds but I continued in a straight line at the same speed, knowing that the road on the other side of the Anti-Gravity Waterfall was thankfully vacant. Both boots filled with water from the top as though someone poured it in. My chest was soaked. My underpants were soaked but this time because of water (compared to the Detour). How exhilarating.
I continued to do this all the way to Port Hedland. Came away with zero brown pants moments. Great success!
Karratha and Port Hedland is a mining area and the roads around it show this. I'll later learn that the stretch from Cervantes to Darwin will essentially have the same type of road throughout. This is Outback road. They are flat and wide but often have gravel entries and exits for the road trains. Motorcycles don't do well in these parts because the aggressive texture of the road really chews up the tyres and makes them wear quicker.
Port Hedland welcomes you with a rust brown colour literally everywhere: buildings, vehicles, roads, even nature. It's not a picturesque place but rather a place to live if you work in the industrial sites in the area. I ducked into the Woolies to grab 4.5 more litres of water and some TimTams. You could tell right away they aren't accustomed to seeing many riders. Or female riders. Or Asians. Or all of the above.
The moment I stepped out of Melbourne I felt a bit out of place. My black Kevlar jeans, tough moto boots, and permanent helmet hair is commonplace in a city like Melbourne. You can throw a rock and hit someone's helmet. Since Perth I've seen one rider. Somehow, it was in Port Hedland.
It's an isolating life living on two wheels because no car driver could ever truly understand the feeling of freedom. The few of us who do take all the risks and challenges that come with bikelife... there's a camaraderie amongst us for a reason. We have a universal riders nod/wave that spans continents, and riders take care of each other even though they've never met. It's a community you become a part of as soon as you commit to leading the life of atrocious fingernails and clothes that smell like fumes. Seeing as how I've met so many good people through riding, I wholeheartedly believe that it is a very fair tradeoff.
I'm looking forward to the challenging bits coming up. Sheba and I can only be so prepared...
Day 13: Because I'll be heading directly into the storms I decided to attempt to ride straight to Broome without stopping at Eighty Mile Beach. Wish me luck!